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Magic Undone - YA Fantasy

Fantasy Young Adult

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#21 Cengel

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:03 AM

EDIT: New draft in #30

 

 

 

Okay, I'm back! Thanks again to everyone who has provided a critique. I will return them all by the end of tomorrow. 

 

I tried something new with my query - instead of using my old draft and editing it, I read all your comments and wrote something from scratch. In this draft, I tried to link her family to the central conflict and also give the query a bit more of Nema's voice and personality. I also tried to keep it concise. 

 

Is it better or am I moving in the wrong direction?

 

Draft #4:

 

Sixteen-year old Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector. Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema away ten long years ago. Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her.

 

But her mother and sister die in an accident, and Nema fears she won’t ever understand. Even worse, the sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead shifted to her. She must now protect the land from magic’s curse. For when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers.

 

Yet the more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.


Please take a look at my query.


#22 Novelarnia

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:53 AM

 

Draft #4:

 

Sixteen-year-old Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector. Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema away ten long years ago longs to discover why her mother sent her away ten years ago.  Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her.

 

But when her mother and sister die in an accident, and Nema fears she'll never know she won’t ever understand. Even worse, the her mother's sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead has shifted to her, very much without her consent. Nema She must now protect the land from magic’s curse... for when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers.

 

Yet the more malicious spells Nema manages to unravel unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.

 

Nice job!! I just joined, so forgive me if I missed the answers to these.

 

1) What's a Protector? Can you explain it sneakily in the first sentence? Right now it just confuses me...

2) Where did her mother send her away 10 years ago? Is this story set on Earth, or somewhere else?

3) Why does something have to be wrong with her because she was sent away? I think we might need more details on how, specifically, that happened.

 

4) I'm not sure how necessary mentioning the sister is. The fewer characters you mention in a query, the better. :) 

5) Take or leave the "very much without her consent." It's just that, in my experience, successful queries throw in a bit of voice! So if you can convey Nema's personality here, that'd be awesome. :D 

 

6) My biggest complaint in the last paragraph is the "truth darker than she ever imagined." Mostly because that's super vague, and sounds like every book ever. Bring in why your story is unique--what's the dark truth?? Why does Nema have to face it? 

 

OVERALL COMMENTS:

I really did enjoy this! I think your biggest problem areas are conveying why, if Nema was sent away 10 years ago, she would know her mother died in a car crash. Were they close? Did they communicate when Nema went to her new location? If they didn't speak, how does Nema even know what a Protector is? 

 

LOVED the second paragraph, when you talked about the dark spells turning lakes to sand and stuff. That was really vivid! I'm worried your character doesn't have a lot of agency, though--can you tell us why she can't turn away from being the Protector? Give us a hint other than her worldly duty; Nema's decisions should directly affect the Evil that surfaces in paragraph 3. :D

 

I know you can do it!! Revise, and keep going! <3

 

----------------------------------

 

And if you have time, could you maybe check out my query? I'd really appreciate it! 

 

http://agentquerycon...torm-ya-sci-fi/



#23 jaustail

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:55 AM

JMO:

 

Sixteen-year old(Sixteen-year-old...2 hyphens) Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector(maybe add here what does she want to become. the next line says what she wants. but is there any profession that Nema aspires. even if she's confused it's all right. but mention that). Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema away ten long(maybe remove 'long' Doesn't add much) years ago. Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her.

 

But her mother and sister die in an accident(how does Nema know? Nema was sent away), and Nema fears she won’t ever understand. Even worse, the sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead shifted to her. She must now protect the land from magic’s curse. For when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers.

 

Yet the more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect is linked to a truth darker than she(Nema) ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.

 

 

It's well written and the query flowed smoothly. I didn't get much sense of Nema and what she wants. This is 166 words. So you have room to add more stuff. Maybe how Nema struggles to learn magic.


Query: WALL OF ICE

(Space Opera)

Revised version: Link


#24 BCVail

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:01 AM

Okay, I'm back! Thanks again to everyone who has provided a critique. I will return them all by the end of tomorrow. 

 

I tried something new with my query - instead of using my old draft and editing it, I read all your comments and wrote something from scratch. In this draft, I tried to link her family to the central conflict and also give the query a bit more of Nema's voice and personality. I also tried to keep it concise. 

 

Is it better or am I moving in the wrong direction?

 

Draft #4:

 

I haven't read any of the previous iterations or comments, so I am going into this with fresh eyes.

