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THE CODEX OF DESIRE (Science Fiction), will reciprocate critiques


Best Answer Laurie E. Smith , 12 February 2018 - 02:07 PM

Folks, you won't believe the query letter crit I just received from a literary agent... because I hardly believe it myself. It looks like my hard work has actually paid off!
 
The agent, who was kind enough to get back to me within the same day, said: "I think it is excellent. I read 40-50 queries a day and yours caught my attention. I like the opening sentence, it makes the reader think “what???” and compels them to keep reading. It is clear and to the point and you get the gist of the story. Great premise BTW, very cool. I don’t rep science fiction books but if I did I would be asking for the full. Do you have some agents in mind to query?"
 
And she then proceeded to send me the contact info for three agents to query, including one at Harvey Klinger Inc. WOW, she is TOTALLY AWESOME!
 
GUYS, I AM DANCING AROUND MY HOME STUDIO! I couldn't have asked for much better than that, now could I? :D My happiness is off the charts! And now I feel confident putting the query letter to one side and continuing to work on my synopsis and Twitter pitches.
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#1 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 07:37 AM

ONCE MORE! WITH FEELING! PART 2! At post #58.

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ONCE MORE! WITH FEELING! At Post #56. :)

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213 WORDS version is up at post #52. Thank you, PureZhar3, for the detailed critique! :)

 

 

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LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #3 (205 words) is up at post #50. Thank you, Wayfarer, for the detailed notes! :)

 

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LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #2 is up at post #48. Pared this puppy down to 311 words, YAHOO! :)

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LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #1 now up, at post #44. It feels like my authentic "voice". Hopefully that's a good thing. :)

 

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EMOTIONS VERSION 2 (346 words) at post #38. Thanks, as always, for any help offered.

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EMOTIONS VERSION #1 at post #36. :) Let's get those hands wringing!

 

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VERSION #7 at Post #28. *crosses fingers* :) Thanks again for all your feedback and support!

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VERSION #6 can be found in post #25 -- removing the "La'leet's pregnancy" angle entirely. Thoughts?

 

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EDITED: Version #5 of the pitch can be found in Post #22. :)

 

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EDITED: Version #4 of the pitch can be found in Post #17. :)

 

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EDITED: Version #3 of the pitch can be found in Post #13. :)

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EDITED: Version #2 of the pitch can be found six posts down-thread. That is the one to respond to. :) Many thanks to all who lend a hand!

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And yes, this does all fit into a one-page letter. :)

*********************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Thank you for your time and attention. My science fiction novel, "The Codex of Desire" (complete at 133,181 words), is a rousing tale of love, war, lust, secrets, and betrayal amongst intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous Era, as seen through the eyes of a human palaeontologist.

An ancient civilization is threatened with destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the unworthy poetess he so hopelessly adores. But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to claim the handsome captive warrior for her harem?

"The Codex of Desire" has been described as follows by one beta reader:

"This is not a restful book, it will challenge your paradigms and leave you exhausted at the end. And I loved it. Laurie E. Smith has written a novel worthy of a much more seasoned writer as her first novel. I look forward to reading this book again and encourage anyone who likes a different point of view to read it." — Sheena Morrison Sousa

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and also have 1.23 million words of fan fiction posted on Archive of Our Own, with a total of 614473 individual hits, 29416 kudos, and 3919 reader bookmarks. Additionally, I engage over 500 followers on my Facebook writer page with daily posts.

Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 



#2 Springfield

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 09:29 AM

And yes, this does all fit into a one-page letter. :)

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Dear [Agent or Publisher Name], Pick one.

Thank you for your time and attention. My science fiction novel, "The Codex of Desire" (complete at 133,181 words) Round, and that's very long., is a rousing tale of love, war, lust, secrets, and betrayal amongst intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous Era, as seen through the eyes of a human palaeontologist.

An ancient civilization is threatened with destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, I'm confused -- slave girl? Are you putting humans in with dinosaurs or are you suggesting there are slave girl dinosaurs?  falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom not... hers? and that of the unworthy poetess he so hopelessly adores. Huh? But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to claim the handsome captive warrior for her harem? I don't know, as I've got no clue what's going on besides a dippy girl who is doing stuff for some guy. 

