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Killing Crow - Adult High Fantasy - love doing return critiques

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#1 anah+theshadowaccomplice

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 01:07 PM

UPDATED: 11/1

Updated versions will always be in the top post. 

 

Heeeeellllpppp!!! I'm digging myself a pit, I tell you, a pit! Since referring to the Nightmare Creatures by their proper title (Mahr) seemed to just cause confusion, I'm back to dancing around their non-technical title. It's very difficult to get across that these are fae, in simplest terms, without muddling stuff.... Is this version less confusing? 

 

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan inherited magic, a title and a war. The magic of his family has kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay for centuries, and the mantle falls to Quinlan to stave off defeat one more generation.

 

Tired of counting their losses, the Nightmare creatures declare a new king – a monster with no morality, unparalleled cunning, and control over the most dangerous being ever to walk the worlds. Nightmarish creatures of every shape and size swarm Quinlan’s town, driving his magic to the point of exhaustion. By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store and a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s impotence becomes clear.

 

For the first time in generations, the magic of the Crows comes under question. Most wonder if he’ll survive the new king, much less defeat him. Moreover, few doubt Quinlan will be the last Crow since he’s failed to produce an heir. The townsfolk begin to detest Quinlan for all his failures. Ignoring their doubts, but sharing their fears, Quinlan pursues victory with a single-mindedness which could prove to be his downfall, or deliverance. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel (Seriously, ignore this. Linen Torrel is a character from the book. The narrator spends the whole book bashing him. This is just to fill the spot for now, and also because the only comp title I can sort of think of is "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", and I feel like that's pushing it a little too much on my part), KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

All help appreciated and thanks in advance!


My Query Letter: Killing Crow

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#2 Theo A. Gerken

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 01:54 PM

Dear Agent,

 

At his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited magic, a title, and a war. As the creatures of Nightmare became desperate to claim his world, Quinlan found more and more monsters under beds and rampaging the town. Creatures even he dared to hope were legend began to surface--among them, the Piper.

 

As the last Crow, an unhappy betrothal to his best friend suddenly became the least of Quinlan’s problems. He began to fear he’d be the Crow to finally lose his world to Nightmare. Pressured to produce an heir and overwhelmed by the influx of monsters, he was being stretched thin. All the Piper had to do was break him.

 

On your website, you express an interest in Fantasy with prose leaning towards the literary or the weird. Killing Crow (120,000 words) is a High Fantasy which intertwines elements of the supernatural, fairy tale, and romance told from the perspective of a somewhat biased historian.

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

I see what is happening, and it's not quite working at the moment. Writing queries is very, very hard. Especially fantasy. The first sentence is a bombshell, keep that.

 

One simple way is to simple expand upon the first sentence, using the rest of the pagraph to that. Magic, title, war, maybe even in that order? That would be a very clean structure.

 

But working on your current query:

 

Maybe:  As the creatues of Nightmare grew strong and impatient, they began invading xxxx (name of country/region) (examples of things happening, I don't know what happens in the book).

 

Skip the word betrothal, it's so weird. The second paragraph isn't accomplishing much at the moment, not for a reader who hasn't read the book.

 

Keep the first sentence, rewrite the rest.

 

Best of luck to you.

 

Link to my query below:



#3 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:23 PM

After (Makes more sense that it'd be after and not at.) his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited (It's usually suggested to put your query in present tense even if your novel is in past tense.) magic (What kind of magic?), a title (Like a title for him or like a title to a house? What title?), and a war. As the creatures of Nightmare became desperate to claim his world (So, creatures of Nightmare are not from his world? Where are they from?), Quinlan found more and more monsters under beds (Not just his bed, but other beds too?) and rampaging across the town. ("Monsters under the bed" sounds like a kid's themed book. Not sure you want that.) Creatures even he dared to hope were legend began to (Try not to use "began to" because it's telling. Also, what kind of creatures? Describe them.)surface--among them, the Piper. (Who's the Piper?)

 

As the last Crow (It took me a sec to remember this is his last name. Perhaps say: "As the last heir in his family" or something like that), an unhappy betrothal to his best friend suddenly became the least of Quinlan’s problems (Why have a bethrothal if there's monsters? This seems random.). He began to fears he’d be the Crow to finally lose his world to Nightmare. (Why? What's so bad about the nightmares? Tell me.) Pressured to produce an heir and overwhelmed by the influx of monsters, he was being stretched thin. All the Piper had to do was break him. (Seems like he's not concerned about the Piper. I'm not either though because I don't know who the Piper is. But I think this sentence could work better if you did describe him.)

