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CASTING (Young Adult Fantasy)


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#1 Jthatcher

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 02:23 PM

Math has always come easy to 18-year-old valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the school prom queen flying to the back of the bus with the wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as easy as numbers on pages. Valerie, intrigued by her new magic, is excited to discover the fundamentals of what it means to her life, but, when her parents are ready to ship her away to the secluded, mysterious Island off the coast of Virginia, she is left abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Thrust into a whirlwind of chaos, she’s forced to move to the Island with other magical refugees where she meets Jenna, a 19-year-old political activist from New York, with whom she quickly feels an interestingly new attraction to.

When one of the Island’s leaders is butchered by an ancient curse intended to eradicate the world of magic, an even bigger problem arises. He returns from the grave with a newfound hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if having magic is the potential uprising of the undead. After her best friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust into a world that had abandoned her. When Alex, Jenna, and Valerie journey to Valerie’s hometown in Virginia, she learns about an Island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, her Island. As Valerie is forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic and the curse of the undead or saving magic and allowing the curse to continue running rampant, she must ask herself just how much she wants magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity.

 

I was wondering if anyone could give me some critiques on the synopsis part of my query letter?

 

Thank you all so much for your input! Does this read better?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with the wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as easy as words on a page. Amazed by her new abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use them to change the world. When her mother ships her away to the secluded island off the coast of Virginia, she is left abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is relieved when she meets the mysteriously beautiful Jenna from New York.

When one of the island’s leaders is butchered by an ancient curse intended to eradicate the world of magic, a new problem arises. He returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if having magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her. Alex, Jenna, and Valerie journey to Virginia where she reads about an island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, her island. Valerie, forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic or allowing the curse to continue running rampant, must ask herself just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity.

 

 

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna and she vies to understand her growing attraction.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives.

 

 

Life hasn’t always been easy to temperamental 17-year-old Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life is much more confusing than she believed. Having faced discrimination for being black in the past, Valerie is eager to discover that she can use her newfound abilities to defend the powerless.

 

When her mother, frightened after the revelation of Valerie’s magic, ships her away to a secluded island full of witches being kept secret from the world, Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of those who run it. Downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets Alex, a fellow witch and quickly develops an attraction to his nonchalant attitude.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a leader returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie- thanks to her link to the original caster of the curse- to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to the magical disease.  When Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the young witches.

 

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide whether to end magic and save humanity or save magic and end the zombie apocalypse. A choice that would be easy if her friends weren’t slowly joining the ranks of the undead.

 

 

Having faced discrimination for being black in the past, 17-year-old Valerie Smol is intimidated to discover that she has telekinetic abilities and that she can use her newfound powers to defend the powerless.

 

When Valerie accidentally displays magic in front of her mother, she is shipped away to a secluded island full of witches being kept secret from the world. Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of those who run it. Downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets Alex, a fellow magic user and quickly develops an attraction to his nonchalant attitude about life on the island that seems to directly oppose her own.

 

 

When Alex contracts a murderous curse that brings it’s host back from the dead with a hunger for flesh, Valerie is forced to search for a cure for the ailment because of the decisions of one of her past lives from centuries ago.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide whether to end magic and save humanity by effectively destroying the magic behind the curse or saving magic and killing all of the undead. A choice that would be easy if her friends weren’t slowly joining the ranks of the undead.

 

NEWEST EDIT:

 

Having faced discrimination for being black in the past, 17-year-old Valerie Smol isn’t new to being different, but when she learns that she has magical abilities, she begins to ponder if she can use her newfound powers to defend the defenseless.

 

 

When Valerie accidentally displays magic in front of her mother, she is shipped away to a secluded island full of witches being kept secret from the world. Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of those who run it. Downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets Alex, a warlock, and quickly develops an attraction to his nonchalant attitude about life on the island. A viewpoint that seems to directly oppose her own.