"The Codex of Desire" has been described as follows by one beta reader:

"This is not a restful book, it will challenge your paradigms and leave you exhausted at the end. And I loved it. Laurie E. Smith has written a novel worthy of a much more seasoned writer as her first novel. I look forward to reading this book again and encourage anyone who likes a different point of view to read it." — Sheena Morrison Sousa

 

You need a problem for your MC, plot, stakes...

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and also have 1.23 million words of fan fiction posted on Archive of Our Own, with a total of 614473 individual hits, 29416 kudos, and 3919 reader bookmarks. Additionally, I engage over 500 followers on my Facebook writer page with daily posts. That is a lot of words, though given the subject matter of them, I'd be really hesitant to mention it at all. I dunno. I think it's very risky.

Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith
 



#3 Wayfarer

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Posted 05 February 2018 - 11:41 AM

Once again, Springfield highlighted all of my points for me. You need to find learn the basic structure of a query, fit your story to it, and go from there.



#4 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 08:24 AM

Thank you both for the feedback! :) I know that query letters take a lot of massaging and polishing, so I'll carefullly consider your crit and (hopefully) use it to make the best possible query for my novel. I appreciate your advice.



#5 PensiveWombat

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 08:42 AM

And yes, this does all fit into a one-page letter. :)

*********************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Thank you for your time and attention.(I think you can leave this off until the end.) My science fiction novel, "The Codex of Desire" (complete at 133,181 words), is a rousing tale of love, war, lust, secrets, and betrayal amongst intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous Era, as seen through the eyes of a human palaeontologist.(Don't need this. Just tell them your novel's name & length. I agree with the above comment that it's quite long, is it adult sci-fi or YA? You may want to specify.)

An ancient civilization is threatened with destruction (How is this girl falling in love with an enemy fighter leading to the destruction of an ancient civilization. Need more details.)  when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the unworthy poetess he so hopelessly adores. But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to claim the handsome captive warrior for her harem?

"The Codex of Desire" has been described as follows by one beta reader:

"This is not a restful book, it will challenge your paradigms and leave you exhausted at the end. And I loved it. Laurie E. Smith has written a novel worthy of a much more seasoned writer as her first novel. I look forward to reading this book again and encourage anyone who likes a different point of view to read it." — Sheena Morrison Sousa 
(Don't need this. An agent won't care what a beta reader thought unless it's a renowned published author or someone well-known in the industry.) 

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and also have 1.23 million words of fan fiction posted on Archive of Our Own, with a total of 614473 individual hits, 29416 kudos, and 3919 reader bookmarks. Additionally, I engage over 500 followers on my Facebook writer page with daily posts. (I'm honestly not sure about this part. I don't know if an agent would find it relevant.) 

Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith
 

Your story sounds interesting, but you've essentially told us next to nothing in your query letter. A standard query has two paragraphs dedicated to describing the plot of the book. You'll have to add more here. Hope this is helpful! :) 



#6 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 09:01 AM

Your story sounds interesting, but you've essentially told us next to nothing in your query letter. A standard query has two paragraphs dedicated to describing the plot of the book. You'll have to add more here. Hope this is helpful! :) 

That's very helpful! Thank you for the specific pointers, I will look at those elements and tweak them.



#7 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 09:18 AM

VERSION #2, based on feedback received thus far...

************************

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel.

An ancient civilization of intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs is threatened with catastrophic betrayal and nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the mysterious poetess La'leet, whom he hopelessly adores. But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem?

When Tir'at refuses every opportunity to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful La'leet, and Ev'ora (who hopes that Tir'at's fresh seed will reverse her own infertility, which threatens her status as leader of the Tribes of the Inspiration) learns that he has impregnated the poetess, the Most Potent Chieftess's rage could very well encompass his murder — forcing Girn'ash to flee to the Culture of the Word, Tir'at's own people, to beg their Shogun to send his troops against the Tribes and rescue Tir'at from certain death, or worse. She can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding Tir'at are far less than benevolent…

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention. Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#8 ajvan

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 10:55 AM

Hey Laurie! Here are a few thoughts on your query. 

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel. This isn't hook material, so I'd recommend moving it to your closing paragraph. 

An ancient civilization of intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs is threatened with catastrophic betrayal and nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the mysterious poetess La'leet, whom he hopelessly adores. Whoa, long, long sentence alert! For a query, concise sentences are what you want to shoot for. You'll also need to limit the world-building and aim for broad brush strokes. So for example, how can you distill this--ancient civilization of intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs--to a quick, allusive phrase? I think you probably want to save the betrayal and destruction for your closing lines and focus on your protagonist's initial problem here--this feathered dinosaur love triangle. But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem? With so many proper names in one paragraph, it gets hard to keep track. Do we need to know them all up front? Maybe you can save the MP Ev'ora for later. 