 

On your website, you express an interest in Fantasy with prose leaning towards the literary or the weird. Don't have to say this. They know what's on their site. KILLING CROW (Capital letters for the title.), a fantasy story, is completed with 120,000 words. (No () ever. This is a good format to stick with.) is a High Fantasy which intertwines elements of the supernatural, fairy tale, and romance told from the perspective of a somewhat biased historian.  You do not have to say any of that. That's overkill.

 

Good start to a query. It seems like you have a great plot. My suggestion is to write everything out, even if it seems too much, because it's easier to cut info out than add it in.



#4 kathleenq

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 12:17 PM

I agree pretty much with all of Robin's points above. I don't think there's enough detail in your plot. It sounds very simple, and I don't know if I should be wondering about an unhappy betrothal (why is it unhappy? It's his best friend, yes? So there has to be a reason why this is unwanted) or an all out war against magical creatures. I would choose one conflict to focus on for this query and provide a lot more detail on that. Personally, I think there's higher stakes in losing his kingdom to "Nightmare" and "Piper," whoever those may be.


Query: Glass Domes


#5 anah+theshadowaccomplice

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for all the feedback folks!

 

I agree pretty much with all of Robin's points above. I don't think there's enough detail in your plot. It sounds very simple, and I don't know if I should be wondering about an unhappy betrothal (why is it unhappy? It's his best friend, yes? So there has to be a reason why this is unwanted) or an all out war against magical creatures. I would choose one conflict to focus on for this query and provide a lot more detail on that. Personally, I think there's higher stakes in losing his kingdom to "Nightmare" and "Piper," whoever those may

Thanks. My big problem at the moment is that the plot focuses very equally on Quinlan's betrothal and the war with Nightmare. I'm trying not to sell it short, but I'm also trying not to fall into my usual pitfalls and putting wayyyy too much detail into the query. I think the problem may also be trying to get across that this story doesn't really have subplots as much as it has plot arcs... dunno if that even makes sense... 

 

Anyway, new version posted above. If I can get 1 more keeper sentence out of that one, I'll be two sentences closer to my goal!!


My Query Letter: Killing Crow

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#6 b.katona

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 11:04 AM

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay, always at the cost of their lives. All Quinlan can do is takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation. It’s all any Crow has ever been able to do. All that I cut was honestly pretty epic BUT if you lose these, you might just have the much-desired space for crucial information on the plot.

 

But prospects for Quinlan look gimmer than history promised I think this sentence just doesn't hit as hard as it could. Maybe rephrase it or I think it wouldn't make the whole QL very confusing if you omitted it completely. Desperate to claim our really? if it's OUR world, then you should at least mention how all these fantastic things entered, or how they are related to it, if you mean the MC's by the word "our", then you should just use "the", as by default you're talking about the world in the book world, the Nightmare creatures declare a new king. A monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe—the Piper you could incorporate this whole sentence into the short one preceding it, like The Nightmare creatures bring in the Piper to be their king because her amoral, cunning leadership, paired with her already large army of monsters may be just the thing to upset the status quo with the Crows. Damsels are abducted in unheard of numbers, phouka and hobgoblins run rampant through the streets. The entire food store goes missing, devoured by a plague of invisible rats. These two sentences, while brief, don't feel very organic.

 

Pressure to produce an heir increases as attacks from Nightmare spiral out of control. good information but presented in a somewhat awkward way Quinlan finds himself besieged by monsters and constant reminders it’s time he gets married. Even he can’t help but agree. Truth of the matter is, Quinlan Crow VI is destined to die young. this is out of the blue here.

 

I admire the discipline that just shines through the brevity of this QL. The story itself is more or less understandable from what you've written, which is no small feat. However, I think your greatest asset at the moment is the room for expansion: in the case of a wordcount like yours it's a serious challange to limit one's story or some of its powerful elements into 3 paragraphs and once you've done that, you've done most of the work to be done. At this point you should carefully expand what you're telling the agent and it's gonna be amazing.



#7 beccamae

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 02:02 PM

Hi, this latest draft was very easy for me to read through. It has a lot of energy and I feel like I get a sense of the story. Here's some changes you may want to consider:

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay, always at the cost of their lives. All Quinlan can do is take up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable, with just enough time to produce the next heir. It’s all any Crow has ever been able to do. (I think you introduce the idea that it's a family business so to speak, but I didn't know he was expected to reproduce as well, I thought maybe he would be the last, so introduce this idea.)

 

But prospects for Quinlan look even gimmer than history promised. Desperate to claim our Quinlan's world, the Nightmare creatures declare a new king: a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe the piper . Damsels are abducted in unheard of numbers, phouka and hobgoblins run rampant through the streets and the entire food store goes missing, devoured by a plague of invisible rats.  

