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#1 ThatDan

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 10:19 PM

Version 14: 

 

Callie wants to be invisible. And thanks to her subconscious ability to erase memories, she almost is.

Life on the streets is lonely for a seventeen-year-old, but Callie’s learned to appreciate the solitude. The less she’s noticed, the easier survival becomes. However, her social isolation ends when she's approached by a group of strangers who claim she's a Reaper—a rare person able to manipulate focus and memory. They offer to train her, eluding that she’s capable of far more than merely surviving.

Under their guidance, Callie progresses from subconsciously making people ignore her, to actively altering memories with a single stare. Her mentors become friends, amazed at the true strength of her kind. But they’re not as fortunate. For decades they’ve been hunted by a mysterious empire determined to rescind their weaker psychological powers.

 

Joining a rebel crusade to help liberate the less powerful, Callie is shocked to discover that her adversaries are actually her people—Reapers. The elite empire is convinced that suppression is the only way to keep the peace, else the rebels will exploit and subjugate the powerless. But Callie's friends are done with being oppressed, and await her intel, ready to initiate their uprising.

Callie's undecided loyalty becomes a catalyst for chaos—joining the empire will mean betraying her only friends, siding with the rebels could massacre her Reaper kin, and retreating to safe solitude will leave an entire city in the crossfire of an imminent war.

 

18FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy complete at 95,000 words. Comps, bio, etc.


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#2 Sataris

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 03:27 PM

Okay, I've been putting this off for too long now. I've done so much tweaking that I'm probably blind to major errors.

Time to release my query into the wind and see what blows back!

 

 

Dear agent,

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. Great hook

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life alone on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her fed and sheltered I get a little confused here; is it innate in that she doesn't need to do anything to be imperceptible or to expend much effort, or that she's always imperceptible because it's an autonomous power that she doesn't really control?, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a world of psychological mastery a world of psychological mastery is kind of hard to wrap your head around, maybe a more specific word than mastery? where there’s more than one sixth sense seventh sense, eighth sense etc? or do people only get a single extra sense?, eye-contact can corrupt memories I like the specificity here, and strong personalities develop into mind-bending powers This one is a little too vague though - can you give us an example of what a shy personality might manifest, or ambitious, etc Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition. nice touch

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. After (otherwise the events seems simultaneous) Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking psychological powers Is there a detail you can give us to make this seem more impactful? or maybe just language like ripping the powers from their owners etc. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a preternatural fantasy for older YA.

 

 

​Hit me with everything you've got, and let me know if you need reciprocation.

 

Overall I like how concise this is, and you've very clearly spelled out the character's motivations, stakes, background and all that. The one thing I think could be clearer is the powers and how exactly they work, and how they can be taken away - and what that would mean for the MC.

 

If I had to point to a specific line that could use a bit of sharpening, it would be "as it does so..powers." The as it does so specifically doesn't flow quite as well as it could.

 

But yeah, this is good. It gets the job done, and it's short and to the point. Hope that was helpful!


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#3 Macintot

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 05:23 PM

I liked this. It'll definitely be on my to-read list when it comes out!

 

The only problem I had was the sentence, "Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition." When I read this, I had to go back and double-check that Callie hadn't landed herself in a literal other world.

 

But I really like the concept. Especially the whole mind-erasing thing.



#4 ThatDan

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 07:36 PM

Thanks for your feedback. My reply to your suggestions in orange:

 

Dear agent,

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. Great hook

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life alone on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her fed and sheltered I get a little confused here; is it innate in that she doesn't need to do anything to be imperceptible or to expend much effort, or that she's always imperceptible because it's an autonomous power that she doesn't really control?,​it's actually both! basically she is on the fringe of learning to control her power. as such, it's autonomously keeping her (mostly) imperceptible, but in a way that seems like there's nothing mystical going on, and that people are just ignoring her. I'll work on making this clearer in my next revision. and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a world of psychological mastery a world of psychological mastery is kind of hard to wrap your head around, maybe a more specific word than mastery? where there’s more than one sixth sense seventh sense, eighth sense etc? or do people only get a single extra sense?,​certain people will have a sixth sense, but depending who they are, it varies what that sense actually is. some can sense thoughts, some sense aura, some sense emotions, etc. maybe it would be clearer if I don't try to word it to specify the per-person limitation, and just write "where there's more than five senses" (although that sounds a little vague) eye-contact can corrupt memories I like the specificity here, and strong personalities develop into mind-bending powers This one is a little too vague though - can you give us an example of what a shy personality might manifest, or ambitious, etc ​from the story's lore, every kind of personality can lead to a special power if strong enough. there are far too many to fit into a query, so to keep it brief, i kept it vague. but to answer your suggestions, a person with a shy personality would likely become a mindreader, as their shyness would keep them at a distance, but they would stay observant, and over time would resolve other people, how they act, and how they think. An ambitious person would become a "Sparker" as their ambition and confidence makes them very persuasive, and eventually they would learn to plant foreign thoughts into the minds of other and manipulate them (kind of the opposite to the MC's power) Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition. nice touch

