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THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST - SPECULATIVE FICTION

Fiction Gay Lesbian Science Fiction Fantasy

Best Answer RoseGlacier , 06 May 2018 - 03:14 PM

I'm going to do some thinking and editing, and come back to this later. Thanks for all your help!

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#1 RoseGlacier

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 09:19 PM

Edit: request for advice in post #17

 

=======

 

Even before the storms hit, the government collapsed and the streets were overtaken by militiamen, the world wasn’t safe for people like Kate and Luka. To be a woman is hard enough. To spit in the face of power by defying its enforcement of Biblical norms is suicide. Their disguises are just another layer of survival gear, protecting them as they slink from one abandoned house to the next, scavenging food for their community in what remains of New Orleans.

 

But masks slip. All it takes is a hand held too long, a failure to be ‘man enough.’ They know the same authoritarianism that ousts them from the camp to which they never really belonged is echoed outside its fences. The wood-fired engine in Luka’s house truck might get them all the way to the mountains of North Carolina, where they hope to find clean water and old family connections, but nothing can truly shield them, and their route is red with death.

 

By the time they reach a strange rural village bristling with hostility toward outsiders, they’re injured, grief-sick and desperate for a place to rest. Luka’s coveted mechanical skills buy them temporary shelter in the idyllic Valley of Fortune, but in exchange for relative security, they’re forced to sacrifice even more of their freedom. Within the well-stocked but oppressive compound, the villagers cheer for Armageddon. It may be Kate and Luka who bring it crashing down.

 

Fortune has a few hidden heretics of its own, and predators from beyond and within its borders lurk with an eye on its abundance. Can Kate and Luka cast off their chains and unleash powers they’ve long suppressed, finding a new tribe in the process?

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a standalone novel of adult speculative fiction with series potential, and complete at 90,000 words.



#2 Bkrasnik

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Posted 01 May 2018 - 09:54 PM

Hello AQ! Thanks so much for taking a look at my query. I'm happy to trade critiques with anyone who responds.

 

=======

 

Even before the storms hit, the government collapsed and the streets were overtaken by militiamen, (sentence flow between these two clauses is off) the world wasn’t safe for people like Kate and Luka (Adding "Even before the storms hit" makes this sentence more confusing. I have no idea what kind of storm you are talking about it, whether it is metaphorical, an actual thunderstorm, or another type of storm. It is distracting me from the rest of the sentence, so either clarify it, or delete it.) To be a woman is hard enough. To spit in the face of power by defying its enforcement of Biblical norms is suicide. Their disguises are just another layer of survival gear (Sounds like they are living under a religious sexist oppressive government, but it is unclear what their disguise is--are they dressing like men or are they disguising their true emotions? This can mean anything, so it is important you clarify.) protecting them as they slink from one abandoned house to the next, scavenging food for their community in what remains of New Orleans. (Interesting.)

 

But masks slip. All it takes is a hand held too long, a failure to be ‘man enough.’ (Okay, now I understand what this disguise is. I recommend you bring this up to the previous paragraph.) They know the same authoritarianism that ousts them from the camp to which they never really belonged is echoed outside its fences. (Okay, sorry I am confused again. You are suddenly bringing up a camp without much context.) The wood-fired engine in Luka’s house truck might get them all the way to the mountains of North Carolina, where they hope to find clean water and old family connections, but nothing can truly shield them, and their route is red with death. (I like this sentence.)

 

By the time they reach a strange rural village bristling with hostility toward outsiders, they’re injured, grief-sick and desperate for a place to rest. Luka’s coveted mechanical skills buy them temporary shelter in the idyllic Valley of Fortune, but in exchange for relative security, they’re forced to sacrifice even more of their freedom. Within the well-stocked but oppressive compound, the villagers cheer for Armageddon. It may be Kate and Luka who bring it crashing down. (This paragraph sounds more like a novel synopsis than a query.) 

 

Fortune has a few hidden heretics of its own, and predators from beyond and within its borders lurk with an eye on its abundance. Can Kate and Luka cast off their chains and unleash powers they’ve long suppressed, finding a new tribe in the process? (Based off my research, agents don't like it when you end with a question. I also have no idea what all this means--need to clarify)

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a standalone novel of adult speculative fiction with series potential, and complete at 90,000 words.