 

As attacks from Nightmare spiral out of control, pressure to produce an heir increases. (It sounds more active and putting Nightmare at the beginning connects the plot line you introduced in the above paragrahp) Quinlan finds himself besieged by monsters and constant reminders i It’s time he gets married. Even he can’t help but agree. Truth of the matter is, Quinlan Crow VI is destined to die young. This last sentence feels out of place in this paragraph. Play up what's wrong with getting married? Is he too busy fighting evil? Does he hate the person? Then end with one last, solid hook.

 

On your website, you express an interest in Fantasy with prose leaning towards the literary or the weird. KILLING CROW (120,000 words) is a High Fantasy which intertwines elements of the supernatural, fairy tale, and romance told from the perspective of a somewhat biased historian.



#8 albarchs

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 04:45 PM

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay, always at the cost of their lives. All Quinlan can do is take up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation. It’s all any Crow has ever been able to do. (Not much of a hook for me personally. However, you quickly establish Quinlan's plight and his inevitable fate. This is good and gives the reader/agent a nice flow into the next paragraph.)

 

But prospects for Quinlan look grimmer than history promised. Desperate to claim our his world, the Nightmare creatures declare a new king. A monster with no morality, the cunning of a human (are humans the smartest creatures in this setting? I don't know if the cunning of a human is that powerful. I'd go with a viper or raven, if you want to make a mythological trait comparison), and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe—the Piper (I have no idea what this is.You've already got 2-3 worldbuilding elements in this query. I don't think you need to mention the Piper or I would add a quick line why it's important.) Damsels are abducted in unheard of numbers, phouka and hobgoblins run rampant through the streets. The entire food store(s) go missing, devoured by a plague of invisible rats.  (Why is this sentence important? I understand the implication but you need to give it further context/connect it to the stakes (the kingdom blames Quinlan for the loss of their winter supplies/leads to conspiracy/depose him!). Otherwise, this didn't connect all that well.)

 

Pressure (From whom? His subjects/peers/?) to produce an heir increases as attacks from Nightmare spiral out of control. Quinlan finds himself besieged by monsters and constant reminders it’s time he gets married. Even he can’t help but agree. Truth of the matter is, Quinlan Crow VI is destined to die young. (I like this ending personally. The last line is killer but I have no idea what the stakes are for Quinlan personally. And this is something I personally struggled with when I first started querying. I realize now how critical it is to explicitly lay out a big act 1/25% story choice in the query is. What happens if Quinlan doesn't get married? What happens if he does? I feel like that's the choice and the stakes are implicit (the kingdom will fall without another Crow king if he doesn't or if he does, his bride turns out to be some Nightmare agent/halfbreed he loves but could lead to his ruin politically. I know I'm harping on this but you have to lay it out explicitly in the query. You don't want the agent trying to guess what the choice/stakes are at the end.)

 

On your website, you express an interest in Fantasy with prose leaning towards the literary or the weird. KILLING CROW (120,000 words) is a High Fantasy which intertwines elements of the supernatural, fairy tale, and romance told from the perspective of a somewhat biased historian.

 

Your query without the last paragraph is 201 words. I know most queries are between 200-250 words for a tight format but I think this query needs another 30-40 words to give context/clear stakes to it. In its current form, I see the story/what is at stake. But agents aren't mindreaders-despite human need to assume people's intentions. This is the time to write in big bold letters "HERE'S W CHOICE, IF BOB DOES Y OR X, Z WILL HAPPEN!". This story isn't my cup of tea but it is a good story in the vein of fairy tale retellings.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

 



#9 smithgirl

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 07:55 PM

Dear Agent,

 

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherits a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay, always at the cost of their own lives. All Quinlan can do is take up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation. It’s all any Crow has ever been able to do. This feels a bit defeatist for a hook. It sounds like the MC is just going die for no reason, which doesn't make me want to read more.

 

But prospects for Quinlan look grimmer than history promised. Desperate to claim our world, What is our world? And who is our? The MC is in singular.  the Nightmare creatures declare a new king. A monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe—the Piper. Sentence fragment. Why is he Piper important? Damsels are abducted in unheard of numbers, phouka and hobgoblins run rampant through the streets. The entire food store goes missing, devoured by a plague of invisible rats. This is just a list of events. Your query needs to be about your MC. What is your MC doing?

 

Pressure to produce an heir increases as attacks from Nightmare spiral out of control. What? Quinlan finds himself besieged by monsters and constant reminders it’s time he gets married. Is this important? Even he can’t help but agree. Truth of the matter is, Quinlan Crow VI is destined to die young. We already knew this from the first paragraph. You need to end your query with the stakes.

