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OCEANS DEEP - YA Fantasy (edits made 5/17/18)

Fantasy Young Adult

Best Answer MICRONESIA , 18 May 2018 - 12:31 PM

I went back through the thread to find what I consider your best query. Hell, I think that third paragraph works best here as well. I will fight to my death for this version.

 

 

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can't swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by metal prosthetics that make her an object of ridicule. But nobody makes Ondine feel inferior without her permission. She fights at the drop of a fin, and fearlessly rides her manta ray in the deadliest races, leaving even the best riders in her wake.

 

Her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, but she's never cared about palace politics. Not until a border lord is murdered by agents of Nereia, and there are whispers of a traitor in the palace. When Ondine catches the king's own spymaster meeting secretly with the Nereids, she realizes the danger is closer to her family than she thought. But no one will listen to her except Drake, a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved.

 

Then the spymaster turns up dead, and Ondine learns just how high up the conspiracy goes. Drake urges her to leave the palace, but if she doesn't confront the real traitor now, he will kill again. And next time, the target may well be her father, the King of Syren himself.

 

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of a strong female lead and political intrigue, as found in Kristin Cashore's GRACELING. Nearly every creature and setting in the story is modeled after the real-life wonders that lie beneath the waves.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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#61 mkuriel

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:03 PM

Just to avoid critiques for things I’ve already changed, here’s the latest:

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, her metal prosthetics keep her from being carried away by the currents, but they also weigh her down, making her an object of ridicule to other Seafolk. [nice intro. I like the departure from the typical 'hook' and how you focus on characterizing the MC and setting. Of course, it implies that the story is about how she's ridiculed - but I didn't even realize that until after reading the whole thing a couple times]

Still, nobody makes Ondine feel inferior without her permission. She fights at the drop of a fin, and fearlessly [redundant] rides her manta ray in the deadliest races. Her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, but she’s never cared about politics. Not until a border lord is murdered by agents of the Nereid Kingdom, and whispers circulate of a traitor in the palace. [agree that you could expand the first word, but you don't really need to. At this point though, I'm still wondering what the story's about]

When Ondine catches the king’s spymaster meeting secretly with the Nereids, she immediately tells her father, but he doesn’t believe her. [this is good. even better would be to give a reason that works in some of the above backstory. For example: but he thinks she's angry at the spymaster for his unrelenting scorn] There are only two who do:[this phrase will need a look if you expand on why her father doesn't believe her] Antipater, the royal adviser who knows her better than anyone,[you could use a semi-colon here to drive home the separation, but would probably get criticized for that as well]  and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. But after the spymaster turns up dead, she learns that the real traitor is Antipater himself. [There's a lot in this paragraph, but I like it. Show's depth and intrigue.]

Ondine knows she has to find a way to stop him, even though he’s like a second father to her. Because if she doesn’t, there will be another death in the palace. And this time, the victim will be her real father, the King of Syren.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of a strong female lead and political intrigue, as found in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING. [I think the reason people prefer two comps is that they don't want to give the appearance of a remake. Saying it's similar to a couple things shows respect for what's worked before while giving a sense of what's new. As is, I've not read Graceling so no idea what it's about. Your story makes me think "The Little Mermaid" more than anything else - and including a well-known mermaid tale might be a good way to imply that Seafolk are mermaids without actually saying it.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Overall, very good! I mostly gave reaction and nit-picked. It might be good advice to simplify and focus the third paragraph - it reads like a condensed synopsis. But I didn't really question it until after I read some of the other critiques. So you could probably get by either way.

 

Personally, I like the third paragraph so suggested options for making it stronger. To trim and focus suggest: cut mention of the border lord and focus on the whispers; trim the third paragraph down to two sentences that introduce and emphasize the conflict/stakes between her father and father-figure.

Also, while it sucks having your family in danger - those are external stakes. What personal choice/journey is she facing here? It could be as simple as: she has to overcome the stigma of a crippled troublemaker to save her father. Or maybe not. I am, of course, assuming that there's an internal motivation beyond a desire to protect family.

