Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

American Apocalypse- Urban Fantasy

Fantasy

  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 shawnbrown93

shawnbrown93

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS West Coast
  • Publishing Experience:none

Posted 07 April 2018 - 11:34 AM

Please give feedback

 

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson, a poor but gifted student, steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom.

 

Now a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek —wants to recruit him, because they believe his powers could bring the Angel back and lead them to another ancient book they’ve been seeking for centuries. Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad, Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic.

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy, Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend. But he soon learns the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found. After an attack on his school, he is forced to go on the run across America, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects that will help him achieve his destiny; to create a new status quo.

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift to support the status quo and its exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system.

My urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words. It is the first book in a series. I have plotted the second book. The book will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your consideration.

 



#2 galian84

galian84

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 92 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 07 April 2018 - 12:25 PM

Please give feedback

 

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson (I'd pick either Merlin, or Stephen, and stick with this for query purposes. How is he referred to in your MS?), a poor but gifted student (what grade / what's he studying? Not sure how old he's supposed to be), steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother (Noble goal). He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom. (Interesting!)

 

Now a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek —wants to recruit him, because they believe his powers (what powers? And how did this secret society find him if he just stole an iPad?) could bring the Angel back and lead them to another ancient book they’ve been seeking for centuries (what is this other secret book supposed to do, that they want it so badly?). Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad (understandable), Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book (eh?) and joins the Order’s school of magic.

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy (no need to mention his friends' names. They're not mentioned again), Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend (sounds cliché, not sure this is necessary information to mention here. Again, this info is not mentioned later in the query)

But he soon learns the hard way (specifics...how does he learn all this?) that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found (why? I still don't know what this secret book does). After an attack on his school, he is forced (This sentence makes him sound very passive. Who/what forces him to go on the run?) to go on the run across America, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects that will help him achieve his destiny; to create a new status quo. (Specifics...I don't know what you mean by a new status quo)

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift (what gift?) to support the status quo and its exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system. (clear stakes, but the choice seems pretty clear...if he were to maintain the status quo, there'd be no story, right?)

 

My (include age group: YA/Adult/MG etc) urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words. It is the first book in a series. I have plotted the second book. (You may get differing opinions, but I always heard it's best to say that this is a standalone with series potential). The book will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series

 

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

Hi Shawn, my $0.02 above :) Sounds like an interesting story, but it could definitely use some more specifics to show how it stands out from other stories of this type (it's reminding me a lot of Harry Potter). I had the same issue with my query letter, initially. I came out of this with too many questions and at times struggled to figure out what was going on. I'm sure your story is interesting, but the query isn't showcasing it in its current incarnation.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck!



#3 Nessa

Nessa

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 277 posts
  • Literary Status:published, unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast
  • Publishing Experience:Harmony Ink Press
    #AMM mentee

Posted 07 April 2018 - 02:54 PM

Please give feedback

 

 

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson, a poor but gifted student, steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother​[What do you mean by "gifted"? You could cut out "poor" and let the last bit of the sentence speak for his wealth.]. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom.​[The transition from the first sentence to this sentence is too choppy. You're going for shock factor, but the distance between the two is too wide.]

 

Now a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek —wants to recruit him, because they believe his powers could bring the Angel back and lead them to another ancient book they’ve been seeking for centuries.​[What powers? Is that why he's gifted? Does he know about his powers? Why is the Angel with him? Is it bound to the book?] Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad, Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic.​[Is he chased after by cops? Sounds like he could easily get away with it if nobody notices he's the one who stole it. Also, I don't see the importance of mentioning he jumps into a comic book. Is the school hidden inside the book as a precaution against prying eyes?]

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy, Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend.​[What kind of magic are we dealing with?] But he soon learns the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found.​[Too vague. What do you mean by "the hard way"?] After an attack on his school, he is forced to go on the run across America, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects that will help him achieve his destiny; to create a new status quo.​["An attack" is too vague. Who does it? Why? And why is he forced to runaway? "Achieve his destiny" is too vague, and so is "status quo."]

