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Fogbound: Keys to the Past (YA Urban Fantasy)


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#1 npstanford

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:23 PM

THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK. I am satisfied with the latest version and think I am done for now!

 

 

****

Hi all,

 

Am happy to take a look at any of your queries as well. Just send me a message. 

 

Most recent draft in Post #25

 

Draft #4

 

Dear [Agent Name]:

Fogbound is a 90k word young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. It’s a standalone book, but leaves lots of mysteries unresolved for potential sequels.

 

Hal didn’t just find a tattered bag sealed with five unusual locks; he found a memory -- his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him never forget this.

 

The problem is that Hal has forgotten -- not just about the bag, but about the mysterious accident five years ago that left his dad in a coma. Now, as his dad’s medical bills pile up and his condition continues to deteriorate, he and his mom are growing increasingly desperate. This locked bag, and the secret it represents, might be the only chance to wake his dad.

 

Unfortunately, Hal’s not the only one that wants the bag. Pursued by a TV-antennae worshiping cult, an underground guild of the city’s homeless guarding a dark secret, and a commune of former rockstar magical hippies, Hal has no idea what he has stumbled into.

 

But there is one person who seems to know what is going on: a runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth or that she is perpetually threatening him with mace. She doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.

 

But if they’re going to save his dad and find her grandmother, they’re going to need to learn not just to work together but to trust each other. Because not only will their journey to find the keys take them to underground labyrinths and a wandering bookstore, but into the deepest and most secret memories inside each other’s heads.

Thank you for your consideration,

 

***

Thanks for your feedback. You're totally right about the hook (or more accurately, the lack of one). I must have been tired as I somehow deleted a bunch of sentences. I incorporated all of your feedback in the draft below. Additionally, I wanted to share a few notes of what I was trying to communicate, to see if it was all getting through. In rough order of priority:
1. That this book takes place in "the real world" except there is secret and ill-defined fantasy stuff happening at the seams.

2. That the central plot line of the story is about a boy initially trying to figure out what happened to his comatose dad a few years earlier and then trying to figure out how to wake his dad. In practice, this takes the form of the MC trying to piece together this century old mystery at the center of his city involving all these fringe fantasy elements.

3. The main conflict is with the second protagonist. She and the MC do not get along and while they are sometimes allies, are often working against each other. The book is the story of them learning to respect and trust each other. 

4. The main character is a goody-two shoes kid that idolizes his comatose dad. He's bothered by needing to break the rules (e.g. sneak out, lie to his mom, break into places) but really wants to help his dad. He and his mom are in a precarious situation financially, and his mom really is on edge emotionally (I hope this is a big source of sympathy for him).

 

 

 

Draft #3

 

Dear [Agent Name]:

 

Fogbound is a 92k word middle grade urban fantasy.

 

Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city -- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma.

 

After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.

 

But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook.

 

But instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.

 

Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.

 

But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.

 

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  

 

Thanks for your consideration

 

Draft #2

 

Dear [Agent]:

 

Thirteen year old Hal’s quest to wake his dad from a coma will take him through the secret magical underside to his own city.


He and his mom have just moved into a tiny apartment above a bar after being kicked out of their old place. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is only getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, his dad had been working for the Guild to map the hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Armed with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook, Hal sets off to find the Guild and the truth about what happened five years earlier.


But instead of finding the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a cult that worships a giant TV antennae, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  

 

Thank you for your consideration

 

***
 

Draft #1

 

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco.

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about.

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and the truth about his dad’s accident. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about.

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America. It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad. But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag.

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own.



#2 Testome

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 03:00 PM

Hi all,

 

Am happy to take a look at any of your queries as well. Just send me a message. 

 

***
 

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. I would move this to the end and the part about San Francisco could just be left to the novel.

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about. Seems kind of long for a hook and I wasn't interested until the end of this paragrapgh.

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and the truth about his dad’s accident. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about. It's not really clear why you included Aurelie in the query. Her goals aren't really mentioned as to why she's involved.

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed Seems vague. in the middle of a century old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America. It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad This should have come up sooner.. But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag. This seemed glossed over.

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own. A bit too much telling.

