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Streams in the Wasteland - YA Fantasy


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#1 EMarie

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 08:32 AM

Newest version in #19

 

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

 

Hi writers,

 

I've attached part of a query letter for a novel, and I'll exchange critiques with anyone who is currently working on one on the forum. Thanks in advance!

 

Left by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of the Abbess, young Galahad loses the only parent he has ever known. More than anything else, Galahad longs to meet his father, Bedivere, the famous soldier of King Artorius. But the Abbess has other plans. Because of Galahad’s lineage as the son of Bedivere, she orders him to remain at the convent, preparing his mind and heart to seek the Holy Grail.

 

Despite the Abbess’ assurance of his sainthood, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to search for the Grail. He rebels against the Abbess’ efforts to force him to learn Latin and attend prayers and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend Aeric.

 

An unexpected tragedy deprives Galahad of Aeric’s companionship and forces him to surrender to his calling, but Galahad’s prayers for a vision of the Grail go unanswered. Instead he receives a visitation from the mysterious, otherworldly Brisen who hints that Galahad’s father is not Bedivere, but Gwyn ap Nudd, one of the Lordly Ones who lived in the province before the Britons and, in the Grail’s absence, demand human sacrifices. Brisen’s claims cause Galahad to question the Abbess’ often-rehearsed stories, impelling him to embark on a quest, not in search of the Grail, but to discover the identity of his father and understand the truth about his own nature and destiny.

 

My 79,000 word YA novel, Streams in the Wasteland, tells the story of Galahad, one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon, in his own words. Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred should enjoy the book.



#2 rewrighter

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

IMO, this query is a muddle. I can't tell which event is the inciting incident. Your first two paragraphs are backstory - leave them out. If the inciting incident is his mother's death, start with that.

Or if it's the unexpected tragedy, start with that. But you say "years usher" so that suggests the quest is actually the inciting incident, which is buried at the very end. And that fact suggests your MS doesn't start where it should. 

 

A good query explains what the hero wants, the obstacles preventing getting what he/she wants and what'll happen if he/she doesn't get it. Character, obstacles, stakes. And all done w/in 250 words. 

 

Good luck!



#3 EMarie

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 02:22 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I've posted a second draft that I've rewritten quite a bit. 



#4 Iconian

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 06:58 PM



Thanks for the feedback. I've posted a second draft that I've rewritten quite a bit. I tried to do a better job showing that I do have a plot in this version. :/

 

Left by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of the Abbess, young Galahad loses the only parent he has ever known. The Abbess tells Galahad that because of his lineage as the son of Bedivere, the famous soldier of King Artorius, he is a saint—sinless, predestined, and celibate—and must seek and find the Holy Grail. But despite the Abbess’ assurance of his sainthood, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to recover the Grail. He has never shed tears, even when his mother left him, and he cannot feel love or experience desire.

 

[I took a bit from the first version of your query for this, to help make it flow a little better.  Note that you used "Abbess" three times in the first paragraph, but in the interest of succinctness, I think it's only necessary to use the word once:

 

Left by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of the nuns, and thus losing the only parent he has ever known, young Galahad searches in vain for evidence of the saintliness the stern Abbess has ascribed to him.  He is the son of Bedivere, she tells him, famous soldier of King Artorius; and as a saint—sinless, predestined, and celibate—he must find the Holy Grail. But despite such assurances, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to recover the Grail: he has never shed tears, even when his mother left him, and he cannot feel love or experience desire.] [This seems quite compelling to me--I'd probably at least want to start reading to know more about Galahad's behavior.]

 

After rebelling against the Abbess’ efforts to force him to learn Latin and attend prayer services at the chapel, Galahad runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend Aeric and sneaks away to drink wine at the Saturnalia banquet at a neighboring villa [At this point, I'd either end the sentence with a period and devote a new sentence to telling us about Feliciana, or end the paragraph and introduce Feliciana, and the Saturnalia banquet, in the next paragraph; or, if she's not that important in the first place, drop her altogether] where he meets Feliciana, the headstrong daughter of the villa’s owner.

