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Tamsara (YA Fantasy) - Updated draft in #9


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#1 katiefs

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 02:40 PM

Updated draft in #9 below!

 

Hi there! I'd love any and all input on this draft of my query. Happy to look at yours in return. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens.

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. 

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.



#2 Daniel Andrews

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 04:03 PM

Hi there! I'd love any and all input on this draft of my query. Happy to look at yours in return. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Interesting, but not a great hook. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens. Seems like all important information, but will mostly be considered setup.

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself.  I might recommend beginning your query with the information presented here in the second paragraph because this is where the conflict begins. You should be able to use the conflict to make a juicy hook. Then you can go on to explain what the Vedra is and why it matters.

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake. This last sentence is pretty generic, I think you can come up with a much stronger finish.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

You've got all of the basics down here. Conflict is clear, main players are clear. I think you simply need to restructure the query to make it grab the agent's attention by introducing the conflict right off the bat.

 

Very strong start though!

 

If you wouldn't mind taking a shot at my query THE FESTIVAL it would be much appreciated! http://agentquerycon...n-updated-1213/


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#3 SapphireSkie

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:16 PM

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens. I think this intro is really great. It doesn't fit the typical format of a hook but not every query needs that and I think this is one of those queries. 

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. 

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake. I do think you can use a better ending line here.

 

Overall I think this is a great query the way it is. I'm not an expert but I can't find much to complain about. There's great build up, I have a sense of your Seersha, of her goals and her conflict. It's well-written and attention grabbing. Great job, ^,^

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words. P.S I love that this is inspired by India. So cool. ^.^ And if you would like to take a look at my query here is the link: http://agentquerycon...ntasy-revised/ 



#4 RileyRedgate

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:24 PM

Hi there Katie,

 

This is a solid start. Comments below.

 

Hi there! I'd love any and all input on this draft of my query. Happy to look at yours in return. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule rulers of the her city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra;,, but high-caste girls like the petite Since being petite is ideal in our world, I'm curious as to whether this society values more full-figured women. Or do you just mean 'short'? Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens.

 

This is solid exposition, but two things: firstly, names don't tell an uninitiated reader as much as authors feel like they do. It takes a novel to help names accrue weight, so having lots of proper nouns in a query mostly serves to clutter the thread of the story. Secondly, this does feel a bit clinical. Can you give us more interiority for Seersha? Is she happy being a handmaiden? Has she internalized a feeling that she has no value, or is she rebelling against this social stratification? I'd love to see a more emotionally charged approach. "Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place: she is nothing." Or "Seersha wishes her body were perfect enough to perform the Vedra, but her imperfections have bound her to unwilling servitude." Or whatever the case may be.

 

When Tamsara the city is invaded by a neighboring country/barbarians/anything that doesn't require a proper noun by the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna city's rulers are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna women who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself.  This feels less like action and more like summary. Can you zero in on this moment? "Until she discovers ..." "Until, in a great fight, she harnesses the power of the Vedra herself ..." something gutsier and less removed for this big turning point.

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments this feels vague so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. this is definitely vague The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake.

 

I worry about this last paragraph for a few reasons. Firstly, a plot arc of disabled people needing to be inspired by somebody able-bodied is a problem. Moreover, this final paragraph turns a story of strong protagonist-driven revolution and self-discovery into ... it's not entirely clear? It also raises logic problems that you don't have time to address - how does she access the captives; what are their specific roadblocks; what are the limitations she herself has to conquer?

 

I'd rework this last section. You've got a great setup and catalyst. I'd check out blurbs for books in the dystopian genre, because rising up against an oppressive government is pretty perennially popular. It's likely that the endings of those blurbs can provide a template shape for a way to end this thing that feels just as tightly focused on Seersha's journey as the rest of the query does.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

Hope this helps,

Riley


author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#5 DaveTheRave

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:38 PM

Hi there! I'd love any and all input on this draft of my query. Happy to look at yours in return. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra you're hitting me with way too many exotic terms in a short space of text, especially as two of them are so similar and sound like the Hindu features Vishnu and Veda. I'm having to think way too hard, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power this sounds like yoga and the unrelenting Hindu assoociations are making my synapses crack all the wrong way. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra; high-caste...Hinduism again, I'm just waiting for reincarnation to kick in...girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens. Good, this is defintely an underdog character we can root for 

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and too grandiose for five plucky but low-power protagonists  and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless this clashes with the previous sentence where she was determined to take the city back and free the captives, you just need to tweak her psychology—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. How? Summarising blocks empathy.