 

Final thought: What makes Ondine the only person who can stop Antipater? That isn't clear - though a complication is implied because of the societal ridicule and family embarrassment. Expanding on that current might help focus the query.

 

Hope that helps!

 

I appreciate all feedback: http://agentquerycon...e-high-fantasy/



#62 rhwashere

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:03 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. Here's something a little different. Let me know if I'm getting warmer or colder.

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. And though her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, she doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. Or, she didn’t until she stumbles upon the king’s spymaster meeting with enemy agents, and no one believes her.

The only two who will even listen are the royal advisor who has known her since she was a child, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she hopes to clear her name, she must find the traitor who lurks the palace halls, and fast. For an attack is coming on the kingdom, set to begin the moment the traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#63 PureZhar3

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 03:19 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. Here's something a little different. Let me know if I'm getting warmer or colder.

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. And though her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, she doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. Or, she didn’t until she stumbles upon the king’s spymaster meeting with enemy agents, and no one believes her. ​All of these sentences beginning with compounds detract from the paragraph. Do that, at most, once per paragraph... I would keep the "but", and eliminate the "and" as well as the "or" (you could replace "or" with "at least")

The only two who will even listen are the royal advisor who has known her since she was a child, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved ​in...? I'm sure this is unintentional, and your point still comes across okay, but "get involved" can also be a romantic phrase. Ondine decides she must ​to (I switched this to reduce the frequency of the word "she" in this sentence) take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she hopes to clear her name, she must find the traitor ​I assume you mean the murderer, but the terminology switch was slightly confusing who lurks the palace halls, and fast. For an attack is coming on the kingdom, set to begin the moment the traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

​I do like this better! Which is crazy because it was so good before :laugh:  However, your wording has gotten a little more repetitive. Particularly, I noticed a heavy use of compounds - almost every sentence possesses an "and". Try to weed through that and make some shorter sentences, too. It isn't a major issue, but I think it will help this query to truly shine.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#64 mkuriel

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 08:29 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. Here's something a little different. Let me know if I'm getting warmer or colder.

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. But that doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. And though her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, she doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. Or, she didn’t until she stumbles upon the king’s spymaster meeting with enemy agents, and no one believes her.

The only two who will even listen are the royal advisor who has known her since she was a child, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she hopes to clear her name, she must find the traitor who lurks the palace halls [awkward. who stalks the palace hall or maybe, traitor in the palace], and fast. For an attack is coming on the kingdom, set to begin the moment the traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I like this, but don't understand why you ditched the Hook, plot, and stakes format...

A possible hook: 

 

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by metal prosthetics and a murder accusation.

 

Hooks typically introduce the main character, stakes, and essence of the plot. Capturing voice, tone, and main character personality are bonuses... Taking the key details from the above, here's a shell that communicates what I gather your story is about (while probably getting the tone completely wrong): 

 

It's terrible being the princess of an underwater kingdom when you can’t swim. Only it isn't metal legs that weigh Ondine down, it's the murder accusation that's distracting her father from the sharks of war.

 

Everyone thinks she's a lying, slippery eel after she floundered onto the dead spymaster. So she was wrong to accuse him of treason - he shouldn't have been swimming with enemy agents. That doesn't mean she killed him! It's her own sad whale song - she is the unwanted barnacle who races mantas and embarrasses the royal whales. No matter who she dolphin-kicks, her father refuses to hear her or investigate the traitor in the palace. 

 

If Ondine can't clear the ink from the kelp forest, she'll be beached for a murder she didn't commit. Then her father will perish and the kingdom will be invaded. 

 

Okay, as fun as that was, I hope I made my point. Hook them in, deliver a few Main plot points, and then end with the stakes. Sprinkle in the good stuff (characterization, tone, etc... ) as you go.  It's all there already, just needs some focused polishing.  

 

Good job with the comps! Haven't read either of those but I like knowing something to look for if I ever do. 

 

Hope that helps!



#65 rhwashere

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:26 PM

My main inspiration was this successful query for the YA fantasy MIDNIGHT THIEF: http://www.writersdi...-midnight-thief

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#66 TeaTime

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 10:14 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. Here's something a little different. Let me know if I'm getting warmer or colder.

