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A PYRE FOR THE BLACKWATER(Adult Dark Science-Fantasy) (Query Reboot)(3/13) (Critiques Welcome/Will Critique in return)

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#21 lnloft

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 09:27 PM

Update 11/8

 

Dear Agent,

 

Mora Aresh will carve peace into Orenos again [little thing, but also kinda big that made me cringe, which is that hyphens aren't the same as dashes. If you can't figure out how to type a dash on your computer, you can just copy and paste this one in. Maybe not all agents will be as big punctuation dorks as I am, but why take the risk when it's an easy fix?] even if she ends up remembered a tyrant. But otherwise solid hook. Only criticism is wondering if we can get something more on Mora, a descriptor before her name. Like "Deposed ruler Mora Aresh" or "Reluctant exile Mora Aresh" or "Jazz enthusiast Mora Aresh" (one of those is probably not accurate and definitely not relevant). Because even after reading the rest of the query, I'm not quite sure who Mora is (to the point where I'm not actually sure if the other two suggestions are correct, either), so giving us a context clue right from the start would help a lot on that.

 

When the Ivory Flower, an entity that’s plagued the cosmos for centuries, drives her expedition to a familiar madness, Mora sees herself reflected in their scarlet marked eyes. Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the only person she can trust back home. Again, just lacking in context. What expedition is this? Are they leaving Orenos? Returning? Going exploring?

 

The Ivory follows her wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, her cousin and successor has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song Is the cousin "the only person she can trust back home"? Be clear. And also, is "her soul" Mora's or the cousin's. It's not clear.. The one person she loved and trusted now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs her of everything she holds dear. I'd plop Mora's name in this paragraph at least once. There's a whole bunch of "she" and "her", but never an absolute clarifier that you're still talking about Mora. Unless you're not...?

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire, bound in steel, she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire. She’ll ignite a world war to deter the Ivory’s song and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies again. To save her world, she’ll have to become one with the Ivory. At the end of it all, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end. This paragraph as a whole is a little vague. What does it mean to "become one with the Ivory"? And why does she need to do that?

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000-word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential.

As you can probably discern from my comments, I think this needs more clarity. Mora's our heroine, I got that, and she's the sort of person who will sacrifice her own morals in the name of the greater good, more or less. And the Ivory is the antagonist, a corrupting force, and I feel like I don't even really need to know why it does what it does. But I feel like I have these two pieces circling each other in the mist, so that nothing else can really be seen around them. Mora seems to be a bigwig in Orenos, but I don't know anything beyond that. As for the Ivory, is it a physical being that can actually combated against, or more some incorporeal force that drives people mad? And I'm a little uncertain about the state of the world around them. The Ivory is causing problems, but how widespread is it? Is there widespread suffering in Orenos because of it, or is it's impact right now limited to a few people with the expectation that it will slowly destroy everything?

 

You've got some decent voice here, and you have given me a decent glimpse of Mora's personality, so that's some good stuff to work off of. Keep at it. Good luck.


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


#22 albarchs

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 11:28 PM

As you can probably discern from my comments, I think this needs more clarity. Mora's our heroine, I got that, and she's the sort of person who will sacrifice her own morals in the name of the greater good, more or less. And the Ivory is the antagonist, a corrupting force, and I feel like I don't even really need to know why it does what it does. But I feel like I have these two pieces circling each other in the mist, so that nothing else can really be seen around them. Mora seems to be a bigwig in Orenos, but I don't know anything beyond that. As for the Ivory, is it a physical being that can actually combated against, or more some incorporeal force that drives people mad? And I'm a little uncertain about the state of the world around them. The Ivory is causing problems, but how widespread is it? Is there widespread suffering in Orenos because of it, or is it's impact right now limited to a few people with the expectation that it will slowly destroy everything?

 

You've got some decent voice here, and you have given me a decent glimpse of Mora's personality, so that's some good stuff to work off of. Keep at it. Good luck.

Ironically, your suggestions are the opposite of a critique I had with a writing partner. Previous queries have suggested I wrote too much of a synopsis and my writing partner agreed as well. I do to a point as well. I think I can be clearer in some regards (I don't know why the dash came out that way) but it's also balancing 250 words at most. I might tinker with giving a descriptor like "Former queen" which gives better context/and specifics are important but previous entries had specifics and it ended up reading like a synopsis. Also, I do get the stuff about the metabuilding/the specifics of explaining it (I do have some extra words so a sentence here and there can explain the scope works). At the same time, Someone told me that gave me better context is "it's the first two chapter/plus a tease of what's to come." it's the equivilant of the 1 minute teaser. I'll take your feedback into consideration after I get a full review from my writing buddy. Thanks for the advice.

 

I liked this version the best since it focuses on Mora's core conflict/arc throughout the story. Someone told me to stick with one element and this better reflects it as well.



#23 albarchs

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 12:44 AM

Query #6

 

I think this version does a better job explaining the specifics/ it is more clear.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve peace into Orenos again-even if she ends up remembered as a tyrant.

