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Agents of Balance (YA Fantasy)- More Revisions/ Multiple Perspective Questions

Young Adult Multi-Cultural Fantasy Adventure Fiction

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#1 JRUET

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 04:34 PM

Question: I've noticed lots of inquiries use variations on the idea "multiple perspective" novel. I'm wondering if it's necessary for explaining my story. Please read my rationals and weigh in:

 

For "MP" declaration:

1. My novel jumps back and forth between characters and scenes as the teams of protagonists and antagonists are collected.

2. The first few pages do not include the main character from the query, but rather a secondary one (there's a good reason for this) so perhaps it will ease confusion for someone reading the first ten pages to know that while the primary protagonist from the query isn't in these pages, she's coming

 

Against "MP" declaration:

1. All of the story is written in third person, just following different characters in different chapters until they are all assembled on the same playing field. (so there's no head hoping, though the reader is more in tune with the emotions of the perspective character at any given time)

2. Honestly, it seems superfluous

 

Also wondering: do you think it will hurt me to not have the MC in the first pages of the novel. There is a reason it's set up this way, and there isn't really a way to reorder that wouldn't throw the rhythm of the story. If you've read Clive Cussler's adventure novels, they start with a catalytic action prior to the true action of the novel- this is something similar

 

 

Query:

 

Yellowstone is about to become a volcanic Chernobyl, and only a group of nearly untrained teens can stop it. 

 

Seventeen-year-old Sophie Westergaard has no idea she has blood-ties to a covert organization devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the humans destroying it. Sophie was just hoping to get settled at her new school without jumping through the hoops of the “new girl” routine, but then she notices Kai Redwolf.  He’s been lurking around her cross country practices, and she feels inexplicably drawn to him. Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she confronts Kai, but the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it certainly surprises her.

 

Kai is another member of the Agency, sent to convince her to help him. Sophie agrees to join Kai as they search for what’s causing the imbalance in Yellowstone. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they find an illegal mine extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining, it could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

As the Agency team races against the destabilizing mineral extraction Sophie learns she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share. Then she discovers her family’s dark history with the Agency, and her ability to manipulate water is the most benign of her powers.  If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control she’ll threaten everyone in the Agency, and without them Yellowstone will implode. 

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a  young adult fantasy novel complete at 110,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential.



#2 Springfield

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 05:46 PM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles)
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest?
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. Why? At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano Is that not what a caldera is, basically? that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous…

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. Genre? It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

This is just super generic and vague -- you have to specify what makes your thing different from the 5,000 other things with that basic plot.

 



#3 Kelz1990

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 07:11 PM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles) Always include the first pages of your story, but maybe move the contents of your prologue to the beginning of the first chapter instead?
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest? Keep the word count in the query, and if it's fantasy, it shouldn't be a problem. Otherwise, 60K - 80K is your best bet, especially if you're a first time novelist.
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. Why did she have to move to Montana to live with her aunt? At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of tells her about a secret organization called The Agents of Balance, and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency (don't capitalize if it's used in the generic form) is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

But the surprises don't end for Sophie. It turns out membership in The Agency Agents of Balance is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. How did she inherit her membership? Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements, (which element?) and the Agency agency expects her to use that skill to help them. With what? Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life, as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous… How are they dangerous? I'm not getting a feel for the stakes here. 

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. Is this supposed to be a fantasy? Say so if it is. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 



#4 JDSmith

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 12:01 AM

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles) Agents would prefer to start from chapter 1 if you are talking about sample pages sent with the query. I think you could include the prologue when you are requested the full.
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest? I think you should state that the book is 111k. Considering it is a Fantasy novel it should be understandable. 
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices a woman someone watching her from a distance. She informs Sophie about She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance. Their mission: to prevent and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

^ try to limit the number of characters mentioned to 2: the main character and the antagonist. Any other character that does not fit into those categories should not be mentioned because it can make the query confusing. An agent is interested in the main character a lot more than anything else. Also, try to keep your writing clear and concise. I know the urge to write a colorful sentence full description, but agents don't really want that either. Instead, give them the facts but structure it in a way that it gives off your main character's personality. (It's tricky. I'm still trying to figure it out.)

 

Also, according to some agents, the first paragraph should mainly focus on main character and setting and the second paragraph should be about the stakes and plot. (Just a fun fact I came across)

 

Apparently, Sophie has inherited It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. (did Sophie join them voluntarily? Is she being forced?) She has the Sophie has also inherited a ability reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the agency Agency expects (needs*?) her to use that skill to help them (protect the world?). Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera (capitalized?) becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. (need a transition to this sentence) Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous… (what does this mean for Sophie?)

 

^ I'm a little confused at this point. What are Sophie's goals? I know what the Agency wants, but what does she want? 

 

I think your premise is very interesting and with the necessary changes, your query will be able to express that perfectly!

 

The Agents of Balance is a 111,000 word Young Adult (Fantasy?) novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand-alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I'd really appreciate help with my query: Iris Mjolnir Spawn of War

 

First 250 words here: Woooo

 

Write on!


