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INTO THE INFERNO (YA Urban Fantasy) - Will critique back!


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#61 Denisa

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 06:24 AM

Thanks again for all the terrific feedback! You were definitely right about the last paragraph being too complex. I tweaked it below. Is it simpler now? 

 

Thanks!

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. I love this first para. It tells us who your MC is, what he wants, what he does to get it, what goes wrong. and all of this in a super funny and cool voice.  I do however agree with some of the suggestions above.  You can try merging the two last sentences.

 

Unfortunately,  instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom, the demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. 

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that the teen is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice  to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging. Not to mention his crush will be for ever doomed. just saying :)

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, his demon-hunting mission loses its shine. Paul must choose between battling his own kind to save a city that rejected him, or joining a world that wants to devour his humanity. This last para needs more work. Mostly It's the last sentence that throws me off.  The stakes seem to come out of the left field. 

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

This is a very good query. You just need to figure out the last para. Give us a bit more info to clarify the stakes. 

 

Here's the link to my query: http://agentquerycon...ess-ya-fantasy/

 

  I would love to hear your opinion on it.



#62 lnloft

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:35 PM

Thanks again for all the terrific feedback! You were definitely right about the last paragraph being too complex. I tweaked it below. Is it simpler now? 

 

Thanks!

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Ugh, I hate hate HATE exclamation points in prose. Save them for dialogue and onomatopoeia, and even then use sparingly. The book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" describes it well as feeling like a laugh track. Or it just feels childish, like there should be a little "Yippee!" to go with it. Sorry to really pile on, but I feel very strongly on this topic. Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. Overall, other than my punctuation diatribe, this isn't too bad. Except that I feel it's too much of a turn around of "he succeeds at conjuring a social, actually, that he didn't succeed at". Because then I was expecting the demon to be his social life. Like it's his new pal, or it goes around threatening people to be his friend. Something like that. So I was a little thrown. You can definitely still take the concept you're going for, just maybe rephrase it differently, like, "Well, he would have, if he hadn't conjured a demon instead." Something that still plays up that, "Just kidding, it's actually a demon," without making me think the demon really is his success. Oh, but I do like the "Oops" at the end.

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that the teen is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. I don't know why, but this changeling thing felt a little abrupt to me. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice  to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings. This latter sentence feels too much like it's from Alice's POV.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, his demon-hunting mission loses its shine. Paul must choose between battling his own kind to save a city that rejected him, or joining a world that wants to devour his humanity. Hmm, but why can't he stop the demon and then hang out in the underworld? Why are these things apparently mutually exclusive?

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Okay, despite the fact that I wrote more words about your hook than there are words in your hook, it has good voice. But you don't manage to maintain that same voice throughout. See if you can infuse a little more into the rest. You're still on solid ground, though. Enough that I'm being dead serious when I say that if I could only have you change one thing about this, it would be to get rid of that damn exclamation point. Good luck.


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


#63 Tree

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 10:10 AM

I absolutely love this. So good. I do have a couple of thoughts below. 

 

Thanks again for all the terrific feedback! You were definitely right about the last paragraph being too complex. I tweaked it below. Is it simpler now? 

 

Thanks!

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! I'm not much of an exclamation mark person ... Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.  I love  the idea of the oops. Might be a little flippant about a girl getting kidnapped. Maybe a different word? Obviously you can't use 'fuck'. 'Hell' would make it sound like you were trying to explain what the underworld is. Crap? is that also too flippant? Damn it? Is that two swear-y for a query? 

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that the teen is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder should this be capitalized since Underworld was?  raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice  to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.  Love, don't change a word!

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging. Also love. Also don't change a word. Great voice coming through.

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. It's a little cliche. Still reads well but if you wanted to change it into something more specific it might be more interesting But when Paul discovers he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, his demon-hunting mission loses its shine. Paul must choose between battling his own kind to save a city that rejected him, or joining a world that wants to devour his humanity. back to love, don't change a word.

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#64 Quillaby

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 12:59 AM

Hi there!

 

Thought you could use another set of eyes on this :).

 

Thanks again for all the terrific feedback! You were definitely right about the last paragraph being too complex. I tweaked it below. Is it simpler now? 

 

Thanks!

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life (love this), he actually succeeds! (I'm on Team No Exclamation Mark). Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that who, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom (love this, too). The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush (why?) before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.

