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Walking with Strangers - UPDATED AGAIN

Fiction Adventure Fantasy Young Adult

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#21 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:08 PM

Ignore.

#22 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:09 PM

Springfield,

Ok, so it's LOW fantasy. Meaning no magic. The setting and guards, etc make it fantasy. It's NOT contemporary. Don't know where you're getting that idea from. I'm NOT telling you the truth about her family, since the idea of a query is to get an agent interested and that would give away the entire ending, which a query DOESNT do.

And idk what you keep rambling about voice, but I have a voice, thank you. I know your trying to be helpful, but you point out the same things and don't help me fix them.

Do I have to bluntly state everything? This is to intrigue an agent, not tell every plot point of my book.

I kindly ask that you either explain what you think my voice and stakes should be or stop commenting. Restating the same things over and over isn't helping me to get this to be agent ready.

Sorry, I'm bitter but I don't know how else to say this.

#23 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:11 PM

Ignore again.

#24 ThatDan

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:12 PM

Perpetual,

Thanks for your insight. I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but the entire book revolves around the fire, Genesis, and Lucy's relationship with them. I can't take them out of the query because they appear in he first 15 pages.

I would like your opinion on how exactly to phrase my stakes. She's been kidnapped.>>> She has the choice to die or join a group of criminals. <<< the initial choice

>>>She wants to find out what happened to her town, but Genesis won't talk about it. She forces herself to line among them and gain their trust so she can leave without being hunted down.<<< I feel that your stakes start right here. See the conflict? She wants to stay to find out what happened, but at the same time she wants to flee. When you later mention that her tasks become more dangerous, this furthers the stakes. If she flees, then she'll never find out the truth. But if she stays to uncover it, she risks her life because of the increasingly dangerous missions. She thinks about revenge, but doesn't consider it because she's VERY moral.-revenge would also mean she could never learn their secrets How do I make it so that this sounds like the stake/big dilemma. i think the danger and immorality of her missions is key. eg: With her missions becoming more difficult and more immoral each day, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to gain their trust and uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead! Obviously I'm having a hard time writing it in a way that's not vague.

Thanks!

keep at it and don't be discouraged. Any critique you get is because someone's trying to help, even if it may not sound like it. You just have to keep in mind that none of us know as much about the book as you do, so it's impossible for us to read the query as you would. What makes sense to you, may not make sense to us, and vice versa. But the part of critiquing is to iron out those bumps. :)



#25 ThatDan

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:35 PM

Springfield,

Ok, so it's LOW fantasy. Meaning no magic. The setting and guards, etc make it fantasy. guards and village indicated this to me quite clearly, however> It's NOT contemporary. Don't know where you're getting that idea from. "modern-day" I would remove this word because it suggest contemporary, since guards and villages in low fantasy mean it's not /our/ modern-day. We have police and towns. I'm NOT telling you the truth about her family, since the idea of a query is to get an agent interested and that would give away the entire ending, which a query DOESNT do.you don't have to give it away, but you can elude to something a little more. The truth about her family currently: they died in a fire. The query implies that the /real/ truth is something else, but we have not even an inkling what it might be. You can give us a taste without spoiling the whole meal. I don't know the story, but some possible examples: "perhaps her family didn't perish" "maybe they weren't her family after all" "her family want as innocent as they seemed"

you don't have to be definitive or give everything away, but I'm certain you could come up with something which entices us without complete spoilers.

And idk what you keep rambling about voice, but I have a voice, thank you. I know your trying to be helpful, but you point out the same things and don't help me fix them.

Do I have to bluntly state everything? This is to intrigue an agent, not tell every plot point of my book.

I kindly ask that you either explain what you think my voice and stakes should be or stop commenting. Restating the same things over and over isn't helping me to get this to be agent ready.

Sorry, I'm bitter but I don't know how else to say this.



#26 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 01:44 PM

>> edit in original

#27 Springfield

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 05:31 PM

Springfield,

Ok, so it's LOW fantasy. Meaning no magic. The setting and guards, etc make it fantasy. It's NOT contemporary. Low fantasy can have magic. I'm not expecting dragons and elves, but guards and a village do not indicate fantasy. They might indicate, I dunno, rural Colombia under FARC or whatever the heck. It's not specific to fantasy, especially as you say 'modern day.' Don't know where you're getting that idea from. I'm NOT telling you the truth about her family, since the idea of a query is to get an agent interested and that would give away the entire ending, which a query DOESNT do. You don't have to give away the entire ending, but you do have to give away SOMETHING. It's a query, not a blurb for the back of the book. You want an agent interested -- which means the agent should have reason to believe you have a full, coherent plot. You don't need to put in the whole thing, but you have to show enough so agents get the point.

