Author Topic: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy  (Read 119 times)

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« on: February 12, 2020, 04:33:20 PM »
Hello all,

I'm rather new at this, so with trembling heart I am putting out my query letter for your consideration.  It is low fantasy for young adults at 88,799 words.  Please be completely honest and give me your criticisms, ways to improve it, and what you may think as its strong points.  Here goes:

Dear Agent,
    
For fourteen-year-old Kara Bishop her summer starts innocently enough—a triceratops hatches on the Wyoming ranch where she is residing. Her uncle charges her with its care and upbringing and, wishing to avoid a nationwide uproar, exhorts her to keep its presence a secret. Christened Archie, the infant dino wins over his owners’ hearts with his gentleness and geniality, and proves to be surprisingly intelligent.

Then Archie’s existence is inadvertently revealed, igniting an international firestorm of controversy and campaign of intolerance, and unleashing an enigmatic malignancy intent on his destruction. Kara wants to believe humanity is inherently fair, and that an appeal to justice and common sense will triumph. However, xenophobia, media hostility, and ignorance put her on the losing side of an increasingly desperate fight. When all is blackest, with Archie poised on the very verge of extermination, Kara must find the courage and means to save her unlikely comrade.
 
A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR is a YA low fantasy complete at 88,700 words.  Bio.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Yours in literary fellowship,

Sir Nessun Dorma

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2020, 06:18:06 PM »
I really like this. It is well written and concise.

I can’t imagine why a baby Dino needs to win someone’s heart - aren’t they just adorable. 
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 08:41:34 PM »
Hello all,

I'm rather new at this, so with trembling heart I am putting out my query letter for your consideration.  It is low fantasy for young adults at 88,799 words.  Please be completely honest and give me your criticisms, ways to improve it, and what you may think as its strong points.  Here goes:

Dear Agent,
    
For fourteen-year-old Kara Bishop, her summer starts innocently enough—a triceratops hatches on the Wyoming ranch where she is residing. Her uncle charges her with its care and upbringing and, wishing to avoid a nationwide uproar, exhorts her to keep its presence a secret. Christened Archie, the infant dino wins over his owners’ hearts with his gentleness and geniality, and proves to be surprisingly intelligent.

Then Archie’s existence is inadvertently revealed, igniting an international firestorm of controversy and campaign of intolerance, and unleashing an enigmatic malignancy intent on his destruction. [I think this sentence is a bit long-winded.] Kara wants to believe humanity is inherently fair, and that an appeal to justice and common sense will triumph. However, xenophobia, media hostility, and ignorance put her on the losing side of an increasingly desperate fight. When all is blackest, with Archie poised on the very verge of extermination, Kara must find the courage and means to save her unlikely comrade.
 
A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR is a YA low [For me, it seems strange to call it "low" fantasy when there's a dinosaur involved.] fantasy complete at 88,700 89,000 words.  Bio.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
[Name]


I thank you for your kind attention.

Yours in literary fellowship,

Sir Nessun Dorma




Overall, I feel this is a really strong query, so great job!

One thing I wanted to mention, however, is that (to me) the plot reads more like an upper middle grade fantasy than a YA fantasy. Usually 14-year-old protagonists are put in the upper MG category. (Although you can get away with a 14-year-old MC in YA, usually a 15-year-old makes it solidly YA.)

With that said, however, your voice and vocabulary seems to lend itself to a YA audience (then again, it's not necessarily too advanced for middle schoolers).


At the end of the day, you have decide what age category you feel is right for your book. But after reading your query a few times, I don't feel 100% confident that this plot is YA (though there may be subplots that would make it more glaringly so).


Regardless, the meat of query letter is great (which I know is what you really wanted feedback on)!


Hope this helps! Good luck! :)





Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 01:00:04 PM »
Dear Miss Ash,

I vacillated or quite some time whether this should be middle grade or young adult.  I actually prepared two literary agent lists of each type.  I feel this story is on the cusp of either category.  What decided my decision was the word count.  88.000 words is firmly in the young adult category. and may be stretching it for MG.  However, on the other hand, I can easily advance Kara's age to fifteen without changing too many points of the story.

Thanks for your feedback.

Sir Nessun Dorma

Offline rivergirl

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2020, 07:49:35 PM »
Surprisingly good for a first query! I agree with Tiger Ash on the long winded and wordy sentence. Also I’m wondering if xenophobia belongs here since we are talking about dinosaurs and not races.

