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Magica Americana - Modern Fantasy

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#21 Tiffany

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 04:05 PM

Jack Kenning has lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped magic from the modern world and again when that curse stripped all memory of his attempts to undo it. His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up though. She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic.

 

Jack discovers that his ability allows him to convince anyone of anything, but what little magic remains in the world grows dangerous in his untrained hands until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze. The curse strips the mind of anyone who learns too much about magic, so learning to control his ability is not an option. Jack must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, without causing a calamity or losing his mind.

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

-------------------------

This is amazing, I love your story so much! What a fantastic idea, I especially love that he can't even learn to control it or he'll lose his memories again! I think there are a couple spots that read a tad choppy but overall I genuinely liked it and felt drawn in!


Please take a look at my query letter in return if you are able to. http://agentquerycon...ens-literature/

#22 Emily804

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:23 AM

(Let me know if this isn't the most recent draft.)

 

 

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped magic from the modern world; again when that curse stripped all memory of his attempts to undo it. His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up. She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic.

 

​I would reorder this a bit: Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic. Despite his doubts Anna convinces Jack to cross the United States on a quest to restore magic. She claims to be his old partner but refuses to explain the details of their past. All she tells him is that he lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped magic from the modern world and again when that curse stripped all memory of his attempts to undo it. 

 

Jack discovers that his ability allows him to convince anyone of anything(redundant, already stated above), but what little magic remains in the world grows dangerous in his untrained hands until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze. (This sentence is a bit of a run on.) The curse strips the mind of anyone who learns too much about magic, so learning to control his ability is not an option. ​(This sentence is a bit confusing.) Jack must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, without causing a calamity or losing his mind.

Suggestion: What little magic remains in the world grows dangerous in Jack's untrained hands. Jack can't learn too much about magic without losing his mind. The curse will cause him to lose his memory if he learns enough about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack's power grows. Jack soon discovers that a single lie is powerful enough to set a town on fire. 

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Hope that helps! Good luck!


Query Compatibility YA sci-fi: http://agentquerycon...lity-ya-sci-fi/


#23 darsenault

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 03:44 AM

(Let me know if this isn't the most recent draft.)

 

 

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped magic from the modern world; again when that curse stripped all memory of his attempts to undo it. His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up. She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic.

 

​I would reorder this a bit: Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic. Despite his doubts Anna convinces Jack to cross the United States on a quest to restore magic. She claims to be his old partner but refuses to explain the details of their past. All she tells him is that he lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped magic from the modern world and again when that curse stripped all memory of his attempts to undo it. 

 

Jack discovers that his ability allows him to convince anyone of anything(redundant, already stated above), but what little magic remains in the world grows dangerous in his untrained hands until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze. (This sentence is a bit of a run on.) The curse strips the mind of anyone who learns too much about magic, so learning to control his ability is not an option. ​(This sentence is a bit confusing.) Jack must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, without causing a calamity or losing his mind.

Suggestion: What little magic remains in the world grows dangerous in Jack's untrained hands. Jack can't learn too much about magic without losing his mind. The curse will cause him to lose his memory if he learns enough about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack's power grows. Jack soon discovers that a single lie is powerful enough to set a town on fire. 

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Hope that helps! Good luck!

 

I'm really impressed at the impact your reordering had. This latest draft doesn't take all of your changes into account (mostly for sake of being authentic to the MS), but I think you'll like a little better.

 

 

LATEST DRAFT

 

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped most magic from the modern world; again when that curse removed all memory of his attempts to undo it. His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up. She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic.


Jack’s ability to convince anyone of anything grows dangerous in his untrained hands, but learning to control his ability is not an option. The curse will erase the memory of anyone who learns too much about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack’s power builds until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze. He must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, even as he learns to fear the consequences magic might unleash on the world.


MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 


#24 Emily804

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 06:59 PM

 

Jack Kenning’s talent may be the key to bringing magic back to North America. He can convince anyone of almost anything, except to tell the truth. (This is a bit confusing. When you say that "he can convince anyone of almost anything", it makes me think you mean he can make people believe his lies. Do you mean that he can convince people to do almost anything, but can't convince them to tell the truth? Or that he himself cannot tell the truth?)  The curse which sealed magic away has several powerful defenses which target Jack for the one simple spell he has.

 

When he learns too much about magic, his memory is taken from him. An old companion he no longer trusts recruits him back into the quest to defeat the curse, and hunters immediately track him across the country hoping to end his life. As he survives and gathers his allies, his own talent grows dangerously unpredictable, until a simple lie is powerful enough to set a small town ablaze.

 

Jack is confronted with the devastation that his only talent can cause, and discovers it was the last generation of magicians who worked so hard to prevent magic from returning. Jack must decide whether his goal of restoring his memories and the power of his birthright is worth the consequences of unleashing that chaotic power back into the world.