And idk what you keep rambling about voice, but I have a voice, thank you. I know your trying to be helpful, but you point out the same things and don't help me fix them.  Character voice. I get no sense of voice from your character; no personal aspect; the writing is fairly bland/straightforward. These are basic writing terms; I assume people who are shopping books they've written are generally familiar with them, sorry. You can just ask if you want clarification, but otherwise I don't know you don't know.

Do I have to bluntly state everything? This is to intrigue an agent, not tell every plot point of my book. See above; you have to tell enough that the character's problem, what the character must do to solve the problem, and the stakes, are clear to the agent. You need the plot. The agent is NOT a reader browsing books looking for something interesting. The agent is looking for something he or she can sell.

I kindly ask that you either explain what you think my voice and stakes should be or stop commenting. Restating the same things over and over isn't helping me to get this to be agent ready.

Sorry, I'm bitter but I don't know how else to say this.



#28 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 05:49 PM

Look, I've been writing for 20 years. My Masters is in creative writing. I know what character voice is. But when you just said voice I didn't know what that means - tone, character voice, or personal view. Your idea of voice is just vastly different from mine. I can't make my query sound any more like Lucy.

For low fantasy, here's the definition:
Low fantasy places relatively less emphasis on typical elements associated with fantasy, setting a narrative in realistic environments

I think my story meets the requirements.

I'm very familiar with what agents want. I've submitted my fair share of queries. I'm personal friends with a number of famous authors. This query may not be up to your standard, but I check off every box that agents look for. I never said I writing for the back of a book. I know the difference.

I also rewrote the query to include the something you are asking for.

If you'd want to look at it again, I think you'll find that I've changed things.

#29 ThatDan

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:39 PM

Another edit. Hopefully this shows the stakes!

Dear Potential Reader,


If she runs away, they’ll kill her; if she stays, she’ll become a murderer.

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches as a fire consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the country- maybe if you swap country for"realm"it will strengthen the fantasy setting—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

As Lucy wakes up, she discovers that Eastmarsh isn’t-assuming estmarsh has been wiped of the map, I'd suggest swapping isn't for "wasn't" the only town targeted. A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the country-perhaps lands?, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. To do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal.

When the Genesis missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong, and that perhaps someone else is to blame for the fires. i know the "perhaps" adds vagueness, but does it's job in introducing doubt, without actually spoiling

Good and evil isn’t always black and white.

 

I say it sounds great and is basically done! If you want to follow Springfield's advice about voice, you could try and include stuff about Lucy missing her family, being able to talk to Genesis cause she's got no-one else, wondering what her family would say if they knew what immoral stuff she was doing etc etc. But if you do that, you run the risk of making it more confusing and jumbled. Up to you!

 

Hope this helps, you're almost there!

 



#30 dogsbody

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:12 PM

Hiya!

 

If she runs away, they’ll kill her; if she stays, she’ll become a murderer.

 

I'm not a fan of hooks in general, so you should keep that in mind when weighing the helpfulness of my feedback in that area. But this feels vague enough to be outright confusing; because the "she" and "they" are not placed in context right away, anyone reading this has to go back after reading further to understand what you were trying to say in this first sentence. (Which I don't believe would work in your favor.) 

 

If you keep the hook, I would suggest being more concrete or specific in the details. You could even start off with: "Seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims has been captured by the most wanted band of outlaws in Eastmarsh. If she tries to run, they'll kill her; if she stays with them, she'll become a murderer." And then backtrack "It all started when..." etc etc, or some phrasing that sounds less cheesy.

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches as a fire consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the country—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

 

This query is heavy on plot movement, which is not a bad thing. But I wish I knew more about Lucy in order to be drawn into her story. I know her name and age, and.. that's it. YA is fairly character-driven, so I would really urge you to establish Lucy within her own story, and as being the driving force behind it. Who was she, before the fire? How did the fire and loss of her family affect her, and effect (yes with an e) the rest of the story? I would recommend tying in each plot development to Lucy's decisions, motivations, and personal journey. You don't want it to read like a story that could have happened to anyone, and Lucy happened to get unlucky -- you want this to be Lucy's story. 

As Lucy wakes up, she discovers that Eastmarsh isn’t the only town targeted. (Targeted by whom?) A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the country (how does she know this?), and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. (Why is she so determined? And WHAT is she planning to do?) To do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal. (Again, by doing WHAT, exactly?)