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. After (otherwise the events seems simultaneous) Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking psychological powers Is there a detail you can give us to make this seem more impactful? or maybe just language like ripping the powers from their owners etc​I can definitely do that :P due to the process the bad guys use to take the powers away, they also take away a big chuck of the victim's personality (the part which made them who they are, and gave them their power). Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a preternatural fantasy for older YA.


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

No active query atm.


#5 ThatDan

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 07:40 PM

I liked this. It'll definitely be on my to-read list when it comes out!

 

The only problem I had was the sentence, "Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition." When I read this, I had to go back and double-check that Callie hadn't landed herself in a literal other world.

​Thanks, I was wondering a lot about this myself--whether the query reads as if the new world is literal, or figurative (more about that in my next post)

 

But I really like the concept. Especially the whole mind-erasing thing.


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#6 ThatDan

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 07:49 PM

So aside from the query itself, there's another thing I'd appreciate help with.

I'm not really sure what genre my story is! :o

I've used "fantasy" for now, but it has elements from various fantasy sub-genres.

The concept of these psychologically-powered people living among our real world is akin to an urban fantasy, but the mystical side of the story is too toned-down to call it urban fantasy, or paranormal. Nor does it feature any romance. Because the fantasy is quite toned-down, I incorporate some action/thriller-style gunplay and chase scenes. So overall, it's kind of a mixture.

 

I'm toying with "preternatural fantasy" or "lite fantasy" but I'm not sure if these are common enough genres (or even real genres!)

I'd appreciate feedback letting me know what kind of genre it feels like from the query alone.

Thanks.


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#7 Sataris

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:04 PM

I think I'd probably just go with YA fantasy - you've got magical powers, an evil empire threatening to strip them away, a pending war, etc. The current term for an "old ya" story would probably be new adult, and I know some agents have that genre on their lists, but opinion seems to be split on whether or not it's an actual genre or if it's actually going to blow up like people think or if the market is big enough and so on.

 

one thing I forgot to mention about that last line: it's pretty, but this might be an issue..

 

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking powers. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

 

It seems like she actually wants to live forgotten, so the choice you're presenting could come off as an easy one. Maybe tie it to whatever terrible result will befall her kingdom a bit more tightly? I know you're getting at that with selfish seclusion, but another specific detail might ground it better


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#8 ThatDan

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 09:24 PM

I think I'd probably just go with YA fantasy - you've got magical powers, ​< interestingly, I actually never present it in the story as magical. Think X-Men, but instead of genetic mutations, it's psychological trickery (but to an extent where it might as well be considered magical). Maybe I need to make it a bit cleared in the query though. an evil empire threatening to strip them away, a pending war, etc. The current term for an "old ya" story would probably be new adult, and I know some agents have that genre on their lists, but opinion seems to be split on whether or not it's an actual genre or if it's actually going to blow up like people think or if the market is big enough and so on. ​<yeah, I've looked into NA, but in my limited googlings, it seems like most NA is more down-to-earth drama. Not so much fantasy.

 

one thing I forgot to mention about that last line: it's pretty, but this might be an issue..

 

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking powers. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever​Perhaps "seems safer than ever"? That emilinates the "desire" (literally :p).  Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

 

It seems like she actually wants to live forgotten, so the choice you're presenting could come off as an easy one. ​<I'm kind of relying on the audience assuming that no MC can just turn down the hero role and run away. But that's the main issue plaguing her (albeit more complex in the story). Disappearing is the safe, easy option, and it's what she's done her whole life. But now that she's made friends/allies, it won't be so easy. Maybe tie it to whatever terrible result will befall her kingdom a bit more tightly? I know you're getting at that with selfish seclusion, but another specific detail might ground it better ​< I hear you. Essentially the main thing she stands to lose is her rebel friends. (actually just one in particular, because the rest haven't been 100% honest with her). But I don't think I can get into specifics since the rest of the query skips over her friend completely.


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#9 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 10:03 PM

Version 2:

 

​Hello Dan,

 

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. ​Why does she want to erase other people's memories?

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, ​(Safe from what, who? Is there a villain you could mention here?)  and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging ​(oh wow, that is crazy stuff. Pretty awesome). As it does so, it unveils a higher level of psychological manipulation, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition. ​Cool... I really like this so far...

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers ​(now, one thing I wonder here, is what kind of world this is, there are others with powers?), Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten? ​My only complaint are that the stakes don't seem that strong. Is there a more powerful last sentence you can conjure up, like losing family, etc. Not just the slogan.

​I enjoyed the hell out of this query. Good Job!

Please reciprocate at http://agentquerycon...-eden/?p=349605

 

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural fantasy.

 

Changes:

-Removed parts referring to another world (figurative), since it all takes place in our world, but on a higher level of brain function.

​-One more example of power. Do you think I need more examples? I have lots!

-Made MC's dilemma at the end a little less one-sided.

-Emphasized the severity of the empire's attacks.

 

 

 

 

Old version below 

 

Okay, I've been putting this off for too long now. I've done so much tweaking that I'm probably blind to major errors.

Time to release my query into the wind and see what blows back!

 

 

Dear agent,

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a life alone on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her fed and sheltered, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a world of psychological mastery, where there’s more than one sixth sense, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking powers. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a preternatural fantasy for older YA.

 

 

​Hit me with everything you've got, and let me know if you need reciprocation.


Preston Copeland

Website: prestoncopeland.biz

Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#10 ThatDan

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 10:36 PM

Thanks for the feedback Preston. I've left you feedback too. For those interested, my responses below in blue:

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. ​Why does she want to erase other people's memories? That's one of the questions she asks herself. She never asked for her power, but there is a reason why it formed. (kind of backstory though, not fit for the query)

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, ​(Safe from what, who? Is there a villain you could mention here?) ​Life on the streets is dangerous! :p No real villain at this stage though. and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging ​(oh wow, that is crazy stuff. Pretty awesome). As it does so, it unveils a higher level of psychological manipulation, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition. ​Cool... I really like this so far...

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers ​(now, one thing I wonder here, is what kind of world this is, there are others with powers?), ​this is our world, but these powers and their effects go unnoticed to anyone not 'smart' enough to understand them. I'm struggling to convey this clearly though. Any suggestions? Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten? ​My only complaint are that the stakes don't seem that strong. Is there a more powerful last sentence you can conjure up, like losing family, etc. Not just the slogan. Some variations: "Being a hero will tempt death, but could save her friends. Selfish seclusion will restore her freedom, but leave her a loner forever." or "Die remembered by friends, or live forgotten alone?"

It's kind of hard to get concise, since it's not even the traditional option 1 - option 2 dilemma. If she does decide to fight, she still needs to pick a side: the rebels who are (mostly) her friends, or the empire, who are her (figurative) family.

​I enjoyed the hell out of this query. Good Job!

 


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#11 Sataris

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 12:33 PM

Version 2:

 

 

 

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best.

 

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a higher level of psychological manipulation this is better than it was, but I'm still stumbling a bit...what about something like: "As Callie's abilities grow, a whole new world of psychological possibility is revealed to her, where sixth senses..." That's not phrased well, but it would also probably read more fluidly if you didn't have to use two linking clauses (in red) to draw these two sentences together where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this, <not a bad one, but still a vague use of this; could you possibly tie it back into the new world she's stumbled upon? might also be a way to get rid of the second red clause she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

 

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural fantasy.

This is looking really good. I think all the info we need is here- it's just a matter of making that first paragraph flow as well as possible. As to your question above about suggestions, I don't think we really need to know for sure that it's a normal world where people who are smart enough live in an augmented world or however you want to phrase it. The story would be interesting in either case, and you've already established that she herself stumbles on this reality, so at the very least we know people aren't running around in plain sight using powers.


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#12 ThatDan

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 02:08 AM

Updated the first post with the newest version. Would love feedback on the changes at the end, as I'm still conflicted.


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#13 mindy24601

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 03:15 PM

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. This sounds rich. Maybe break it into two sentences, though? ...soon forget. Because erasing memories is what she does best. 

 

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, consider "no friends, no family, and almost eighteen years..." might sound a bit catchier. Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible maybe invisible would be a better word? keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her power is only just emerging. As her abilities grow, a preternatural world of psychological prowess is unveiled nice , where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon awakening her true potential, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. i like how this reads. nice flow. Knowing that choosing one side means betraying the other, Callie struggles to pledge her loyalty. With war looming, the chances of saving everyone, including herself, are slim. And her old life swiftly temps her to abandon everything she’s gained and escape back to the safety of isolation. this sentence doesn't flow with the rest, it kind of feels just stuck there Dance with death to save her new world, or flee into the shadows to restore her old world one?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural i hate to show my ignorance, but is this a recognised genre? fantasy.

 

 



#14 Sataris

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 06:43 PM

 

 

 

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no family or friends, and having endured almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her power is only just emerging. As her abilities grow, a preternatural world of psychological prowess This has improved is unveiled, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon awakening her true potential, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only this reads as if you're telling us that her mission fails; not sure if that's your intention reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. I think everything up to here is great

 

Knowing that choosing one side means betraying the other, Callie struggles to pledge her loyalty this currently reads as her not be able to find a place to pledge, rather than not being able to decide with whom to pledge. With war looming, the chances of saving everyone, including herself, are slim. And her old life swiftly temps her to abandon everything she’s gained and escape back to the safety of isolation. Dance with death to save her new world, or flee into the shadows to restore her old world? I personally preferred your previous version of these last few lines- I thought it was a little bit clearer concerning her struggles

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural fantasy.

 


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#15 NCruz

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 08:57 PM



Version 3: Added some suggestions, and did a different take on the 2nd half of the 2nd paragraph (but not sure if I like the new version as much)

 

 

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best. ​[Probably not intention, but the rhyme is catchy. ;) You might want to toy around with this line and see if there are variations you prefer more, like "Very few people notice Callie. Those who do soon forget, because erasing memories is what she does best." or "Very few people notice Callie. Those who do soon forget, for erasing memories is what she does best." Each variation has a different flavor. See which one tastes best to you. :) ]

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation ​[Is she isolated from them? Are they dead? Is her memory lacking?], Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets ​["solitude" and "lonely" kind of go hand-in-hand, so I'd consider removing "lonely." I'm also curious about why she's on the streets. Did her family kick her out? Did her roommates kick her out?]. Her innate ability to be imperceptible ​[Like a superpower? Glamour?] keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind ​[How? Was she getting jumped on the streets? Did she protect herself and lose control?], it becomes clear that her power is only just emerging ​[She already knew she had powers?]. As her abilities grow, a preternatural world of psychological prowess ​[I recommend subbing "preternatural...prowess" with simpler language. As it is, the words feel forced.] is unveiled, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers ​[She discovers this on her own? She encounters people with these powers?]. Yet upon awakening her true potential ​[By doing what? Did her true potential emerge with time?], she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust ​[How?], she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire ​[Why is she compelled to help?] which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin ​[As in people of her blood? People with her abilities?]. Knowing that choosing one side means betraying the other, Callie struggles to pledge her loyalty. With war looming, the chances of saving everyone, including herself, are slim. And her old life swiftly temps her to abandon everything she’s gained and escape back to the safety of isolation. Dance with death to save her new world, or flee into the shadows to restore her old world? ​[Sentence fragments typically only "work" if they piggyback on the final idea in the previous sentence.]

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural ​[I highly recommend you stick to "YA fantasy" or "YA UF" or "YA CF" or whatever. "Preternatural" comes off as trying too hard to "create" a new genre.] fantasy. ​[Also, given how popular YA fantasy is, you should have an easy time finding 2 good comp titles.]



#16 ThatDan

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 12:51 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys. Much appreciated. I've incorporated a few more suggestions, and reverted to the original ending.

Nessa, most of your questions, you guessed the correct answer ;) but I'll work on trying to make some of the answers clearer.

For now, I'm diving deep back into my MS for a cohesiveness edit, but I'll check back here now and then for further feedback and to reciprocate.


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

No active query atm.


#17 dizzywriter

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 05:09 PM



Thanks for your input on mine. I hope this helps. I like the concept a lot. But I think you need more specifics.

 

Version 4:

 

 

Very few people notice Callie. Those who do soon forget, for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no friends, no family, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. , [<-- all this is backstory. Open with action -->] But [her real powers emerge when she]  accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her real power is only just emerging. As her abilities grow, a preternatural world of psychological prowess is unveiled, [this is very vague and could describe many fantasy sci/fi stories] where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon awakening her true potential, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.[I like your writing, but this entire paragraph is too general].