 

 

When Alex contracts a murderous curse that brings its victim back from the dead with a hunger for flesh, he is banned from the island. Valerie is forced to search for a cure, or the end to magic, for the ailment before time runs out and he dies- and comes back as the undead. A task bestowed upon her by Helena’s, an incarnation of herself from decades past, choice, and her love for Alex.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on her decision, Valerie must decide whether to end magic and save humanity by destroying the magic behind the curse or to save magic and kill all of the undead. A choice that would be easy if her friends weren’t slowly joining the ranks of the undead.



#2 Bibliophyl

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 03:59 PM

I have the same name as one of your characters :)

 

Math has always come easy to 18-year-old valedictorian [you may not need to say 18 year old if she's a valedictorian--it's implied that she's around that age and it's good to cut words where possible] Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the school prom queen flying to the back of the bus with the wave of her hand, she begins to realize [begins to realize > realizes] that life isn’t as easy as numbers on pages. Valerie, intrigued by her new magic, is excited to discover the fundamentals of what it means to her life, but, when her parents are ready to ship her away [you can just say "when her parents ship her away..." to streamline] to the secluded, mysterious Island off the coast of Virginia, she is left abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Thrust into a whirlwind of chaos, she’s forced to move to the Island with other magical refugees where she meets Jenna, a 19-year-old political activist from New York, with whom she quickly feels an interestingly new attraction to. This last sentence is long. I'd split it so it reads "...with the other  magical refugees. There, she meets Jenna..."

 

When one of the Island’s leaders is butchered by an ancient curse intended to eradicate the world of magic, an even bigger problem arises. He returns from the grave with a newfound hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if having magic is the potential uprising of the undead. [I don't quite understand what this last part of the sentence means. maybe something like "...if having magic will lead to the uprising of the undead"?] After her best friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust into a world that had abandoned her. When Alex, Jenna, and Valerie journey to Valerie’s hometown in Virginia, she learns about an Island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, her Island. A little confused here, I thought she had to stay on the island. Why is she allowed to go home? As Valerie is forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic and the curse of the undead or saving magic and allowing the curse to continue running rampant, she must ask herself just how much she wants magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity. This sentence is also very long. I like that she likes having magic--I feel like too often characters are "afraid" of their new powers so it's refreshing to see a different take. 

 

I like this; I think mainly you should focus on trimming words where possible--it's a little wordy. I made some suggestions to streamline but I'm sure there are more opportunities. In queries, you have to make every word count :) Hope I could be helpful, and good luck!



#3 Keeppositive

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 07:11 PM

Without copying Bibliphyl's comments, I agree with all the suggestions for paragraph 1. Additionally why is the word "island" capitalized? Is that the actual name of the island?

 

In paragraph two, I get a bit confused. "As Valerie is forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic and the curse of the undead or saving magic and allowing the curse to continue running rampant, she must ask herself just how much she wants magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity." How can she NOT have magic when in the first paragraph she accidentally sent the prom queen flying to the back of the bus? It seems she cannot control it. Maybe some more detail in paragraph two.

 

It's hard when you have to tighten and use few words, yet include important details. I think Bibliophyl is right: trim a few words, clear up the confusion and shorten some of the longer sentences. I like the storyline, though!



#4 Jthatcher

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 02:09 PM

I'm still new so I'm not sure if you will see that I added a modified version of the query... Does this one read easier?



#5 Jthatcher

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 04:31 PM

Thank you all so much for your input! Does this read better?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with the wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as easy as words on a page. Amazed by her new abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use them to change the world. When her mother ships her away to the secluded island off the coast of Virginia, she is left abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is relieved when she meets the mysteriously beautiful Jenna from New York.

When one of the island’s leaders is butchered by an ancient curse intended to eradicate the world of magic, a new problem arises. He returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if having magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her. Alex, Jenna, and Valerie journey to Virginia where she reads about an island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, her island. Valerie, forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic or allowing the curse to continue running rampant, must ask herself just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity.