 

Mora reunites with the Ivory Flower looking for her people's missing history on the unexplored parts of Orenos; it's a force that wears the bodies of powerful women and has sung the dirges of worlds through them across the cosmos for centuries. When it drives her expedition to a familiar madness, Mora sees herself as the Ivory's next vessel reflected in their scarlet marked eyes. Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the person she trusts most back in her former dominion.

 

The Ivory follows Mora wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, Mora's cousin and successor has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song. The woman she loved and trusted more than her own sisters now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs Mora of everything she holds dear.

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire and bound in steel, she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire. She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies. The Ivory is not what she thinks it is as she discovers the truth of why the Ivory appeared in this world in the first place. At the end of it all, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000-word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential.



#24 pinkatailmon

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 08:19 AM

Query #6

 

I think this version does a better job explaining the specifics/ it is more clear.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve peace into Orenos again-even if she ends up remembered as a tyrant. (This. Line. Is. Epic. Don't touch it.)

 

Mora reunites with the Ivory Flower looking for her people's missing history on the unexplored parts of Orenos; it's a force that wears the bodies of powerful women and sings the dirges of worlds through them across the cosmos for centuries. (I think those two sentences can be combined so the reader instantly knows what the Ivory Flower is. Maybe first mention Mora is looking for the missing history of her people, then add the bit about the Ivory Flower) When it drives her expedition to a familiar madness (Is Mora mad, or the quest futile?), Mora sees herself as the Ivory's next vessel reflected in their scarlet marked eyes. Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the person she trusts most back in her former dominion.

 

Add "But still she cannot find reprieve." or something along those lines to bridge with the next sentence. The Ivory follows Mora wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, Mora's cousin and successor has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song. The woman she loved and trusted more than her own sisters now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs Mora of everything she holds dear.

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire and bound in steel, she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire. She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies. The Ivory is not what she thinks it is. As she discovers the truth of why the Ivory appeared in this world in the first place. At the end of it all, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end. (Combine these two into one sentence)

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000-word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential.

 

Hope this helps!



#25 albarchs

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 10:31 AM

Hope this helps!

It does. I'm going to cut/combine those sentences together. Adding in that description made it easier but I started ballooning that sentence and holy shit, four clauses long was too much. Still, I can whittle it down/make it work. Thanks for the feedback!



#26 albarchs

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 10:51 AM

Query #6.5

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant.

 

Mora’s obsession with her people’s missing history leads her to the dark side of Orenos. There, she reunites with the Ivory Flower, a force that’s tried to fuse with her body and mind since Mora was a little horned girl. Why? So it can sing the dirge of worlds as it has across the cosmos for centuries.  When it drives her expedition to a familiar madness she’s felt since forever, Mora sees herself as the Ivory's next vessel reflected in their scarlet marked eyes. Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the person she trusts most back in her former dominion.

 

But she still cannot find reprieve; the Ivory follows Mora wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, Mora's cousin and successor has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song. The woman she loved and trusted more than her own sisters now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs Mora of everything she holds dear.

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire and bound in steel, she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire. She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies. The Ivory is not what she thinks it is. As she discovers the truth of why the Ivory appeared in this world in the first place, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#27 smoskale

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 01:00 PM

Query #6.5

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve peace perhaps a different metaphor here--bring peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as it makes her a tyrant. 

 

Mora’s obsession with her people’s missing history leads her to the dark side of Orenos. There, she reunites with the Ivory Flower, a force that’s tried to fuse with her body and mind since Mora was a little horned girl.  Why? leave rhetorical questions out of the query. So it can sing the dirge of worlds as it has across the cosmos for centuries. Here it gets very confusing. First, if it has for centuries, why does it need Mora now? Second, why does it need to do that...whatever it is? Third, perhaps Mora would enjoy the fusing of body and mind? If not, why not?  When it Does the 'It" here refer to the Ivory Flower? It is not clear drives her expedition to a familiar madness she’s felt since forever,  Mora sees herself as the Ivory's next vessel  reflected in their scarlet marked eyes The force is "they" and have eyes? I thought it was something like "the force is strong with this one". Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the person she trusts most back in her former dominion.

 

OK, So I think perhaps you need to explain about the Ivory Flower. It's your antagonist, the query should present it as much as the protagonist. What is it? You said eyes and they--I got confused. What does it want, in a language someone who has not read your book can understand? I understand about funding body and soul, but not about singing the song, or about why Mora does not want to be fused. A few words of explanation would help. 

 

But she still cannot find reprieve;. tThe Ivory follows Mora wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, Mora's cousin and successor ​has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song. The woman she loved and trusted  more than her own sisters now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs Mora of everything she holds dear.

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire and bound in steel,Is that a metaphor or is she actually borne of fire and bound in steel? Not clear. she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire This is confusing . She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies. The Ivory is not what she thinks it is. As she discovers the truth of why the Ivory appeared in this world in the first place, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential. They know it's a novel and not a poem. Just one category is what you should have. 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I think you might want to focus the query on what happens up to when Mora is nearly killed. The story has a lot of elements that need at least a basic explanation, and with the space limited, you can't do that with this much of the story. Another, more radical suggestion, is to focus on why Mora is obsessed with her peoples missing history, and why she goes on the quest to the dark part of Orenos. Even that is enough for a few paragraphs of explanation. 

