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A PRACTITIONER'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK - Will Critique Back (New Query in #22, New Adult Urban Fantasy)

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#1 TheBest

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 10:19 AM

I've been getting a lot of rejections recently, which has really fired me up to perfect this query letter. I've put more time into it, shown it to friends, family, and mentors IRL, and would love your critique. Most importantly, does the first sentence sound too clunky or does it draw you in? I've heard both. Remember, critique my work, and I'll mercilessly critique yours!

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,

 

Practitioner of the magic arts Jesse Demir works as an occult consultant for pulpy horror movies in modern day Los Angeles. Jesse is ecstatic after landing a job on Christmas slasher flick, "Ho Ho Hell 2," but when a mysterious new practitioner tries to summon a demon on set, Jesse is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking. To make matters worse, lone-wolf Jesse is forced to take on an apprentice. Struggling to stay afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer. Past, present, and future are revealed as Jesse faces his demons. Literally.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today, whether or not you believe in its power. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, readers meet modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. While researching I had the opportunity to be on the sets of horror movies and meet with actual occult consultants, providing me with unique insight into this mysterious world.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 


#2 jaustail

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 11:14 AM

JMO:

 

Practitioner of the magic arts Jesse Demir works as an occult consultant for pulpy horror movies in modern day(remove words not needed, so word count reduces) Los Angeles. Jesse is ecstatic after landing a job on (maybe add: a) Christmas slasher flick, "Ho Ho Hell 2,"(maybe remove name. word count reduces) but when a mysterious new practitioner(how does he come to the set? is he also a staff of the movie?) tries to summon a demon on set, Jesse is forced to face a debt from the past(maybe elaborate. Jesse comes to across her step-brother/his scorned lover). Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking. To make matters worse, lone-wolf Jesse is forced to take on an apprentice. Struggling to stay afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide”(where does he get the book from?) for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer. Past, present, and future are revealed as Jesse faces his demons. Literally.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today, whether or not you believe in its power. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, readers meet modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

(In my opinion remove the above part in red. agents get dozens of queries on this genre so maybe focus only on story)

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. While researching I had the opportunity to be on the sets of horror movies and meet with actual occult consultants, providing me with unique insight into this mysterious world.

 

 

I suggest break the first paragraph into 3 paragraphs. JMO.

Good luck!!


JUPITER'S AMBITION

Revised on Post#70

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#3 JustJess1001

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 02:44 PM

Practitioner of the magic arts Jesse Demir works as an occult consultant for pulpy horror movies in modern day Los Angeles. Jesse is ecstatic after landing a job on (a) Christmas slasher flick, "Ho Ho Hell 2," (I don't think you need this because it gives too much info we don't need)but when a mysterious new practitioner tries to summon a demon on set, Jesse is forced to face a debt from the past (So I am guessing the debt is that he owes his life to supernatural forces? If so, I would combine the two for simplicity sake) . Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.(Like this line from "unless" good voice) To make matters worse, lone-wolf Jesse is forced to take on an apprentice (I'm not sure we need this small tidbit of info since it doesn't come into play later in the query) Struggling to stay afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer. Past, present, and future are revealed as Jesse faces his demons (I feel like this is too vague and doesn't give a good sense of the stakes. What will Jesse lose? What will he gain?). Literally.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today, whether or not you believe in its power. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. (I get where you are going, but when I first read this I thought it was 'you the author' telling me this instead of like a promotion for the practitioner's guide. So I could see agents thinking you are talking down to them or something. I sort of like this. It's out of the ordinary and funny once I got it. I wouldn't put it at the end if I was going to use it. I'd put it at the beginning then launch into your query). 

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, readers meet modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.  Not sure about this line. Just seems out of place an unnecessary. 

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. While researching I had the opportunity to be on the sets of horror movies and meet with actual occult consultants, providing me with unique insight into this mysterious world.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

You've got an interesting story on your hands! It seems like it would be a funny and different read. I wish you the best of luck! 



