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THE BELIEVER (YA fantasy)


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#1 LittleJoni

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 11:22 AM

Newest revision in post #55

 

Okay, I've put this off for days, but I'm setting my fear aside and posting my query for critique.  I need help.  I've written many drafts and this is the best one.  But if I'm totally off the mark with this one I have a few other options if I need to do something different.  Here goes nothing...

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen year old Syndle Baxter never dreamed of being in a magical rowboat, hurtling at breakneck speed across the Atlantic Ocean, while holding a jar full of green fire in her lap, but ever since befriending William, a wizard apprentice, her life has become…interesting.

 

It’s an exciting change from her mundane days on The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, where she is destined to be in the background for the rest of her life because she isn’t a wizard.  After embarking on a quest with William, to help find his missing mentor, Syndle discovers her strength and value while enjoying the adventure and challenge she’s been craving.

 

But every quest has an end.  When Syndle returns home and attempts to open a business with William, all her dreams threaten to crash around her when society, including her own parents, try to stop her pursuits.  It doesn’t help that a crazy druid is on the loose, determined to destroy Syndle, all because she defeated him once without using any magic at all.

 

William is convinced of Syndle’s worth but she struggles to prove it to everyone else, including herself, all while trying to stay alive.

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a light fantasy adventure novel for young adult readers complete at 91,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

------

 

The third paragraph is giving me the most fits.

 

Note:  No bio, because I have no credentials of any kind and this is my first novel.  Is that best?  Should I mention this is my first novel, or is that obvious because I left out a bio?

 

Thanks in advance for any help, comments, and critique you are willing to give me.  I will try my best to return the favor...although I'm super new at this.


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#2 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

Okay, I've put this off for days, but I'm setting my fear aside and posting my query for critique.  I need help.  I've written many drafts and this is the best one.  But if I'm totally off the mark with this one I have a few other options if I need to do something different.  Here goes nothing...

 

------

 

Dear Agent, <--Perhaps put a colon (:) instead (it's preferred, apparently).

 

Sixteen year old Syndle Baxter never dreamed of being in a magical rowboat, hurtling at breakneck speed across the Atlantic Ocean, while holding with a jar full of green fire in her lap. But ever since befriending William, a wizard apprentice, her life has become…interesting. I actually like this hook, although introducing (hinting) at a main conflict might be your best bet. Instead of introducing simply the catalyst. That normally comes a little later. 

 

It’s an exciting change from her mundane days on The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, where she is destined to be in the background for the rest of her life because, she isn’t a wizard. After embarking on a quest with William, to help find his missing mentor, Syndle discovers her strength and value while enjoying the adventure and challenge she’s been craving. This paragraph felt rushed and lacked a catalyst. We just jumped right in. It also felt a little...summarized. I want to know so much more. What is she if not a wizard? How did she befriend William? How did she feel about that? Why did she decide to go on the quest? Does she like him? Expand more and try to make it sound less like a synopsis. :)

 

But every quest has an end.  When Syndle returns home and attempts to open a business with William, <-- Random! all her dreams <-- Her dreams? What do you mean? threaten to crash around her when society, including her own parents, try to stop her pursuits. <-- Why? What's so wrong about it? It doesn’t help that a crazy druid is on the loose, Again, a little random. Did it escape with Syndle and William? determined to destroy Syndle, all because she defeated him once without using any magic at all. Yet again, random. 

 

William is convinced of Syndle’s worth but she struggles to prove it to everyone else, including herself, all while trying to stay alive. 

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a young adult light fantasy adventure novel for young adult readers complete at 91,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

------

 

The third paragraph is giving me the most fits.

 

Note:  No bio, because I have no credentials of any kind and this is my first novel.  Is that best?  Should I mention this is my first novel, or is that obvious because I left out a bio? It's not obvious if you leave out a bio. You can say that your a novice, though...I've seen it done as posted and pointed out by actual agents on their blogs, for example. So, I think it's okay to mention that (making sure that the your target agents are accepting novice novelists first) and keep that section brief. It is NOT safe to say that you have no creds, though. Leave that out entirely. 

 

Thanks in advance for any help, comments, and critique you are willing to give me.  I will try my best to return the favor...although I'm super new at this.

 

I think this is good for your first time. The concept of the story seems interesting but you didn't quite sell that for me in the query letter. Try to state key things up front so that when you mention them later on it doesn't seem random. For example, when you said that all her dreams were collapsing, I had no idea whatsoever that she had a dream to...open her own business? Keep things flowy and concise and focused on the main conflict.

