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Worthless - YA/NA Fantasy Thriller

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#1 CarterT

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:48 PM

Fourth draft based on comments found down in reply number 8.http://agentquerycon...mar23/?p=336700

 

Thank you to the folks who took the time to reply, despite not being hooked! I know how hard it can be to comment on something that doesn't interest you. I know this one isn't perfect, but I'm hoping it's a little closer to something that catches a person's attention.

 

 

Hello, yes, I have a second query for a another book that I've written in the last few months. This is unrelated to the other book, so I would appreciate a fresh opinion on it. Thanks you in advance for any feedback you may have. Something is bugging me about the 3rd paragraph especially.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Even X's parents didn't think him worth giving a name to, and yet, somehow, the Prophet spared his life. Now, outside the walls of the last bastion of humanity, he's going to need to find his destiny, or fall to the darkness that ended the world centuries before.

 

At 18, X lives in the poorest part of the city, struggling on a daily basis to find a way to pay for simple things like food, and more importantly, for light. With few other options, he ventures out beyond the safety of the city to scavenge in the ruins of the forgotten old-world.

 

After barely escaping a near-fatal encounter outside the city, X rescues a mysterious woman from the rich part of town, Nia, from one of the many dangers inside the walls. A few short hours later, they find themselves running for their lives from the brutal powers that rule the city. With nobody else they can count on, and dangers at every corner, the odd duo is forced to navigate desolate highways and seek safety within the bones of long-dead cities.

 

Safety is, however, relative as X and Nia attempt to stay one step ahead of the dogged soldiers that relentlessly pursue them. Soldiers, and worse. One of the fierce, 800-pound, wold-like creatures that prowl the lands has picked up X's scent again. Unsatisfied with how their earlier encounter ended, it is unwilling to let him escape a second time.

 

But none of the dangers behind them can even compare to what waits for them as the sun sets. Responsible for the deaths of billions, the Night gives good reason to fear the dark. With claws that carve steel, teeth that rend bones, and bodies of liquid gloom, the shadows give form to humanity's deepest terrors.

 

If X and Nia are to have any hope of surviving, they will need to overcome the Night and get to the bottom of why the Prophet let X live.

 

And why she was so afraid of him.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations that are given by 'fate' or 'birth'.

 

________________________________________________________________

 

If you're willing to review my other query (Borrowed Time), you can find it at the following link: http://agentquerycon...st-11/?p=336400



#2 ryankalford

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 09:09 PM

Hello, yes, I have a second query for a another book that I've written in the last few months. This is unrelated to the other book, so I would appreciate a fresh opinion on it. Thanks you in advance for any feedback you may have. Something is bugging me about the 3rd paragraph especially.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Even X's parents didn't think him worth giving a name to, and yet, somehow, the Prophet spared his life. Now, outside the walls of the last bastion of humanity, he's going to need to find his destiny, or fall to the darkness that ended the world centuries before.

 

I was sorta with you until that last part. Vague and cliche. It simply doesn't tell me anything to intice me. Also, I'm not really sure the hook even works itself, as it really doesn't connect cohesively enough to have a real idea of what X or the story is about. Like, we go from the lack of name, to a name-drop of some character called Prophet, then banished outside the walls of AD 2000 Judge Dredd style, to cliches. Too much of a variety box and not enough of a narrative structure there to tie them together in a compelling way.

 

At 18, X lives in the poorest part of the city, struggling on a daily basis for the essentials like food and light. to find a way to pay for simple things like food, and more importantly, for light. With few other options, he ventures out beyond the safety of the city to scavenge in the ruins of the forgotten old-world.

 

I'm not really sure any of this deserves it's own paragraph. It's simple background, which doesn't move the story with any clear beat. You should join it with the next paragrah below.

 

After barely escaping a near-fatal encounter outside the city, X rescues a mysterious woman from the rich part of town, Nia, from one of the many dangers inside the walls. A few short hours later, they find themselves running for their lives from the brutal powers that rule the city. With nobody else they can count on, and dangers at every corner, the odd duo is forced to navigate desolate highways and seek safety within the bones of long-dead cities.

 

This sounds like the beginning of our plot right here. I would focus on starting with this

 

Safety is, however, relative as X and Nia attempt to stay one step ahead of the dogged soldiers that relentlessly pursue them. Soldiers, and worse. One of the fierce, 800-pound, wold-like creatures that prowl the lands has picked up X's scent again. Unsatisfied with how their earlier encounter ended, it is unwilling to let him escape a second time.