#4 Lspopovich

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 05:09 PM

Dear agent,

 

AS a Practitioner of the magic arts, Jesse Demir works as an occult consultant for pulpy horror movies in modern day Los Angeles. Jesse is ecstatic after landing a job on A Christmas slasher flick, "Ho Ho Hell 2," but when a mysterious new practitioner tries to summon a demon on set, and Jesse is forced to face a debt from the past. HE Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop the dark practitioner her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking. To make matters worse, lone-wolf Jesse is forced to take on an apprentice. (This sentence makes me want to ask why, and it seems abrupt.) Struggling to stay afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer. (VERY INTERESTING) Past, present, and future are revealed as Jesse faces his demons. Literally. (You say "Jesse" 6 times in one paragraph. The ideas are there and it has a progression, but simplify the delivery as much as possible. Some agents will wonder: Where is the Tagline? It's not the first sentence. It might be the last sentence with a little build-up.)

 

(abrupt SHIFT IN TONE)

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today, whether or not you believe in its power. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. (The main character doesn't appear in this paragraph. For 70,000 words, there has to be more sizzle or resolution in the summary. The whole letter seems a tad short. What makes your novel a "noir"?)

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, readers meet modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves. (I like this paragraph. It's funny.)

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. While researching I had the opportunity to be on the sets of horror movies and meet with actual occult consultants, providing me with unique insight into this mysterious world.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

(Your novel has an interesting premise, a sense of humor, and will appeal to many people. I can tell all this from the query letter, but in my opinion it'll take more spoilers and specific details to liven up this "romp" of a story. What happens after the Handbook comes into the picture? Focus on the main character and his conflict, the mystery, and the payoff at the end. I'm sure you'll get an offer for representation with a more provocative query letter, because your setup is really good.)



#5 Sreid

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 08:14 PM

Not cool man! If you read the instructions for this forum, you would know you are not meant to start a new thread for a revised query to a novel. I will assume this is a careless mistake on your part and not a blatant attempt to in some way gain more critiques.

 

In any case, this query doesn't work for me. There's a reason you're getting a lot of rejections with this query, and tweaking it won't solve the problem. I think you may well have an interesting story, but your first sentence fails to hook me. There is no gripping action in it.

 

The rest of the first paragraph mentions a vague supernatural debt, an unexplained need to take on an apprentice and references to time travel that you don't follow up, ending with a cliche--facing his demons.

 

Your second paragraph sounds like you are demanding your readers do an internet search to find the thousands of occult sites to which you refer. Also, you make it sound like you believe that what you are writing, in a fantasy novel, is the truth. Any agent reading that will: 1. stop reading because they're not going to look up anything on the internet to verify anything someone writes in a query, and 2. think you're crazy to believe in the truth of your fantasy. I do like the reference to the doves, but without connecting it to your main character and the plot, it has no meaning.

 

Might I suggest you throw out this draft of your query, all except the reference to the doves, and do something entirely different. Don't worry. It doesn't hurt, too much. I've written my query from at least seven different angles, with various editions of each of them, until I got to the one I have now (hopefully my last one).

 

Start with "When [your main character] does [something that involves some sort of action] then [something unexpected happens].

 

Follow it with a new paragraph which describes what your main character wants and what gets in the way of that.

 

Your third paragraph can show us what your main character needs (not wants) and what the consequences of fulfilling or failing to fulfill that need will be.

 

I hope this was helpful.



#6 TheBest

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 01:12 PM

Thanks for all the feedback! I'll think them over, draft, and get back to you all.

 

@Sreid: Good advice, all of it! I didn't know about the post rule, but now I've thoroughly read the instructions. Honest. I'll stick to this thread from now on. You make an especially good point about the first sentence, which I'll definitely take into account. PS. I love how your query has evolved. Good luck!

 

@Lspopovich: I'll have to think about my choice of details in the next version. Thanks for reading! 



#7 ltlibrarian

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 07:43 PM

I've been getting a lot of rejections recently, which has really fired me up to perfect this query letter. I've put more time into it, shown it to friends, family, and mentors IRL, and would love your critique. Most importantly, does the first sentence sound too clunky or does it draw you in? I've heard both. Remember, critique my work, and I'll mercilessly critique yours!

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,

 

Practitioner of the magic arts Jesse Demir works as an occult consultant for pulpy horror movies in modern day Los Angeles. Jesse is ecstatic after landing a job on Christmas slasher flick, "Ho Ho Hell 2," but when a mysterious new practitioner tries to summon a demon on set, Jesse is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse 

 

To make matters worse, lone-wolf Jesse is forced to take on an apprentice. (what about this apprentice? what do they add to the narrative) Struggling to stay afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer. - something more about this book, where does he get it? how does it help him? Past, present, and future are revealed as Jesse faces his demons. Literally.