 

Magica Americana (XXX,XXX words) is a modern fantasy novel. Thank you for your time and consideration

 

 

 

It's definitely improving! 


Query Compatibility YA sci-fi: http://agentquerycon...lity-ya-sci-fi/


#25 Wayfarer

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 10:48 AM

 

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped most magic from the modern world; again when that curse removed all memory of his attempts to undo it. (This is sort of confusing. Did magic come back after it was originally lost? Then Jack's attempt to remove the curse made magic go away again? If that's the case then why was the curse still active if magic was slowly being restored? If not, then as I said, I find this explanation confusing and in need a little fleshing out.) His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up (Insert a brief note here of why Jack is skeptical of her because of his memory loss. When you bring it up next, it's sort of out of left field and can do with some preemptive explanation). She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic. (So I'm assuming this is meant to imply that not only has Jack lost magic, but he's forgotten about it too. You should mention that briefly when you explain him losing it the second time to the curse.)

 

Jack’s ability to convince anyone of anything grows dangerous in his untrained hands, but learning to control his ability is not an option. The curse will erase the memory of anyone who learns too much about magic. (Ah ok so the curse erases the memory of magic, not the ability itself? Clarify this earlier) Despite his ignorance, Jack’s power builds until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze (Are you meaning lie as his persuasive magic? Also, literally set it ablaze? Or figuratively? If figuratively then you need to nix that and actually define what might happen Political intrigue, coup d'etat, etc) . He must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, even as he learns to fear the consequences magic might unleash on the world (Isn't it only of consequence if he doesn't learn and stays ignorant? If not, that needs preemptive explaining, otherwise these stakes aren't weighty or really sensible given the information you've already provided us).

 

A final note. You lead into the plot of your story as a search to restore magic with Anna. Then shift it to being about Jack learning to control his ability. You need to better blend his search to restore magic into him learning to control his own. Also, is magic actually lost? Or just forgotten about? I find this element confusing. Also, also. You bring up Anna as a point of interest, but then you don't give her anymore detail, so I end up not caring about her and find that she just eats space that can be otherwise used for any of my aforementioned points.

 

You could cut Anna from the query, or choose to cut Jack being skeptical of her and just follow up with "As Jack and Anna search for the truth/magic/etc, Jack begins to understand the strength of his persuasive abilities, and starts to realize that they must be magical" or some variation of that. You could also choose to make her past a focal point for the query if its that important, but only if it's of paramount importance to the story.



#26 VSChapman

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 09:54 AM

I think this one is the latest? 

 

Jack Kenning has lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped most magic from the modern world; again when that curse removed all memory of his attempts to undo it. His old partner, Anna, hasn’t given up. She recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, but Jack is suspicious. Anna refuses to explain their past, and Jack can hardly believe his talent for persuasion is actually magic.

 

Jack’s ability to convince anyone of anything grows dangerous in his untrained hands, but learning to control his ability is not an option. The curse will erase the memory of anyone who learns too much about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack’s power builds until a single lie is powerful enough to set a town ablaze (this sentence I don't understand. How can a lie set a town on fire? Is there another way to explain this?).He must break the curse in order to gain control of his abilities, even as he learns to fear the consequences magic might unleash on the world.

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

So, I like all of it except that one sentence. Maybe just a little clarity will do the trick. But I love the rest and this sounds like a great story! 



#27 darsenault

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 06:47 PM

So, I like all of it except that one sentence. Maybe just a little clarity will do the trick. But I love the rest and this sounds like a great story! 

 

 

This latest draft should hopefully add some clarity, as well as bring in a lot of the intrigue other commenters have said I was missing.

 

 

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped most magic from the modern world; again when that curse erased all memory of his attempts to undo it. When an old friend recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic, Jack struggles to remember he ever knew about magic at all. His memory in tatters, Jack finds himself in a world where a vagabond can stop time with a cigarette, or a woman can beguile anyone into friendship with a single word.

 

Jack’s ability to convince anyone of anything grows dangerous in his untrained hands, but learning to control his ability is not an option. The curse will erase the memory of anyone who learns too much about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack’s power becomes unpredictable. Magic begins shaping reality to his lies, and when he convinces a town it’s in danger to get out of trouble, mysterious birds glittering with fire begin setting buildings ablaze indiscriminately. As he attempts to undo the destruction he caused, Jack must decide whether to resist what little magic is left in the world, or break the curse so that he can learn to control his talent.