The stakes and obstacles seem a bit vague here. I might remove Aurelie from the query or expand on her. I was probably more hooked by the Emperor of America idea. 



#3 Ajax

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 02:35 PM

Hi all,

 

Am happy to take a look at any of your queries as well. Just send me a message. 

 

***
 

Dear Agent (<--------Place a comma after the agent's name.)

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. (I think that the age of your protagonist, Hal, needs to be over thirteen to categorize this book as a YA fiction. You can read more about it here.)

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. (Why? This is also too descriptive for a query.) Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. (Why?) As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned (What's the correlation between being bullied and the dad's talk about the guild? Why have you used the word 'but' here?) the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about. (There's so much happening here at the same time. I think you need to focus only on Hal and his problem in the hook. The rest seems like filler content.)

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild (But why the Fool's Guild specifically? What gives him this idea?) and the truth about his dad’s accident. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie (WHY?) on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... (Don't make a grocery list of her character traits. Show me her character through her actions or lifestyle.) a witch in training (Again, show this. I'd love to get some quick imagery of her training.) -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about. (This needs to be either removed or paraphrased.)

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America. (It's all too vague. It reads like random list of events. Could you be more specific about the plot?) It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad. (Why? How?) But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut.(Why?) That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag. (Why?)

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. (Why? This seems forced.) Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own. (This is your third list in the query.)

 

I have two urgent concerns.

1.) The voice is absent. Plus, it reads more like MG than YA.

2.) There's so much vagueness. I need specific motives for every action.

 

I suggest you to read successful queries in the Writer's Digest archive.

 

Good luck.



#4 CM_Fick

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:53 PM

 

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90,000-word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. (as other's have pointed out, this may sell better as MG. I think that YA novels are classified for ages 12-18, but there are also sources that suggest it's actually closer to 15-early 20's.)

 

 

 
First, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to review my query. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. 
 
Now onto your query:
 
I was going to do my usual run through, but I feel that, while most of the pieces are there, it needs to be reordered to lay out the story in a more intriguing manner. 
 
The first paragraph has a lot of holes. I suggest starting out your hook with Hal. Introduce your main character, outline his conflict and what he has to overcome to achieve his goal. Something like: X-year-old Hal has heard whispers of the Fools Guild, and his discovery of a dusty old carpet bag with five unusual locks, may lead him to the answers of what it is. But the cities homeless are whispering about remote control men, underground tunnels, and a TV antennae worshiping cult that will do anything to get the bag.  ----- This is a very rough outline to show you what kind of hook you should start with, in my opinion. You want to interest the agent to read on.
 
Then I'd go into a brief mention of the accident of his dad -- on my first read through, I thought that Hal spent time in a coma, not his father (and it's too much backstory/info for a query) -- and that in his journey to discover what happened to his father, and lean more about the guild and bag, he meets the girl on a quest. I'd touch on the main conflict, the stakes for your protagonist -- what will happen if he fails? What is his journey to find the different keys? Will his dad wake when he succeeds? What's his motivation? 
 
Overall, the story sounds like it has solid bones. I'm sorry to have to say it, because I've gone through the same thing and know how frustrating it can be, but I do think that you need to overhaul the current structure of your query. 
 
I'll check back for future revisions, but if you have questions in the meantime, I'd be happy to assist where I can. 


#5 smithgirl

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 03:58 PM

Dear Agent colon

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90,000-word, young adult urban fantasy novel set in San Francisco. A lot of people would put this at the end of your query. I'm not sure if it's vital, but just so you know.

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen-year-old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left him in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about.

 

Overall, I like your intro, but it sounds passive and it doesn't highlight your protagonist. Your query should start with your MC, who should be active and play the major role. Also, you should avoid too much back story (I know this is hard, hard, hard). I tried to reword a bit below.

 

Thirteen-year-old Hal is the new kid in school, and he's used to being called weird. So, unlike his classmates, he doesn't dismiss strange rumors of whispers among the homeless about something called the Fool's Guild, especially when it turns out the guild might be the reason his father is in a coma.

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and its connection with the accident that left his dad in a coma five years ago. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie comma who is on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, but... a witch in training, and Hal thinks she could help. What is Aurelie's interest in joining with Hal?

