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RED INITIATE

Fantasy Literary Fiction Science Fiction Offbeat/Quirky

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#41 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:19 PM

***Current as of 3:40 PM EDT on 27 March 18. Newest post always right here.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted with a paranoia spell to protect him. Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice as all that's left of a family he can't remember.   

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum​comma (as opposed to the dash) the paranoia spell tells him what to say and do. And Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice. Proof in the form of a test that Red's avoided for twelve years because it threatens his inner voice, his family ​This sentence doesn't make sense, which makes sense because this isn't a sentence. Rewrite this as a complete sentence and ensure it makes sense. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him ​the "only" heading this sentence seems misplaced. For the first time in his life, Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events that eventually force the extra voice from his mind. ​Is there any way you can make this sound as if it's one fluid event? "a series of events" is like a flag shouting "VAGUE!"

 

When the enchantment returns as a physical spell-construct, it's determined to save Red from himself. Accepting help from Masters he couldn't trust before, Red must race to alter or destroy the enchantment before its protection kills him.

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way similar to both The Name of the Wind and Stranger in a Strange Land. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics - making Red the equivalent of a student about to enter a college-level engineering school.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]


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


#42 mkuriel

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 08:31 AM

 

***Current as of 3:40 PM EDT on 27 March 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted with a paranoia spell to protect him. Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice as all that's left of a family he can't remember.   

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum​comma (as opposed to the dash) the paranoia spell tells him what to say and do. And Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice. Proof in the form of a test that Red's avoided for twelve years because it threatens his inner voice, his family ​This sentence doesn't make sense, which makes sense because this isn't a sentence. Rewrite this as a complete sentence and ensure it makes sense. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him ​the "only" heading this sentence seems misplaced. For the first time in his life, Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events that eventually force the extra voice from his mind. ​Is there any way you can make this sound as if it's one fluid event? "a series of events" is like a flag shouting "VAGUE!"

 

 

 

You're right, that is a weird sentence. Funny how that sometimes happens... Oh, and It isn't one fluid event. It's a series of them. A big, complex plot.

 

Updated.



#43 rhwashere

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 03:18 PM

***Current as of 9:30 AM EDT on 28 March 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted with a paranoia spell to protect him. Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice as all that's left of a family he can't remember.   (This is confusing. I don't know what a paranoia spell is, nor do I understand what it has to do with voices in Red's head, nor do I understand what either of those have to do with his family. Without context, this opening is too vague to mean anything.)

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum – the paranoia spell tells him what to say and do. (I still have no idea what Red's situation is, or what his abilities are) Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice. (Now it seems that he's in some sort of school, but I really have no idea, since nothing has been explained. Also, I thought he was hiding his abilities from the Masters. Why is he in a school where he doesn't trust the people who run it?) Which means a test that threatens his inner voice. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him. (Nothing is obvious to me at this point) For the first time in his life, Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events (Too vague. You need specifics in this query) that eventually force the extra voice from his mind. 

 

When the enchantment returns as a physical spell-construct (Again, I have no idea what this means. Your conclusion should be crystal clear, without introducing any new elements), it's determined to save Red from himself. Accepting help from Masters he couldn't trust before, Red must race to alter or destroy the enchantment before its protection kills him. (I'm totally lost. However, I do like the bit at the end, "before its protection kills him". I just don't know what to do with it, because the rest of the query is so confusing)

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way similar to both The Name of the Wind and Stranger in a Strange Land. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics - making Red the equivalent of a high school student about to graduate and enter college to become an engineer.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

So, my biggest beef with the query is that you introduce a lot of things that aren't explained. Reduce this all down to essentials that everyone can understand. Is he in some sort of magic school? Say so. Are his parents dead? Say so. You need specific details here that paint a clear picture of the world you've created, while omitting details that are extraneous to the MC's core struggle. You need to make the basics clear: Who is Red? What does he want? What's stopping him from getting it? What will he do to get it? What is at risk if he succeeds/fails?


