Author Topic: YA Urban Fantasy  (Read 5985 times)

Offline eraset14

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YA Urban Fantasy
« on: May 21, 2009, 11:28:49 AM »
This is my revised query that I've used a few times to send to agents the past month. I got two requests for partials with it so something must be right but I'd like some feedback because I still don't love it though its much better then my first ones before I got help on another forum. I'm excited to see what great suggestions you all with have for me here because I LOVE the QT Blog.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this post and offer feedback!

(I purposely left out the Dear Agent and book title, word count paragraph since the summary is what I need help with. It's an 80,000 word YA Urban Fantasy and part of a series.)

So let me have it...

Eighteen-year-old Abbey Willard hasn’t heard from her first love, Michael, for over two years. He disappeared the night she nearly lost her life in a car accident—something Abbey’s always felt was no coincidence. While packing for a trip home she stumbles across a letter from Michael inside an old suitcase. Abbey calls the faded phone number on the letter and someone named Gabriel answers—a brother Michael never mentioned.

When Abbey meets Gabriel she instantly recognizes him as a famous and exceptionally arrogant rock star. Even more shocking than Gabriel’s identity is the news he shares. Michael could be dead. The two embark on a journey following the clues Michael left behind, taking them from the savannah to the western coast of Africa where Gabriel reveals his family secret. They’re not really from the place they claimed. In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find on a globe.

Offline newday11

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2009, 12:04:28 PM »
 :draw: Gave you your 1st karma! I like the query but I felt too abrupt a change here: "was no coincidence. While packing"  newday11
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Offline TereLiz

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 07:43:16 PM »

Eighteen-year-old Abbey Willard hasn’t heard from her first love, Michael, for over two years. He disappeared the night she nearly lost her life in a car accident—something Abbey has always felt was no coincidence. While packing for a trip home  Stumbling across a letter from Michael inside an old suitcase, Abbey can't help but call the faded phone number on the letter.  To her surprise, someone named Gabriel answers—a brother Michael never mentioned.

When Abbey meets Gabriel she instantly recognizes him as a famous but infamously arrogant rock star. Even more shocking than Gabriel’s identity is the news he shares. Michael could be dead. Together they [something, the proper word is eluding me, it's like, the opposite of eluding] the clues Michael left behind, embarking on a journey across the savannah to the western coast of Africa. There, Gabriel reveals his family secret. He and Michael are from the place they claimed. In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find on a globe.

Ooh, sounds right up my alley.  If you wind up getting too many rejections for your liking off your partials, it sounds like it would be fun to beta read for you. 

Good luck on your querying. 

Tere

Offline YukonMike

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2009, 07:51:04 AM »
Hi eraset14,

One change for me at the end: "They’re not really from the place they claimed (New York City ... L.A. ... mention the place instead of saying "the place"). In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find on a globe Earth." Shorter is always better in my opinion.

I really liked your query letter. It got me interest and it makes me want to ask for a partial.  :clap: :yes:

One question. Why does Gabriel wait for Abbey to find his brother? I'm guessing there is a reason Gabriel would wait two years to find his brother.

And although I really like the query the way it is, I think some agents might want to know who the bad guys are. Some people want to know about the conlict -- but honestly, the mystery of the family secret is enough for me.

Good luck.

Offline eraset14

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2009, 09:41:00 AM »
YAY! So glad I posted, already getting such great feedback.  :clap:
Thank you Newday11, Tereliz and YukonMike for taking time to read my query and offer your opinions. I've played with the editing you've suggested and will repost soon.

I'm going to work on a detailed synopsis over the next few days because I feel like this query lacks the
voice I have in the actual novel. There is so much more to the story that might be better suited for
hooking an agent. For example, Abbey discovers her family has secrets and even visits a place that's more exciting then her visit to Africa (bet you can guess where). Not to mention the reason Gabriel's on earth
in the first place.

Tereliz - I will definitely let you know if I need another beta reader in the future, thank you SO much for the offer. I plan on revising the story as a last result since I've done it so many times already! I'm so excited you think the story sounds interesting and something you're into to!

YukonMike - Gabriel didn't look for his brother because he had no idea he was lost. LOL There was a falling out with the family so he hadn't spoken to his brother in years, that is until Abbey calls. Michael actually left the letter for her the night he skipped town when he came to say goodbye in the hospital. She doesn't find it until (two years) later when she's packing her suitcase for a trip home. (her mom didnt know what it was and stuck it in the suitcase in the hospital)  Good suggestion on the bad guy thing but it's not the average good guy vs bad guy situation. Let me think on how I'd approach that...

Please keep the feedback coming, it's a huge help!