Sorry about earlier. Didn't mean harm. 

 

 

​I would be grateful if you took a look at mine:

http://agentquerycon...st-13/?p=348781



#28 albarchs

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 07:14 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve her peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant.

 

Mora’s real passion is history. Namely, her people's missing history. On the other side of the world, she instead reunites with the mythic Ivory Flower. The Ivory is a spirit that's chosen powerful women like Mora before as its hosts. All so it can sing the end of worlds as it has for centuries. When it drives her expedition to butcher one another, Mora sees herself reflected in the eyes of the Ivory's newest victims. It's song rattles through Mora. It coaxes her to become its new vessel. Nearly killed, but never beaten, Mora returns to the person she trusts most, her cousin Aratha, back in her former dominion.

 

She still cannot find reprieve. The Ivory haunts Mora’s every step. Instead of a warm welcome, Aratha reveals she's tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating power. The woman Mora loved and groomed as her successor now dances to the Ivory's melody. The Ivory robs Mora of her world and her legacy.

 

But Mora is the woman who held Orenos together for three decades. She’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to fear her retribution. She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent it from spreading across the world. However, Mora has no idea that her war will lead her straight into the Ivory's roots.  And the Ivory is not the world ending fiend history remembers. Fight the Ivory or embrace it's will, either way Orenos will march toward its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word standalone dark fantasy with series potential.



#29 albarchs

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 07:18 PM

Query #6.5

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve peace perhaps a different metaphor here--bring peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as it makes her a tyrant. 

 

Mora’s obsession with her people’s missing history leads her to the dark side of Orenos. There, she reunites with the Ivory Flower, a force that’s tried to fuse with her body and mind since Mora was a little horned girl.  Why? leave rhetorical questions out of the query. So it can sing the dirge of worlds as it has across the cosmos for centuries. Here it gets very confusing. First, if it has for centuries, why does it need Mora now? Second, why does it need to do that...whatever it is? Third, perhaps Mora would enjoy the fusing of body and mind? If not, why not?  When it Does the 'It" here refer to the Ivory Flower? It is not clear drives her expedition to a familiar madness she’s felt since forever,  Mora sees herself as the Ivory's next vessel  reflected in their scarlet marked eyes The force is "they" and have eyes? I thought it was something like "the force is strong with this one". Nearly killed, but never beaten, she returns to the person she trusts most back in her former dominion.

 

OK, So I think perhaps you need to explain about the Ivory Flower. It's your antagonist, the query should present it as much as the protagonist. What is it? You said eyes and they--I got confused. What does it want, in a language someone who has not read your book can understand? I understand about funding body and soul, but not about singing the song, or about why Mora does not want to be fused. A few words of explanation would help. 

 

But she still cannot find reprieve;. tThe Ivory follows Mora wherever she goes. Instead of a warm welcome, Mora's cousin and successor ​has tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating song. The woman she loved and trusted  more than her own sisters now dances to its maddening melody. Her world, her legacy, the Ivory robs Mora of everything she holds dear.

 

But Mora is the woman who held the world together for three decades. Born of fire and bound in steel,Is that a metaphor or is she actually borne of fire and bound in steel? Not clear. she’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to never cross she who thirsts for fire This is confusing . She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent her world’s end. But Mora has no idea that her war may lead Orenos to repeat its forgotten tragedies. The Ivory is not what she thinks it is. As she discovers the truth of why the Ivory appeared in this world in the first place, she may have to bring Orenos to its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word dark fantasy novel, a standalone tragedy with series potential. They know it's a novel and not a poem. Just one category is what you should have. 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I think you might want to focus the query on what happens up to when Mora is nearly killed. The story has a lot of elements that need at least a basic explanation, and with the space limited, you can't do that with this much of the story. Another, more radical suggestion, is to focus on why Mora is obsessed with her peoples missing history, and why she goes on the quest to the dark part of Orenos. Even that is enough for a few paragraphs of explanation. 

Sorry about earlier. Didn't mean harm. 

 

 

​I would be grateful if you took a look at mine:

http://agentquerycon...st-13/?p=348781

I'm going to disagree with this. I understand what you're getting at but previous queries have dealt with that angle about her. It did not work. In fact, focusing on that is backstory and not a good idea. I've had better results with this query. I do understand your critiques, and added in clarity in the newest query. But I'll stick with this version/template. The story begins in media res as the Ivory infects/drives her expedition crew mad. My writing partner helped me nail down what I needed. Still, thanks for this again.



#30 Phaust

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 02:39 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve her peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant.

 

Mora’s real passion is history. Namely, her people's missing history. On the other side of the world, she instead instead of what? Also, I am concerned that you've already give us THREE prime directive of the MC: peace, history, and reuniting with IF. They may all be intwined, but this presentation makes it muddled. Condense into one if you can. reunites with the mythic Ivory Flower. The Ivory is a spirit that's chosen powerful women like Mora before as its hosts. All so it can sing the end of worlds as it has for centuries. When it drives her expedition to butcher one another, Mora sees herself reflected in the eyes of the Ivory's newest victims. I'm pretty confused by now. There's too much info/going on. Simplify. I know. It's freaking hard. It's song rattles through Mora. It coaxes her to become its new vessel. Nearly killed, but never beaten, Mora returns to the person she trusts most, her cousin Aratha, back in her former dominion.