When Tir'at refuses every opportunity to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful La'leet, and Ev'ora (who hopes that Tir'at's fresh seed will reverse her own infertility, which threatens her status as leader of the Tribes of the Inspiration) learns that he has impregnated the poetess, the Most Potent Chieftess's rage could very well encompass his murder — forcing Girn'ash to flee to the Culture of the Word, Tir'at's own people, to beg their Shogun to send his troops against the Tribes and rescue Tir'at from certain death, or worse. She can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding Tir'at are far less than benevolent… The proper names and sentence length really bog this paragraph down. Especially when you introduce the Shogun...I got a little lost in all the different entities. 

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention. Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience. 
That part is assumed, so you can cut it. 

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

 

My advice, clarify your main conflict (love triangle?) and start with that. Weave in a few, vital details about this very unique civilization. In the second paragraph, escalate things by introducing the next big problem, from your MC's perspective. I'm not sure if this would be the potent chieftess (making this a love quadrilateral!) or the impending nuclear meltdown. Close with a snappy sentence about how Girn-Ash will have to fix things fast, before the ultimate bad thing happens. Guessing that may be the nuke? Lots of intrigue here, you're off to a good start. I've got a query up as well if you'd like to return the favor.



#9 Springfield

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 11:31 AM

VERSION #2, based on feedback received thus far...

************************

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel.

An ancient civilization of intelligent feathered theropod dinosaurs is threatened with catastrophic betrayal and nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the mysterious poetess La'leet, whom he hopelessly adores.This is a 57-word sentence with THREE names in it, all of them kb slammers. No. But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem? Followed by a rhetorical question (and more names)... no one is ever getting to the second paragraph.

When Tir'at refuses every opportunity to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful La'leet, and Ev'ora (who hopes that Tir'at's fresh seed will reverse her own infertility, which threatens her status as leader of the Tribes of the Inspiration) learns that he has impregnated the poetess, the Most Potent Chieftess's rage could very well encompass his murder — forcing Girn'ash to flee to the Culture of the Word, Tir'at's own people, to beg their Shogun to send his troops against the Tribes and rescue Tir'at from certain death, or worse. She can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding Tir'at are far less than benevolent…

I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention. Sample chapters or the complete manuscript are available upon request, at your convenience.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

Just btw, you seem to have an adjective problem, which I'd wager is contributing to the outsize length there. If your wc is long, your query has to suggest every word is justified and needed.



#10 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 11:45 AM

Thanks again, everybody! :) I'll take another shot at this in the next day or two. In the meantime, I hope the crits will keep coming -- the more feedback I get, the better the final product will be.

#11 Wayfarer

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 01:03 PM

An ancient civilization of intelligent feathered theropod (Unless the agents your sending this to are into the etymology of Dinosaur types, cut these details) dinosaurs is threatened with catastrophic betrayal and nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl, falls in love-at-first-sight with Tir'at~Esk, a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win both his freedom and that of the mysterious poetess La'leet, whom he hopelessly adores.(This reads as if Girn'ash is who adores the poetess, I know it isn't but the pronoun is confusing here) But can anyone escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftess Ev'ora, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem? (This is all one sentence. It can't be one sentence, break it up. I'm also confused, I'm asuming Girn'ash and Tir'at~Esk are humans, but what do they have to do with Dino's? If they're Dino's, it's not clear. You need to explain why Tir'at is imprisoned. Also don't ask rhetorical questions in your query, give definitive statements. We also don't see why Girn'ash's desires for love has anything to do with the Dino's fate here, though it's how you start this whole thing off.)

