Posted On February 6, 2012 by Print This Post

CJ Redwine critiques a query letter and kicks off QUERY-palooza!

Welcome C.J. Redwine – fresh from her QUERY-palooza drawing!

Dear [Agent’s Name],

Roe knew Peace could never last in Terravale, but she never imagined it would end with a sword through her sister’s gut. With tensions already running high in the immense city, the death of a Magi girl on the blade of a human knight may be the spark the war mongers need to turn the streets into a battlefield. Very striking first sentence. Why is peace capitalized? Feels off. Otherwise, this is a captivating first paragraph that nicely sets up the world and the problem that hurtles Roe into the conflict.

Roe has no place in politics,(Either change comma to an em dash or make into two sentences) she just wants to know why her sister died. But when Roe’s hunt for answers lands her in the crossfire of an attack, she is rescued by the wrong side when the humans mistake her for one of their own. Trapped among people who live and die by their swords and feed traitors and enemies to wild beasts in the arena, all Roe wants is to get back to her own kind before she is found out as a lamb in wolf’s clothing. But the Magi Senate have other ideas. Never have they had a spy so well placed as Roe, and she will not be welcomed home unless she brings information with her. Now Roe must pass for human and train for war alongside her enemy, knowing that if she is discovered, she will not live to fight. And if she isn’t, she will have to decide which side she wants to fight for. Honestly, this is really good. The only thing I want is a better sense of what kind of girl Roe is on the inside. We get that she wants to know why her sister died, but what drives her? Revenge? A need to find closure? And why doesn’t she have a place in politics? The outsider who is ill-equipped for her mission and learns how to rise to the huge task in front of her is an awesome central conflict, but we need a little better sense of what makes her an outsider and why she is so ill-equipped. A couple of phrases woven into this paragraph should do the trick. Also, I added a few commas. J

[TITLE REDACTED] is a YA fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration, Perfect, but change the comma to a period. Best of luck with this! I would buy this book in a heartbeat.

Kind regards (comma)

[My name and contact information]


RU Readers – what do you think? Would you buy this book?

Join us on Wednesday when Sara Megibow talks about the Wonderful World of Bloggers!


Bio: C.J. Redwine is an author of young adult novels and an experienced teacher. After teaching high school for several years, she turned her love of using innovative teaching strategies to the publishing field and began creating materials designed to equip writers with the skills necessary to succeed. Her book QUERY: How to get started, get noticed, and get signed is available now for Kindle and Nook. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, four kids, two cats, and one long-suffering dog. To learn more about C.J., visit her website:

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12 Responses to “CJ Redwine critiques a query letter and kicks off QUERY-palooza!”

  1. Morning!

    Sounds like a fascinating book – one that would be hard to put down. Excellent job!



    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 6, 2012, 8:27 am
  2. Sounds interesting.

    Posted by Marcie R | February 6, 2012, 9:49 am
  3. Definitely sounds fascinating. I love mistaken identity stories.

    Best of luck with this one!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | February 6, 2012, 10:31 am
  4. Great query and terrific feedback! Thanks, C.J.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | February 6, 2012, 11:53 am
  5. I’d have to say that’s one of the best queries I’ve read. The genre adn what’s at stake was nicely summed up in the first two sentences. The second paragraph explains the conflict without extraneous details.

    Great job!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 6, 2012, 12:09 pm
  6. Hi CJ,

    What a difference a well crafted letter can make. It’s hard to put hopes and dreams into words and strike a chord with another.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 6, 2012, 4:03 pm
  7. Great query! It drew me in right away and kept me there.

    Posted by Robin Covington | February 6, 2012, 7:22 pm
  8. Thanks so much for the Critique and the brilliant feedback!Will definitely put some work into getting Roe’s character to come through in the letter next time.

    Posted by Alwyn | February 7, 2012, 3:19 pm

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