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SPIRITS OF ANOTHER SORT, contemporary fantasy novel


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#1 Dasein

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 04:18 PM

The adult Norling siblings have always known their youngest sister Tamsin is special. A gifted artist who was kept at home by their late mother and father since she was in second grade, she can feed wild animals from her hand.

 

Then they discover a homeless man camping out in the redwood forest hidden behind their house, who Tamsin claims is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever, breaking her siblings’ hearts.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their core beliefs about reality.

 

I am . . .



#2 mkuriel

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 04:43 PM

The adult Norling siblings have always known their youngest sister Tamsin is special. A gifted artist who was kept at home by their late mother and father since she was in second grade, she can feed wild animals from her hand. [the first sentence is vague; the second doesn't scream 'special' just unusual]

 

Then they discover a homeless man camping out in the redwood forest hidden behind their house [grammatically, this says that the Norlings are hiding a redwood forest behind their house...], who Tamsin claims is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever, breaking her siblings’ hearts.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their core beliefs about reality.[This sentence is out of place; it's almost a hook, but it's still too vague. This is where you  finish with pertinent writing credentials and thank the agent for their time.]

 

Your hook: After Tamsin is found standing above a hobo's corpse while clutching a bloody knife...

 

I can't go further because the fallout makes no sense to me. In this day an age it sounds as though the protagonist has booked a one-way trip to a padded cell and lots of drugs. I'm not sure you can 'bail out' minors, but they can be forced into psychotherapy; so the premise needs work. It also reads as though the story is a 'Hidden World' story like Harry Potter, so you might want to think about reworking the whole query.

Back to the essentials: Who is the character, what do they want, what's in the way, what does success or failure look like?

 

Hope this helps,
 



#3 Dasein

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:31 PM

Thanks so much, MKuriel, for your feedback. Reading it a realize my first attempt led to some misapprehensions. So I have changed it to this:

 

Tamsin, the youngest Norling sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination.  She cannot function in the outer world, but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. Soon she will be 18 and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe.

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality.

 

I am . . .



#4 Dasein

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 12:48 PM

Nothing new to add. Just bringing it up to the top where it might get some attention.



#5 Bibliophyl

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 03:33 PM

Hope I can add something useful!

 

Tamsin, the youngest Norling [do we need to know their last name here? I think it would work better as "the youngest sister/child in her family"...I think it's best to reduce names in queries where possible] sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination.  She cannot function in the outer world, but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. [What's her motivation? Is she mentally unstable, are her family members mean or neglectful to her?] Soon she will be 18 and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe. [I'd try to stay in present tense--the shift to future read awkwardly to me. You could say "She plans to run away for good as soon as she turns 18 in a few months..." or something like that]

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever. What are the stakes here? Who cares that she runs away forever? I think there needs to be some sort of choice/risk. It's falling a little flat as is. 

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality. This sentence sounds like the family is the MC, not Tamsin. 

 

I'm not quite getting the fantasy elements from this query. It sounds more like a psychological thriller or something along those lines. I think you could stand to emphasize the fantasy a lot more, and you definitely have room to do so since it's on the short side. Good luck!



#6 smithgirl

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:15 PM

You're still missing a hook here.


 

Tamsin, the youngest Norling sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination.  She cannot function in the outer world, but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. Why is she running away? Is she traumatized by their disappearance? Soon she will be 18 and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe. But they're not really keeping her safe already, since she is running away. Also, just because Tamsin turns 18 doesn't automatically mean her siblings can no longer care for her. Does she want to leave them? Why? Do they keep her locked in the house right now?

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, her siblings the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever. This actually sounds like the end of the story: She is arrested for killing someone and after being bailed out no one ever sees her again, which is an unsatisfying ending. You have to end your query with a statement of the stakes; this is not a statement of the stakes.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words comma is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality. You have to share this in your query.

 

Your query is too short, and it's not really written from the MC (Tamsin's) POV. The query needs to show us her feelings, her motivations. It's like she's been described from the outside and she has no feelings of her own.

 

Tamsin is the youngest of many siblings, but she has always felt alone. Unlike them she is scared of the outside world and turns to animals for companionship in place of people. But when her parents disappear in an accident, Tamsin feels even her animal friends aren't enough, so she runs away into the forest to find....

 

Like Bibilophyl pointed out, your story doesn't sound like a fantasy novel. Rather, it reads like a mentally disturbed young woman getting in trouble with the law. You say she believes the homeless man is a fairy king, but you never say if he is. It sounds like Tamsin's belief that he is a fairy king is just part of her delusion.