When Tir'at refuses every opportunity to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful La'leet, and Ev'ora (who hopes that Tir'at's fresh seed will reverse her own infertility, which threatens her status as leader of the Tribes of the Inspiration) (Don't use parenthesis, make statements.) learns that he has impregnated the poetess, the Most Potent Chieftess's rage could very well encompass (Wrong word, doesn't mean "lead to" in any derivative as you're intending here) his murder — forcing Girn'ash to flee to the Culture of the Word, Tir'at's own people, to beg their Shogun to send his troops against the Tribes and rescue Tir'at from certain death, or worse.(No idea what is being said here) She can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding Tir'at are far less than benevolent… (Equally confusing)



#12 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 02:51 PM

Whew! And I thought writing and editing this novel was hard work... the query letter is proving a huge challenge all on its own! :) Thanks so much for helping me hammer it into shape, everybody. I need something ready for a pitchfest on February 14th, so I'm strongly motivated to get the query work done as quickly as possible. You're all helping me take the curves at high speed, and I certainly appreciate it. :)

#13 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 03:33 PM

This may still be too specific and literal, but let's give it a try.

****************

VERSION #3

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

An ancient civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when a shrewd and secretive slave girl falls in love-at-first-sight with a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win freedom both for him and for the mysterious poetess who the warrior should not adore so desperately.

But there is little hope that he can escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftesss, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, the Chieftess will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless refuses every opportunity the slave girl offers him to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful poetess, whom he is able to secretly bed with the slave girl's help.  When the Chieftess learns that he has impregnated her rival, the warrior is in danger of being murdered — or far worse.

In despair, the slave girl flees to the warrior's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army against the full force of the Chieftess's Tribes, to set the warrior free. The little slave can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are far from benevolent…

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel. I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#14 Wayfarer

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 04:13 PM

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. (This is an engaging hook. Nice.)

An ancient civilization (You need to mention these are Dino's here. I know you have it in the hook, but that is a hook, and the remainder of this query could very well be talking about humans if you don't make the distinction once.) is threatened with nuclear destruction when a shrewd and secretive slave girl (Provide the name) falls in love-at-first-sight with a dashing enemy fighter (Name)and she will do anything in her power to win freedom both for him and for the mysterious poetess who the warrior should not adore so desperately(I get what you're saying here, but the sentence is long. Nix this part about the poetess, and just bring it up later, as you do in this version already, that the warrior is a dumb boy and won't let the slave girl rescue him without the poetess. That's a conflict to build with, having it shoehorned here reduces its impact overall.)

But there is little hope that he can escape the cruel desires of his captor: the Most Potent Chieftesss, whose overriding goal is desires to coerce the handsome captive  (We know this, no need to restate here) warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, the Chieftess will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless refuses every opportunity the slave girls help to escape his imprisonment without his lover, the beautiful poetess, whom he is able to secretly bed with the slave girl's help.  When the Chieftess learns that he has impregnated her rival, (Explain that the poetess is the rival. Assuming she's the pregnant one) the warrior is in danger of being murdered — or far worse. (Don't leave with "Far worse" if you're not going to explain what's far worse. Especially when death is the comparative.)

In despair, the slave girl flees to the warrior's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army against the full force of the Chieftess's Tribes, to set the warrior free. The little slave can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are far from benevolent… (End with a period, not ellipses)

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel. I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).  (Agent's don't care about Bachelor degrees, and if the published work isn't in a paying market then it's irrelevant.)

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

This is getting better.



#15 TheBest

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 04:50 PM

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. (Interesting!)

An ancient civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when a shrewd and secretive slave girl falls in love-at-first-sight with a dashing enemy fighter — and she will do anything in her power to win freedom both for him and for the mysterious poetess who the warrior should not adore so desperately. (why does he need freedom? Is he a slave too? This concept is fascinating, but a little unclear.)

But there is little hope that he can escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftesss, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, the Chieftess will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed. (This is interesting and cleared up a little of my earlier confusions. However, I think moving a few of these details up would be useful.)

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless refuses every opportunity the slave girl offers him to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful poetess, whom he is able to secretly bed with the slave girl's help.  When the Chieftess learns that he has impregnated her rival, the warrior is in danger of being murdered — or far worse. (The poetess is a little vague, but she makes the plot work and the query make sense. This is all tied together well and kept simple for a pretty high-concept story.)

In despair, the slave girl flees to the warrior's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army against the full force of the Chieftess's Tribes, to set the warrior free. The little slave can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are far from (anything but) benevolent… (Cut the ...)

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with the potential for a sequel. I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

 

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

Really interesting query letter. My primary piece of advice is to add just a little bit more information on the warrior and the poetess in the opening lines. Next, you should make your stakes more intense with stronger language and imagery. Lastly, end a little more intense as well. You've got a really strong concept and clear writing, and I can't wait to see how this turns out. Good luck!