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, what? and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own huh? what are they if she's already learned to do the Vedra? Good parallel, but the delivery lacks punch, because you are summarising the task facing her. All protagonists are facing their doubts/fears/impairments. I need more detail on how she's doing it here and what makes it so hard to do. and The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake. Generic, make more specific.

 

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

Hey there, you're almost there. Just kill of the Hindu blatant Hindu echoes and crystalise the struggles she's facing so I can properly empathise with her.


Feedback is always appreciated on:

 

Query: http://agentquerycon...e&module=usercp

 

Opening 250: http://agentquerycon...iller/?p=317580


#6 Arcanjoe

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 05:52 PM

Hi there! I'd love any and all input on this draft of my query. Happy to look at yours in return. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body (What do you mean here by 'perfect?') can perform the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens. (I like this start.)

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun (Are they magical? Who are they? Why do they want the Vishna dead?), most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. (I assume that she's been watching how the Vishna move their body to conjure the magic? Maybe mention that.)

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake. (Agree with the others about this last line being too generic. Could be more impactful if you reword it.)

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

I'd read your pages if I was an agent, though I think you can mention a little more about the Khandun and why they're attacking the Vishna. Also, the last line could be strengthened, but apart from that I think you're close.

 

I'd love it if you could have a look at my query for Oasis High School, which is in my signature below.


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 

Or the first 250 words of my story...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 


#7 heynowyou

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 06:03 PM

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women (the handmaiden? I think you mean the Vishna but because that's a new word there's no context to let me know this is who you mean are powerful women.) have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens. (Overall I'm intrigued. But there's a  lot of new terms in the opening paragraph that do cause some confusion. I wonder if there's a way to say Vedra that si more common for the purposes of the query. Like even calling it a special/power/ect dance. Just a basic term so we can focus on Seersha. Not on Seersha, Vishna, Tamsara, and Vedra all of which are brand new terms/names in just three sentences)

 

When Tamsara is invaded by the barbaric Khandun (New term, and too soon. I think this might be one of the few times you can be more vague. Saying a barbaric people or race or neighbors. ), most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learn to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. 

 

Seersha realizes that if such a thing is possible, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. (oooh this I like. The idea that this power isn't just for perfect people. That anyone can use it if taught to do so.) But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. (good, but I feel like this aragraph is a lot more about the Vishna than Seersha.) Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

Honestly this is pretty tight as far a queries goes. My main concern is that a lot of the words/names used aren't common so they get confusing when used so often in such a tight space. And while I think you need to mention that the Vishna are hurt and struggling in the last paragraph Seersha gets a little lost. I think you need to cut some of those terms off and instead show is a little more of Seersha being insecure or knowing that she'll never use Vedra. Hope that helps ;)


Here's my attempt at a query letter

KEEPERS (YA urban fantasy)

Any help is appreciated and will be reciprocated to the best of my abilities.


#8 oonanoona

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 11:12 AM

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. She is a handmaiden, loyally serving the Vishna who rule the city-state of Tamsara. These powerful women have the ability to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that allow them to channel great power. Only a perfect body can perform these sacred movements the Vedra; high-caste girls like the petite Seersha who do not meet this ideal may still only bring honor to their families by serving as handmaidens.

 

You have a core idea in this opener that a lot of girls can relate to, so I would work to bring that out and not get too bogged down in details.

 

When Tamsara is invaded by barbarians the barbaric Khandun, most of the Vishna are slaughtered or captured, and the rest flee. Only Seersha and five companions remain behind, determined to take back the city and free the captive Vishna who have been brutally maimed by the Khandun to keep their power in check. As a lowly handmaiden, Seersha feels useless—until she begins to learns to overcome the limitations of her body and use the Vedra herself. 