 

An unexpected tragedy deprives Galahad of Aeric’s companionship and forces him to surrender to his calling, but Galahad’s prayers for a vision of the Grail go unanswered. Instead he receives a visitation from the mysterious, [I'd drop the word "mysterious" and just leave "otherworldly"] otherworldly Brisen, who hints that Galahad’s father is not Bedivere.  [This sentence is so long that it gets confusing--I'd break it in two here.]  Instead, he points Galahad to Gwyn ap Nudd, one of the Lordly Ones, a race of hostile beings that lived in the province before the Britons and, in the Grail’s absence, demand human sacrifices. Brisen’s claims cause Galahad to question the Abbess’ often-rehearsed [I think you mean "oft-repeated"] stories, impelling him to embark on a quest, not in search of the Grail, but to discover the truth about the identity of his father, and in doing so to understand of his own nature and destiny.

 

My 79,000 word YA novel, Streams in the Wasteland, tells the story of Galahad, one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon, in his own words. Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred should enjoy the book.

 

 

This sounds like quite an interesting story to me.  But the query structure is off.  I'd particularly look at modifying the junction between the second and third paragraphs.  It doesn't sound as though Feliciana has much to do with anything, so I'd figure out whether you should remove her from the query, or expand her description, to make it clearer what role she plays.  And then, the third paragraph begins too abruptly--try to smooth out the first sentence, preferably with a clearer connection to the previous paragraph.


My query, open to critiques:   http://agentquerycon...mantic-dramedy/


#5 dizzywriter

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 08:24 PM



 

 

Left (stronger word: abandoned?) by his mother at Amesbury Convent, in the care of the Abbess, young Galahad loses the only parent he has ever known. More than anything else, Galahad longs to meet his (long lost, missing, why can't he meet him?) father, Bedivere, the famous soldier of King Artorius. But Because of Galahathe Abbess has other plans. d’s lineage as the son of Bedivere, she Abbess orders him to remain at the convent, preparing his mind and heart to seek the Holy Grail, [fulfilling his destiny [?] as the sainted son of Bedivere.

 

Far from sainted, Galahad believes Despite the Abbess’ assurance of his sainthood, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to search for the Grail. [Why does he believe this? Give us a reason. Is he malformed? Cowardly?] Instead of studying Latin and praying, heHe rebels against the Abbess’ efforts to force him to learn Latin and attend prayers and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend Aeric.

 

An unexpected tragedy deprives Galahad of Aeric’s companionship [this is way too vague. What happened?],and forces him to surrender to his calling [.] [B]ut Galahad’s prayers for a vision of the Grail go unanswered. Instead,  he receives a visitation from the mysterious, in a mysterious visitation, the otherworldly [how otherwordly? Be specific.] Brisen who hints that Galahad’s father is not Bedivere, but Gwyn ap Nudd,  [too complicated, adds nothing- one of the Lordly Ones who lived in the province before the Britons and, in the Grail’s absence, demand human sacrifices. [you say they lived in the province in the past but they seem to still exist if they want human sacrifice) Brisen’s claims cause force Galahad to question the Abbess’ often-rehearsed stories, [something stronger than "stories". Lies?] impelling him to and embark on a quest, not in search of not for the Grail, but to discover the identity of his father and understand the truth about his own nature and destiny.

 

My 79,000 word YA novel, Streams in the Wasteland, tells the story of Galahad, one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon, in his own words. Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred should enjoy the book.

I like it. It's coming along well.

Please critique my query if you can.



#6 Rbevin17

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 09:02 PM

I'm a little confused about the Grail quest, but that may just be because I'm not familiar with the story of Galahad.  Why is it Galahad's (the near orphan) destiny to seek the grail?  Why does he not want to?  Also, you mention a lot of names that I find kind of distracting from the MC and your plot (Bedivere, Artorious, Aeric, Brisen).  I understand that Aeric's death obviously changed Galahad's whole life plan, but because of the lack of detail, it's hard to really understand this connection.  Who or what is Brisen?  I think your third paragraph is definitely the most interesting.  I would try to pare down the first two paragraphs and put a little more detail into the third.



#7 kjasjg

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 09:23 PM

Hi writers,

 

I've attached part of a query letter for a novel, and I'll exchange critiques with anyone who is currently working on one on the forum. Thanks in advance!

 

Left by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of the Abbess, young Galahad loses (I agree with Dizzy give it more pop with a description like abandoned either with her action or his assumption "... Galahad is abandoned...") the only parent he has ever known. More than anything else, Galahad longs to meet his father, Bedivere, the famous soldier of King Artorius. But the Abbess has other plans. Because of Galahad’s lineage as the son of Bedivere (you can take out the "as the son of Bedivere" here since you told us that's who his father is in the previous sentence just saying his lineage is enough), she orders him to remain at the convent, preparing his mind and heart to seek the Holy Grail (this might be a good place to say its his calling).