#5 galian84

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 11:47 AM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it b e confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles) Agree with JDSmith above. Actually went to look this up, myself, and here's a good website that talks about it: http://lynnettelabel...ue-to-an-agent/
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest? As far as I know, you should always include the (rounded) word count in your query
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana (This is very wordy and doesn't grab me. I think you could cut out this sentence entirely and start with the next one). While at cross country practice for her new school in Cutback, Montana, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf (what makes her want to approach a strange guy who's watching her? I'd be trying to avoid him), but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization (what makes him want to tell her about this organization? Why does he want to recruit her?) called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis (what kind of crisis?) in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. (cliché phrase) 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements (is this the strings attached you mentioned in your previous sentence?), and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances (specifics? What circumstances?) make her powers different, and different means dangerous (how so?)

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult (as other critters have mentioned, don't forget to add your genre) novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 

 Hi there, fresh eyes. I understand your concept, but I'm unfortunately not getting a good feel for the story. The query reads as vague, I came out of this with too many questions, and I'm not sure what the stakes/conflict are. I think it would help if you included some more specifics, as to what differentiates this from a hundred other YA fantasy (assuming that's what your genre is) books out there.

 

Good luck, I look forward to seeing your revised version!



#6 Maddie978

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 01:37 PM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles) ​I'm not positive of the procedure here. My first thought is that you should start from page 1 but it's tricky. Some of the other commenters have good advice. Here's an article about it from an agent: http://bookendsliter...p-the-prologue/
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest? You must include word count in a query. Usually if the word count is slightly higher than recommended agents will not mind (because there will be lots of editing to come).
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

​I actually think you should just cut this entire paragraph and focus more on the Agency. This beginning just seems like boring, extra information. Also, is Kai important to the rest of the story? If not, don't mention him.

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, (does this matter?) and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation (a what?) that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. This sentence is awkward and has too much information. Clearly the environmental crisis is important but you've jammed it into one sentence so I don't get a feel for how pressing it is. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous… You need to spend more time on this. Also, don't use ellipses (...) in queries.

 

The Agents of Balance THE AGENTS OF BALANCE is a Young Adult (doesn't need to be capitalized, and add genre) novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 

 

Solid start, but needs a lot of work. I don't get a sense of who Sophie is or what she cares about. The most important thing to get across is the stakes. What does Sophie want? What is stopping her from getting it? What will happen if she gets it? What will happen if she doesn't?

 

Answer these questions and make them the driving focus of the query. As mentioned above, I would also cut the stuff about her moving to Montana. It just doesn't seem as interesting/important as the rest.

 

Keep working and good luck!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

 

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


#7 beautifulblue19

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 07:41 PM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles) I'd assume from the prologue- especially if it wouldn't take up the whole pages. But I'll conced to anyone with more experience on that.
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest? I wouldn't think it was a deal breaker, but you'll have to make sure those first ten pages knock it out of the park.
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. I assume the move is important to the story in some way, but it's not clear from the query letter. I'd either leave that out, or make the importance clearer. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone, which the Agency I was thrown a little by the fact that The Agents of Balance is suddenly called just the Agency for the rest of the letter. Maybe just introduce it as the Agency in the  first place is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation What is a reciprocation? If it's another word for power, maybe just use that for letter purposes. that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous…

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 



#8 Emily804

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 07:18 PM

 

Two Questions in addition to the query:

 

  1. There is a prologue in my story, which I know some agents hate, but it provides information that leads to major reveals in the climax of the story that would be obvious if it was included in the “story proper.” When I submit my query with the first ten pages (if this is what the specific Agent/firm allows), should those pages be from the prologue or chapter one? I’d imagine the prologue but will it be confusing/ dissuading for the sample to have have the characters I talk about in the synopsis? (The character in the prologue are in the story proper as well, but they are secondary/protagonist roles)
  2. I currently have a word count of 111k which I know is slightly above the recommended 90-100,000 words for YA lit. I have already revised with peer reviews and cut 20k words, so I’m comfortable with the number, but is this an insurmountable issue that will have agents tossing my query without looking at pages? Should I leave out the word count in the query letter so it’s a non-issue, or is that evasive/ dishonest?
  3. Thanks for taking a look!!

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous…

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 

 

Wow, I really like this! I'm taking geology this semester and we were just talking about Yellowstone. The caldera becoming a super volcano would be a huge nightmare! Could potentially impact the entire world...I'm trying to think of things to say to critique this query. I really like it. The only thing I would say is to get rid of the ...ellipsis. It's implied when you end a query that there is more to come and more that the agent should be interested in. Your query seems like it might be on the shorter side, which is always, in my opinion, easier to fix than when you have to decide what to take out. You should consider talking a little bit more about your protagonist's powers and The Agency of Balance.  

 

1. I believe you're supposed to start with the prologue. Double check this though, it might vary a bit by agent. 

2. Don't leave out the word count. It's a little high, but since you're not at 120,000 you're not too high. And if you leave out the word count an agent might then later reject you when they find out that the word count is higher than they thought. 


