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The Thief of Ages - YA Fantasy

Fantasy Romance Young Adult Adventure

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#1 Dollophead

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 08:16 PM

I appreciate any and all critiques for my query! If any of you would like my voice on your query, please let me know and I'll make it a priority to help you in return :)

 

 

Dear [AGENT]:

 

I have read about your interest in young adult fantasy stories that contain [WHATEVER]. I am pleased to tell you my first novel, THE THIEF OF AGES  has precisely these elements.

 

To Beth Hawthorne, the legend of the Wayfarer is only a bedtime story. Like most humans, she believes the tale of the thief who snatched an all-powerful weapon from the eyes of history is too fantastical to be anything but a myth. And like all other thirteen-year-olds, she has bigger things to worry about; the tyrannical fairy kingdom threatening genocide on her own, for instance, or being sent as a servant to her stepsisters’ boarding school.

 

But the Royal Academy has its secrets, and it takes a forbidden trip into the forest for Beth to realize she is one of them. At precisely the wrong witching hour, she comes face-to-face with Darks - demonic entities with murderous tendencies. They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. So much so, they refuse to harm her. But can the Darks be believed when they declare her to be the Wayfarer?

 

Beth doesn’t think so. The rest of the world, however, does. Especially the fairies, who invade her kingdom and instigate a war just to find her. Realizing the only way to stop them is proving she isn’t a mythical thief in possession of an all-powerful weapon, Beth ventures to do so. And she knows her efforts will be worth it, especially to protect the people she loves. She knows the truth will always prevail. At least, she hopes. But her destiny might have something else to say.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 136,000 words. People who loved the fairy tale reimaginings of Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and the stark characterization of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. When I am not writing, I am a graduate student with a BA in English Education and pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential to teach elementary. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration



#2 Testome

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 09:20 PM



I appreciate any and all critiques for my query! If any of you would like my voice on your query, please let me know and I'll make it a priority to help you in return :)

 

 

Dear [AGENT]:

 

I have read about your interest in young adult fantasy stories that contain [WHATEVER]. I am pleased to tell you my first novel, THE THIEF OF AGES  has precisely these elements.

 

To Beth Hawthorne, the legend of the Wayfarer is only a bedtime story. This is too vage to be a hook. I would drop it. Like most humans, she believes the tale of the thief who snatched an all-powerful weapon from the eyes of history is too fantastical to be anything but a myth. since we don't learn the significance of this until the next pargraph, this a bit vague.  And like all other thirteen-year-olds While technically in the YA age group.  This age feels more middle grade., she has bigger things to worry about; the tyrannical fairy kingdom threatening genocide on her own, for instance, I might just remove it as you cover it later and you haven't covered the importance of it yet. Here it really has no impact yet or being sent as a servant to her stepsisters’ boarding school. I would go with either boarding school or royal academy if they are the same thing. 

 

But the Royal Academy has its secrets, and it takes a forbidden trip into the forest for Beth to realize she is one of them. At precisely the wrong witching hour, she comes face-to-face with Darks - demonic entities with murderous tendencies. They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. So much so, they refuse to harm her. But can the Darks be believed when they declare her to be the Wayfarer? I wasn't really interested until here so you might want to start with this as your hook.

 

Beth doesn’t think so. The rest of the world, however, does. Especially the fairies, who invade her kingdom and instigate a war just to find her. Realizing the only way to stop them is proving she isn’t a mythical thief in possession of an all-powerful weapon, Everything after this point is so vague that could be removed without losing anything.Beth ventures to do so. And she knows her efforts will be worth it, especially to protect the people she loves. She knows the truth will always prevail. At least, she hopes. But her destiny might have something else to say.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 136,000 words. This is quite long for YA by about 36k words at most and 16k words at least. People who loved the fairy tale reimaginings of Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and the stark characterization of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. When I am not writing, I am a graduate student with a BA in English Education and pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential to teach elementary. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below. Useless info.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration



#3 Dollophead

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 01:30 AM

Thanks, Testome, for replying so quickly!

 

I have often wondered if I should count this book as middle grade. My issue is that one of the main characters swears very often, and Beth turns fourteen during the course of the story. The rest of the series progresses with darker and darker themes. Should I keep it labeled YA in my query?



#4 Testome

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 01:46 AM

Thanks, Testome, for replying so quickly!

 

I have often wondered if I should count this book as middle grade. My issue is that one of the main characters swears very often, and Beth turns fourteen during the course of the story. The rest of the series progresses with darker and darker themes. Should I keep it labeled YA in my query?

hard to say really without a beta read, but darker themes are usually YA or adult. It might be easier just to age up the character a few years unless that changes the content too much? The thing with middle grade is they are usually around 55k words so you would have to cut like what 80k words?