 

Despite the Abbess’ assurance of his sainthood, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to search for the Grail. He rebels against the Abbess’ efforts to force him to learn Latin and attend prayers (I would shorten this up a smidge by saying "learn and pray" unless the Latin is important to the query though I like the rebellious nature) and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend Aeric.

 

An unexpected tragedy deprives Galahad of Aeric’s (does this mean Aeric is dead? most tragedies are unexpected though not all) companionship and forces him to surrender to his calling, but Galahad’s prayers for a vision of the Grail go unanswered. Instead he receives a visitation from the mysterious, otherworldly Brisen who hints that Galahad’s father is not Bedivere, but Gwyn ap Nudd, (at this point there is a lot of complex name dropping here you may want to go with descriptors of who they are not their names since there si no way any reader will relate to one mention of the name Brisen or Gwyn but its easy to realte to a mysterious traveller or Lordly stranger - just a thought) one of the Lordly Ones who lived in the province before the Britons and, in the Grail’s absence, demand human sacrifices. (to put more focus back on the MC you can just mention that Galahad has the doubts about the "...Abess' often-rehearsed ...") Brisen’s claims cause Galahad to question the Abbess’ often-rehearsed stories, impelling him to embark on a quest, not in search of the Grail, but to discover the identity of his father and understand the truth about his own nature and destiny I like that you tie in the quest with his longing to meet his father from the first Paragraph.

 

My 79,000 word YA (Mention Fantasy here or historic fantasy if appropriate not just a novel) novel, Streams in the Wasteland, tells the story of Galahad, one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon, in his own words. Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred should enjoy the book.

 

I really like the sound of the story it reminds me of the older series about Merlin by Mary Stewart.

 

Please check out my query that I have written - torn down and written many times over (link below) and these are just the versions I'v posted.

 

Good luck

Jer



#8 lyncfs

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 12:52 PM

Hi writers,

 

I've attached part of a query letter for a novel, and I'll exchange critiques with anyone who is currently working on one on the forum. Thanks in advance!

 

Left by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of the Abbess, young Galahad loses the only parent he has ever known. ​(I think you need a stronger hook. The quest about the holy grail is more interesting) More than anything else, Galahad longs to meet his father, Bedivere, the famous soldier of King Artorius. But the Abbess has other plans. Because of Galahad’s lineage as the son of Bedivere, she orders him to remain at the convent, preparing his mind and heart to seek the Holy Grail. ​(If you assume the agent is not familiar with the holy grail, what does it do? Why is it important)

 

Despite the Abbess’ assurance of his sainthood, Galahad believes he is unnatural, less than human, and unfit to search for the Grail. He rebels against the Abbess’ efforts to force him to learn Latin and attend prayers and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend Aeric. ​(This is backstory. I would cut this.)

 

An unexpected tragedy ​(vague, what kind of tragedy?) deprives Galahad of Aeric’s companionship and forces him to surrender to his calling, but Galahad’s prayers for a vision of the Grail go unanswered. Instead he receives a visitation from the mysterious, otherworldly Brisen who hints that Galahad’s father is not Bedivere, but Gwyn ap Nudd, one of the Lordly Ones who lived in the province before the Britons and, in the Grail’s absence, demand human sacrifices.​(This sentence is too long and complicated to understand. The important part is Galahad is not who he thought he was) Brisen’s claims cause Galahad to question the Abbess’ often-rehearsed stories, impelling him to embark on a quest, not in search of the Grail, but to discover the identity of his father and understand the truth about his own nature and destiny. ​(You could condense this sentence and the last one. You're still missing what is at stake for Galahad? What happens if he finds out his father is Gwyn? What happens if he doesn't find the holy grail? How do his actions impact him or the world around him.)

 

My 79,000 word YA ​(you need a genre here - I assume fantasy?) novel, Streams in the Wasteland, tells the story of Galahad, one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon, in his own words. Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince and Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred  ​(If I rememeber correctly, this book is quite old. Maybe come up with a newer comparison or skip entirely. Agents want a comparison to something that was published within the last few years. Add your bio) should enjoy the book.

 

Although it seems like you've done a lot of research, I don't get a sense of the plot. I would also like to know what makes Galahad special. What makes him the man for the job to search for the grail or his father?