Offline violet

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2009, 11:51:53 AM »
E-

I too liked your query...I also write YA urban fantasy. I agree w/ everyone's notes so all I'll say is I wish the query had some voice to it...esp. w/ YA, I like to see that, moreso than with other types of fiction.

~V

Offline jamieharrington

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2009, 11:59:09 AM »
Nothing to say other than I love this query!
Have a Nice Day and Watch out for the Big Yellow Chicken!!!

Offline eraset14

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2009, 05:51:00 PM »
Here's a new version of my query...what do you think?   :naughty:
I tried to get more a voice in this time.


When eighteen year old Abbey Willard finds a letter from her first love, it stirs up all kinds of emotions. Unfortunately, they're not the good kind.  Michael disappeared the night she nearly lost her life in a car accident - something Abbey's always felt was no coincidence. It's no wonder she can't resist calling the phone number Michael left in the note. But the person who answers is the last thing she expects – Gabriel, an estranged brother Michael never mentioned.

From the instant Abbey meets Gabriel, it's obvious He's nothing like his brother. For starters, He's a world famous rock star who turns out to be the most arrogant person she's ever met. More shocking than his identity is the news he shares. Michel could be dead, and he thinks it's Abbey's fault. Racked with guilt, Abbey insists Gabriel let her tag along on his trip to Africa in search of Michael. There, Gabriel reveals his family secret. They aren't from South America. In fact, they're not from any place you'd find on Earth.


Offline violet

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2009, 05:58:44 PM »
E-

 ??? I'm confused...I really don't see more voice in this query... :eek:

I REALLY liked your first one, along w/ everyone else...I think you should stick w/ that one, and infuse the voice somewhere into it. Sometimes it only needs to be a word, or something descriptive.


Offline newday11

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2009, 06:02:46 PM »
 ;D Violet, maybe talk about voice. newday11
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Offline twoheadknight

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2009, 06:13:13 PM »
I felt kind of a sassy youthful "voice" happening in the 2nd version  :naughty:!  I agree I'd like to hear more about the YA kind of voice (I write for adults, so I just may not get it  :crazy:), but I liked it.

I agree with the other folks here--very strong query eraset14, and welcome to the boards!  :clap:

Offline ElanaJ

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2009, 10:24:36 PM »
I'll go with this one, because I think it's the one I can help the most with. I don't think the first one has any kind of grabber at the beginning and you all know how I feel about that.  :wink: This one, I can at least start to see it. I'm going to shred, cuz she asked me to. As always, this is my opinion, and you can take what you want and leave the rest.

When eighteen year old Abbey Willard finds a letter from her first love, it stirs up all kinds of emotions--and not the good kind. (I think this is more grabby as a single sentence. And that's what you're going for, I think.) Unfortunately, they're not the good kind. 

Michael disappeared the night she nearly lost her life in a car accident - something Abbey's always felt was no coincidence. (I like this sentence, the way I like a Jeep. It's utilitarian. It gets the job done. Is it particularly filled with voice? No, does it really propel me to read more? Um, maybe. I think you want every sentence to drive to the next one. And this Jeep is sort of parked right now. Consider something like: "The night she nearly lost her life in a car accident was the same night she lost Michael--for good." Or something like that. Notice it says the exact same thing, but (I think) in a much punchier way. Oooh, this could be the first sentence! Then you won't have the letter and the note separated. Yes, yes, I like that.  ;D

It's no wonder she can't resist calling the phone number Michael left in the note. (This note comes out of nowhere in this version. I was thinking, "Whoa. There's a note? Because you called it a LETTER. Now that may seem like a little difference, but it threw me. Or maybe I just need more Ginger ale.  :wink: However, I feel this sentence is Jeep-ish too. Sort of "meh." In fact, now that I want to put the accident first, the whole query is freaking me out.)
 
But the person who answers is the last thing she expects (why? who does she expect? His mom? His dad? Why wouldn't she expect a brother to answer? Who is she expecting? Yeah, I'm not liking that. Sorry!) – Gabriel, an estranged brother Michael never mentioned.

From the instant Abbey meets Gabriel, it's obvious He's (why is this capped? Is he God?) nothing like his brother. For starters, He's (capped again = weird) a world famous rock star (does the rock star thing have anything to do with anything? who cares? just because he's arrogant? I'm not getting why you've made a special point to make sure I know he's a rock star.  ???) who turns out to be the most arrogant person she's ever met. More shocking than his identity is the news he shares. Michel could be dead, and he thinks it's Abbey's fault.