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#28 9emilylime9

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 02:32 AM

Jack Kenning lost magic twice. First, when a curse stripped most magic from the modern world; again when that curse it erased all memory of his attempts to undo it. When an old friend recruits Jack to cross the United States on a new quest to restore magic undo the curse, Jack struggles to remember he ever knew about magic at all. His memory in tatters, Jack finds himself in a world where a vagabond can stop time with a cigarette, or a woman can beguile anyone into friendship with a single word (this half of the sentence is confusing, considering Jack is the one with the powers of persuasion).

 

Jack’s ability to convince anyone of anything grows dangerous in his untrained hands, but learning to control his ability is not an option. The curse will erase the memory of anyone who learns too much about magic. Despite his ignorance, Jack’s power becomes unpredictable. Magic begins shaping reality to his lies, and when he convinces a town it’s in danger to get out of trouble, mysterious birds glittering with fire begin setting buildings ablaze indiscriminately. As he attempts to undo the destruction he caused, Jack must decide whether to resist what little magic is left in the world, or break the curse so that he can learn to control his talent.

 

You had me with the first paragraph, then you lost me in the second. It's not really clear what the quest has to do with any of this, and it seems that Jack's goal has changed completely without a clear reason. Also, because you introduce Jack as someone who has been working to restore magic, the last sentence of the second paragraph (highlighted) doesn't establish stakes to me. Why would he resist the magic and not break the curse?

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#29 darsenault

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 01:00 AM

So most complaints were that the transition was too jarring in the middle of the query, and that several points were unclear to different people. I'd love to see if this version resonates better with you all.

 

 

Jack Kenning spent years with his friend Anna trying to discover the secret behind his ability to persuade anyone of anything. When they got too close to the truth, Jack lost his memories and Anna disappeared.

 

Years later, Anna sends a time-stopping vagabond to recruit Jack to cross the United States to fulfill Anna's latest plan. Fearing for Jack's memory, he's provided little information on what that plan entails. All he knows is that his ability is a remnant of magic known as Talent, and that his full abilities can be restored if he can bring enough of the Talented to Anna at the Grand Canyon.

 

As Jack gathers the Talented to bring them to Anna, the group discovers that the force which took magic from the world can affect them from afar. Their powers grow unpredictable, and the headaches which warn them that they may lose their memories grow worse. If Jack continues to pursue magic, he may lose his mind once more, but if he cannot learn to control his abilities, the side-effects of his lies may cost lives.

 

When one of those lies causes a town to burst into flames, Jack must decide how much risk magic is worth.

 

MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy, complete at 139,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 


#30 mkuriel

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 12:57 AM

Jack Kenning spent years with his friend Anna trying to discover the secret behind his ability to persuade anyone of anything. [As a hook, this doesn't grab me... was there some inciting event that led him on that journey? I.e. After convincing ISIS to lay down their weapons, Jack Kenning and his friend Anna spent years searching for the secret behind his god-like powers of persuasion.] [And why doesn't Anna get a last name?]
 
Years later, Anna sends a time-stopping vagabond to recruit Jack to bring "Talented" people to Anna at the Grand Canyon. [This sounds like the causal event. When a time-stopping vagabond shows up at Jack Kenning's door, the used car salesman has to drop everything to bring "Talented" people to the Grand Canyon.] cross the United States to fulfill Anna's latest plan. 
 
Fearing for Jack's memory, he's provided little information on what that plan entails. [This sentence provides no new information] 
 
All he knows is that his ability is a remnant of magic known as Talent, [He can't Know this - memory loss! - this is something that's Told to him. This difference is not as trivial as it sounds]  and that his full abilities can be restored if he can bring enough of the Talented to Anna at the Grand Canyon. [Hmmm... suggest delivering story tone and concrete examples: All that the grungy time traveler will tell Jack is that the plan was something that Jack planned before his memory was wiped. And that Jack can thank a remnant of magic known as Talent for his ability to persuade people that used VW bugs are modern Teslas.]
 

As Jack gathers the Talented to bring them to Anna, the group discovers that the force which took magic from the world can affect them from afar. [wordy, vague, and ... obvious. The most common advantage of most magic is to cause 'an effect' at a distance. Which means you're not really telling us anything new, interesting, or concrete. Like maybe... As Jack gathers the Talented, the magic-draining force causes them headaches.]

 

Their powers grow unpredictable, and the headaches which warn them that they may lose their memories grow worse. If Jack continues to pursue magic, he may lose his mind once more, but if he cannot learn to control his abilities, the side-effects of his lies may cost lives. [What lies? You've not mentioned him lying to anyone, only being really good at persuasion... I suppose that persuasion could be a form of lying - but the most persuasive people are usually good at selective truth-telling. Just saying...]

 

When one of those lies causes a town to burst into flames, Jack must decide how much risk magic is worth. [Um... did he convince them that their houses were fireproof? Playing aloof in a query doesn't come across as compelling, it's often off-putting or confusing.]

