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THE GODCURSED (YA Fantasy) - Will Return Critique

Fantasy Young Adult

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#21 JRUET

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 12:32 PM

I totally see where you're coming from, and agree! This query process is difficult, and sometimes the more input we get the more difficult it becomes. I think the major take away is to remember- no matter what you do, not everyone (both critiquers and agents) is going to like/understand your query, or for that matter, your novel. But that's not the point- the point is to create the best rendition of your work that will appeal to your audience. My "day job" is in photography, and I constantly have to remind myself that not everyone is "my client" and similarly, not everyone will be "my reader"

 

So, take a break from this nonsense for a bit, but I think you've got a great concept here, so keep your head up. There's no such thing as "art" that appeals to everyone, and my god, could you imagine how boring it would be if there was?



#22 PureZhar3

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 09:40 PM

I absolutely understand. I have definitely chased many a rabbit hole and played many a game of Whack-A-Mole, all before realizing my efforts were being wasted. That said, from my time on this site, I have come to realize that people here tend to overanalyze. In general, this is good and understandable - we're meant to catch holes in each others' queries, and to really dig deep to help refine each to be the best that it can be. That said, we ask questions about things that the average agent may notice, but wouldn't necessarily be bothered by not having answered. I catch myself doing it too... slipping into the "what is wrong with this/what is missing" as opposed to the "what is this story and what response does it evoke from me". And try to stop it, because otherwise well-meaning advice just sets one back. Of course, there are times when there are holes in the query and gaps in logic, but there is a fine line between "be specific" and "explain yourself". The former has its motives based in the fact that we as humans cannot picture vague entities (the story is in the specifics) and thus details evoke images that strengthen the query; the latter seems to be more focused on providing detail for the sake of showing that your story is holistic (which, in my opinion, is understandable, but there is a whole book to prove those things... one cannot explain everything).

The solution that I have most often found to work are to:

1) see how many people are bringing up the question, and what their reasoning is, to see if it is even a question worth addressing

2) eliminate the questions by eliminating the element from the query (ask yourself - is it absolutely necessary to include?). for example, I have a villain with a hidden agenda, but as soon as I mention it in the query, everyone wants more details. This is fine - good, even - except that the plan is convoluted and cannot be explained without an additional 300 words (otherwise, it drags up far more questions). Given this fact, I opt to altogether leave out his hidden agenda, or to make one mention of it and minimize the attention from it

3) when all else fails, for things that must be there (cannot be eliminated) and bring up a horde of additional questions, I try to go with the precise amount of detail that brings up the least questions.

 

In your case, from the variety of questions that I have seen people point out, I would argue that some are quite well-founded (people got the wrong perception of what was going on, this indicates a problem - unless the misconception occurs in only one person, in which case it could be an inaccurate reading rather than a bad query), but others are not.


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


#23 crestakaz

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:02 AM

For whatever reason, I've decided to return to the self-flagellation that is query writing (only half-joking). I honestly expected to come back with a drastically different query, but the variations I tried just didn't work out. I hope not too many of the issues that bothered people in previous versions are still present here.

 

This one is still rough, but I hope it conveys the basics without getting too confusing. Still needs some word polish, for sure, at the least. The ending line is pretty lame, so I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions you all might have.

As always, I'll return any critique I receive, so just let me know if you want me to check yours out.

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Dear Agent,

 

Only a wall separates the human nation of Veturia from the Realm, a land ruled by magic and half-man, half-beast monsters called the Godcursed. A wall that, despite the bloodthirsty creatures on the other side, seventeen-year-old Atya unhesitatingly crosses when it means saving her best friend’s life.
 
Atya has only ever known one life in Veturia: that as Princess Ilianna’s best friend and healer. While Atya bears the ultimate secret of being Blessed—a person granted powers by the gods to heal the royal family bloodline at the price of her own pain—the endless parade of ballgowns and festivals suits her just fine. Atya will do anything to ensure nothing changes.
 