#5 Dollophead

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 01:53 AM

Right. So YA it stays.



#6 dmsimone

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:58 AM

Quick feedback without doing a formal critique:

 

1. Word count is gonna hurt you. Can you get it down to 100k?

 

2. I have absolutely STRUGGLED with my 13 year old main character (YA or MG?? Drinking? Cursing?) dealing with darker themes. And I mean STRUGGLED. Ultimately, I had to age her up to firmly plant her in YA. From what I've learned over the last few months, 12 and under is MG, 16 (maybe 15 so I might have to age up again) and up is YA. The ages of 13 and 14 seem to be no-man's land. If you are going with YA, I don't think a 13 year old MC will ever sit on a YA shelf....at least, not from a debut author. This is after 3 Twitter contests of authors and editors telling me this frustrating, unspoken "rule." Just my input - do as you like, of course!



#7 Dollophead

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 03:15 AM

Hmm...I didn't realize her age might be the biggest issue. Now that I think about it, I can't think of any characters who were thirteen in their first novel.

 

I have tried and TRIED to lower the word count. But I have also heard some agents won't take anything lower than 125k+ for fantasy. 

 

Thanks for the input, dmsimone. I'll critique your query straightaway, and I'd love to hear more from you!



#8 kene

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 03:36 AM

Thanks for helping on mine.

I appreciate any and all critiques for my query! If any of you would like my voice on your query, please let me know and I'll make it a priority to help you in return :)

 

 

Dear [AGENT]:

 

I have read about your interest in young adult fantasy stories that contain [WHATEVER]. I am pleased to tell you my first novel, THE THIEF OF AGES  has precisely these elements.

 

To Beth Hawthorne, the legend of the Wayfarer is only a bedtime story.  Like most humans, she believes the tale of the thief who snatched an all-powerful weapon from the eyes of history is too fantastical to be anything but a myth. And like all other thirteen-year-olds, she has bigger things to worry about; the tyrannical fairy kingdom threatening genocide on her own, for instance This at the beginning of the query is heavy. We don't know anything about the world prior to this. I thought it to be part of the bedtime story, or being sent as a servant to her stepsisters’ boarding school. Boarding school has a negative connotation in most countries. Bolster up the school (assuming the school is supposed to be a big deal kind of school).

 

But the Royal Academy has its secrets, and it takes a forbidden trip into the forest for Beth to realize she is one of them. At precisely the wrong witching hour, she comes face-to-face with Darks - demonic entities with murderous tendencies. They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. (This builds intrigue) So much so, they refuse to harm her. But can the Darks be believed when they declare her to be the Wayfarer? Okay, okay 

 

Beth doesn’t think so. The rest of the world, however, does. Especially the fairies, who invade her kingdom and instigate a war just to find her. Realizing the only way to stop them is proving she isn’t a mythical thief in possession of an all-powerful weapon All powerful weapon is generic. Detail might help this part. , Beth ventures to do so. And she knows her efforts will be worth it, especially to protect the people she loves. She knows the truth will always prevail. At least, she hopes. But her destiny might have something else to say. I was going to say that the parts about her "knowing she will prevail" lessens the stakes, but your last sentence cleans it up and re-administers the opposition to her goal. 

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 136,000 words. People who loved the fairy tale reimaginings of Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and the stark characterization of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. When I am not writing, I am a graduate student with a BA in English Education and pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential to teach elementary. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration

I can't speak for the word count for MG, but you mentioned that you can't think of a character who was 13. Harry Potter was 11, because in the UK we started secondary school at 11. So at 13, harry was already fighting werewolves and black spirit sucking dementors in The prisoner of Azkaban. Plus, 13 year olds swear worse than 20 year olds. Your character's age is fine. The only thing is knowing whether or not 13 year olds will pick up a novel with 136,000 words. 



#9 dmsimone

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 04:08 AM

Are you on QueryTracker yet? Go there. Set up an account. Start looking at the Reports for agents. Look at the Word Count Report. You will see most MS word counts will hover ~80k (check out a bunch - this is for my YA fantasy agent list). Very few submissions are >125k. You can also see which MS are getting positive feedback and requests for pages, even fewer are getting requests for pages in the higher word count range. If you haven't used QueryTracker yet, get thee to the site!

 

 

Hmm...I didn't realize her age might be the biggest issue. Now that I think about it, I can't think of any characters who were thirteen in their first novel.

 

I have tried and TRIED to lower the word count. But I have also heard some agents won't take anything lower than 125k+ for fantasy. 

 

Thanks for the input, dmsimone. I'll critique your query straightaway, and I'd love to hear more from you!



#10 dmsimone

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 04:28 AM

My last one for the night - comments in blue. Use all or ignore all - up to you!

I know your QL looks like it is bleeding. That's ok. My own QL has left blood stains all over my crappy laptop.

