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ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON (UMG fantasy)

Fiction Middle Grade Fantasy

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#1 SRPasternack

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 02:00 AM

Okay... bleh. Super nervous. ._. Here we go...

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in fairytale Russia. This is a big deal, as dragons haven’t been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days, or face eviction from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary fool, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking attempts to do away with them. They’re saved from the Viking’s deadly trap by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the grumpy domovoi to the mysterious and frightening Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#2 punitrastogi

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 03:10 AM

Not much experience, but will give it a shot.

Okay... bleh. Super nervous. ._. Here we go...

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in fairytale (Having read the complete query, I think you might need to change the "fairytale" word to describe the setting). Russia. This is a big deal (Need more emphasis on the gravity of the situation), as dragons haven’t been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles (don't need to mention the amount) to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days, or face eviction from their home (Not sure if the "corruption" of the magistrate is coming through. Would "Inconsiderate" be the right word?). With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war (how?), and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary fool, does (how?). As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking attempts to do away with them. They’re saved from the Viking’s deadly trap by an unexpected hero: the dragon. (Nice!) As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the grumpy domovoi to the mysterious and frightening Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I have seen suggestions of explaining the native terms and adjectives (in your case things like domovoi, Baba Yaga) etc., unless your target audience/agent are aware of it.

I guess you can think about it as well.

 

Hope I was of some help.

 

Good Luck!



#3 SRPasternack

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 11:17 AM

 

Hope I was of some help.

 

Good Luck!

 

Definitely of help! Thanks! :)


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#4 dmsimone

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 06:27 PM

Taking a stab...comments in blue. Would you look at mine as well?

Kira Watson at Emma Sweeney would probably enjoy this. She has a degree in Russian literature, I believe, and her MSWL always mentions Russian folklore.

 

Agree with others - you don't need fairy tale in your opener. It's also 2 words, BTW, in case you want to keep it.

 

Okay... bleh. Super nervous. ._. Here we go...

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in fairytale Russia. This is a big deal, as dragons haven’t been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive. Not dead? I thought he wanted them exterminated? Also...which Tsar are we talking about? Just curious.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days, or face eviction from their home. Great! Good conflict! With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back home from war, and maybe see her mother smile again. I love the ending of this sentence.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary fool, does. As they draw closer to the dragon The dragon itself or the dragon's lair? a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway careful here - Norway was not named Norway (Kingdom of Norway) until 1200 ish...and by then the Vikings (who did not call themselves that) were no longer. What year does this take place? The Norse or Danes in the Viking era might have called Norway Daneland...maybe he'd call himself a Dane or a Northman and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking attempts to do away with them Does this mean he wants to kill them? They’re saved from the Viking’s deadly trap by an unexpected hero: the dragon. Nice spin! just a little clunky in the delivery. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger. Love!!

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the grumpy domovoi to the mysterious and frightening Baba Yaga. Perfect length for MG fantasy.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


My twitter pitch: http://agentquerycon...itmad/?p=326900

My query: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=325180

My synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=326911

 

I will happily return a critique, and feel free to send me a note if you would like me to critique your work.


#5 SRPasternack

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 11:27 PM

Taking a stab...comments in blue. Would you look at mine as well?

Kira Watson at Emma Sweeney would probably enjoy this. She has a degree in Russian literature, I believe, and her MSWL always mentions Russian folklore.

 

Agree with others - you don't need fairy tale in your opener. It's also 2 words, BTW, in case you want to keep it.

 

Thanks for the comments! And also for mentioning Kira Watson. I'll have to go check her out. :)

 

The Tsar wants the dragon alive, because HE wants to be the one to exterminate it. He's kind of a jerk. ;) This story is based on a certain set of byliny, Russian oral stories, and this particular set was based around 10-11th Centuries. Byliny were kind of epic songs based on fact but greatly embellished. The tsar of these byliny was most likely Vladimir I. I've named my tsar Vladimir and patterned him loosely after Vladimir I, but it's not an historical account so all his details aren't 100% accurate.

 

The Viking's country isn't called Norway in the story. All the characters refer to it as "the North" and the Viking as a Varangian rather than a Viking (this is what the Eastern Slavs at the time called Vikings), but I thought using those terms in the query without the larger context of the story would be too vague or confusing. Everyone would be like "the North of where? What the heck is a Varangian?" So I went with Norway and Viking because those are immediately familiar.