#6 PureZhar3

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 05:10 PM

 

Thank you all so much for your input! Does this read better?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with the ​a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as easy as words on a page. ​I like this hook, but I think it could use shortening. Also, did she just find out life isn't this easy?

 

Amazed by her new  ​new or newfound? abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use them to change the world. When her mother ships her away to the secluded island off the coast of Virginia ​because of her new powers? make that clear, she is left abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is relieved when she meets the mysteriously beautiful ​do you have more intriguing adjectives? a mysteriously beautiful character is rather cliché and doesn't make your story feel different Jenna from New York.

 

When one of the island’s leaders is butchered by an ancient curse intended to eradicate the world of magic, a new problem arises. He ​the island leader? this could be clearer returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if having magic is worth the uprising of the undead. ​Hm... Okay, so a few thoughts here. First, I don't think we need all the detail about the island leader. You could just say "One of the island leaders returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh" or something. Second, what does Valerie do? So far all she's done is realized, felt, and pondered... not particularly promising actions on the part of a main character. Try to use more active verbs. "Valerie must decide if she should eliminate magic to prevent an undead uprising" or something After her new friend Alex ​what happened to Jenna? you want no more than 3 characters in your query, and Jenna has not yet returned, making me think that Jenna isn't crucial to the plot. So I'd cut 'em. contracts the murderous curse ​wait, so the curse acts as a disease? I assumed that the ancient curse had gone wrong (since it killed someone, when it was intended to eradicate magic) and was over with. But now I think you're saying that the curse is murdering people with magic as a way to eliminate magic. I would rework phrasing to make that clearer, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her. ​How? Why? Alex, Jenna, and Valerie journey to Virginia where she reads about an island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, her island. ​Hmm? Valerie, forced to consider returning to a boring life without magic or allowing the curse to continue running rampant ​It seems as if she returned to her boring life, she would be letting the curse run rampant. As I understand it, her giving up magic (how does that work?) would mean that she alone is not capable of contracting the curse. But everyone else with magic should still be at risk, must ask herself just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity. ​I'm missing something.

 

 

​The amount of story you have attempted to cover in this is quite ambitious. My advice: cut it down.

​So far as I understand it, this is what happens:

​1) V discovers she has magic

​2) She wants to change the world

3) Her mom ships her off to an island with witches

​4) She's lonely till she meets a friend

​5) An island leader is killed and resurrected

​6) A curse is going around killing everyone

​7) Alex catches the curse

​8) V and friends go back to Virginia

​9) V must make a choice

​That is so much information... most of it, completely unnecessary (for the query, not the book). We don't need to know about Jenna, the witches, or her loneliness. Heck, we don't even need to know an island leader was resurrected. From what I have grasped, what I would say is necessary information is the following:

​1) Valerie discovers she has magic

2) Her motive (change the world... but go deeper. Why does she want to change the world? Morals? To be remembered? What's her motive for that motive?) goes unfulfilled bc her mom ships her off to an island

​3)A curse is killing everyone with magic

​4) V must make a choice (and show what she would have to do to achieve each goal, and tie it back to her original motive)

 

Does you see how much simpler that is? Strip it down and then, if the query is too sparse, you can always add selective detail in afterwards. But right now, there's so much going on that one begins to lose the point.


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


#7 Jthatcher

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 09:18 PM

Thank you for that, PureZhar3! What do you think about this?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as simple as had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use them to change the world, mostly for the better. When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the beautifully powerful, potentially murderous, Jenna.

Butchered by a curse, a high-priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if the existence of magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her because of her differences. Alex, Jenna, and Valerie must quest to find the cure before it’s too late. Learning about an island training soldiers in a new form of warfare, Valerie quickly realizes what the island truly is. She must ask herself just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for magic to survive and if her love of this new craft is more important than the survival of humanity when the solution to the curse becomes dependent upon her choices.



#8 rhwashere

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 11:28 PM

I’ll do a line edit later, but the first suggestion I have is to split this block of text into paragraphs. Three, at least.

And that last sentence is a three-legged behemoth. Big and clumsy. Shorten and clarify.

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


#9 Jthatcher

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 08:57 AM

How about this one?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as simple as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a water priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if the existence of magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her because of her abilities with the quest of finding a cure to the zombie problem before it’s too late. Following a television broadcast, Valerie learns that the witches are being trained in the art of war. The witches are intended to bring about a new world order, with one human leader.

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity.



#10 rhwashere

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Posted 16 March 2018 - 05:46 PM

How about this one?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as simple as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better. Give me something specific that she sets out to do with this power, or omit this sentence altogether.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna. I don't see how Jenna is relevant to this query, since she isn't really mentioned again.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a water priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if the existence of magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse I think I would focus on Alex earlier, instead of Jenna. Make us care about him, then put him in danger., Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her because of her abilities with the quest of finding a cure to the zombie problem before it’s too late. This sentence is way too long, and it's not at all clear what this curse is or what it has to do with zombies. Following a television broadcast, Valerie learns that the witches are being trained in the art of war. The witches are intended to bring about a new world order, with one human leader. And now we've taken a 90 degree turn into something completely different. Pick one of your crises and go with it (usually the one that is faced in the first part of your novel).

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision I have no idea what this decision actually is., Valerie must decide Pick a different word. You just used 'decision'. just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity. And this means nothing without specifics. We have no idea what decision she faces, or how it will involve a sacrifice on her part. In a query, it's specifics or bust!


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


#11 PureZhar3

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 10:49 AM

How about this one?

 

Learning has always come easy to valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize​s that life isn’t as simple as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world. , hopefully for the better.

 

When her mother, frightened by of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. ​cut this sentence down, or split it into two. It's a bit hard to follow as-is. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful ​still kind of cliché. Maybe say something like "angelic"?, potentially murderous, Jenna.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a water priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie pondering if the existence of magic is worth the uprising of the undead. After her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, Valerie is thrust back into a world that had abandoned her because of her abilities with the quest of finding a cure to the zombie problem before it’s too late. Following a television broadcast, Valerie learns that the witches are being trained in the art of war. The witches are intended to bring about a new world order, with one human leader. ​While you did a good job cutting this down, it is still somewhat vague/hard to follow. Try to be straightforward and describe only what's completely necessary.

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity. ​these stakes need to be more specific.

​This is shorter, which is good, but it doesn't completely address the problem of superfluous information. Maybe look back at previous comments and see if you can cut down more selectively.


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


#12 Jthatcher

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 02:46 PM

Sorry for such a delayed response, I was finishing up the latest edit of the book! This one has some information missing, as I decided to omit it from the current revise, and it's a bit shorter. What do y'all think?

 

 

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna and she vies to understand her growing attraction.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives.



#13 PureZhar3

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 03:05 PM

Sorry for such a delayed response, I was finishing up the latest edit of the book! This one has some information missing, as I decided to omit it from the current revise, and it's a bit shorter. What do y'all think?

 

 

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize​s that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. ​This hook will be stronger if you pull out the unnecessary words Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean​Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling dDowntrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, ​I believe in you. I know there are more unique adjs you can apply to Jenna. Jenna and she vies ​vies is not quite the correct word...  grapples, maybe, or struggles... but vies implies things that do not make sense in this context to understand her growing attraction.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to the magical disease magic’s latest problem. When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision ​if you don't tell us what the decision is, there will be no sense of stakes for us and this will fall short. Please tell us what it is. Or just focus in on the time she has to do it, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives.