#16 PureZhar3

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 05:05 PM

This may still be too specific and literal, but let's give it a try.

****************

VERSION #3

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. ​Interesting...

An ancient civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when a shrewd and secretive ​these are basically synonyms, so use this extra adjective as an opportunity to tell me something else or just eliminate it slave girl falls in love-at-first-sight with a dashing enemy fighter ​any agents who dislike insta-love are going to be turned off right here— and she will do anything in her power to win freedom both for him and for the mysterious poetess who the warrior should not adore so desperately. ​I think I'm following, but maybe split this up and make it more clear. (Also, why does he need freedom? Is he also a slave warrior). Like, give us a sentence about how she'll do anything to win his freedom, and then add a brief, punchy sentence that's like (but better than) "Also, she has to get freedom for the mysterious poetess he desperately adores

But there is little hope that he can escape the cruel desires of the Most Potent Chieftesss, whose overriding goal is to coerce the handsome captive warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, the Chieftess will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed. ​That sucks for her. Is there a reason it has to be his fresh seed (minor question)? Also, her wanting to not be executed doesn't really seem cruel to me... is it just because she has a harem? I kind of sympathize. Maybe don't call her cruel? Or try to add something else (if you have room) to show us why else she's cruel

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless refuses every opportunity the slave girl offers him to escape his imprisonment without the beautiful poetess, whom he is able to secretly bed with the slave girl's help.  When the Chieftess learns that he has impregnated her rival, the warrior is in danger of being murdered — or far worse. ​Doesn't she need his seed? 

In despair, the slave girl flees to the warrior's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army against the full force of the Chieftess's Tribes, to set the warrior free. The little slave can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are far from benevolent… 

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words ​this is a lot of words and will turn some agents off... maybe try to strip it down to 100,000, with the potential for a sequel. I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

​Great detail... however, I need some more. I need a bit more pertinent detail to give me a sense of the world. I just had quite a few questions. While you clarified who everyone was and what their relation was to each other, you didn't clarify much else, and that's what would help right now. Good luck!


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


#17 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 08:32 AM

Many thanks to everybody who has weighed in, especially those who suggsted specific words or phrases which might make the query clearer. :) Behold, Version #4! Let's see how this one reads. (This BARELY fits on a single printed page in letter format, so at this point there isn't an option to add much more, only to rephrase and condense.)

*************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

For over two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict. Now an ancient dinosaur civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl of the Tribes, falls in love with the dashing enemy fighter Tir'at~Esk, a military prisoner of her people — and she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But there is little hope that he can escape his captor, the Most Potent Chieftesss Ev'ora, who intends to coerce the handsome young warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, Ev'ora will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed: the stakes couldn't be higher, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

Tir'at~Esk, who loathes the Chieftess and longs for freedom, nevertheless refuses Girn'ash's pleas to escape without his lover, the beautiful poetess La'leet. When Ev'ora learns that he has impregnated her rival, Tir'at is in danger of being murdered — or far worse, telepathically broken and turned into a mere mindless toy for Ev'ora's pleasure.

In despair, Girn'ash flees to Tirat's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army to save Tir'at from Ev'ora's cruel designs. The little slave girl can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are anything but benevolent.

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. In terms of credentials, I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#18 ajvan

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 11:18 AM

Looking forward to this edition. If I may ask, which pitch contest are you entering Feb 14? Those are a lot of fun. 

Many thanks to everybody who has weighed in, especially those who suggsted specific words or phrases which might make the query clearer. :) Behold, Version #4! Let's see how this one reads. (This BARELY fits on a single printed page in letter format, so at this point there isn't an option to add much more, only to rephrase and condense.)

*************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. I like what you're doing here, setting us up to be surprised that you're talking about dinosaurs. Maybe cut the adjectives to a set of couplets so it reads less like a list? "Love and war, lust and betrayals..." I also feel like you could get a little more bang for your buck with that second phrase. Work some stakes in, maybe? "When savage lusts enter the world of intelligent dinosaurs, an entire civilization could become bare bones."