 

This comes across as very random and tacked on being brought up as a past event without any prior mention int the query.

 

But none of the dangers behind them can even compare to what waits for them as the sun sets. Responsible for the deaths of billions, the Night gives good reason to fear the dark. With claws that carve steel, teeth that rend bones, and bodies of liquid gloom, the shadows give form to humanity's deepest terrors.

 

...what?

 

If X and Nia are to have any hope of surviving, they will need to overcome the Night and get to the bottom of why the Prophet let X live.

 

And why she was so afraid of him.

 

NO idea what's going on at this point. Too vague and cliche with no real context for the character relationships or sense of investment.Sorry. :(

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations that are given by 'fate' or 'birth'.

 

________________________________________________________________

 

If you're willing to review my other query (Borrowed Time), you can find it at the following link: http://agentquerycon...st-11/?p=336400

 

It's a mess, but you probably expected to hear that. My reccomendation is, first and foremost, focus on getting the hook right. The rest of the pieces will fit in place as you go.

 

Hope I've helped. Best of luck!

 

(X is a neat name for a protagonist, I must admit)


RECODED <250 EDITING FEEDBACK + ADVICE

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/

 

RECODED QUERY (FINISHED???)

http://agentquerycon...scifi/?p=250665

 

RECODED: GENESIS (Dani POV) 250

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/

 
RECODED: Chapter 1 (Lillian POV) 250

http://agentquerycon...-social-sci-fi/

 

RECODED Synopsis (REWRITING SOON)

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/


#3 npstanford

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 09:28 PM

 

Even X's parents didn't think him worth giving a name to, and yet, somehow, the Prophet spared his life. Now, outside the walls of the last bastion of humanity, he's going to need to find his destiny, or fall to the darkness that ended the world centuries before.  That last line seemed a little cliche to me. The more interesting thing is this prophet. I think though you should give some indication of why he wouldn't have a name or the role the prophet plays. 

 

At 18, X lives in the poorest part of the city, struggling on a daily basis to find a way to pay for simple things like food, and more importantly, for light. With few other options, he ventures out beyond the safety of the city to scavenge in the ruins of the forgotten old-world. I can't tell if he routinely ventures out or the story starts the first time he decides to venture out. 

 

After barely escaping a near-fatal encounter outside the city, X rescues a mysterious woman from the rich part of town, Nia, from one of the many dangers inside the walls. A few short hours later, they find themselves running for their lives from the brutal powers that rule the city. With nobody else they can count on, and dangers at every corner, the odd duo is forced to navigate desolate highways and seek safety within the bones of long-dead cities. //I think this paragraph has two issues, but otherwise could be a strong part of your query. The biggest problem is that I don't understand why they need to run away from the city. Presumably the danger is still there but now applies to X as well. You should call this out. Also, do you need to mention "after barely escaping a near fatal encounter outside the city"? It might be important to the plot of the story, but doesn't appear necessary to the query. 

 

Safety is, however, relative as X and Nia attempt to stay one step ahead of the dogged soldiers that relentlessly pursue them. Soldiers, and worse. One of the fierce, 800-pound, wold-like creatures that prowl the lands has picked up X's scent again. Unsatisfied with how their earlier encounter ended, it is unwilling to let him escape a second time. //ah it sounds like this was the thing he saved Nia from? right now it is kind of confusing what the sentence is referencing

 

But none of the dangers behind them can even compare to what waits for them as the sun sets. Responsible for the deaths of billions, the Night gives good reason to fear the dark. With claws that carve steel, teeth that rend bones, and bodies of liquid gloom, the shadows give form to humanity's deepest terrors. // so you just said in the paragraph some monster was after them and now in this one you say another terrifying monster is also after them. My two cents, it would be more impactful to only mention one, but to go deeper. Maybe give some hint of how this Night connects to the larger world or to the larger plot about the prophet and X. 

 

If X and Nia are to have any hope of surviving, they will need to overcome the Night and get to the bottom of why the Prophet let X live. 

 

And why she was so afraid of him.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations that are given by 'fate' or 'birth'.

 

There's some interesting content in there. I think your query has a similar problem that mine did (and still does to some extent :-/). Basically, you need to connect the dots a lot more. It makes a big difference when as a reader you are totally unfamiliar with the book. Right now, this reads as a bit of a laundry list of cool ideas, but I have no idea how they fit together. I think your outline shoudl be something like:

- Hook: (In a strange world) X's parents didn't give him a name but the prophet spared him for some reason. [Explain a bit about the strange world...]