 

It goes:

 

1) Hook (which encompasses the main conflict);
2) Premise (a little bit about who the main character is before the catalyst);

3) The catalyst that leads us to the main conflict (maybe some more character--with emotion--and breif world building);

4) The main conflict (with some world building--keep it brief);

5) The main character's goal with obstacles; and then,

6) The stakes! Gotta have those. What will happen if the MC (main character) doesn't achieve said goal? Basically, why should I care if she does or not?

 

And that's it. Everything else is secondary and needs to be removed. This query letter is merely an introduction. You need to just tantalize our taste buds, get us craving the full. Meaning, you need to expand on a few things but don't overdue it. Just include those key things in as little words as possible and you're golden. :)

 

Keep at it! Hope I was of some help here.

 

-Jess


flamingtext_com_1374269667_719762476.gifflamingtext_com_1374269730_719762477.gifflamingtext_com_1374269782_719762479.gifflamingtext_com_1374269935_719762480.gifflamingtext_com_1374269975_719762481.gifflamingtext_com_1374270010_719762482.gifflamingtext_com_1374270042_719762483.gifflamingtext_com_1374270128_719762485.gifflamingtext_com_1374270214_719762488.gif

 

It would mean A LOT if you could check these out:

 
Queries:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...528#entry132528
Duplicate: Undead-->>--http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/
 
Synopsis:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...a-dark-fantasy/

Write on. ツ


#3 evilenna

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 03:02 PM

Okay, I've put this off for days, but I'm setting my fear aside and posting my query for critique.  I need help.  I've written many drafts and this is the best one.  But if I'm totally off the mark with this one I have a few other options if I need to do something different.  Here goes nothing...

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen year old Syndle Baxter never dreamed of being in a magical rowboat, hurtling at breakneck speed across the Atlantic Ocean, while holding a jar full of green fire in her lap, but ever since befriending William, a wizard apprentice, her life has become…interesting. (This is a great hook and your MC sounds adorable).

 

It’s an exciting change from her mundane days on The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, where she is destined to be in the background for the rest of her life because not being she isn’t a wizard.  After embarking on a quest with William, to help find his missing mentor, Syndle discovers her strength and value while enjoying the adventure and challenge she’s been craving. (I think you could add some details of the adventure to really build the world and engage the reader.)

 

But every quest has an end.  When Syndle returns home and attempts to open a business with William, (This is weird for me becasue she is a little kid. Did time pass or is this how her world works.)all her dreams(maybe detail about dream?)  threaten to crash around her when society, including her own parents, try to stop her pursuits (Is this because she isn't a wizard. The wording of this sentence is very adult. It seem like you lost the voice).  It doesn’t help that a crazy druid is on the loose, determined to destroy Syndle,( maybe more details) all because she defeated him once without using any magic at all.

So you story sound really sweet. My impressions are that she is the odd man is a society of wizards and goes on a amazing adventure with william. Does She defeat Syndle during this adventure and he comes after her for revenge? If so connecting the two might help.

 

William is convinced of Syndle’s worth but she struggles to prove it to everyone else, including herself, all while trying to stay alive.

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a light fantasy adventure novel for young adult readers complete at 91,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

------

 

The third paragraph is giving me the most fits.(I think it might be the adult wording that is throwing it off. It seems desconected for the rest of the query.)

 

Note:  No bio, because I have no credentials of any kind and this is my first novel.  Is that best?  Should I mention this is my first novel, or is that obvious because I left out a bio?

 

Thanks in advance for any help, comments, and critique you are willing to give me.  I will try my best to return the favor...although I'm super new at this.

So I don't have any credentials ethier, but I read in an agents review on a author's bio that contained some humor. She personal found it endearing and requested pages based on the clever comment. I tried to do that at the end of mine. You should check it out and let me know, what you think.

Good luck enna


First 250 words for THE DOOR http://agentquerycon...door-ya-sci-fi/

Query for THE DOOR http://agentquerycon...door-ya-sci-fi/


#4 LittleJoni

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 06:45 PM

Jess and Enna:  Both of you gave me amazing advice so far!  I'm getting a few ideas on how to improve it.  I'm going to mull it over and try again soon.  Thanks so much for your critiques.

 

And to answer your question, Enna, the MC is sixteen, so I don't consider that a little kid.  It's more of an issue about being in her world.  Education ends at sixteen, after that they are expected to find their way in the world by either getting an apprenticeship or a job.  So opening a business isn't out of the question.  I'm thinking I need to make that more clear in future query attempts.

 

The biggest struggle I'm having is deciding what, of the many plots points, I need to bring up in the query, while keeping it short, understandable, and interesting.  But I suppose everyone has that problem...right?

 

Thanks again!