 

She still cannot find reprieve. The Ivory haunts Mora’s every step. Instead of a warm welcome, Aratha reveals she's tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating power. The woman Mora loved and groomed as her successor now dances to the Ivory's melody. The Ivory robs Mora of her world and her legacy.

 

But Mora is the woman who held Orenos together for three decades. She’ll show the Ivory and those who succumb to its power to fear her retribution. She’ll ignite a world war to crush the Ivory’s puppets and prevent it from spreading across the world. However, Mora has no idea that her war will lead her straight into the Ivory's roots.  And the Ivory is not the world ending fiend history remembers. Fight the Ivory or embrace it's will, either way Orenos will march toward its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word standalone dark fantasy with series potential.

Okay. So I like the idea of the ivory. But a lot o f the first part was... distracting. By the time I got to the good stuff, I was already done. Go streamlined. Eliminate the third character in the QL. Just try it and see what happens.

 

I've got a new attempt too. Care to look



#31 albarchs

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 06:02 PM

Newest Update #9 on Post #31

 

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will enforce her peace onto Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant.

 

Mora enjoys her early retirement by excavating the ruined cities of her people's dead empires. On one particular expedition, she reunites with the mythic Ivory Flower. The Ivory is a spirit that chooses powerful women to make them like gods. In exchange, they just have to become its vessel, and sing the aria that ends worlds. It made the same offer to her when she was young.  Before she can respond, her excavation crew loses their minds, and she nearly dies. Never one to be beaten, Mora retreats to her former dominion to warn her cousin, Aratha, of the Ivory's return.

 

Mora still cannot find reprieve. The Ivory haunts her every step. Instead of a warm welcome, Aratha reveals she's tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating power. The woman Mora loved and groomed as her successor now dances to the Ivory's melody. The Ivory robs Mora of her world and her legacy. But Mora held Orenos together for three decades. She'll ignite a world war, crush the Ivory's puppets, and burn every traitor it consumes. No one will escape Mora unscathed. Fight the Ivory till she's the last empress standing or embrace it's will to bring a true peace to Orenos, either way, the world will march toward its inevitable end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 100,000 word standalone dark fantasy with series potential.



#32 smoskale

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:10 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve her peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant. I have to ask how old Mora is, since you mention her retirement in the first sentence, and then later. Is she a Helen Mirren character? Or Natalie Portman's, post-Luke and Leya, if she survived their birth? Maybe put a line in explaining that she is still young, or that she is older but still full of life, or give her age (if it corresponds to human age). I didn't have this thought on previous reads. I think it's because this version is a lot more understandable, and little things like this have a chance to stand out and be cleaned up.

 

Mora enjoys her retirement by excavating the ruined cities of her people's dead empires. I like this sentence! On a particular one expedition far from home, she finds discovers the mythic Ivory Flower. The Ivory is a spirit that chooses powerful women to make them like gods. This is A LOT more clear than before.  In exchange, they just have to end worlds through its maddening song. Do they have to serve as transmitters? It's a hefty sentence, and I am having trouble imagining what it means.  Before she can answer is it a kind of dialogue between Mora and the Ivory? And she is made an offer by the Ivory? In previous versions, you made it sound almost like it was a struggle between the two, not a business transaction. Perhaps clarify?, her expeditionary crew loses their minds, and she nearly dies. Never one to be beaten, Mora retreats to her former dominion to warn her cousin, Aratha, of the Ivory's return.

 

Mora still cannot find reprieve. The Ivory haunts her every step.

 

Instead of a warm welcome, Aratha reveals she's tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating power. The woman Mora loved and groomed as her successor now dances to the Ivory's melody. The Ivory robs Mora of her world and her legacy. But Mora is the woman who clashes with "the woman" above held Orenos together for three decades. She'll ignite a world war, crush the Ivory's puppets, and burn every traitor it consumes. No one will escape Mora unscathed. Fight the Ivory till she's the last empress standing, or embrace it's will to bring a true peace to Orenos, either way, the world will march toward its inevitable endI know you can do better than this. Don't you want something cliff-hang-y for the query's last clause? As you have it, no matter what choice Mora makes, the world will end all the same. Leave a little to the imagination! 

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word standalone dark fantasy with series potential.

 

This is much better. I get to understand Mora and her motivations. I get a better idea of the Ivory (but not yet good enough idea that I fear it or understand its danger). I understand the world a little. Where it still needs work in the last paragraph, after Aratha. You start with her ready to be a tyrant. But you don't follow through on drawing out that path. She is fighting some mythical spirit--why a tyrant? I have a feeling the Ivory may cast some sort of a delusion on people, and breaking them out of it would be seen as tyranny. But you don't say enough about that. Also, the choice--to fight Ivory or to embrace it is not clear. It seems, from what you have here, that fighting it is the only way forward. Why would she want o embrace it? The connection between peace and embracing Ivory is only once mentioned in the end, and it is not clear what it is. You had amazing insight for mine. Use it here. I am looking forward to the next version. Here's what I posted under your comments on mine:

 

Hey Albarchs,

I think you might wanna give up the writing thing and open shop for query critique, full-time! Seriously. Between what you did for Phaust and your post above, you are on a roll. Thanks!