- MC Background: MC is poor but resourceful (sneaking out of the walls to scavenge)

- Inciting incident: MC saves a woman from X.

- So what: (this is what you're missing -- a sentence or two explaining why X saving Nia means they must flee, maybe a bit on why he saves her)

- Conflicts: the soldiers and monsters (but if you can tie the soldiers and monsters into the larger narrative (e.g. the prophets soldiers and the monster that came from teh great cataclysm, or something)

- Stakes: so to survive, they must find out why X was spared (you need to add a sentence explaining why this is key to their survival)

 

Good luck!

 

Also, if you have time, I'd appreciate a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/



#4 CarterT

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 06:26 PM

First off, thanks for the brutally honest feedback. Knowing that it doesn't hook a reader 'at all', really makes a person rethink things. I've taken some of the feedback to incorporate into this new draft. I've really shortened up the hook, and I am going to include two versions of it here. I may still be waaaaay off on it, but I have to admit I'm struggling with this 'hook-writing-skill'. Additional feedback is much appreciated, and hopefully this has a bit more of a draw to it. Hopefully...

____________________________________________________________

 

X's destitute parents didn't even consider him worth giving a name to, but he's got to prove just how wrong they were if he's going to survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge.

 

OR

 

Unnamed, uneducated, and unemployed, X has little choice but to try and survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge against the Night.

 

After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Nia, X finds himself on the run with the beautiful woman at his side. The brutal forces that rule the city want Nia back, and they are more than willing to kill X to get her. But Nia was nice to X, one of the few who didn't judge him by where he was born, and he's not willing to let her fall back into their hands; even if she won't tell him the truth about what she's running from.

 

With nobody else they can count on, X and Nia navigate the desolate highways and long-dead cities of a forgotten nation. Deserted hotels and cold caves provide only temporary shelter. The persistent soldiers that hound them at every turn force them farther and farther from the only life they've ever known.

 

But when X and Nia awaken to screams in the middle of the night, they realize that the soldiers may be the least of their worries. The stories of creatures made of liquid shadow, creatures responsible for the end of the world centuries before, are more than just stories.

 

As they race to escape the soldiers during the day, and huddle in pools of lantern-light to keep the Night at bay, X discovers something he never thought possible; somebody actually cares about him. Now, with danger closing in from all sides, X's determination to keep Nia safe hinges on a single promise. A promise he may live to regret, or die to keep.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations given by 'fate' or 'birth'.



#5 ryankalford

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:03 PM

First off, thanks for the brutally honest feedback. Knowing that it doesn't hook a reader 'at all', really makes a person rethink things. I've taken some of the feedback to incorporate into this new draft. I've really shortened up the hook, and I am going to include two versions of it here. I may still be waaaaay off on it, but I have to admit I'm struggling with this 'hook-writing-skill'. Additional feedback is much appreciated, and hopefully this has a bit more of a draw to it. Hopefully...

____________________________________________________________

 

X's destitute parents didn't even consider him worth giving a name to, but he's got to prove just how wrong they were if he's going to survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge.

 

OR

 

Unnamed, uneducated, and unemployed, X has little choice but to try and survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge against the Night.

 

I think I like the newer hook. It's quite catcy at the beginning, and gives me a clearer sense of the character. But, I think it's a little too lean. What's the Night? I need ma clarity here. But on the foundational level, we have character, setting, and antagonist. Good ingredients.

 

After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Nia, X finds himself on the run with the beautiful vixen woman at his side. The brutal forces that rule the city want Nia back, and they are more than willing to kill X to get her. But Nia was nice to X, one of the few who didn't judge him by where he was born, and he's not willing to let her fall back into their hands; even if she won't tell him the truth about what she's running from.

 

Yuuuuugggeee improvement. Clear and concise. Nice reveal of X's motivations and Nia's plot I only changed the 2nd woman to avoid repeating the same descriptor so soon. Otherwise, solid!

 

With nobody else they can count on, X and Nia navigate the desolate highways and long-dead cities of a forgotten nation. Deserted hotels and cold caves provide only temporary shelter. The persistent soldiers that hound them at every turn force them farther and farther from the only life they've ever known.