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#5 Andrew Rosenberg

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:29 AM

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen year old Syndle Baxter never dreamed of being in a magical rowboat, hurtling at breakneck speed across the Atlantic Ocean, while holding a jar full of green fire in her lap, but ever since befriending William, a wizard apprentice, her life has become…interesting. not too bad.

 

It’s what? an exciting change from her mundane days on The Isle, a magical place hidden in on? the Atlantic Ocean, where she is destined to be in the background for the rest of her life because she isn’t a wizard.  After embarking on a quest with William, to help find his missing mentor, Syndle discovers her strength and value while enjoying the adventure and challenge she’s been craving.be a lot more specific

 

But every quest has an end.  When Syndle returns home and attempts to open a business with William, all her dreams threaten to crash around her cliche when society, including her own parents, try to stop her pursuits how?.  It what? doesn’t help that a crazy druid I don't know what that is is on the loose, determined to destroy Syndle how?, all because she defeated him once without using any magic at all.

 

William who? is convinced of Syndle’s worth but she struggles to prove it to everyone else, including herself, all while trying to stay alive.how?

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a light fantasy adventure novel for young adult readers complete at 91,000 words.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

There are some interesting bits in here, but in some places you use summary, which is death to queries. Show, don't tell.

Try to keep the beat you started at the start through out. Solid examples, concrete descriptions.

In the end, what's at stake? What's the price of failure?

 

Good luck!



#6 LittleJoni

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 10:18 AM

Thanks, Andrew!  I appreciate your critique and I know I kind of lost it after the first paragraph.  I'm working on a new draft as we speak.


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#7 Lanata

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:15 PM

This sounds like you have two separate stories here. You have one story, which is Syndle and William going to find his mentor. Sounds fun and exciting, with a lot of action. Then the other story is the after, when they come home and start a business together. Not necessarily boring, but not as action-packed as the quest. I'll wait for your next draft before offering up more specifics within your query, but I do like your story. 



#8 LittleJoni

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:44 PM

This sounds like you have two separate stories here. You have one story, which is Syndle and William going to find his mentor. Sounds fun and exciting, with a lot of action. Then the other story is the after, when they come home and start a business together. Not necessarily boring, but not as action-packed as the quest. I'll wait for your next draft before offering up more specifics within your query, but I do like your story. 

 

Yes, there are two stories, or a story with two parts.  You've nailed down what those two parts are exactly.  I know the second part doesn't sound as exciting, but there is action, just of a different kind.  Also, the two parts are connected.  I'm trying to make all of this more clear in my next query attempt.  I look forward to your comments when I get it finished and posted!


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#9 LittleJoni

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:55 PM

Second attempt...

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle loves The Isle, her magical island home hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, but she can think of two huge reasons why it doesn’t love her back.

 

First of all, she is non-magical Believer, making her a second-class citizen in a land full of wizards.  It’s unfair that Syndle’s favorite subject in school was magical theory, but now that school is over all magical professions are off-limits because she isn’t a wizard.

 

Second, people always stare and make fun of her because she has wild, flaming red hair.  Her name isn’t Ginger, thank you very much.

 

While working at her mundane job as a mail carrier, she befriends William, a wizard apprentice.  He is the first to look past Syndle’s hair and social status to see the intelligent, ambitious girl she really is.  When William’s mentor goes missing, he asks Syndle to accompany him on a quest across The Isle to find him.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience a magical adventure and it’s an opportunity she can’t refuse.

 

Somehow Syndle ends up on an ocean voyage into the Bermuda Triangle with nothing but a magical row boat, a jar full of green fire, and a mirror in her pocket.  She manages to defeat a crazy druid who places way too much importance on a so-called prophesy about a red-haired Believer, which Syndle isn’t convinced has anything to do with her anyway.

 

Back on The Isle, the quest might be over but the adventures continue when William asks Syndle to be his business partner, however the city council tries to stop their plans and society scoffs at the idea of a wizard and a Believer working together.  Syndle isn’t sure what scares her more—being forced back into a life of mediocrity or the possibility of losing her life at the hands of the crazy druid, who is loose on the island and bent on revenge.

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a fantasy adventure novel for young adults complete at 91,000 words.

 

------

 

Too long?  Is the hook strong enough?  I'm sure it has other issues as well.  Critique away!


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#10 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:04 AM

Second attempt...

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle loves The Isle, her magical island home hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, but she can think of two huge reasons why it doesn’t love her back. The first hook worked better for me. Who cares if her world doesn't love her back? Are you talking about her having loads of bad luck? That's what I keep thinking when I read it. Instead of the underlined, why not briefly state a conflict she will end up in the midst of. Something really messy and brief to make us want to know more. 