 

​Transitionally, this makes more sense (or it may be my increasing familiarity with the plot), but a lot of your wording is slightly off (i.e. begs). There are a lot of words that clutter things up rather than make things clear, and your final paragraph particularly is suffering from a lack of relevant detail. See what other people think, but I would speculate that the query as-is needs more cohesiveness and specific detail (detail related to the one main plotline) as opposed to random fun-fact details (such as Jenna, the priest who wants to eat flesh). I understand why you want to keep those things in there, but they need to be cut out right now. Maybe if you have extra words you can later throw them in, but for now take them out and work to strengthen the core story


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


#14 ltlibrarian

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 03:27 PM

 

 

NEWEST EDIT:

 

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as simple black and white as she had always believed. Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better. - I changed the beginning bit just so it circles back to how some things are easy for her. The first part is good, but the second part is too general and doesn't present any stakes. What's something specific that she needs to use her powers for? Specific is what helps put your story apart from others.

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna and she vies to understand her growing attraction. - looks good to me

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch. - too many characters at this point. I think in the paragraph above you should put Alex instead of Jenna. Expand on their relationship.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives. - this is now too many elements, since you now mention past lives

I think what this query needs is focus. Focus on 1-2 characters who you mention by name only aka Valerie and Alex. And then I wouldn't get into things like past lives etc.

 

1st para - finding new abilities + specific stakes

2nd para - new island and friend alex

3rd para - intro curse + stakes

 

Hope that helps! If you have time I would really appreciate any comments on my query. The link is in my signature.


Looking for feedback on my query, will return the favour!

 

Website: http://ltlibrarian.com - book reviews, round-ups, quotes, writing tips, etc.

Twitter: @lunchtimelib

 


#15 Jthatcher

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 04:12 PM

Thank you for your advice on the query! I’m just a little worried about dropping Jenna from it because the love that grows between Jenna and Valerie is noticeable in the books leading to an LGBT+ representation. Should I still drop her? Also, Valerie is a black girl as well, is this something that should be addressed in the query?

#16 Nessa

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 06:36 PM

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. ​This sentence is too long and clunky. "Black and white" is a cliche and takes up valuable word space. You could try a structure like "When 17-year-old Valerie [life-changing event], she [what results]." I'm too tired to make this more specific to your story, but keep it concise and with details. Show that she is temperamental through her picking a fight, or shoving the prom queen, or whatever.] Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.​[Too vague. How does she know she can warp air? How does she react to it? It sounds like she's too "I got powers now! Yay!" without any questioning about reality. Wanting to change the world for the better is too meh. It's cliché too.]

 

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. ​[I can't tell what kind of world we're in. Are witches public info? Why does the mom know about the magic? Does Valerie try to hide it?]Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna and she vies to understand her growing attraction.​[Vague. Use concrete details to show she is alone. Does she have trouble finding friends on the island? Jenna is dropped in suddenly. She can be deleted.]

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. ​[There's no lead up to this. I expected Jenna to be the main character in the conflict.]When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch.​[Refer to characters by their name. "Fledging witch" could be Valerie or Jenna or Alex. Also, why is Valerie tasked with finding the solution to the problem? Valerie's character arc is vague.]

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives.​[Too vague. I don't know what the sacrifice might entail and I don't know what you mean by "past lives." Does this involve reincarnation? Is it referring to her past life as an average girl?]

 

​About your questions:

 

​1) The current form of your query doesn't portray Jenna as an important character. She can be deleted.

 

2) If you want to state that there is a f/f relationship and a Black protagonist, you can mention it in the metadata. "CASTING, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at 80,000 words. The protagonist is a Black lesbian/bisexual/pansexual/etc. and has a female love interest." If you're also Black and/or LGBTQ, you can add "ownvoices" to the metadata.


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#17 IndusiumGriseum

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 07:03 PM

Sorry for such a delayed response, I was finishing up the latest edit of the book! This one has some information missing, as I decided to omit it from the current revise, and it's a bit shorter. What do y'all think?

 

 

Learning has always come easy to temperamental, (No need for comma) valedictorian Valerie Smol, but When she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. (I'm a little confused. What do learning easily and black and white thinking have to do with each other?) Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities (You used the word "abilities" twice. This power, maybe?) to change the world, hopefully for the better. (She somehow doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who wants to change the world for the better. You might want to establish this when you're characterizing her in the beginning.)