 

On your website, you express an interest in Fantasy with prose leaning towards the literary or the weird. KILLING CROW (120,000 words) People have probably told you this, but 120K words will cause many agents to reject you just based on word count. It's not fair, but unfortunately that's how it is. You should try to cut 10-20K words if possible. is a High Fantasy which intertwines elements of the supernatural, fairy tale, and romance told from the perspective of a somewhat biased historian.

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

So I'm afraid I'm totally unclear on your story. There's a man named Quinlan who will is involved in some kind of endless war. For some reason he needs to get married, and there are some bad monsters. But what is the story? What does Quinlan want? Your query also has kind of a hopeless feeling because we know right from the start that Quinlan is going to die, and there doesn't even seem to be a good reason for it.

 

​You need to go back and clarify the plot of your story, what the MC is trying to do, who he is. And give us some hope.

 

I know this is hard. Good luck!



#10 anah+theshadowaccomplice

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Posted 19 October 2017 - 08:35 PM

So I'm afraid I'm totally unclear on your story. There's a man named Quinlan who will is involved in some kind of endless war. For some reason he needs to get married, and there are some bad monsters. But what is the story? What does Quinlan want? Your query also has kind of a hopeless feeling because we know right from the start that Quinlan is going to die, and there doesn't even seem to be a good reason for it.

 

​You need to go back and clarify the plot of your story, what the MC is trying to do, who he is. And give us some hope.

 

I know this is hard. Good luck!

 

Valid points. It's not hard, so much as frustrating at this point? I'm trying to explain three fairly distinct plot arcs in a query (I know, that form of story telling is dead) but first an infestation of hobgoblins start killing all the dogs in town, and they run out of milk; then when that's dealt with, the rats eat all the food stores (and some people) and convince the neighboring towns to close their borders so they can't get supplies; then when they solve that, the Mahr king has the Piper wake the generals (the dragons) and fledge an all out attack. The entire point of all this being to kill Quinlan's magic, not even him himself (though he doesn't learn that till the end). Quinlan's marital obligations run through all three acts, and I just don't know how to get the structure of the story across in any short amount of time. This is where I'm epically, unmovably  stuck on this query :( 

 

I've never tried to write a query for a story like this. Anyone have any thoughts? 

 

Also, I have been told that I'll get rejected for 120K, as you say, but that's where it is right now. I do it for me, and I suppose I'd rather take my chances on someone patient and passionate enough about the project to give me a chance, even if they tell me to edit it down further (it started at 170K) than someone who won't even look at it just for that reason.... I could just be blissfully naive/hopeful :)


My Query Letter: Killing Crow

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#11 bookgirl_kt

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 04:41 PM

Here are my thoughts:

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Nice opening. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle (what is his title? Here would be a good place to mention it) to delay the inevitable one more generation.

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, (why is that a problem? Are his people dying out for some reason?) the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world. If his enemies are desperate, why is HE the one who's dismal? Perhaps there's a way to rephrase this. Hoping to leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe. His attacks are organized and devastating, driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and cutting the town off from all outside help. I still have a vague picture of what the enemy is and what an attack from them would look like.

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, (good! Glad to get an example of a specific attack!) as well as a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s relative impotence becomes clear. But why is he having such a tough time? From your second paragraph, you made it sound like his dad had driven the Nightmares into a corner. Did Quinlan fail to inherit his dad's power? That could be interesting. For the first time in generations, the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan for all his failures--none so much as Quinlan himself. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can keep nightmares truly at bay, and Quinlan suspects he could be the last. Strong ending line.

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, If your book is fiction, I think you need an author in the same genre as a comp title. KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Your premise and your strong writing shows promise. Hope I've helped! My query letter is here.



#12 smithgirl

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 09:15 PM

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherits a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation.

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he marry and produce an heir ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world. Weren't they trying to take his world before? That's what generations were fighting for? Or are they just more motivated (desperate) than before? Hoping to win once and for all, leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe. The new king's His attacks are organized and devastating, driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and cutting the town off from all outside help.

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, as well as a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s relative impotence becomes clear. For the first time in generations, the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan If Quinlan hasn't been alive for generations, this doesn't make sense. Maybe say for the firs time the townspeople doubt a Crow? for all his failures--none so much as Quinlan himself. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can keep the Nightmares truly at bay, and Quinlan suspects he could be the last.

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. I think it sounds a bit unprofessional to write that other portrayals were less good than yours. Maybe just say yours is more detailed or something...?

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

I think this is better than the previous version. I have a better idea of the story.

