#1 Query Corner: “F2P: Free To Play”

Welcome to my new feature!

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

(Because alliteration!)

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com) and you are selected for inclusion: I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of  form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

The story sounds like a cute high school romance, with relatable characters and a decent amount of plot.

Overall, pretty solid query. I tweaked it and streamlined it a little. Originally, the focus seemed to be on the contest (making me think of When Dimple Met Rashi….), but the original intro-line helps turn it more into “stand up to ex”, which seems to be where it’s actually going.

If the contest is still a major focus, you need to add it back in to the final paragraph/line. (Should it be texts? Or snap-chats? [Kids these days?!])

The Original:

[my comments are in blue]

Dear [FirstName],

Seventeen-year-old Renee Griffin is an animator and gamer girl who’s spent the last few months getting over the ex-boyfriend who made her feel small and stupid by working on an animated film that symbolizes her own relaunch. [Super long intro sentence! QueryShark recommends <25 words. Let’s see if we can split this up.]

Frustrated by her progress on the film and with a contest deadline looming at the end of the month, Renee takes a break to keep her sister from doing anything too embarrassing in front of the new boy, Bram Singh. Sparks fly between Renee and Bram. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

When her ex gets in her face, and the boys of the gamers club mock her animated film, [Renee?] goes on the attack. The spirit Bram loves while they game embarrasses him at school, and Renee thinks she must tone down in order to save her relationship like she did before [OH! This sounds like what the story’s actually about at its core]. Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field, and Renee must speak up or risk losing herself even if it costs her the one person who truly gets her.

F2P: FREE TO PLAY is a contemporary young adult romance, complete at 69,000 words. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories laced with complicated and believable family dynamics [really? then let’s hint at this in the query], like those of Emery Lord and Jenny Han, but with a techie twist.

SUBMITOR’S NOTE: 

I’m also including my original hook opening, which I think is stronger than the opening I have now, but doesn’t quite fit with the query after a recent revision of the first fifty pages of the book. I really like it though so for reference or inspiration here it is…

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and put down her gameplay. Now, she wants to keep it loud. 

The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent],

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and put down her game-play. Now, she wants to keep it loud. When Renee learns about a competition for animated film creators, she sees it as a chance to [relaunch her life–and (might cut)] prove her ex-boyfriend wrong.

 But with the deadline looming, Renee’s progress grinds towards a halt. Disheartened, she lets her sister talk her into going out. That’s when she meets Bram Singh. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

After her ex gets in her face and the boys of the Gamers Club mock her animated film, Renee goes on the attack. Instead of supporting her and the spirit Bram loves while they game, he accuses her of embarrassing him. Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field. Renee must decide if she’d rather risk losing the one person who truly gets her by speaking up or accept a world where you give in, to get by. [or revert the agreeable side-kick she used to be… or cage her voice and sense of justice… Or. Renee must decide if she should keep quiet and change her animation the way the club suggests, or ignore them and Bram’s pride, use her voice to defend her friend, and submit the film she’d always envisioned. ]

F2P: FREE TO PLAY is a contemporary young adult romance, complete at 69,000 words. It should appeal to readers who enjoy stories laced with family dynamics, like those of Emery Lord and Jenny Han, but with a techie twist.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q1]

[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

 

After a little conversation with Querier #1, she admitted the story addresses sister-relationships and online bullying of female gamers. So, I took a 2nd stab at the query.

New Revised Query:

 Dear [Agent],

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and joined the online trolls who put down her game-play. Now, she wants to keep it loud. When Renee learns about a competition for animated film creators, she sees it as a chance to prove her harassers wrong.

But with the deadline looming, Renee’s progress grinds towards a halt. Disheartened, she lets her sister, [Sis], talk her into going out, if only to keep [Sis] from humiliating herself. That’s when Renee meets Bram Singh. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

After her ex gets in her face and the boys of the Gamers Club mock her animated film, Renee goes on the attack. Instead of supporting her and the spirit Bram loves when she stands up to online trolls, he accuses her of embarrassing him. [To her surprise, it’s Sis who has her back.] Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field. Renee must decide if she’d rather risk losing the one person who truly gets her by speaking up or accept a world where you give in, to get by. [or revert the agreeable side-kick she used to be… or cage her voice and sense of justice… Or. Renee must decide if she should keep quiet and change her animation the way the club suggests, or ignore them and Bram’s pride, use her voice to defend her friend, and submit the film she’d always envisioned. ]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q1]

[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

 


Now, not all of my feedback is going to work for the queryist. They know their story best, but hopefully, it puts them on the right path!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

qc1

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8 thoughts on “#1 Query Corner: “F2P: Free To Play”

  1. I believe this query, although nicely worded, is way too long. It actually seems to be a cross between a query and a synopsis. Query readers don’t have much time, and in my experience, queries work best when short and crisp. First paragraph: intriguing/dazzling hook. Second paragraph: two-line description of the story. Third paragraph: VERY short bio of the author. One-line closing. That’s it. If this doesn’t intrigue the reader, anything longer won’t, either! Also, don’t forget that along with the query, submission requirements usually ask for other material such as a synopsis and three-chapter sample.

