COME HOME, STEPHANIE CLAYBOURNE Query Critique

OR

A Tale of Doubt, Nursing, and a Mysterious Young Girl

Original:

Dear Miss Faerie,

With that, I Humbly, I present to you my novel Come Home, Stephanie Claybourne. It is the story of Stephanie Claybourne, a nursing graduate who is compassionate and well-rounded. She is a native of Lawrence, Kansas who reluctantly enlists in the military.
 
Convinced the bold move would strengthen her, she ferociously dedicates herself to becoming an army nurse; just as her grandmother did in World War II. Nearing desperation, she longs to quiet the lingering doubt placed in her mind by life’s unwarranted roller coaster.
 
Following military nurse training at Fort Sam Houston, she returns home to work at Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center. Much to her chagrin, things are not what Stephanie expects and doubt once again holds her mind prisoner. Things change when a severely beaten adolescent is dumped on the hospital’s campus.
 
Stephanie saves the young girl, all while her faith and strength that was tested before grows into a setup for something superior; more influential. However, strength turns the clock against a battle between life and death; a secret disguising the young girl’s true identity. It is left up to Stephanie to make a decision: reveal the girl’s secret-or risk endangering the hospital to forgo their fate.
 
Come Home, Stephanie Claybourne is approximately 62,000 words in length.
 
I appreciate your time.
 
With gratitude,
[REDACTED]

Here we go:

Dear [agent’s name]:

With that, I Humbly, I present to you my novel Come Home, Stephanie Claybourne. It is the story of Stephanie Claybourne, a nursing graduate who is compassionate and well-rounded. She is a native of Lawrence, Kansas who reluctantly enlists in the military.

This paragraph is very telling. When writing a query you want to show us the MC’s story instead of tell us. I suggest rewriting this paragraph and creating a hook that draws the interest of the reader.

Convinced the bold move would strengthen her Strengthen her how? Why is she “weak”?, she ferociously dedicates herself to becoming an army nurse comma, not a semi-colon just as her grandmother did in World War II. Nearing desperation, she longs to quiet the lingering doubt placed in her mind by life’s unwarranted roller coaster. This is too vague. What is she doubting and what has caused her to feel this way?

Following military nurse training at Fort Sam Houston, she returns home to work at Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center. Much to her chagrin, things are not what Stephanie expects and doubt once again holds her mind prisoner. Again, what kind of doubt? Things change when a severely beaten adolescent is dumped on the hospital’s campus. It seems like this is Stephanie’s catalyst. This is where the story actually starts, everything above this is backstory and doesn’t belong in a query.

Stephanie saves the young girl, all while her faith and strength that was tested before grows into a setup for something superior and more influential. Too vague. What is the “setup” you’re referring to? However, strength turns the clock against a battle between life and death This entire sentence is confusing. Reword.; a secret disguising the young girl’s true identity. It is left up to Stephanie to make a decision: reveal the girl’s secret-or risk endangering the hospital to forgo their fate. This is also too vague. Give us a hint as to who the girl is and why she’s important. What fate are you talking about?

COME HOME, STEPHANIE CLAYBOURNE (All Caps) is approximately 62,000 words in length. What genre is it? This is important. You need to know the audience you are marketing to.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

With gratitude,

[REDACTED]

 

The main issue is that the query is too vague. Also, the conflict of the novel doesn’t show up until the third paragraph. Let’s take that conflict and introduce it a little bit earlier, create some tension in the query.

You want to start with a hook that draws the reader in. Usually it’s just one or two sentences, something snappy and personal to the MC. It’s also where you’ll have a chance to show off your voice.

“Twenty-five-year-old Stephanie Claybourne never did like kids. They’re smelly, annoying, and sticky for no apparent reason. But when a little girl is found beaten and dumped on the grounds of the hospital where Stephanie works, everything changes.”

That’s just an example. I’m sure you can do much better than I can, since you know the book and I don’t. After the hook, explain the conflict. What does Stephanie want to accomplish? What stands in her way? What must she do to overcome that obstacle? What does she stand to lose—what are the stakes? I think it’s important to at least give us a glimpse of the bad guy. You then want to end the query with something snappy that makes the reader want to open your book and read the first page.

Also, I want to make a comment on the title. It’s a bit long…a little bit of a mouthful. Maybe consider changing it something shorter that flows better? It’s up to you; just my two cents on it.

Great start! I look forward to seeing the revision.

 

Love,

The Query Faerie

 

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8 thoughts on “COME HOME, STEPHANIE CLAYBOURNE Query Critique

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