 

Hi RoseGlacier,

 

I think you have an interesting story to tell, but the structure of this query is not correct. Your hook contains interesting background information but it doesn't answer the three important questions the agent is looking for right off the bat: 

 

What does the mc want?

What is stopping her from getting it? 

What are the stakes? 

 

You are also lacking a significant amount of context and focus. Most of the time, I do not know what is going on. When you write, try to think from the perspective of someone who has never read your book before. This will help. 

 

Also, what is the main plot in your book? Is it escaping? Whatever it is, it needs to be a highlight of this query, instead of just another detail. 

 

Don't be discouraged by my comments! This is your first query, and it usually takes at least a few drafts to get it right. Good luck and if you have a few minutes to spare, please take a look at my query. Thanks :)


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#3 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 02:41 AM

Edit: new version in post #10.

 

Thanks so much for the feedback, I appreciate it very much. I didn't know agents don't like it when we close with questions, that's valuable info. Query writing is definitely my least favorite part of this whole novel writing process. It's a unique challenge!

 

I don't have much of a bio, so one thing I'm not sure of is how essential it is to still stick to the recommended format of having a hook in paragraph one and a mini-synopsis in paragraph two. Sticking to two paragraphs as copied below looks a little too brief and off balance to my eye, but maybe it doesn't matter?

 

==

 

Cast out of their camp in what remains of post-collapse New Orleans, three outsiders make their way north hoping to find clean water and old family connections while evading the militiamen fighting for dominance of the land. Kate dreams of going feral, sleeping in the trees, avoiding humans altogether. But deep down, she knows Luka is right: they need community for long term survival. How much will they have to sacrifice to find it?

 

They may not shed blood for gasoline thanks to Luka’s ingenious wood-fired engines, but their route is red with death all the same, and by the time they arrive in the idyllic Valley of Fortune, they’re grief-sick and desperate for shelter from the cruelty of the world. Luka’s coveted mechanical skills aren’t all they're asked to trade in exchange. The pious farming families in this strange rural village pray daily for Armageddon, and their leaders expect absolute capitulation from their flock, requiring these two queer unbelievers to disguise themselves as an obedient heterosexual couple. But unexplained animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods soon make it clear that Fortune is hiding secrets of its own. As predators close in and heretics within the compound are unmasked, Kate and Luka discover unexpected allies and powers within themselves that could secure their freedom and that of the valley.

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a standalone novel of adult speculative fiction with series potential, and is complete at 90,000 words.



#4 spineofiron

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 06:58 AM

Cast out of their camp in what remains of post-collapse New Orleans (what does post-collapse New Orleans mean?), three outsiders make their way north hoping to find clean water and old family connections while evading the militiamen fighting for dominance of the land. Kate dreams of going feral, sleeping in the trees, avoiding humans altogether. But deep down, she knows Luka (Who is Luka? He seems dropped in here without much context or reason why we should care about him) is right: they need community for long-term survival. How much will they have to sacrifice to find it? (Rhetorical questions are a big no-no in queries.)

 

They may not shed blood for gasoline thanks to Luka’s ingenious wood-fired engines, but their route is red with death all the same, and by the time they arrive in the idyllic Valley of Fortune, they’re grief-sick and desperate for shelter from the cruelty of the world. Luka’s coveted mechanical skills aren’t all they're asked to trade in exchange. The pious farming families in this strange rural village pray daily for Armageddon, and their leaders expect absolute capitulation from their flock, requiring these two queer unbelievers (I'm not entirely sure what their sexuality has to do with the novel at this point) to disguise themselves as an obedient heterosexual couple. But unexplained animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods soon make it clear that Fortune is hiding secrets of its own (like what?). As predators close in (wolves? militia?) and heretics within the compound are unmasked, Kate and Luka discover unexpected allies (who?) and powers within themselves (like what?) that could secure their freedom and that of the valley.

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a standalone speculative fiction novel with series potential, and is complete at 90,000 words.

 

Your writing style isn't bad at all. Right now, however, I don't get a strong sense of your plot or what's driving your characters forward.

 

You drop us into a "post-collapse" New Orleans and don't really give us a sense of what happened or why Kate and Luka need to survive at all, and I'm not sure why the militia are out to kill them, either. You want to steer away from too much backstory, but give us enough to understand your world. Your second paragraph is more of a synopsis than it is a query, and I don't really understand the events or mystery surrounding your story. Right now, it sounds like they're reactive characters, not proactive: they go to the valley and things happen to them, but they don't have much impact on the plot.

