Thursday, February 08, 2018

Feedback Request

The author of the book most recently featured here would like feedback on this new version of the query.

Dear E. Editor,

Muriel Snick started working in the palace kitchens when she was five years old. Now that she's sixteen, she could almost run them herself. There isn't a job Snick hasn't performed, from rotating spits to decorating cakes, and she's dreamed of running her own kitchen for years.

Snick ran [runs] away during the palace riots. It was one thing to stick around when King Richard died, but with [now] someone [is] murdering [Richard's] children—legitimate, illegitimate, and [including] any palace staff young enough to be [his offspring.] illegitimate—the countryside is much safer. She'll [Muriel hopes to find work as a cook and establish herself somewhere new, where no one will know she's the family disgrace [her true identity].

A commoner group called the Truth Seekers is willing to take a chance on her. With all the remaining royalty declaring war on each other, the Seekers are doing work royalty's supposed to, like organizing flood relief and investigating missing nobility. They've also established ties with a neighboring country, who's going [willing] to take in a group of refugees. They need another good cook to go [travel] with the group. If Snick gets some experience cooking in the field, managing limited resources and contrary workers, she could be that cook. [You said the Seekers were willing to take a chance on her. I assumed that meant they were hiring her as a cook. But now it sounds like she doesn't have the job yet. I suggest changing the first two sentences of this paragraph to: With all the remaining royalty declaring war on each other, a commoner group called the Truth Seekers are doing work royalty's supposed to, like organizing flood relief and investigating missing nobility. Then change the last sentence to It's the perfect opportunity for Muriel.]

There are a few problems with this plan. She [Muriel] was never a servant. Muriel Snick isn't her real name. If anyone finds out who she is, well, not even the Seekers could keep someone from killing her [protect her]. And worst of all: she doesn't want to leave. [Can't she leave and come back after the refugees get where they're going?]

Truth Seekers is a YA fantasy, complete at 90,000 words. The somewhat unreliable narrator never acknowledges her real name. While this book stands alone, it is the proposed first in a trilogy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



I like the focus on Muriel the cook rather than Muriel the princess.

Once we know her name's Muriel Snick, I think you should call her Muriel rather than Snick.

I still don't see why the reader of this query needs to know Muriel never acknowledges her real name.


Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I think it's really clear and thorough. I like EE's edits with the wording and suggestion about putting in the sentence 'it's the perfect opportunity for Snick' , I think that would sound amazing.

This version isn't voicey like the others but I've spoken to an agent recently and clarity seems to be more important to them than voice, though voice is nice.

I did get a cool excited feeling reading near the end with the way you put it, about Muriel about to go with The Truth Seekers because she is a cook but they don't realize who she is. It just comes across as suspenseful there, to me, in a way that the others failed!

...Can you do my query? Lol just kidding

Alaina said...

What you didn't see was that the first version I sent to Mr. EE here was draft... hang on, lemme check my folder of bad queries... eleven. The second one I sent in was draft fifteen, and the third one is draft twenty. I learn how to do things better by doing them wrong in a lot of different ways first.

This isn't the first thing I've written queries for, either; I probably have thirty or forty queries written for an earlier project, and at least twenty on a project before that. I was getting personalized rejections explaining the story had a problem I didn't know how to fix two years ago. A lot of cussing and a complete rewrite later, I've got it fixed and a new story. We'll see if it goes anywhere.

Thanks, Mr. EE, and everyone who's commented here along the way. I still have some improvements to make, but I should be ready to query this before the end of the month (my goal) and start on my new year's resolution: receiving 50 rejections or 5 partial requests by the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

This version doesn't explicitly say anywhere that Muriel is a princess.

Wrong age, wrong place, wrong time is enough reason for her to skedaddle. However, her being a family disgrace and not a servant doesn't make her a princess or more than a just-in-case-she-is target. If she is a royal and there's something she thinks she can do about the situation, you might want to say so and what.

You've said both that she wants to leave and that she doesn't want to leave without giving us any reason to think she's changed her mind. Was she originally trying to just leave the palace and not the country or has something changed her mind about leaving? You might want to specify one way or the other.

What field is she supposed to get experience cooking in? I assumed she was going with the group to get experience, but that would make her the cook you're referring to so something isn't adding up right. Could just be me.

Good Luck

St0n3henge said...

I don't see how "she doesn't want to leave" is the worst thing. "She could be killed anyway" is probably the worst thing.

I agree that the voice is missing. It is more clear.

khazarkhum said...

Is she just interested in self-preservation, or does she want to bring the killer(s) to justice? Right now we have an MC who runs away from her troubles instead of dealing with them in any meaningful way.

St0n3henge said...

K.K. has a point. The story is she runs away? Not so great. Who is dealing with these killers? Does Alias Muriel eventually have to stand up to them?

khazarkhum said...

From what we've been told, Muriel only wants to run away and avoid responsibility. She wants to play cook, not be a princess. Once the killing starts, we need to know why she chooses to hide. Is she legitimately scared for her life? Using her disguise to find out who'd behind them? Or just kind of wander, humming Not My Problem while her kingdom burns? Because that's what's going to happen--a massive civil war as factions fight for the throne. Don't give me that 'No one wants the throne because of the murders' bullshit, either. 150000 people could die trying to get that power, and there'd still be many more willing to give it a shot.

Something needs to happen to knock her out of her self-centered life and take action.

Anonymous said...

I also kind of wonder about the god picking the heir to the throne mentioned in a previous version--is he/she/it ok with candidates being offed all over the place?

khazarkhum said...

We need to know, upfront, that she's a princess hiding under an assumed name. We also should know that the royal family is so vast, preoccupied, or disorganized, that no one notices. Otherwise it's a big 'So what' until the last couple pf sentences, and that's not the kind of surprise you want to spring on an agent or editor.