 

First of all, she Syndle is non-magical Believer, making her a second-class citizen in a land full of wizards. <-- Really would like to know what a Believer is here. It’s unfair that Syndle’s favorite subject in school was magical theory, but now that school is over she's graduated, all magical professions are off-limits because she isn’t a wizard. <-- How does she feel about this. Don't just imply based on what you say later on, show us that she's miserable about this--in itself implying that she indeed hates her difference. Also, random question, why is she not magical anyway?

 

Second, People always stare and make fun of her because she has wild, flaming red hair.  Her name isn’t Ginger, thank you very much. <-- I like the voice here, but it doesn't quite fit...would having her name be Ginger make it okay for them to pick on her, then? It just doesn't sound right. You may not even need this entirely line, you could simply merge it into the paragraph above, stating that "to make matters crappier... she has flaming red hair. How fortunate..." etc. *One thing: don't dwell on the premise. Just lightly touch on it so that we can move on to the catalyst.*

 

While working at her mundane job as a mail carrier, she befriends William, a wizard apprentice. <-- Premise to catalyst, leading to conflict. I like this. He is the first to look past Syndle’s hair and social status to see the intelligent, ambitious girl she really is.  When William’s mentor goes missing, he asks Syndle to accompany him on a quest across The Isle to find him.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience a magical adventure and it’s an opportunity she can’t refuse. <-- This definitely sounds more plausible now. 

 

Somehow Syndle ends up on an ocean voyage into the Bermuda Triangle with nothing but a magical row boat, a jar full of green fire, and a mirror in her pocket.  She manages to defeat a crazy druid who places way too much importance on a so-called prophesy about a red-haired Believer, which Syndle isn’t convinced has anything to do with her anyway. We leaped here. So much has gone on in two seconds. Slow it down (which could work if you minimize your premise just a tad) by giving us more of a sense of setting. What's happened, exactly? "On her voyage, she meets/discovers...and is [emotion] that she has found herself on a rowboat...etc". How is she feeling about all these changes? How are they changing her? What has she gotten herself into?

 

Back on The Isle, the quest might be over but the adventures continue when William asks Syndle to be his business partner. However, the city council tries to stop their plans and society scoffs at the idea of a wizard and a Believer working together.  Syndle isn’t sure what scares her more—being forced back into a life of mediocrity or the possibility of losing her life at the hands of the crazy druid, who is loose on the island and bent on revenge. If this is a two-part book, then perhaps you can mention that to the agent, so that they don't just assume that you cant right with good order. 

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a fantasy adventure novel for young adults complete at 91,000 words.

 

------

 

Too long?  Is the hook strong enough?  I'm sure it has other issues as well.  Critique away!

 

There's definitely a lot going on. But I feel your getting there. You surely opened our eyes a tad more and gave us more to work with. However, try to stay in the MC's POV more, to give us a chance to get to know her and appreciate what she's after and what--or who--is after her. I felt like I needed to care for her a little more. The events also whisked by toward the end. Perhaps that rushy feel played a part. 

 

Hold your head high; this is a great story and it's coming together well. :)

 

-Jess


flamingtext_com_1374269667_719762476.gifflamingtext_com_1374269730_719762477.gifflamingtext_com_1374269782_719762479.gifflamingtext_com_1374269935_719762480.gifflamingtext_com_1374269975_719762481.gifflamingtext_com_1374270010_719762482.gifflamingtext_com_1374270042_719762483.gifflamingtext_com_1374270128_719762485.gifflamingtext_com_1374270214_719762488.gif

 

It would mean A LOT if you could check these out:

 
Queries:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...528#entry132528
Duplicate: Undead-->>--http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/
 
Synopsis:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...a-dark-fantasy/

Write on. ツ


#11 Andrew Rosenberg

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 12:17 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle loves The Isle, her magical island home hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, but she can think of two huge reasons why it doesn’t love her back.

 

First of all, she is non-magical magic-challenged? Believer, making her a second-class citizen in a land full of wizards.  It’s whats? unfair that Syndle’s favorite subject in school was magical theory, but now that school is over,comma all magical professions are off-limits because she isn’t a wizard.

 

Second, people always stare and make fun of her how?  because she has wild, flaming red hair.  Her name isn’t Ginger, thank you very much.

 

While working at her mundane job as a mail carrier, she befriends William, a wizard apprentice.  He is the first to look past Syndle’s hair and social status to see the intelligent, ambitious girl she really isawkward When William’s mentor goes missing, he asks Syndle to accompany him on a quest across The Isle to find him.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience a magical adventure and it’s an opportunity she can’t refuse.why is looking for a dude magical? Why can't she refuse it?