 

[insert third paragraph with the stakes that you have from the first paragraph, I've inserted it below]

 

Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.

 

I crossed out all the other bits because, while it's cool to stand out in a query, these bits don't seem to say anything about the narrative. Also, it pulls away from the character and starts to sound like you talking directly to the agent, which isn't really how a query goes. And if you've been experiencing a lot of rejections I think there's something to be said with working with the typical formula.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today, whether or not you believe in its power. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, readers meet modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top. - I'm not sure about using the last two comps just because they're very popular novels, is there something more recent you can add as a comp? maybe something that's new adult, also?

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. While researching I had the opportunity to be on the sets of horror movies and meet with actual occult consultants, providing me with unique insight into this mysterious world. - great experience to have with this!

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

I think you should try out the typical query formula and cut out the extras:

 

Para 1 - hook

Para 2 - details about conflict and character goal

Para 3 - stakes

 

And just from what I read in the first paragraph you seem to have strong stakes and a goal. I would just want to see more details about Jesse as a character and his new apprentice.

 

And if you have time, I would really appreciate you taking a look at my query, the link is in my bio.


Looking for feedback on my query, will return the favour!

 

Website: http://ltlibrarian.com - book reviews, round-ups, quotes, writing tips, etc.

Twitter: @lunchtimelib

 


#8 TheBest

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 06:40 PM

Here's my updated query! I have two big concerns:

 

1) Should I keep the endorsement to agents about the guide and the internet? My book has pieces of the guide mixed in, as well as fake web posts, so I think this is important, and people like it IRL. Do you think it hurts my chances? Majority rules.

 

2) Is the critique too long and wordy, or focused on side characters?

 

I'd love to hear what you think about the questions, or the query in genral. Thanks! And as always, critique me, and I'll viciously critique you!

 

 

 

Dear agent,

 
When a mysterious mage tries to summon a demon onto the set of horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.  
 
To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. Unfortunately, Jesse’s new apprentice Donny is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer. 
 
While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage. On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.
 
Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world? 
Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.
 
A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.
 
I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. I hope you enjoy my first [x] pages.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,


#9 JeffJustWrites

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 06:48 PM

My only nitpick is, isn't the Latin plural "nosferati?"  :biggrin:

 

This is a bang-up query, man! Love the voice, not too many characters (Jesse, Donny, & the evil b---witch; perfect)..."dead man walking" is a little cliche but doesn't undo the query.

 

Good stuff!

 

JJW


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#10 dizzywriter

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 02:30 PM

 

Here's my updated query! I have two big concerns:

 

1) Should I keep the endorsement to agents about the guide and the internet? My book has pieces of the guide mixed in, as well as fake web posts, so I think this is important, and people like it IRL. Do you think it hurts my chances? Majority rules.

 

2) Is the critique too long and wordy, or focused on side characters?

 

I'd love to hear what you think about the questions, or the query in genral. Thanks! And as always, critique me, and I'll viciously critique you!

 

 

 

Dear agent,

 
When a mysterious mage [Is this an obvious word to readers of fantasy? Because it confused me at the outset. Maybe change to sorceress or other conventional term?] tries  to summon a demon onto the set of horror flick [Be more specific about what genre of horror] “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner [you're using two different phrases for the antagonist "mysterious mage" and "dark practioner", at least I am assuming it refers to the same character but it isn't clear to me] and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.  [Are the creditors the same characters he owes his life to? You may want to flesh this out more]  
 
To make matters  Even worse, a spell gone wrong [specifics about what went wrong. forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. Unfortunately, Jesse’s new apprentice Donny is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer. 
 
While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world is unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage [insert here something more specific about he's beginning to find his place in the world]. On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.
 
Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world? 
Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. [I vote nay on this as a stand alone paragraph. Maybe add it as a quote from the book at the end of the second graph? It also sounds like you believe magic is real, which is sort of like bringing up religion ;) I wouldn't it put it that way in a query.
 
A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.
 
I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. I hope you enjoy my first [x] pages.Add some boilerplate about being able to supply more sample material or the full ms.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
_______
 
I like it a lot. Please take a look at mine if you can.