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift to support the status quo and its exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system.​[I don't see how the status quo exploits poor people because you've left it vague. Is the status quo in the human realm or the magic realm? I don't know what you mean by "current system," and I don't know how that ties to the people chasing after him and book.]

My urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words. It is the first book in a series. I have plotted the second book.​[Don't mention a series. You'll likely put off the agent. The proper time to talk of sequels is when an agent asks you.] The book will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series​[Is this book YA or Adult? Merlin seems to be in the YA range, so you wouldn't want to use Adult fiction as comps. Your comps are also huge ​outliers. Both ​AMERICAN GODS and THE MAGICIANS have viewable adaptations. Using all outliers for comps will make an agent wonder if you're truly familiar with your genre and the publishing industry. Ideal comps are published in the last 5 years (some agents prefer sooner), don't have viewable adaptations (TV/film), and aren't from authors with massive fanbases.]

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.​[Don't mention this. It only makes you sound inexperienced.]

Thank you for your consideration.


I love dogs


#4 IMB

IMB

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationSouth America
  • Publishing Experience:None yet

Posted 08 April 2018 - 09:57 AM

Please give feedback

 

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson (I like this start. It gives me an understanding of the character right from the get go), a poor but (you show that he's poor in the following sentence, it'll look cleaner if you remove this bit) gifted student, steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom.

 

Now a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek —wants to recruit him, because they believe his powers could bring the Angel back and lead them to another ancient book they’ve been seeking for centuries. (Bring the Angel back? You confused me. Does the Order know that the Angel is in his room? Plus, did he find his powers from fiddling with the book of spells, or did the Order think he was powerful just because he had the book? This entire first sentence is confusing. You either need to rephrase it, or consider re-writing the paragraph) Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad (It's repetitive to put the Ipad here again. Just say 'avoid jail time due to his theft', or something like that) , Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic. (This last bit is what I really like about this paragraph. it gives me a sense of adventure, and makes me a bit excited about the story.)

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy, Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend. But he soon learns the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found ('that want him and the secret book he found', or just 'that want the secret book he found' reads better. You could even add ' that want the secret book he found, and the skills that come with it', if the book is indeed the source of his power, though I'm not sure.). After an attack on his school, he is forced to go on the run across America, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects that will help him achieve his destiny; to create a new status quo. (I was with you until 'status quo', and now you lost me again. It's too vague, I don't really know what's at stake here, and what his true destiny is.)

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift to support the status quo and its exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system. (Vague again. And why would he even support this status quo? He's already running away. Better stakes might be to protect himself or lead the fight, but that depends on the way the book develops)

 

My urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words. It is the first book in a series. I have plotted the second book. (you shouldn't phrase it like this. It's better to say it has series potential) The book will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series. (It's this Adult? It reads like YA. If it is YA you might have to consider changing your comp titles, and like someone mentioned before, it's never good to have major bestsellers as your comp titles, because even if an agent decides to look past the fact you might not be well-read in your genre, your book might just be disappointing when compared to such huge books. Don't overshoot.)

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

In general, I find the story interesting, but the query is a bit confusing. I think this is just a matter of a re-write, because I believe you have a nice book here, and it's important that the query shows that.


Current Query (YA Urban Fantasy): http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/

Any feedback is appreciated :)


#5 shawnbrown93

shawnbrown93

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS West Coast
  • Publishing Experience:none

Posted 10 April 2018 - 04:56 PM

Thank you to everyone who critique my query or read it. I will definitely critique in return. Here is my rewrite.

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson, a poor but gifted student, steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom offering him the most powerful magical weapons in history.

 

After tracking Merlin and seeing the Angel speak to him, a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek—wants to recruit him. They believe his powers could bring the Angel back and lead them to the weapons they’ve been seeking for centuries. Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad, Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic.

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy, Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend. But he soon discovers the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found. After an attack on his school, he is forced to go on the run across America. The Melchizedek believe the Angel’s long-lost weapons are in San Francisco, and Merlin must track them down if he wants to save his own skin from the demons that are after him, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects along the way. Other societies join in to help him, but they all have their own agendas and Merlin can’t figure out which ones truly align with his.

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift of magic to support his Order’s elitism and exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system.

My urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words and intended to be the first book in a series. It will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series.

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your consideration.



#6 BadgerFox

BadgerFox

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 152 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUnited Kingdom

Posted 13 April 2018 - 11:18 AM

Advance warning: I'm not great at brevity and can sometimes be a bit thorough critiquing these, so please don't take a lot of coloured ink here as a negative sign that something's drastically wrong with your query. I just like nitpicking for perfection, because all our queries should be good and polished :)

 



Thank you to everyone who critique my query or read it. I will definitely critique in return. Here is my rewrite.

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson, a poor but gifted student, steals an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel in his bedroom offering him the most powerful magical weapons in history. [I get that you're going for ironic understatemen with this opening, but I'm not certain it 100% works. It's got some really good ideas but they're not quite arranged for maximum impact yet. I mean NOBODY expects a stolen ipad to generate a secret book of spells, do they? It feels a little bit 'well, duh!'. Could it maybe be phrased without the too-obvious understatement? The second sentence is unfortunately also a bit too long now, compared to your first draft. Could it be shortened or split into two, or divided into two clauses linked with a hyphen or such?]

 

After tracking Merlin and seeing the Angel speak to him, a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek—wants to recruit him. They believe his powers could bring the Angel back and lead them to the weapons they’ve been seeking for centuries. Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad, Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic.[Ok, so far so good. This paragraph is quite clear and you're doing a good job of avoiding too many confusing names and new concepts]

 

Through a series of educational tests with his new friends Julie and Patsy [if their names don't appear anywhere else in the query, it is probably ok not to name them here either. Description is good but no need to be giving an agent unecessary proper nouns to remember :)], Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend. But he soon discovers the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found. After an attack on his school, he is forced to go on the run across America. The Melchizedek believe the Angel’s long-lost weapons are in San Francisco, and Merlin must track them down if he wants to save his own skin from the demons that are after him, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects along the way. Other societies join in to help him, but they all have their own agendas and Merlin can’t figure out which ones truly align with his. [this is fairly clear and you're doing a good job of not losing a reader here, although one thing is starting to feel plot-holey without a bit more explanation: why is Merlin's school not able to protect him from the people after him? There's probably a good reason for this in your novel, but right here it seems a little improbable, just based on what's been said, that Merlin has the one thing everyone wants AND he's got no magical relatives or guardians or teachers to stand between him and the demons. This is a good plot structure to drive lots of confrontations and stand-offs between Merlin and his enemies, for sure, but why is it he is 'the chosen one' or the only person targeted for these attacks? Could Merlin also not hide the secret book somewhere, if keeping it with him is putting him in danger? A little more detail might help]

 

With war rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift of magic to support his Order’s elitism and exploitation of poor people like him or lead the fight to overthrow the current system. [This sentence is a bit too long but I REALLY like the concept you introduce here. I actually wish you'd introduced it a bit earlier, because I think it's one thing that will make your query distinct and unique amongst other stories about magic. The existing stories I know of about magical schools - The Worst Witch series, Harry Potter, and Antony Horowitz' earlier one Groosham Grange all come off as upper-middle-class. The young protagonist in each comes from either a nice middle class family or an upper-crust background, and it does leave you wondering about the class structure in the wizarding world. It's mentioned a bit, but never made much of. Are there no shitty inner-city wizarding comprehensive schools? Or are there not young wizards from working-class backgrounds who find the private-school Eton elitism of their school a bit pretentious, and want to break down the system a bit? I seriously think this is a fruitful idea to explore and you could include a bit more of it throughout your query]