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. But that doesn’t stop her though from fighting at the drop of a fin, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. And though her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, she doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. Or, she didn’t until she stumbles upon the king’s spymaster meeting with enemy agents, and no one believes her. (I agree with PureZhar that this is a lot of But/And/Or sentence beginnings. I put in one possible change in the But sentence above.)

The only two who will even listen are the royal advisor who has known her since she was a child, and a handsome manta racer (I always say cut manta dude, & still do, but it occurred to me that it sounds like he has romantic feelings for her, but she's sort of handicapped. If that's so (& if it's not just because she's a princess), that's interesting.) who would rather whisk her away than get involved. (In this query version, since these two don't pop up again, I'd cut this sentence.) Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she hopes to clear her name, she must find the traitor who lurks the palace halls (Or maybe something like "--traitor lurking in the palace's shadows"), and fast. For an attack is coming on the kingdom, set to begin the moment the traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I don't know if I necessarily like this version better than the previous format.

 

One general question I have about them is whether Ondine's loss of limbs affects the traitor plot at all. The query starts off painting the limb loss as the main conflict, which is good & obviously a big part of who she is, but then the traitor plot takes over. Do the two elements affect each other any more than what is detailed? It would be interesting to tie her handicap/being an embarrassment to her family back to her attempts to save the kingdom.

 

But both versions are still quite strong. Keep up the good work  :cool: 


Feel Free to Check Out My Current Query Letter Here, Thank You


#67 rhwashere

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 08:10 AM

Thanks guys! I tried to incorporate some of those suggestions with this one:

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. That begins to change when she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting secretly with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose his treason, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she is to rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer. But she must do it fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment that traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#68 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:43 PM

Thanks guys! I tried to incorporate some of those suggestions with this one:

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. That begins to change when she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting secretly with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose his treason, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. If she is to rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer. But she must do it fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment that traitor claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

​Excellent! I currently have no more suggestions for you :) The only one would be to make the starting sentence its own paragraph for maximum effect


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#69 Oldborne

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:51 PM

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren cool name, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim great hook. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. That begins to change when she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting secretly with agents of an enemy kingdom. Awesome first paragraph. Can't find anything to be picky about and I'm usually a picky bastard. It's working for me so far. 

Ondine tries to expose his Since we're in a new paragraph I'd replace 'his' with 'the spymaster' just to remove all potential doubt treason, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Your only weak sentence so far. Unless you feel like it's detrimental to the book, I'd consider removing it. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands, but when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder Oh snap. If she is to rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name This is super picky (and not really relevant) but is murder something royalty have to worry about being accused of? I guess it is in the world you've created but historically they can go around killin' whoever they please, she must find the real murderer. But she must do it fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment that traitor claims his next victim The traitor meaning the dead spymaster? How's he gonna claim another victim?: her father, the King of Syren himself. How does Ondine know the King is the next victim?

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

You've got yourself quite a solid query here. I'd say you're most of the way there. The world sounds in-depth (no pun intended) and real, and the story sounds engaging and interesting. The second paragraph offers a few places for picky folks to pick away but there's nothing there that should make an agent stop reading. Maybe a little bit of tightening and you're done.

Great job! Hope I've been of some help. 

 


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#70 rhwashere

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 09:56 AM

Minor edits here. Thanks again for everyone’s help!

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think, not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#71 Arcanjoe

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 01:57 PM

Minor edits here. Thanks again for everyone’s help!

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. (Great opening line.)  After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. (If they keep her stable, surely it is a good thing? 'Weighed down' in this context reads as something negative, which, if it is actually assisting her stability in the currents, shouldn't be the case. Right?)That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine (I like 'drop of a fin' but to use two manuscript-exclusive expressions within a couple of lines of each other might be a little off putting for some.)  what other Seafolk think, not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild (maybe put 'wild' in quotation marks to put extra emphasis on it.) daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he (I'd put 'the murderer' again here just so 1) you're not giving away the gender and 2) so there's no confusion about who 'he' is referring to.) claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

What a great idea. I only had a few (nitpicky) points above. Also, you present Ondine's disability wonderfully in the first paragraph, explaining her prosthetics and how it aids her under the sea, but it might be an idea to include a mention of it in the second paragraph. How it helps her race against the handsome guy or hint at how she may use it to defeat the murdered. Just and idea. Other than that I think this is excellent.


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 

Or the first 250 words of my story...

Clover:

http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

 


#72 crestakaz

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:17 AM

Minor edits here. Thanks again for everyone’s help!

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think--that is not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom. I think this is a great opener. It's catchy, voice-y, and does pretty much everything right. My only suggestion would maybe rephrase either the first or second sentence to keep from having two passive sentences ("Princess Odine is"; "she is weighed down") next to each other. Also, the last sentence didn't feel quite right (matter of preference, probably), so I added a change above as a suggestion.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who' is hesitant to act,(no comma) and a handsome manta racer more interested in whisking her away than getting involved who would rather whisk her away than get involved. (This sentence feels a little unnecessary, given that these two characters don't recur in your query. However, I understand you might be adding them to keep the scope of your story a bit wider than just focused on solely Ondine and her father. Not sure what the best choice is, here.) When Ondine decides she must to take matters into her own hands and But when she goes to confront the spymaster herself, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. (Seems a bit out of logical order. Isn't she looking to clear her name through rising above her reputation? Depending on what you want to imply, it might be "To clear her name, she must rise above her reputation and find the real murderer, and fast," etc. It also just feels a little unbalanced to have such a long first half, IMO). War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself. Small but important bit: who is "he"? The real murderer? To keep it more of a mystery, I'd leave out gender specific pronouns. You could just say "assassin" instead, perhaps. It'd be clear whom you're talking about, and it's an accurate term given the political persuasion of his victims. Also, I'm not a huge fan of how the last sentence is arranged; nothing wrong with the content, per se, but it does get a little punctuation-heavy.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of (in?) Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, (no comma) and the strong female lead in (of?) Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING. Just a couple of small WC suggestions so you don't have "fans of" and "intrigue of" back-to-back

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

On the whole, I think this is excellent. It conveys the info without getting confusing, and it definitely sets up the stakes in the right way. Lots of voice, lots of drama. All around, I think you've done a great job. My only comments are listed above, and they're just small things anyway. I'm really excited for you to see how far this query's come :) You're bound to get responses, and lots of them! (At least, I think so, haha)



#73 Cesar Montufar

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:04 AM

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if (hard to judge whether I like this or not because I don't know her age--it strikes me as immature for a 17 year old, but fine for a 14 year old.) her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think, not (suggest separating these sentences to heighten the drama) until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one (contradicted in the very next sentence) will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But (ironically, these sentence I want you to combine) when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself. (Stakes are good, but it raises the question of whether or not she knows this, and how.) 

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

The only suggestion I have that rises above fidgeting at the margins is that we should know the age of the protagonist. It's a YA thing. 15 and 17 are worlds apart, and either qualifies as YA, so it would help the reader better understand Ondine. Otherwise this sounds really cool, despite the fact that courtly intrigue is not my thing! Good luck out there!



#74 Oldborne

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 05:51 AM

Minor edits here. Thanks again for everyone’s help!

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think, not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself. I remember being confused about how she knew who the next victim was in the last version, too. I think this should be addressed somehow. You have the space to expand a little.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Beside my one comment, this is a super solid query. You can take this to agents now if you wanted to. Very interesting idea, engaging plot points, and (although a little murky) great stakes.

Best of luck! Sorry I didn't have more to offer but I'd say that's a good thing.


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#75 BrookeJS

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 09:27 PM

Minor edits here. Thanks again for everyone’s help!

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however, or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think, not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

​This is so good and I really want to read your book! It sounds like so much fun and reminds me of a rowdier Little Mermaid and I am such a fan of feisty, headstrong, female leads. I'm very torn between these two queries because I think they're both great in their own ways. I like your most recent one because it feels very clean and polished. But I also like the earlier one (copied below) because I felt I got a richer sense of the world, especially for Ondine and the choice she will have to face with defeating someone she loves. I agree with most of the critiques so far, so I don't have anything technical to add, but I think if there was a way for you to attach a bit of the feeling ​of your earlier query into your newest one then you've got an amazing pitch! (But, I also think both are great and you'll probably be successful with either one!)