 

But when X and Nia awaken to screams in the middle of the night, they realize that the soldiers may be the least of their worries. The stories of creatures made of liquid shadow, creatures responsible for the end of the world centuries before, are more than just stories.

 

I would reccomend terming them "Night" in this paragraph, since when you just dropped the term in the next one, I had to think a moment that that's what Night is referencing.

 

As they race to escape the soldiers during the day, and huddle in pools of lantern-light to keep the Night at bay, X discovers something he never thought possible; somebody actually cares about him. Now, with danger closing in from all sides, X's determination to keep Nia safe hinges on a single promise. A promise he may live to regret, or die to keep.

 

Uh-oh. You're telling me something vague in a roundabout way. I mean, I can guess it has to do with Nia...but remember, show us.

 

Ending stakes are too vague. What promise? Why would he live to regret it? What's the danger?

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations given by 'fate' or 'birth'.

 

 

Damn, that was a quick turn around. Impressive. The hook and the stakes need some touching up, but you've got a very solid foundation now to work off of. So now it's just a game of revise, revise, and more revise.

 

Best of luck! 


RECODED <250 EDITING FEEDBACK + ADVICE

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/

 

RECODED QUERY (FINISHED???)

http://agentquerycon...scifi/?p=250665

 

RECODED: GENESIS (Dani POV) 250

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/

 
RECODED: Chapter 1 (Lillian POV) 250

http://agentquerycon...-social-sci-fi/

 

RECODED Synopsis (REWRITING SOON)

http://agentquerycon...t-social-scifi/


#6 CarterT

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 08:56 AM

Thanks for the feedback again ryankalford and npstanford. It really helped me zero in on what I was doing wrong. New revision is below the comments I made.

 

Ugh, the second woman was actually a transcription error. Should have been 'stranger. Thanks for pointing it out!

 

I'm torn about getting too much into the Night in the hook. It's not quite as simple as the name of a 'monster' (it never is!), but I guess I don't need to spell it out completely in the query.

 

About the stakes at the end. That's definitely waaaaay too complicated to explain in the query. It's something that evolves through the course of the book. So, either I need to leave it with a little bit of vague, or change the stakes entirely. For this revision, I am trying the 'little vague' option. Let me know how it feels. I'm going to think about how I could change it (in a way that wouldn't require a book's worth of explaining) for the next revision (possibly).

 

As mentioned above, it's hard to explain what the 'Night' references in here. It's not actually the name of the creatures, the people just made it a proper noun because nighttime is so darn scary. I threw in something in the hook that almost sounds cheesy in my mind. But, using the word 'rumoured' ties it in to the mention of stories later. I'm happy with that.  

 

________________________________________________________

 

Unnamed, uneducated, and unemployed, X has little choice but to try and survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge against the Night; the literal darkness rumoured to have brought down civilization.

 

After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Nia, X finds himself on the run with the beautiful stranger at his side. The brutal forces that rule the city want Nia back, and they are more than willing to kill X to get her. But Nia was nice to X, one of the few who didn't judge him by where he was born, and he's not willing to let her fall back into their hands; even if she won't tell him the truth about what she's running from.

 

With nobody else they can count on, X and Nia navigate the desolate highways and long-dead cities of a forgotten nation. Deserted hotels and cold caves provide only temporary shelter. The persistent soldiers that hound them at every turn force them farther and farther from the only life they've ever known.

 

But when X and Nia awaken to screams in the middle of the night, they realize that the soldiers may be the least of their worries. The stories of creatures made of liquid shadow, creatures responsible for the end of the world centuries before, are more than just stories. The Night gives good reason to fear the dark.

 

As they race to escape the soldiers during the day, and huddle in pools of lantern-light to keep the Night at bay, X discovers the one thing he never thought possible; Nia actually cares about him. Now, with danger closing in from all sides, X learns the truth about Nia, and realizes that his promise to keep her safe may be a promise he will live to regret, or have to die to keep.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations given by 'fate' or 'birth'



#7 Arcanjoe

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 11:34 AM

Thanks for the feedback again ryankalford and npstanford. It really helped me zero in on what I was doing wrong. New revision is below the comments I made.

 

Ugh, the second woman was actually a transcription error. Should have been 'stranger. Thanks for pointing it out!

 

I'm torn about getting too much into the Night in the hook. It's not quite as simple as the name of a 'monster' (it never is!), but I guess I don't need to spell it out completely in the query.