 

My urban fantasy novel AMERICAN APOCALYPSE is complete at 87,000 words and intended to be the first book in a series.[ I know it's tempting to put this in, and we probably ALL want to find an agent who will ask us to write multiple sequels - heck, I have secretly, in the privacy on my own mind and in front of no-one else, picked out actors to play my characters in the movie adaptation of my book, and I KNOW I am not alone in having done this! Just because I would never tell anyone my wistful writerly fantasies doesn't mean I haven't privately had them in secret. :D Still, I don't think including this line adds anything and it can sound presumptuous. Let the agent be the judge of whether your idea will support multiple sequels or not]. It will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as well as the television series, and readers of magical school novels like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series.

I write for a living as a lawyer and lobbyist. This is my first novel.[again, if you don't mention any previous novels it's taken as given that this is your first]

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Also just want to draw your attention to this agent's Manuscript Wishlist tweet, which actually just came up on Twitter this morning: https://twitter.com/...805803960958976 . Agent Sarah Guan here says she's specifically looking for Sci Fi and Fantasy stories about socioeconomic disparities at academic institutions. Maybe you should add her to your list of potential agents to query :) ?


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

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#7 CavalierdeNuit

CavalierdeNuit

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 32 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Northwest

Posted 22 April 2018 - 04:01 PM

This has great potential! I really like your story. I also like that your protag is poor and just trying to get by. Gives it a grittier and more realistic feel. However, your query needs way more detail, more showing, and focus. Nice storyline so far though.

 

When Stephen “Merlin” Johnson, How old is he? Is this YA? NA? Or is he a struggling wanna be magician? I would be very careful about using a famous wizard's name throughout your book. Maybe just call him Stephen for now. a poor but gifted student, steals how? Was it laying on a seat next to someone or did he wrestle it from someone? This would show his character. an iPad on the train, he’s just trying to earn some extra cash to support himself and his mother. He doesn’t expect to end up with a secret book of spells and an Angel  Why is this capitalized? in his bedroom offering him, what are these weapons?, the most powerful magical weapons in history. Why is the Angel offering him weapons? Is this Angel like a genie? Did he rub the iPad three times?

 

After tracking Merlin How did they track him? and seeing the Angel speak to him, a secret society—the Order of Melchizedek—wants to recruit him. Is this Order good or evil? They believe his powers could bring the Angel back Where? Merlin already brought the Angel back. Merlin and lead them to the weapons they’ve been seeking for centuries. Wanting to support his family and avoid jail for stealing the iPad, Merlin dives into what feels like the pages of a comic book and joins the Order’s school of magic. So the Order blackmails him.

 

Through a series of educational tests What are these? Sounds more like a crash course in magic. with his new friends from the Order? Julie and Patsy, Merlin learns to harness spells to attack and defend. But he soon discovers How? the hard way that there are other secret societies that want Merlin and the secret book he found. After an attack on his school, Wait, isn't he living in a comic book world now? he is forced to go on the run across America. The Melchizedek believe the Angel’s long-lost weapons are in San Francisco, So he has to get to SanFran, not go on the run across America. Is he living in Baltimore or something when the story begins? and Merlin must track them down if he wants to save his own skin from the demons What demons? I thought it was other secret societies. that are after him, visiting safe houses and picking up advice and totemic objects along the way For what reason?. Other societies join in to help him, but they all have their own agendas and Merlin can’t figure out which ones truly align with his.

 

With war Why is there a war about to happen? rising between the Order and the other secret societies, Merlin must decide whether he should use his gift of magic to support his Order’s elitism and exploitation of poor people like him That would be a dumb decision. What are they offering him? Leadership? Money? Hot chicks? or lead the fight to overthrow the current system. What system? Whose system is it?

 

 

Hope this helps!







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fantasy

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users