Racked with guilt, Abbey insists Gabriel let her tag along (Um, no. You never want your protag to "tag along." Ever. Even if that's what she's doing. Sorry!) on his trip to Africa in search of Michael. There, Gabriel reveals his family secret. They aren't from South America. In fact, they're not from any place you'd find on Earth. (So what? Sorry, but that's my first reaction. Zippity doo dah. They're not from Earth. And, so I ask...so what? You're missing the consequence. If they're not from Earth, then...Abbey stands a chance of getting her brains eaten out by zombies? She has to traipse through a dangerous and unknown alternate reality hovering in a film above Earth? SO WHAT? [I'm not shouting, I'm just trying to help you see that there's nothing at stake here. She learns a secret. And... __ ____?]  ;D ;D ;D )

I think the whole second paragraph needs to be abandoned completely. Seriously. Cut it or open a new document. Don't allow yourself to use even a single word that is the same. I need the conflict and I need the consequence FOR ABBEY if she can't find Michael or what it means for her if his family isn't from Earth. I don't feel like I have a grip on either of those things right now. I'm not sure what the real conflict is, and I have no idea what the consequence is.


But the beginning has the inklings of a hook and some excellent setup. I think it needs a bit of rearrangement. Consider below:

The night eighteen-year-old Abbey Willard nearly lost her life in a car accident was the same night she lost Michael--for good. Or so she thought. Now, almost two years later, she's found a letter, complete with Michael's distinct handwriting. And an unknown phone number. When she calls, she discovers an estranged brother Michael never mentioned.

You could stand to give me another sentence of setup if needed, but now what you need to do is establish the conflict and the consequence if Abbey can't find a way to overcome that conflict.

And seriously, I don't normally shred quite so much in the forum (I save that for email  :wink:) so I hope something helps!

;D ;D ;D Elana

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Offline eraset14

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2009, 10:42:50 PM »
Oh Elana, bless you! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!!!  :yes:

And you're right I specifically asked you to come tear it up - that you did. Funny, how having your work ripped up can feel so good. I agree with just about everything you said and I LOVE the stuff you wrote fresh. So glad I took Jamie's advice on posting here and sending you a message to check it out too! There's so much more to the story that I was leaving out. How foolish of me. Is it wrong that I can't wait to go rip my query up and burn the pieces? (little joke from the Twilight movie - they say that about ten times- ok, we get the point!)

Thanks again to everyone for reading and posting. I got exactly what I needed to go back and create a shiny new query! I'll repost the new attempt so you can all see how your comments and edits helped me improve.


Offline DHE

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2009, 08:58:05 PM »
Okay, I've got to admit, I loved the line about:  "Gabriel reveals his family secret. They’re not really from the place they claimed. In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find on a globe."  I agree it needed some tweaking (use the name of the place) but I loved the reversal b/c I really didn't see it coming.  But I also agree with Elana that we do need to understand the consequences if they don't find him and what this means.  If you can find a way to do that AND keep this in, I'd be ecstatic.  Like if you could show us some strange stuff happening during this search that don't make sense and show us the consequences and then hit us with this line...well, I don't know if that could work because i don't know what the central conflict is, but it could really rock.  I guess I'm imagining something like:

Abbey teams up with Michael's arrogant jerk of a brother, Gabriel.  After their first day on the search, she's ready to ditch him, because it's either that or kill him.  But then __ happens and ___happens and it seems the car crash isn't the only "coincidence" that seems to be warning her away from her search for Michael.  Gabriel cryptically tells her that it looks like Michael's life is in danger, obviously understanding something he refuses to tell her.  When it becomes obvious that the warnings are over and that their search for Michael is much more deadly than they'd imagined, Gabriel reveals his family secret. He and his brother aren't really from ____.  In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find on Earth.

Something like that, if that's how your story's set up, might really work well.  That way, it's implied that if she continues her search for Michael, she's in serious danger.  We don't know why, but I don't think we really need to if it's set up this way.  I think the mystery might add something as long as we understand that the stakes are there.  And if you have the above, you could always add a one liner that explains the central conflict in more detail if you think you need it.  But this might not be a format that can work with what you have; it's just a suggestion to play with if you want to. 

Whatever you do with the query, I really like the character dynamics you have set up here.  Perhaps it's not what I'm supposed to be rooting for, but right now, I'm so in love with the two enemies on a mission toward a common goal, that I hope they get together. :)  But I guess that would suck for Michael...but then you mentioned he might already be dead...  >:D ;D

Offline eraset14

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Re: YA Urban Fantasy
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2009, 08:31:13 AM »
Ohh DHE, I was so excited to read your comments! Great advice and totally motivational - you got it right - Abbey and Gabriel are the ones that you should be rooting for half way through the book. It's so very cool that you like the last line. I'm going to work on another set of revisions this week. Hopefully I'll have something I love that I can post later.

Thanks so much for the support! Hearing what people like can be just as helpful as the critique!  :wink: