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The Best Witchcraft is Fame (YA science-fantasy)

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#1 JustSwizz

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 03:07 PM

MOST RECENT POST AT #5

 

 

Hi all! I'm working on a new WIP and like to write queries for them first so here's my newest one!

 

I like most of it, but hate that last line. If anyone has suggestions as to how to fix it, it would be super helpful!

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel.

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. A drug that transports its user’s mind back in history, thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew thyme. This loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing better immersion into the past. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in.

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live. Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death, he tracks down the witch responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead and blackmails her to work with him. As an ex-police sergeant and witch, Wallace knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time.

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, though, when they are hired by a powerful cartel. Henry, however, is unafraid and more ruthless and greedier with this new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame and fortune to last his family for years to come. 

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake if she cannot stop him. But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry.

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X



#2 Artsnerd

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 03:47 PM

Paying forward for the critique of my own query!

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel.

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. A drug that transports its user’s mind back in history (Perhaps use another word instead of "history" since you used it the sentence before), thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew thyme. This loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing better immersion into the past. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in.

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live. Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death, he tracks down the witch responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead and blackmails her to work with him. As an ex-police sergeant and witch, Wallace knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time.

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, though, when they are hired by a powerful cartel. Henry, however, is unafraid and more ruthless and greedier with this new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame and fortune to last his family for years to come. 

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake if she cannot stop him. But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry. What does "just like Henry" imply, exactly? His greedy nature?

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X

 

The query letter is straight-forward and you seem to have a strong grasp of your story; however, I suggest giving it more of a voice. It's somewhat lacking in that it seems somewhat dry. Good job, despite my criticism! I couldn't find much else wrong with it, to tell you the truth!


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#3 Niambi

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 08:52 PM

It's very interesting, and I'd second Artsnerd's critique.  

 

It's a bit dry, and a bit TOO much like Breaking Bad.  By that I mean, focus on the areas that aren't exactly like the TV show.  

 

 

Hi all! I'm working on a new WIP and like to write queries for them first so here's my newest one!

 

I like most of it, but hate that last line. If anyone has suggestions as to how to fix it, it would be super helpful!

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel. *This would go at the end of the query.

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. *Not the best hook, but decent.  We'd need more of a one sentence summary of what's going on, or soemthing dramatic to really catch us. A drug that transports its user’s mind back in history, *(I wouldn't focus on the how in the query, but how?  What's the context?  Is it their own history or a hallucination?) thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew thyme. This loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing better immersion into the past *I wouldn't put this here only because it has no context.  Better immersion in the past compared to what?. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch *What is the deal with being a witch?  I might go into that a bit more in the beginning. Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in.

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live.Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death,* This is where it gets too much like BB.   he tracks down the witch *We know she's a witch, or works like a witch now.  You can say Marie and cut to --> responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead Here and blackmails her to work with him. As an ex-police sergeant and witch *We know., Wallace knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought.*If he eventually gets detected, then we don't need this sentence. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time. * I would actually start the entire query here.  

 

Sixeteen-year-old Marie Barthe has brewed up the secrets of physical time travel, but the cops and a greedy cartel force her into the past and into ....  

 

Something like that.

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, though, when they are hired *hired or forced?  Gus Fring or the White Supremacists from BB?  by a powerful cartel. Henry, however, is unafraid and more ruthless and greedier with this new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame * Fame doesn't usually come with illicit drugs, and how do Henry and Marie solve the time paradox problem?  If they go back in time only 5 years to make more Thyme, how does Marie ever get famous?  There'd be two of her and two Henry/Henri/Henries and fortune to last his family for years to come. 

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake * How? if she cannot stop him. But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry. *Context?

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X

 

 

I like the story.  I think there's more there than what's in your query.  There is more here than Breaking Bad meets time-travel.



#4 T.C. Stevenson

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 12:47 PM

Hi all! I'm working on a new WIP and like to write queries for them first so here's my newest one!

 

I like most of it, but hate that last line. If anyone has suggestions as to how to fix it, it would be super helpful!