But even she can’t predict a bloody coup by rebels.
 
When their leader sends Princess Ilianna to spy on the Godcursed, Atya, certain Ilianna will be caught without her help, follows her into that nightmarish land. With the king’s and queen’s lives on the line, the two girls must navigate the lush court of the Realm and its many temptations without being caught as spies, or worse, ensnared as prey.
 
Yet, the longer Atya stays in the Realm, the stranger her powers become. Under the dark veneer of the Godcursed’s sinister magic lies an unwelcome truth: her powers are neither unique nor a gods-given gift. After discovering what both the rebels and the Godcursed truly desire is people like her who have the power to bring the Realm to its knees, Atya must choose between working with the monsters she fears and the monstrous rebels she knows. One leads to sacrificing Ilianna, the other, her own freedom—and only the gods know which is which.
 
THE GODCURSED is a YA fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words with appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE and the dark magic of Leigh Bardugo’s THE GRISHA TRILOGY.


#24 cmmg

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 11:02 AM

 

For whatever reason, I've decided to return to the self-flagellation that is query writing (only half-joking). I honestly expected to come back with a drastically different query, but the variations I tried just didn't work out. I hope not too many of the issues that bothered people in previous versions are still present here.

 

This one is still rough, but I hope it conveys the basics without getting too confusing. Still needs some word polish, for sure, at the least. The ending line is pretty lame, so I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions you all might have.

As always, I'll return any critique I receive, so just let me know if you want me to check yours out.

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Dear Agent,

 

Only a wall separates the human nation of Veturia from the Realm: (maybe this works better?) a land ruled by magic and half-man, half-beast monsters called the Godcursed. (I like this line) A wall that (the wall was mentioned too long ago for this to be poignant. "this wall" or something might be clearer), despite the bloodthirsty creatures on the other side, seventeen-year-old Atya unhesitatingly crosses when it means saving her best friend’s life (I think you could play with the logic of this sentence so it's cleaer "But when 17-year old Atya's best friend is in danger, she crosses the the wall to..." so the logic and action of the sentence point more to Atya and less to the wall, which, as itself is not the agent/doer/character in this sentence).
 
Atya has only ever known one life in Veturia: that as Princess Ilianna’s best friend and healer. While Atya bears the ultimate secret of being Blessed—a person granted powers by the gods to heal the royal family bloodline at the price of her own pain—the endless parade of ballgowns and festivals suits her just fine(not sure how the secret of being Blessed conflicts with the parades and festivals, which this sentence implies they do). Atya will do anything to ensure nothing changes. (what happened to the best friend who was kidnapped?)
 
But even she can’t predict a bloody coup by rebels.
 
When their leader sends Princess Ilianna to spy on the Godcursed, Atya, certain Ilianna will be caught without her help, follows her into that nightmarish land (since queries are so chronological I feel like you have too much in the gap between saying she crosses over and then re-saying it. I think having one or sentence giving backstory can work, but if you start with her crossing, going back to a coup doesn't make much sense). With the king’s and queen’s lives on the line, the two girls must navigate the lush court of the Realm and its many temptations without being caught as spies, or worse, ensnared as prey.
 
Yet, the longer Atya stays in the Realm, the stranger her powers become. Under the dark veneer of the Godcursed’s sinister magic lies an unwelcome truth: her powers are neither unique nor a gods-given gift(I like these two sentences). After discovering what both the rebels and the Godcursed truly desire is people like her who have the power to bring the Realm to its knees (why do they want people who have the power to stop them?), Atya must choose between working with the monsters she fears and the monstrous rebels she knows. One leads to sacrificing Ilianna, the other, her own freedom—and only the gods know which is which.
 
THE GODCURSED is a YA fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words with appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE and the dark magic of Leigh Bardugo’s THE GRISHA TRILOGY.