 

Seersha realizes that if such physical transformation thing is possible for her, then she can teach the crippled Vishna captives to reclaim their power and rise up against the Khandun. But there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body, and the captive Vishna are broken in mind and spirit. Seersha must lead them to overcome their doubts and impairments so that they can perform the Vedra once again—but first she must conquer her own. The very survival of the Vishna, and of Tamsara, is at stake.

 

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

Very good first draft!  Look forward to seeing revisions.  Please take a look at my query at 

http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/36363-the-baker-beach-detective/



#9 katiefs

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 05:11 PM

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state.

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body.

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.



#10 Daniel Andrews

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 06:45 PM

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state.

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body.

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back. Ohhhhh shit. Haha, this ending is awesome.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

Wow, this is quite good. Probably the best I've critiqued. I honestly don't think I have any gripes with it. I would also be amazed if agent's weren't willing to carve each others eyes out over it given the female protagonist and ethnic background.

 

Not that my subjective reading tastes matter, but this is not a story that I would normally like or buy. However, this query is so good I might just give it chance anyway. This query is effective to the point where I am actually confident that you could write a very good book which I don't think has ever occurred to me before when critiquing someones letter.

 

Also, I would like to thank you for your comments on my new query. I agreed with each one of your suggestions and now that I'm reading your query I am even more confident in them.

 

I would send this thing out en masse after the New Year. Good luck and god speed.


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#11 hermitage

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:40 AM

{In the text below I underline a few places where you could use contractions if you like. Not sure if you want to, but sometimes avoiding contractions will strike people as a little stiff. Food for thought.}

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state.

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army {I for one am curious as to how the very powerful Visha were over-powered; these barbarians must also have some interesting stuff going for them, huh? And are they just a boring, faceless evil? What are they all about -- what motivates them? But not knowing the details, of course I can't say for sure whether you should expand here.}, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured, while Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she's witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, {something about this transition right here is not quite working for me grammatically} and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body.

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. {Here's something --  maybe you could expand this just a little and be more specific? I don't mean write a whole dissertation on Indian religion, but maybe just a few more words to show that you know a little of what you're talking about. Like "... inspired by the art and religion of India's Vedic period" or some such -- I really don't know what it is but I bet you could do much better.} It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

{Overall, I like it. The main idea of the story seems to come through very clearly. And it's a neat idea. Most of what I have is just little bits of fussing around with the ornamentation on a structure that seems basically sound. Good luck!}



#12 Gibber

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 09:05 AM

I agree with RileyRedgate in that "small and short" still doesn't equal "crippled." And it still makes this sound like a story about an able-bodied protagonist teaching disabled people how to function with their disability. It's kind of like the "white guy comes in to teach the natives how to be native" trope. A book about an actual disabled girl, however, teaching her newly disabled sisters that she (and they) are just as worthy is something I'd be totally there for. But so far, and having not seen the actual manuscript, this book seems to think "being short" is the same as a crippling disability.

 

Now if she's a little person (I can't tell if that's what you're saying, and if so, just use make that more apparent), please disregard this whole thing and carry on, because as I said, that would be an awesome story.

 

Edit: I forgot to mention that the magic system in this sounds amazing. Kind of like Avatar: the Last Airbender. I really dig it.



#13 katiefs

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 01:05 PM

Thanks for this input. It never occurred to me that it would read that way, and I certainly don't want it to! Seersha is not a little person, she's just short/petite. The story is supposed to be about self-acceptance. Because the Vedra is done through physical poses and movements, it is highly affected by the shape and symmetry of the body. It has always been believed that a woman has to be physically “perfect” to use it – tall, thin, unscarred, chaste, etc. But there is also a mental and emotional component that Seersha helps to discover over the course of the story. She has to overcome the relatively minor physical difficulty of her height, but more importantly she has to learn to reject the idea that she is unworthy and unable. Similarly, while she does need to teach the maimed Vishna new poses that accommodate their handicaps, the larger challenge is to convince these women who previously believed their worth and abilities were wrapped up in their bodies that they are still strong and beautiful and worthy. I can see how this could still be negatively interpreted… I suppose the way I think of it is that the Vishna are suddenly put in the same position Seersha has been in her whole life, and that is what qualifies her to aid them without being patronizing. But there certainly is a large difference in the degree of their physical handicaps. Does the mental and emotional aspect do anything to improve the situation, or do you still think it’s a problem? I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts.