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America. This sentence is way too long and confusing. Also, America never had an emperor, so I'm not sure where this is going.  It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad. How? But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. This is good. Just make it clear that opening the bag is important. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag. What? Who are they and why do they want the bag?

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. You need to make it clear that there was friction between them. I didn't get that from the query so far. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own. Replace this sequence of events with a specific obstacle they need to overcome, and what will happen if they don't.

 

​I think your story sounds interesting and fun, but right now it's too vague and the connections between events and characters are a bit unclear. You also need stronger statement of the stakes at the end. I know this is super hard, so don't be discouraged. I tried to make suggestions.

 

​If you could, I would appreciate if you could take a look at my own long-suffering query. Thanks! http://agentquerycon...rade-critiques/



#6 samlat77

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:42 PM

Hi all,

 

Am happy to take a look at any of your queries as well. Just send me a message. 

 

***
 

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco.

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… this could actually be a really good hook about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left him in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about. Overall, I like this paragraph, but as smithgirl above says, it's pretty passive. Hal has to be in charge, not a bystander.

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade broken knife, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and the truth about his dad’s accident. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about. Wait, what? Does Hal know about magic?

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed just...no a different, "stuck" or "trapped" is fine in the middle of a century old mystery centered on an dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America Huh?. It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad. But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag.

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own.

Okay, so overall, it's all here. Everything that can make this query strong is here. But you've gotta reword some things and shift things around. And try not to get bogged down by too much detail. I know how hard that is, but short and snappy is a fairly good way to go. Best of luck!



#7 theboldfox

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 05:29 PM

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco.

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. I think the elipsis here seems artificial. I'm also pretty sure that underground tunnels are part of all cities, not something to whisper about. What they might whisper about is what is in those tunnels or what is special about those tunnels.   Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad also once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left him in a coma, an accident that no adults what other adults does Hal interact with? want to talk about.

 

Determined to know the truth about his dad's accident, and with nothing to go on but  only his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild. Soon, he is thrust together thrust together is probably too commonplace a phrase with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about. I like her!

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century-old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America. It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad. But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag.

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, I love books with hippies and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own.

 

This sounds like a fun book.

 

 


Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#8 npstanford

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:02 PM

Wow, thank you all so much for such detailed, thorough feedback. I feel extremely motivated to iterate on a the query and get a new version out for all of you shortly. The key advice I hear is to reorder the information in the query independent of the order in the book itself. And again, if any of you want me to look at a query that I haven't, please just send me a message or post here. 



#9 danipie

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:56 PM

Hi all,

 

Am happy to take a look at any of your queries as well. Just send me a message. 

 

***
 

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. This will go at the end of the query :)

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild. Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlierI think it would pack more of a punch to just cut it off there! that has left in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about.

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off bladesomething feels off about the mentioning of the blade. would it hurt the query to just leave it at the research notebook?, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and the truth about his dad’s accident. Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest. She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about.

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century old mystery centered on a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America I would chop this sentence up into a couple smaller ones!. It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad why?. But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag.

 

Now, if they want to survive, let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together what is Aurelie's motivation in this? why does she have no choice but to work with Hal of all people? what is her interest in the bag. Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own.

 

overall pretty good, im mostly confused about Aurelie.

 

if you have time, have a look at my query http://agentquerycon...on-in-38/page-2



#10 SAVE

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:07 AM

Dear Agent

 

Fogbound: Keys to the Past is a 90k word, young adult urban fantasy set in San Francisco. (I think I like this at the end. You don't need to mention that it's in San Fran either, but there isn't a terrible harm in it, IMO)

 

The city’s homeless are whispering… about remote control men, underground tunnels, and something called the Fool’s Guild (As a hook, I don't really like this all that much, it's really vague and makes me wonder why the homeless are whispering about it). Most dismiss them as crazy, but not thirteen year old Hal. As the new kid in school, he’s used to being ignored or called weird. But his dad once mentioned the Fool’s Guild, right before the accident five years earlier that has left him?* in a coma, an accident that no adults want to talk about (Why don't people want to talk about it? If it's relevant you should explain why a little, if not, you should remove this).