 



#11 perpetual

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 02:43 PM

 

Here's my updated query! I have two big concerns:

 

1) Should I keep the endorsement to agents about the guide and the internet? My book has pieces of the guide mixed in, as well as fake web posts, so I think this is important, and people like it IRL. Do you think it hurts my chances? Majority rules.

 

2) Is the critique too long and wordy, or focused on side characters?

 

I'd love to hear what you think about the questions, or the query in genral. Thanks! And as always, critique me, and I'll viciously critique you!

 

 

 

Dear agent,

 
When a mysterious mage tries to summon a demon onto the set of horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. It personally irks me that Jesse isn't the first 'character' we meet. I think an easy fix is "When a demon is summoned on the set of..." Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner I also found it confusing that you say demon and then switch to dark practitioner. I'd keep it consistent. and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.  Is there a more original way you could phrase this that works with your story? What WOULD happen to him besides death?
 
To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. Unfortunately, Jesse’s new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. I fixed the commas in this sentence. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat I feel like this isn't ALL he's doing so this may need to be reworded to be more specific re: how he's trying to save his own ass. in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer. 
 
While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that Jesse [for clarity] is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage. On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves. I really like this. Great way to show voice.
 
Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world? 
Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. I found this confusing. I think your title does enough justice to the guide aspect. 
 
A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult New adult, as of right now, is strictly contemporary with strong romantic undertones. Stick with just "urban fantasy" urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top. Just as an FYI: Generally comps are recommended to be within the past 5 years.
 
I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. I hope you enjoy my first [x] pages.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,

 

 

Overall, I think you have a great query. Hopefully you feel my suggestions will make it even more irresistible. :)

I'd love your thoughts on mine as well. The link is below, and the most recent version is in the first post. Cheers!


Query: Click here.

 


#12 Springfield

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 03:10 PM

 

Here's my updated query! I have two big concerns:

 

You probably want to note there's an update -- I was about to crit the opening one when I decided to see if you'd posted again.

 

1) Should I keep the endorsement to agents about the guide and the internet? My book has pieces of the guide mixed in, as well as fake web posts, so I think this is important, and people like it IRL. Do you think it hurts my chances? Majority rules.

 

2) Is the critique too long and wordy, or focused on side characters?

 

I'd love to hear what you think about the questions, or the query in genral. Thanks! And as always, critique me, and I'll viciously critique you!

 

 

 

Dear agent,

 
When a mysterious mage tries to summon a demon onto the set of horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. This is long and convoluted (you've got a mysterious mage, a demon, a named movie, wizard, consultant, a name, and a debt from the past, all in one opening sentence) -- start with the protag. Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover the dark practitioner and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.  This isn't telling me anything. Go simpler. Jesse is a wizard and movie consultant on the set of ... when specific thing happens, which could ... 
 
To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. To whom? There's too much in here. Stick with a problem. 
Unfortunately, Jesse’s new apprentice Donny is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer. This seems like it belongs to an entirely different novel than the first graph. He was a dead man walking who needed to do a thing immediately to save himself; now he's training some teen and needs a parenting book. The two things don't seem to connect -- I'd suggest picking a thing, or shortening one and weaving it in to the other.
 
While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage. This is better but is a bit dual focus. On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.
 
Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world? 
Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. Don't break the fourth wall; don't ask rhetorical questions. You need clearer stakes and what the MC is going to do.
 
A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top. These are all inappropriate comps, and that's not how to present comps.
 
I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. I hope you enjoy my first [x] pages
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,

 



#13 TheBest

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 07:54 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback! I've edited it, and here's what I got:

 

As of now, I have two concerns.

 

1) Is my first sentence to complicated, or too simple? Should I cut the name of the movie? Or should I keep the movie name, and add back that it's the dark sorceress who is trying to summon Jesse's creditors? Love to hear your take on the opener.

 

2) Should I include that this is New Adult? My word count is low for adult urban fantasy, and the material certainly reads like NA.

 

Thanks you wonderful people! As always, Critique me, and I'll mercilessly critique you.

 

 

 

Dear agent,


When a demon appears on the set of christmas horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse owes his life to supernatural forces, and unless he can uncover a dark sorceress and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he’s a dead man walking.


