Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jennifer Johnson's Query Revision and Critique

Recently, I posted Jennifer Johnson's critiqued query letter. She has since revised it and I've critiqued it again. Here are both versions, so you can see the difference between them. I'll post the old version first.

Below is my detailed critique. Please select FULL SCREEN to view, then once the document is open RIGHT CLICK to ZOOM and view the comments.

Jennifer Johnson's Query 1

Here's Jennifer's newest version of her query letter.

Jennifer Johnson's Query 2

Thanks again for volunteering, Jennifer. The next winner of the query contest will have his/her query critiqued a week from today. Watch for it.

What did you think of Jennifer's revisions? Any suggestions on how she can further improve her query?


  1. I give you much credit for volunteering!!!

    I am pretty confused. The "tears his mind in half" thing and then he's two people?? I really didn't get what has actually happened to him. Is there any way to make that a clearer??

    I hope this helps somewhat. Honest feedback is the only way to make it better! :) Good luck!! Been where you are...many many times!!!

  2. The revision is well on its way to describing your story with some clever catch phrases. But I agree, its still too vague.

    A question I have is whether the novel is written from both Calder and Ariana's POV's and if so, which is the main POV character? I'm also wondering if these two meet anytime before or during their two separate adventures, why Calder is the one to rescue her, and why Ariana is content to be kidnapped?

    Answering these questions in the query could be as easy as starting off the query with whichever is first in the novel, adding the motivation and conflict, then disclosing the same on the second, and ending with the payoff for both.

    Example: Prince Calder has been given the task of rescuings Princess Ariana (by/or because), and what that will gain him. Before he starts out he is confronted by (the mysterious) wizard Pennington, who warns him he needs to complete a different quest first. Skeptical, Calder refuses, and the widard (casts a spell on the spot, brews a potion) and now there are two Calder's; one a child living in poverty and his original self that nobody in his kingdom recognizes/remembers any more.

    Meanwhile, Princess Ariana is content with her captivity b/c it is better than (whatever her conflict is). Although she is treated as royalty and her every whim catered to, she is lonely for company and curious about the nature of her reclusive captor and the reason why she is there. Adriana sets out to explore the mysteries of Faralay Castle, but every time she gets close to explanations, she is thwarted by the head manservant, and the machinations of Pennington.

    Prince Calder has to (do whatever)to reunite his divided self while continuing his quest to rescue the princess and resolve (why she was kidnapped, perhaps). When he finally makes his way to Faralay Castle however, he discovers the Princess is the final obstacle to completing his quest.

    Something like that. Good luck with your re-writes.


  3. What a difference! I have to say, though the plot intrigued me in the original, I'm more likely to read it looking at the second query. :)

  4. Thanks Lynnette! Obviously I still have a lot to learn, but it's nice to have some personal feedback.

    @Stephanie: I was trying to describe what it felt like for him. In medical terms he's now schizophrenic: one part of him acts/thinks like his original character, the other part acts/thinks like the character the narrator wants him to be. I hope that clears up any confusion. If you have a better way to explain that without using "schizophrenia," let me know!

    @Donna: The story is actually written from four people's point of view (with the apprentice wizard and pet thief I mentioned in the 2nd version). I thought Calder and Arianna headed the two main conflicts, which is why they're included. They do meet towards the end of the novel, when their storylines merge.

    Arianna's parents basically hire Calder to rescue her. She's content to be kidnapped because her regular life is boring (if you had to embroider and play music and sit quietly all day, you'd be bored too).

    I was trying to convey that Pennington is the narrator, but I think that got missed in the confusion and my attempts at voice. The reason I went with "wizard" is because that's how Calder sees him. After all, someone claiming to be the narrator of your story doesn't seem very sane.

    I do like your idea of having the payoff for both conflicts at the end, although I'm not sure how that would work with Lynnette's advice of only two paragraphs for the blurb. Thanks for the help and support!

    @Oddyoddy013: Thanks! Did you find it confusing at all?