 

With nothing to go on but his dad’s tattered research notebook and a strange knife with a snapped off blade, Hal sets out to find the Fool’s Guild and the truth about his dad’s accident [This is a big deal, I'll address it beneath the query] . Soon, he is thrust together with a young runaway named Aurelie on her own quest (If she's a main character, we need to know why she's thrust together, but just as importantly, what her quest is). She’s loud, manipulative, confident, and... a witch in training -- which, after she summons a giant fireball, seems to be the only thing she isn’t lying to Hal about (This is good! It's short, sweet, and descriptive).

 

Together, they find themselves enmeshed in the middle of a century old mystery centered around*? a dusty, old carpet bag, that belonged to a long dead bum that, just maybe, might have been the rightful Emperor of America (This is kind of a mouthful). It also might be the only chance to wake Hal’s dad(How's that? he's in a coma, what importance is this carpet bag and why is there such a massive mystery around it? This isn't terrible, but it needs more clarity). But first, they’ll need to find the keys to open the five strange locks that seal the bag shut. That, and avoid the TV antennae worshipping cult that will do anything to get the bag (The introduction to these heretics almost seems a little random and thrown in. Why are they trying to get the bag?).

 

Now, if they want to survive (If they're actually in danger, you should mention it a little better earlier.), let alone open the bag, Hal and Aurelie will have no choice but to work together(Why are they forced to work together exactly? I still don't understand that, also, don't know her motivation). Their journey to find the keys open the bag will take them through an underground maze, to a commune full of magical old hippies, and to a secret city made of dreams whose fate is tied to their own (This last bit here is vague, it's cool, tbh, but why is this new city tied to this fate? How, exactly?).

 

So, I get your general idea, and your novel sounds baller. However, I did have quite a few issues here, most of it has to do with how vague some things are, or how random others seem. On top of that, I don't think the stakes are very clearly stated. The Fool's Guild is a pretty big deal here, but we don't know anything about it except that Hal's dad mentioned it before (coincidentally) being killed in a car accident. If it wasn't a big deal, there wouldn't be a novel over it, I'm sure, but it doesn't seem like there's a serious connection here or anything that personally interests me a lot.

 

You have a good start here, but it's gonna need a revamp. Give us information, but only what we need to know, make your book sound interesting, but try not to confuse us or leave us with any questions.

 

Good luck!



#11 Saints

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:37 AM

Wow, thank you all so much for such detailed, thorough feedback. I feel extremely motivated to iterate on a the query and get a new version out for all of you shortly. The key advice I hear is to reorder the information in the query independent of the order in the book itself. And again, if any of you want me to look at a query that I haven't, please just send me a message or post here. 

Looks like a few people have queried your first draft before I could! I'll be sure to read your second draft when you post, since I don't see the point of critiquing something that you're currently editing.



#12 npstanford

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:58 PM

Thanks all for the feedback. For the next iteration, I focused on making the stakes and motivations much more explicit, while also cutting out mentions of non-essential details. Would love to hear what you all think.

 

And please, just message me if you'd like me to look at yours.

 

Dear [Agent]:

 

Thirteen year old Hal’s quest to wake his dad from a coma will take him through the secret magical underside to his own city.

 

He and his mom have just moved into a tiny apartment above a bar after being kicked out of their old place. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is only getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.

 

But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, his dad had been working for the Guild to map the hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Armed with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook, Hal sets off to find the Guild and the truth about what happened five years earlier.

 

But instead of finding the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.

 

Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a cult that worships a giant TV antennae, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.

 

But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  

 

Thank you for your consideration



#13 Saints

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 09:33 PM

Draft #2

 

Dear [Agent]:

 

Thirteen year old Hal’s quest to wake his dad from a coma will take him through the secret magical underside to his own city. (I like that you hit the major points to your letter: Hal wants to wake his dad from a coma, and finds a magical underside of the city in the process. I think it should be a little stronger, though.)


He and his mom have just moved into a tiny apartment above a bar after being kicked out of their old place (not sure if this is absolutely necessary in the query). Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is only getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, his dad had been working for the Guild to map the hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Armed with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook, Hal sets off to find the Guild and the truth about what happened five years earlier.