 

I agree with your comment about "and what will kill her" not giving away the ending, first, because people use it all the time as an exasperated exclamation, as in "you will be the death of me." And second, because in the book, magic (a force if not a character ) will lead to Lauren pretty much dying, in order to release her most powerful spell into the air to save France, then coming back to life--magically (hehehe). Also, taking out the last clause breaks the flow, as you said. I need the first sentence to have three beats, one informative, one emotive, and one counter-intuitive, and this is what does it. (It's just what I want, I don't mean every first sentence should be that way.)

 

Thanks for the vote on Andre. To be honest, I miss him in this version, too. In Lauren's gloomy world, he brings a ray of joy de vivre, complete with smells of perfumes, vibrant colors of luxury fabrics, and, of course, Parisian suave. I'll try to work him back in. It's tricky not to have Andre overshadow Luke. Luke is all about action and reliability. Andre is all words and excitement. One is clearly more vivid than the other.  And then some commenters (ehem) complained about it sounding like Outlander...

 

I'll take a day or two to mull it over. 

 

I feel like I owe you. Thanks!!!  :smile:



#33 albarchs

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 05:42 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh will carve her peace into Orenos againeven if she ends up remembered as a tyrant. I have to ask how old Mora is, since you mention her retirement in the first sentence, and then later. Is she a Helen Mirren character? Or Natalie Portman's, post-Luke and Leya, if she survived their birth? Maybe put a line in explaining that she is still young, or that she is older but still full of life, or give her age (if it corresponds to human age). I didn't have this thought on previous reads. I think it's because this version is a lot more understandable, and little things like this have a chance to stand out and be cleaned up.

 

Mora enjoys her retirement by excavating the ruined cities of her people's dead empires. I like this sentence! On a particular one expedition far from home, she finds discovers the mythic Ivory Flower. The Ivory is a spirit that chooses powerful women to make them like gods. This is A LOT more clear than before.  In exchange, they just have to end worlds through its maddening song. Do they have to serve as transmitters? It's a hefty sentence, and I am having trouble imagining what it means.  Before she can answer is it a kind of dialogue between Mora and the Ivory? And she is made an offer by the Ivory? In previous versions, you made it sound almost like it was a struggle between the two, not a business transaction. Perhaps clarify?, her expeditionary crew loses their minds, and she nearly dies. Never one to be beaten, Mora retreats to her former dominion to warn her cousin, Aratha, of the Ivory's return.

 

Mora still cannot find reprieve. The Ivory haunts her every step.

 

Instead of a warm welcome, Aratha reveals she's tainted her soul with the Ivory’s intoxicating power. The woman Mora loved and groomed as her successor now dances to the Ivory's melody. The Ivory robs Mora of her world and her legacy. But Mora is the woman who clashes with "the woman" above held Orenos together for three decades. She'll ignite a world war, crush the Ivory's puppets, and burn every traitor it consumes. No one will escape Mora unscathed. Fight the Ivory till she's the last empress standing, or embrace it's will to bring a true peace to Orenos, either way, the world will march toward its inevitable endI know you can do better than this. Don't you want something cliff-hang-y for the query's last clause? As you have it, no matter what choice Mora makes, the world will end all the same. Leave a little to the imagination! 

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 105,000 word standalone dark fantasy with series potential.

 

This is much better. I get to understand Mora and her motivations. I get a better idea of the Ivory (but not yet good enough idea that I fear it or understand its danger). I understand the world a little. Where it still needs work in the last paragraph, after Aratha. You start with her ready to be a tyrant. But you don't follow through on drawing out that path. She is fighting some mythical spirit--why a tyrant? I have a feeling the Ivory may cast some sort of a delusion on people, and breaking them out of it would be seen as tyranny. But you don't say enough about that. Also, the choice--to fight Ivory or to embrace it is not clear. It seems, from what you have here, that fighting it is the only way forward. Why would she want o embrace it? The connection between peace and embracing Ivory is only once mentioned in the end, and it is not clear what it is. You had amazing insight for mine. Use it here. I am looking forward to the next version. Here's what I posted under your comments on mine:

 

Hey Albarchs,

I think you might wanna give up the writing thing and open shop for query critique, full-time! Seriously. Between what you did for Phaust and your post above, you are on a roll. Thanks!

 

I agree with your comment about "and what will kill her" not giving away the ending, first, because people use it all the time as an exasperated exclamation, as in "you will be the death of me." And second, because in the book, magic (a force if not a character ) will lead to Lauren pretty much dying, in order to release her most powerful spell into the air to save France, then coming back to life--magically (hehehe). Also, taking out the last clause breaks the flow, as you said. I need the first sentence to have three beats, one informative, one emotive, and one counter-intuitive, and this is what does it. (It's just what I want, I don't mean every first sentence should be that way.)