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented ['fragmanted seems to gentle a word]. Unfortunately, her efforts reveal a complicated truth— [But when she learns that] her supposed enemies are actually her kin. [how? what does this mean?]

Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, [Why? What happened? Did she get caught?] Callie struggles [while she's wandering around the empire erasing memories, imprisoned, in love with the captain? Be more specific] to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war [with who?] looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom? Die remembered, or live forgotten?

18FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy, complete at 95,000 words.

 

 

Version 2:

 

 

 

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a higher level of psychological manipulation, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a YA preternatural fantasy.

 

Changes:

-Removed parts referring to another world (figurative), since it all takes place in our world, but on a higher level of brain function.

​-One more example of power. Do you think I need more examples? I have lots!

-Made MC's dilemma at the end a little less one-sided.

-Emphasized the severity of the empire's attacks.

 

 

 

 

Version 1

 

Okay, I've been putting this off for too long now. I've done so much tweaking that I'm probably blind to major errors.

Time to release my query into the wind and see what blows back!

 

 

Dear agent,

Very few people notice Callie, and those who do, soon forget—for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no family or friends, and almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a life alone on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her fed and sheltered, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a stranger’s entire mind, it becomes clear that her true power is only just emerging. As it does so, it unveils a world of psychological mastery, where there’s more than one sixth sense, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into mind-bending powers. Yet upon discovering this world, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie begins to embrace her newfound inclusion. Earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been revoking powers. Unfortunately, her efforts only reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems more desirable than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom. Die remembered, or live forgotten?

Complete at 95,000 words, 18FORGOTTEN is a preternatural fantasy for older YA.

 

 

​Hit me with everything you've got, and let me know if you need reciprocation.



#18 ThatDan

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 09:08 PM

As per a lot of suggestions, I've tried to make the query a lot less vague and include some more detail. In the original post is a rough alternate version of the query which states things more clearly, but IMO, we sacrifice a lot of Callie's character (background, personality, and internal conflict). But if it makes the query more concrete, then it's worth it.

 

Let me know which one you think works better.


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

No active query atm.


#19 Sataris

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 02:19 PM

Version B: Less backstory, less vague, but imo at the cost cutting MCs voice. Let me know which version you prefer.

 

Very few people notice Callie. Those who do--soon forget, for erasing memories is what she does best.

 

When Callie's ability to make people ignore I think imperceptible is a more accurate word here her fails against a relentless mugger, her power intensifies and erases the attacker's entire mind. Unlike everything else she's done, her new feat doesn't go unnoticed, and Callie is swiftly recruited by a dysfunctional gang of like-minded empowered. With their guidance, Callie learns that being ignored was just scratching the surface of what the human psyche is capable of--Reapers harvest memories, while Sparkers ignite new ones. Empas shepherd emotions, and Lumes refocus the mind. Healers accelerate wound repair, while Disruptors induce crippling mental pain. More examples? I think this is probably too many - the names make them read like characters, and it seems a little generic (though I don't think it comes off as generic with the personality thing you're doing in the story itself, but we lose that element in this list)  and much more. But everything Callie learns How can her knowledge or her powers fall into jeopardy? falls into jeopardy when her new friends tell her that they’re rebels fighting against a mysterious empire which purges people of their powers, leaving them mentally mutilated.

 

Desperate to stop the empire, Callie embarks on a solo mission to infiltrate their hierarchy and find a weakness. Instead, she discovers that the empire consists of Reapers like her. They're not the villains the rebels made them out to be, crusading only to revoke powers from those who exploit the innocent. They encourage Callie to abandon the rebels, and take her rightful place within the empire. Uncertain where her loyalty lies, Callie knows that joining one side will mean betraying the other. And with a war between factions imminent, Callie questions if she’s destined to be a part of it at all. Being a hero I'm not clear on how she's going to be a hero- by choosing a side? could end in death, while fleeing will only restore an empty life. 

 

Now that I think about it, you've actually got a double set of stakes here. So if you wanted to, you could actually cut this last line (which i think will always seem like a tiny bit of an easy/forced choice given that she's basically a loner who would seemingly prefer a quiet life rather than risking fame/death). Instead, you could just mention "side with her friends and her newfound kin dies, or choose the only family she's ever known and betray the trust of those who welcomed her in in the first place, or something like that. Badly phrased but hopefully gets the point across.

18FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy, complete at 95,000 words.

 

 

 

Version 4A: more character-driven

 

 

Very few people notice Callie. Those who do soon forget, for erasing memories is what she does best.