To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. Unfortunately, Jesse’s new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer.

 

While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage.

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 70,000 words. Picture “The Dresden Files” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,



#14 TheBest

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 11:32 AM

OK, I took your feedback, and here's the new version.

 

You all think it's ready to be sent out? I want to make sure my material is perfect this time, after running into a wall of rejections from before. I'd love to hear your opinion!

 

As always, critique me, and I'll mercilessly critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

Dear agent,

 

When a demon appears on the set of Christmas horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. Jesse owes his life to demonic forces, and unless he can uncover a dark sorceress and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he forfeits his soul. Jesse’s pretty sure he needs that.


To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer.

 

While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage.

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,



#15 Springfield

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 12:22 PM

OK, I took your feedback, and here's the new version.

 

You all think it's ready to be sent out? No; the first sentence has an error, to begin with. I want to make sure my material is perfect this time, after running into a wall of rejections from before. I'd love to hear your opinion!

 

As always, critique me, and I'll mercilessly critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

Dear agent,

 

When a demon appears on the set of Christmas horror flick “Ho Ho Hell 2”, wizard and movie consultant Jesse Demir is forced to face a debt from the past. See? Jesse owes his life to demonic forces, and unless he can uncover a dark sorceress and stop her from summoning his unholy creditors, he forfeits his soul. Jesse’s pretty sure he needs that.


To make matters worse, a spell gone wrong forces lone-wolf Jesse is to take on an apprentice, to train and eventually sacrifice. This brings up all kinds of questions. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen, more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while staying afloat in the world of the occult, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a handbook full of tips and tricks to train a sorcerer.This drops everything you set up in the first paragraph. It's like an entirely different book.

 

While Jesse sets out to hunt and kill the dark practitioner, Donny begins to find his place in the world, unaware that his teacher is expected to end his life the moment he blossoms as a mage. There's no reason for this, and the things still don't tie together. 

 

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.

 

Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that. 

 

A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”, with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top. I say again, these are not proper comps.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

You have too much in here, and it's not tied together - the stakes for Jesse are at the top and never revisited, so it seems like they don't matter or aren't any big deal to solve. Character, problem, stakes. This has too much, and it's muddled.



#16 TheBest

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 03:32 PM

I took your advice, and made the query more clear. Do you all think it's too long? And should I cut out the bit about google? Keep the comps? Majority rules.

 

But most importantly, is this query ready to go to agents?

 

Like usual, critique me, and I'll viciously critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,

 

Master of the magic arts, Jesse Demir, has turned his talents to Hollywood, giving creative advice on the kinds of horror movies that you can’t watch sober. Selling out isn’t as glamorous as monster slaying, but the pay is good, and the free coffee is even better.

 

But when a demon appears on the set of Jesse's Christmas horror flick, “Ho Ho Hell 2,” the wizard is pulled back into the chaotic world of the occult. As a sorcerer, Jesse made deals with supernatural entities he thought he’d never have to pay back. With a mysterious witch summoning his demonic creditor, Jesse must find the sorceress and banish her demon, or he forfeits his soul. That is, assuming he still has one.

 

To get an extension on his debt, lone-wolf Jesse takes on an apprentice. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while hunting the black witch, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a compilation of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer when the chips are down.


On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.


Open up Google and you’ll find thousands of websites and blogs about the occult, wicca, and the supernatural. Despite what most people will tell you, real magic is alive and well today. But how can an everyday schmuck get a peek into this secret world?

Not to worry. Now, there's a guide for that.


A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.

 

I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.


Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,



#17 TheBest

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:47 AM

Thanks for all your advice! I took out the bit about google, and tried to make the stakes more clear. Thoughts? Does it sound better without the endorsement, or should I add it back in since it's too short?

 

Most importantly, Is this query letter ready to be sent out?

Like always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,


Master of the magic arts, Jesse Demir, has turned his talents to Hollywood, giving creative advice on the kinds of horror movies that you can’t watch sober. Selling out isn’t as glamorous as monster slaying, but the pay is good, and the free coffee is even better.


But when a demon appears on the set of Jesse's Christmas horror flick, “Ho Ho Hell 2,” the wizard is pulled back into the chaotic world of the occult. As a sorcerer, Jesse made deals with supernatural entities he thought he’d never have to pay back. With a mysterious witch summoning his demonic creditor, Jesse must find the sorceress and banish her demon, or he forfeits his soul. That is, assuming he still has one.