 

I feel like this could be punchier. Rough suggestion:

 

Sixteen-year-old amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life. Instead, he summons a demon. One with no intention of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. Set on conquering San Francisco, the demon steals the ankh and disappears into the Underworld.

 

A demon-hunting society (does it have a name? Specifics are good) arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that the teen Paul is a changeling* — a magically-inclined (it's not clear what you mean here. Do you just mean magical? Magic-wielding? Magic adjacent??) underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter (you'll need to clarify what "babysitter" means in this context. Is Alice a bodyguard? An underworld parole officer? Because at the moment, you're lacking connective tissue between Paul being arrested and being assigned a "babysitter"). She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment (why?), or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings (why?).

 

*Changelings are an established being in the fantasy genre. Is Paul a changeling changeling? Or is this just a term you've chosen for him? If it's the latter, I would suggest changing the term. Otherwise it's confusing. Especially since we don't actually have a sense of what Paul is/can do.

 

The society (again: would really love a name for this) gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society will turns his head into a wall hanging (but I thought the society was non-violent towards changelings?)

 

 

 Why would this society care about Paul rescuing his crush? I know, you're probably referring specifically to retrieving the ankh, not the crush, but the sentences flow into this suggestion. If they do care about the rescue of his crush (and for a very important reason), you need to tell us why. If they don't, then I would actually cut any mention of the crush from this query. It's stronger without it. 

 

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides (danger doesn't stride. This is odd imagery) through the ashen (this adjective generally means "of ash". I think you're going for ash-covered?) streets. But when Paul discovers he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, his demon-hunting mission loses its shine. Paul must choose between battling his own kind to save a city that rejected him, or joining a world that wants to devour his humanity.

 

This last paragraph is confusing. You've got some great voice and genuine charm in the first two paragraphs, but I think you lose it by trying too hard here.

 

*demon-hunting mission loses its shineThis suggests he's having fun? Nothing you've said before that suggests this. Do you mean to say his commitment to the mission wavers? Because "loses its shine" doesn't mean that.

*It's not clear who his own kind is. I assume you mean the underworlders

 

I feel like you're forcing a choice with the last line. It doesn't gel with everything that's come prior. You established Paul's motivation for chasing after the ankh is to save his own skin, so it's jarring when you suddenly throw in a large-scale goal like saving a city.

 

The whole line about "a city that rejected him" suggests he would let a city die because he's the school outcast. It's not a flattering characterization.

 

"Joining a world that wants to devour his humanity" is vague. If you get specific about this, you might uncover the true conflict of your novel. Is Paul good at what he's doing? Making friends in the underworld? Is the conflict more along the lines of "does Paul even want to go back to the city he's trying to save?"

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. (that's awesome but irrelevant) One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#65 RegE

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 01:17 AM

Thanks again for all the terrific feedback! You were definitely right about the last paragraph being too complex. I tweaked it below. Is it simpler now? 

 

Thanks!

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur dabbler in the occult occultist Paul “borrows” < is this to imply he steals it? an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! If success means conjuring a demon! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. I like a get the jokey tone already without the kinda silly "oops"

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that the teen is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. Seems a bit out of the blue! I guess this is because he was able to summon the demon? And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice  to be Paul’s babysitter < here i'm woondering if she is literaly a babysitter. Why is this 'fierce' girl suitable for watching over a changeling? How is she qualified? . She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings < hmmm how we're in Alice's head. That doesn't work when the query is from Paul's perspective. .

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, his demon-hunting mission loses its shine.  <TMI Paul must

 

choose between battling his own kind to save a city that rejected him, or joining a world that wants to devour his humanity.

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Yeah. I like the jokey tone of your query and guess that this carries through the manuscript?? You need to make this query more concise, and cut out the unnecessary details which clutter it. I hope my red and blue comments help! 



#66 TheBest

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Posted 01 June 2018 - 06:20 PM

Thanks so much for the great feedback! You all are awesome.

 

I'm getting ready to send this to an editor IRL, and want to make sure it's ready. I've fixed some of the wording in the first chunk, and rewritten the last paragraph for clearer stakes. Is it too much? Do you all think it's better? Ready?

 

Thanks!
 

As always, critique me and I'll critique you!

 

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.


Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. While Alice sees only goth barbarians and lame leather suits, Paul embraces his underworld roots, putting him on thin ice with the society. Paul must find a way to kill an unkillable demon and save both worlds, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed.