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


#44 PureZhar3

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 03:48 PM

You're right, that is a weird sentence. Funny how that sometimes happens... Oh, and It isn't one fluid event. It's a series of them. A big, complex plot.

 

Updated.

 

I realize that it isn't actually one fluid event, and I believe you when you say it's big and complex. However, I'm wondering if - for the query - you can make it sound as if it's one fluid event, so that everything flows better. Obviously there isn't space to elaborate on "a series of events", but it's also distracting and breaks the reader's train of thought (again, a flag shouting vague). If you word the sentence so that it's accurate, but makes the whole series of events sound like it's one simple step, it will eliminate the problem. Does that make the query technically incorrect? Maybe, but no agent is going to go back to your query after they've read the book and say "This wasn't a single event - reject!"


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


#45 TeaTime

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 03:36 PM

***Current as of 9:30 AM EDT on 28 March 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted (After reading through all of this, I'm interested to know who enchanted him with this. Was it his family just before they were killed, or was it an automated safety feature that was triggered?) with a paranoia spell to protect him. Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice as all that's left of a family he can't remember. (This sentence is a bit hard to take in, maybe something like: "18 yrs later, the spell is a paranoid voice in his head and all that remains of the family he can't remember.")

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities (What abilities exactly? Are these abilities beyond what students normally have at the Mages school?)) from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum – (Comma) the paranoia spell tells him what to say and do (You could maybe instead say something like "the paranoid spell orders every part of his life."). Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice. Which means a test that threatens his inner voice. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him. For the first time in his life (How old is he? We get the 18 years later, but was his family killed when he was a baby?), Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events that eventually force the extra voice from his mind. (I'd simplify this sentence, maybe just saying he "forcefully excoriates the voice from his mind." And if this is at all a painful or scary process/end result (I'd imagine it would be after not really knowing anything else), I'd mention that.)

 

When the enchantment returns as a physical spell-construct (Yeah, I agree with the others that I don't know what this is either. Is it embodied in something like a person? An animal? Toaster?), it's determined to save Red from himself. Accepting help from Masters he couldn't trust before, Red must race to alter or destroy the enchantment before its protection kills him. (Interesting twist on the evil/good protector stakes)

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way similar to both The Name of the Wind and Stranger in a Strange Land. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics - making Red the equivalent of a high school student about to graduate and enter college to become an engineer.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

One general question I have is whether there are any outstanding stakes in your story left over from Red's parents being murdered? If so (like the people who killed his parents & necessitated a paranoia spell  also still want to kill him), then that might be pretty important for the stakes. As the query stands with it now, his family being murdered raises a big question that the query starts with but never comes back to.

 

But the stakes are interesting with the twisted but understandable logic of the paranoia spell. Best of luck in honing out this query  :smile: 


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


#46 TClark

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 03:58 PM

***Current as of 9:30 AM EDT on 28 March 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted with a paranoia spell to protect him. So this is a cool hook, however I don't like the way its worded. It needs to flow smoothly. Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice paranoia as all that's left of a family he can't remember.   

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum – the his paranoia spell tells him what to say and do. Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice. Which means a test that threatens his inner voice. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him. I don't like this sentence. It should either be scrapped or re-written all together. For the first time in his life, Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Love this sentence. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events that eventually forces the extra voice from his mind. 

 

When the enchantment returns as a physical spell-construct, it's determined to save Red from himself. Accepting help from Masters he couldn't trust before, Red must race to alter or destroy the enchantment before its protection kills him.Good. 

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way similar to both The Name of the Wind and Stranger in a Strange Land. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics - making Red the equivalent of a high school student about to graduate and enter college to become an engineer.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

Interesting story and query, but you just need to fix some syntax and the way the sentences flow. Overall not bad. Best of luck!



#47 Oldborne

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 03:58 AM

***Current as of 9:30 AM EDT on 28 March 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

After his family was murdered, Red was enchanted with a paranoia spell to protect him . Eighteen years later, he knows the extra mental voice as all that's left of a family he can't remember. I feel like this second sentence could be a bit more hooky. It's unclear to me why the voice reminds him of his dead family. 