 

Thanks for the vote on Andre. To be honest, I miss him in this version, too. In Lauren's gloomy world, he brings a ray of joy de vivre, complete with smells of perfumes, vibrant colors of luxury fabrics, and, of course, Parisian suave. I'll try to work him back in. It's tricky not to have Andre overshadow Luke. Luke is all about action and reliability. Andre is all words and excitement. One is clearly more vivid than the other.  And then some commenters (ehem) complained about it sounding like Outlander...

 

I'll take a day or two to mull it over. 

 

I feel like I owe you. Thanks!!!  :smile:

There's some good points here. The woman bit was driving me crazy since it's so close to that section. I do some have some quibbles.

 

The hook is solid. Adding anymore would kill it. It's why your hook works for your story. If I put in "Sixty-year-old Retired Empress Mora Aresh who's people can live for thousands of years...." You get word vomit.

 

On one particular expedition far from home tells me a lot about the opening story. It's not a long clause, it suggests Mora's chased after this and the setup is important. All that crap about her mother/the stone tablet, that all is contextualized/brought up within the novel. You don't want to lose your voice (my voice). This is what happens when you start cutting turns of phrase or writing. You can have a tight query but it could be like "On one expedition, she discovers the mythic Ivory Flower." Yeah, it's fine but it loses the connection to the earlier sentence/deflates. It's limp. It lacks the energy it had before.

 

And to the point about about the transmitters? I get it. The problem is this starts to balloon queries. Could I be more direct? I'll tinker with it but there's a "well, you just have to do this one thing for me" implication there. It's the "You can be all powerful, but you just have to ruin the world" kind of thing. If you start going into more detail, you run the risk of synopsising. Again, that's why you have synopses to explain those stories details.

 

For the last clause. No. Changing it would completely derail the tone/trajectory of the story. Everything up to this point shows/suggests how bad things are going to get, what Mora's character is like, and that one modifier: inevitable, makes me want to read the story. Cliffhangers are terrible. They're the equivalent of putting a question at the end of a query. And what if the world does end? Well obviously it might but let's see what happens in the story to determine that.

 

 

 

Breakdown:

Who is the MC: Mora the retired Empress

What does she want: to restore peace (the how is where the choice comes in)

What are the stakes: the world ending (duh, lol)

Whats the choice: fight the ivory or embrace it's will.

Whats the consequences: the world will end. (And I want to see how it ends)

One worldbuilding thread: The Ivory Flower.

I don't mention the Kadran, I don't mention the first act civil war/mirror conflict, because it's not relevant in this query. It throws the query's thread off. I'm talking about Mora one paragraph and then I'm talking about some Vietnam proxy civil war and...it just balloons. Laser focus. One character's thread, one antagonist/worldbuilding element.

 

The last line is where you can play with comparisons or no comparisons: It's the amorality of THE BLACK COMPANY mixed with the caustic humor of THE WYLD in a tragedy a millennium in the making. Most critters here cut that out. Agents go back and forth on these.

 

The entire point of a query is to entice. Key word entice. It's not to show the entire plot, or the characters. It's to entice through a particular thread to get agents to pick up your manuscript. Cause honestly? That's what it's all about. There are queries that have been awesome, only for the opening pages to fall flat. If the agent is reading at the end, and the query's done it's job, the last line isn't as important as you think. It's a finish. It tells me the tone/ the atmosphere/the trajectory of what this story is. How and why? That's for the manuscript and the synopsis. Still, you gave me some tinker issues to mull over. I'm relatively sastified at this point. My writing partner will be my final eyes.

 

I think a really good counter-example to your suggestion about the last line is Rogue Galaxy. Go read that query in the successful section. It will give you a different perspective. It actually will help you as well.

 

Edit: As I was breaking this down, I was able to tinker based on your feedback about the age stuff without bogging it down. I also clarified it better about the struggle with a quick sentence. Thanks for the wheel spinning. But, seriously, go read The Rogue Galaxy's query!



#34 albarchs

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 08:38 PM

As I was thinking this over, I realized that I should try the male MC's perspective. This query is mighty wordy, too much detail, but I think this might work better given some of the issues I've had with Mora's POV translating into her query. There's unnecessary crap, extraneous details, but this query feels closer to my voice/this character's pov. Have at it and I'll return the favor.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Roeland Witte wears a smile drifting from contract to contract, dissident hovels to the Imperial court. All to avoid the duties of his lost faith and his father’s dying words: live. He can’t. The world’s been dying for forty years. It ain’t coming back. What should be another pointless old kingdom excavation turns into the last thing Roeland wants. The Ivory Flower, his people’s ancestral enemy, resurfaces for the first time in fifty years.  The Flower’s hungry for a fresh vessel. It aims to turn Mora Aresh, Roeland’s only love and his former empress, into the next world eater.

 

Roeland has and does kill for Mora. Running to escape from the Flower, they gotta bear the bad news of its return to Mora’s replacement. Mora chose her trustworthy sister to rule. Unfortunately, the Flower’s burrowed into little sis’ head. She’s going to save their people—that includes them. All they have to do is drink the Flower’s blood and they can finally resist her.

 

Roeland knows madness himself. He resists his bestial thirst for blood every damn day.