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel. That's quite the promise to make. It definitely sounds unique right off the bat. 

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. A drug that transports its user’s mind back in history, thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew thyme frequent use of this word in the first paragraph. I'd mix it up with "concoction/ potion. This loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing better immersion into the past. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in.

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live. Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death, he tracks down the witch responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead and blackmails her to work with him. As an ex-police sergeant and witch, we already know this about him Wallace knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time.

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, though, when they are hired by a powerful cartel. Henry, however, is unafraid and more ruthless and greedier with this new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame and fortune to last his family for years to come. 

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake if she cannot stop him. But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry.

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X

I think this is a really interesting take on Breaking Bad. The query is pretty solid I think. We have a good idea of the setting, character motivation, conflict, all that stuff. However, we don't hear much of the narrative voice in the query. Taking into consideration that you haven't written the actual book yet, I think that's to be expected. 

As another user has pointed out, it sounds A LOT like Breaking Bad. I think you'll want to throw in plot points that show the agent that this book is more than a re imagining of the show, but I think this is a very strong starting point when you haven't even finished the project. 

If you don't mind, would you critique my query here? Thanks in advance and good luck. 



#5 JustSwizz

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 03:10 PM

Thanks, everyone! This is a new version but by no means 100% changed. The last paragraph is still completely the same, but I still intend on working on it. If anyone has any more advice as to how to go about editing it, I'm all ears! There is the romance that I want to incorporate in that last paragraph in particular.

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel.

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. A mental time machine in the form of a pill, thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew the drug due to their dyscalculia, a learning disability that severely inhibits math and science skills. The impossible loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing longer highs without the horrific hangover afterwards. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in.

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live. Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death, he tracks down the witch responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead and blackmails her to work with him. Overconfident in his abilities, Henry knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time.

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, though, when they are hired by a powerful cartel. Henry, however, is unafraid and becomes increasingly ruthless and greedy with their new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame and fortune to last his family for years to come. 

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake if she cannot stop him. But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry.

 

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie. Like Marie, I too have dyscalculia and wanted to write a story that champions the disability.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X



#6 A.M.Rose

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 04:04 PM

My comments below in green - I hope they help you in some way. 

Thanks, everyone! This is a new version but by no means 100% changed. The last paragraph is still completely the same, but I still intend on working on it. If anyone has any more advice as to how to go about editing it, I'm all ears! There is the romance that I want to incorporate in that last paragraph in particular.

 

Dear X,

 

My science fantasy novel, THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME, is a YA Breaking Bad but with witches and time travel. (I've never seen breaking bad myself, but I'm willing to go with this.)

 

Sixteen-year-old Marie Barthe is not a witch, but she brews thyme better than any witch in history. A mental time machine in the form of a pill, thyme is illegal and highly addictive. But Marie has remained safe because non-witches aren’t supposed to be able to brew the drug due to their dyscalculia, a learning disability that severely inhibits math and science skills. (I'm not sure you need all of this, but I'm going to keep reading. Also, why does she do this? What is her purpose for this? Especially since it is illegal.) The impossible loophole allows Marie to tweak the formula, providing longer highs without the horrific hangover afterwards. However, when ex-police sergeant and witch Henry Wallace finds out Marie’s secret, he wants in. (Um, okay, but what does Marie want? What is her goal? You've told us she can make a drug she isn't supposed to be able to make, what the drug does, and that she is really good at it, but we don't know what Marie wants.)