For over two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict. Since this query runs a little long, after each sentence, I'm asking, Do we need to know these particular details? Here I'm wondering about the lengthy proper names of the warring factions. Great word choice, "primordial." :) Maybe something like this would work: "For two centuries, two primordial tribes have been locked in [adjective with a dinosaur tie-in] conflict." Now an ancient dinosaur Their civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl of the Tribes, falls in love with the dashing enemy fighter Tir'at~Esk, a military prisoner of her people (This next sentence would work well after a full stop.) and She will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But there is little hope that he can escape his captor, Unfortunately, (or another brief intro word?) the Most Potent Chieftesss Ev'ora, who intends to coerce the handsome young warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, Ev'ora will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed: the stakes couldn't be higher, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way. Try to summarize the stakes in a quick phrase and without actually saying "stakes." "Without his fresh seed, Ev'ora's fading fertility will doom her to extinction by execution." Sorry if you're trying to avoid the extinction trope. :)

Tir'at~Esk, who loathes the Chieftess and longs for freedom, nevertheless refuses Girn'ash's pleas to escape. without his lover, He's already acted on his love for the beautiful poetess La'leet, and when Ev'ora learns that he has impregnated her rival, Tir'at is in danger of being murdered — or far worse, she hatches a plan to telepathically broken break him and turned turn him into a mere mindless toy for Ev'ora's pleasure.

 

Lengthwise, I'm wondering if the query should end here. What if you just allude to the poet and move right to the end? That would also save you from needing to intro a 4th character name. Something like, "But Tir'at resists, and the Chieftess hatches a plan to telepathically break him. In despair, Girn'ash..." 

In despair, Girn'ash the little slave girl (full circle, since you introduced her this way) flees to Tirat's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army to save Tir'at from Ev'ora's cruel designs. How can you simplify this? "...flees to raise an army for Tir'at's deliverance?" Try to make it as simple as possible to keep accelerating to your closing hook. The little slave girl can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, Little does she know that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are anything but benevolent.

"The Codex of Desire" is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. In terms of credentials, I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

Sorry for the copious notes, I got sucked in. Less is more, so your query will get more powerful as you parse it down. Hope my dinosaur allusions weren't too annoying--extinction, hatches, bare bones, etc.--but if that kind of thing fits the tone of your book, it's something to think about. Keep after it, you're getting close!



#19 Wayfarer

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 11:23 AM

Love and violence, war and lust, secrets and betrayals — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

For over two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict. Now an ancient dinosaur civilization is threatened with nuclear destruction when Girn'ash, a shrewd and secretive slave girl of the Tribes, falls in love with the dashing enemy fighter Tir'at~Esk, a military prisoner of her people — and she will do anything in her meager power to set him free. (You need to follow this with an immediate explanation of why this will threaten destruction)

But there is little hope that he can escape his captor, The Most Potent Chieftesss Ev'ora, his captor, who intends to coerce the handsome young warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, Ev'ora will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and summarily executed: the stakes couldn't be higher, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

Tir'at~Esk, who loathes the Chieftess and longs for freedom, nevertheless refuses Girn'ash's pleas to escape without his lover, the beautiful poetess La'leet. When Ev'ora learns that he has impregnated her rival La'leet(no need to call her the rival. Reference her name here, because without it this sentence is very confusing.), Tir'at is in danger of being murdered (Why is Tir'at in danger if she's not pregnant? Because she helped the other girl get pregnant? How?)— or far worse, telepathically broken and turned into a mere mindless toy for Ev'ora's pleasure. (After reading the final paragraph again, maybe remove the part about pregnancy here, and just go from the "he won't leave without his lover" to "in despair". The two points follow logically, will slim down the query, and streamline it. Especially because as it stands you have two sets of stakes in this query. Bringing it down to the Shogun one is best.)

In despair, Girn'ash flees to Tirat's homeland and begs his Shogun to send an army to save Tir'at from Ev'ora's cruel designs. The little slave girl can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are anything but benevolent.

Better and better, one or two revisions left is my guess.



#20 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 11:26 AM

Writing a good query letter feels an awful lot like stuffing five pounds of sausage into a half-pound casing, without tearing the casing or getting sausage stuffing EVERYWHERE. :) And while keeping all the spices intact that make the darned thing worth eating!
 

I appreciate all the help, folks. It's a bit confusing: some folks are saying "more detail!" while others are saying "less is more!"... it's difficult to chart a course between the two. In the end, as with any author, I suppose all I can do is follow my best instincts based on the excellent advice I've been receiving from many different points of view.

 

Quick question: based on what you've read so far, does CODEX sound like something that could be worth reading? I'm hoping that there's at least a basic level of appeal here that I can build on.






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