But instead of finding the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this. (love this)


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a cult that worships a giant TV antennae, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into. (This sounds like so much fun)


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness (feels a little long-winded).

 

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother (why are we ending with Aurelie's grandmother when it's Hal's dad that started all of this), they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  

 

Thank you for your consideration

 

Over all this sounds like an awesome story and I really actually want to read it. The letter needs some work; I think you need prioritize some of the major plot points, really decide what you want to include and what you want to tease us with. Good luck, and congrats on a really cool story.



#14 CM_Fick

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 12:29 PM

Thanks all for the feedback. For the next iteration, I focused on making the stakes and motivations much more explicit, while also cutting out mentions of non-essential details. Would love to hear what you all think.

 

And please, just message me if you'd like me to look at yours.

 

Dear [Agent]:

 

Thirteen year old Hal’s quest to wake his dad from a coma will take him through the secret magical underside to his own city. I'm not sure I like this phrasing. Feels passive and doesn't convey urgency or action to me. Perhaps something as simple as changing it to "...from a coma takes him into his city's secret and magical underside..." and outline the stakes. What will happen if he does/doesn't succeed? Something to make this read more like a hook. 

 

After being kicked out of their old place, he and his mom have just moved into a tiny apartment above a bar (unless this is relevant, I'd take it out)  Bills are getting tighter (at thirteen, does his mom really let him know that money's getting tighter? or is this his assumption) while his dad’s condition is only getting worse. For five years, his dad’s been in a coma for five years  after a mysterious accident. (I'd reword this last part as well, but since I don't know specifics to the story, I can't make a suggestion for flow. perhaps combining the previous sentence about his dad getting worse.) Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.

 

But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, his dad had been working for the Guild to map the hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. (as it's presented, this is backstory.) Armed with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook, Hal sets off to find the Guild and the truth about what happened five years earlier.

 

But instead of finding the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this. (I like this use of  the memory, it doesn't read as backstory)

 

Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshiping cult that worships a giant , a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.

 

Maybe start with something along the lines of: "Despite all the chaos Hal's found himself at the center of, there is one person though who seems to know what is going on." and tweak the next sentence into a complete one.) a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness. (the nor/and seem like an odd combination to me)

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  

 

Thank you for your consideration

I think that this version is much clearer than the earlier version I critiqued. It lays out the story in a thoughtful manner, leading the reader through the same questions I imagine your character having. Overall, this is moving in the right direction. 

 

On a side note: you're missing the closing (or opening) with the wordcount, genre, and audience - this omission may be strictly for the purpose of this posting, but I did want to mention it, just in case. 

 

I've updated the hook of my query, if you have a moment to take a look, it would be much appreciated. 



#15 npstanford

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 07:08 PM

Hi all,

 

Thanks for your feedback. You're totally right about the hook (or more accurately, the lack of one). I must have been tired as I somehow deleted a bunch of sentences. I incorporated all of your feedback in the draft below. Additionally, I wanted to share a few notes of what I was trying to communicate, to see if it was all getting through. In rough order of priority:
1. That this book takes place in "the real world" except there is secret and ill-defined fantasy stuff happening at the seams.

2. That the central plot line of the story is about a boy initially trying to figure out what happened to his comatose dad a few years earlier and then trying to figure out how to wake his dad. In practice, this takes the form of the MC trying to piece together this century old mystery at the center of his city involving all these fringe fantasy elements.

3. The main conflict is with the second protagonist. She and the MC do not get along and while they are sometimes allies, are often working against each other. The book is the story of them learning to respect and trust each other. 

4. The main character is a goody-two shoes kid that idolizes his comatose dad. He's bothered by needing to break the rules (e.g. sneak out, lie to his mom, break into places) but really wants to help his dad. He and his mom are in a precarious situation financially, and his mom really is on edge emotionally (I hope this is a big source of sympathy for him).

 

 

 

Draft #3

 

Dear [Agent Name]:


Fogbound is a 92k word middle grade urban fantasy.


Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city -- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma.


After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook.


But instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.


If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  


Thanks for your consideration



#16 bigblackcat97

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 10:01 PM

Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city what city? -- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to despite the indication from the punctuation, I read this "to" as a continuation of the from/to of the earlier phrasing. Its a bit confusing so I'd reword slightly open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma. 

 

After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank. Echo here with "mysterious" from earlier para. And, while there may be fantasy elements at work here, the reader need some indication of what kind of ailments this "condition" carries. You say he's in a coma... but how can a coma "get worse?" Also, using a timestamp word like "after" to start the para then backpedaling to the reason why it's all happening in the first place (the accident) is a bit awk. Rephrase to meld together the accident, coma, and new digs, instead of creating separate sentences for each.

 

But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident echo, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook.

 

But instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this. Cool. I like it -- also, this is your hook. 

 

Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into. I misread this as a typo of "what in the world" he has stumbled into. Also, love the use of humor, but only use it in the query if it's in the ms.

 

But there is one person though but / though are serving the same purpose here who seems to know what is going on: a young, no comma, Also, "runaway" implies "young" runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor feels like a weird word choice that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.

 

If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag. echo

 

This isn't bad at all, needs smoothing though!


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#17 Linnet_Crawford

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:26 AM

@bigblackcat97's annotations already say everything I was going say about line-level stuff. I do think this is much more active and clearer than the earlier versions I read. Just a couple ideas:

Hi all,

 

Thanks for your feedback. You're totally right about the hook (or more accurately, the lack of one). I must have been tired as I somehow deleted a bunch of sentences. I incorporated all of your feedback in the draft below. Additionally, I wanted to share a few notes of what I was trying to communicate, to see if it was all getting through. In rough order of priority:
1. That this book takes place in "the real world" except there is secret and ill-defined fantasy stuff happening at the seams. Might want to anchor it by naming the city

2. That the central plot line of the story is about a boy initially trying to figure out what happened to his comatose dad a few years earlier and then trying to figure out how to wake his dad. In practice, this takes the form of the MC trying to piece together this century old mystery at the center of his city involving all these fringe fantasy elements. Yup, I got that.

3. The main conflict is with the second protagonist. She and the MC do not get along and while they are sometimes allies, are often working against each other. The book is the story of them learning to respect and trust each other. Got that!

4. The main character is a goody-two shoes kid that idolizes his comatose dad. He's bothered by needing to break the rules (e.g. sneak out, lie to his mom, break into places) but really wants to help his dad. He and his mom are in a precarious situation financially, and his mom really is on edge emotionally (I hope this is a big source of sympathy for him). I got the financial troubles and love for his dad, but not the rest of it. That's ok, though. It was more than enough to make me root for him. 

 

 

 

Draft #3

 

Dear [Agent Name]:


Fogbound is a 92k word middle grade urban fantasy. (Red flags here...isn't this way long for MG? Apologies if you've already addressed this before. I know there was some discussion about whether this should be MG or YA - but in addition to protagonist age, there are other factors affecting classification, such as themes, content, length etc. Might want to do some more digging on the internet to decide where this fits best. For MG, you may have to consider trimming. Agents are likely to get turned off by a debut MG of 90k + words. On a different note - is the title Fogbound, or Fogbound: Keys to the past? I definitely prefer just Fogbound, particularly if it's not a series.)


Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city -- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma. (This hook is better but still not completely there, I think. This early on, I don't care about magical hippies or hidden tunnels. I want to know what the MC's big issue is. ie "Thirteen-year-old Hal just wanted to figure out the truth about his dad's mysterious coma and make his mom happy again. Now he's digging through ancient tunnels..." etc. Not that, but you see what I mean.)

 

After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse. How can a coma get worse? His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank. At this point, I'm wondering why it has taken Hal five years to start wondering where his memories went...


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook. Great!


But instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow-colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this. I didn't immediately clue in that this was one of the memories he'd lost...might want to clear up the phrasing to make that obvious.


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.


If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag help Hal's dad and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  


Thanks for your consideration

 

Thanks for your help with my query! It was great feedback. I've posted a new revision, if you get a chance to look at it. 