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

#9 EMarie

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:49 AM

Thanks so much for the feedback. I was gone for the weekend, so I haven't yet returned all critiques, but I'll be doing that first thing this week.

 

The feedback has been really helpful, and I've rewritten trying to take into account the great suggestions.

 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns, Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ expectation that he surrender to his divine calling to seek the Holy Grail, which years ago disappeared from the province as a punishment for sin. Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian, the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. Though he has never met his famous father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the king.

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents, Galahad prays for a vision to launch him on his quest to restore heaven’s favor and protection by recovering the Grail. His prayers go unanswered, and instead of a vision he receives a visitation from a mysterious temptress who hints his father is not Bedivere but Gwyn ap Nudd, a Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating human sacrifices in the Grail’s absence. Galahad, shaken by the conflicting claims about his father, finds his doubts impel him to embark on a quest, not to seek the Grail, but the truth about his father's identity and his own nature and destiny.

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parent. I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.



#10 lyncfs

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:06 PM

Thanks so much for the feedback. I was gone for the weekend, so I haven't yet returned all critiques, but I'll be doing that first thing this week.

 

The feedback has been really helpful, and I've rewritten trying to take into account the great suggestions.

 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns​(this is implied, it is a convent, unless there's something cool about the nuns like they're assassins) Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ expectation that he surrender to his divine calling to seek the Holy Grail, which years ago disappeared from the province as a punishment for sin. ​(this part is not necessary. We don't care why it disappeared just why Galahad doesn't want to seek it) Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian, the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. ​(I like these details but you need to split into 2 sentences to make it easier to understand. Perhaps contrast the qualities the abbess thinks he has with those he thinks he doesn't) Though he has never met his famous father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the king.

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents, Galahad prays for a vision to launch him on his quest to restore heaven’s favor and protection by recovering the Grail. His prayers go unanswered, and instead of a vision he receives a visitation from a mysterious temptress who hints his father is not Bedivere but Gwyn ap Nudd, a Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating human sacrifices in the Grail’s absence. ​(again this is just way too much information. break up the sentences) Galahad, shaken by the conflicting claims about his father, finds his doubts impel him to embark on a quest, not to seek the Grail, but the truth about his father's identity and his own nature and destiny. ​(good, I like this last line)

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince​(be more confident in yourself! :)

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parent. I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

This is much clearer than your last version. Your writing style is pretty precise and detailed. I don't know anything about this period but it sounds very interesting and unique! Just break up the sentences and I think you have a winner! Thanks for the comments on my query.


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

#11 fernet

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:29 PM


 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

After being abandoned at a convent by his mother, Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns, (don't really need the detail of the name, and safe to assume that there are nuns at a convent!) Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ expectation that he surrender to his divine calling to seek the Holy Grail, which years ago disappeared from the province as a punishment for sin.

 

Actually I'm a little confused about the timeline here. Was he abandoned at the convent as an infant? The way the first line goes it kinda sounds like his mother left her teenager with some nuns and then took off, which doesn't make much sense. If he does in fact grow up at the convent I think you could clarify that in the first line. Maybe:

 

After being abandoned by his mother at a convent, Galahad grows up being told that his divine calling is to seek the Holy Grail, which disappeared years ago from the province as a punishment for sin.

 

 

Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian, the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes but Galahad knows (just an idea--I think it introduces a little more tension) he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. Though he has never met his famous father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the king.

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents, Galahad prays for a vision to launch him on his quest to restore heaven’s favor and protection by recovering the Grail. (wait, this throws me off. Last paragraph he wanted to run off and find his father, not search for the Grail. If the Saxon attack changes things for him I think you need to clarify why. "death of innocents" is vague, plus a little cliched.) His prayers go unanswered, and But instead of a vision he receives a visitation from a mysterious temptress (What is the temptress doing there? Why is she a temptress? She pops up and sounds like just a device to move the plot along--does she have a deeper purpose or interest than that?) who hints his father is not Bedivere but Gwyn ap Nudd, a Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating human sacrifices in the Grail’s absence. Galahad, shaken by the conflicting claims about his father, finds his doubts impel him to embarks on a quest not for  not to seek the Grail, but for the truth about his father's identity and his own nature and destiny.

 

"conflicting claims" is really dry language to describe what amounts to "he's not who he thought he was, and also his (maybe?) real father is power-mad and about to start demanding human sacrifice!" That's some good drama, but you're not really getting your money's worth out of it in your query. Can you get some more emotion and immediacy into it??