Offline JMB

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 09:36:30 AM »
The query is well written and easy to follow. My concern is it sounds generic. Gentle, genial, intelligent, international firestorm—these words do not paint a picture for the reader of your unique story. Try being specific to your character and plot. Example—Dino (name) drinks from a baby bottle and does calculus. Firestorm—think ET where scientist rush in, capture the creature, assemble lab on site, and poke and prod the poor creature. This will give voice/personality to the query.

Online ryan1

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 10:10:28 AM »
Reminds me, loosely, of aspects of the movies E.T.Baby, Fly Away Home and Pete's Dragon.

I tend to agree that it feels more like MG to me than YA (other than word-count).  I'm not sure it is just the age of the MC, but also the presentation of the query. 

In order for this to feel more YA, I think you might need to bring in some relational aspects of this.  Is there a budding romance in there anywhere?  Or, in the very least, a friendship that has romantic potential (even if it never plays out)?  Or something else that gives us a better sense of Kara being more than a girl who likes a cute dinosaur. 

One question I'm left wondering that I think you should answer in this is where did the egg come from? 

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 01:19:46 PM »

xenophobia noun
 
xe·​no·​pho·​bia | \ ˌze-nə-ˈfō-bē-ə

Definition of xenophobia

: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

Online ryan1

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 01:35:27 PM »
I think xenophobia, STRICTLY speaking, rivergirl might be correct...however, I believe that the terms has grown to encompass a larger range of fear, including alien beings and creatures, so I'm not troubled by its use in that regard.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2020, 03:19:07 PM »
I think the word is deinophobia (if I were you I wouldn’t rely on my spelling).
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline GlitterFox

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 03:29:27 PM »
Quote
For fourteen-year-old Kara Bishop her summer starts innocently enough—a triceratops hatches on the Wyoming ranch where she is residing.

Strong hook! You might consider tightening it by saying "Fourteen-year-old Kara Bishop's summer starts innocently enough..." Also, "where she is residing" sounds a little stiff to me.

Quote
Her uncle charges her with its care and upbringing and, wishing to avoid a nationwide uproar, exhorts her to keep its presence a secret. Christened Archie, the infant dino wins over his owners’ hearts with his gentleness and geniality, and proves to be surprisingly intelligent.

This all flows well. "exhorts" threw me a little, though. In general, I feel like your vocabulary could be more accessible.

Quote
Then Archie’s existence is inadvertently revealed, igniting an international firestorm of controversy and campaign of intolerance, and unleashing an enigmatic malignancy intent on his destruction.

This is where you start losing me. I agree with JMB that the language here is very abstract and doesn't give a clear sense of the conflict. Can you be more specific about who the antagonists are and why they're intent on Archie's destruction?

Quote
However, xenophobia, media hostility, and ignorance put her on the losing side of an increasingly desperate fight

Here, I want a clearer sense of what this fight looks like for her. I'd also love a little more information about why Kara is so personally invested in this cause. You mention that "she wants to believe humanity is inherently fair"--this is interesting, and a good opportunity to develop her character.

Quote
A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR is a YA low fantasy complete at 88,700 words.

To echo others' comments, this feels very much like a middle-grade novel to me. If you can get the word count down, I think you'd be much more successful pitching this as MG.

Hope this helps!

Offline Sir Nessun Dorma

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 05:15:18 PM »
To all who have replied,

Hmmm, sometimes word choice can be so difficult.  I am a professional of the medical profession, and $.50 words come easily to me.  I was hoping that since this query letter is meant for the eyes of professionals, i.e., literary agents, word choice would not be so problematic.  However, the precise reason I asked for your opinions is to get exactly this type of feedback.  Therefore I am going to tone down the vocabulary and rewrite that wordy sentence.

Deinophobia is an excellent word.  It is up there with 'grok', 'droid', 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' (Sp?), and 'jabberwocky'.

I'm going crazy reading your comments on whether this should be YA or MG.  I'm leaning more and more towards MG, and, believe me, I've pruned down the word count by several thousand.  I feel like Igor leaning on Gene Wilder's shoulder: I'm going to cry.  At this point I think the most practical strategy is to submit to about 5 agents apiece the manuscript in each category.

Thank you all, and keep those useful comments coming.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: A GIRL AND HER DINOSAUR - low YA fantasy
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 05:30:50 PM »
Oh Hell No - I didn’t mean you should use the word deinophibia.  Most people don’t even know what xenophobia means (agents should).  I was simply adding to the conversation.
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle