Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

Reven (Fantasy novel)


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 galimatias

galimatias

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:I've had two short stories published in small press anthologies (genre fiction). I don't want to get too specific because I plan on using a pseudonym for my novel.

Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:47 PM

Dear [redacted],

 

Twelve-year-old Wendi wants to run away from it all: her mother's death, her teacher's racism, and the languishing city around her. Her dream becomes reality when five flying children appear outside her window. After Wendi helps the kids chase away a menacing thief, the charming leader Peter offers her a place on his ship. The kids' magic necklaces will give Wendi a weightless body, super strength, and most importantly, a second chance.

 

Unfortunately, Wendi's new life is far from simple. Peter's cocky smile hides many secrets, from his magic's origin to the fates of his missing friends. To make matters worse, Peter's rival Hook is stalking the children across the ocean, desperate to claim their magic as his own. As Wendi uncovers the past, she must decide how much she will sacrifice in her pursuit of freedom. 

 

REVEN is a steampunk re-telling of Peter Pan that is complete at 110,000 words. I am currently engaged with cultural consultants to ensure that my representation of native cultures is accurate and respectful. My fiction has been published in multiple small-press anthologies, and my novella [redacted] won honorable mention in the [redacted] Contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#2 dogsbody

dogsbody

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 482 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:17 PM

Hi!

 

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with this query -- you've done a great job of laying out a straightforward run-down of the premise -- but I'm not sure it's doing you any favors, either. These of course are my personal impressions and opinions, but:

 

1. I'm assuming this is an adult novel, since you didn't specify MG or YA? Only a twelve-year-old protagonist is an awkward fit for an adult narrative: I know a lot of fantasy books where the protag started that young, or younger, but only in order to follow them through adolescence into adulthood, which it doesn't seem you intend to do here. But 12 is definitely not a good fit for YA. It might work for MG, though the wordcount is a stretch, and certainly the approach in the query is MG-ish, so... yeah. You might want to specify which, just to be clear, and also once I know which I might have a few more suggestions, depending.

 

2. Character, conflict, and stakes -- I'm not seeing them. All I know of Wendi is her age and that her mother is dead. I don't know why she dislikes her city, is she running away our of despair or for a lark; I don't even know what flavor of racism she's facing at school. (Or even if it's directed at her, or just bothers her in general.) Not much of the query gives me a sense of Wendi and why she's the main character, as opposed to someone a very interesting story is happening around. What is Wendi attempting to achieve, for herself? What is she trying to avoid?

 

There are conflicts mentioned -- Peter's secrets, Hook's intentions -- but they're external and unconnected to Wendi, so they don't give insight to her as a character and, honestly... I don't find them that interesting because they don't add anything new for me, a reader who's familiar with the Peter Pan stories.  Which leads me to...

 

3. I would encourage a lot more specifics. There have been a lot of Peter Pan re-tellings in recent years -- including a steampunk-ish movie prequel story -- and some of them have been very successful. That doesn't mean there isn't room for one more, but you might want to concentrate on what makes yours stand out. For instance: you say it's a steampunk retelling, but how does that become an integral part of the story? The query mentions magic necklaces, which are more fantasy. You also slip into vagueness here and there -- "a second chance," "many secrets," "how much she will sacrifice" etc. -- which might build atmosphere but doesn't actually reveal anything about the plot. I know this is a story about a girl who runs away from home only to encounter more dangers and troubles -- that could describe any NUMBER of books. What happens in YOUR book? I don't need to know every detail, but a general idea of what story I'll be reading/requesting (if I were an agent) might be nice. 

 

Hope this was in some way helpful. 



#3 MICRONESIA

MICRONESIA

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 52 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:37 PM

Dear [redacted],

 

Twelve-year-old Wendi wants to run away from it all: her mother's death, her teacher's racism What is Wendi's race?, and the languishing city around her. Her dream becomes reality when five flying children appear outside her window. After Wendi helps the kids chase away a menacing thief, the charming leader Peter offers her a place on his ship. Spaceship? Big wooden boat? The kids' magic necklaces will give Wendi a weightless body, super strength, and most importantly, a second chance. A second chance for what? She's too young for this to mean much in the context you've given us. "Second chance" is a phrase for someone who's 42, not 12. In other words, make her motivation more specific.

 

Unfortunately, Wendi's new life is far from simple. Peter's cocky smile hides many secrets, from his magic's origin to the fates of his missing friends. This last clause is clunky. Re-word. And who the heck are these missing friends? This is the first we've heard of them! To make matters worse, Peter's rival Hook is stalking the children across the ocean, desperate to claim their magic as his own. As Wendi uncovers the past, Why is the past suddenly a big concern? she must decide how much she will sacrifice in her pursuit of freedom. I have no idea what this sacrifice entails. Once again, be specific! I'm not clear of the stakes whatsoever!

 

REVEN is a steampunk re-telling of Peter Pan that is complete at 110,000 words. I am currently engaged with cultural consultants to ensure that my representation of native cultures is accurate and respectful. My fiction has been published in multiple small-press anthologies, and my novella [redacted] won honorable mention in the [redacted] Contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

This query is nice and concise. However, I think some information is missing. Revise, expand, clarify.



#4 Cates

Cates

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Midwest

Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:28 PM

I'd agree with previous posters about expanding. Here's the things I really want to know:

 

1. Are the children flying, or the ship, or both? 

 

2. Is the thief in Neverland or the real world? Was the thief robbing Wendi's house? The kids' ship? Something else? Even just phrasing it like, 'the kids work together to stop a jewel theft' or something would make the imagery more concrete.

 

3. I second what Micronesia said about the missing friends. Are these the kids Wendi met in the first paragraph? 

 

4. What does she need freedom from? If it's the past, maybe make it clearer what's haunting her and what 'escape' would entail--forgiveness? Acceptance? If she needs freedom from Hook, make it clear she was captured. Is she choosing between staying on Peter's ship or going home? (That would be interesting stakes!) What makes her want to stay? What makes her want to leave?

 

5. Right now I'm wondering if Wendi is Wendy Darling, or if she's a relative, or just a different version. I know this is a retelling, so I'm trying to follow the parallels. Are John and Michael with Peter, or are those the Lost Boys? What happened to John and Michael?  Why are they following Peter? Obviously you can cut Wendy's brothers if you want, but I'm struggling to get a sense of who she is. 

 

6. Since this is steampunk (woohoo! I love steampunk!) I feel like we need a much stronger sense of the setting. Is Wendi's teacher an automaton? Does Peter's ship run on steam? Are the skies polluted? I think the most important for steampunk is atmosphere, and I'm not really feeling it here. 

 

I LOVE this idea and I'd read the heck out of this story. I'd also disagree with the previous poster--it doesn't have to be YA or MG just because the protagonist is twelve, especially for a retelling of classical literature. There's stories like The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Matt Phelan's version of Snow White, which have child protagonists but are for adults. Can't wait to see what you do with this!



#5 dogsbody

dogsbody

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 482 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:52 PM

I'd also disagree with the previous poster--it doesn't have to be YA or MG just because the protagonist is twelve, especially for a retelling of classical literature. There's stories like The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Matt Phelan's version of Snow White, which have child protagonists but are for adults. 

 

Hey, just in case anyone else reading my comment (like the OP) is confused: I didn't mean to imply it had to be MG (though twelve IS too young for the current YA market), just that I had a hard time thinking of adult fantasy novels where a younger protagonist stayed young throughout. Both the MCs in the titles above grow older over the course of their books, don't they?

 

The only adult novels I can think of that use kid protagonists throughout are literary novels, like The Room or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In these novels the narrator is deeply unreliable because of their youth and lack of understanding, so that the story is told in a very unique way. Since this is a straightforward fantasy novel, I didn't think the exception applied here. Also, usually the child narrator is not the most important, "main" character but observing the main character -- but if the OP's novel does this as well, the query should be rewritten to show that. 

 

I don't mean it as a nitpick, this is a marketing concern. Most younger audiences want to read "up" -- hence all those YA protags in their late teens -- and the inner life of a twelve-year-old isn't interesting to most adult readers. (Again, not unless we get to see her grow and mature over a long period of time.) A child can be at the center of the action, but older readers want older characters to follow, observe, and identify with. Which is why I asked for the clarification: if it's MG, I just think the query needs more elaboration on Wendi, but if it's meant to be an adult novel then I would recommend showcasing the characters which will help the book connect to an older audience. 



#6 jaustail

jaustail

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 145 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published
  • LocationAsia
  • Publishing Experience:Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. Short Story.