 

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parent. I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

I agree with the person above who said that the larger stakes aren't exactly clear. Is the Grail not important anymore? Finding out the truth about himself is a fine motivation for Galahad starting his quest, but what does discovering his destiny mean for him--for the Grail--for his two possible fathers--for the potential victims of human sacrifice--for anyone else?



#12 Iconian

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:32 AM

Thanks so much for the feedback. I was gone for the weekend, so I haven't yet returned all critiques, but I'll be doing that first thing this week.

 

The feedback has been really helpful, and I've rewritten trying to take into account the great suggestions.

 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns, Galahad [this does not sound right at all.  It was "young Galahad" before, which I thought worked. If you don't want to use "young" for some reason, I'd certainly find some way to give us a better introduction to him.] rebels against the Abbess’ expectation that he surrender to his divine calling to seek the Holy Grail, which years ago disappeared from the province as a punishment for sin. Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian, the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. Though he has never met his famous father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the king.  [I'd rework the whole middle of this paragraph.  I think you can probably move words around and combine a couple sentences, and thereby reduce the whole paragraph's length.]

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents, Galahad prays for a vision to help him recover the Grail, and thus restore heaven’s favor and protection. His prayers go unanswered, and instead of a vision he receives a visitation from a mysterious temptress, hinting that his father is not Bedivere [insert comma] but Gwyn ap Nudd, a Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating human sacrifices in the Grail’s absence. Galahad, shaken by the conflicting claims about his father, finds his doubts impel him to embark on a quest--not to seek the Grail, but the truth about his father's identity and his own nature and destiny.

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parent. I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

On the one hand, this is certainly a lot less clunky than the version I critiqued before.  But on the other hand--I really feel that we're now missing anything about the actual obstacles or challenges Galahad faces.  Any emotional weight you were previously striving for through the inclusion of Aeric and Feliciana has been lost.  Now, the tale feels a lot more empty . . . I'd carefully ponder whether you want to keep it like this, or try to reintegrate Aeric at least, the deer hunt, the banquet . . . something to give it a little bit more character and color.

 

These queries sure can be a real balancing act at times . . .


My query, open to critiques:   http://agentquerycon...mantic-dramedy/


#13 dizzywriter

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 03:38 PM



Thanks so much for the feedback. I was gone for the weekend, so I haven't yet returned all critiques, but I'll be doing that first thing this week.

 

The feedback has been really helpful, and I've rewritten trying to take into account the great suggestions.

 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might [think you might] be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns, ["convent" makes it clear that it's nuns] Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ expectation [demand] that he surrender to his divine calling [ and] seek the Holy Grail, which [I'm not crazy about this construction] years ago disappeared from the province [kingdom] as a punishment for [whose?] sin. Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian [Is this Bedivere? If so, I think you need to name him here and weave it into the Abbess' expectations].], the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. Though he has never met his famous [warrior] father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the [Roman British king Artorius].

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents [too general, be more specific], Galahad prays for a vision [why? what's the connection with the attack?] to launch him on his quest to restore heaven’s favor and protection [of the kingdom? protection of what? To prevent similar attacks? If so, I think you need to say so.] by recovering the Grail. His prayers go unanswered, and instead of a vision he receives a visitation  [what is this? supernatural? like a ghost?] from a mysterious temptress [does she seduce him? how is she a temptress?] who hints his father is not Bedivere but Gwyn ap Nudd [it's a confusing name and it doesn't add anything], [is he the only one or are there many of the evil?] Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating [restoring ancient? barbaric?] human sacrifices [in the Grail’s absence]. [Weak and vague. The grail has been missing a long time. Is this an ancient plot of some kind? It needs more detail] sGalahad, [Shaken by the conflicting claims about his father,  [Galahad] finds his doubts impel him to embark[s] on a quest, not to seek the Grail, but the truth about his father's identity and his own and  nature destiny. [I thnk you need some stakes. Otherwise, he'll get sent back to the convent?]

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. [It's not really his own words but maybe that's a quibble.] The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parentI have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

I think it's getting there. Here are my suggestions. Yours are welcome on my newest revision in the link.



#14 Erevos

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 05:54 AM

Hello EMarie!!

 

I think as it stand now, you have too much going on for an agent. Part of the problem is the names. I'm going to try and write a quick query for you. Feel free to keep anything you like.