 

Specifics really lend interest. "Young person enters morally compromising role in order to reach a greater good" is the plot of many, many stories. Which is not a criticism, it just means there are very likely other people querying with that premise. So you want your story to stand out with specifics: what horrible things is she willing to do and for what specific reasons, which will make us feel sympathetic to her despite the horrible?

When the missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

 

I feel like this paragraph is attempting to do all the things I just talked about, but personally it still feels too vague. "Missions of thievery" is murky; "stealing food and coin from grandmothers with starving babies" (or whatever) is HORRIFIC, and it grabs our attention -- it makes us engage on an emotional level, asking ourselves: can I understand or even like a heroine who does these things? Even with good reasons? And these are the kind of questions which can lead people to want more of your story. 

 

Again: "runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt" -- that could mean anything from trading in information to literally wringing necks. So which is it? What kind of story is Lucy's? The more specific you are, hopefully the more chance you have of connecting with an agent who would LOVE that kind of story, specifically. 

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong and that someone else is to blame for the fires.

 

This is a good attempt at stakes, but I'd urge you to do further. What does it mean to Lucy and to Eastmarsh if Genesis is innocent of these crimes? Why will the readers care whether or not they are?

Good and evil isn’t always black and white.

 

 

I noticed I assumed this was YA without seeing a specification, but even if it isn't I still feel like Lucy herself -- her ambitions, motivations, and reactions -- need to be stronger in this query. But please let me know if there's anything I said you want explained or elaborated on. 



#31 illusionofscript

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:23 PM


Thanks for your feedback! I took into consideration including more of Lucy into the query and think I came up with something that doesn't make the story harder to follow. What do you think if I add:

Lucy learns more than self-defense and medicinal herbs as she spends time with Genesis, including their grim backstories. She even begins to open up about the loneliness and loss her family's death has brought about. When Genesis’ missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral though, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

This would be the third paragraph. Do you think this adds an it more voice? Does it completely suck! I value your opinion!

Thanks!

#32 secondstar87

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:36 PM

I think perhaps Springfield meant we're not really getting a feel for Lucy's personality in this query, other than that's she's moral. I am also having a hard time envisioning the plot... I get that the problem comes in the beginning (run and be killed, stay and become a killer), otherwise it seems like the plot is primarily her deciding what she should do. Is there a catalyst that finally spurs her to a decision? Otherwise it sounds like your climax comes at the beginning--when she is initially faced with this choice--other than towards the end, like a typical plot arch. Your query doesn't have to tell us what she decides, what you do have to bring us towards the climax--which right now I have no idea what that would be. 

 

I know it's frustrating. Writing a query is very helpful in that it can actually reveal holes in the plot, which is a good opportunity to go back and do some editing before querying. You might want to consider if your frustration over the query reflects some changes that need to happen in the plot. 


http://agentquerycon...sail-the-stars/

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"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain 

"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds." - G.K. Chesterton 


#33 jaustail

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Posted Yesterday, 01:32 AM

JMO:

 

 

Dear Potential Reader,


If she runs away, they’ll kill her; if she stays, she’ll become a murderer.

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches as a fire consumes her village('watches' makes me think she's standing still and doing nothing. Is she screaming for help, throwing buckets of water?), taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down(does she race after the fire is extinguished or while the fire is still raging?) to search for survivors, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the country—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

As Lucy wakes up, she discovers that Eastmarsh isn’t the only town targeted. A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the country, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. To do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal.(flows very smoothly. great job)

When the missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong and that someone else is to blame for the fires.

Good and evil isn’t always black and white.

 

 

I'd request pages. There was only some confusion in the second paragraph. I've mentioned that. Otherwise it flowed very smoothly and I understood everything.

A suggestion: When posting revisions, don't remove the original versions. It becomes confusing to remember whether the query was revised. Maybe just reply to the thread and change the thread title to: Revision at post#(number)

 

JMO


JUPITER'S AMBITION

Revised on Post#70

Link


#34 illusionofscript

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Posted Yesterday, 07:52 AM

Revised copy - lost count.

Here I incorporated more of Lucy's personality as well as some minor details in the first paragraph. I also got rid of the hook and jumped into the story.

Does everything sound clear and make sense?


Dear Potential Reader,

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches from a hilltop in disbelief as a fire consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors through the spreading flames, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the realm—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

As she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that Eastmarsh wasn't the only town targeted. A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the lands, leaving death and chaos in their wake. Lucy is determined to get answers, but to do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal.