#14 Arcanjoe

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 01:33 PM

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body that would allow her to perform the Vedra, (This is exactly what I meant when I asked about what you meant by 'perfect'. In this one it's clear you mean not the right dimensions to perform the magic. Great!) a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state.

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. (In the first para you've mentioned that she can't perform the Vedra, and yet here she (nearly) can. Maybe a small bit telling us that Seersha's watched or mimicked the women performing the Vedra in private could explain this discrepancy.)If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body.

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back. (Great ending.)

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

To me, it didn't sound like Seersha was a little person, but rectifying that it pretty straight forward: just mention she's petite. Dropping the names has helped focus the query, congrats. Apart from the small inconsistency I've pointed out, I think you're virtually there! I'd love it if you could take a look at draft #4 of mine. Thanks!


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 

Or the first 250 words of my story...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 


#15 lsprochnow

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 04:54 PM

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state. I think this is a great hook

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. I was totally entranced by the query up until this line. It reads a little oddly, especially the line "If a girl too small and short..."She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body. It might not be a bad idea to give us a little more detail about the army that invades Seersha's home. Right now they seem pretty faceless, serving the story as just a means to an end. What's driving them to invade her home?

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back. So it seems that Seersha has always been capable of performing the Vedra but didn't know it. Did the other women never let her try? Or was she too afraid to try?

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

I think this is a solid query so far. Well written and interesting. I think you have space to give us a little more information, though. Right now we're only getting a two-dimensional look at Seersha's city state and the invaders. I would try to flesh them out so they come alive in the query. I have a great image of Seersha, but not of everything else. Hope this helps!



#16 MICRONESIA

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 05:25 PM

I dig it, but I eventually got lost in all the proper nouns. Is there any way you can introduce us to this world in a simpler way? You might want to pare down the bulky paragraphs and add a few breaks. We also don't get much of a sense of the character's voice.

#17 dmsimone

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 07:58 PM

I hope I am looking at the right version! Would you mind taking a look at my query when you have a chance?

 

I hope this is helpful....

 

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body physical perfection that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state. First you say "perform Vedra" and then you say "use Vedra." In the first instance, I thought it was an action, in the second instance it sounds like an object. Recommend you reword to clarify the confusion. Maybe say ...serving the powerful women who execute the Vedra to protect...

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. So...Vedra didn't help protect them like it was supposed to? Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. Here I would state something about how she overcomes her physical inadequacies...her whole life she lacked the ability to perform Vedra, but now all of a sudden she can? If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will striveto defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body.  "Just the physical body" doesn't pack a big enough punch. And from your description in the first paragraph, I was under the impression that an individual needed to have specific physical attributed to perform the Vedra. Is that not the case? If it is, then you might want to make that more clear...and maybe end this last sentence with ....there is more to the Vedra than exquisite features and graceful limbs.

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.



#18 RileyRedgate

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 10:31 PM

Hi there Katie -

 
I think this draft is great. A few quibbles below:

 

Thank you all for your input! This is such a challenge. Here is a new version incorporating much of your advice. Let me know if you think this is a step backwards, or one in the right direction. Thanks!

 

Seventeen-year-old Seersha has always known her place. Though she is high-caste, she lacks the physically perfect body this feels a tad redundant - wondering how a body would be perfect in a way other than physically? maybe 'physical perfection' or similar? that would allow her to perform the Vedra, a series of movements and poses that channel great power. can you make this more visual/descriptive? are the movements fluid, graceful, ancient? the power especially. is this the power of the sun, the soul, idk, the Force?? She is resigned to her life as a handmaiden, worthy only of serving the powerful women who use the Vedra to protect their city-state.