 

Now everyone’s scrambling to reshape the world map. Imperial factions breaking away. Dissidents looking to settle the score. Mora’s not wasting time. She’s calling for her sister’s blood, raising a counterinsurgency, and won’t stop till everyone’s back in her box. Roeland's ran his whole life from his bloody past. Now, he’s gotta choose: support Mora’s reclamation of her reign or embrace his faith and kill the Ivory Flower. And if Mora happens to become the Ivory Flower? Well, it's just another body to add to the pyre.

 

A Tyrant Comes is a 98,000 word dark fantasy with series potential.



#35 Phaust

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 02:06 PM

As I was thinking this over, I realized that I should try the male MC's perspective. This query is mighty wordy, too much detail, but I think this might work better given some of the issues I've had with Mora's POV translating into her query. There's unnecessary crap, extraneous details, but this query feels closer to my voice/this character's pov. Have at it and I'll return the favor.

 

Dear Agent,

 

Roeland Witte wears a smile drifting from contract to contract, dissident hovels to the Imperial court. All to avoid the duties of his lost faith and his father’s dying words: live. He can’t. The world’s been dying for forty years. It ain’t coming back. What should be another pointless old kingdom excavation turns into the last thing Roeland wants. That's a better hook. The Ivory Flower, his people’s ancestral enemy, resurfaces for the first time in fifty years. The Flower’s hungry for a fresh vessel. It aims to turn Mora Aresh, Roeland’s only love and his former empress, into the next world eater.

 

Roeland has and does kill for Mora. Running to escape from the Flower, they gotta I know you're aiming for voice, but there's not enough of it to support "gotta" at this point. bear the bad news of its return to Mora’s replacement. Mora chose her trustworthy sister to rule. Unfortunately, the Flower’s burrowed into little sis’ head. Actually, for fun, you may want to lead with this last line here. Or something like it. Flower burrowing in head. What?!?! That'll hook'em. She’s going to save their people—that includes them. All they have to do is drink the Flower’s blood and they can finally resist her.

 

Roeland knows madness himself. He resists his bestial thirst for blood every damn day. You lost me here. What's drinking the blood do to save people and what are the issues with that? 

 

Now everyone’s scrambling to reshape the world map. Imperial factions breaking away. Dissidents looking to settle the score. Mora’s not wasting time. She’s calling for her sister’s blood, raising a counterinsurgency, and won’t stop till everyone’s back in her box. Roeland's ran his whole life from his bloody past. Now, he’s gotta choose: support Mora’s reclamation of her reign or embrace his faith and kill the Ivory Flower. And if Mora happens to become the Ivory Flower? Well, it's just another body to add to the pyre.

 

I'm afraid there's too much going on here. I think you know that. This is more synopsis than QL. Get to the essentials.

 

A Tyrant Comes is a 98,000 word dark fantasy with series potential.

 

 

Could you take a gander at my latest (post #83)? I took your advice to heart... in an Ancillary way.



#36 albarchs

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 03:23 PM

Could you take a gander at my latest (post #83)? I took your advice to heart... in an Ancillary way.

Yeah, I finally figured it out. Way too much detail. Most of the queries are condensed/straight forward. I take back some of what I said about style. Queries are not the time to get too clever. It's about the pitch/straight forward approach. Thanks for the feedback.



#37 albarchs

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 03:33 PM

#11

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh once ruled the heart of her war-scarred world. Now’s she’s going to find out if she ever deserved it in the first place.

 

When Mora leaves her early retirement to return to her former empire of Orenos, an arid wasteland carved up by her loyalists, her former enemies, and various opportunists, nothing is as she left it. Her cousin, the new empress, has purified the blood of an ancient goddess to stave off the coming death of their people. All they have to do is partake in communion, and they will endure. But ten worlds before tried the same method. Now they're grave worlds. Mora flees, unable to comprehend her cousin's desperate gamble.

 

With the goddess's blood revealed to her former empire, Mora’s legacy is undone. Imperial loyalists break ranks. Insurgents rally their banners. Everyone aims to reshape the world map. All the while the goddess’s bloodsong empowers and robs the world of its senses.

 

Reduced to the sword on her hip, the lightning coursing through her veins, and her old crown, she’s going to discover how she'll lead her reunification of her former dominion. She’ll have to choose between total war to stop her cousin's misguided plan or her weaponized diplomacy, and win back the soul of her empire.

 

But Mora will soon realize that the world she built may deserve to end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 91,000 word adult dark fantasy.



#38 NGrzesik

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 09:50 PM

#11

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh ruled the heart of her war-scarred world. Now’s she’s going to find out if she ever deserved it in the first place.

 

When Mora returns from the unknown regions of Orenos, an arid wasteland carved up by outcasts, rebels, and opportunists, nothing is as she left it. Her cousin has turned to an ancient goddess to stave off the coming death of their people. All they have to do is partake in communion, and drink the goddess’s blood. Blood that's driven ten worlds to extinction before. Not exactly the family reunion she wants. This last sentence sounds too quippy for me. I understand that it's your style, but for me it detracts from the seriousness of what came before. What you're doing is called bathos, but I'm not sure if it fits in with the tone. 