 

Somehow really? You don't know? Syndle ends up on an ocean voyage into the Bermuda Triangle with nothing but a magical row boat, a jar full of green fire, and a mirror in her pocket.  She manages to defeat a crazy druid who places way too much importance on a so-called prophesy about a red-haired Believer, which Syndle isn’t convinced has anything to do with her anyway. uh, maybe this prophecy thingy should be highlighted more since it seems kinda important. It also provides the motivation of the opposition and will make the conflict more real/important. 

 

Back on The Isle, the quest might be over but the adventures continue when William asks Syndle to be his business partner, however the city council tries to stop their plans and society scoffs at the idea of a wizard and a Believer working together.  Syndle isn’t sure what scares her more—being forced back into a life of mediocrity or the possibility of losing her life at the hands of the crazy druid, who is loose on the island and bent on revenge. Kinda boring and unnecessary 

 

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a fantasy adventure novel for young adults complete at 91,000 words.

I think the prophecy thing is an important point that could be used for more motivation.

The final hook should be conflict. What choice must she make? What is the price of failure.

It's really not clear what she's up against, either externally or internally.



#12 NessBlackbird

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:01 PM

Sixteen-year-old Syndle loves The Isle, her magical island home hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, but she can think of two huge reasons why it doesn’t love her back.  OK...I'm interested.

 

First of all, she is non-magical Believer, making her a second-class citizen in a land full of wizards.  Believer?  It’s unfair that Syndle’s favorite subject in school was magical theory, but now that school is over all magical professions are off-limits because she isn’t a wizard. 

 

Second, people always stare and make fun of her because she has wild, flaming red hair.  Her name isn’t Ginger, thank you very much.  I see that you need this below, but I don't feel like it has enough punch to have this pride of place in the query.

 

While working at her mundane job as a mail carrier, she befriends William, a wizard apprentice.  He is the first to look past Syndle’s hair and social status to see the intelligent, ambitious girl she really is.  Good.  When William’s mentor goes missing, he asks Syndle to accompany him on a quest across The Isle to find him.How about "They set off together" or words to that effect?  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience a magical adventure and it’s an opportunity she can’t refuse.  Tighten it up!

 

Somehow Syndle ends up on an ocean voyage into the Bermuda Triangle with nothing but a magical row boat, a jar full of green fire, and a mirror in her pocket.  Now you're cooking.  She manages to defeat a crazy druid who places way too much importance on a so-called prophesy about a red-haired Believer, which Syndle isn’t convinced has anything to do with her anyway.  OK...what's next?

 

Back on The Isle, Already?? That's it?  the quest might be over but the adventures continue when William asks Syndle to be his business partner, however the city council tries to stop their plans and society scoffs at the idea of a wizard and a Believer working together.  Syndle isn’t sure what scares her more—being forced back into a life of mediocrity Wait, is this an adventure or a business story? or the possibility of losing her life at the hands of the crazy druid, who is loose on the island and bent on revenge.  Sure.  But why do we need the whole business sub-theme? 

Just my reactions, for what they're worth...!  I'm not an expert.

THE BELIEVER, a story about bravery, friendship, and standing up against convention, is a fantasy adventure novel for young adults complete at 91,000 words.

 

------

 

Too long?  Is the hook strong enough?  I'm sure it has other issues as well.  Critique away!



#13 LittleJoni

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 09:46 PM

Jess:  I wrote too much stuff on my last attempt so people could get an idea of what I had to work with.  I also changed the hook because of your advice to introduce the conflict (althought I liked my first hook better, too).  For my third attempt I trimmed it back down and tried yet another hook.

 

Andrew:  Excellent points!  With my lastest attempt I've tried to address her choice and what the stakes are.  Let me know if I'm at least getting the right idea.

 

Ness:  Thank you for your comments, my last attempt was too confusing, I hope this one is a little better.

 

Thanks for your help so far!  I worked all weekend and today on my third attempt at this.  I think I have the right idea, I'm just not sure I'm expressing it as well as I'd like.  Anyway, I welcome any thoughts.

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle Baxter isn’t happy about being a second-class citizen, but on The Isle, that’s all she can ever be because she isn’t a wizard.

 

Syndle only works as a mail carrier because it beats scrubbing toilets for a living.  On The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, all good jobs are reserved for people who can do magic.  When Syndle befriends William, a wizard apprentice, he bucks tradition and invites her to accompany him on a quest to find his missing mentor instead of asking a “qualified” wizard.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience an adventure and it’s an opportunity she doesn’t refuse.