Any thoughts on my query are super appreciated!  Here: http://agentquerycon...ong-ya-fantasy/


#18 CM_Fick

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:16 AM

Draft #3

 

Dear [Agent Name]:


Fogbound is a 92k word middle grade urban fantasy.


Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city (driven by a memory from before his dad's accident, that until recently, was forgotten -- something along these lines I think helps with set up imo)-- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma. I agree with bigblackcat97 about the punctuation here. I like the content, but I think it could use some refining. 


After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse.(I suggest saying something about his condition deteriorating rather than getting worse) His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook.


But Instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatensing him with mace -- and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.


If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  


Thanks for your consideration

 

This is a little on the long side. There are also a few points I think can be combined and rearranged a little. 

 

Here's my suggestions on this version. I think that this one has done a far better job at outlining your character's story and stakes! 

 

I'll keep my eye out for updates, and if you have a moment, I've updated my query (link in signature)



#19 Arcanjoe

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:50 AM

Draft #3

 

Dear [Agent Name]:


Fogbound is a 92k word middle grade urban fantasy. I have to agree about the word count for MG here. Fantasy at MG goes up to about 60,000 (and even that's pushing it!) Can you cut some? If not, maybe consider aging the protagonist a year or two to make it YA.


Thirteen year old Hal is on an adventure across the city -- from communes of magical rockstar hippies to hidden tunnels housing an ancient guild of homeless people -- to open a mysterious, locked bag and find the truth of the accident that put his dad into a coma.


After being kicked out of their old place, Hal and his mom are crashing in a friend’s tiny apartment. Bills (Funds?) are getting tighter while his dad’s condition is getting worse. His dad’s been in a coma for five years after a mysterious accident. Stranger still, Hal’s memory of the few months around the time of the accident are a total blank.


But when a raving homeless man mentions the Fool’s Guild, it unlocks a long-forgotten memory: shortly before his accident, the Guild had hired his dad to map hundreds of miles of secret, forbidden tunnels under the city. Determined to get to the truth of what happened five years earlier, Hal sets off to find the Guild with only his dad’s old headlamp and research notebook.


But instead of the Guild, he finds the treasure they’ve guarded for over a century: a dusty, rainbow colored carpet bag, sealed with five unusual locks. That, and the memory of his muddy, bloodstained dad shoving the bag into his arms and telling him to never forget this.


Unfortunately for Hal, he isn’t the only one that wants the locked bag. Pursued now on all sides by a TV-antennae-worshipping cult, a gang of former rockstar hippies, and the remnants of the Fool’s Guild, Hal has no idea what world he has stumbled into.


But there is one person though who seems to know what is going on: a young, runaway named Aurelie on a quest to find her grandmother, the last guardian of the locked bag. Hal doesn’t like her liberal attitude toward the truth, nor that she is perpetually threatening him with mace, and she doesn’t like his boy scout earnestness.


If they’re going to survive, let alone open the bag and find Aurelie’s grandmother, they’re going to need to find a way to work with each other as they unravel the mystery of the locked bag.  


Thanks for your consideration

 

I think you've done a good job highlighting the stakes and giving us a sense of Hal's character. One thing: if Aurelie is vital to the story it's probably best to introduce her earlier. Also, you've given us no clarification on Hal's missing memory and how it factors in later. Is this intentional?

 

This story sounds a lot of fun, with very Neil Gaiman-esque characters. Congrats.

 

Also, thank you for your helpful comments on my query. I've updated it if you're happy to have another look (link below). 


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

Animality:

http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/

 


#20 npstanford

npstanford

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 03:36 PM

Hi all,

 

Thanks for all the great feedback. Several of you have pointed out that the book length and middle-grade label seem incompatible. This is a side-effect that I wasn't really thinking of a fit age group / genre while writing (in earlier drafts, the kids' POV was only a small part compared to their parents, cops, other adults). While I'd prefer to keep the kids ages the same, I'd be willing to increase them at a publisher's behest. 

 

So big question: Is this something that I should call out in my query. E.g. something like, "the characters as written are thirteen but could easily be changed in age to fifteen or seventeen" ? Or does that question smack of disorder and confusion?






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