 

Thanks so much for the feedback. I was gone for the weekend, so I haven't yet returned all critiques, but I'll be doing that first thing this week.

 

The feedback has been really helpful, and I've rewritten trying to take into account the great suggestions.

 

As you represent authors in the ------ genre such as ----, I thought you might be interested in seeing my historical fantasy novel for older readers, Streams in the Wasteland.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent in the care of nuns, Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ expectation that he surrender to his divine calling to seek the Holy Grail, which years ago disappeared from the province as a punishment for sin. Because Galahad traces his lineage from the Grail’s original guardian, the Abbess claims Galahad is the Grail-seeker—sinless, celibate, and predestined for heroic deeds—although Galahad believes he is deeply flawed and unfit to search for the Grail. Though he has never met his famous father, Bedivere, a warrior of the Roman British king Artorius, Galahad dreams of escaping from the convent and joining his father as a soldier of the king. Too much info here, I fear.

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocents, Vague. Galahad prays for a vision to launch him on his quest to restore heaven’s favor and protection by recovering the Grail. So he decided to go after the Grail because of the attack? His prayers go unanswered, and instead of a vision he receives a visitation from a mysterious temptress who hints his father is not Bedivere but Gwyn ap Nudd, a Lordly One bent on reclaiming status as a god and reinstating human sacrifices in the Grail’s absence. Galahad, shaken by the conflicting claims about his father, finds his doubts impel him to embark on a quest, not to seek the Grail, but the truth about his father's identity and his own nature and destiny.

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, tells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon in his own words. The novel is complete at 79,000 words, and I hope it will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I live with my husband and daughter as a part-time freelance technical writer and full-time parent. I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry and fiction has appeared in online journals like The Barefoot Muse and Strange Horizons.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

"Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, Galahad is expected to seek the Holy Grail as the heir of a lineage of guardians. But all that Galahad dreams is joining his father as a soldier of the king, and he doesnt take long to rebel.

 

When a Saxon attack results in the death of innocent, (still vague though) Galahad prays for a vision to guide him, but instead he receives a visitation from a temptress. She hints that his father is no other by the Lordly One, a man who is bent on reclaiming status as a god. Torn by the revelation, Galahad sets out on a quest to discover the truth about his father and his own noble destiny. (It's a bit weak, but I'm sure you can work upon it)"

 

 

Not sure if this helps! Hopefully you'll get an idea how your query must be. Be quick and concise. Give us what he wants, what happened, and what he is determined to do!


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


#15 EMarie

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Posted Yesterday, 03:12 PM

Latest version. Thank you, Erevos, for helping me with some of the phrasing.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against his destiny: he must take his place as an heir to the Grail’s guardians. But Galahad does not want to seek the Holy Grail. He longs to fight beside his warrior father against the Saxon invaders.

 

When a Saxon attack kills his closest friend, Galahad prays for the restoration of the Grail to deliver the kingdom from the scourge of pagan fire and sword. Instead he receives a visit from a sorceress who hints his father is none other than the Lord of Light, an ancient being bent on reclaiming status as a god. Torn by the revelation, Galahad sets out to discover the truth about his father. Can Galahad fulfill his destiny as the Grail-seeker, or is he the unnatural son of a demon? And the strange girl who takes refuge at the convent, will she help or hinder his quest?

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, retells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry has been published by Strange Horizons and nominated for Best of the Net by Barefoot Muse.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.



#16 MICRONESIA

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Posted Yesterday, 03:26 PM

Latest version. Thank you, Erevos, for helping me with some of the phrasing.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against his destiny: he must take his place as an heir to the Grail’s guardians. This feels more like a "second sentence" than a hook sentence. In other words, it lacks punch and rhythm. It's also confusingly worded. He's rebelling against his destiny... to be the Grail bearer? Or is it the opposite? I've read this sentence three times and I have no idea. But Galahad does not want to seek the Holy Grail. He longs to fight beside his warrior father against the Saxon invaders. 

 

When a Saxon attack kills his closest friend, Galahad prays for the restoration of the Grail to deliver the kingdom from the scourge of pagan fire and sword. This sentence is a mess. You must make every sentence as SIMPLE and CLEAR as possible. Instead he receives a visit from a sorceress who hints his father is none other than the Lord of Light, 95% of readers will think Game of Thrones here... an ancient being bent on reclaiming status as a god. Torn by the revelation, "Torn" is the wrong verb here. Galahad sets out to discover the truth about his father. Can Galahad fulfill his destiny as the Grail-seeker, or is he the unnatural son of a demon? And the strange girl who takes refuge at the convent, will she help or hinder his quest? Avoid rhetorical questions like these. It's a cheap/lame way to build intrigue. Plus, it sounds like superhero shows from the sixties. Present these stakes in a better way.