 

 

 

"Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both her legs, her metal prosthetics keep her from being carried away by the currents, but they also weigh her down, making her an object of ridicule to other Seafolk.

Still, nobody makes Ondine feel inferior without her permission. She fights at the drop of a fin, and fearlessly rides her manta ray in the deadliest races. Her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, but she’s never cared about politics. Not until a border lord is murdered by agents of the Nereid Kingdom, and whispers circulate of a traitor in the palace.

When Ondine catches the king’s spymaster meeting secretly with the Nereids, she immediately tells her father, but he doesn’t believe her. There are only two who do: Antipater, the royal adviser who knows her better than anyone, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. But after the spymaster turns up dead, she learns that the real traitor is Antipater himself.

Ondine knows she has to find a way to stop him, even though he’s like a second father to her. Because if she doesn’t, there will be another death in the palace. And this time, the victim will be her real father, the King of Syren.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of a strong female lead and political intrigue, as found in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration. "


If you have time I would love feedback on my query: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=356112

If you could spare a moment I would really appreciate critiques on my synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=355669

 


#76 BadgerFox

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 04:19 PM

Dear [Agent],

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can’t swim. After losing both legs, she is weighed down by the metal prosthetics that keep her stable in the shifting currents. [This is a really cool opener and I think it'll be especially good for agents who are seeking diverse characters and #OwnVoices type MS, as an exploration of physical disability with a mermaid twist is fascinating. And we were rightly overdue for more diverse protagonists :) ]  That doesn’t stop her from fighting at the drop of a fin, however [this phrasing is nice; the unique twist on a familiar phrase is not hard to understand but flavours the query with a good 'voice'], or riding her manta ray in the deadliest races. So what if her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family? She doesn’t give an urchin’s spine what other Seafolk think. At least, [just a suggestion but I wonder if splitting this into two sentences flows better] not until she stumbles upon Syren’s spymaster meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Ondine tries to expose the spymaster, but no one will believe the king’s wild daughter. The only two who even listen are an advisor who is hesitant to act, and a handsome manta racer who would rather whisk her away than get involved. Ondine decides she must take matters into her own hands. But when she goes to confront the spymaster, she finds him dead and herself accused of murder. To rise above her reputation as a crippled troublemaker and clear her name, she must find the real murderer, and fast. War is coming, set to begin the moment he claims his next victim: her father, the King of Syren himself. [ I had to re-read that last sentence because for a moment I thought 'he? Who's he? Is this the personification of war or something?', but I realize you meant the murderer. I don't think there's a more elegant way to put it, though, and this might be more immediately obvious to others, so maybe just stick with this phrasing]

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue of Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING. [Your comparisons are good and clear]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I think you're just about ready to send! The query is original, concise, free from major grammar or structural issues and there were only one or two points where I had to brefly glance back over what I read and check it was right. It also has a good individualized 'voice' to it, which I've found seems to be one of the most appealling things to agents(my twitter pitches written closer to the character's own idiom always seemed to do better than ones written more formally and neutrally...). I don't have a lot more to add because I don't believe you need to significantly change this, at this point :)

 

If you wanted to specifically try agents looking for diverse and dis-abled protagonists, you could add a brief note about that in your final sentence, explaining that you've chosen X agent because you saw it on their manuscript wishlist or the like. Although you've already pointed out you're making an effort to write a well-rounded and bold female protagonist and it's fairly clear about her other traits, so I guess it's not 100% necessary to flag it up so overtly.


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

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#77 rhwashere

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 07:13 PM

Okay guys. After going through some more QueryShark, I've murdered my darlings and tried something more immediate and plot-driven. Please let me know if you like this better:

Dear [Agent],

In an underwater kingdom of Seafolk, Princess Ondine is a double-amputee who fights at the drop of a fin, rides her manta ray in the deadliest races, and is currently being investigated for the murder of a border lord.