 

Whether begging for food to survive or hiding his abilities from the untrustworthy Masters at the Mage Sanctum why are they untrustworthy? It sounds like a prestigious position to hold – the paranoia spell tells him what to say and do. Red trusts it until the Masters inform him that all Initiates must prove their mental stability before advancing to Novice Better than your last version. Which means a test that threatens his inner voice. Only the voice can't tell him how to beat the test and forbids Red to ask for help, since everyone is obviously out to get him. For the first time in his life, Red not only disagrees, but disobeys. Rebelling, he triggers a series of events that eventually force the extra voice paranoia spell from his mind. I think you need a better reason for Red to disagree and rebel against the spell. You describe the Masters as untrustworthy but Red is willing to go against something that has kept him safe his entire life to do what they want him to. So either the Masters aren't as bad as you're describing or the spell isn't as strong/ as good at protecting Red as suggested. There needs to be a stronger reason here for Red to rebel.

 

When the enchantment returns as a physical spell-construct, it's determined to save Red from himself. Accepting help from the Masters he couldn't trust before, Red must race to alter or destroy the enchantment before its protection kills him. Still not clear on why the protection will kill Red. As stakes go they're really good, super different and interesting, but I need to know why the spell's attempts to protect Red will kill him.  

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way similar to both The Name of the Wind and Stranger in a Strange Land. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics - making Red the equivalent of a high school student about to graduate and enter college to become an engineer.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

​Definitely an improvement on the last version but still a few holes that need filling. My main gripe is with Red's motives to rebel against the Spell, and exactly why the Spell's protection will kill Red. You've got room to expand on both these points and doing so will clear up the issues I'm having.

Best of luck! 

 


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

 


#48 mkuriel

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 11:09 AM

Thanks everyone! I'm trying a different approach now...



#49 PureZhar3

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:15 PM

***Current as of 12:00 PM EDT on 5 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

So... I didn't care for the lack of voice in my previous versions. This is more true to my style.

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Based on your comments in [source], you are seeking fiction that blurs genre lines. It's my pleasure to present RED INITIATE.

 

The hunter's song it brings the calm, soothing troubles with a balm ​I spent way too long agonizing over what this meant. I finally figured it out. Now Red's balanced: heart, head, and inner essence.

 

Not some silly mystical trickery, but real physics. The sort they teach to Mages like Red. But, there aren't any mages like Red – he's Zitera's first Omnimancer. Don't ask, he doesn't know what that means either. First one! Burning wind and rain ​Hmm?! There was a moment there and now it's gone. Hold on, let's catch it again.  Deep breath. Music... Hunter's song... balanced... Oh that voice in Red's head ruins everything! Which is a real problem.  Aren't all the answers within? If so, Red's are paranoid – everyone wants to manipulate, torture, steal, or 'get' him in some way. Wait... who's reading this? ​??

 

But it's not only about a crazy young man that's learning to wield amazing powers. He battles the voice in his head, floats through other dimensions, fights with assassins, has a twisted love triangle, and... ever hear of bilocation? That's being in two places at the same time. Red trilocates. Yeah. Three places. At once. And it still might not be enough to keep his inner voice from driving him insane.

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike ​haha what? You just said that it is not like these books, yes? There's only one negative, so this could be simplified down to " a way that is not like *comps*". Is that what you intended? The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

​This is an interesting technique and may make a fantastic query. But you have to be sure that you're getting the actual story across too, and I'm not sure that happens. I know the story, and I was still struggling to see exactly what was part of the voice and what was part of the story. Upon rereading I can glean more information, but agents may not work that hard. If you decide to go with this style, I would advise backing off on the voice some (remember the ultimate goal of the query).


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


#50 jpfranco

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 07:04 PM

***Current as of 12:00 PM EDT on 5 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

So... I didn't care for the lack of voice in my previous versions. This is more true to my style.

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Based on your comments in [source], you are seeking fiction that blurs genre lines. It's my pleasure to present RED INITIATE.