 

She expects to encounter unusual things like an annoying bridge troll, a magical rowboat tricked out for speedy ocean travel, and a jar full of green fire.  She doesn’t expect to become the reluctant spokesperson in an island-wide movement for the rights of the non-magical.  Joining the cause means challenging unfair island traditions by facing a prejudiced city council leader and an angry druid bent on revenge.  She has a choice.  She can either fade into the background, dooming herself and others to lives of mediocrity, or she can risk everything, including her life, to make The Isle a better place for everyone.

 

THE BELIEVER, complete at 91,000 words, is a fantasy novel for young adult readers.


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#14 lizellor

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:08 PM

You've got a nice set up with a good voice, but I'd cut the line, 'she has a choice', because obviously, she does.. And I'd make that choice more specific. Like, 'Syndie's best friend starts protesting for non-magical rights, but is lynched in the town square, and the mayor tells Syndie she'll be next if she doesn't shut up. But Syndie's already got a thousand people coming for the big protest this weekend, and, if she doesn't lead them, they'll never get equal pay for equal work.' Make it more specific.



#15 Andrew Rosenberg

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:12 PM

Andrew:  Excellent points!  With my lastest attempt I've tried to address her choice and what the stakes are.  Let me know if I'm at least getting the right idea. will do

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle Baxter isn’t happy about being a second-class citizen, but on The Isle, that’s all she can ever be because she isn’t a wizard. it works for me although it's wordy

 

Syndle only works as a mail carrier because it beats scrubbing toilets for a living. they have toilets in this land of magic?? They don't pee wine and poop rainbows? ;) On The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, all good jobs are reserved for people who can do magic.backstory  When Syndle befriends William, a wizard apprentice, he bucks tradition and invites her to accompany him on a quest to find his missing mentor instead of asking a “qualified” wizard.a little awkward  Syndle sees this as her one and only chancecliche to experience an adventure and it’s an opportunity she doesn’t refuse.cliche. Emote. Syndle hugs William, kisses her mother goodbye, and jumps in the boat before it's ready to sail. Show.

 

She expects to encounter unusual things like an annoying bridge troll, a magical rowboat tricked out for speedy ocean travel, and a jar full of green fire.these don't mean anything because there's no emotion.  She doesn’t expect to become the reluctant spokesperson in an island-wide movement for the rights of the non-magical.why is this a problem?  Joining the cause means challenging unfair island traditions by facing a prejudiced city council leader and an angry druid bent on revenge.why is this a problem?  She has a choice.  She can either fade into the background, dooming herself and others to lives of mediocrity, or she can risk everything, including her life, to make The Isle a better place for everyone. so?

THE BELIEVER, complete at 91,000 words, is a fantasy novel for young adult readers.

I think you're the right track, but it's still sorta a plain vanilla query. 

Cool stuff happens in a cool world, and the hero solves a problem.
Every single word in here needs to show how your story is unique, how your character is unique, and exactly what we can expect from the story.

Mediocrity is not motivation. Not dying is motivation. Someone else not dying is motivation.

Why would she risk her life for these people who've sh!t on her her whole life? For William, because he pities her?

She's not facing mediocrity if she's willing to risk her life. She's facing slavery. She's facing ruin. 

It's easy to risk your own life. What about all the people she cares about?

What's at stake here? Because if she really can just "fade into the background", then you've left a lot on the table in your story. No real hero could do that.

If she's stirring up trouble, there's going to be a backlash. From wizards. What lengths will they go to to maintain their dominance over the non-wizards?

If they're willing to go the distance to maintain their grip on society, how far is Syndle willing to go?

Let's bring this thing. 



#16 PlumPudding

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:16 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle Baxter isn’t happy about being a second-class citizen, but on The Isle, that’s all she can ever be because she isn’t a wizard.

 

Syndle only works as a mail carrier because it beats scrubbing toilets for a living. Oh my gosh. I love this line. I'd almost say bump this up and toss out your hook for this, just because it grabs my attention in a way that the hook doesn't. Her second-class citizen status is implied and it's all even explained next! Heck, I'd say definitely make that the hook, if only because it made me giggle out loud. It'd definitely catch someone's attention right away!  On The Isle, a magical place is there a better/more whimsical way to describe The Isle than using the phrase "magical place?" hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, all good jobs are reserved for people who can do again, I feel like there can be a better word here (I'm being incredibly nitpicky; sorry!) magic.  When Syndle befriends William, a wizard apprentice, being a nitpick again, but try rephrasing to "When Syndle befriends a wizard apprentice named William . . ." read it aloud. See if you like the flow better. :) Totally your call, of course! he bucks tradition (totally love the imagery there!) and invites her to accompany him on a quest to find his missing mentor instead of asking a “qualified” wizard.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience an adventure, and it’s an opportunity she doesn’t refuse.