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, and potentially murderous, Jenna and as she vies to understand her growing attraction.

 

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. (I'd consider switching the two details in this sentences so that it opens with Valerie and we can get a sense of why this matters to her.) When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging (fledgling?) witch.

 

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives. (There isn't any build up to the very last detail here. I'd at least hint to the past life and what the decision was somewhere in the query if you're going to mention it at all.)

 

Nicely done! I'm digging the representation and the characterization. I'm interested in Valerie as a character, and that's the most important step. :)


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#18 Jthatcher

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:56 PM



Learning has always come easy to temperamental, valedictorian Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life isn’t as black and white as she had always believed. ​This sentence is too long and clunky. "Black and white" is a cliche and takes up valuable word space. You could try a structure like "When 17-year-old Valerie [life-changing event], she [what results]." I'm too tired to make this more specific to your story, but keep it concise and with details. Show that she is temperamental through her picking a fight, or shoving the prom queen, or whatever.] Amazed by her newfound abilities to bend the air around her, Valerie is eager to discover how she can use these abilities to change the world, hopefully for the better.​[Too vague. How does she know she can warp air? How does she react to it? It sounds like she's too "I got powers now! Yay!" without any questioning about reality. Wanting to change the world for the better is too meh. It's cliché too.]

 

 

When her mother, frightened of the magic Valerie possesses, ships her away to a secluded island in the middle of the ocean, she is abandoned to the mercy of the witches who run it. ​[I can't tell what kind of world we're in. Are witches public info? Why does the mom know about the magic? Does Valerie try to hide it?]Feeling downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets the powerfully beautiful, potentially murderous, Jenna and she vies to understand her growing attraction.​[Vague. Use concrete details to show she is alone. Does she have trouble finding friends on the island? Jenna is dropped in suddenly. She can be deleted.]

 

Butchered by a curse, a priest returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to magic’s latest problem. ​[There's no lead up to this. I expected Jenna to be the main character in the conflict.]When her new friend Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the fledging witch.​[Refer to characters by their name. "Fledging witch" could be Valerie or Jenna or Alex. Also, why is Valerie tasked with finding the solution to the problem? Valerie's character arc is vague.]

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision, Valerie must decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the survival of humanity as she begs to understand the decisions of one of her past lives.​[Too vague. I don't know what the sacrifice might entail and I don't know what you mean by "past lives." Does this involve reincarnation? Is it referring to her past life as an average girl?]

 

​About your questions:

 

​1) The current form of your query doesn't portray Jenna as an important character. She can be deleted.

 

2) If you want to state that there is a f/f relationship and a Black protagonist, you can mention it in the metadata. "CASTING, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at 80,000 words. The protagonist is a Black lesbian/bisexual/pansexual/etc. and has a female love interest." If you're also Black and/or LGBTQ, you can add "ownvoices" to the metadata.

 

Thank you for your feedback. I didn't know if I could put it in the metadata, but I like the idea. I just finished the latest revision of the novel and I think I'm about ready to start sending queries out. I'm not black but I am LGBTQ so I will still add own voices. If you wouldn't mind taking another look at the latest query draft, it would be much appreciated!



#19 PureZhar3

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 04:59 PM

Life hasn’t always been easy to temperamental 17-year-old Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life is much more confusing than she believed ​I see what you're trying to do with this hook, but it doesn't quite flow logically (life not being easy = life not being confusing?). Having faced discrimination for being black in the past, Valerie is eager to discover that she can use her newfound abilities to defend the powerless. This is interesting. Try tying ​this ​into your hook.