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Writer], best-selling author of [NOVEL].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#67 cmmg

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 03:03 PM

Thanks so much for the great feedback! You all are awesome.

 

I'm getting ready to send this to an editor IRL, and want to make sure it's ready. I've fixed some of the wording in the first chunk, and rewritten the last paragraph for clearer stakes. Is it too much? Do you all think it's better? Ready?

 

Thanks!
 

As always, critique me and I'll critique you!

 

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. (I think a connecting word like "And" or "it turns out," would work to connect these two sentences because I feel it's a little disconnected) The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung(this feels like telling since we've already been introduced to Paul) Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society will turns (they haven't done it yet) his head into a wall hanging.


Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. While Alice sees only goth barbarians and lame leather suits, Paul embraces his underworld roots, putting him on thin ice with the society. Paul must find a way to kill an unkillable demon and save both worlds, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed. (I feel like you're old last paragraph was more focused, though it had that one obvious issue. This feels like it pulls in two directions. The first being the Society not liking Paul, but then the second being him having to kill the demon. I think just choosing one would help)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Writer], best-selling author of [NOVEL].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

I think you still start off good minus some wording stuff, but at the end it's actually pretty confusing what the stakes are. Is it Paul having to face the Society but for acting correctly? Or the demon that's unkillable? And is this the same demon he unleashed trying to kill San Francisco? I think focusing on the demon and ignoring the aspect of her personality would make it clearer. I'm not saying it would be better but that's clearer. If you can't introduce the internal conflict, stick with the external, because right not, it just seeks like ti's pulling in two different directions.

 

Why does it matter that Alice thinks their lame? Why does Paul embrace his roots? If you're committing to his direction, it needs to be fleshed out why.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#68 TheBest

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Posted 02 June 2018 - 11:58 PM

I definitely agree with you all that the last paragraph is the issue. I've rewritten it, and have two versions below, in bold. You all like Option A or Option B better, if at all?

 

Thanks! As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.


A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 
(OPTION A: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed.)
 
Or
 
(OPTION B: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must choose between abandoning his underworld roots for the rescue mission, or abandoning San Francisco to finally belong.)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#69 Denisa

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Posted 03 June 2018 - 11:41 AM

I definitely agree with you all that the last paragraph is the issue. I've rewritten it, and have two versions below, in bold. You all like Option A or Option B better, if at all?

 

Thanks! As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. Great opening para. But I would still pair this down:

Well he succeeds in summoning a demon. Instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom, the demon steals the ankh, plans on conquering San Francisco, kidnaps Paul’s crush, and disappears into the Underworld. oops. 

it's up to you. I like it the way it is, but I think it could be a bit stronger if you pair down.


A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 
(OPTION A: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question not sure about this part here. maybe look at him with suspicion?. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders I love this! . Fingers crossed.) Definitely this one! 
 
Or
 
(OPTION B: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must choose between abandoning his underworld roots for the rescue mission, or abandoning San Francisco to finally belong.)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#70 AsperBlurry

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Posted 04 June 2018 - 08:52 AM

Thank you, TheBest, for feedback on my query, I'm returning the favor :)

I definitely agree with you all that the last paragraph is the issue. I've rewritten it, and have two versions below, in bold. You all like Option A or Option B better, if at all?

 

Thanks! As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. Great hook, and love your style especially this: plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom :D


A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 
(OPTION A: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed. so cool! and definitely this one)
 
I really like your query, it's funny and engaging. I haven't read the previous versions, but I think this last para in option A is great. I'd like to help more, but I like it too much to change anything :D 
 
Or
 
(OPTION B: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must choose between abandoning his underworld roots for the rescue mission, or abandoning San Francisco to finally belong.)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#71 punitrastogi

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 03:56 AM

Not a lot has changed since I first critiqued your query.

 

I like the voice and the plot, but yet to find the USP of your story.

I definitely agree with you all that the last paragraph is the issue. I've rewritten it, and have two versions below, in bold. You all like Option A or Option B better, if at all?

 

Thanks! As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old overachiever and amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds at least in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.


A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives high-strung Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 
(OPTION A: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed.)
 