 

She expects to encounter unusual things like an annoying bridge troll, a magical rowboat tricked out for speedy ocean travel, and a jar full of green fire. (why does she expect a jar full of green fire? Or a magical rowboat for that matter? I can see the troll, but why the very specific other things?) She doesn’t expect to become the reluctant spokesperson in an island-wide movement for the rights of the non-magical.Wait, William's fighting for that cause? Oh, I like him!  Joining the cause means challenging unfair island traditions by facing a prejudiced city council leader and an angry druid bent on revenge. (hmm, I'm not sure it's necessary to add in this sentence, especially because firstly, you're telling us what we already know (challenging unfair island traditions, and secondly you're introducing two characters pretty specifically as antagonists (I think?) for the first time without fleshing them out further. At least, that's my opinion! She has a choice.  She can either fade into the background, dooming herself and others to lives of mediocrity, or she can risk everything, including her life, to make The Isle a better place for everyone. This doesn't seem like much of a choice! Who would doom herself and others to a life of mediocrity? 

 

THE BELIEVER, complete at 91,000 words, is a fantasy novel for young adult readers.

Sorry that there's a lot of red there, but sometimes I'm just making comments that have nothing to do with critique! Probably because your story interests me. 

 

A couple things: where did William go? I really liked William, but he wasn't mentioned after he whisked Syndle away. I got a little disappointed. :( Has he no other part to play?

 

Also: only one space between sentences.

 

Also also: I wish I could read your story. 

 

. . . okay I think that's it!



#17 LittleJoni

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:38 AM

You've got a nice set up with a good voice, but I'd cut the line, 'she has a choice', because obviously, she does.. And I'd make that choice more specific. Like, 'Syndie's best friend starts protesting for non-magical rights, but is lynched in the town square, and the mayor tells Syndie she'll be next if she doesn't shut up. But Syndie's already got a thousand people coming for the big protest this weekend, and, if she doesn't lead them, they'll never get equal pay for equal work.' Make it more specific.

Thank you, I will try to be more specific in my next attempt.

 

 

I think you're the right track, but it's still sorta a plain vanilla query. 

Cool stuff happens in a cool world, and the hero solves a problem.
Every single word in here needs to show how your story is unique, how your character is unique, and exactly what we can expect from the story.

Mediocrity is not motivation. Not dying is motivation. Someone else not dying is motivation.

Why would she risk her life for these people who've sh!t on her her whole life? For William, because he pities her?

She's not facing mediocrity if she's willing to risk her life. She's facing slavery. She's facing ruin. 

It's easy to risk your own life. What about all the people she cares about?

What's at stake here? Because if she really can just "fade into the background", then you've left a lot on the table in your story. No real hero could do that.

If she's stirring up trouble, there's going to be a backlash. From wizards. What lengths will they go to to maintain their dominance over the non-wizards?

If they're willing to go the distance to maintain their grip on society, how far is Syndle willing to go?

Let's bring this thing. 

I see what you're saying, but I don't want to make it more dramatic than it really is.  I even hesitated to bring up the fast that she's risking her life in the query because in the book she doesn't even know her life is in danger until the very end.  For her the stakes are more personal than anything else.  She doesn't like how she's being treated and she wants it to change, that's it.  I hope this doesn't mean my story is flawed...but not all stories are about a life and death struggle.  You've given me a lot to think about, thank you.

 

 

Sorry that there's a lot of red there, but sometimes I'm just making comments that have nothing to do with critique! Probably because your story interests me. 

 

A couple things: where did William go? I really liked William, but he wasn't mentioned after he whisked Syndle away. I got a little disappointed. :( Has he no other part to play?

 

Also: only one space between sentences.

 

Also also: I wish I could read your story. 

 

. . . okay I think that's it!

I like a lot of red actually, that's what helps me!  I am glad the story sounds interesting to you.  William is actually with Syndle through the entire book, I want to say more about him, but it's hard to do without using way too many words.  I will try.  One space between sentences?  I have heard that before but I also read it really isn't that bigof a deal.  For me it means undoing 25+ years of typing habit... *cries*  How important is that?  See...I'm still doing it without even thinking.  Anyway, thank you so much for your critique, I really appreciate your feedback.


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD


#18 Andrew Rosenberg

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:53 AM

I see what you're saying, but I don't want to make it more dramatic than it really is.  I even hesitated to bring up the fast that she's risking her life in the query because in the book she doesn't even know her life is in danger until the very end.  For her the stakes are more personal than anything else.  She doesn't like how she's being treated and she wants it to change, that's it.  I hope this doesn't mean my story is flawed...but not all stories are about a life and death struggle.  You've given me a lot to think about, thank you.