 

The best line you've got in there is the part about unexplained animal sacrifices and eerie lights -- that piqued my interest, but it took a long time to get there.

 

Focus more on your characters and the stakes of your plot. What happens if Kate and Luka don't secure the freedom of the valley? Do they die, or get captured, or do they simply have to find another community to live in? Why is it so important for them to save a place that makes them hide their true selves? What do they stand to gain? You don't need to tell the whole story of your book, but you do need to tell us the stakes and the conflict.

 

Queries are really tough stuff, so please don't get discouraged! I hope this helped a little bit, and feel free to reach out if you have questions or want me to take another crack at this.


"I am a fire escape. My spine is made of iron, my heart pumps out old red paint."

-- Foster the People

 

-- -- --

 

NIGHT OF SORROWS

Query

Hook

250 Words


#5 Tanja

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 07:18 AM

The battle with queries. it's long, it's hard and frustrating. Don't give up though. I can't even count how many times I revised my very first query.

 

I agree with the others. What's missing at the moment is the core of the plot. I did the same mistake when I wrote my very first query and the best suggestion that was given to me was to concentrate on the first fifty pages of the book. Concentrate on your MC, what's the challenge and sum up the stakes in the last para. Try to keep your sentences short to keep the tension going. That's something I'm constantly told while working on my new query. But it really helps to make things clearer.

 

Also, you write that it's an adult speculative fiction. Try to be clearer in the genre as speculative fiction goes very far.

 

Hope I could help a little


Query:  10 DAY BETRAYAL

             10 DAY CONSPIRACY

             RABBIT 76 (NEW PROJECT)

 

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#6 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 10:56 AM

Thanks everyone. My story has a lot of overlapping themes and plots (and also a dual POV) so pulling out a single thread of it to focus on for just 200-300 words is really difficult - as I'm sure you know from your own work! I also intentionally leave the exact circumstances of the collapse vague in the story but it's clear that it's related to both economic collapse and climate change. I guess I need to make it clear that the militias are the main threat (invading camps of survivors, stealing supplies, killing people, kidnapping women). Kate and Luka have both lost loved ones to the dominant militia, the Brotherhood of the Holy Beast (which has violently ultra-conservative values, hence the extra danger to them as queer characters). The survival compound they've found as a new community seems like it might be just another Brotherhood trap, full of people forcing them to conform to Biblical values, but soon they uncover a plot by local witches and an alliance of resistance fighters to take the militias down, discovering hidden supernatural powers within themselves in the process.

 

I know what I just wrote isn't in query form but does it make more sense as the bones of my next draft?



#7 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 10:59 AM

I've read a million pages of Query Shark and other blogs about queries but another thing I'm still not sure of is, should my query go ahead and spoil significant plot lines in the book that are supposed to be uncovered as you read it, like the existence of the witches and resistance fighters? Because trying *not* to spoil those things apparently makes my query too vague and confusing.



#8 DinaK

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 01:09 PM

You are not marketing to the public. You are targeting a specific individual. Rather than leaving it vague, I'd tell them what they need to know. If you're too vague, you'll likely end up in the reject pile. Don't leave them hanging. If it is important enough that it may influence their decision, I'd go with it.



#9 mwsinclair

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 01:46 PM

In a sense, you're pitching a business opportunity. Grab your potential customer (the agent) with your story's hook right away and don't let go. As DinaK said, this is not a pitch to the public at large; it's one person. You're pitching a story but you're also pitching yourself as a writer. The voice in your query tends to be along the lines of what a reader can expect, and you want the agent to say to herself, "I'd like to know the rest of this."



#10 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 02:05 PM

Ok, here's another edit. I think I'm still struggling with finding the right balance in the second paragraph. Should it be shorter and give less information?

 

While there's heavy plotting and a lot of action, the core of the story is really the ways in which Kate and Luka change internally. I *think* this (and the prose) makes it upmarket?