 

Sixteen-year old Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector. Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema  was sent away ten long years ago. Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her. (I'm not sure what a protector is, and it's unclear how that relates to the follow up sentences. Also, I'm interested to know whats wrong with her... but just saying it like this seems a little too vague)

 

But her mother and sister die in an accident (say what kind of accident so that you can throw in a hint of the time period here, as I don't know is this is set in the past or current times), and Nema fears she won’t ever understand. Even worse, the sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead shifted to her. She must now protect the land from magic’s curse. For when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers. (Her powers and task seem too vaguely described so far. You expand some this paragraph, but it might work better to simply state what she can do, who she has to use her powers against - a bad guy? - and then get into what happens if she fails.)

 

Yet the more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.

 

I think in some spots you are vague in the interest to not reveal spoilers, and sometimes that's fine, but I don't have a clear concept of what Nema is and what her task is other than to protect the land from a curse. I wish I could give more directed feedback, but this is just what first comes to mind. Hope this helps.

 

 

If you have a moment, I'd appreciate another set of eyes on my query. You can find the link here. Thank you.



#25 Sreid

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:19 PM

I think the previous version of your query had more punch, though when i read them together, a combination gives me a better picture of your story.

 

Might I be so bold as to suggest a way of combining them?

 

When Nema's estranged mother and sister are accidentally killed [in what way?], the hereditary duty of reversing magic falls on her sixteen-year-old shoulders. Nema never sought such power. She only wants to know what she did to make her mother send her away to the abbey ten long years ago. Instead, the priests now have her unraveling spells so the wheat fields ripen properly, the lakes and rivers run full, and the souls of mankind remain pure.
 
But the more spells Nema reverses [Is this a hereditary ability or a learned one?] for the holy goddess, the more darkness manifests itself. Children are torn from their parents, the poor and destitute work the mines until death, and those caught buying charms to heal loved ones or ease aching backs, are summarily executed. That can't be right.
 
Nema questions the goddess’s justice. Her search for answers reveals her mother's hidden journals. What she discovers shatters her knowledge of her world, and her mother, who made a dangerous choice and paid the price. Was it just a coincidence she died before revealing a vile plot involving the priesthood at its very core? Armed with her mother's words, Nema faces a choice. Keep her knowledge to herself and live in safety as a Protector, or risk it all trying to right the wrong that made her an orphan.

 

It would be nice if there was another name or two to which to attach myself, possibly the antagonist (the high priest?) along with a bit about him/her. If I've grossly misinterpreted your story, please forgive me. I hope there's something in my suggestion that helps, otherwise just throw it out.



#26 lyncfs

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 06:07 PM

Okay, I'm back! Thanks again to everyone who has provided a critique. I will return them all by the end of tomorrow. 

 

I tried something new with my query - instead of using my old draft and editing it, I read all your comments and wrote something from scratch. In this draft, I tried to link her family to the central conflict and also give the query a bit more of Nema's voice and personality. I also tried to keep it concise. 

 

Is it better or am I moving in the wrong direction?

 

Draft #4:

 

Sixteen-year old Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector. Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema away ten long years ago. Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her. ​(These are pretty vague sentences. Can you be more specific? And it might just be me, but I have no context about what a Protector is (although I would like to know). I would add more details into your hook).

 

But her mother and sister die in an accident, and Nema fears she won’t ever understand ​(I don't get this line. If they died of an accident, why does Nema need to understand? If they were murdered that would make sense she wants to find out why it happened). Even worse, the sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead shifted to her. She must now protect the land from magic’s curse. For when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers. ​(What makes Nema unworthy? Simply, because she took her sister's place as the Protector? While you say what is at stake for Nema's country, I would like to know what is personally at stake for Nema, if she fails? Will she be shamed? Will they exile her?)

 

Yet the more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect ​(what is her mother's neglect? this is too vague) is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.​(Is Nema only doing this out of duty or is there something more? What choice does she need to make?)

 

I have not had a chance to read your other queries but I feel everything is a bit too vague. It would be better if you could add more details. What make Nema special? What makes Nema want to save her land other than duty?

 

Hopefully, this is helpful. Good luck.


THE IMMORTAL GUARD. Link to my query. Please critique, if I have reviewed yours.

#27 Erevos

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 08:14 AM

Hello Cengel and thank you for your critique!

 

Now, you may hate me for what I'm about to say, soo.....please don't? 

I think I liked your previous draft better.. THERE! I said it.

Okay, I'm back! Thanks again to everyone who has provided a critique. I will return them all by the end of tomorrow. 