    By the way, in the final query above, what happened to the closing which included the book’s title and word-count? Also, I would insert this info much earlier, perhaps in the second paragraph.

    Like

    • Even with all my suggested text, which is a choose your own adventure, the query is barely over 300 words, longish, but still an acceptable length for a query.

      I understand many agents prefer the hook+stats+1 paragraph+bio version.

      I’m a fan of QueryShark’s 2-3 paragraph + stats + bio version of a query letter, but am always willing to rearrange based on stated agent preference.

      The bio was specifically left out because of the public nature of the post, but will add word count, which I should have been cognizant of.

      You’re quite right, though! I forgot the stats paragraph in my 2nd edit.

      Like

    • Please accept my apologies. My previous response was full of excuses.

      I’ll try to keep these things in mind for my future query re-writes. Thank you for reading and taking the time to give me feedback. I’m always working towards improving my skills.

      Like

  2. No problemo! 🙂 I didn’t read your response as “excuses” but rather just to show me where you were coming from, i.e. the basis for your decisions on the sample query.

    Further thoughts: I’d keep the nice first paragraph (hook) the way you have it now. Resist desire to add more story details! (That’ll go in synopsis.) You don’t want to bog this letter down. Second: insert what you’re calling the “stats” paragraph, which is good, in earlier drafts which include it. THEN a short bio paragraph – it helps with credibility, you know? If she’s had anything published previously, say so – what and where! Then the one-line closing. Short/POW is always better than long/BLEH.

    In case you’re curious, here’s a sample of one of my own queries that did result in a request for the full manuscript. I sent it last year to a small publisher:

    Dear Tim,

    Back in the 1990s I worked on a TV series with Tony Scott, laboured on a script with Patrick McGoohan, chatted with John Ritter over canapés and nodded “Hi!” to Terence Stamp and David Bowie in the hall. My irreverent non-fiction memoir, “Surviving Hollywood North: Crew Confessions of an Insider,” reveals the ups and downs I spent immersed in the then-flourishing film business here in Montreal.

    For an ex-social worker, the sudden entry into the world of movie mayhem as a script coordinator was somewhat daunting. What was this unfamiliar line of work like, this peek behind the film curtain? I’m convinced that many people will be curious to find out.

    I am seeking a publisher for my 38,700-word memoir, and will be happy to provide my completed manuscript upon your request.

    My writing credits include “Taking Back the Night,” which was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Originally published in Homemaker’s Magazine, it was anthologized in Essays: Patterns and Perspectives by Oxford University Press (1992). Another of my stories, “First Kiss,” was anthologized in The Issues Collection: Gender Issues, McGraw-Hill Ryerson (1993). My other credits include magazine articles in Menz, Home and School and Gasp; I’ve also been published numerous times in newspapers including the Montreal Gazette. As well, I’ve sold over 5,000 copies of my parenting-advice booklets across Canada.

    My blog, https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com, has drawn more than 10,000 visitors, with over 20,000 views from 72 countries – since its inception a year and a half ago.

    Thank you very much for your consideration; I hope to hear from you.

    P.S. – Just to update this, my blog’s now reached 15,000 visitors and 32,000 views from over 100 countries! 😀
    P.P.S. – If I were to send this now, I’d cut some of my writing credits out. Too much.
    P.P.P.S. – In the end I decided to self-publish. That’s another story! 😉

    Like

    • Ah. You’re coming from a non-fiction background! Credentials and established followings are FAR more important to establish for non-fiction than in fantasy. (Although, totally worth mentioning if it’s a respectable number.) The recommended query styles for the two genres differ quite a bit.

      (Plus, when you have no prior published pieces, minimizing the bio is good.)

      Your query seems pretty solid (if a bit long on bio, which you already stated), but I can see that your word count of 32,000 may have given traditional publishers pause.

      I hope you had self-publishing success!

      Liked by 1 person

      • 39,000, almost – not 32,000. Still very short as you say, and that may well indeed have cost me votes, so to speak.

        Good points re differences due to genre. Minimizing flimsy bio, true!

        Self-publishing isn’t a breeze. If I hadn’t had my son-in-law to walk me through it (he’d done it several times), I think I never would have done it. But since the books are out (I also put out a short-story collection) it’s been fun! I won’t say it’s paid for a trip to Bali, but rather, let’s say, to a couple of really nice restaurants! Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

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