Lucy learns more than self-defense and medicinal herbs as she spends time with Genesis, including their grim backstories. She even begins to open up about the loneliness and loss her family's death has brought about. When Genesis’ missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral though, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong and that perhaps someone else is to blame for the fires.

Good and evil isn’t always black and white.

Walking with Strangers is a low fantasy, young adult adventure novel complete at 90,000 words. It is similar to the tone of ___________. The entire manuscript is available upon request.

I am a 2017 graduate of a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.

#35 jaustail

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Posted Yesterday, 08:29 AM

JMO:

 

Just one suggestion

 

 

Dear Potential Reader,

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches from a hilltop in disbelief as a fire consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors through the spreading flames, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts wanted by every guard unit in the realm—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

As she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that Eastmarsh wasn't the only town targeted. A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the lands, leaving death and chaos in their wake. Lucy is determined to get answers, but to do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal.

Lucy learns more than self-defense and medicinal herbs as she spends time with Genesis, including their grim backstories(what is this more that she learns? is it the backstories? then maybe reword cause I read as: As she spends time iwth genesis, as she spends time with their backstories... maybe make this: As Lucy spends time with Genesis, she learns...). She even begins to open up about the loneliness and loss her family's death has brought about. When Genesis’ missions of thievery, assassinations, and tampering with evidence, become more difficult and more immoral though, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for them. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong and that perhaps someone else is to blame for the fires.

Good and evil isn’t always black and white.

Walking with Strangers is a low fantasy, young adult adventure novel complete at 90,000 words. It is similar to the tone of ___________. The entire manuscript is available upon request.

I am a 2017 graduate of a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

 

 

No other suggestion. Congratulations for this. Good luck!!


JUPITER'S AMBITION

Revised on Post#70

Link


#36 Iconian

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Posted Yesterday, 10:02 PM

Another edit. Hopefully this shows the stakes!

Dear Potential Reader,


If she runs away, they’ll kill her; if she stays, she’ll become a murderer.

In the rural countryside of Eastmarsh, [Eastmarsh?  What's Eastmarsh?  Is it on Earth?  Is it somewhere in England?  That's what it sounds like.  I guess if it's in England and you're writing for what you expect to be an exclusively English audience, then I guess you're fine.  If not, you need to tell us what this is.]  seventeen-year-old Lucy Aims watches as a fire consumes her village, taking her family and everyone she knows with it. Racing down to search for survivors, she finds Genesis—a group of five societal outcasts [do you mean "outlaws?"  If they're merely outcasts, why are they wanted by the guards?] wanted by every guard unit in the country—at the scene of the crime. But, instead of killing Lucy, they kidnap her.

As Lucy wakes up, she discovers that Eastmarsh isn’t the only town targeted. A series of seemingly untraceable fires ripple through the country, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. To do that she must compromise her ethical compass and play the part of a criminal.  [After reading the next paragraph, I think you mean "compromise her ethical compass, and she begins to work with Genesis, playing the part of a criminal."]

When the missions of thievery, assassination, [there should be no "s" after "assassination"] and tampering with evidence [no comma] become more difficult and more immoral, Lucy questions how long she can keep working for [Genesis]. Without their complete trust, fleeing could mean being hunted down as a traitor. But if she stays to uncover the truth about the fires, she runs the risk of becoming morally corrupt, or worse, dead!

The closer she gets to the truth, the more she realizes that her initial impressions of Genesis could be wrong and that someone else is to blame for the fires.

Good and evil [aren't] always black and white.

 

Walking with Strangers is a low fantasy, young adult adventure novel complete at 90,000 words. It is similar to the tone of ___________. [Sounds like the video game Dishonored . . .] The entire manuscript is available upon request.

 

 

So this girl is kidnapped by a group she found at the scene of a fire.  She's dubious, but she begins to suspect that they weren't actually responsible for the fire.  More fires happen, and then she decides to actually join the group, to see if they were behind the fires.  Once she's joined the group she also joins in with their thievery, assassination, and tampering with evidence.  Am I understanding the story right so far?

 

So if they're recruiting her into doing her dirty work, why doesn't she realize that they're bad guys at that point?  Isn't the proof that they're doing all that stuff enough to prove that they're bad?  Why should the fires matter?

 

Are the people she's been targeting for assassination, theft, and tampering evidence corrupt?  If they're corrupt, then you should make that clear in the query, because I don't see anything there at all to indicate that Genesis are anything other than the bad guys.

 

You might have an interesting story here, but you're going to have clarify a lot in your query for it to come through.


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






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