Breathe.

Digest, revise, resend!!

 

Good luck!

 

I appreciate any and all critiques for my query! If any of you would like my voice on your query, please let me know and I'll make it a priority to help you in return :)

 

 

Dear [AGENT]:

 

I have read about your interest in young adult fantasy stories that contain [WHATEVER]. I believe am pleased to tell you my first novel, THE THIEF OF AGES  has precisely these elements.

 

To Beth Hawthorne, the legend of the Wayfarer is only a bedtime story. Like most humans, She believes the tale of the thief who "the tale of the thief who" sounds unpolished snatched an all-powerful weapon from the eyes of history is too fantastical to be anything but a myth. How about combining? Beth Hawthorne believes the legend of the Wayfarer - a thief who snatched a weapon - is only a bedtime story. The rest  - too fantastical to be anything but a myth, is redundant with "bedtime story." Bedtime story suggests myth, here. And  Like all other most thirteen-year-olds, she has bigger things to worry about; the tyrannical fairy kingdom threatening genocide on her own, for instance, or being sent as a servant to her stepsisters’ boarding school.these two fragments about the fairy kingdom and being a servant came out of nowhere. I was expecting some connection here to the Wayfarer story you introduced. Plus, these two fragments don't relate to each other.

 

But the Royal Academy what is this? has its secrets, and it takes a forbidden trip why is it forbidden? into the forest for Beth to realize she is one of them she's one of who?. At precisely the wrong witching hour is a witching hour significant?, she comes face-to-face with Darks - demonic entities with murderous tendencies. They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. It would pack much more of a punch if you said: They know Beth. Lucky for her, they like her. "Seem To" is filler. It weakens the prose and slows the pace. Go to your MS and search for seems to, seem to, seemed to and delete it!! So much so, they refuse to harm her.  Every word matters in a QL, and this sentence doesn't add anything. But can the Darks be believed when they declare her to be the Wayfarer? Using questions in a QL can be contentious. I don't know enough about it, except to say to avoid it. Can you reword? 

 

They know Beth. Lucky for her, they like her. That's because they believe she's the Wayfarer.

 

Beth disagrees doesn’t think so. The rest of the world, however, does. What world are we talking about here? The fairy kingdom? Her life in a boarding school? The Darks? This sentence confuses more than it adds. Especially the fairies, who invade her kingdom and instigate a war just to find her. How about: Beth disagrees, until the fairies invade her kingdom and instigate a war to find her. Of course, I don't know what kingdom you are referring to. Realizing the only way to stop them From doing what? From finding her? Why is that bad?  is proving she isn’t a mythical thief in possession of an all-powerful weapon, Beth ventures to do so. Sounds very passive. How about: Beth resolves to prove them wrong by...fill in the blank. And she knows her efforts will be worth it, especially to protect the people she loves. She knows the truth will always prevail. At least, she hopes. But her destiny might have something else to say.Kind of a vague ending...what is it Beth is trying to do? Prove she isn't the Wayfarer? Is that her goal throughout the novel? Right now, that sounds like her goal: she doesn't believe she is the Wayfarer and sets out to prove everyone wrong. Is this true?

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 136,000 words. People who loved the fairy tale reimaginings of Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and the stark characterization of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. When I am not writing, I am a graduate student with a BA in English Education and pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential to teach elementary. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration



#11 Dollophead

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:31 PM

Thanks for the great advice, dmsimone. I have a QueryTracker account, but I had no idea what I was doing. I'll get started on figuring that out right away :)

 

In my story, leaving the Academy's grounds and going into the forest is forbidden because it is haunted by Darks. Is it too hard to infer that? Should I cut it out?

 

Also your tips for reducing the word count were super helpful. I know fantasy authors tend to get over-invested in the worldbuilding, so I tried to leave out descriptions of nature and stuff. But do you guys have any other tips for cutting out words?



#12 SAVE

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 04:16 PM



I appreciate any and all critiques for my query! If any of you would like my voice on your query, please let me know and I'll make it a priority to help you in return :)

 

 

Dear [AGENT]:

 

I have read about your interest in young adult fantasy stories that contain [WHATEVER]. I am pleased to tell you my first novel, THE THIEF OF AGES  has precisely these elements.

 

To Beth Hawthorne, the legend of the Wayfarer is only a bedtime story[Agents and a lot of others believe your first sentence is supposed to be what hooks the reader and makes them want to continue. This is just way too plain, but the mention of the tyrannical fairy kingdom is super exciting! Maybe you could mix up your first paragraph a bit and start with that]. Like most humans, she believes the tale of the thief who snatched an all-powerful weapon from the eyes of history is too fantastical to be anything but a myth. And like all other thirteen-year-olds, she has bigger things to worry about; the tyrannical fairy kingdom threatening genocide on her own[This part came super suddenly and out of nowhere for me. Truth be told, I had to re-read the first paragraph a few times], for instance, or being sent as a servant to her stepsisters’ boarding school[If this is the Royal Academy, you should totally mention that! I'll tell you why in a bit].