 

I think you can cut the part about producing an heir, since it doesn't seem essential to the rest of the query. Use the extra words it buys you to add a bit more detail to the part that is important: the war, why Quinlin is doing so badly -- who is he? Your query is very short right now, so you could flesh it out a bit more.

 

I feel your pain about the length issue. I also have a long book -- I got it down to 110K, but that's still higher than ideal. And of course how do you convey the complexity of your story in 250 words? You can't. I just had an agent reject my query and write that the story sounded too simple for 110K words, but I have to make it simple or the query will be confusing and/or too long. I'm torn on the ideal query length. I've seen a lot of successful queries that were closer to 300 words. Since that comment, I've thought it might be better to go with a somewhat longer version of my query -- a 300-word version got a request and the 220-word version got the simple comment.

 

​Not sure any of this helps. Good luck.

 

 



#13 albarchs

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 11:37 AM

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation. (Nice. This is simple and clean.)

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world. Hoping to leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe. (I feel like this Nightmare King's control over a creature stronger than him will bite him in the butt. This is a good cleanup of the Piper bit.) His attacks are organized and devastating, driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and cutting the town off from all outside help. (This is interesting. Is the town/kingdom at the forefront of the Nightmare's invasion? It sounds like there are other kingdoms who could help but can't.)

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, as well as a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s relative impotence(I'd use incompetence but I like the connection to his duty to produce an heir, so I'd keep it) becomes clear. For the first time in generations, the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan for all his failures--none so much as Quinlan himself. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can keep nightmares truly at bay, and Quinlan suspects he could be the last. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

I feel this is the structure/query you should go with. You've got a good grasp of the character, what's at stakes, and you've made an interesting comparison/angle you don't see too often in these kind of fairy tale retellings/inspired stories. On the issue of word count, 120k is on the hard side for debut fantasy novels. There are many stories in recent years that have been bought at a 120k. However, there are varying opinions on length as well. General consensus is 100k-115k for the sweet spot for first time fantasy. Something to also consider is the structure/formatting of a book. Editors and publishers use simple tricks like changing the size and font to save space. Honestly, I doubt your novel is longer than 400 pages at 120k properly formatted. That tends to be the average for new fantasy novels.

 

The other factor to consider is commercial viability/ the can I sell it rule. KILLING CROW is not out there. It has a young king, a romance plot, a vaguely medieval sounding setting, and what you call a genre story. The rest is getting the query in the best shape as possible. But this story is not out there or too different from what sells/is on the barnes and nobles fantasy section.



#14 smoskale

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Posted 23 October 2017 - 05:19 PM

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generationI feel this is clunky and redundant with "generation" in the line below. What about just dropping that last piece, or replacing it with something like "for as long as he lives?" 

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world. Hoping to leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality "a monster with no morals" sounds a little better, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe. His attacks are organized and devastating, driving Quinlan to the brink of  this qualifier is unnecessary exhaustion and cutting the town off from all outside help.

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, this comma is confusing; I would cut it as well as a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s relative again, the qualifier stumbles me: relative to what--his father, other ancestors, some objective measure? better to drop impotence becomes clear. For the first time in generations another mention of generations that's three for three paragraphs, and besides--did the townsfolk of past generations have a chance to doubt Quinlan? I guess not. Perhaps drop the beginning of this sentence and start here: the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan for all his failures--none so much as Quinlan himself. This reinforces my suggestion for the last sentence: you don't need to refer to history there, because you do it here. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can keep nightmares truly do you need this qualifier? at bay, and Quinlan suspects he could be the last. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

Hope this helps. Here is my query: http://agentquerycon...orical-fantasy/



#15 b.katona

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 09:22 AM

It def reads a lot smoother now and I could get the whole picture from the QL, so great job. I think you retained a large amount of your style, even after cutting down a lot of excess meat. As I said last time: feel free to make the query just a little longer than it is now, after all, you have a very long novel, so it shouldn't really put off your target agents to see that your letter is longer than 2 tweets...

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation.