To get an extension on his debt, lone-wolf Jesse takes on an apprentice. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while hunting the black witch, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a compilation of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer when the chips are down.


On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.


A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.


I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,



#18 eric balson

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:31 PM

Thanks for all your advice! I took out the bit about google, and tried to make the stakes more clear. Thoughts? Does it sound better without the endorsement, or should I add it back in since it's too short?

 

Most importantly, Is this query letter ready to be sent out?

Like always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,


Master of the magic arts, Jesse Demir, has turned his talents to Hollywood, giving creative advice on the kinds of horror movies that you can’t watch sober. Selling out isn’t as glamorous as monster slaying, but the pay is good, and the free coffee is even better.


But when a demon appears on the set of Jesse's Christmas horror flick, “Ho Ho Hell 2,” the wizard is pulled back into the chaotic world of the occult. As a sorcerer, Jesse made deals with supernatural entities he thought he’d never have to pay back. With a mysterious witch summoning his demonic creditor, Jesse must find the sorceress and banish her demon, or he forfeits his soul. That is, assuming he still has one.


To get an extension on his debt, lone-wolf Jesse takes on Donny, an awkward teenager...as as apprentice. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, Donny, is an awkward teen more concerned with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while hunting the black witch, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a compilation of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer when the chips are down.

 

 

With a mysterious witch summoning his demonic creditor, Jesse must find the sorceress and banish her demon, or he forfeits his soul. That is, assuming he still has one.

On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.


A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is a new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.


I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

 

Basing on the comp titles, i believe your novel has comedic aspects to it. The voice in your query thoroughly enunciates this, which is good. 



#19 dizzywriter

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:36 PM

Thanks for all your advice! I took out the bit about google, and tried to make the stakes more clear. Thoughts? Does it sound better without the endorsement, or should I add it back in since it's too short?

 

Most importantly, Is this query letter ready to be sent out?

Like always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Dear agent,


Master of the magic arts, Jesse Demir, (no comma) has turned his talents to Hollywood, giving creative advice on the kinds of horror movies that you can’t watch sober. Selling out isn’t as glamorous as monster slaying, but the pay is good, and the free coffee is even better.


But when a demon appears on the set of Jesse's Christmas horror flick, “Ho Ho Hell 2,” the wizard is [passive voice, build the sentence with active verbs] pulled back into the chaotic world of the occult. As a sorcerer, Jesse made deals with supernatural entities he thought he’d never have to pay back. With a mysterious Black Witch [I'd capitalize, and add "black" since otherwise your later reference to the black witch is confusing and "black witch" makes it sound like it's her race.] summoning his demonic creditor, Jesse must find the sorceress and banish her demon, or he forfeits his soul. That is, assuming he still has one. (the relationship between the demon, the black witch is vague and confusing. It's not clear if its the same demon and the same witch (sorceress adds confusion) throughout.]


To get [earn? win? something more specific than 'get']] an extension on his debt, lone-wolf Jesse [must] takes on an apprentice. Unfortunately, his new apprentice, [But awkward young] Donny, is an awkward teen more concerned [is more worried about] with getting a date than getting a wand. Struggling to be a mentor while hunting the [B]lack [W]itch, Jesse turns to “A Practitioner's Guide” for help, a compilation of tips and tricks to make it as a sorcerer when the chips are down. [cliche] [make it more specific]


On this noir romp through the supernatural underbelly of Los Angeles, the duo meets modern werewolves, wiccans, nosferatu, and terrifying ghouls. And doves. There are lots of doves.


A PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MAGICK is [an] new adult urban fantasy novel complete at 75,000 words. Picture Blackmoore's “Dead Things” meets “A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” with a sprinkle of “Fight Club” on top.


I currently study at Cornell University, with a focus on creative writing. Please enjoy my first [xx] pages.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

I think it's great. You're almost there. I added my ideas.

Thanks for your input on mine. I have a new version up and would welcome your thoughts.



#20 dizzywriter

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:08 PM

I was just skimming query shark: it sums up my problem with the "black witch", "sorceress" "witch" paragraph: In short form writing like query letters, one trick for clarity is not calling the characters more than one thing. 







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