 

Yes he wants to kill them. I know "do away with" is cliche but I can't think of anything more clever that isn't just "he tries to kill them." >.<

 

Thanks for the critique! I'm headed over to yours right now.


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#6 anathebookworm

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 12:29 PM

Okay... bleh. Super nervous. ._. Here we go...

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in fairytale Russia. They haven't been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination, a decade ago. And now, to put his hands on the beast, the Tsar issues a bounty. (this is just a suggestion, of course) This is a big deal, as dragons haven’t been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days, or face eviction from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again. Good paragraph!

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary fool, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die. Hmmm...I'm not very fond of this paragraph. Maybe something like - "While Anya doesn't know how to hunt dragons, her friend Ivan does. But someone else is pursuing the dragon, coming all the way from Norway -- and if they get in his way, they'll die."

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking attempts to do away with them I think you should be more dramatic here. They’re saved from the Viking’s deadly trap by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the grumpy domovoi to the mysterious and frightening Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

First - thanks for your comments on my query, and I'm sorry it took me so long to critique yours. I had some troubles home... Anyway. I really like your concept! And I agree, Kira Watson always posts on her MSWL that she wants stories with Russian settings.

 

If you have the time, can you check my query again? I edited it a little... http://agentquerycon...g-sci-fi/page-3



#7 SAVE

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:50 PM

Okay... bleh. Super nervous. ._. Here we go...

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in fairytale[Is this actually relevant? I'd just mention that it's in Russia] Russia. This is a big deal, as dragons haven’t been seen since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago[Any particular reason for this? You don't have to give a long answer, but perhaps you could wrap this and your previous sentence to make a more solid hook]. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days, or face eviction from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again[This part is really good, very well detailed].

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary fool, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking attempts to do away with them[More detail could help here. It's just really bland and plain]. They’re saved from the Viking’s deadly trap by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little[I'm not sure how important it is, but from the beginning I had the impression that it was something massive. Maybe a little extra detail on the dragon earlier could help] dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family [I've got mixed feelings about your stakes, I think it's interesting, but I feel like it's not exciting enough. They have a viking chasing them too, this isn't just about the dragon and Anya's family, but it's life or death, isn't it? Maybe you could show that here].

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the grumpy domovoi to the mysterious and frightening Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I like what you've done here, you've got a lot of good details here, but some spots that could use extra detail. In any case, you don't have any reason to be nervous, you're well on your way :)



#8 dmsimone

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 02:03 PM

Yes - you must query Kira!!

 

Thanks for explaining about the Viking/North. Makes a lot of sense :) I'm sensitive to it because that's what my story is, LOL.

 

 

Thanks for the comments! And also for mentioning Kira Watson. I'll have to go check her out. :)

 

The Tsar wants the dragon alive, because HE wants to be the one to exterminate it. He's kind of a jerk. ;) This story is based on a certain set of byliny, Russian oral stories, and this particular set was based around 10-11th Centuries. Byliny were kind of epic songs based on fact but greatly embellished. The tsar of these byliny was most likely Vladimir I. I've named my tsar Vladimir and patterned him loosely after Vladimir I, but it's not an historical account so all his details aren't 100% accurate.

 

The Viking's country isn't called Norway in the story. All the characters refer to it as "the North" and the Viking as a Varangian rather than a Viking (this is what the Eastern Slavs at the time called Vikings), but I thought using those terms in the query without the larger context of the story would be too vague or confusing. Everyone would be like "the North of where? What the heck is a Varangian?" So I went with Norway and Viking because those are immediately familiar.

 

Yes he wants to kill them. I know "do away with" is cliche but I can't think of anything more clever that isn't just "he tries to kill them." >.<

 

Thanks for the critique! I'm headed over to yours right now.


My twitter pitch: http://agentquerycon...itmad/?p=326900

My query: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=325180

My synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=326911

 

I will happily return a critique, and feel free to send me a note if you would like me to critique your work.


#9 SRPasternack

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 04:07 PM

Thanks to everyone for the amazing feedback! Here's my new attempt at it:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. They’re pulled from a watery death by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#10 hermitage

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 08:58 PM

Quick tip: sometimes it helps to edit the first post to direct readers to the most recent version.

