#14 Query Corner: ‘KITSUNE SPRING’

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

KITSUNE SPRING is a YA fantasy.

When the local Shinto gods order Koji, a half-kitsune foster kid, to destroy a black altar, he resorts to Big magic. Now the Kitsune Council is on their way to strip the half-breed of his powers before he comes of age.

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:

I love the world and the characters sound realistic. Your writer voice comes through clearly, which is great for a query.

A few things I’d change:

  • Put all the stats into 1 paragraph
  • Streamline it a bit

 


Querist’s Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear_____,

            Given your interest in ___________, I would like to introduce my modern-day YA fantasy novel KITSUNE SPRING. [Forgot page count! Oh, wait, I see it. I’d pick a spot: here or there, and combine the 2 paragraphs]

            Koji, a half kitsune, covers himself with good luck charms, but they haven’t done a damn bit of good. He’s friendless, the Kitsune Council wants to strip him of his powers before his birthday, and to top it off his mother’s disappearance has left him stranded in a San Francisco foster home. [which birthday? let’s establish your YA creds here] Needing funds to avoid The Council, Koji does odd (and often illegal) jobs for the local Shinto gods. With a less than spotless reputation, Koji tries to convince himself he doesn’t mind being alone, until he befriends his stressed-out next door neighbor Stephanie Flowers and lets her in on the secrets of the magic world.

 But, when the gods order Koji to destroy a black magic alter built by local golden boy and Steph’s friend: Alex, 

 Koji is required to use magic. Big magic. Allowing The Council to figure out his whereabouts [and] putting him and his friends in danger. With his birthday looming and the Council getting close, Koji must locate his missing mother and face The Council in Japan to protect his new friends and his freedom. Koji must learn to trust his new friends and himself in order to finally out trick the fox spirits.

KITSUNE SPRING is completed at 75,000 words. The story stands alone but has series potential.

I attended [X] University and graduated with a BA in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. I currently work as a high school English and Creative Writing teacher in [X]. Thank you for taking the time to read this expert from KITSUNE SPRING, and I would be delighted to send you the completed manuscript if you request more.

Sincerely,

Q14

 


My Suggested Revisions:

Dear [Ms/Mr Agent Person!]

Koji, a half-kitsune, covers himself with good luck charms, but they haven’t done a damn bit of good. He’s friendless, the Kitsune Council wants to strip him of his powers before his seventeenth birthday, and his mother’s disappearance has left him stranded in a San Francisco foster home. Needing funds to avoid The Council, Koji does odd (and often illegal) jobs for the local Shinto gods. With a less than spotless reputation, Koji tries to convince himself he doesn’t mind being alone until he befriends his stressed-out next-door neighbor Stephanie Flowers and lets her in on the secrets of the magic world. [Could probably cut some more, here, this is setup.]

But, when the gods order Koji to destroy a black magic altar built by Steph’s friend and local golden boy, Alex, Koji is required to use magic. Big magic. Allowing The Council to figure out his whereabouts and putting Koji and his friends in danger. With his birthday looming and the Council getting close, Koji must learn to trust his new friends and himself if he’s going to locate his missing mother and face down The Council in Japan to defend his new friends, his own freedom, and finally out trick the fox spirits.

KITSUNE SPRING is a modern-day YA fantasy, complete at 75,000 words. The story is stand-alone but has series potential.

I attended [x] and graduated with a BA in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. I currently work as a high school English and Creative Writing teacher in [X].

I thank you for your time and consideration.

 Sincerely,

[Q14] 

 


 

Upon rereading my suggestions though, I realized that it was still a large part set-up. So, I went through it again. It’s an easy mistake to do. The better you know the story, the harder it is to cull the details that make your world unique–but the easier it is to change the focus of the query from the emotional stakes to the world building.

I revised again and sent them my newer version. It gives them wiggle room if there are poignant emotional stakes they want to add or edit so their voice shines through.

Plus, although queries can go UP to 250 words, successful YA queries actually average 182 words (according to analysis from this query survey), so don’t be afraid to err on the shorter side.

Dear [Agent],

When the local Shinto gods order the half-kitsune foster kid, Koji, to destroy a black altar, he resorts to magic. Big magic. Now the Kitsune Council knows where he is and is on their way from Japan to strip the half-breed of his powers before he comes of age. All the damned good luck charms he’s covered himself with haven’t done a bit of good.

With his seventeenth birthday looming and the Council getting close to San Francisco, Koji must learn to trust his new friends and himself. That’s the only way he’ll be able to defend both himself and his new friends, locate his missing mother, and finally out trick the fox spirits of the Council.

KITSUNE SPRING is a modern-day YA fantasy, complete at 75,000 words. The story is stand-alone but has series potential.

I attended [x] and graduated with a BA in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. I currently work as a high school English and Creative Writing teacher in [X].

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q14]


 

Now, it’s up to the queryist which version to use, and if they wish to use that wiggle room to add more!

Best of luck to Q14!


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

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5 thoughts on “#14 Query Corner: ‘KITSUNE SPRING’

  1. Nice. I always think that less is more. Let the agent/publisher’s appetite be whetted – not sated.

    I’m not crazy about “out trick” as a verb. Not good. Either use “outwit” or just “trick” by itself. IMHO.

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