 

Go back and write your query to make it longer, write it from Tamsin's POV, help us understand her -- what does she want? Your query should address these questions:

 

1. Who is your MC?

2. What does your MC want/need?

3. What obstacles are in the way?

4. What will happen if the MC fails -- these are the stakes.

 

Right now your query does not address any of these questions. We don't eve know what Tamsin wants.

 

Query writing is hard, so don't give up.



#7 darsenault

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 11:43 PM

I want to see another version of this query before I leave detailed feedback. I agree with the above- I'm not yet convinced this is a fantasy novel. Right now it reminds me of Peace Like a River, which is very real.

 

I think you're following the same advice you left me; keep it simple so you don't have to explain the complexities, but I'm not sure in your case that's the best call.

 

Try this, start with something poignant:

The fairy king is dead, or so claims Tamsin, an unusual, gifted girl raised by her two older sisters. They believe Tamsin is unstable, and are concerned for the arrival of her eighteenth birthday when they will no longer be able to keep Tamsin safe, but it may be too late for safety already. Tamsin is implicated in the murder of a homeless man sheltering in the redwoods near their house, and rather than deny these accusations outright, Tamsin makes the dangerous claim that the victim was her true father.

 

On the run from the law, [get to the fantasy part, here. Show me what makes this world magical, and why Tamsin isn't necessarily a nutcase.

 

Also, be forewarned, a query starting with that paragraph is unlikely to be a winner. Most of that is backstory, and the real story seems to start at, "On the run..." But I think it'll get you started writing the rest, and you can cut down later. Don't be afraid to draft 1000 words if that's what it takes to get the material on the page.



#8 ALNoelle

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 06:57 PM

Thanks so much, MKuriel, for your feedback. Reading it a realize my first attempt led to some misapprehensions. So I have changed it to this:

 

Tamsin, the youngest Norling sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination.  She cannot function in the outer world, but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. Soon she will be 18 and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe.

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality.

 

I am . . .

 

I agree with the comments above. I also want to point out to watch for using the same word twice in a sentence, it can muddle things up. You only did it once in this version, and a few times in the other, so it might just be one of those writers things you do but don't notice! (My thing is using "that" way too much"). I'll be happy to critique your next version!



#9 IndusiumGriseum

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 12:28 AM

Thanks so much, MKuriel, for your feedback. Reading it a realize my first attempt led to some misapprehensions. So I have changed it to this:

 

Tamsin, the youngest Norling sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination. (If she's an artist, I can definitely infer that she has a vivid imagination.)  She cannot function in the outer world, (Is the outer world a specific realm in her story, or is it the world outside of her home?) but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. (Why? Out of grief?) Soon she will be 18 and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe.

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. (Why?) When he is found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever. (I wouldn't mention this at all since it gives away the ending to the most high-stakes conflict in the plot. You could definitely talk about the threat of her running off, but I wouldn't reveal that she actually does it.)

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it, a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality.

 

I am . . .

 

Great start! I'm just a little confused about Tamsin's motivations for running away, her relationship with the homeless man, if supposedly killing him affects her at all and what the family's involvement is in all of this.


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#10 ltlibrarian

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 08:58 PM

Thanks so much, MKuriel, for your feedback. Reading it a realize my first attempt led to some misapprehensions. So I have changed it to this:

 

(age?)Tamsin, the youngest Norling sister, is a gifted artist with a vivid imagination.  She cannot function in the outer world, but can feed wild animals from her hand. Since their parents disappeared on a sailing trip, she has started running away from home. Soon she will be 18 eighteen and legally an adult. Her older siblings will no longer be able to keep her safe. - not sure what the stakes are here? I get that when she's 18 they can't stop her from running away from home cause I guess the cops can't force her to stay with them? But what are they keeping her safe from specifically? Just the outside world doesn't feel specific enough. Also, feel like this issue of why she runs away should probably be addressed in some way

 

A homeless man camping in the hidden redwood forest behind their house brings the crisis to a head. Tamsin claims he is the fairy king who is her father. When he is discovered found murdered and Tamsin found wandering in a daze with the knife that killed him in her hand, she is arrested. Knowing she did not kill him, the family vigorously contests the charges. But, home on bail, she runs off to disappear forever.

 

Spirits of Another Sort, complete at 75,000 words is a contemporary fantasy novel. In it a loving family must confront forces they do not understand, leading them to question their basic beliefs about reality.

 

I am . . .

 

My main question is, who is the MC? Is this from the POV of Tamsin or other family members? I think the issue with the query is that I'm not sure of the perspective and therefore have no idea who is dealing with the stress and consequences of this situation. Make the MC clear and focus on their feelings, what they want, what they need to do to get what they want, and what is standing in their way.

 

Hopefully, that helps give a bit more direction?


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