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


#9 A. Wass

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 10:01 AM

Thanks all for the feedback, here's my first revision if you'd be willing to take a look. Also please link your query if you'd like reciprocation :)

 

Sophie Westergaard is in over her head. (This is very vague for a hook. It doesn't catch my attention.) She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches the guy lingering at her cross country practices, but she gets more than she bargained for when he recruits her into secret organization called The Agents of Balance. The Agency is devoted to maintaining the balances of the natural world, and unbeknownst(To me, this word is so clunky.) to Sophie, she’s inherited her membership along with the ability to control one of the natural elements. (I feel like I don't know anything about Sophie. I want some characterization here.)

 

Agency Director Samantha Browning has a problem. There’s an ancient myth predicting a collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera, and she’s detected an imbalance that could trigger it. All Samantha’s senior agents are out of commission(All of them? Why?), so she’s forced to turn to the teenage novices for a reconnaissance mission.

 

Sophie agrees to tag along with Samantha’s team, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine in the Shoshone Basin that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America. (Good stakes.)

 

The Agency team races against time and the Blackfeet prophecy as Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life and master her abilities. Just when she starts to get the hang of things, Sophie discovers a unique set of circumstances make her abilities manifest differently. (This last sentence is too vague to be of any help. What circumstances? How is it different?) If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest danger to everyone around her.

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Overall this sounds like a really interesting story. You have characters, but I don't know anything about what makes them worth caring about. The conflict is somewhat clear, but could use some clarification. The stakes are good though! Super volcano eruption? Very cool. And unique.



#10 CM_Fick

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    Legacy of Fate, 2016
    When the Dead Rise: Series 1, 2016

Posted 01 March 2018 - 12:25 PM

(age--important for YA) Sophie Westergaard is in over her head. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches the guy lingering at her cross country practices, but she gets more than she bargained for when he recruits her into secret organization called The Agents of Balance. The Agency is devoted to maintaining the balances of the natural world, and unbeknownst (what's unknown? if she knows what the agency does, I assume she knows that she'd inherited membership) to Sophie, she’s inherited her membership along with the ability to control one of the natural elements. (I don't see any conflict or stakes, so this doesn't feel like a true hook) 

 

Agency Director Samantha Browning has a problem. There’s an ancient myth predicting a collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera, and she’s detected an imbalance that could trigger it. All Samantha’s senior agents are out of commission, so she’s forced to turn to the teenage novices for a reconnaissance mission. (this flip in POV is jarring)

 

Sophie agrees to tag along with Samantha’s team, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine in the Shoshone Basin that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

The Agency team races against time and the Blackfeet prophecy as Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life and master her abilities. Just when she starts to get the hang of things, Sophie discovers a unique set of circumstances make her abilities manifest differently. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest danger to everyone around her. (What terrible choice does your main character have to make and what are the consequences? (the best kind of choices are ones where the MC isn't a clear winner. Where they have to give something up no matter what (this ties in the personal stakes))

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

Hi JRUET, 

 

Thank you for your comments on my query. One thing you noted in my query is the proper nouns. I count 5 here. I suggest naming the protagonist, the antagonist, and the location.

 

One of the biggest issues I see is that you are trying to tell two stories. This creates an issue in that you're only telling part of each story. Especially for YA, I find that most agents prefer a single POV in the query and note that it's multi/ dual POV in the housekeeping and while multi-POV queries can be successful, they're quite difficult to layer so the story feels cohesive. 

 

I always start a query with this formula: when (character) is faced with (inciting incident/ conflict) they must (overcome conflict) to (complete their stakes/ goals) for the hook and once I find the core of the conflict, I can write the rest based on the information provided in the hook. (I have 3 queries that all focus on different aspects of the story and send out which one I feel is best suited to an agent's MSWL)

 

Also, I suggest that once you decide who to center the query on, looking at your story and base the query on the events that lead up to the first turning point (around pg 50). I know this doesn't seem like it tells the whole story, but I believe only the final "terrible choice" paragraph should speak to events in the first turning point and only the stakes beyond it. 
 
This is just my 2 cents and take whatever you find useful and trash the rest. I think you have an interesting concept here, but it could use some clarity and streamlining imo. 
 
Hope this helps. 
CM


#11 CPWCollier

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 07:07 PM

Thanks all for the feedback, here's my first revision if you'd be willing to take a look. Also please link your query if you'd like reciprocation :)

 

Sophie Westergaard is in over her head. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches the guy lingering at her cross country practices, but she gets more than she bargained for when she's recruited he recruits her into secret organization called The Agents of Balance. The Agency is devoted to maintaining the balances of the natural world(maybe specify you mean the elements of the natural world here, just "natural world" feels a bit vague), and unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited her membership along with the ability to control one of the natural elements. I think getting straight to why she's in over her head is a stronger first line. You could also mention Sophie's age range from the get go so we visualize the character more (i.e. 17 year old Sophie Westergaard gets more than she....). I would also specify which element she is in control of.