Or
 
(OPTION B: Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s finally popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must choose between abandoning his underworld roots for the rescue mission, or abandoning San Francisco to finally belong.)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 80,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, by Lance Rubin. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on political science and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is [Author], best-selling author of [Novel].

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

I am not sure if I feel the urgency or the stakes in either of the endings.

So, I would suggest that you work on highlighting that.

I underlined the adjectives you have used for Paul, which seem too many to me, without actually specifying that he (a) was not appreciated by people around him, and (b) was too full of himself despite being unappreciated and unpopular.

 

The fact that his popularity in the underworld makes him loose his grip on his goals, comes as a surprise.

This aspect of his character was not displayed previously.

I dont know if you wanted to show the same by saying he is "overachiever" and/or "high-strung'.

Both of these are vague and do not tell me anything concrete about him.

 

Having said that, detailing a character in a query is not that important.

But if your stakes/choice hinge on your protagonist's personality, I guess you would need to build that before you push him to the edge.

 

Hope it helps. :)

 

A new version of my query is up, if you would want to take a look.



#72 TheBest

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 12:31 PM

Hi you all! I reworked the query, cutting the fluff, and making it less wordy. Does Paul's character still shine through? Is it unique enough? Ready to be sent out?

 

I don't go back to querying until the fall, but I'm trying to get the letter ready for conferences in early August. Would love your opinion.

 

As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops.

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed.

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 83,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, by Lish McBride. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on economics and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is Author, best-selling author of NOVEL.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#73 jpfranco

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 10:29 PM

Hi you all! I reworked the query, cutting the fluff, and making it less wordy. Does Paul's character still shine through? Is it unique enough? Ready to be sent out?

 

I don't go back to querying until the fall, but I'm trying to get the letter ready for conferences in early August. Would love your opinion.

 

As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Don't use exlamation marks. They make your query seem childish.  Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. A demon that, unfortunately,plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. Your query should not sound like a conversation. The 'oops' and the 'well, he suceeds...' need to go. I get that it's YA, but you are querying adults. 

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings.

 

The society gives Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. I wonder why the society would send him. They seem to be in control of their world, so why take a chance on this guy who until just now had no idea of his powers? Why would they trust him? He's already made a huge mistake by summoning a demon. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging.

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. How does the society find out he's popular? Did they know before they sent him? They knew he was a changeling before he did. If they knew, why did they send him? They've called his loyaly into question, but what does that matter, when they've already told him he must succeed or die?  Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. The society already threatened him with taking his head. Fingers crossed.

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 83,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, by Lish McBride. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on economics and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is Author, best-selling author of NOVEL.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,
 

I wonder if you can't give us a little more about Alice. Right now, you could leave her out entirely, but I sense that she is a big part of the story. I'm wondering if part of the stakes is a draw that Paul feels to the underworld, but there's only the barest of hints at that. If that's part of the stakes, play it up. It says he's got to save both worlds, but is the underworld not hell? That's what I think most people would think of, and why worry about saving hell? 

This is something I probably would have read as a young adult. Keep at it. Good luck! 



#74 kailam

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 03:33 AM

This is looking really tight. Nice work! The one question I had was from reading the line "A demon-hunting society". I wasn't immediately sure if this meant society in general or an organisation. I wonder whether perhaps a name would help?



#75 Caligulas

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 06:23 PM

Hi you all! I reworked the query, cutting the fluff, and making it less wordy. Does Paul's character still shine through? Is it unique enough? Ready to be sent out?

 

I don't go back to querying until the fall, but I'm trying to get the letter ready for conferences in early August. Would love your opinion.

 

As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old amateur occultist Paul (No last name?) “borrows” an enchanted ankh (I don't know what this is. If it's something more people than me know, no biggie, if maybe agents might also not know a little splice in the sentence to describe might help. I'm purposefully not looking it up because we know an agent isn't going to do that :P) to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon. (Like) A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. (Funny) The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld. Oops. (I really like the voice here. There's a lot of pink because I talk a lot, but I'm catching the quirk you're putting down and enjoying it. I know MANY agents a lot really like this tone for YA. Please don't change it, it stands out)

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing that he is a changeling (How does arrestin him reveal that?)— a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings. (I see your conflict. I enjoy it)

 

The society gives Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush (Do they really care about the crush or does he? I'm not saying anything is wrong, but if it's more him it plays into your writing style to add a "Oh, and he has to get his crush too" in there. If this is accurate to the story, ignore :D). If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging. (I like this line, but it feels like the end of the query so it was a little jarring to see more query after. I think you should cut this, paste it somewhere at the end and add the first sentence to your last paragraph) 