 

=====

 

Kate dreams of going feral - sleeping in the cypress trees in the bayou, avoiding humans altogether. But she knows that’s not a realistic way to survive. Now that the government has collapsed and the ravages of climate change have blistered and flooded the remains of the United States, violent militias have risen to fill the power vacuum, raiding camps to commandeer supplies, kill at random and enslave women in domestic servitude. Ensnarement in their claws is a fate worse than death. When her girlfriend, Sierra, is ripped away from her by the militiamen known as the Wolves, Kate is pitched out into streets red with blood in search of a new home, with a dark desire for revenge blooming in her heart.

 

The Valley of Fortune may offer everything Kate seeks: clean water, rain, old family connections of Sierra’s, a safe place to mourn. Luka, her last remaining friend and traveling companion, has coveted mechanical skills to offer in exchange for food and shelter, and though they're suspicious of outsiders, the pious farming families accept the trade. But ominous signs like animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods hint that Fortune isn’t the the promised land it seems. As civil war erupts within its fences and the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka join a secret alliance of witches, rebels and resistance fighters, unleashing powers within themselves they never knew they had.

 

A story about processing grief and identity in dire circumstances, THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is upmarket dystopian speculative fiction with a magical twist. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and may appeal to fans of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.



#11 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 02:26 PM

In a sense, you're pitching a business opportunity. Grab your potential customer (the agent) with your story's hook right away and don't let go. As DinaK said, this is not a pitch to the public at large; it's one person. You're pitching a story but you're also pitching yourself as a writer. The voice in your query tends to be along the lines of what a reader can expect, and you want the agent to say to herself, "I'd like to know the rest of this."

 

Thanks for this advice, I didn't see it until after I posted my newest draft. I'll think about that some more.



#12 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 05:45 PM

An alternative to my last version:

 

==

 

After witnessing her girlfriend Sierra’s murder by violent militiamen known as the Wolves, Kate flounders in streets red with blood, a dark desire for revenge blooming in her heart. Going feral isn’t an option. Finding community is the only way to survive now that the government has collapsed and the ravages of climate change have blistered and flooded what remains of the United States. In New Orleans, the swamps are on fire, and the black skies never rain. To the west, people pull their loved ones across the scorching desert in carts like it's 1890. Warring groups fight for dominance over the land at every turn. There's nowhere to go but north.

 

The Valley of Fortune may offer everything Kate seeks: clean water, old family connections of Sierra’s, a heavily guarded place to mourn. Luka, her last remaining friend and traveling companion, has coveted mechanical skills to offer in exchange for food and shelter, and though they’re suspicious of outsiders, the pious farming families accept the trade. But ominous signs like animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods hint that Fortune isn’t the the promised land it seems. As civil war erupts within its fences and the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka join a secret alliance of witches, rebels and resistance fighters, unleashing powers within themselves they never knew they had.

 

A story about processing grief and identity in dire circumstances, THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is upmarket dystopian speculative fiction with a magical twist. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and may appeal to fans of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy.



#13 spineofiron

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 06:09 PM

After witnessing her girlfriend Sierra’s murder by a violent militia known as the Wolves (I'm not sure Sierra needs to be named in the query since she's dead. I'd also make this sentence a little more active, i.e. "After her girlfriend is murdered by a violent militia known as the Wolves..."), Kate flounders in streets red with blood, a dark desire for revenge blooming in her heart. Going feral isn’t an option. (This seems a little vague -- I would see if you can tie the idea of the red streets with her revenge, i.e. "Kate's desire for revenge is as dark as the bloody streets of New Orleans." Doesn't have to be exactly that, because that sounds a little dumb, but you get the idea!) Finding community is the only way to survive now that the government has collapsed and the ravages of climate change have blistered and flooded what remains of the United States. In New Orleans, the swamps are on fire, and the black skies never rain. She’ll have to go north. (I LOVE the way you described New Orleans here! I think you can get away with not describing the collapse exactly -- we can get the sense of post-apocalypse from this.)

 

The Valley of Fortune may offer everything Kate seeks: clean water, connections to her girlfriendand a heavily guarded place to mourn. Luka, her last remaining friend and traveling companion, has coveted mechanical skills to offer in exchange for food and shelter, and though they’re suspicious of outsiders, the pious farming families accept the trade. (Excellent -- this makes it much clearer why they're there and why they're accepted.) But ominous signs like animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods hint that Fortune isn’t the the promised land it seems. As civil war erupts within its fences and the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka join a secret alliance of witches, rebels and resistance fighters, unleashing powers within themselves they never knew they had. (I think this is the only part of your query that needs some work still. I'm losing the connection between pious farmers, the militia, and witches and rebels. Are the farmers also witches? Is it the valley versus the Wolves, or witches versus farmers versus militia? How do Kate and Luka get sucked into the fight, and how do they just manage to have supernatural powers? That does seem slightly convenient to me.)