 

The hunter's song it brings the calm, soothing troubles with a balm. Now Red's balanced: heart, head, and inner essence. I'm not sure what this means, or how it relates to your story. Is it a mantra? 

 

Not some silly mystical trickery, but real physics. The sort they teach to Mages like Red. But, there aren't any mages like Red – he's Zitera's first Omnimancer. Don't ask, he doesn't know what that means either. First one! Burning wind and rain! There was a moment there and now it's gone. Hold on, let's catch it again.  Deep breath. Music... Hunter's song... balanced... Oh that voice in Red's head ruins everything! Which is a real problem.  Aren't all the answers within? If so, Red's are paranoid – everyone wants to manipulate, torture, steal, or 'get' him in some way. Wait... who's reading this?

 

But it's not only about a crazy young man that's learning to wield amazing powers. Your switching the voice here. It was in Red's voice until here. At least it feels that way, like he's referring to himself in the third person, as "crazy" people sometimes do.  He battles the voice in his head, floats through other dimensions, fights with assassins, has a twisted love triangle, and... ever hear of bilocation? That's being in two places at the same time. Red trilocates. Yeah. Three places. At once. And it still might not be enough to keep his inner voice from driving him insane. 

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

Okay, this is interesting, I always find people and their minds and motivations interesting. But what are Red's powers, and what is he going to do with them? How is he going to keep from going insane? What is this about other than a man who has magic powers and also a serious case of paranoia? I have a lot of questions. I think you need to blend the voice, which is really interesting, and does give the feeling of a very different sort of mind, with more of what happens, what are the stakes, who are your characters. I also think this would make a great back cover copy, maybe more so than a query. 



#51 mkuriel

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 08:17 PM

Okay, this is interesting, I always find people and their minds and motivations interesting. But what are Red's powers, and what is he going to do with them? How is he going to keep from going insane? What is this about other than a man who has magic powers and also a serious case of paranoia? I have a lot of questions. I think you need to blend the voice, which is really interesting, and does give the feeling of a very different sort of mind, with more of what happens, what are the stakes, who are your characters. I also think this would make a great back cover copy, maybe more so than a query. 

Agree to a point. Remember, getting someone really interested in the book is the point of the query. I went from focusing on the plot (previously) to going overboard with the personality. I'm finding a better balance. It's in the fridge next to the beer.

 

And yes, the first line is a Mental Trigger, which is a mantra on 'magical' steroids. It causes the second line. Probably won't make it to the next query, but it was fun to imagine including in one.



#52 mkuriel

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 07:42 PM

Latest version in post 1.



#53 Aightball

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 08:35 PM

***Current as of 8:00 PM EDT on 9 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Based on your comments in [source], you are seeking fiction that blurs genre lines. It's my pleasure to present RED INITIATE. YMMV, but personally, I'm not a fan of this style of opening line.  I like to open with a great hook that draws them right into my story.

 

At the end of twelve years of school, Red will face a test to prove his mental stability. His worry over what that will mean for his extra mental voice, Wisdom, is driving him insane.  Would definitely start here.  Right away, I'm intrigued.

 

Red learned to listen to Wisdom's paranoid advice after a blonde girl locked him in a cage when he was eight. At twenty-four, with Wisdom's help, he commands energy far better than any other Initiate at the Mage Sanctum. And no one else knows! They think he's barely average. But none of that will matter if Wisdom is destroyed - and it demands he not get help from anyone. Burn that! Red will not lose his best friend.  This is super confusing. What's the main point of your story?  Do we need to know that he listens to this inner voice?  I think we can get that when we read.  But you could say something like this: Red's better at commanding energy than other initiates at the Mage Sanctum, but everyone thinks he's barely above average!  His ability to command energy, and how good he is at it, won't matter if his inner voice is destroyed.  And stop there!  Don't embellish.  Of course, you'll want to word that in your own words because you know your book better than I do, but I think you can clarify easily here with some wording changes.

 

He knows just the person to ask for help - she assists the mental-stability test administrator. And he's in love with her. Of course he has to demonstrate his powers and profess his love. Then she'll want to help him. Right?