With no friends, no family, and After almost eighteen years of social isolation, Callie has learned to cherish the solitude of a lonely life on the streets. Her innate ability to be imperceptible keeps her alone, but safe, and she desires little else. But when she accidentally erases a would-be mugger's entire mind, it becomes clear that her real power is only just emerging. As her abilities grow, a preternatural world of psychological prowess is unveiled, where sixth senses expose thoughts and emotions, eye-contact can corrupt memories, and strong personalities develop into all-manner of mind-bending powers. Have you thought about cutting this? I think the strong personalities developing into powers is super cool, but if you don't think you have room to detail it you could cut this sentence and make the query a lot more taut. Not sure you should, but it's an option. Yet upon awakening her true potential, she attracts something she’s never had, nor wanted—recognition.

Befriended by a dysfunctional team of rebels with similar powers, Callie embraces her newfound inclusion. After earning their trust, she is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious empire which has been purging people of their power, leaving their minds fragmented if you're after specifics, this might be a good place- how exactly are their minds fragmented? Are they left drooling in the streets or are they totally catatonic, etc. Unfortunately, her efforts reveal a complicated truth—her supposed enemies are actually her kin, and they're not nearly as evil as the rebels made them out to be or something like that. Knowing that whichever side she chooses, the other will want her dead, Callie struggles to decide where, if anywhere, to pledge her loyalty. And with war looming, her old life seems safer than ever. Being a hero will only tempt death, but selfish seclusion will restore her freedom? Die remembered, or live forgotten?

18FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy, complete at 95,000 words.

Overall I prefer the 4A version, but I think the top query did a few things better, like establishing how neither side has the moral high ground. Makes her choice way more interesting and shows your manuscript has depth. Some of the specifics were good too, like the mugger detail, but I think you can easily fit that into the 4A one if you want. I'm not sure I'd make the cuts I highlighted in 4A, but the story itself reads as virtually the same with those words cut out, so something to think about. Hope that was helpful and thanks for the feedback!


No current query.


#20 NGrzesik

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 05:58 PM

Very few people notice Callie. Those who do-- (Eliminate this dash-thing here) soon forget, for erasing memories is what she does best. because she erases their memories. 

 

When Callie's ability to make people ignore her fails against a relentless mugger, her power intensifies and she accidentally erases the attacker's entire mind. (I think this needs to be reworded, because first you say the ability fails and then it intensifies. It just doesn't make logical sense. Maybe something like, "But when cornered by a mugger, Callie goes too far and erases the attacker's entire mind" or something like that) Unlike everything else she's done, Her her new feat accident doesn't go unnoticed, and Callie is swiftly recruited by a dysfunctional gang of like-minded empowered. <Paragraph Break Here>

 

With their guidance, Callie learns that being ignored was just scratching she had only scratched the surface of what the human psyche is capable of her powers--Reapers harvest memories, while Sparkers ignite new ones. Empas shepherd emotions, and Lumes refocus the mind. Healers accelerate wound repair, while Disruptors induce crippling mental pain. (This last bit has me confused. Are they the names for her powers? I think they're a little unnecessary in a query letter so I'd cut it) More examples?  and much more. But everything Callie learns falls into jeopardy when her new friends tell her that they’re rebels fighting she discovers her friends fight against an mysterious empire which that purges people of their powers, and leaving leaves them mentally mutilated. (Maybe "psychologically crippled" is a better term?)

 

Desperate to stop the empire, Callie embarks on a solo mission to infiltrate their hierarchy and find a weakness. Instead, she discovers that the empire consists of Reapers like her (It should be stated that Callie is a Reaper, as she wasn't early on). They're not the villains the rebels made them out to be, They're misunderstood crusading only to and instead revoke powers from those who exploit the innocent. They encourage Callie to abandon the rebels and side with them, and take her rightful place within the empire. <Paragraph Break>

 

Uncertain where her loyalty lies, Callie knows that joining one side will mean betraying the other. And and with a war between factions imminent, Callie questions if she’s destined to be a part of it at all. Being a hero could end in death, while fleeing will only restore an empty life.

 

18FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy, complete at 95,000 words.

 

I feel that you've got everything you need in a query. You've got stakes, the main character, her internal conflict, and the overall conflict. I think you should emphasize the conflict between Callie's friends and Reapers though, because I didn't quite get that reading through the first time. Also, make sure to state that she IS one of the Reapers, because it took me a little effort to figure out that she was. 


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





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