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world This phrasing kind of implies that the nightmares have been reluctant to win and I'm sure there's some sort of a motivational shift in their ranks but I don't think it's a very good way of expressing it. you might just want to go ahead and introduce the idea that so far they've been losing their battles but they came up with a plan that will completely change the landscape of this war. Hoping to leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human the word "monster" could be a human and I remember from before that it's an actual monster but this feels weird this way. you should either add mythical before the word monster and/or you should remove/replace the word human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe this sounds vague and not useful at all. it's not unclear what you mean here but I think you could have much more out of "in this world". or you might reconsider briefly reintroducing this nightmarish creature. His attacks are organized and devastating either elaborate (you have space for that) or reword in a fashion similar to this: "He attacks Quinlan and overpowers him with his organized and stronger army" (obviously you should do it with style, don't actually use this phrasing), driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and cutting the town off from all outside help. I think you could explain it by saying they have the town under siege and surrounded or something like that. it could serve as a good culmination in their conflict

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, as well as a number of its citizens this here is not very organic. either think of a way to introduce the rats, since they seem to be very important to you, or just do away with them (maybe note this issue like "Adding to Quinlan's long list of problems, the town's overrun by so and so), Quinlan’s relative impotence it's not very clear for me what you mean by this becomes clear. For the first time in generations, the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan for all his failures this is really great. I'd only change that they don't detest Quinlan for the first time in generations, as that suggests he's been the ruler for all those generations. you could put it like "Quinlan is the first Crow in generations, who the townsfolk have lost their trust in" (again, it's awkward wording but I'm sure you get the idea)--none so much as Quinlan himself is this adding any information? I'm not completely sure what you mean by it but it doesn't seem to be important. you could probably cut it.. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can could (?) keep nightmares truly at bay,. and Quinlan suspects he could be the last I get what you're trying to say here but you could probably find a more powerful way of expressing the same idea. "Quinlan is fighting an uphill battle. The nightmares' new offensive is overwhelming and he needs to find some sort of a mcguffin to upset the odds" (again, just the idea, quotation marks are used liberally)

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

I don't think you're missing stakes. It's clearly impossible to have higher ones: everyone's life seems to be in danger. What you might want to consider is somehow bringing in the thing that will help them win, or at least something that gives them a chance at winning or some kind of way of action they can take. Your stakes fall flat because they simply appear as an inevitable tragic end. You have to show that the protagonist has some kind of agency in this story and isn't just the weakling that brings upon himself the end of his bloodline by failing at literally every task he's put to--even if he actually loses on every front in the story.

I'm convinced you're on the right track and it shows that you know what you're doing. I'm positive you will get there pretty soon. Just be confident because the way you write has some very unique gravitas and you should build on that.



#16 lnloft

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 11:36 AM

UPDATED: 10/20

Updated versions will always be in the top post. 

 

Okay.... attempt number (I've lost count). I hope I got a little more of the stakes in here this time, because that's always the hardest part for me :)

All help appreciated and thanks in advance!

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited a title, magic, and a war It's a small thing, but it might sound a little better if all three things he inherits match stylistically, as in it's "A title" and "A war" but just "magic". Might sound a little better as something like "a magical ability". Again, it's not a huge thing, and if you can't find a way to tweak it that works, don't sweat it too much. Generations of Crows have kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to delay the inevitable one more generation.

 

But his prospects look dismal at best. Not only must he ensure there is another generation to take the fight should he fail, the Nightmare creatures have become desperate to claim his world. Hoping to leave no survivors, they declare a new king – a monster with no morality, the cunning of a human, and control over the most dangerous being ever to breathe Kinda the same thing as above, where the middle item of the list is now the only one with "the". Small nitpick about style, and when that's what I'm focusing on, we're doing pretty good. His attacks are organized and devastating, driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and cutting the town Here's where my first little bit of confusion comes in. I'm a little confused about setting. Above it was world, but from here on it's town. It just leaves me a little confused about the scale of what we're dealing with off from all outside help.

 

By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, as well as a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s relative impotence becomes clear. For the first time in generations, the townsfolk begin to doubt and detest Quinlan for all his failures Is Quinlan generations old? Because that's what it sounds like. Or do you just mean that a Crow is being hated for the first time in generations?--none so much as Quinlan himself. For years, the Crows have been the only ones who can keep nightmares truly at bay, and Quinlan suspects he could be the last. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel, I have absolutely zero clue what this phrase here means KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

Jay Lee

 

(Just for kicks, I included the very first Title line, since the old one was very specific to a couple agents. I know it's horrible, but the very original draft was actually written in the voice of the book's narrator)

I think this is looking pretty good. Most of my stuff is just small nitpicks. Maybe also a little clarity on why only Crows can defend the people (magical powers, I'm assuming, but a little more on it couldn't help). Similarly, what exactly happens if Quinlan fails? Everyone dies? Everyone trapped forever in a nightmarish world that they cannot escape or wake from? Knowing that might give us an even better grasp of the stakes.

 

But I think you're almost there. It sounds like a cool story, we have enough grasp of who Quinlan is.

 

Good luck!


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#17 NGrzesik

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 07:52 PM

UPDATED: 10/25

Updated versions will always be in the top post. 