 

Agency Director Samantha Browning has a problem. There’s an ancient myth predicting a collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera, and she’s detected an imbalance that could trigger it. All Samantha’s senior agents are out of commission(giving a brief explanation why they're out of commission would give it some higher stakes), so she’s forced to turn to the teenage novices for a reconnaissance mission.

 

Sophie agrees to tag along ("tag along" feels too casual for the circumstances)  with Samantha’s team, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine in the Shoshone Basin that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

The Agency team races against time and the Blackfeet prophecy(this phrase kind of comes out of nowhere on the first read. If this is the ancient myth mentioned in the 2nd paragraph, call it by its name there, first)  as Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life and master her abilities. Just when she starts to get the hang of things, Sophie discovers a unique set of circumstances (this is too vague. briefly explain the circumstances without spoiling major plot points) make her abilities manifest differently(give the last part of this sentence a negative connotation so it connects to the stakes of the last sentence better. just saying 'manifest differently' doesn't make me think that her abilities are out of her control). If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest danger to everyone around her.

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

* Overall, I like this idea of this story. Definitely somehting I would read and you did well to compare it to RED QUEEN regarding the elemental powers. I would focus on setting a singluar tone throughout the query as the voice felt a little scattered in this read, and making sure to be specific with descriptions. Also, if it's possible, I would try to get your word count under 100k for a first YA novel. Some people and some agents may think differently, but I've found that to be a pretty safe bet. As with everything, take this with a grain of salt, but I hope this feedback helps! 

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous…

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 



#12 JRUET

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 09:03 PM

SECOND REVISION OPTIONS:

 

Thanks again for bearing with me and for the feedback!

 

I feel like I'm struggling to make my main character (Sophie) interesting/ likable without delving into backstory. MC seemed to resonate with my beta readers, but I've found when I ask myself "who is MC/what does she want" I can't distill it into one sentence/idea that I could use to hook a reader/agent, so maybe I have a bigger problem here (eek!)

 

I tend to be a "rule follower" and it might be getting in the way of giving my QL a voice. Please let me know if these seem dry/ clinical. I've included three options (I've been toying with different ideas for the past week based off feedback both here and offline) - please let me know if any (or parts of any) entice you/ make MC interesting. I'm also keen for harsh line edits, so feel free to attack one or more :)

 

Also please link your query if you'd like reciprocation

 

 

 

Dear Agent, 

 

Five years ago Sophie Westergaard blew up a fish tank with her mind. Sophie pretends the unsettling incident never happened until she meets Kai Redwolf. Things start making sense when he tells her a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and a secret organization determined to stop it.

 

The Agency is devoted to maintaining balance between natural world and the humans determined to destroy it. Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

 

 

Sophie grapples with her newfound identity and abilities as the Agency team races against the destabilizing mineral extraction. Then Sophie discovers her family’s dark history with the Agency, and that her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her power.  If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone.

 

 

OR

 

When Sophie Westergaard’s family implodes (in a good way) she’s forced to move, again. She may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time Sophie feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. That is until Kai Redwolf approaches her with a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it.

 

 

Kai is a member of the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one. Kai is recruiting her because, unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share.  Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms Sophie discovers her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her abilities. She’s also an elemental vampire, capable of leeching energy from other agents, and if she can’t figure out how to control her abilities she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone.

 

OR

 

5,000 years ago a genetic strand changed a portion of the human race. When their abilities gave them a near god-like power to control the elements the rest of humanity forced them into hiding. The bloodrite passed down generation after generation to members of a secret society entrusted with maintain the balance between the natural and human worlds. In modern times the Agency struggles to stay below the radar while preventing potential disasters around the world. 

 

Sophie Westergaard's parents have kept her heritage from her in the hopes she could live a normal life. But then she's recruited by the Agency to help prevent a natural disaster. The precarious balance of the Yellowstone Caldera is threatened by an illegal mine that's extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If the Agency can't stop the mining, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that would wipe North America off the map.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her.

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#13 Emily804

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 03:24 PM

 

SECOND REVISION OPTIONS:

 

Thanks again for bearing with me and for the feedback!

 

I feel like I'm struggling to make my main character (Sophie) interesting/ likable without delving into backstory. MC seemed to resonate with my beta readers, but I've found when I ask myself "who is MC/what does she want" I can't distill it into one sentence/idea that I could use to hook a reader/agent, so maybe I have a bigger problem here (eek!)

 

I tend to be a "rule follower" and it might be getting in the way of giving my QL a voice. Please let me know if these seem dry/ clinical. I've included three options (I've been toying with different ideas for the past week based off feedback both here and offline) - please let me know if any (or parts of any) entice you/ make MC interesting. I'm also keen for harsh line edits, so feel free to attack one or more :)

 

Also please link your query if you'd like reciprocation

 

 

 

Dear Agent, 

 

Five years ago Sophie Westergaard blew up a fish tank with her mind. Sophie pretends the unsettling incident never happened until she meets Kai Redwolf. Things start making sense when he tells her a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and a secret organization determined to stop it.

