Query Feedback: The Dreamwalkers of Larreta

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Query: The Dreamwalkers of Larreta by Carol M.

Original:

Dear

I am writing to you because you represent speculative fiction authors, and ……

My contemporary fantasy/romance novel, THE DREAMWALKERS OF LARRETA, 120,000 words complete, is set on a peaceful world that exists to explore the visions of the great dreamers on Earth so human evolution can progress.

Only one man stands between the realization of human dreams and the encroaching darkness of a doomed world.

When Leo, a dreamwalker, fails to join with the woman he loves, he believes he has lost his chance for happiness and strives to return to Earth to start over. As the mysterious time rifts plaguing Larreta increase in intensity, the connection between Earth and Larreta may have to be severed. But when two beautiful newcomers arrive to walk in a dream that is Larreta’s last hope, Leo is forced to confront his pain and grief, and forge new bonds of love with Jesse. When he saves Jesse from a time rift he is propelled on a journey through a dark world so he can return to his beloved and reunite two worlds sundered in ancient times.  

This novel was inspired by my interest in how the interplay of dreams and the drive toward unity can be revealed within the context of human love.

I have published eight short stories in speculative fiction magazines and anthologies in the past year, most recently in Stupefying Stories and the upcoming anthology Dark Visions. An excerpt of THE DREAMWALKERS OF LARRETA appeared in bosque (the magazine). I am now working on the sequel to DREAMWALKERS. 

Thank you for reading my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Carol M.

 

Brenda's Feedback:

Dear

I am writing to you because you represent speculative fiction authors, and ……

My contemporary fantasy/romance novel, THE DREAMWALKERS OF LARRETA, 120,000 words complete, is set on a peaceful world that exists to explore the visions of the great dreamers on Earth so human evolution can progress.

Only one man stands between [the realization of human dreams Can you make this phrase a bit more specific? It doesn’t quite have the punch of the ‘encroaching darkness of a doomed world, and it almost seems to suggest that all humans have the same dreams. I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.] and the encroaching darkness of a doomed world. [This sentence makes for a strong opening line. Rather than starting with the description above, which tells us ABOUT the world rather than placing us WITHIN, I would suggest starting here and saving the above to use elsewhere in the query.]

 

When Leo, a dreamwalker, fails to join with the woman he loves, he believes he has lost his chance for happiness [Could he have lost not just his own chance for happiness but also somehow ruined things for others as well? I’d love to see the public stakes increased.]  and strives to return to Earth to start over. [This would be the place to weave in information from above about the peaceful world and its purpose.] As the mysterious time rifts plaguing Larreta increase in intensity, the connection between Earth and Larreta may have to be severed. [Compelling conflict, and here we do have high stakes, but I wonder if Leo is connected to this somehow? And if not, could you create a connection? Without that, the issue of the time rifts feels a bit random and peripheral to the story, coincidental when we need it to be purposeful.] But when two beautiful newcomers arrive [Are they chosen for some reason? How are they connected to Leo?]  to walk in a dream that is Larreta’s last hope, Leo is forced to confront his pain and grief, and forge new bonds of love with Jesse. When he saves Jesse from a time rift. he is propelled on a journey through a dark world so he can return to his beloved and reunite two worlds sundered in ancient times.   [Oooh, I like this! It’s not quite clear if you’re speaking of the Earth and Larreta here, or two other worlds, since, as expressed above, Larreta and the Earth do have a connection. Or were they once one world and this connection is all that remains? This is a compelling element, and some clarification here would really punch up the appeal.]

This novel was inspired by my interest in how the interplay of dreams and the drive toward unity can be revealed within the context of human love.  [While inspiration is incredibly important from a creative standpoint, unless your motivation for writing the novel also has marketing relevance, its inclusion in the query is not particularly persuasive.]

My contemporary fantasy/romance novel, THE DREAMWALKERS OF LARRETA, is complete at 120,000 words. In addition, I have published eight short stories in speculative fiction magazines and anthologies in the past year, most recently in Stupefying Stories and the upcoming anthology Dark Visions. An excerpt of THE DREAMWALKERS OF LARRETA appeared in bosque (the magazine). I am now working on the sequel to DREAMWALKERS. 

Based on your representation of speculative fiction authors XXX and XXX, I believe my material would be of interest.  Thank you for reading my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Carol M.

 

Hi, Carol— 

Thank you so much for submitting your query! I found myself both intrigued by the story and impressed with your ability to distill it down into an engaging summary.

While much of the letter is solid, I did long for more specific detail in places, as well as a greater understanding of the underlying relationship between your story elements. As currently expressed, I wasn’t sure if plot events were unfolding because of Leo’s actions—which would be ideal—or due to independent, and coincidental, developments elsewhere in the story world.

As the driving force of the novel, Leo is our conduit to all else, and everything hinges on his choices. So, if his actions are setting everything else into motion, raising both personal and public stakes as he goes, then nice work! To strengthen the query, you’ll simply need to tweak this summary so that Leo’s role is clear. If plot events are occurring independently, however, then this would be the time to take a closer look at your story structure and see how you can increase the level of interconnectedness. Really let Leo take control of the story and emerge as a hero—the results will be well worth your effort.

I hope that helps! All in all, very well done. Thanks again for sharing your query with us.

 

All best,

 Brenda