 

Now I'm certain I've taken a step backwards, so all feedback is greatly appreciated :)

All help appreciated and thanks in advance!

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited magic, a title, and a war. I like this. For centuries, his family has kept the creatures of Nightmare I'm a little confused as to the difference between "Nightmare" and the "Mahr". Might just be me, but some context would be helpful at bay at the cost of their lives. Quinlan takes up the mantle to fight the Mahr and delay the inevitable for one more generation. 

 

Tired of counting their losses, the Mahr declare a new king – a monster with no morality, unparalleled cunningness, and control over the most dangerous being ever to walk the worlds What is this extremely dangerous being? Is this "being" referring to the Mahr?. Under his command, the Mahr succeed in driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion "Exhaustion" doesn't seem like the right word here. Maybe death?. By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, and a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s impotence becomes clear. ​This plague of invisible rats came out of nowhere. First we were talking about this race called the Mahr, the Mahr appointing a new king, and then the Mahr driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion and these invisible rats suddenly show up. It feels like we jumped from Point A to Point C. 

 

For the first time in generations, the magic of the Crows comes under question Is this another race of beings? Context needed. The only way for the Mahr to claim their world is by destroying the last Crow, and few doubt Quinlan will be the end of his line since he has no heir Is Quinlain a part of these Crows? If so, this should be stated early on. The townsfolk begin to detest Perhaps "doubt" would be a better word, or "lose faith" Quinlan for all his failures. Subject to the same fears, Quinlan accepts the bitter truth. A colon should be placed here He can’t claim victory over the Mahr, he just needs to outlast their king. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel (Seriously, ignore this. Linen Torrel is a character from the book. The narrator spends the whole book bashing him. This is just to fill the spot for now, and also because the only comp title I can sort of think of is "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", and I feel like that's pushing it a little too much on my part), KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

Interesting concept, you just need to provide a little context for some of these plot points. Good luck querying!


If you found my suggestions to be helpful, I'd appreciate if you took a look at my query for Ruptured Sky. Thanks. 


#18 jaustail

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 05:18 AM

JMO:

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited magic(what magic? give an idea? can he teleport, summon rainfall?), a title, and a war. For centuries, his family has kept the creatures of Nightmare(why capital N? is nigthmare a neighborhood province?) at bay at the cost of their lives(the lives of family members? wouldnt other creatures attack then once all the family members die? i guess it's the lives of the creatures. remove 'cost of'. cost makes me think i should feel bad that the creatures died.). Quinlan takes up the mantle to fight the Mahr and delay the inevitable(why does he think being defeated by nightmare creatures is inevitable?) one more generation.

 

Tired of counting their losses, the Mahr declare a new king – a monster with no morality, unparalleled cunning, and control over the most dangerous being ever to walk the worlds(this is telling. where did this king suddenly come from?). Under his command, the Mahr succeed in driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion. By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, and a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s impotence becomes clear(why does he not use his magic?).

 

For the first time in generations, the magic of the Crows comes under question. The only way for the Mahr to claim their world is by destroying the last Crow, and few doubt Quinlan will be the end of his line since he has no heir. The townsfolk begin to detest Quinlan for all his failures. Subject to the same fears, Quinlan accepts the bitter truth. He can’t claim victory over the Mahr, he just needs to outlast their king. (how will he do that?)

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel (Seriously, ignore this. Linen Torrel is a character from the book. The narrator spends the whole book bashing him. This is just to fill the spot for now, and also because the only comp title I can sort of think of is "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", and I feel like that's pushing it a little too much on my part), KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

I think you need to simplify this.



#19 BadgerFox

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 07:37 AM

UPDATED: 10/25

Updated versions will always be in the top post. 

 

Now I'm certain I've taken a step backwards, so all feedback is greatly appreciated :)

All help appreciated and thanks in advance!

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan Crow VI inherited magic, a title, and a war.[this is not a bad hook :)] For centuries, his family has kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay at the cost of their lives [is this sentence entirely grammatical? It sounds slightly contorted. The phrase 'cost him his life' doesn't seem to quite fit as part of this grammatical construction. It sounds like it was intended to be a slightly different phrase at first, like 'at great cost to themselves' or such. It also immediately raises a point of confusion: how are Quinlan's family members all dying off yet simultaneously reproducing in a neat family lineage. Do they all die young?] . Quinlan takes up the mantle to fight the Mahr and delay the inevitable one more generation.

 

Tired of counting their losses, the Mahr declare a new king – a monster with no morality, unparalleled cunning, and control over the most dangerous being ever to walk the worlds. Under his command, the Mahr succeed in driving Quinlan to the brink of exhaustion. By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store, and a number of its citizens, Quinlan’s impotence becomes clear.