 

Wrong. She tells him that he's going mad and she can't love him because it would drive her mad too. And then he discovers that Wisdom lies to him. Furious, he drives the extra mental voice from his mind. When it returns, Red has no idea if it wants to get back into his head or tear it from his shoulders.  Again, this is confusing.  Maybe combine these two paragraphs?  You could do something like this: Red knows the person to ask for help--she assists the administrator of the test.  And if he professes his love for her while demonstrating his powers, she'll want to help him.  Instead, she tells him he's going mad.  When he discovers that Wisdom likes to him, he drives it from his mind.  But when Wisdom comes back, Red doesn't know if Wisdom wants to help him or behead him.  And [stakes for each option].

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's similar to The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

Interesting idea!  You lost me as I read, though, so I'm not 100% clear what your story is about.  I know your MC's name and some of his issues, but I'm not clear why I want to read the novel.  I think you can clear that up, though, with some simple word changes.  I think you have an interesting book, you just need to help us see that.

 

Good luck!


Most girls are made of
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bat wings and broken things.

Query: http://agentquerycon...3-love-and-war/

Blog: http://aightball.wordpress.com

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Short Story "Anguish", in Winter's Regret: http://www.amazon.co...winter's regret

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#54 TeaTime

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 09:54 PM

***Current as of 8:00 PM EDT on 9 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Based on your comments in [source], you are seeking fiction that blurs genre lines. It's my pleasure to present RED INITIATE.

 

At the end of twelve years (Maybe just "After twelve years of school.") of school, Red will face (Maybe just "faces?") a test to prove his mental stability. His worry (Anxiety might be a stronger word.) over what that will mean for his extra mental voice, Wisdom, is driving him insane.

 

Red learned to listen to Wisdom's paranoid advice after a blonde girl (It doesn't seem like this blonde girl comes back later in the query? If not, I wouldn't mention who locked him in the cage to keep it simple.) locked him in a cage when he was eight. At twenty-four, with Wisdom's help, he commands energy far better than any other Initiate at the Mage Sanctum. And no one else knows! (This exclamation point actually works better than most examples I've seen, but it might be better to avoid them style-wise, though some agents might not mind.) They think he's barely average. But none of that will matter if Wisdom is destroyed - (Em dash?) and it demands he not get help from anyone. Burn that! (I'm not sure "who" is voicing this exclamation, at least at first glance.) Red will not lose his best friend.

 

He knows just the person to ask for help - (Em dash) she (I don't know if it might be good to name her since she pops up a lot in the last few sentences.) assists the mental-stability test administrator. And he's in love with her. Of course he has to demonstrate his powers and profess his love. (Maybe reword these actions to not be so blunt.) Then she'll want to help him. Right?

 

Wrong. She tells him that he's going mad and she can't love him because it would drive her mad too. And then he discovers that Wisdom lies to him. Furious, he drives the extra mental voice from his mind. When it returns, Red has no idea if it wants to get back into his head or tear it from his shoulders. (Question--does Wisdom want to attack anyone else? Would Wisdom also want to get rid of his love interest since she's kind of a threat?)

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's similar to The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

This query version seems to have more voice than the last version I read (if I'm remembering correctly), & it's cool to have a bit more on the Mage's school & the tension with his love interest.

 

However, I feel like this version's missing at least a bit of the background on Red's mental voice. It's tough though, deciding which balance to strike between the story's elements. For me personally, though, the paranoid voice feels like the most unique element of this story.

 

I'm sure you'll find a good balance with this query, keep up the good work.  :cool: 


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


#55 Oldborne

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 01:14 AM

***Current as of 8:00 PM EDT on 9 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Based on your comments in [source], you are seeking fiction that blurs genre lines. It's my pleasure to present RED INITIATE.

 

At the end of twelve years of school, Red will face a test to prove his mental stability. His worry over what that will mean for his extra mental voice, Wisdom, is driving him insane. Honestly I've preferred earlier versions of this opener. It doesn't read particularly hooky to me and 'Wisdom' (glad that the voice now has a name) sounds more like a genuine mental issue than a magical protection spell.  