 

The Agency is devoted to maintaining balance between natural world and the humans determined to destroy it. Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

 

 

Sophie grapples with her newfound identity and abilities as the Agency team races against the destabilizing mineral extraction. Then Sophie discovers her family’s dark history with the Agency, and that her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her power.  If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone.

 

 

OR

 

When Sophie Westergaard’s family implodes (in a good way) she’s forced to move, again. She may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time Sophie feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. That is until Kai Redwolf approaches her with a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it.

 

 

Kai is a member of the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one. Kai is recruiting her because, unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share.  Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms Sophie discovers her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her abilities. She’s also an elemental vampire, capable of leeching energy from other agents, and if she can’t figure out how to control her abilities she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone.

 

OR

 

5,000 years ago a genetic strand changed a portion of the human race. When their abilities gave them a near god-like power to control the elements the rest of humanity forced them into hiding. The bloodrite passed down generation after generation to members of a secret society entrusted with maintain the balance between the natural and human worlds. In modern times the Agency struggles to stay below the radar while preventing potential disasters around the world. 

 

Sophie Westergaard's parents have kept her heritage from her in the hopes she could live a normal life. But then she's recruited by the Agency to help prevent a natural disaster. The precarious balance of the Yellowstone Caldera is threatened by an illegal mine that's extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If the Agency can't stop the mining, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that would wipe North America off the map.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her.

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. This is a stand alone novel with the potential for a series.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

I think you might be struggling with some of the things I am with my query! You have multiple elements to this story, from the changed portion of the human race, to the volcano, to the romance. From the advice that I've heard from other people, I would recommend focusing on the characters and weaving in the world elements only when necessary. Like, if you're going to talk about the superhumans, mention them by saying that your main character is one of them. I liked the beginning to your first query, but I think because that event happened five years prior to your story, you should try to find something more immediate to the plot to start with. 

 

Honestly, I think you should go with this one (with a few minor edits):

 

 

Dear Agent Name,

 

Two weeks before the beginning of her junior year of high school, Sophie Westergaard is uprooted and moved to her aunt’s house in Cut Bank, Montana. At cross country practice for her new school, Sophie notices someone watching her from a distance. She isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but she gets more than she bargained for when he spins a tale of a secret organization called The Agents of Balance and an environmental crisis in Yellowstone the Agency is trying to prevent. The surprises don’t end there. 

 

It turns out membership in the Agency is hereditary, and it comes with strings attached. Sophie has also inherited a reciprocation an ability that allows her to control one of the natural elements, and the Agency expects her to use that skill to help them. Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new life as the threat of Yellowstone’s caldera becoming a super volcano that could wipe out North America looms. Then, Sophie learns that a unique set of circumstances make her powers different, and different means dangerous…<Don't need ellipsis 

 

The Agents of Balance is a Young Adult novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen <Be careful with using this as a comp. This book falls under the category of being an outlier, because it's been on the NYT Bestseller list for so long. This is a stand alone novel with series potential.

 

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

 

 

My Query: http://agentquerycon...lity-ya-sci-fi/


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


#14 crestakaz

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 03:33 PM

 

SECOND REVISION OPTIONS:

 

Thanks again for bearing with me and for the feedback!

 

I feel like I'm struggling to make my main character (Sophie) interesting/ likable without delving into backstory. MC seemed to resonate with my beta readers, but I've found when I ask myself "who is MC/what does she want" I can't distill it into one sentence/idea that I could use to hook a reader/agent, so maybe I have a bigger problem here (eek!) Yeah, this might be a pretty huge red flag. This needs to be established in your query as one of your characters' wants. For me, the "total destruction" stake so often used in query letters has a hard time hooking me because it feels so general and impersonal unless it ties into their more specific wants. Of course they care about whether or not the world ends--everyone does. But why them? What do they want to protect so desperately?

 

In short, a clear understanding of your MC's wants is a critical aspect of both your MS and your query that you must straighten out. Otherwise, you won't be able to convey it to the reader.

 

I tend to be a "rule follower" and it might be getting in the way of giving my QL a voice. Please let me know if these seem dry/ clinical. I've included three options (I've been toying with different ideas for the past week based off feedback both here and offline) - please let me know if any (or parts of any) entice you/ make MC interesting. I'm also keen for harsh line edits, so feel free to attack one or more :) Personally, super voice-y queries only work for me if it accurately reflects the MC. It can also go over the top quite easily. In general, I don't have a huge problem with the more "clinical" (as you say) approach, so long as it isn't sanitized of any style.

 

Also please link your query if you'd like reciprocation

 

 

 

Dear Agent, 

 

Five years ago Sophie Westergaard blew up a fish tank with her mind. Sophie pretends the unsettling incident never happened until she meets Kai Redwolf. Things start making sense when he tells her a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and a secret organization determined to stop it. Immediately, this doesn't work for me. These things don't make sense at all--how is blowing up a fish tank at all related to a prediction of the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera? Also, does your book specify which tribe of Native Americans he's from? Just using the general term of "Native American" is already worrisome, especially if this isn't an #ownvoices book.