 

I tried something new with my query - instead of using my old draft and editing it, I read all your comments and wrote something from scratch. In this draft, I tried to link her family to the central conflict and also give the query a bit more of Nema's voice and personality. I also tried to keep it concise. 

 

Is it better or am I moving in the wrong direction?

 

Draft #4:

 

Sixteen-year old Nema doesn’t intend to become the Protector. Instead, she dreams that one day, her mother will explain why she sent Nema away ten long years ago. Then, she’ll finally know what’s wrong with her. Nope! 

 

 

But her mother and sister die in an accident, and Nema fears she won’t ever understand. Even worse, the sacred duty that should’ve passed from her mother to her sister’s is instead shifted to her. She must now protect the land from magic’s curse. For when magic is left unchecked, it shrivels fields of grain, turns lakes to sand, and blackens souls. By reversing spells, she returns natural order as the goddess demands. Unworthy or not, the responsibility is hers.

 

Yet the more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. When she finds her mother’s journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s neglect is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. She must face it if she wants to protect the people, as her title demands.

 

 

 

How about I offer an alternative by looking at your previous draft?

 

"Nema was never supposed to be the Protector, that was her sister's role. Worst of all, the land is dying and no matter how many spells Nema reverses, the more darkness appears.

 

After her mother and sister's death, Nema fears she won't ever understand why she was sent away ten years ago. But as she performs her new role with the palace priests breathing down her neck, the circumstances surrounding her family's death grow murky. 

When she discovers her mother's journal, she discovers a link to the past that will make her question her role. If she wants to protect the people, she has to ................. add here."

 

 

It's a short version and probably lacks some info that would make it better, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

I'll come back again for your next draft!


My Query http://agentquerycon...a-high-fantasy/ Let me know if you want me to look at yours. Will happily do so.


#28 Cengel

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:11 AM

Thanks everyone! I'm working on a new version today. I believe I've returned all critiques at this point. If I missed you, please comment or send me a message and let me know!


Please take a look at my query.


#29 kmanz

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 03:56 PM

Thanks everyone! I'm working on a new version today. I believe I've returned all critiques at this point. If I missed you, please comment or send me a message and let me know!

I was just looking to give some feedback but since I see you are working on a new revision I will hold tight until you post that one. Feel free to send me a message when you do.



#30 Cengel

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:06 PM

Okay, thanks again everyone. I have a new draft. Hopefully it's an improvement and clarifies some of the questions you all raised.

 

Draft #5:

 

When sixteen-year-old Nema’s mother and sister die in a carriage accident, she becomes the Protector, gaining the responsibility to undo magic. When magic is left unchecked, it turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls.

 

Hundreds of ancestors carried out the sacred duty before her, and she must step into their shoes. But she can’t. Not really. It should be her sister, not her. Her mother made that very clear when she sent Nema away ten years ago. Still, unworthy or not, the responsibility is now hers.

 

But the role of the Protector isn’t as promised. The more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. Plus, the circumstances surrounding her family’s death grow murky. When she finds her mother’s old journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s abandonment is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined.


Please take a look at my query.


#31 ThatDan

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:09 AM

Okay, thanks again everyone. I have a new draft. Hopefully it's an improvement and clarifies some of the questions you all raised.

 

Draft #5:

 

When sixteen-year-old Nema’s mother and sister die in a carriage accident, she becomes the Protector, gainingentrusted with? the responsibility to undo magic. When magic is left unchecked, it turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls.these two sentences don't connect all that well IMO.

fwiw, I preferred it when the hook included a bit about how she wasn't destined to be the protector. My personal preference would be: magic must be undone >nema wasnt meant to be the protector > now she has no choice. Might be difficult to condense all that into a 1-2 sentence hook.

 

Hundreds of ancestors carried out the sacred duty before her, and she must step into their shoes. But she can’t. Not really. It should be her sister, not her. Her mother made that very clear when she sent Nema away ten years ago. Still, unworthy or not, the responsibility is now hers.

 

But the role of the Protector isn’t as promised. The more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. can't quite put my finger on it, but something never seemed quite right about this wording. Maybe "the more the darkness spreads"? I might be alone on this one though. Plus, the circumstances surrounding her family’s death grow murky. When she finds her mother’s old journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s abandonment nema's abandonment, or mother's abandoning of nema, -i think you mean one of these is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. can you give anything away about this truth?  My story also has a dark truth, and although revealing this truth spoils the book a bit, it makes the query much more interesting. In the end, a query is not a blurb, so you can give away /some/ secrets.