 



Thanks to everyone for the amazing feedback! Here's my new attempt at it:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar prompting him to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive. [economize on words, and be 'punchy']

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate [I think you might be over-explaining this a little -- I think you've already made it clear that she wants the money to pay off the taxes. try to eliminate any redundant information in your pitch], bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, does. [is there a smoother way to word this?] As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. [the writing here is a little choppy] He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. [I don't like this construction. The whole "interfere or die" ultimatum seems like a false lead, because what you really mean is just that this guy decides to kill them. I'd shorten it to say something to that effect] They’re pulled from a watery death by an unexpected hero: the dragon. [I do like this twist. :-) ] As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family. [okay, I'm not that huge a fan of the "___ must make a choice" endings, but I think this is basically working for you here.]

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga. [all this sounds like fun. any way to work these guys into your pitch without going too far off track?]

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#11 SRPasternack

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:35 PM

Quick tip: sometimes it helps to edit the first post to direct readers to the most recent version.

 

Oops! I meant to, I swear! I may or may not have been posting this in class and then got distracted... Fixed! :D

 

Thanks for the comments! 


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#12 anathebookworm

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 09:45 AM

Thanks to everyone for the amazing feedback! Here's my new attempt at it:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago, prompting him. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, still don't think this is necessary does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. They’re pulled from a watery death The writing here is a little clunky, but I don't know how to make it flow better... by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Aside from my small comments, I think this is pretty good! 



#13 SRPasternack

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 07:43 PM

Aside from my small comments, I think this is pretty good! 

 

Thanks!

 

In your opinion, do you think it would be confusing if I cut out the part about Ivan being the son of a hero? If the sentence just said, "Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan does," people would wonder how Ivan could know how to hunt a dragon? Presumably they're from the same town and both the kids of farmers, so how would Ivan know?

 

That's all I worry about.


My Pitch--My Query--My Synopsis--My 250

 

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


#14 anathebookworm

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:46 PM

Thanks!

 

In your opinion, do you think it would be confusing if I cut out the part about Ivan being the son of a hero? If the sentence just said, "Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan does," people would wonder how Ivan could know how to hunt a dragon? Presumably they're from the same town and both the kids of farmers, so how would Ivan know?

 

That's all I worry about.

 

Hmmmm...I don't think this would be a problem, actually. It's a fantasy world, anything could be possible. But if your gut says to stick with "the son of of a hero", then I say stick with it. Always trust your gut, :-)



#15 chadweiss35

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 02:54 PM

I think its pretty close. Son of the hero thing, maybe flesh it out more? I don't know. What about> Determined to win the rubies, Anya and Ivan pursue the dragon, inciting the Viking's wrath. They're pulled from a watery death, but an unexpected hero. One other note, fairytale might not matter, but 'Viking' means to go raiding, vikings was a slang term used by europeans. If the warrior is from Norway, he's a 'Norse' warrior. Up to you on that, but thought I would mention it. Its pretty good otherwise.

#16 SRPasternack

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 10:41 PM

I think its pretty close. Son of the hero thing, maybe flesh it out more? I don't know. What about> Determined to win the rubies, Anya and Ivan pursue the dragon, inciting the Viking's wrath. They're pulled from a watery death, but an unexpected hero. One other note, fairytale might not matter, but 'Viking' means to go raiding, vikings was a slang term used by europeans. If the warrior is from Norway, he's a 'Norse' warrior. Up to you on that, but thought I would mention it. Its pretty good otherwise.

 

Thanks for your comments!
 

Up in post #5, I kind of explained that in the story itself, the Viking isn't called a Viking: he's called a Varangian (from the Old East Slavic Варягъ, which itself was from the Old Norse væringjar), because this is the word Eastern Slavs at the time would have used for the particular type of Scandinavian traveling mercenary that this character is (as opposed to what Slavs would have called "the Rus" which were more permanent settlers). His homeland is never mentioned by name, and the protagonist wouldn't be familiar with it even if it were. One other character in the village is familiar with Varangians from their homeland, which he only specifies is "in the North" and "across the sea" from his homeland (which, again, isn't mentioned by name, but is suggested to be what is modern-day Scotland).