 

When her mother, frightened ​"by" works better than "after" after the revelation of Valerie’s magic, ships her away to a secluded island full of witches being kept secret from the world ​but... if they're being kept secret how does her mom know about them?, Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of those who run it. Downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets Alex, a fellow witch ​witch is traditionally a word that indicates a woman, so this is going to confuse people (particularly given the neutral gender name) and quickly develops an attraction to his nonchalant attitude.​can you be more specific? this is a rather cliché description of a relationship

 

Butchered by a curse, a leader returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie- thanks to her link to the original caster of the curse- ​I know what you're trying to do with the info insertion, but it's too much detail to throw in like that. Try starting with that... "When a fellow student casts a curse to wipe out all magic-folk, Valerie must journey back..." (I'm not sure why you're so insistent on the leader-returning-from-the-grave bit, but it seems irrelevant to me) to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to the magical disease.  When Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the young witches.

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision ​what decision? you absolutely need to tell us what this is..., Valerie must decide whether to end magic and save humanity or save magic and end the zombie apocalypse ​these stakes don't make sense. it seems as if her choices should be: "allow the disease to wipe out magic-folk (thus saving humanity??) or stop it to save her friends" We have no context for anything else.... A choice that would be easy if her friends weren’t slowly joining the ranks of the undead.

 

​You absolutely need to narrow in. Your stakes don't really make sense. I know that you know all this, but consider what us readers DON'T know:

​- how ending magic will save humanity

​- why ending a zombie apocalypse wouldn't save humanity

​- how saving magic will end the acopalyse

​- that there even was an apocalypse going on... we had no idea the normal human world was affected (we only knew about the problems of the magic community, particularly the island community)


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


#20 Jthatcher

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 06:57 PM

 

Life hasn’t always been easy to temperamental 17-year-old Valerie Smol, but when she accidentally sends the prom queen flying backwards with a wave of her hand, she begins to realize that life is much more confusing than she believed ​I see what you're trying to do with this hook, but it doesn't quite flow logically (life not being easy = life not being confusing?). Having faced discrimination for being black in the past, Valerie is eager to discover that she can use her newfound abilities to defend the powerless. This is interesting. Try tying ​this ​into your hook.

 

When her mother, frightened ​"by" works better than "after" after the revelation of Valerie’s magic, ships her away to a secluded island full of witches being kept secret from the world ​but... if they're being kept secret how does her mom know about them?, Valerie is abandoned to the mercy of those who run it. Downtrodden and alone, she is astonished when she meets Alex, a fellow witch ​witch is traditionally a word that indicates a woman, so this is going to confuse people (particularly given the neutral gender name) and quickly develops an attraction to his nonchalant attitude.​can you be more specific? this is a rather cliché description of a relationship

 

Butchered by a curse, a leader returns from the grave with a hunger for flesh, leaving Valerie- thanks to her link to the original caster of the curse- ​I know what you're trying to do with the info insertion, but it's too much detail to throw in like that. Try starting with that... "When a fellow student casts a curse to wipe out all magic-folk, Valerie must journey back..." (I'm not sure why you're so insistent on the leader-returning-from-the-grave bit, but it seems irrelevant to me) to journey back to the mundane world to find the solution to the magical disease.  When Alex contracts the murderous curse, the timeline to find the cure shrinks dramatically for the young witches.

 

As the solution to the curse rests on one decision ​what decision? you absolutely need to tell us what this is..., Valerie must decide whether to end magic and save humanity or save magic and end the zombie apocalypse ​these stakes don't make sense. it seems as if her choices should be: "allow the disease to wipe out magic-folk (thus saving humanity??) or stop it to save her friends" We have no context for anything else.... A choice that would be easy if her friends weren’t slowly joining the ranks of the undead.

 

​You absolutely need to narrow in. Your stakes don't really make sense. I know that you know all this, but consider what us readers DON'T know:

​- how ending magic will save humanity

​- why ending a zombie apocalypse wouldn't save humanity

​- how saving magic will end the acopalyse

​- that there even was an apocalypse going on... we had no idea the normal human world was affected (we only knew about the problems of the magic community, particularly the island community)

 

 

I see what you're saying, the main reason I wanted to keep in about the guy coming back from the dead is because I felt like it propelled the query letter. I think my newest revision should answer the points that you made.






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