 

About the stakes at the end. That's definitely waaaaay too complicated to explain in the query. It's something that evolves through the course of the book. So, either I need to leave it with a little bit of vague, or change the stakes entirely. For this revision, I am trying the 'little vague' option. Let me know how it feels. I'm going to think about how I could change it (in a way that wouldn't require a book's worth of explaining) for the next revision (possibly).

 

As mentioned above, it's hard to explain what the 'Night' references in here. It's not actually the name of the creatures, the people just made it a proper noun because nighttime is so darn scary. I threw in something in the hook that almost sounds cheesy in my mind. But, using the word 'rumoured' ties it in to the mention of stories later. I'm happy with that.  

 

________________________________________________________

 

Unnamed, uneducated, and unemployed, X has little choice but to try and survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge against the Night; the literal darkness rumoured to have brought down civilization. (Far better with the explanation of what the Night is.)

 

After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Nia, X finds himself on the run with the beautiful stranger at his side. The brutal forces that rule the city want Nia back, and they are more than willing to kill X to get her. But Nia was nice to X, one of the few who didn't judge him by where he was born, and he's not willing to let her fall back into their hands; even if she won't tell him the truth about what she's running from.

 

With nobody else they can count on, X and Nia navigate the desolate highways and long-dead cities of a forgotten nation. Deserted hotels and cold caves provide only temporary shelter. The persistent  Soldiers that hound them at every turn, forcing them farther and farther from the only life they've ever known. (You've used the word hound so to mention the soldiers' persistence is unnecessary. I've had a go at making the sentence a little more active.)

 

But when X and Nia awaken to screams in the middle of the night, they realize that the soldiers may be the least of their worries. The stories of creatures made of liquid shadow, creatures responsible for the end of the world centuries before, are more than just stories. The Night gives good reason to fear the dark. (Are these creatures a side effect of the Night descending on the land? If so, tell us.)

 

As they race to escape the soldiers during the day, and huddle in pools of lantern-light to keep the Night at bay, X discovers the one thing he never thought possible; Nia actually cares about him. Now, with danger closing in from all sides, X learns the truth about Nia, and realizes that his promise to keep her safe may be a promise he will live to regret, or have to die to keep.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations given by 'fate' or 'birth'

Explaining the Night and clarifying X's promise has helped this a lot. I am well and truly intrigued now. I hope the above suggestions help!


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

Animality:

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

 

The Boy With The White Eyes:

http://agentquerycon...yes-ya-fantasy/

 

The Kin:

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


#8 CarterT

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 01:45 PM

Ah, couple of great comments. Taking that bit about the soldiers. I like what you did with that a lot. Thanks! I tried to modify the bit about the Night in the 4th paragraph. Let me know if that works for you. I'm still bouncing it around in my head, so I may end up changing it again.

 

Newest draft below!

___________________________________

 

Unnamed, uneducated, and unemployed, X has little choice but to try and survive outside the walls of humanity's last refuge against the Night; the literal darkness rumoured to have brought down civilization.

 

After a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Nia, X finds himself on the run with the beautiful stranger at his side. The brutal forces that rule the city want Nia back, and they are more than willing to kill X to get her. But Nia was nice to X, one of the few who didn't judge him by where he was born, and he's not willing to let her fall back into their hands; even if she won't tell him the truth about what she's running from.

 

With nobody else they can count on, X and Nia navigate the desolate highways and long-dead cities of a forgotten nation. Deserted hotels and cold caves provide only temporary shelter. Soldiers hound them at every turn, forcing them farther and farther from the only life they've ever known.

 

But when X and Nia awaken to screams in the middle of the night, they realize that the soldiers may be the least of their worries. The stories of creatures made of liquid shadow, creatures responsible for the end of the world centuries before, are more than just stories. And with the setting of every sun, they return with the Night.

 

As X and Nia race to escape the soldiers during the day, and huddle in pools of lantern-light to keep the Night at bay, X discovers the one thing he never thought possible; Nia actually cares about him. Now, with danger closing in from all sides, X learns the truth about her, and realizes that his promise to keep Nia safe may be a promise he will live to regret, or have to die to keep.

 

WORTHLESS is complete at just under 110,000 words, and is a fantasy thriller aimed at young-adult and new-adult audiences. It's a story about finding the personal bonds that make life worth living, and denying the limitations given by 'fate' or 'birth'







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, New Adult, Thrillers/Suspense, Young Adult

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