 

 

I think, other than some sentences and clarity issues, the main problem here is issue of a linear, focused narrative in the beginning. Towards the end this gets better but it starts with a lot of different sentient. She crosses over to save her best friend, but then something about her having magic and the royal parties and a bloody coup and then BACK to the friend but her life isn't really being saved? I feel like there's a lot of detail that's not streamlined.

 

You could so something like this: "But when her best friend, Princess Illiana, is sent to spy on the Godcursed at risk to her own life, Atya cant' stand by. Even if she's only ever known the life of a healer, Atya is also Blessed-a person granted powers by the gods to heal and protect the royal family bloodline-and she will not let her best friend die. Without hesitation, Atya crosses the wall.  But when the [skip the coup and go straight to them being int he land] ...." etc  etc. I feel like here it feels like there's a lot of digressions. If you want to start with Atya crossing over, you have to follow through. The sentence after can be her motivation, which includes backstory, but shouldn't be backstory and other events that occur before or are unrelated to the crossing over, if that's what you start with.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#25 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:50 PM

 

For whatever reason, I've decided to return to the self-flagellation that is query writing (only half-joking). I honestly expected to come back with a drastically different query, but the variations I tried just didn't work out. I hope not too many of the issues that bothered people in previous versions are still present here.

 

This one is still rough, but I hope it conveys the basics without getting too confusing. Still needs some word polish, for sure, at the least. The ending line is pretty lame, so I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions you all might have.

As always, I'll return any critique I receive, so just let me know if you want me to check yours out.

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​Hello there,

 

Dear Agent,

 

Only a wall separates the human nation of Veturia from the Realm, a land ruled by magic and half-man​(did you me half-men / plural?), half-beast monsters called the Godcursed. A wall that, despite the bloodthirsty creatures on the other side, seventeen-year-old Atya unhesitatingly crosses when it means saving her best friend’s life. ​This paragraph felt like a pretty good hook to me. You could of course make it much stronger... Maybe say when her best friend of 17 years vanishes, she heroically violates the UN sanctions to save her.... etc. JMO
 
Atya has only ever known one life in Veturia: that as Princess Ilianna’s best friend and healer. While Atya bears the ultimate secret of being Blessed—a person granted powers by the gods to heal the royal family bloodline at the price of her own pain ​(that's pretty cool)—the endless parade of ballgowns and festivals suits her just fine. Atya will do anything to ensure nothing changes.  ​I don't feel this sentence adds any strength to the query
 
But even she can’t predict a bloody coup by rebels.​What happen to the hook? where you discuss crossing lines? saving her friend?
 
​This sentence is very wordy and choppy, had to read like 4 times to understand - When their leader sends Princess Ilianna to spy on the Godcursed, Atya, certain Ilianna will be caught without her help, follows her into that nightmarish land. With the king’s and queen’s lives on the line, the two girls must navigate the lush court of the Realm and its many temptations without being caught as spies, or worse, ensnared as prey. ​I want to hear about your characters, who are they? How did they meet? What do they do for fun? Your talking all about plot, but we need to know about characters to care about plot. 
 
Yet, the longer Atya stays in the Realm, the stranger her powers become. Under the dark veneer of the Godcursed’s sinister magic lies an unwelcome truth: her powers are neither unique nor a gods-given gift. After discovering what both the rebels and the Godcursed truly desire is people like her who have the power to bring the Realm to its knees, Atya must choose between working with the monsters she fears and the monstrous rebels she knows. One leads to sacrificing Ilianna, the other, her own freedom—and only the gods know which is which.
 
​Good stakes! It seems you have the plot down, too, but tell us about your characters. I'm sure they're amazing. :)
 
 
THE GODCURSED is a YA fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words with appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE and the dark magic of Leigh Bardugo’s THE GRISHA TRILOGY.