(Redundant in the original)
 
 Ok... Slow down. Unless you write it in the query, we've no idea what you're talking about. Is your central plot about the consequences of lying, or about Jack and Anna confronting the force that drains magic from the world? It sounds like the draining magic thing, and that lying is a complication. Great! Just provide a couple concrete examples to show that Jack's persuasion relies on lies and that saving magic will have deadly consequences. 

 

Hope that helps!

 

 
I appreciate feedback: http://agentquerycon...-adult-fantasy/



#31 darsenault

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 03:22 AM

I appreciate everyone who has helped me so far. I've taken this query in what feels like ten different directions, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'm too close to the story to write this myself. Nonetheless, here's one more attempt; emphasis on clarity, simplicity, and a singular, consistent line through the query.

 

 

When a single lie can cause a town to burst into flames, Jack Kenning must decide how much he’s willing to risk to restore magic to the modern world.

 

Jack lost years searching for the secret behind his ability to persuade anyone of anything. His partner in that quest has vanished and his memories of his ability and efforts are in tatters. When a vagabond with the ability to stop time by lighting a cigarette recruits Jack on a quest to cross the United States to restore magic, it feels just like deja vu.

 

Without any memories of his ability or his first attempt to uncover its origins, Jack underestimates the danger involved in the quest. Every new secret he learns threatens to wipe his memory clean once more, and though his ability is essential to making it safely to his destination in the Grand Canyon, he cannot predict the side-effects as his power grows stronger. His persuasive lies begin to warp reality, and he can either outrun the consequences or risk losing his memory as he tries to repair the damage he causes.


MAGICA AMERICANA is a contemporary fantasy for adults, complete at 139,000 words.

 


#32 Dasein

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 01:48 AM

Wow, this sounds like a fascinating story. Also it seems to be very complex one, which makes it almost impossible to describe. My feeling is that only a very short query is going to work. Maybe spend more time mentioning comparables? Of all the paragraphs you have posted, I found this one to be the most intriguing.

"Jack lost years searching for the secret behind his ability to persuade anyone of anything. His partner in that quest has vanished and his memories of his ability are in tatters. When a vagabond with the ability to stop time by lighting a cigarette recruits Jack on a quest to cross the United States to restore magic, it feels just like deja vu."

Once you say more than that, it just gets too complicated. Maybe you could focus more on the emotional arc. Jack conquering his fears or rekindling his bond with Anna or redeeming himself by overcoming his past mistakes. Something that brings it more down to earth.

#33 Wayfarer

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 01:42 PM

When a single lie can cause a town to burst into flames, Jack Kenning must decide how much he’s willing to risk to restore magic to the modern world. (These two lines don't really follow well. I would rephrase this as something like, "When a single lie can change the fabric of reality, Jack Kenning must decide how much he's willing to say to restore magic to the modern world.")

 

Jack lost years searching for the secret behind his ability to persuade anyone of anything. His partner in that quest has vanished and his memories of his ability and efforts are in tatters. When a vagabond with the ability to stop time by lighting a cigarette recruits Jack on a quest to cross the United States to restore magic, it feels just like deja vu. (Explain succinctly why restoring magic will let him learn the truth of his secret. Otherwise it seems we have two things vaguely related going on here. There needs to be a tether between them that isn't implied.)

 

Without any memories of his ability or his first attempt to uncover its origins, Jack underestimates the danger involved in the quest. Every new secret he learns threatens to wipe his memory clean once more, and though his ability is essential to making it safely to his destination in the Grand Canyon, he cannot predict the side-effects as his power grows stronger. His persuasive lies begin to warp reality, and he can either outrun the consequences or risk losing his memory as he tries to repair the damage he causes.

 

 



#34 darsenault

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 02:22 AM

Once again, I've taken the query in a vastly different direction. I think I can predict some of the feedback this is likely to receive, but maybe, just maybe, you guys will actually like it.

 

 

 

Jack Kenning discovers that the knack for persuasion he's relied on his whole life is actually a remnant of the magic that once filled the world. This revelation seems like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Jack lacks proper control of his ability. With careless words, his arguments can cause someone to drink scalding tea or spread fear over imminent, imaginary terrorist threats.

 

There are those who will kill to prevent him from abusing this gift, while the ancient spell which took magic from the world hinders his efforts to learn to control it. In order to gain mastery over his ability, Jack must flee his hunters and undo the ancient spell, but this will not only unlock his own magic, but the magic of thousands across the world. Jack must decide whether such unpredictable gifts should exist at all, and what he’s willing to sacrifice to defend those who are lucky enough to wield them.

 

 

I tried focusing less on the events of the novel, and more on the point of it: Magic is dangerous, and though Jack wants to unlock its secrets, the dangers of magic are obvious and he has to struggle with whether or not releasing that power into the world is a good idea.







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