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, retells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. Unfortunately, I don't think this means much in a query. Especially a BA. My poetry has been published by Strange Horizons and nominated for Best of the Net by Barefoot Muse.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

Okay, you have something here. What you're lacking is clarity. I'm also confused as to what the stakes are: why is it SO IMPORTANT that he find the grail? Him simply learning about his father is not a plot because there is no choice involved. I also come away from this wondering: "Well, is he going on a quest or not?" I don't sense a ton of MOVEMENT from this query. I think you're getting there, though.

 

Please have a look at my query as well (link in sig).



#17 Erevos

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Posted Yesterday, 04:35 PM

Hello Emarie! Great work on making it shorter.

 

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against his destiny: he must take his place as an heir to the Grail’s guardians. But Galahad does not want to seek the Holy Grail. He longs to fight beside his warrior father against the Saxon invaders. Like Micronesia said, this sentence kind of slows down the pace and confuses the reader. Again: Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against his destiny: He gives up the quest for the Holy Grail to be at his father's side against the Saxon invaders. OR Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad was raised to be the Holy Grail's guardian. But Galahad had one plan in mind: Stand by his father against the Saxon invaders.

 

Still lacks heart, but I hope this helped you a bit. Perhaps leave out that he was abandoned. Say: Raised inside the Amesbury Convent or something similar.

 

 

When a Saxon attack kills his closest friend, Galahad prays for the restoration of the Grail to deliver the kingdom from the scourge of pagan fire and sword. Yep this needs rework. Instead he receives a visit from a sorceress who hints his father is none other than the Lord of Light, True, many will think GOT, but that doesn't mean you can use it. Jesus is often called that too  :happy:  an ancient being bent on reclaiming status as a god. Torn My bad here. He would be torn if he had to pick among 2 options. Go with devastated? by the revelation, Galahad sets out to discover the truth about his father. Can Galahad fulfill his destiny as the Grail-seeker, or is he the unnatural son of a demon? And the strange girl who takes refuge at the convent, will she help or hinder his quest? Nope! I haven't read your book of course, but what are the choices he has to make? Or what is the danger? Or what are his choices? for example: fight against his true father for the sake of the land or side with him and see everything he loved destroyed? something like that!

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, retells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry has been published by Strange Horizons and nominated for Best of the Net by Barefoot Muse.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

Hope I helped a bit! Forgive any mistakes of mine.... it's really late here! 


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


#18 dizzywriter

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Posted Yesterday, 04:54 PM

Latest version. Thank you, Erevos, for helping me with some of the phrasing.

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against his destiny: he must take his place as an heir to the Grail’s guardians. But Galahad does not want to seek the Holy Grail. He longs to fight beside his warrior father against the Saxon invaders. [Some points: I don't think its very common for young men to be allowed in convents. That's the whole point of them. So, that raises questions for me rather than intrigue. I'm sure it's explained in the book but I don't think it adds anything to the query, especially since you've dumped the Abbess. I think opening with him making the choice to follow his destiny or go look for his father. Or open with the Saxons killing his friend. Otherwise the first graph is backstory]

 

[Enraged] when a Saxon attack kills his closest friend, Galahad [tries to pray] [passive, plus useless (in this case), so why is he doing it in the query? Maybe he's enraged or stricken with grief.] for the restoration of the Grail to deliver the kingdom from the scourge of pagan fire and sword. [you have three prepositions here. Too complex.] Instead he receives [passive. "Instead, a sorceress [be specific about the type of visit. "Appear" tells us nothing] [and] hints his father is [the dreaded, the evil, the bad guy. State it more strongly] Lord of Light, an ancient being bent on [a "being" could be anything. Be more specific.] reclaiming status as a god [how? by doing what? does he need to kill people for his god powers? It is has to be specific and terrible]. Torn [Wrong word] by the revelation, Galahad sets out to discover the truth about his father. Can Galahad fulfill his destiny as the Grail-seeker, or is he the unnatural son of a demon? And the strange girl who takes refuge at the convent, will she help or hinder his quest? [This is not high stakes'. So, what if he is a demon? In some books, that's a fun thing. Add more specificity to help us understand what a devastating revelation this would be for the character: since it's Roman times, religious belief would be a big reason, given his upbringing. In that case, he might even be disgusted with himself and wants to fights as a death wish. I'm just making it up, but I think it needs specificity.]