 

A story about processing grief and identity in dire circumstances, THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is an upmarket dystopian speculative fiction novel with a magical twist. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and will appeal to fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel and Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy. (Oryx and Crake was first published in 2003, so this comp is a little dated. If you can, I would find a slightly more recent comp -- maybe something to speak to the magical twist you mention, since Station Eleven covers the post-world-collapse bit well.)

 

I marked up the second version of your new query, because holy cow, I can't believe how much better this is from your original! I get a much better sense of your story with this one. You've turned it from something I couldn't comprehend into something I'd look at twice after reading the blurb -- can't say every person in the world will agree, but you've got me interested. Now I can get into the nitty-gritty, so don't be put off by all the red above; I think you're definitely on the right track here.

 

You can read most of my tiny comments above, so I'm only going to expand on my comment about the end, about losing the connection between everything you describe above and the conflict. Flesh it out just a little more what Kate ultimately wants, what could happen if she gets it, and what could happen if she doesn't (i.e. "If she leaves the compound, she'll be killed by the militia that murdered her girlfriend. But if she stays..."). It shouldn't be an easy choice, or readers won't understand the push-and-pull.

 

Let me know if you need to brainstorm this out a little more -- I'm happy to continue helping! Looking forward to your next version, too.


"I am a fire escape. My spine is made of iron, my heart pumps out old red paint."

-- Foster the People

 

-- -- --

 

NIGHT OF SORROWS

Query

Hook

250 Words


#14 RoseGlacier

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:07 AM

Thanks so much. I took a step back to consider all of this feedback and decided I wasn't really conveying important elements of the story. Here's another shot at it.

 

==

 

Half-hearing and withdrawn, her mind always somewhere far outside her body, Kate is certain she wouldn’t survive without her sharpshooter girlfriend Sierra. Not when militiamen calling themselves Wolves stalk streets red with death, raiding camps and shackling women into domestic servitude. Even before the government collapsed and the swamps around New Orleans caught fire, Sierra was her shield. She needs her. She’s never loved anyone else.

 

Raised on the fringes of society, Luka chose ‘feminine’ pursuits like herbalism over brawling with his cousins as a child, and they never let him forget it. When a careless mistake gets him kicked out of his camp along with Kate and Sierra, what’s left of his family doesn’t blink an eye: you’ve always been such a weakling, his uncle says. By night Luka slips into dreams about flying over foreign villages, shapeshifting into new forms, evading memories of his mother’s brutal murder by the Wolves.

 

The trio makes a treacherous journey north seeking clean water and long lost connections, but Kate’s worst fear comes true on the way to Sierra’s hometown. Wounded and desperate, she and Luka arrive just as eerie lights and unexplained animal sacrifices spark unrest among the pious farming families, who soon come to suspect the odd newcomers’ involvement. They may be right. As the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka must find the survivors within themselves and acknowledge their own magic, even if it means giving in to their darkest instincts for revenge.

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a dual-POV upmarket dystopian novel with a magical twist. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and may appeal to fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.



#15 Bkrasnik

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:47 PM

Thanks so much. I took a step back to consider all of this feedback and decided I wasn't really conveying important elements of the story. Here's another shot at it.

 

==

 

Half-hearing and withdrawn, her mind always somewhere far outside her body, Kate is certain she wouldn’t survive without her sharpshooter girlfriend Sierra. Not when militiamen calling themselves Wolves stalk streets red with death, raiding camps and shackling women into domestic servitude. (This is really interesting.) Even before the government collapsed and the swamps around New Orleans caught fire, Sierra was her shield. She needs her. She’s never loved anyone else. (Good--you are highlighting an important relationship to her)

 

Raised on the fringes of society, Luka chose ‘feminine’ pursuits like herbalism over brawling with his cousins as a child, and they never let him forget it. When a careless mistake gets him kicked out of his camp along with Kate and Sierra, what’s left of his family doesn’t blink an eye: you’ve always been such a weakling, his uncle says. By night Luka slips into dreams about flying over foreign villages, shapeshifting into new forms, evading memories of his mother’s brutal murder by the Wolves. (As much as I like this paragraph, I think you should keep it from Kate's perspective. By making your query from two POV, you are not able to give enough attention to either characters, which weakens both of them.) 