 

I used "Viking" in the query and summary because I wanted to avoid confusion by using a word most people are probably unfamiliar with (Varangian). Saying "Viking" immediately conjures up the exact image of the character, without having to waste words describing what he looks like, where he's from, or anything else about him. :)


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#17 Arty90

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 02:39 AM

Thanks to everyone for the amazing feedback! Here's my new attempt at it:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. They’re pulled from a watery death by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I really like it. You introduce an agenda, add conflicting characters, and leave us curious with an unexpected twist. Though technically unrelated to the query, I'm curious as to what audience you're aiming for with this work. I haven't heard of too many folklore stories as of recent (forgive my ignorance). It would be interesting to know how a marketer or manager would react to it.

 

All in all, I do like the bold effort. It's not too often writers try to genuinely distinguish themselves, and it does seem like you have a passion for the genre.

 

Good luck! I'm sure you'll do well. 


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#18 CM_Fick

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:50 PM

Thanks to everyone for the amazing feedback! Here's my new attempt at it:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompted the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, (to tighten this, perhaps: With her conscripted father fighting in Tartary,) Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s her disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives and he’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway.  and hHis message is clear: interfere and die. (combine this with the next paragraph, IMO)

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. They’re pulled from a watery death by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon, two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family.

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Hi SRPasternack,

 

It looks like you've already got some solid feedback on your query. I agree with hermitage on the hook. "A dragon has been spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago prompting him to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whoever brings him the beast alive." sounds tighter and more direct, plus it sets up the stakes - capture a dragon alive for a tidy sum of coin.

 

I have read on other resource sites, that an agent won't keep reading much past the 3rd paragraph, so I suggest combining a few - specifically the 3rd and 4th paragraphs, but this is a personal preference I've learned from researching my own query. 

 

Aside from the minor suggestions, you've kept the writing tight, and at 300 words - good job!! 



#19 smithgirl

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 11:03 AM

You should update your query thread to indicate which post number includes the most recent query. Otherwise people have to search through the thread and guess at which query to critique.


 

Dear [Agent],

 

A dragon is has been Write your query in present tense. Especially avoid passive voice. spotted in Russia for the first time since the Tsar ordered their extermination over a decade ago. The dragon’s appearance has prompts the Tsar to issue a bounty: one thousand rubles to whomever Technically should be whomever, but I know people frequently omit. brings him the beast alive. This isn't really a hook. Your hook should introduce some conflict. And why does he want the dragon alive? I thought he wanted the dragons exterminated. If you can't clarify this issue easily, I would just omit the alive part.

 

Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova needs that bounty. The corrupt village magistrate has delivered an ultimatum to her family: pay an enormous sum of back taxes within 30 days or be evicted from their home. With her father conscripted and fighting in Tartary, Anya and her mother are left alone to care for Anya’s disabled grandparents and manage their farm. If Anya can get the bounty, she can pay off the magistrate, bring her father back from war, and maybe see her mother smile again. This paragraph is good.

 

Anya doesn’t know how to hunt a dragon, but her friend Ivan, the son of a legendary hero, does. As they draw closer to the dragon, a Viking warrior arrives. He’s been pursuing the dragon all the way from Norway, and his message is clear: interfere and die.

 

But Anya and Ivan have already interfered too much, and the Viking takes deadly action against them. They’re pulled from a watery death by an unexpected hero: the dragon. As Anya and Ivan come to befriend the little dragon,Until now I pictured the dragon as being large and ferocious. Not sure if you could clarify earlier that it's small. But maybe that's part of your twist here.  two things become clear: he’s the last of his kind, and he’s in incredible danger. Ha! Nice twist.

 

With the magistrate’s tax deadline looming, and no other source of money in sight, Anya must make a choice: save the dragon or save her family. I like this, too. What will she decide?

 

ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON is a 57,000-word UMG folklore retelling, incorporating elements from Russian folklore and myths, from the shape shifting domovoi, to beautiful but deadly water spirits, to the forest witch Baba Yaga.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I think your query is good except for the very first paragraph. You need to incorporate some conflict into it. As it is, it's just a bland statement. I would also try to rephrase things so you don't use so many colons. The structure comes to feel overused. If you get a chance, can you please look at my query? Thanks! http://agentquerycon...rade-critiques/







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