 

Red learned to listen to Wisdom's paranoid advice after a blonde girl locked him in a cage when he was eight. At twenty-four, with Wisdom's help, he commands energy I'd make it clearer that 'energy' is your term for magic far better than any other Initiate at the Mage Sanctum. And no one else knows! They think he's barely average. Doesn't really add anything and just made me confused for half a second But none of that will matter if Wisdom is destroyed - and it demands he not get help from anyone. Burn that! Whilst the voice is appreciated 'burn that' is not obviously a curse substitute –– or it isn't for me at least. I was wondering what he intended to burn. Red will not lose his best friend. 

 

He knows just the person to ask for help - put her name here then continue with the rest of the sentence she assists the mental-stability test administrator. And he's Red's in love with her. Of course he has to demonstrate his powers and profess his love. Then she'll want to help him. Right? Not a fan of rhetorical questions personally but maybe the agent will be. 

 

Wrong. She tells him that he's going mad and she can't love him because it would drive her mad too. And then he discovers that Wisdom lies to him Lies about what?. Furious, he drives the extra mental voice this is a mouthful just say 'Wisdom' from his mind. When it returns, Red has no idea if it wants to get back into his head or tear it from his shoulders.

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's similar to The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

Being completely honest this feels like a step in the wrong direction to me. I found the story you put forward in previous versions of this query to be much more exciting and interesting. Wisdom returning in physical form was a great idea! You just needed to find a way to word it properly.

For me, this version has introduced a bunch of new questions and confusion, and mostly makes it sound like Red actually does need to subject himself to the mental-stability test because he's genuinely mentally unstable. 

I would suggest bringing more of the magic back into the query and making your MC sound a little less insane.

Hope this helps.


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

 


#56 rhwashere

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 10:51 PM

***Current as of 10:30 PM EDT on 11 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

Dear [agent name],

Red's best friend is a voice in his head, Wisdom. But if he can't convince the only person who can help him, Kylia, that he isn't insane - Wisdom will be destroyed in a month.

It's all very simple; a dazzling display of Red's Elemental Talent, the promise of explaining the physics behind it, and professing his love will convince Kylia to help him save Wisdom. It doesn't - she claims that he's mentally unstable and that she can't love Red for fear of falling victim to a madness-curse that plagues her family. But she does want to know how to use electric shields to levitate. Red buys her silence in exchange for an explanation, but Wisdom's furious. The voice uses a mental command that Red didn't craft to make him cast a spell that nearly kills him. Afterward, Wisdom claims that it had to be done to awaken Red's latent Talents. To keep a furious Red from flying straight to a Healer, Wisdom says that it's a spell placed on him by his mother as her dying act.

Unconvinced, Red investigates, uncovering similarities between Wisdom and the symptoms Kylia's parents suffered before they were institutionalized. Hoping to prove a cure for the madness, Red removes the spell from his mind. When the spell returns as a huge purple panther, Red's unsure if it means to get back into his head, or tear it from his shoulders.

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's similar to The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]


I really like the first sentence. Unfortunately, the rest of it is bordering on incomprehensible. In your previous versions, I could somewhat follow what was happening. But I have no clue what’s going on in this new one. It makes sense to you because you know the story, but to someone reading this for the first time, it’s very confusing.

You’ve got a voice inside his head that will inexplicably be destroyed in a month. Then you’ve got explaining physics of Elemental Talents. Then you’ve got madness curses, levitating electric shields, and on and on and on. Almost every sentence introduces a new concept and a harried agent isn’t likely to trudge through something like this, looking for the heart of the story. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere, but it’s buried under WAY too much stuff.

Your story seems to be focused on Red’s relationship with Kylia, and the interference of the voice in his head. These are the elements that need to stand out. Cut out as much of the other details as you can. We don’t need to know about physics and levitation to understand the heart of your story.