After racing in the lord's territory the same night he is killed, Ondine's reputation for trouble makes her a suspect of the spymaster, Ryko. Not even her own father is convinced of her innocence, which weighs on her far more than her prosthetic legs. It seems no one is on her side, not even when she catches Ryko meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Certain that Ryko is a traitor, Ondine tries to tell her father but he won’t listen. That night, she’s threatened by Ryko’s men and told that her sister will die if she doesn’t keep quiet. Now she must choose between protecting her family and protecting her kingdom. But she has only begun to glimpse the depth of this conspiracy, and no one can be trusted.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue in Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#78 cmmg

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 07:26 PM

Okay guys. After going through some more QueryShark, I've murdered my darlings and tried something more immediate and plot-driven. Please let me know if you like this better:

Dear [Agent],

In an underwater kingdom of Seafolk, Princess Ondine is a double-amputee who fights at the drop of a fin, rides her manta ray in the deadliest races, and is currently being investigated for the murder of a border lord. (nice)

After racing in the lord's territory the same night he is killed, Ondine's reputation for trouble makes her a suspect of the spymaster, Ryko(This part of the sentence could be punchy. I think it's a little stilted). Not even her own father is convinced of her innocence, which weighs on her far more than her prosthetic legs (I get that it's a pun, but repeatedly mentioning her being disabled starts to feel less matter of fact and more navel-gazey the more it's said because it draws attention to instead. Also, she's underwater so technically her legs shouldn't have much weight anyway). It seems no one is on her side, not even (not even implies this would help her prove her innocence but it doesn't. It DOES cast doubt on Ryko but it doesn't mean people should automatically like her, they could both be wrong )when she catches Ryko meeting with agents of an enemy kingdom.

Certain that Ryko is a traitor, Ondine tries to tell her father but he won’t listen. That night, she’s threatened by Ryko’s men and told that her sister will die if she doesn’t keep quiet (that night, Ryko's men tell her, if she doesn't keep quiet about what she saw, her sister will die! I think you have some things in the wrong order that make this sentence passive). Now she must choose between protecting her family and protecting her kingdom. But she has only begun to glimpse the depth of this conspiracy, and no one can be trusted.

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of the political intrigue in Marie Lu’s THE YOUNG ELITES, and the strong female lead in Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I think you have all the right beats and sentiments, just some wording that could be strengthened! Hope that helps.

EDIT: I agree with Micronesia below that that version is better, it's all the same thoughts but the wording is punched up.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#79 MICRONESIA

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:13 PM

Man. I hate to say it, but I feel like the versions from back in January were much more engaging.

 

Like this one. This one rocks.

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

In the underwater kingdom of Syren, Princess Ondine is the only girl who can't swim. After losing both legs, her metal prosthetics keep her from being carried away by the currents, but they also weigh her down and make her an object of ridicule. Still, nobody makes Ondine feel inferior without her permission. She fights at the drop of a fin, and fearlessly rides her manta ray in the deadliest races, leaving even the best riders in her wake.

 

Her reckless lifestyle is an embarrassment to the royal family, but she's never cared about politics. Not until a border lord is murdered by agents of the Nereid Kingdom, and there are whispers of a traitor in the palace. When Ondine catches the king's own spymaster meeting secretly with the Nereids, she realizes the danger is closer to her family than she thought.

 

But when the spymaster turns up dead, Ondine is horrified to learn that the conspiracy goes right up to the royal adviser, a man who used to read stories to her when she was a child. Stopping his plot will mean killing a man she's known all her life, but if she does nothing, there will be another death in the palace. And this time, it may be her father, the King of Syren himself.

 

OCEANS DEEP is an 80,000-word YA fantasy that should appeal to fans of a strong female lead and political intrigue, as found in Kristin Cashore's GRACELING.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.



#80 rhwashere

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:51 PM

Hmm. Ok. I’m just worried that leading with the “can’t swim” line is misleading, since the story isn’t really about her being disabled and racing manta rays. Those things are elements of the story, but it’s largely a story of a girl that happens to be disabled who gets wrapped up in a conspiracy that changes her life.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935






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