 

For the first time in generations, the magic of the Crows comes under question. The only way for the Mahr to claim their world is by destroying the last Crow, and few doubt Quinlan will be the end of his line since he has no heir. The townsfolk begin to detest Quinlan for all his failures. Subject to the same fears, Quinlan accepts the bitter truth. He can’t claim victory over the Mahr, he just needs to outlast their king.[Wow. This all sounds pretty hopeless. There will be no happy ending for Quinlan, it seems.]

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel (Seriously, ignore this. Linen Torrel is a character from the book. The narrator spends the whole book bashing him. This is just to fill the spot for now, and also because the only comp title I can sort of think of is "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", and I feel like that's pushing it a little too much on my part)[Erm. Not sure I fully understand this part, but I can ignore it if that's best.], KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

 

I think overall the information is very well-selected and clear, the central conflict feels solid and with stakes a reader really should care about. It has a very bleak, gothic feel (honestly, if you're looking for comparisons, Mervyn Peake's 'Gormenghast' almost seems one of your nearest tonal relatives. Though that had a lot of absurdist black humour in it too, mind you). Which is absolutely fine, really, we all love a good atmospheric dark fantasy :) This query has a lot going for it and barring some language nitpicks, it should be fairly close to ready. I hope this goes well for you!

 

Link to my 250-word novel opening in my signature, if you’re willing to take a quick look – trying to get some feedback to sharpen it up! 


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#20 smoskale

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 09:41 PM

UPDATED: 11/1

Updated versions will always be in the top post. 

 

Heeeeellllpppp!!! I'm digging myself a pit, I tell you, a pit! Since referring to the Nightmare Creatures by their proper title (Mahr) seemed to just cause confusion, I'm back to dancing around their non-technical title. It's very difficult to get across that these are fae, in simplest terms, without muddling stuff.... Is this version less confusing? 

 

I know how you feel. But looking at this version, I have to say, you have made immense progress. It is so much cleaner and clearer! Have faith. It's all in a day's work. Or a month's...

 

Dear Agent,

 

After his father’s death, Quinlan inherited magic, a title and a war. The magic of his family has kept the creatures of Nightmare at bay for centuries, and the mantle falls to Quinlan to stave off defeat one more generation. Yesss! So, so much better than before!

 

Tired of counting their losses, the Nightmare creatures declare a new king – a cunning monster with no morality, unparalleled cunning, and control over the most dangerous being ever to walk the worlds. First time suspension of disbelief fails: do these creatures all WALK? Nightmarish creatures of every shape and size swarm Quinlan’s town, driving his magic to the point of exhaustion.Second time suspension of disbelief fails: can magic be driven to the point of exhaustion? By the time a plague of invisible rats devours the town’s grain store and a number of its citizens does it refer to the town or to the grain store? I know you mean town, but it is confusing here, Quinlan’s impotence becomes clear.

 

For the first time in generations, the magic of the Crows comes under question under scrutiny or into question. Most wonder if he’ll who's he? survive the new king I thought Quiinlan was the new king, but this is someone to be defeated? confused!, much less defeat him. Moreover, few doubt Quinlan will be the last Crow: since he’s failed to produce an heir. The townsfolk begin to detest Quinlan for all his failures. Ignoring their doubts, but sharing their fears, Quinlan nonetheless pursues victory with a single-mindedness which could prove to be his downfall, or deliverance. 

 

A far more passionate and realistic portrayal than previous essays published by such historians as Linen Torrel (Seriously, ignore this. Linen Torrel is a character from the book. The narrator spends the whole book bashing him. This is just to fill the spot for now, and also because the only comp title I can sort of think of is "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", and I feel like that's pushing it a little too much on my part), KILLING CROW (120,000 words) intertwines elements of the supernatural and fairytale. 

 

Thank you very much for your consideration,

 

All help appreciated and thanks in advance!

 

In general, I feel the last paragraph needs most help. It is not clear what Quinlan's choice is. What are the stakes? Ok, nobody believes in him, but that's hardly a reason to want to read about him. Why should the readers care about this guy's plight? What terrible thing would happen if he does (whatever difficult thing)? What worse thing would happen if he does (another difficult thing)? As of now, it reads as though this guy is a colossal failure, everyone feels he is, and this new challenge is pretty much sure as hell to break him, and yet he plows through anyway. So he is weak, and also dumb? Don't be insulted, I'm just trying to show why the last paragraph does not work. A failure can be interesting, it can be sympathetic, it can be endearing. But he is none of those. Make us care! You can do it! Good luck!

 

 






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