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


#57 BadgerFox

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:16 AM

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Red's best friend is a voice in his head, Wisdom. But if he can't convince the only person who can help him, Kylia, that he isn't insane - Wisdom will be destroyed in a month. [This is an intriguing hook...but unfortunately I have questions and confusion already.

I've spent time in a mental institute with several people who had distinct voices in their head, and they were absolutely exhausted and miserable with the constant internal shouting - none of them described the voices as their 'friend' even slightly. So immediately I wonder why Red doesn't accept a diagnosis of schizophrenia, why he's getting on so well with Wisdom, or alternately, what Wisdom is and where Wisdom came from if he's not a mental illness symptom but e.g an invisible telepathic alien entity or a Black Mirror-esque digital brain-upload? I understand there IS a Hearing Voices movement of people who advocate trying to befriend the voices that they hear, but Red doesn't sound like he's part of this either, since you say that a force can 'destroy' Wisdom on a specific date, which ordinarily wouldn't be possible for a person who heard voices. So I'm also left asking why it's a BAD thing that Wisdom will be destroyed? Basically, the opening sentences are grammatically fine and there's nothing wrong with the language, they are fine statements in themselves, it's just they're very at odds with all normal assumptions about the situation. Red's motivations and desires in this situation don't seem to make sense.]

 

It's all very simple; a dazzling display of Red's Elemental Talent, the promise of explaining the physics behind it, and professing his love will convince Kylia to help him save Wisdom. It doesn't - she claims that he's mentally unstable and that she can't love Red for fear of falling victim to a madness-curse that plagues her family. But she does want to know how to use electric shields to levitate. Red buys her silence in exchange for an explanation, but Wisdom's furious. The voice uses a mental command that Red didn't craft to make him cast a spell that nearly kills him. Afterward, Wisdom claims that it had to be done to awaken Red's latent Talents. To keep a furious Red from flying straight to a Healer, Wisdom says that it's a spell placed on him by his mother as her dying act. [I'm sorry, I'm trying hard to be patient and read this carefully, one sentence at a time, but this paragraph is still losing me. Prefacing it with a statement about how simple it is might have been intended as ironic humour, but at the moment it's coming across with an unfortunate implication of '...and if you don't understand my complex plot it must be because you're stupid, not beause my plot is unclearly described'. An agent probably wouldn't appreciate that. Maybe lose any value judgements about how simple this is or isn't supposed to be? Perhaps it would be best to pare down this paragraph to just one or two key events that are easiest to describe. And summarize any others with an overview. Right now it feels like each new sentence introduces a new concept or a proper noun, and doesn't much refer back to the ones before it. A query doesn't have to obsessively parse every plot event, after all, which is something I've had to try and learn in my own query, it just needs to sound appealling, make sense, and not be actively misleading! :) Omitting confusing plot events should be perfectly acceptable.]

 

Unconvinced, Red investigates, uncovering similarities between Wisdom and the symptoms Kylia's parents suffered before they were institutionalized. Hoping to prove a cure for the madness [this clause doesn't seem to make strict grammatical sense. 'Hoping to prove that X IS a cure for the madness' or 'Hoping to provide a cure for the madness' etc would be better.], Red removes the spell from his mind. When the spell returns as a huge purple panther, Red's unsure if it means to get back into his head, or tear it from his shoulders. [This is spectacularly Dada-ist and surreal, but also unfortunately very confusing. I can't really tell by the end of the query if Red is an unreliable narrator who really is mad and denies it, or if it's a plea for not to assume people who hear voices ARE automatically mad, or if Wisdom is actually some other kind of force or being, or something else.]
 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and blends high fantasy with science fiction in a way that's similar to The Name of the Wind and The Magicians. I have a background in engineering and explain the magic in RED INITIATE as applied physics.  [This paragraph mostly works, grammatically and in itself, but giving these genres as an explanation doesn't fully explain the randomness that preceded them. If you explained your book as a work of surrealist psychological horror I think I'd believe you more readily. I'm struggling to identify any classic High Fantasy elements except that there are spells. It's unfortunately also not clear where or when any of this is taking place. On earth? On an alien planet? In a parallel world? In a mental institute in Surrey?  In a named fantasy land like Narnia or Westeros? Entirely within Red's imagination? Nowadays, a thousand years into the future, two hundred years in the past...? Giving some concrete details about where and when this is might help ground the confusion in some more factual details]

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]


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

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#58 mkuriel

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 03:46 PM

This latest version captures the heart of the story. Thanks for all the feedback.



