Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pitchwars Query Critique – THE EXILES


Here is another query critique for our pitchwars hopefuls. I’ve pasted the entire query and first page, then again with my comments. Thank you so much to Emily Suarez for sharing with us!

 
 

Dear Mentor,
 

Best friends Lyzzi and Julian have been bounced from one eccentric foster home to the next. Neither can remember much of their pasts, but they suspect there is more to their childhood than what they can remember. The two teens meet Nicky, Julian’s shy new neighbor, and together they stumble into a magical yet familiar world. Thrust out of her comfort zone and into a country warring against a corrupt regime, Nicky makes a dangerous friend while Lyzzi and Julian contend with the truth of who they are as they struggle to survive.

 
For Julian, life was complicated enough without discovering he and his best friend Lyzzi are the exiled heirs to the overthrown monarchy of a magical country. Lyzzi, however, is delighted to find answers and eager to resume her role as heir. Nicky is unwittingly whisked into her new friends' chaos. Separated from the others, she makes a tentative friend in Mytch -- someone she should consider an enemy. Chased by magicians, eerie faeries and werewolves, the teens just need to stay safe long enough for the Rebels to win the ongoing civil war and for Nicky and her family to make it home alive.

 
At 100,000 words complete THE EXILES is a young adult fantasy exploring friendship and loyalty set in a world where every turn leads to danger and new discoveries.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

Emily Suarez

suarez.emilyrose@gmail.com

 

---

 

Chapter One

 

Julian was leaving another home. 

 

He was standing on the cobblestone walk in front of the old shotgun house with ivy creeping over the porch. The street smelled of pot smoke. He hefted the last cardboard box into his arms and hesitated, glancing one last time at the front door. He felt numb as he stared. It was his body’s defense against more change.

 

"You should be used to moving around by now," Abbey said checking his watch. Abbey had been Julian’s caseworker for the last year and a half. "How many different families you been with for the last six years?"

 

Julian frowned and finally turned away from the house. "Why the last six?"

 

Abbey’s brow furrowed and he looked at his watch again as he shrugged. "Six seems like a good number."

 

Julian looked at the man. He dressed like a character out of a steampunk novel with his vintage suits and golden pocket watches. Julian was used to strange people, however. He had been with foster parents that were far stranger than Abbey, but he couldn’t complain -- he had heard horror stories from kids who ended up in abusive homes. He had always been lucky. At sixteen, he couldn't remember a time before he had been in the system, but the worst he had to deal with were a few eccentricities -- strange social habits, a couple who didn’t own cellphones and this last family might have been drug dealers. People were always showing up at odd hours of the night. Julian was vaguely aware that his experiences were unique compared to other state kids, but, unlike his best friend Lyzzi, he tried not to dwell on the strangeness.

 

 

Now with my comments!

 

Dear Mentor,

 

Best friends Lyzzi and Julian have been bounced from one eccentric foster home to the next. Neither can remember much of their pasts, but they suspect there is more to their childhood than what they can remember. Bit blah and vague. How does this memory loss make them feel? Are they disturbed by it, resigned? The two teens meet Nicky, Julian’s shy new neighbor, and together they stumble into a magical yet familiar world. Thrust out of her comfort zone  and into a country warring against a corrupt regime, Nicky makes a dangerous friend while Lyzzi and Julian contend with the truth of who they are as they struggle to survive. Again, this whole paragraph a bit blah…needs to be more catchy. These query summaries aren’t just about this happens then this happens then this happens, they’re about making an agent want to read more! You can be a bit more specific too if it’s something that will hook the reader!

 

For Julian, life was complicated enough without discovering he and his best friend Lyzzi are the exiled heirs to the overthrown monarchy of a magical country. Lyzzi, however, is delighted to find answers and eager to resume her role as heir. Nicky is unwittingly whisked into her new friends' chaos. Separated from the others, she makes a tentative friend in Mytch -- someone she should consider an enemy. Chased by magicians, eerie faeries and werewolves, the teens just need to stay safe long enough for the Rebels to win the ongoing civil war and for Nicky and her family to make it home alive. I’ve seen this a lot…the first two paragraphs seem like they are each a first paragraph…I’m guessing you have alternating perspective? Blend this together with the relevant info from above and think about plot points that will intrigue an agent!

 

At 100,000 words complete THE EXILES is a young adult fantasy exploring friendship and loyalty set in a world where every turn leads to danger and new discoveries. Maybe add some comp titles here. Are you a member of SCBWI? If so add here too.

 

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Emily Suarez

suarez.emilyrose@gmail.com

 

This query reads like the story is very MG…very THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Bring out the YA elements from the story into the query summary. Is there a romance? Add more on the obstacles your characters have to overcome.

---

 

Chapter One

 

Julian was leaving another home. Great first line!

 

He was standing stood on the cobblestone walk in front of the old shotgun house with ivy creeping over the porch. The street smelled of pot smoke. He hefted the last cardboard box into his arms and hesitated, glancing one last time at the front door. He felt numb as he stared. It was his body’s defense against more change.

 

"You should be used to moving around by now," Abbey said checking his is Abbey a male? Shouldn’t he be Mr. Somebody? watch. Abbey had been Julian’s caseworker for the last year and a half. "How many different families you been with for the last six years?"

 

Julian frowned and finally turned away from the house. "Why the last six?"

 

Abbey’s brow furrowed and he looked at his watch again as he shrugged. "Six seems like a good number."

 

Julian looked at the man. He dressed like a character out of a steampunk novel with his vintage suits and golden pocket watches. Julian was used to strange people, however. He had been with foster parents that were far stranger than Abbey, but he couldn’t complain -- he had heard horror stories from kids who ended up in abusive homes. He had always been lucky. At sixteen, he couldn't remember a time before he had been in the system, but the worst he had to deal with were a few eccentricities -- strange social habits, a couple who didn’t own cellphones and this last family might have been drug dealers. Don’t think drug dealers qualify as just a little eccentric. People were always showing up at odd hours of the night. Julian was vaguely aware that his experiences were unique compared to other state kids, but, unlike his best friend Lyzzi, he tried not to dwell on the strangeness.

 

This is good background info on Julian, but for me, this first page doesn’t make me want to keep reading…I don’t get a sense of who Julian is so I’m not sure if I care what happens to him. Perhaps Lyzzi can actually come to see Julian off, and they can have a conversation about their past “eccentric homes.” That way we can get out of the telling mode and see a bit of Julian’s personality, as well as learn organically that Lyzzi is his best friend, instead of just being told. Then I would be invested in his future and want to keep turning those pages!

Thanks again to Emily Suarez for sharing her work with us!

For the next query visit Kate on her blog on 10/6 at katekaryusquinn.blogspot.com and I’ll have another critique right here next Tuesday!

2 comments:

  1. Your tips are very constructive. Noting the use of strange- I guess we all have words we overuse without realizing it as writers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice share once again. you seem a humble and sweet soul. I liked the way you explain this story. Keep doing the same. I would like to bookmark your page to revisit it again. thanks

    ReplyDelete