 

The Agency is devoted to maintaining balance between natural world and the humans determined to destroy it. Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents . If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America. Okay, cool. This seems like a nod to what happened at Standing Rock with the DAPL. If it is, definitely mention this as a feature of your book at the bottom, because it's a super important subject that deserves addressing in some shape/form.

 

Sophie grapples with her newfound identity and abilities as the Agency team races against the destabilizing mineral extraction. Then Sophie discovers her family’s dark history with the Agency, and that her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her power.  If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone. This last paragraph is pretty messy. A lot of twists/turns that don't make much sense.

 

 

OR

 

When Sophie Westergaard’s family implodes (in a good way) she’s forced to move, again. She may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time Sophie feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. That is until Kai Redwolf approaches her with a story of a Native American Legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it. I don't see how "imploding" is ever a good thing. Not clear. And his approaching her comes out of left field. Still doesn't work for me. 

 

Kai is a member of the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one. Kai is recruiting her because, unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share. Sophie agrees to join Kai to see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone, but their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl I really like this phrase looms Sophie discovers her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her abilities. She’s also an elemental vampire, capable of leeching energy from other agents, and if she can’t figure out how to control her abilities she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone. Wait, wait, what?? What's this turn at the end? What the heck? You completely lost me. The first part made sense, and then that second sentence just threw me for a loop. A query letter shouldn't have such big information thrown in at the last minute. I like the idea of "just the beginning of her abilities... but if she can't figure out..." part. But the "elemental vampire" and "leeching powers" is brand new and a lot to handle at the very end of the query. I'd leave those specifics out.

 

OR

 

5,000 years ago a genetic strand changed a portion of the human race. When their abilities gave them a near god-like power to control the elements the rest of humanity forced them into hiding. The bloodrite passed down generation after generation to members of a secret society entrusted with maintain the balance between the natural and human worlds. In modern times the Agency struggles to stay below the radar while preventing potential disasters around the world.  This intro is also a huge nope for me. It's an exposition dump with no ties to your MC.

 

Sophie Westergaard's parents have kept her heritage from her in the hopes she could live a normal life. But then she's recruited by the Agency to help prevent a natural disaster. The precarious balance of the Yellowstone Caldera is threatened by an illegal mine that's extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If the Agency can't stop the mining, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that would wipe North America off the map. First half of this paragraph is also a nope for me. It's phrased under the view of her parents, not her. What does Sophie want?

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her. Again, this focuses the stakes better on Sophie. This last sentence works the best for me thus far.

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult fantasy This isn't quite a fantasy novel. I'm not sure where exactly is does fall, but this still takes place in our time with our Yellowstone, yes? It's not pure fantasy, then. novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential for a series.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

 

Sophie needs to be given an age, so we know the general target audience right off. There are parts of each query that work, but none of them really work as a whole. I'd scrap and start over, focusing on Sophie's wants as a character first. I'm not getting a clear picture of who she is, though the "new girl" bit is a place to start. Is she just shuttled from place to place as a result of her powers going haywire? That may be a good place to jump off of.

 

Now, this part is completely unasked for, so if you don't want unsolicited advice, ignore this next bit:

 

I'm a little concerned about the, ah, content of your novel. Your query will need to be very carefully worded to avoid stepping on the many landmines surrounding YA and diverse books and #ownvoices. Especially if Sophie is fully white, which your query definitely implies, given her last name. ESPECIALLY if this isn't #ownvoices. It screams white-savior book, which does not go down well these days. Also, she literally leeches power from the Agents, whom I'm assuming are native like Kai? Hopefully you see the implications of what you're talking about here. If you haven't gotten a sensitivity reader, do so now. 



#15 JRUET

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 04:36 PM

Now, this part is completely unasked for, so if you don't want unsolicited advice, ignore this next bit:

 

 

I'm a little concerned about the, ah, content of your novel. Your query will need to be very carefully worded to avoid stepping on the many landmines surrounding YA and diverse books and #ownvoices. Especially if Sophie is fully white, which your query definitely implies, given her last name. ESPECIALLY if this isn't #ownvoices. It screams white-savior book, which does not go down well these days. Also, she literally leeches power from the Agents, whom I'm assuming are native like Kai? Hopefully you see the implications of what you're talking about here. If you haven't gotten a sensitivity reader, do so now. 

 

@crestakaz Excellent point. My MC is part Blackfeet, one of my secondaries (Kai) is full, and all other characters are diverse races but non-indigenous. Indigenous legends are an integral theme in the novel, and I think I'm so deep into this "query quandary" it didn't even occur to me that it might come off as "white savior" so I'll definitely have to address that, thanks for bringing it to my attention!

