Play the game. Don't ask questions.I feel like this has more punch without the "or else."
Knightmare Castle is the ultimate role-playing game. Taking up an entire island, it's a massive riddle where the crowd of contestants must work in teams using spells, weapons, and anything else they can find. The castle and its inhabitants are so real it's hard to remember it's just pretend. Every person is there for a different reason, but Morgan is the only one playing to save a life.
Fifteen-year-old Morgan keeps busy making sure her mom doesn't worrytoo much and remembers to go to work. On her last day of school,Morgan fails at both when she finds her apartment empty, her mother missing, and the note. If she plays the game and wins, her family gets to go home. If not, she'll never see her mother again. Morgan has no choice but to get on a boat headed for the castle.I would switch the order of the two paragraphs above so it makes more sense.
So far, so good, but the next paragraph loses my interest.
She does know where she is - Knightmare castle. And the rest of the paragraph lacks the punch the previous ones had. Personally, I would cut the whole thing.
She doesn't know where she is, why her mother was taken, or why the kidnappers are mad at her for not knowing. They act like she should be happy they showed up and carted her family away. And everyone tells her this is the only way to go home.
Same problem here. You aren't really adding anything to the query. We know she has to beat the game, the nightmares/voices are too thrown in to really add much, and we know she wants her mother back - that's why she goes to the castle. Cut it.
Morgan gets the feeling she can beat the castle and when she does,something important will happen. But between nightmares when she sleeps and hearing voices when she's awake, Morgan doesn't care. All she wants is her mother back alive.
The problem is that the query doesn't wrap up well above. We need something that draws it to a close, which leads me back to the beginning. This query is interesting but it is lacking something. I don't see the connection between Morgan and the game. Yes, I know she finds the note and has to go to the castle to save her mom, and I know that part of the mystery of the book is why she is being forced to play the game. There is a fine art as a writer to raising questions in a way that intrigues readers instead of frustrating them. When a reader is intrigued they suddenly have to keep reading. When they are confused or frustrated, they put the book back on the shelf, when this happens in a query it can send you to the rejection file. Now I think there may be enough in Sarah's query to garner her a request, but I think she can also finesse this so that it takes it from 50/50 shot at catching an agent's eye to omg-send-me-the-full-now.
My suggestion is to give us a hint of what Morgan's relationship is to the game before her mother is kidnapped. Is she an avid player? Could she care less? Bridge that tiny gap for the reader and suddenly it will feel less like a confusing plot summary and more like a cliffhanger. To accomplish this I think the first two paragraphs can be moved around a bit and the necessary info added. Then wrap it up with one final, toe-curling, stomach-turning cliffhanger of a closing line and this puppy is ready for primetime.
CONDUIT is a YA Fantasy complete at 78,000 words. Fans of THE MAZERUNNER will enjoy this story and
itsthe twist ending not even thekidnappers see coming.
Best of luck!