 

When Seersha’s home is invaded by a barbaric army, most of the women capable of performing the Vedra are slaughtered or captured. Seersha escapes and goes into hiding with the few that remain. They are determined to take back the city and free their sisters, who have been brutally maimed to keep their power in check. Galvanized by the horrors she witnessed, Seersha is determined to help—not as a handmaiden, but as their equal, wielding the power of the Vedra. If a girl too small and short can wield its power, then so can the crippled captives, and it may be possible to rise up against the invaders. She will strive to defy one thousand years of tradition and prove that there is more to the Vedra than just the physical body. So my only quibble overall so far is that it'd be great to get a larger sense of scope. Worldbuilding is so crucial in high fantasy that adding little flourishes you've included in the full ms - not in-depth here, just as flavoring - will help it pop even more. This line would be a great spot.

 

Agreed with the above comment that it doesn't hit hard enough as a closer for the section. Your very last line is an amazing sinker, but here, could you give us more specifics of what the enemy is doing to stand in her way? Really punch us with the stakes as a sendoff? like, e.g., "To break the enemy's hold on her country, she will risk her life and the lives of her fellow rebels, break into a prison guarded by elite assassins, defy one thousand years of tradition to claim her own power." (except with, you know. stuff that is all true)

 

Seersha has always known her place—and that is the only thing that has held her back. love it.

 

TAMSARA is a young adult fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the culture of India. It is complete at 72,000 words.

 

So the elements of disability. To be honest, the theme still gives me major pause. The idea of somebody who's short/thin/pretty much conventionally attractive by our standards, and certainly able-bodied, leading a group of disabled folks to discover their inner strength, does unfortunately smack the wrong way regardless of intent. It just sort of feels like a false equivalence. Disability in Kidlit has some amazing resources re: this sort of theme. This article might be usefulOr this one - the section of this article on Earth Girl feels relevant here. Certainly, from my POV, it feels like it'd be stronger thematically/plot-wise, not to mention from a character perspective, if in fact Seersha were disabled and learned to face down that stigma so that she can really 100% relate to the injured women.

 

I highly recommend finding a sensitivity reader, someone who's disabled who can read the manuscript and discuss issues of disability with you specific to the project. There's a database of sensitivity readers for hire here; you may also be able to find disabled writers willing to trade manuscripts by reaching out on social media. The publishing world has great resources for this type of stuff & it's great that you're considering this angle! Feel free to reach out on DM too if you'd like to discuss further, whether regarding this or other questions.

 

Best of luck - imo this query's in great shape.

 

Riley


author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#19 Daniel Andrews

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 12:19 AM

I am amazed the idea of a low caste girl learning to fight back and then helping her fellow injured/crippled citizens do the same after their entire city has been ravaged gives anyone pause.

 

I would personally wait to hear that from an agent or editor before making massive changes. And if so simply revise the manuscript so Seersha is injured during the invasion. That way she has a disability to overcome as well while teaching the others.


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#20 RileyRedgate

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 12:56 AM

I am amazed the idea of a low caste girl learning to fight back and then helping her fellow injured/crippled citizens do the same after their entire city has been ravaged gives anyone pause.

 

Hi Daniel - not trying to get into a representation discussion, but from a purely fact-based perspective I feel pressed to point out that Seersha is high-caste, and as for "fellow injured/crippled citizens," she's also neither injured nor disabled.

 

I don't think anyone's denying that there's great potential for an empowerment narrative here. But for it to come from a character who mightn't necessarily share the struggles of those she's helping to empower is a possible disconnect, and it's always best to delve into that stuff before industry eyes hit the manuscript. For the record, as somebody who spent a long time in the query trenches: relying on feedback from agents and editors to identify possible issues is a dangerous bet, since 1) you're submitting simultaneously and 2) most replies are form rejections. (Some agents even form-reject full requests, which is, uh. fun.)

 

anyway, queries often help writers see the forest when they're so close inside a story it's tough to see anything but trees. the fact that more than one person saw this angle is a flag. the fact that Katie is considering the way it might play into a reader's interpretation of the book's message, narrative structure, and representation is a good thing.

 

best,

r


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