 

Edited to add: the legend the novel works with is of Crow origin, so I hesitated to put in specifics as the story and main characters' origins do not match



#16 JRUET

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 02:30 PM

Thanks again for the feedback. I'm hoping for a last round of revisions before sending a set of initial queries. I'm at the point where I feel like I'm spinning my wheels a bit, so I'd love to hear thoughts/ opinions/ critiques of this version before getting my feet wet with it. Please leave your query link of you'd like feedback. Thanks! -J

 

 

Seventeen year old Sophie Westergaard is moving… again. She may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time Sophie feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. That is until she notices a boy at cross country practice. Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it certainly surprises her.

 

Kai is a member of the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one. Unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share. With the lure of a history she couldn’t imagine, Sophie agrees to join Kai and see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her. 

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult magical realism fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential.

 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,



#17 Bibliophyl

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 05:44 PM

Looking forward to returning your critique of mine!

 

Seventeen year old Sophie Westergaard is moving… again. She may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time Sophie feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. That is until she notices a boy at cross country practice. ["notices a boy" feels a little flat to me...what makes her notice him in particular? appearance, actions, attitude, etc?] Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it certainly surprises her.

 

Kai is a member of the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one. Unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share. With the lure of a history she couldn’t imagine, Sophie agrees to join Kai and see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America. Great stakes here!

 

As the threat of a volcanic chernobyl [I think this should be capitalized since it's a proper noun] looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her. 

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult magical realism fantasy novel complete at 111,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential. You've probably heard this before but I feel like 111k is on the long side for YA and might turn an agent off. I'm not super familiar with YA genre trends though, so I could be off base here. 

 

I really like this and I think you have some great elements here. I didn't have too much to pick on. I'm curious, do you have a background in geology or something environmental that helped you write this? It seems like it would require some specialized knowledge; if so, I'd definitely put a bio line addressing that. If not, then no worries. :)



#18 smithgirl

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 06:03 PM

Didn't read any previous versions, so this is all new to me.

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Sophie Westergaard is moving… again. You need a short hook, one or two sentences. Maybe you can build on this sentence for your hook and then jump into the first paragraph.

 

Sophie he may hate the “new girl” routine, but by this time she Sophie feels like she’s got it down. pretty dialed in. That is until she notices a boy at cross country practice. I'm not sure how seeing a cute boy affects her assimilation into a new school. Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai Redwolf, but the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera What is the Yellowstone Caldera? I'd never heard of a caldera (had to Google it). Not sure if other people will also be unfamiliar. and an organization determined to stop it certainly surprises her. This sentence is a bit run-on. I would try to break it up.

 

 

Kai is a member of the organization, called the Agency, a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural and human worlds. world and the human one. Unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements, a trait members of the Agency share. So how does she learn about it? With the lure of a history she couldn’t imagine, Sophie agrees to join Kai and see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone. This is too vague. And this is really more than a legend? It's actually happening? I didn't realize there was an actual unbalance. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. How does this complicate their mission? Wouldn't it explain things?  If they can’t stop the mining in time, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America. So the legend is coming true? 

 

As the threat of a volcanic Chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the elements. What? Too vague. Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. How? What are her powers? Which element does she control?  If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll be the biggest threat to everyone around her.  Stakes are good, but can you be more specific how Sophie is a danger? 

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult magical realism fantasy novel complete at 110,000 words (round). It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential.

 

Hi JRUET,

 

Right now your query is too vague and we don't ever get to know Sophie. I have a general idea of the story but need more specifics and some definitions: Who is Sophie? What is her new identity -- we know she has some new powers, but we don't know what they are, how she feels about them, how her identity has changed.  What is the lure of history she can't imagine? I'm also confused about the legend, and if what's happening is the legend coming true. I also wonder about Kai, is he a love interest? At the beginning I thought he was, but we never learn anything about their relationship -- friends? Dating? Lovers?

 

Also, just FYI, 110K is long for YA. It's on the long side for any genre, but YA tends to run shorter. So you could face some resistance on that front.

 

Sorry to ask so many questions. I hope this helps.

 

Good luck!

 

 

 



#19 mkuriel

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 09:00 AM

Seventeen-year-old Sophie Westergaard is moving… again. Sophie may hate the “new girl” routine, but this time she feels like she’s got it pretty dialed in. [There's no hook to this... suggest introducing the fantastic element right up front: Seventeen-year-old Sophie never would have guessed that her twentieth relocation would require her to use her new-girl routine in a magical land.... Or Maybe, When a mysterious Native American tells seventeen-year-old Sophie a fantastic tale, she's pulled into a world where she has to learn to control water to stop a volcanic eruption from destroying North America... Of course, if you go this route you'll need to unpack the hook in the next paragraph]

 

That is until she notices a boy watching her from the edges of cross country practice. Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches [these details don't appear to matter to the plot] Kai Redwolf, [insert the details that  make him different, like wearing full ceremonial Native American costume or no one else notices him] but she's definitely surprised by the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera [generally, not a good idea to use too many names in a query... and I've heard of Yellowstone, but not Caldera, so that might not have anything to do with the National Park. I generally wait to read the whole thing before deciding I'm confused, so, in this case, the association I assume works. I might not for everyone. 'nuff said.]  and an organization determined to stop it. 