 

all in all, it's looking great and sounds really interesting. I really like the idea of "Undoing magic"



#32 lyncfs

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:00 PM

Okay, thanks again everyone. I have a new draft. Hopefully it's an improvement and clarifies some of the questions you all raised.

 

Draft #5:

 

When sixteen-year-old Nema’s ​family mother and sister die​s  in a carriage accident, she becomes the Protector, gaining the responsibility  she inherits the power to undo magic. When magic is left unchecked, it turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls. (​While I like this better than your first hook, I think it lacks a bit of punch. And I think adding made up story words confuses people without the context since the importance is that she gains the powers to undo magic. You can add back the Protector part later. The second sentence is interesting but  it would be more powerful if you brought it back to what is at stake for Nema).

 

Hundreds of ancestors carried out the sacred duty before her, and she must step into their shoes. But she can’t. Not really. It should be her sister, not her. Her mother made that very clear when she sent Nema away ten years ago. Still, unworthy or not, the responsibility is now hers. ​(I feel like this paragraph restates itself a lot. You could condense and it would be good to know why Nema was sent away by her mother ten years ago or go into a bit of her personality traits that caused this)

 

But the role of the Protector isn’t as promised. ​(the reader has no context what the role promised. You need to add a sentence about what is expected of Nema or how it affects her) The more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. ​(this is too vague) Plus ​(replace this transition it's awkward), the circumstances surrounding her family’s death grow murky. When she finds her mother’s old journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s abandonment is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. ​(You still need to put a choice at the end of this paragraph. What decision does Nema have to make and how will it affect herself, her country, and those she's chosen to protect?)

I'm getting a better picture of what is at stake but I think you still have some work to do in fleshing out the plot of the query and Nema's choices. Hopefully my comments are helpful!


THE IMMORTAL GUARD. Link to my query. Please critique, if I have reviewed yours.

#33 kmanz

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:14 PM

Okay, thanks again everyone. I have a new draft. Hopefully it's an improvement and clarifies some of the questions you all raised.

 

Draft #5:

 

When sixteen-year-old Nema’s mother and sister die in a carriage accident, she becomes the Protector, gaining the responsibility to undo magic. When magic is left unchecked, it turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls. (Maybe you can condense the hook and the first part of the next paragraph with something like this: When sixteen-year-old Nema's mother and sister die in a carriage accident, she is thrust into a sacred role as the Protector. Although she was never meant to carry out this duty, she must now undo magic which if left unchecked turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls.--> I think this quickly explains what the Protector's role is and also frees up some space in the second paragraph to perhaps expand and include some additional infomation which might draw the reader in. maybe more information about her role and how she can't live up to her mother's wishes or why she was sent away)

 

Hundreds of ancestors carried out the sacred duty before her, and she must step into their shoes. But she can’t. Not really. It should be her sister, not her. Her mother made that very clear when she sent Nema away ten years ago. Still, unworthy or not, the responsibility is now hers.

 

But the role of the Protector isn’t as promised. (I think it is clear that the Protector is to unravel spells but I think maybe you could link the previous and following sentences a bit better or perhaps expand slightly). The more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears. Plus,(I agree that this transition word doesn't seem quite right) the circumstances surrounding her family’s death grow murky. (this seems like a quick jump from murky to answers) When she finds her mother’s old journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s abandonment is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined. (I agree that this is somewhat vague, but it is up to you how much you want to reveal obviously). 

Hope the comments are helpful! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!



#34 jaustail

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 02:24 AM

JMO:

 

When sixteen-year-old Nema’s mother and sister die in a carriage accident, she becomes the Protector, gaining the responsibility to undo magic. When magic is left unchecked, it turns lakes to sand, shrivels fields of grain, and blackens souls.

 

Hundreds of ancestors carried out the sacred duty before her, and she must step into their shoes. But she can’t. Not really. It should be her sister, not her. Her mother made that very clear when she sent Nema away ten years ago. Still, unworthy or not, the responsibility is now hers(magic sounds fun. why would she not want to do it? mention that the villagers are mad at her each goof up, the meditation training before a magic is boring for her.).

 

But the role of the Protector isn’t as promised. The more spells Nema unravels, the more darkness appears(maybe add: in the village/kingdom). Plus, the circumstances surrounding her family’s death grow murky. When she finds her mother’s old journal, it promises answers. In its pages, her mother’s abandonment is linked to a truth darker than she ever imagined.

 

 

This query is too vague. I didn't feel much emotion for the mc. Maybe make the antagonist more powerful. JMO.


Query: WALL OF ICE

(Space Opera)

Revised version: Link






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