Monday, January 23, 2012

JanuQuery - The End World

Today the lovely Elizabeth May offers her critique of THE END WORLD, read on to learn more about her and her debut novel The Falconer.


Dear Agent,

Eighteen-year-old Lana will do anything to honor her father, killed the day he discovered The End World,
a devastated parallel planet. [I suggest splitting this into two sentences — beginning with her father’s
death, because that’s the catalyst for the book, and then moving on into Lana’s motivation. So something
like, “Eighteen year old Lana LAST NAME’s father was killed the day he discovered The End World, a
devastated parallel planet. Now she will do anything to honour her father . . .ect.”. Also, I immediately
want to know how her father died. Was he murdered? Did the planet kill him? I consider this to be
an important question because this is what initially motivates your heroine.] So, when Earth calls for
prodigies [what kind of prodigies?] to study and rebuild The End World, Lana packs up her kick-ass
attitude and F-bomb slippery tongue [I see this sort of thing a lot in queries, and I always suggest to
take it out. You’re telling us your heroine’s personality instead of letting us discover that on our own.]
to become a Spinner, traveling between the two worlds and escorting researchers throughout the
devastated landscape. [So now I have an idea of what a Spinner is, but no idea why “Earth” would give
this job to a teenager instead of a qualified adult. Who is involved in sending people to this landscape?
Scientists? The government? What kind of world is your heroine living in? These are questions that can
be answered in the pages, of course, but they should be alluded to so I get an idea of why this unknown
entity would care for spending what is probably a lot of time and resources to rebuild another planet.]

One problem: the survivors [I’m guessing they’re survivors of whatever caused this planet to become
devastated. But since this word raises more questions, I’d suggest using another word.] consider them
invaders, and one screw up could spark an inter-dimensional war.

Appointed as the youngest Headsquad [I have no idea what this is.], she agrees to set up a truce with
the survivors' leader [Again, I’m really puzzled as to why they’re giving what is apparently a very sensitive
position, which would require a great deal of diplomacy and knowledge of this alien society, to a teenage
girl instead of someone else.], but when she learns he’s the one who killed her father [Aha! So he was
murdered], she’s faced with a gut-ripping choice: follow orders and develop peace, or avenge her father’s
death and risk war. [The stakes are pretty high, but there’s something missing. Basically, I know that in
order to give this book more conflict, she’s going to start this war. Because I can’t see this going, “Then
she decided that starting a war would be a terrible idea. So she swallowed her rage and negotiated for
peace and everyone was happy.” So, you’ve created a situation where I can, with some certainty, predict
what’s going to happen. And this is just me reading the query. The missing element that I’m speaking of
needs to be something that makes the agent you’re sending this to say, “Holy crap, those stakes are high
and I have to know what’s going to happen.” That reaction probably won’t be there if the outcome of this
hook is already pretty predictable.]

THE END WORLD is a 70,000 word YA science-fiction novel available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Stephanie S.


Stephanie, I hope this critique doesn’t sound too harsh. It just might be that all of these elements
are explained in your novel and simply need to be clarified a bit better for the query. I do think
you have an excellent premise here — it’s an intriguing concept, and I love the idea of parallel
worlds, as well. All the best to you!


Elizabeth May is an occasional book cover photographer, a fantasy novelist, a lazy PhD student, a tutor who swears more often than she should, and most importantly: an accomplished coffee drinker. She is an expat who resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she can frequently be spotted skulking about dark wynds with a camera in hand. She is fascinated by shiny objects and the things that wash up on the beach. Her d├ębut novel, THE FALCONER, will be published in 2013.


About The Falconer: Humans will be the hunted. Love will be tested. Vengeance will be had. The Falconer begins in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1844. We meet 18-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, who was destined to live a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events — until a faery killed her mother. Now, between the seeming endless parties and boring dances, Aileana has a new hobby: she secretly slaughters the fae who prey on humans in the city’s dark alleyways, and is determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother. Vengeance has become Aileana's life . . . so she never anticipated her growing attraction to the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Or that there was a world beyond hers, filled with secrets which affect her past and have the potential to destroy her present. But when her own world is about revenge, and when she holds Kiaran’s fate in her hands, how far is Aileana prepared to go to avenge her mother’s murder?

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