Dear Miss Snark,
I am a devotee of your blog, I admire your style and sense of humour, and I hope you will consider my middle-grade urban fantasy manuscript, DREAM WARRIOR - THE AMULET. It is the first in a series of three and is complete at 30,000 words. Crisp this up. Take out everything you don't need. my 30,000 word urban fantasy DREAM WARRIOR-THE AMULET for middle grade readers.
When the very first sentence on the page is cumbersome my ZAP antenna go up.
Jarrah Winters has the worries of many twelve-year-olds: new school, new friends, new enemies. Her biggest problem is a little less mainstream - either something is messing with her mind or she's going crazy.
Bad dreams at a boarding school can be embarrassing, but when Jarrah's dreams seep into real life and invisible phantoms start stalking her Jarrah knows something is seriously wrong. Then she wakes one morning with an ancient Book of Trials in her bed and has the horrible
realisation that not only dreams come true - nightmares do too. (finally, here's your lead)
Reluctantly guided by the Book, Jarrah and her new friends must race against time to restore the barrier between asleep and awake and stop the world from becoming a living nightmare.
you mean it's not now?
Jarrah struggles with a vague lunar deadline, an obscure task and no special powers except the ability to dream. If that isn't enough, Jarrah has to deal with a jealous classmate and hide her bizarre dream consequences from her overly curious teachers. the best sentence so far.
I'd be pleased to send you a complete copy of my manuscript for your review. Thankyou for your time and consideration.
ok at this point we have a flabby query letter and no real sense of what the plot is. Given my certainty that crappy query letters can arrive with really good pages, I'll read on.
Dream Warrior - The Amulet
Chapter 1 - Welcoming Committee
Lay your head to welcome sleep
Careful not to dream too deep
Guard the path and way to wake
Lest nightmares roam for terror sake
"You can't hide, Jarrah."
Jarrah's eyelids twitched as the voice sounded in her ear.
"Run, Jarrah, run."
She shook her head, trying to escape the taunting.
But Jarrah Winters was alone on the back seat of the bus, and she was sound asleep.
Did I mention argh?
Opening with a dream?
Even if the book is about dreaming, this is DEATH.
At this point, I've reached for the form rejection letter and your SASE.
You have about five more seconds to hold my attention.
Jarrah had wedged herself into the corner, head resting on the window frame, feet tucked up beside her. Shadows smudged under her closed eyes and she had torn her fingernails down to the skin. Once-neat braids were a mess, and the dark hair falling across her face made her look even paler. Jarrah clenched and unclenched her fists in her lap, the rest of her
body rigid. Every so often her head bumped against the window or jarred
backwards. Still she slept.
and we're done.
"Awake, Jarrah! Now!" Jarrah woke with a start and tried to leap to her feet. Her knees hit the seat in front as her head smacked into the window frame. Eyes
streaming from the blow, Jarrah looked wildly around, blinking furiously to try and wake up faster. She saw nothing, heard nothing. Everything seemed normal - except that only a moment ago Jarrah was quite sure she was running for her life. She clenched her teeth as she tried to remember the nightmare. Nothing. Jarrah scrunched her eyes shut tight
until she saw sparkles then opened them again. She caught the glance of the bus driver in his rear-view mirror and slouched in her seat, embarrassed.
"It's just a dream, Jarrah. Get a grip," she muttered to herself. Jarrah closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She exhaled slowly, nervously, and then opened her eyes again. Bus, glaring sun, bitumen road, gum trees, dry paddocks. Nothing nightmarish. She pinched her arm hard. The
twinge of pain and red mark on her skin surely meant she was awake and everything was all right now?
The driver interrupted Jarrah's thoughts with a holler. "We'll be at Wattle Creek in fifteen minutes."
"Thanks," she called back. Jarrah covered her mouth and yawned widely, stretching her arms and legs out as far as she could. Resting her head on the window, Jarrah fought the urge to fall asleep. In the beginning the nightmares happened once or twice a week. Now they came every other night. When she was really tired they invaded by day too, whenever she dozed off. If they didn't stop soon, Jarrah's new school mates would think she was out of her mind. Another yawn escaped Jarrah, this time so big that it stretched her jaw wide open making her ears pop. The nerves and sleepless nights were taking their toll and Jarrah battled to keep her drooping eyelids open. She could feel the headache coming now as she shook herself awake.
Shifting around to try and escape the January heat, Jarrah returned to staring out the window.
You've given me 513 words and all I know is she's having bad dreams.
The premise of this novel may be about dreaming but you've got to start with something more interesting. You don't snag my interest in the query letter and you give me nothing to hold on to in the writing.
This is a form rejection.