 

Kai is a member of the Agency [Assuming Kai is a Native American, and most of the 'Agency' are too, I really hope this is a jab at white man's tendency to name everything. If not, you might want to come up with a Native American title for this group], a covert association devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the human one [there's a contradiction here, unless you're saying that humans are unnatural and cannot live in the natural world. Which begs the question, what then, is Kai?]. Unbeknownst to Sophie, she’s inherited the ability to control one of the elements water [give specific element, and please tell me it's because her grandmother was whatever Kai is]., a trait members of the Agency share. With the lure of a history personal she couldn’t imagine, [If there's romance there, just keep it simple and say she's attracted to him] Sophie agrees to join Kai and see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining, the destabilization could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America and bring the legend to fruition. [reminding us of the legend is redundant in the query, and lessens the impact of the stakes with an, "I told you so." Personally, I think you should either state that the legend tells of a massive volcanic eruption that will drown half the world in lava and blanket the other half in ash; or drop mention of it all together.]

 

As the threat of a volcanic Chernobyl looms, Sophie grapples with her new identity and her ability to manipulate the element water. [this is a problem most people would love to have, hence all the stories about magic powers. State the bad so we know the cost of this power. Sophie grapples...and the fact that her magic drains the life of the people she's come to love.] Then she discovers that her powers have manifested in a frightening way. [vague] If Sophie can’t get her abilities under control not only will Yellowstone implode, she’ll pose an even greater threat to everyone around her. [again, vague. Also, impossible because you basically say: If Sophie can't save North America from a lava bath, she'll kill everyone with her magic. Since she can't really kill EVERYONE with her magic, it falls flat.]

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a young adult magical realism fantasy [Isn't this an oxymoron? or is this really a thing?] novel complete at 111,000 words [that's a bit long for debut YA]. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential.

 

Okay... my coffee is kicking in and I just realized that my tone might come across over-critical. It's easy to pick apart a query and I apologize if any of the above seems malicious in any way - there's no malice intended, just some jarring, actionable feedback. With that in mind, I'm going to emulate the most useful feedback I've received and provide a skeleton query for you to work with.

 

When seventeen-year-old Sophie moved to a town near Yellowstone National Park, she's pulled into a world where she had to learn to control water to stop a volcanic eruption from destroying North America. 

 

After moving for the tenth time, Sophie was really in the rhythm of her new-girl routine when she noticed a boy her age wearing a ceremonial Native American headdress. Realizing that no one else noticed him, she cautiously introduced herself. He was Kai Redwolf, and the Wanagi Ozuye or Spirit Warriors, needed her help. Attracted to this mysterious stranger, she agreed to hear his tale. Misunderstanding her agreement, he pulled her into a magical world. Her new-girl routine couldn't help her come to terms with the fact that she's descended from a great Wanagi Ozuye and must discover her 'medicine' to avert a volcanic extinction event. 

 

As a Medicine Man taught her to control water, she accidentally pulled the water from his body. Her teacher in a coma, Sophie must control her untrained ability or risk killing the boy she's come to love when she stops the volcano from destroying both worlds. 

 

Hope that helps! Good luck!

 

Wanagi Ozuye might be translated to Spirit Warriors according to the following website. http://kayitah.tripod.com/page2.html



#20 JRUET

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 09:35 PM

Latest Revision:
 

Yellowstone is about to become a volcanic Chernobyl and only a group of nearly untrained teens can stop it. 

 

Seventeen-year-old Sophie Westergaard has no idea she has blood-ties to the Agency, a covert organization devoted to maintaining the balance between the natural world and the humans destroying it. She just wants to get herself settled at her new school without jumping through the “new girl” routine again. But then she notices Kai Redwolf. He's been lurking around her cross country practices and Sophie feels inexplicably drawn to him. Sophie isn’t sure what to expect when she approaches Kai, but the story he tells of a legend predicting the collapse of the Yellowstone Caldera and an organization determined to stop it certainly surprises her.

 

With the lure of a personal history she couldn’t imagine, Sophie agrees to join Kai and see what’s upsetting the balance in Yellowstone. But their mission becomes much more than observation when they discover an illegal mine that’s extracting uranium from the geyser vents. If they can’t stop the mining in time, it could trigger a super volcano that will wipe out North America.

 

The Agency team races against the destabilizing mineral extraction as Sophie grapples with her newfound identity and responsibilities. Then she discovers her family’s dark history with the Agency, and that her ability to manipulate water is just the beginning of her power. If Sophie can’t get her other abilities under control she might be a bigger danger to everyone around her than the impending implosion of Yellowstone. 

 

AGENTS OF BALANCE is a multiple perspective young adult fantasy novel complete at 110,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Alexandra Bracken’s THE DARKEST MINDS and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN. It is a stand alone novel with series potential.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,







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