Morgan’s Query Corner:
Fresh Eyes For Your Query Quandaries
PEACEKEEPER is a YA dystopian SF novel.
Eli must find the courage to stop his domineering adoptive father from ruthlessly taking over the Domain, even if Eli has to kill his own dad.
NOTE: If you submit your query to me (email@example.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.]
PEACEKEEPER sounds like a pretty solid story.
(I’m going to flip the order around due to personal preference, but some agents prefer it in your order — just remember to check before submitting.)
A couple of things to think about:
- Dystopian is on a bit of a downswing, so depending on the tech level, it may be better to dub this either a Fantasy or a Science-Fiction novel.
- Even if you don’t have any writer stats, you don’t have to say it’s your debut novel. If you don’t put in writer credentials, it’s assumed. Most agents want at least a tiny bio. I keep mine to 2 sentences.
I am querying you as I feel that my novel, Peacekeeper, provides the strong relatable characters that you are searching for. The heart-wrenching nature of their trials and tribulations will have you praying for their success. [Some agents like to know exactly why you picked them to query. Others prefer a lighter touch. There are less clue-hammer ways of saying this.]
Peacekeeper is a 79,400 [round to the nearest 1,000] word Young Adult dystopian [don’t italicize and think about other categories. Dystopian’s in a bit of a downswing right now.]novel. The story revolves around the strong-willed Eli Luther. [THIS is where the query starts, don’t hide it in the stats paragraph >>] Eli has only wanted one thing for as long as can remember. The title of CommanderDominus: the most prestigious military role in the Domain. Standing in his way from achieving his life-long goal, is his jealous and ruthless adoptive father Tobias Luther. Who is prepared to do anything to keep Eli from the position and seize it for himself. No act is considered too heinous.
After an encounter with a mysterious girl and narrowly surviving an attempt on his life, Eli finds himself in league with a secret organisation. Trojan offers Eli the role of CommanderDominus, so long as he aids them in their fight for independence, and he assassinates Tobias. Now fuelled by a sense of responsibility and revenge, Eli joins Trojan.
As the covert war wages on, a plot is discovered to subject the entire Domain to a ruthless iron-fist dictatorship under Tobias’ rule. With the freedom of the Domain hanging in the balance, Eli prepares to go to war to defend his new home.
Peacekeeper is my debut novel [This should be obvious because you’re not listing your other works, but don’t emphasize your inexperience.] I believe it has strong potential to be expanded into a larger series but reads just as well as a standalone book. [There’s a smoother phrase that’s standardly accepted for this.]
Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you. [The QueryShark finds the ‘hope to hear from you’ a bit like nails on a chalkboard. It might not offend the agent you’re querying, but I opt to leave it off, rather than potentially annoy an agent.]
To escape his repressive adoptive household, 17-year-old Eli Luther decides to seek training to become the Commander Dominus–leader of the Domain’s military. Then his adoptive father, Tobias, takes the role for himself and blocks all of Eli’s attempts to any position. [This implies the jealousy and ambition without spelling it out.]
After narrowly surviving an attempt on his life, Eli is rescued by Trojan. [I dropped the girl because she was never mentioned again. Name as few characters as possible during a query.] As the leader of an underground organization seeking to oust Tobias due to his war-atrocities, Trojan offers Eli the role of Commander Dominus. To earn the title, Eli must aid their fight for independence and succeed where so many others have failed–by assassinating Tobias. Fueled by a sense of responsibility and the need for revenge, Eli agrees.
When Tobias’s plot to become the Domain’s own dictator is uncovered, Eli knows the domain doesn’t have much time left. Eli must face his fears of becoming a monster like Tobias by killing his own adoptive father or allow the entire Domain to fall under Tobias’s ruthless control.
PEACEKEEPER is a YA science-fiction novel, complete at 79,000 words with series potential. A strong-willed character, Eli should appeal to readers who’ve dealt with oppressive authorities and wished they could do something about it. [This adds the ‘strong and relatable’ note, hopefully without you feeling like it’s awkward pandering]. I write from [A PLACE] and [have a degree]. I enjoy [hobbying] in my rare free time.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I think we’ve ended up somewhere a little easier to read while avoiding spelling things out for the agent.
Best of luck to Q24!
And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!
Good! Aaaand here I come with my little notes.
– There’s a movie called The Book of Eli. Dystopian theme. Stars Denzel Washington. I’d pick another name.
– Luthor? Makes me think of Lex Luthor. (Superman.) I’d pick another name.
– Trojan? Makes me think of condoms. I’d pick another name.
Do you see a pattern here? 😉 I figure, why make the agent notice these things? He or she is liable to wonder, can’t this writer come up with any original names? And how much more of the story is unoriginal?
– “due to his war-atrocities” – there should not be a hyphen in there. It’s just two words, war atrocities.
– I don’t feel this is in the science-fiction category at all. Not at all. Fantasy would be much better.
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