Friday, February 1, 2013

Forging Fridays - Give Us The Emotion


It's time for another Forging Fridays Query! Yay! We love volunteers! As always, I won't be stating the identities of the volunteers for Forging Fridays unless otherwise requested. If you feel like unmasking yourselves in the comments, be my guest. But, I won't mention anyone by name.

Here is our next volunteer! *applause* *cheers* *confetti*

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While I appreciate the dive right in approach as much as the next girl, be sure to include a paragraph (at the beginning or end) about WHY you are querying them. Did you see something somewhere that indicated they'd be a good fit? Personalizing the query can make a world of difference!

All Cinnamin Makaiau wanted was to start a family with her wife, Naali. But the delivery does not go as planned and now Cinnamin has lost what she had so desperately wanted If I'm reading this correctly, the story starts here and this is the inciting incident that gets the story rolling. If so, this isn't something you need to keep a secret and be vague about. Did she lose her wife? The baby? Both? Make it clear and show the emotion and voice so we're completely on Cinnamin's side from the beginning., leaving her alone and unsure of how to put back the pieces of her shattered life. She is left with in-laws who want to help her through her grief, but their Hawaiian customs of mourning seem to mock her pain, and so Cinnamin feels no comfort from the people who want to be her family, her 'ohana. This is cool. I haven't seen many books that delve into this particular culture. You're establishing a familiar setup (moving on after loss) with a new twist (a culture not often explored). This is a key asset to your book and you're making it clear from the start. Well done! :)

Meanwhile,Cinnamin cannot help but think of her own parents, who turned their backs on her when they found out the truth about her sexuality, but who had once been able to console her when she was small this sentence reads a little awkward. Most parents can console their kids when they're small this doesn't set them apart. Give us some emotion or event or something: i.e. in her pain, she can't stop thinking of the way her own parents had (insert caring emotional detail here). Cinnamin is alone, craving comfort from those who cannot give it. So when she runs into her brother, and he suggests a way to earn her parents' love and acceptance okay, this choice seems to be the crux of the story. It's the main conflict. Do not keep the main conflict a secret! Is he asking her to pretend she's straight? Be more direct with whatever this is and make it clear why it is a difficult choice for her specifically., Cinnamin is forced to choose between regaining her family or remaining true to her identity. This is an emotional consequence. With a situation like this, we need to connect with your main character in order to care. Can you provide us something that tugs at the heartstrings in the first paragraph? For example something like, Cinnamin expected to be buying diapers and hearing her wife's laughter at their son's first smile, instead she is buying caskets and hearing the words of the preacher as he speaks of the importance of 'Ohana - family. His words can't console her when she knows she is burying the only family she has left that could love her no matter what. -- Now, obviously, not this. Make it your own. Use your character's voice, but pull us in with her emotion and struggle. Make sense?


Finding 'Ohana is a completed, 48,900 word women's fiction novel. The Hawaiian setting, rather than only portraying the Hawai'i that tourists know, instead explores the locals' Hawai'i awkward phrasing here, maybe reword? and the ways in which native Hawaiians adapt their ancestors' culture. The book deals with many complex themes, including parenthood, family estrangement, grief, religion and sexuality, as well as family and individual identity as they are defined by differing cultures. Very good. As I said above, these are important things that set this apart. It might also be good to indicate why the author is an authority on this? Are they Hawaiian? Did they grow up in that culture? Spent time researching? Not much is necessary, just a short sentence is all you need.


I have begun building my writer's platform (with my pen name: Redacted) ever since attending the Redacted Writers' Conference last year, and am eager to do more marketing in the future as well. This paragraph is massive for author information and really mostly unnecessary. The writing is what will sell the book, not what you're doing in a platform. For the last six months, I have been working as an editor for a fiction publishing company If you are going to include this detail, you need to name the company, if you don't want to name them then leave it out or just say "I've been working as a professional editor so...", so I know the level of perfection required before a novel is ready for publication. I have been writing fiction since my senior year of high school, when a short story of mine won third place in a campus writing contest. Since then, I have completed a large sample of short stories in a wide variety of styles. These last two sentences don't matter and I'd take them out. One of these was published in a literary arts journal in the spring of 2010, and another was printed at the Black Rock Press on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. I also had an academic paper published in another literary arts journal in the fall of 2011. You need to be more general here: I've had several short stories published in (local? regional?) journals between 2010 and the present under the name: (since you already said you are using a pen name). Since this isn't a short story, they probably won't care to look them up (and you really don't have to mention it), but it can lend you a dash of credibility to note you've been published if you'd like.  The work I am submitting to you is one of my favorites. I feel that I know the characters personally and I am excited to share them with you. Much of my own emotion went into Cinnamin's development, and I have been told it comes through on the pages. Finding 'Ohana has gone through many revisions, and I am still open to critiques and new ideas to strengthen the writing. These last 4 sentences are unnecessary and implied. if this wasn't one of your favorites that you were excited to share, they assume you wouldn't be sending it. Also, if you are going to work with an agent or editor, you need to be willing to take critiques, so this is implied also. I'd remove much of this paragraph. In truth, you could take out the entire thing. None of this will sell the story, the writing will.

If you are interested, I will gladly send you the complete or partial manuscript. Nice, but unnecessary. Also implied. This is why you're querying. You could instead put something like: Please let me know if you have any questions and Thank you so much for your time and (reading queries is very time consuming, acknowledging this shows you're aware) consideration.


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Okay, that's it for today and this query. Thank you so much for volunteering, oh mystery writer! :) I sincerely hope this helped! I think introducing this culture is different and intriguing, the query just needs some polish. It takes guts to send in a query, to me, an agent or an editor. Go you! You have awesome guts! :)


Speaking of, do you want to volunteer? Click here to find out how to send in your query!


So, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree with my assessments? Discuss! Also, happy Forging Fridays! May we all be tougher and stronger thanks to our days in the fire.

5 comments:

  1. Love this! I'm working on queries and seeing how others do it, helps a ton!

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  2. Thank you so much for the critique!

    Emotion is one of the things most people complement when they read the manuscript, so I definitely agree that it needs to come across in the query.

    I always struggle with spoilers, which is why I didn't specify that Cinnamin lost her wife during the birth, and was left to take care of their baby on her own. (In the first chapter of the book, I try to lead the readers to believe it's the baby that died, so I was hoping they could be surprised at the reveal in the end of the first chapter.) Do you still suggest I lay it out for the agent, or try to leave it a surprise?

    All your other critiques sound great, and I'll definitely incorporate them. Thanks again!

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    1. Sierra - You're very welcome. Yes, I absolutely would reveal that in the query. Something that happens in the first chapter isn't a spoiler, it's a premise. In this case, it's also definitely your inciting incident. So you SHOULD have this in the query.

      If you really feel you'd like to keep it a secret from the reader, you can discuss that down the line with a future publisher. But in a query, no. The inciting incident that causes the conflict of the book is absolutely necessary.

      Hope this helps! Good luck! :)

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  3. Thank you so much! I have to get over my fear of spoilers. lol

    Anyway, I revised my query letter, and I think it's much better! If you're interested, I've posted it on my blog at http://sierradawnwriteon.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/new-improved-query-letter/
    :) Thanks again!

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