 


Preston Copeland

Website: prestoncopeland.biz

Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#26 rhwashere

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:58 PM

So, one issue I see is that I can't figure out why the princess was sent into Realm. Something about rebels? But you later say that the rebels are different from the Godcursed monsters, so why would rebels in the kingdom necessitate the princess going into Realm? Also, I don't like how you start with a line about Atya going to rescue the princess, then jump back in time to backstory. Can you weave some of the backstory in as you go and start when the story starts (crossing the wall)?

 

The last paragraph is my favorite. I like the mystery (I'm a sucker for it) and the stakes that involve sacrificing her best friend for freedom. However, it would be good if you cut out some of the unnecessary backstory in favor of a little more building up to this paragraph. How do her (healing?) powers become stranger? Also, why would Atya even consider siding with Realm when they only want to use her to overthrow her own people? These choices would have more weight if we could understand them better.

 

And, as others have already brought out, there are a few run-on sentences that are clunky and need fixing.


 


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


#27 yawriter

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 05:51 PM

 

For whatever reason, I've decided to return to the self-flagellation that is query writing (only half-joking). I honestly expected to come back with a drastically different query, but the variations I tried just didn't work out. I hope not too many of the issues that bothered people in previous versions are still present here.

 

This one is still rough, but I hope it conveys the basics without getting too confusing. Still needs some word polish, for sure, at the least. The ending line is pretty lame, so I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions you all might have.

As always, I'll return any critique I receive, so just let me know if you want me to check yours out.

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

Dear Agent,

 

My initial impression is...dang that's a lot of paragraphs. I think most agents look for 2 or 3 max.

 

Only a wall separates the human nation of Veturia from the Realm It should be either "The Realm"  or "Veturia from Realm", a land ruled by magic and half-man, half-beast monsters called the Godcursed. A wall that, despite the bloodthirsty creatures on the other side, seventeen-year-old Atya unhesitatingly crosses when it means saving her best friend’s life.
 
Atya has only ever known one life in Veturia: that as Princess Ilianna’s Llianna...capital best friend and healer. While Atya bears the ultimate secret of being Blessed—a person granted powers by the gods to heal the royal family bloodline at the price of her own pain—the endless parade of ballgowns and festivals suits her just fine. Atya will do anything to ensure nothing changes.
 
​I'm a little lost..there's a lot to keep track of...Veturia, Realm/The Realm, Creatures, Half man, half beast, Godcursed, Atya...just letting you know it's a little much for a query? 
 
But even she can’t predict a bloody coup by rebels.
 
When their leader sends Princess Ilianna to spy on the Godcursed, Atya, certain Ilianna Llianna will be caught without her help, follows her into that nightmarish land. With the king’s and queen’s lives on the line, the two girls must navigate the lush court of the Realm and its many temptations without being caught as spies, or worse, ensnared as prey.
 
Yet, the longer Atya stays in the Realm, the stranger her powers become Why is that a bad thing?. Under the dark veneer I love that "dark veneer" of the Godcursed’s sinister magic lies an unwelcome truth: her powers are neither unique nor a gods-given gift. After discovering what both the rebels and the Godcursed truly desire is people like her who have the power to bring the Realm to its knees, Atya must choose between working with the monsters she fears and the monstrous rebels she knows. One leads to sacrificing Ilianna, the other, her own freedom—and only the gods know which is which.
 
THE GODCURSED is a YA fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words with appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE and the dark magic of Leigh Bardugo’s THE GRISHA TRILOGY.

 



#28 MICRONESIA

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 06:52 AM

Only a wall separates the human nation of Veturia from the Realm, a land ruled by magic and half-man, half-beast monsters called the Godcursed. A wall that, despite the bloodthirsty creatures on the other side, seventeen-year-old Atya unhesitatingly crosses when it means saving her best friend’s life. Good intro. I'm listening. However, I want to caution you: you have four proper nouns in the first two lines.