 

But the Royal Academy[I had to look back to see that her going to any sort of school wasn't mentioned aside from her stepsisters' boarding school. If that is definitely the one, you should mention so here, or above.] has its secrets, and it takes a forbidden trip into the forest for Beth to realize she is one of them. At precisely the wrong witching hour, she comes face-to-face with Darks - demonic entities with murderous tendencies. They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her[Love it!]. So much so, they refuse to harm her. But can the Darks be believed when they declare her to be the Wayfarer?

 

Beth doesn’t think so. The rest of the world, however, does. Especially the fairies, who invade her kingdom and instigate a war just to find her. Realizing the only way to stop them is proving she isn’t a mythical thief in possession of an all-powerful weapon, Beth ventures to do so. And she knows her efforts will be worth it, especially to protect the people she loves. She knows the truth will always prevail. At least, she hopes. But her destiny might have something else to say[You should spice this bit up and add the stakes! What happens if she isn't the Wayfarer? What if truth doesn't prevail?].

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 136,000 words. People who loved the fairy tale reimaginings of Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and the stark characterization of Maggie Stiefvater’s RAVEN CYCLE will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. When I am not writing, I am a graduate student with a BA in English Education and pursuing a Multiple Subject Credential to teach elementary. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration

 

I love your premise, and the novel (which might be a touch long for your first work) sounds pretty spicy. Your detail is good, but it could be a little better, especially toward the beginning. Good luck!



#13 JeffJustWrites

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 05:18 PM

My first novel was 130k+ words too. And yours sounds better! Most of what I'd change would be stylistic, in addition to what others have said. I suck at queries, though. Haha

My Perpetually Metamorphosing Query

 

At vahrai u ihlókéon. At u Atavithion. 


#14 dmsimone

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:52 PM

In terms of cutting words...if you want to be serious about decreasing your word count, you need to do more than trim words. You need to cut chapters or scenes. Ask yourself if every single scene is absolutely critical. Does every single conversation need to happen? If the answer is no, then you need to think about cutting it. What about your betas or CPs? What do they think?

 

Another way to approach it is to make your scenes do double-duty, which would mean some rewriting but the end is to always have a tighter, crisper narrative.

 

 

Thanks for the great advice, dmsimone. I have a QueryTracker account, but I had no idea what I was doing. I'll get started on figuring that out right away :)

 

In my story, leaving the Academy's grounds and going into the forest is forbidden because it is haunted by Darks. Is it too hard to infer that? Should I cut it out?

 

Also your tips for reducing the word count were super helpful. I know fantasy authors tend to get over-invested in the worldbuilding, so I tried to leave out descriptions of nature and stuff. But do you guys have any other tips for cutting out words?



#15 Dollophead

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 11:09 PM

Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone.

 

I'm going to work on sewing some scenes together, maybe cutting some down. Anything to get this word count down! I really appreciate every critique on my query, and I'll make sure to incorporate everything you guys said in my new one.



#16 WV Girl

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 05:41 PM

This is new to me so please bear with me:

 

I guess I'm wondering what makes them like Beth and what makes her a Wayfarer.

 

I don't know much about YA, but I remember reading that the age should be like 15 or so.

 

Thanks for helping me with mine, too.

 

Good luck to you!



#17 pete_b

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:15 PM

Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone.

 

I'm going to work on sewing some scenes together, maybe cutting some down. Anything to get this word count down! I really appreciate every critique on my query, and I'll make sure to incorporate everything you guys said in my new one.

 

I'll keep an eye out for your next query, I owe you one :) I thought I'd pass along this video, which really helped me since it included actual examples of queries that got results. The editor that put it together has a ton of great content on her site.

 

https://ellenbrocked...-query-letters/

 

I'd especially pay attention to what she says should be in the first section. Before you world-build or explain the challenges in front of your main character, tell us what she wants.

 

Look forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck trimming the word count down.



#18 Dollophead

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 12:20 AM

Link to my new query: http://agentquerycon...thief-of-ages/ 



#19 punitrastogi

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 05:27 AM

I am not sure if the first post is the latest version, or if its some other post.

Please mention that and I would be able to give you my inputs better.



#20 Dollophead

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 05:01 PM

I am not sure if the first post is the latest version, or if its some other post.

Please mention that and I would be able to give you my inputs better.

 

Sorry for any confusion, Punitastogi. Here is the link to my updated query. The very last post (when you follow the link) is the most recent query :) http://agentquerycon...thief-of-ages/ 







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