#23 Query Corner: ‘NAVIGATING NESSA’

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Fresh Eyes For Your Query Quandaries

NAVIGATING NESSA is a YA contemporary.

After her father’s death, Nessa struggled to gain control over her anxiety. When she falls for the new boy, her control slips and she sinks into the hardcore party scene. Now, Nessa must find the strength to reach out for help, before she destroys her future and the respect of those that matter most to her.

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.]

This querist sent me their old version and their new version, with worries that they were getting worse, not better. So, with a quick overview, I was happy I was able to soothe those fears.

Overall Impression:

The querist was told to add specificity and, as is natural, started to make the query a little too synopsis-like.

We all do it. *Morgan shoves her own query letter drafts version 4-7 behind her*

Things to think about

  1. Specificity doesn’t need all the backstory.
  2. Specificity doesn’t need to be long, keep it under 250 if possible, under 300 words always.

Querist’s Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear Agent,

Nessa Walker is finally getting to a healthy place six months after her dad’s unexpected death. Yoga, romance books, time spent lying in the tub — she’s got coping covered. She even drums up enough courage to try out for the dance team, believing that if she makes the cut, it will be enough of a distraction to pull herself out from under that blanket of sadness once and for all. Then she meets Tanner.

Tanner’s everything Nessa isn’t — artistic, laid-back, and his prowess on the football field makes him instantly popular in a town that shuts down every time their high school has a home game. He’s also made it clear that his next goal is finding a way to know Nessa.

But Nessa isn’t an easy girl to know. There’s a reason most guys steer clear of her, an anxiety about her that she struggled with even before her dad’s death. Tanner could be the swoon-worthy epic romance she’s been waiting for, or the complication that finally forces her over the edge.

NAVIGATING NESSA is a Young Adult Contemporary novel with romantic elements complete at 65,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Q23


Querist’s Revision:

Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year old Nessa Walker is well-acquainted with panic. It’s followed her around since elementary school, and she’s learned the best way to keep it at bay is to not think about the things that scare her. Like her dad’s recent death, for example. She has many distractions in place, including trying out for the dance team with her best friend and spending time under her favorite old oak tree that she visits every chance she gets. All she wants is a normal junior year.

Then Tanner moves to town. [THIS is where the story starts] He’s everything Nessa isn’t – artistic, laid-back, and his prowess on the football field makes him instantly popular in a town that shuts down every time the high school has a home game. He’s also made it clear that his next goal is to get to know Nessa. As their attraction to each other grows, Nessa’s anxiety gets worse. It becomes increasingly difficult for her to hide her problem from Tanner, and her best friend is suddenly MIA, having found her own boyfriend to swoon over.

Nessa begins to look for distraction in more destructive places, turning to a new friend group bent on dangerous stunts and wild parties. It’s enough to keep her panic at bay, but Nessa’s behavior starts to alienate everyone around her, isolating her from her friends and family, not to mention Tanner.

If Nessa can come up for air long enough to get the help she needs and take advantage of her support system, she might just get the year she’s hoping for, and even the guy. If she continues on her dangerous path, she might just lose herself.

NAVIGATING NESSA is a Contemporary YA novel complete at 65,000 words. It’s told in a tone comparable to AWKWARD meets THE DUFF.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Q23


***

My Revision:

Dear Agent,

Nessa Walker is finally getting to a healthy place six months after her dad’s unexpected death. Yoga, romance books, time spent lying in the tub — she’s got coping covered. She even drums up enough courage to try out for the dance team, convinced that if she makes the cut, it will be enough of a distraction to pull herself out from under that blanket of sadness once and for all. Then she meets Tanner.

Tanner’s everything Nessa isn’t — artistic, laid-back, and his prowess on the football field makes him instantly popular in a town that shuts down every time their high school has a home game. He’s also made it clear that his next goal is finding a way to know Nessa.

As their attraction grows, Nessa’s anxiety spins back out of control and the party-crowd seems like the place to forget her anxiety. Soon, her partying grows out of control and her new friends egg her on to join their dangerous drunken stunts. If Nessa can’t find a way to face her anxiety head on, she’s going to alienate her real friends, flunk out, and lose the respect of the one guy she can’t stop thinking about.

NAVIGATING NESSA is a Young Adult Contemporary novel with romantic elements complete at 65,000 words. I write from [City, State]. When not writing, you can find me [having a hobby].

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Q23

Still long, but the details are there– the inciting incident, the ‘bad guy’ (her own darker impulses and anxiety), and the goal (win the boy, and regain a healthy mental balance).

Best of luck to Q23! (And Nessa)


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

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