Posted 18 July 2017 - 02:51 AM

JMO:

 

 

Dear [redacted],

 

Twelve-year-old Wendi wants to run away from it all: her mother's death, her teacher's racism, and the languishing city around her(i didn't understand languishing city. rest all was great. is the entire city bad? or just her neighborhood?). Her dream becomes reality when five flying children appear outside her window(interesting). After Wendi helps the kids chase away a menacing thief, the charming leader Peter offers her a place on his (maybe add: flying) ship. The kids' magic necklaces will give Wendi a weightless body, super strength, and most importantly, a second chance(maybe: a chance to live life. It's not a second chance as such. She never had the first chance).

 

Unfortunately, Wendi's new life is far from simple. Peter's cocky smile hides many secrets, from his magic's origin to the fates of his missing friends. To make matters worse, Peter's rival Hook is stalking the children across the ocean, desperate to claim their magic as his own. As Wendi uncovers the past, she must decide how much she will sacrifice in her pursuit of freedom.  (what does she have to sacrifice?)

 

REVEN is a steampunk re-telling of Peter Pan that is complete at 110,000 words. I am currently engaged with cultural consultants to ensure that my representation of native cultures is accurate and respectful. My fiction has been published in multiple small-press anthologies, and my novella [redacted] won honorable mention in the [redacted] Contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

It's well written. Not many suggestions. Good luck.


JUPITER'S AMBITION

Revised on Post#70

Link


#7 galimatias

galimatias

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:I've had two short stories published in small press anthologies (genre fiction). I don't want to get too specific because I plan on using a pseudonym for my novel.

Posted 19 July 2017 - 12:04 AM

Thank you for the advice, everyone!

 

To answer dogsbody's question, this novel would be more YA than middle grade. There is a 28-year-old deuteragonist that shares POV time, although Wendi is the principal protagonist. 

 

Also, Wendi is part of her country's indigenous population of Othani. This story doesn't take place on Earth, so there is no direct analogue to a specific people, but culturally they are probably most similar to the Maori of New Zealand. I wasn't sure how much to emphasize her ethnicity, so I only hinted at it in the first sentence. Race is important (I spend a lot of time criticizing the white savior trope from the original story), but it's not the only thing that defines her. 

 

I will quit being coy with the plot and get more detailed in my revision. Thank you again for your help.



#8 dogsbody

dogsbody

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 482 posts
  • Literary Status:published
  • LocationUS Southeast

Posted 19 July 2017 - 02:43 AM

To answer dogsbody's question, this novel would be more YA than middle grade.

 

I believe you have a small problem, then. Quite a few agents and editors have given interviews or written blogposts about how, in the current YA market, they find they can only sell books where the protagonist is the same age or older than the intended audience -- so sixteen at least, although you might be able to start younger if they age up during the first book. I'd be happy to find some of these discussions and link them for you. 

 

It's your book, of course, but I just wanted to make you aware this is a significant hurdle you may face in querying. 

 

ETA: And they have similar problems with protagonists out of their teens. I know, it's a weirdly narrow specification, but the recent boom in the YA market has yielded some very interesting side effects. 



#9 Iconian

Iconian

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 90 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, published, unagented
  • LocationUS Southwest
  • Publishing Experience:In 2006-2007 I had some copywriting published by a financial institution, and only started getting back into writing again in 2016.

Posted 19 July 2017 - 08:04 PM

Dear [redacted],

 

Twelve-year-old Wendi wants to run away from it all: her mother's death, her teacher's racism, and the languishing city around her. Her dream becomes reality when five flying children appear outside her window. After Wendi helps the kids chase away a menacing thief, the charming leader Peter offers her a place on his ship. The kids' magic necklaces will give Wendi a weightless body, super strength, and most importantly, a second chance.

 

Unfortunately, Wendi's new life is far from simple. Peter's cocky smile hides many secrets, from his magic's origin to the fates of his missing friends. To make matters worse, Peter's rival Hook is stalking the children across the ocean, desperate to claim their magic as his own. As Wendi uncovers the past, she must decide how much she will sacrifice in her pursuit of freedom. 

 

REVEN is a steampunk re-telling of Peter Pan that is complete at 110,000 words. I am currently engaged with cultural consultants to ensure that my representation of native cultures is accurate and respectful. My fiction has been published in multiple small-press anthologies, and my novella [redacted] won honorable mention in the [redacted] Contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I guess it's OK.  It just seems like it hews much too closely to the original story to really be worth the read.  It seems like there are a million Peter Pan clones out there--less than a week ago there was one on here that sounded a whole lot more interesting than this does.  What makes your tale so different from the original Peter Pan?  What makes it really interesting?  I think you should try to focus on that.  Try to set it apart, make it stand out.


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





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users