 
Atya has only ever known one life in Veturia: that as Princess Ilianna’s Five. best friend and healer. While Atya bears the ultimate secret of being Blessed Six.—a person granted powers by the gods to heal the royal family bloodline at the price of her own pain—the endless parade of ballgowns and festivals suits I wouldn't use "suits" so close to "ballgowns," since you don't mean clothing. Plus this sentence is too crammed with information, making it easy to get lost. her just fine. Atya will do anything to ensure nothing changes.
 
But even she can’t predict a bloody coup by rebels. What happened to crossing the wall? It's taking too long to circle back to that.
 
When their leader sends Princess Ilianna to spy on the Godcursed, Spy... on monsters? And why in the hell is a princess taking orders from some skeevy rebels? Atya, certain Ilianna will be caught without her help, Caught by whom? follows her into that nightmarish land. With the king’s and queen’s lives on the line, Why are their lives on the line? the two girls must navigate the lush court of the Realm and its many temptations without being caught as spies, Who are they spying ON? And who FOR? or worse, ensnared as prey.
 
Yet, the longer Atya stays in the Realm, the stranger her powers become. Under the dark veneer of the Godcursed’s sinister magic lies an unwelcome truth: her powers are neither unique nor a gods-given gift. Awww... boo-hoo? After discovering what both the rebels and the Godcursed truly desire is people like her who have the power to bring the Realm to its knees, Wait, I thought she had HEALING powers! How is she bringing people to their knees? Atya must choose between working with the monsters she fears How did this come about? and the monstrous rebels she knows. One leads to sacrificing Ilianna, the other, her own freedom—and only the gods know which is which. I am L-O-S-T.
 
THE GODCURSED is a YA fantasy novel complete at 100,000 words with appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE and the dark magic of Leigh Bardugo’s THE GRISHA TRILOGY.

 

Too cluttered, too complicated. Simplify this thing by half.


A Darkness in Spring (query | synopsis)


#29 crestakaz

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 09:49 AM

@cmmg - I intended for the first paragraph to act as something that gets led back to by mid query (I've seen others do this), but from reading your comments as well as others', I see that the query's taking too long to actually do this. I'll see if I can figure out another way to write it so it doesn't feel as lost. I originally had something along the lines you mentioned in an earlier version of the query (don't think I posted it here), but I generally received feedback saying that it got too long/didn't flow still. I'll see what I can do to work with it. Thank you very much for your suggestions :)

@rhwashere - I will work on rewording the reason why the princess gets sent to the Realm, but I've had a lot of trouble walking that fine line before with including the reasons why she gets sent there specifically. It's devolved before into endless "but why?"s that get too deep into the story itself and doesn't stay surface-level enough for a query. I'll work on that for sure, though. I'll see what I can do about your other points as well. And yeah, the writing is clunky for sure--I just wanted to make sure the ideas were there before I worked on polishing up the writing itself (and it still seems I need to work on the former). Anyway, thank you for your suggestions/critique :)

 

@yawriter - Strictly speaking, the query is still within reasonable-ish length for a query. I mainly broke it up for ease of reading. However, that's beside the point when you pointed out all the other things that are getting too heavy in the query itself. Thank you for pointing out the issues, and I'll definitely be working on clarifying and cutting down as much as I can.

 

@MICRONESIA - I'm unable to go into the full reasoning for why the princess is forced to work for the rebels within the query letter (see my response to rhwashere). I tried to hint at part of the reason (king's and queen's lives being used as bargaining chips), but I see that the connection between the two wasn't sufficiently clear. And I didn't realize that the "her powers aren't unique" part read as "oh no she's not special anymore boo hoo"--it was my attempt to show that there are others out there who have "powers" as well. I was aiming to avoid Atya being painted as the "most powerful teen that's ever been" trope. Thank you for your critique.



#30 MICRONESIA

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 12:34 PM

Mainly, the whole thing needs simplifying. Give the reader FIVE things to latch onto instead of, like, ten. With the way it is now, the reader gets lost in names, situations and world-building stuff.


A Darkness in Spring (query | synopsis)






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