Feel free to ignore:

<OnSoapbox>

All stories are about life and death. Especially death. And if it's YA, it's about the death of innocence, the death of ideals, the death of childhood, the death of blissful ignorance. Those things do not go down without a fight.

Maybe all she learns is that the world isn't as kind as she thought, but she's got to learn that, hard lessons and all.

On the other issues...if the query's more dramatic than the story...then maybe the story can be taken up a notch. If she doesn't know her life's in danger until the end...why not inform her of that fact earlier? Drive up the tension and stakes as much as possible throughout the story.

You're trying to sell this thing, right? So you're going to want to exact every possible ounce of angst and put it in the query. I put a couple things in mine that aren't exactly true to the story, mostly because what really happens is far more complicated and intense to describe in 250 words. Write a query that gives us the full potential impact of your story, and then fix the story to match it if you have to.

Oh--and one space between sentences. :)

<OffSoapbox>

 

It sounds like the story is a fun, lighthearted adventure. Maybe silly at times. But even the Smurfs have Azrael and Gargamel. Maybe give us some of motivation of Angry Druid so we see what she's up against. 



#19 evilenna

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:39 PM

Jess:  I wrote too much stuff on my last attempt so people could get an idea of what I had to work with.  I also changed the hook because of your advice to introduce the conflict (althought I liked my first hook better, too).  For my third attempt I trimmed it back down and tried yet another hook.

 

Andrew:  Excellent points!  With my lastest attempt I've tried to address her choice and what the stakes are.  Let me know if I'm at least getting the right idea.

 

Ness:  Thank you for your comments, my last attempt was too confusing, I hope this one is a little better.

 

Thanks for your help so far!  I worked all weekend and today on my third attempt at this.  I think I have the right idea, I'm just not sure I'm expressing it as well as I'd like.  Anyway, I welcome any thoughts.

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle Baxter isn’t happy about being a second-class citizen, but on The Isle, that’s all she can ever be because she isn’t a wizard. (This is great, good job)

 

Syndle only works as a mail carrier because it beats scrubbing toilets for a living.  On The Isle, a magical place hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, all good jobs are reserved for people who can do magic.  When Syndle befriends William, a wizard apprentice, he bucks tradition and invites her to accompany him on a quest to find his missing mentor instead of asking a “qualified” wizard.  Syndle sees this as her one and only chance to experience an adventure and it’s an opportunity she doesn’t refuse. (This is so much clearer then your previous query. It really sets up the adventure nicely.)

 

She expects to encounter unusual things like an annoying bridge troll, a magical rowboat tricked out for speedy ocean travel, and a jar full of green fire.  (This is good) She doesn’t expect to become the reluctant spokesperson in an island-wide movement for the rights of the non-magical.  Joining the cause means challenging unfair island traditions by facing a prejudiced city council leader and an angry druid bent on revenge. She has a choice. She can either fade into the background, dooming herself and others to lives of mediocrity, or she can risk everything, including her life, to make The Isle a better place for everyone. (nice ending)

 

THE BELIEVER, complete at 91,000 words, is a fantasy novel for

This is really good, I think your ready to send it out.


First 250 words for THE DOOR http://agentquerycon...door-ya-sci-fi/

Query for THE DOOR http://agentquerycon...door-ya-sci-fi/


#20 LittleJoni

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 04:41 PM

After a much needed break from this query business, here is my latest attempt:

 

------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Sixteen-year-old Syndle Baxter isn’t happy about being a second-class citizen, but that’s all she can ever be because she isn’t a wizard.

 

On The Isle, hidden in the Atlantic Ocean, Syndle only became a mail carrier because it beats scrubbing toilets for a living.  She’s thrilled when she befriends a wizard apprentice named William and he asks her to accompany him on a quest to find his missing mentor, finally giving her the chance to do something important.  They set off together, journeying across the island on foot, following the few leads they have.

 

Syndle and William discover an ancient druid prophecy that hints to a crucial role Syndle might play in uniting the people on The Isle.  Syndle doesn’t put much faith in the prophecy until she becomes the reluctant spokesperson for the rights of non-wizards.  Suddenly everyone knows who she is and she can’t help but wonder if the prophecy might have a point.

 

But she has more important things to worry about.  When a prejudiced city council leader tries to shut Syndle up, believing she threatens the wizard way of life, she is forced to defend herself in an embarrassing public confrontation.  When he mysteriously disappears, Syndle and William suspect there’s more bubbling under the surface, like a millennium old menace that could enslave or destroy the entire island, wizard and non-wizard alike.

 

THE BELIEVER, complete at 91,000 words, is a fantasy novel for young adult readers.


Newest Query:

TIME GUARDIAN

 

Older Queries:

THE BELIEVER

THE MYSTIC ROAD





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