 

With a single folly I'd suggest saying what this single folly is. It'll provide some context to all of the stuff that happens in this paragraph, Mora’s legacy is undone. Imperial sects break away from her former empire, and insurgents rally their banners to settle their grudges with those Imperial bastards. For me, it felt like the POV shifted in the middle of the sentence which felt off. That's why I suggest cutting out the bit at the end. All the while, the goddess’s bloodsong empowers and robs the world of its senses.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest you break up this paragraph like so. It's easier on the eyes. 

 

Reduced to the sword on her hip, the lightning in her veins Is this just a figure of speech or does she have literal lightning in her veins?, and her scrapped crown Was she dethroned? If so, this wasn't explicitly said and should be for better context, she’s going to discovers how she'll truly lead her reclamation. She’ll have to choose between total war, casualties be damned, to get to her cousin or her former soft approach, and win the hearts and minds of old enemies and allies alike.

 

But Mora will soon realize that the world she built, Trash this comma might very well maydeserve to end. I'm really liking this last sentence. It could just be a little punchier in my opinion (see suggestions)

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 95,000 word adult dark fantasy.

 

I think this distills all the previous issues I had with Mora. Way too much going on. This is more straight forward/less phrases. I'll keep it going.

Good query, interesting concept! 

 

Thank you for leaving feedback on my query :)


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


#39 Phaust

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:10 PM

#11

 

Once, (behold the power of "Once!" Says so much with so little and is a bit more dramatic than leading a hook with the word "retired." Could conceivably use both.) Retired empress Mora Aresh ruled the heart of her war-scarred world. Now’s she’s going to find out if she ever deserved it in the first place. That's cool. Might see if you can work in a hint as to why she might not deserve it? Tough call. Play with it.

When Mora returns from the unknown regions of Orenos, an arid wasteland carved up by outcasts, rebels, and opportunists, nothing is as she left it. I hate to ask for more detail, but if you could efficiently convey why she was gone, it would eliminate a distraction... Her cousin has turned to an ancient goddess to stave off the coming death of their people. All they have to do is partake in communion, and drink the goddess’s blood. Blood that's driven ten worlds to extinction before. A little confused here. She's going to save them by giving them blood that will kill them? Not exactly the family reunion she wants. I don't mind this last sentence at all.

 

With a single folly, name the folly Mora’s legacy is undone. Imperial sects break away from her former empire, and insurgents rally their banners to settle their grudges with those Imperial bastards. Not certain you need this. These details seem secondary. All the while the goddess’s bloodsong empowers and robs the world of its senses. Reduced to the sword on her hip, the lightning in her veins, and her scrapped may want a different word. Scrapped raises questions. crown, she’s going to discovers how she'll truly lead her reclamation. She’ll have to choose between total war, casualties be damned, to get to her cousin or her former soft approach, and win the hearts and minds of old enemies and allies alike. Not really a fan of this paragraph. I feel your pain. In the either/or stakes statement, it feels strategically descriptive, but not emotionally compelling with regards to Mora. You have a complicated story and need to squish it down. It's frustrating and seems like it should be easy. But it is not. Your feedback shows you know what to do. But knowing what to do on a bike is different than actually riding it, no? Keep working. 

 

But Mora will soon realize that the world she built, might very well deserve to end. Nice ending! Very good. 

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 95,000 word adult dark fantasy.

 

I think this distills all the previous issues I had with Mora. Way too much going on. This is more straight forward/less phrases. I'll keep it going.



#40 T.C. Stevenson

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 07:29 PM

#11

 

Retired empress Mora Aresh once ruled the heart of her war-scarred world. Now’s she’s going to find out if she ever deserved it in the first place. Love the hook. Definitely pulls me in. 

 

When Mora returns from early retirement in the unknown regions of Orenos, an arid wasteland carved up by outcasts, insurgents, and opportunists I like the description of this, but it seems slightly contradictory if the region is unknown but it's occupied by all of these unsavory characters, nothing is as she left it. Her cousin has purified the blood of an ancient goddess to stave off the coming death of their people. All they have to do is partake in communion, and they will endure. But ten worlds before tried the same method. Now they're grave worlds. It's not exactly the family reunion she wants. This last line seems unnecessary to me.

 

With the goddess's blood revealed to her former empire, Mora’s legacy is undone. Imperial loyalists break ranks. Insurgents rally their banners. Everyone aims to reshape the world map. All the while the goddess’s bloodsong empowers and robs the world of its senses. I really like this blood concept, but I think the space you used to describe Orenos might be better served to describe her home country and what it is like.

 

Reduced to the sword on her hip, the lightning coursing through her veins, and her old crown, she’s going to discover I think the "how" may have a place in this query, if only briefly how she'll truly lead her reclamation. She’ll have to choose between total war, casualties be damned I would cut this, to stop her cousin's misguided plan or her soft words, and win back the soul of her empire.

 

But Mora will soon realize that the world she built may deserve to end.

 

A TYRANT COMES is a 93,000 word adult dark fantasy.

So I think the story has a unique flare and it definitely pulls me in. I would consider reshaping it to focus more on the blood, what it is, and how it specifically has affected your MC.







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