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. (This is confusing. I don't know what this means at all. He just discovered this place, what loyalty?) Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released (Is this what the loyalty jazz was about? Your voice is great, but when it comes to the stakes part, try to be a little more to the point), all while keeping his big head on his shoulders. Fingers crossed. (Cute. Overall, I like this A LOT. Again, the voice is dynamite. I get the tone of the story immediately. It sounds fun. I only see some tad snags and I think the flow would be much better if you put allllll the stakes at the end and made them crystal clear. Good job)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 83,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, by Lish McBride. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on economics and bottomless coffee cups (Don't usually comment on this part. Like. Lol, will you please critique my query, When I See Me? It's at the polar opposite end of YA, lol). One of my critique partners is Author, best-selling author of NOVEL.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#76 kat8

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 07:51 PM

Hi you all! I reworked the query, cutting the fluff, and making it less wordy. Does Paul's character still shine through? Is it unique enough? Ready to be sent out?

 

I don't go back to querying until the fall, but I'm trying to get the letter ready for conferences in early August. Would love your opinion.

 

As always, critique me, and I'll brutally critique you!

 

Dear [Insert Agent Name],

 

When sixteen-year-old amateur occultist Paul “borrows” an enchanted ankh to conjure a social life, he actually succeeds! (love the first sentence!) Well, he succeeds in summoning a demon.(I actually laughed!) A demon that, unfortunately, plans on using the ankh to conquer San Francisco instead of scoring Paul a hot date to prom. The demon steals the ankh and kidnaps Paul’s crush before disappearing into the Underworld (I think this sentence doesn't flow quite as well as the first three. It might be that the previous sentence says the demon wants to conquer San Fran, then it says that he kidnaps the crush and disappears to the underworld? I'm not sure how or if the two are connected.). Oops.

 

A demon-hunting society arrests Paul for the blunder, revealing (what reveals this? Did the demon-hunting society already know this and it's news to Paul, or is everyone surprised to discover this? I don't think you have to spell everything out, but the wording is a tiny bit confusing) that he is a changeling — a magically-inclined underworlder raised among humans. And if that wasn't stressful enough, the society assigns fierce teenager Alice to be Paul’s babysitter. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the assignment, or see eye-to-eye with her people’s nonviolent approach to changelings. (love how in such a short sentence, we already get a feel for her character)

 

The society gives Paul just one month to retrieve the ankh and rescue his crush. If he fails, the society turns his head into a wall hanging. (what about the crush being safe? So far it sounds like the crush doesn't even matter; that's fine if it turns out that way by the end of the story, but I think you should flesh out the crush a little more or talk about her less in your query)

 

Paul and Alice’s search for the ankh takes them deep into the Underworld, a world where might makes right and danger strides through the ashen streets. But when Paul discovers that he’s popular with the cutthroat underworlders, the society calls his loyalty into question. Paul must find a way to save both worlds from the demon he released, all while keeping his big head (I see what you're trying to do here, but to me 'big head' is a little awkward) on his shoulders. Fingers crossed. (I think I might switch this paragraph with the previous paragraph. I think the stakes mean a lot more when they come at the end, because then you're sort of setting up all of Paul's temptations and revealing what will happen if he doesn't comply)

 

INTO THE INFERNO is a YA urban fantasy novel, complete at 83,000 words.  It will appeal to fans of HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, by Lish McBride. I studied at Cornell University, with a focus on economics and bottomless coffee cups. One of my critique partners is Author, best-selling author of NOVEL.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

I was super nit-picky with this query because there's not much I didn't like about! Your story sounds super interesting :) I think your query is so close to being ready! If you were to change only one or two things, I would definitely switch or rework the last two paragraphs, because it was a little confusing to read the stakes and then to jump back into the story and be told more about the story's world. Also, I was a little confused by the demon stealing the crush and taking over San Fran, because the crush is mentioned multiple times but there is no other mention of San Fran.

 

Really, though, I love this query! If you decide to write another draft, I'd love to read it :) Good luck!!

 

Also, I really appreciated your thoughts on my query! I've written another draft, so if you have the time to take another look at it, I'd really appreciate it. It's linked below :)


My query: 27 Club





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