 

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, retells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

 

I have a B.A. in English and a M.S. in Technical Writing. My poetry has been published by Strange Horizons and nominated for Best of the Net by Barefoot Muse.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

It's coming along really well. I think all the elements are there, but changing the order of their appearance and being specific would make it even better.

Please take a look a my newest revision if you can.



#19 EMarie

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Posted Yesterday, 05:26 PM

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I'll be returning critiques on everyone's queries very soon.

I've been thinking a lot about the feedback--and it has consistently been that I need to do better job explaining my plot and what's at stake for the characters. I also read back through comments on former versions--and I tried to bring back some of the parts of the query that people liked.
 

 

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against the Abbess’ claim he must seek the Holy Grail, a task inherited through his father's line. Though the Grail would restore God’s favor and deliver the kingdom from Saxon invaders, Galahad questions the Abbess’ conviction he is a saint worthy of a divine calling. Instead of performing miracles, Galahad dreams of fighting beside his father as a soldier of the king. In defiance he evades lessons and prayers and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend from a neighboring villa.

 

After a Saxon attack results in his friend’s death, Galahad surrenders his will to God and prays for a vision of the Grail to lead him on his quest. Instead he receives a visit from Gwyn, a prince of the Lordly Ones, ancient beings who demand worship and human sacrifice. When Gwyn hints he is none other than Galahad's true father, casting doubt on his identity as the Grail-seeker, Galahad sets out to confirm his nature and destiny.

 

Streams in the Wasteland takes place in a historic Roman British world infused with Arthurian fantasy elements. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.



#20 Iconian

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Posted Yesterday, 11:00 PM

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I'll be returning critiques on everyone's queries very soon.

I've been thinking a lot about the feedback--and it has consistently been that I need to do better job explaining my plot and what's at stake for the characters. I also read back through comments on former versions--and I tried to bring back some of the parts of the query that people liked.

My version here is probably too long still, but I tried to do a better job explaining plot while also trying to have some heart to the story, as one poster said.

Abandoned by his mother at Amesbury Convent, young Galahad rebels against the prophecy that his father’s lineage has destined him to seek and find the Holy Grail. Though the Grail’s return would restore God’s favor and deliver the kingdom from the Saxon invaders, Galahad believes he is unfit to search for the Grail carry out the search. He has never shed tears, even when his mother left him, and he cannot feel love or experience desire. Instead of performing miracles, he dreams of joining his warrior father as a soldier of the king.

In defiance of the nuns' expectations, Galahad sneaks away to drink wine at the Saturnalia banquet at a nearby villa and runs off into the woods hunting deer with his high-spirited friend. [I'd probably just say, "sneaks away to drink wine at a nearby banquet, and runs off," etc.]When a Saxon attack results in the death of his friend, Galahad prays for a vision of the Grail, [There's no sense of turmoil prior to Galahad praying for the vision.  Does Galahad do anything else besides pray at this point?] but receives a visit from the Lordly One, an ancient being who hints he is Galahad’s true father. With the Grail’s recovery and the fate of the kingdom in the balance, Galahad embarks on a quest to discover the identity of his father and understand his own nature and destiny.

Streams in the Wasteland, set in a historical Roman British world infused with fantasy elements, retells the story of one of the most misunderstood heroes of the Arthurian canon. The novel, complete at 79,000 words, will appeal to fans of Nancy Springer’s I am Mordred and Elizabeth Wein’s The Winter Prince.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I don't think it's too long.  I think it might be too short.

 

But some people have said my queries are too long . . .

 

I just feel like there's no character or color here.  When you included some of the stuff about the Abbess before it gave a little more idea that Galahad had really rebelled against her.  Didn't she want him to pray and fast or something?  Perhaps instead of saying "In defiance of the nuns expectations," you could say "Defying the Abbess's expectations for prayer and fasting," etc.

 

That's all I can think of.  I just think the query is too minimal now.  I think you should try bringing some of the back before--just be careful about what you bring back.


My query, open to critiques:   http://agentquerycon...mantic-dramedy/





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