 

Henry Wallace has one year to live. Desperate to leave his family financially stable after his death,( Hard stop - does this guy have a wife and kids? If he is going to be a POV character which I kind of fell like he is seeing as what he wants (his goals) are being discussed in this, and if that is the case this takes it out of the YA category. Not saying it couldn't become a crossover, but for marketing purposes (to send to a publisher) I believe it's age group needs to be clear. Where would this sit in a bookstore? With an adult MC it wouldn't likely be YA) he tracks down the witch responsible for the best thyme. He finds Marie instead (So she isn't the best?) and blackmails her to work with him. (So he goes from cop to blackmailer? And what does he blackmail her for? Money? What can a 16 year old girl give him? What does she stand to lose if she doesn't go along with this? You have cops and witches, so I'm not sure how your world works. Right now I'd assume if she was arrested she would go to juvie, what happens to her there is she is caught doing this? Also, why does she do it (meaning make this drug) in the first place? Just because she can?  It might be important to have a little world building so we can better understand these character's motivations.) Overconfident in his abilities, Henry knows how to avoid detection, or so he thought. The two attract authorities when a drug deal goes sour. The only way out is to risk trying Marie’s new formula: thyme that can physically transport its user back in time. (I'm still not clear on what Marie wants in all of this. Henry's goal is to make a crap ton of money to support his family, and then they almost get caught, okay?) 

 

The new formula works, sending Marie and Henry back five years. (Physically? Or Mentally? Above you say it is a mental time travel, so I'm a little unclear on what this drug does.) Their second chance at brewing only becomes more complicated, (I have lots of questions. If they are back 5 years are they also dealing with the fact that there are now two of each of them in existence? Also, why are they choosing to brew this batch again? Or are they brewing it so they can get back to their original time? I worry that this is your inciting incident, and that everything before this is just backstory. What is the thing that happens that means your characters can't go back to the way things were before? )  though, when they are hired by a powerful cartel. (Are they "hired" or forced to work for them? Why would they choose to take this job? What is it that Henry and Marie want? What are their goals? What stand in their way from reaching these goals?) Henry, however, is unafraid and becomes increasingly ruthless and greedy with their new life, and he won’t stop until he has enough fame and fortune to last his family for years to come. (But if they are 5 years in the past, how can he do this? Especially when there are now two Henrys in existence. Won't his other self think it is weird that a guy with the same name and face is getting famous? I guess I just don't understand how this world works.)

 

Marie’s formula and life are at stake if she cannot stop him. (Why? Why does she even care about Henry? What does he have to do with her? He was blackmailing her in the future, but can't she just leave his ass in the past and say screw it? I don't understand why they are connected. If he is the love interest, than I don't understand that either, as he has a "family" - Why does his goals have anything to do with her stakes?) But the only way to save herself is to become just like Henry. (I don't really get these stakes. Maybe it is because I don't understand what Marie even wants. From this query it sounds like Henry's story and Marie is just a side character. She doesn't seem to have any goals for herself.)

 

 

 

THE BEST WITCHCRAFT IS FAME is complete at X words with a dual POV told mainly through Marie. (If this is mainly her story, we need to know more about her. What does she want? What stands in her way? What happens if she fails? We get a little of this for Henry, he wants money to set his family up, but he almost gets caught - but what are his stakes? What does he risk losing? He is going to die anyway, so I assume his stakes are about not being able to support his family. But why should I care? Not to sound like an ass or anything, but can his wife work and support their family? Like what really happens if he can't set his family up? Like Marie, I too have dyscalculia and wanted to write a story that champions the disability. (This sounds awesome and a very unique thing, but I don't see how this story champions this disability.) 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

X

So you seem to have a super complex story going on here... which is great, but it also means you have to work twice as hard to get other people who haven't read it to understand your world and how it works. I would say because of this, you might want to keep this query simple and keep it down to one character. And since a majority is told in her POV it might be best. What does Marie want? (goals) What stands in her way? (obstacles) What happens if she fails? (Stakes) This is all you need in this query. I would also say that if Henry is an adult and you want to market this as YA I would consider cutting his POV completely, but I would probably cut it completely from this query for the sake of trying to help the reader understand your world. But this is just IMO.

Like I mentioned above, I hope these comments help you in some way. This industry is super subjective so take what works for you and leave what doesn't. In the end it is your story and you have to do what feels right to you. 

I do have to say, I've very intrigued by your concept and think it could be very successful. 

Best of luck to you. 


A.M.Rose

 

Road to Eugenica available from Entangled Teen February 2018

 

Not Innocent available from Entangled Teen Spring 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






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