#59 TeaTime

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 10:03 PM

***Current as of 4:15 PM EDT on 12 April 18. Newest revision in post #1.***

 

Dear [agent name],

 

Red needs to save his best friend. The only trouble is that it's an extra voice in his head called Wisdom. (I really like the direction of this hook. I might only simplify the second sentence to something like "The only trouble is that his best friend lives in his head." Might be too vague to end the paragraph with, but it would be a bit sharper.)

 

Red's earliest memory is of waking up alone in an alley when he was six. No one would help him - in fact, the destitute people he met abused him until Wisdom started explaining things to him. For six years, Wisdom kept him alive. It told him where to go to survive the harsh winter storms. It taught him to steal food, fight, and placate stronger street kids. The one time Red didn't listen, he was locked in a cage by a sexual predator. To escape, his best friend taught him to use his Talent to control Elemental energy. (This draft of this query is a bit too long, so I would cut most of this paragraph & summarize with something like "Abandoned at six, Wisdom taught Red how to hunt, fish, etc., etc. Wisdom taught him to survive." The actual details aren't all that important, just the gist.)

 

But that was all before Red was accepted to the Mage Sanctum to learn to use his Talent. (Given everything in the above paragraph, this feels like an abrupt turn from abused street boy to getting into a mage school. Did his elemental energy power automatically flag their notice & his enrollment?) He entered as an Initiate twelve years ago and Wisdom never let him trust anyone.  Nearing his coming of age and the end of his Initiate studies, Red must pass tests to advance to Novice. One of those tests will ensure Red's mental stability. After all, most people have a Talent and the last time a mentally unstable person rose to power, half the population died. (This sentence doesn't feel immediately relevant the query.) Red doesn't care. Wisdom keeps him safe and teaches him. Only neither Red nor Wisdom know if it can survive the Sanctum's test. 

 

For the second time in his life, (I wouldn't reference how many times this has happened--I had to look back to try & remember when the first time had been.) Red disagrees with Wisdom about what to do. In retaliation, Wisdom makes Red cast a spell that nearly kills him, revealing that it exists separately from him. Now Red has to determine if he can live without his best friend or find a way to coexist that won't threaten his sanity. (Maybe I'm just tired, but both parts of this stakes sentence seem hard to take in, I'd simplify.)

 

RED INITIATE is complete at 118k words and would appeal to fans of The Name of the Wind for it's blending of science fiction and fantasy themes in a new world. It would also resonate with fans of the Magicians for it's adult themes and the expansion of the idea that, "A great Magician is Magic." But the people in the story don't even have a word in their language for magic - it's all energy and physics. I have a background in engineering, which is applied physics.

 

[Closing pleasantries and POC info]

 

One question I have--does Wisdom speak in a male, female, or neuter voice? It feels awkward referring to it as "it" when it's basically a character in this story.

 

It seems like this query has been searching for its exact focus. While I do love me a good love interest, this version without Red's girl does feel clearer than the last draft I read. If this is the way the query ends up going, it probably just needs some trimming of the unnecessary info to hone in on its essentials. Best of luck


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


#60 mkuriel

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 09:13 AM

One question I have--does Wisdom speak in a male, female, or neuter voice? It feels awkward referring to it as "it" when it's basically a character in this story.

 

It seems like this query has been searching for its exact focus. While I do love me a good love interest, this version without Red's girl does feel clearer than the last draft I read. If this is the way the query ends up going, it probably just needs some trimming of the unnecessary info to hone in on its essentials. Best of luck

 

Thanks! I've two versions up now... one that has Red's voice and one that doesn't. Both are trimmed and focused. 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Offbeat/Quirky

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