 

The trio makes a treacherous journey north seeking clean water and long lost connections, but Kate’s worst fear comes true on the way to Sierra’s hometown. Wounded and desperate, she and Luka arrive just as eerie lights and unexplained animal sacrifices spark unrest among the pious farming families, who soon come to suspect the odd newcomers’ involvement. They may be right. As the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka must find the survivors within themselves and acknowledge their own magic, even if it means giving in to their darkest instincts for revenge (this last sentence is a little vague. I think you should give a little bit more in specifics here. Otherwise, wow this paragraph is very intriguing).

 

THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is a dual-POV upmarket dystopian novel with a magical twist. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and may appeal to fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.

 

WOW, this version is a HUGE step up from your very first draft. You paint a very vivid picture of this dystopian world and you provide enough context for me to understand the storyline. As I already mentioned, I think you shouldn't do it from two POV. I think you should focus on developing Kate's character to her fullest potential.

 

I really enjoyed your first paragraph, but I am not sure if you fully answer the question: What does the character want? If the only thing she wants is survival, then you can leave it the way it is. But if there is something more specific that she wants, I would make that clear in the beginning.

 

I read the version right before this one and I liked that one a lot. I think you should work on merging this one and the previous one. You are making an incredible amount of progress, and I think you are almost there! Good luck! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#16 smithgirl

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 02:43 PM

Ok, here's another edit. I think I'm still struggling with finding the right balance in the second paragraph. Should it be shorter and give less information?

 

 

While there's heavy plotting and a lot of action, the core of the story is really the ways in which Kate and Luka change internally. I *think* this (and the prose) makes it upmarket?

 

=====

 

Kate dreams of going feral -- sleeping in the cypress trees in the bayou, avoiding humans altogether. But she knows that’s not a realistic way to survive. Now that the government has collapsed and the ravages of climate change have blistered and flooded the remains of the United States, violent militias have risen to fill the power vacuum, raiding camps to commandeer supplies, kill at random and enslave women in domestic servitude.  Watch out for these long lists. Ensnarement in their claws is a fate worse than death.

 

I like the first sentence, it sounds very lovely, but it really seems unrelated to the rest of the story. It doesn't seem like a goal in the story for her to become feral.

 

Then When her girlfriend, Sierra, is ripped away from her by the militiamen known as the Wolves. Suddenly Kate is pitched out into streets red with blood in search of a new home, with a dark desire for revenge blooming in her heart. Not clear why losing Sierra makes her homeless. I'm not sure that's a really big issue, but just saying. A place called The Valley of Fortune may offer everything Kate needs seeks: clean water, rain, old family connections of Sierra’s, a safe place to mourn. Another list. Luka, her last remaining friend and traveling companion, has coveted mechanical skills to offer in exchange for food and shelter, and though they're suspicious of outsiders, the pious farming families accept the trade. 

 

But ominous signs like animal sacrifices and eerie lights in the woods hint that Fortune isn’t the the promised land it seems. As civil war erupts within its fences and the Wolves close in from outside, Kate and Luka join a secret alliance of witches, rebels and resistance fighters, unleashing powers within themselves they never knew they had. This last sentence feels out of place. What are Kate and Luka fighting for? Why do they join the alliance? This is also the first time we see any magical elements to the story; I wonder if you could indicate the magical element earlier. Also, what happened to her friend? Is she still looking for her? Finally, this last sentence isn't a statement of the stakes. You should end your query with a cliffhanger (the stakes).

 

A story about processing grief and identity in dire circumstances, THE HEART OF THE HOLY BEAST is upmarket dystopian speculative fiction with a magical twist. Be careful about having too many genres. It’s a standalone novel with series potential, complete at 90,000 words, and may appeal to fans of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

 

 

I think your query has a lovely voice to it -- good job, I can never get voice into a query. I rearranged a bit into three paragraphs because it seemed to work better (to me), obviously up to you.  I think the biggest problem is the last sentence: you just stuff so much information into that sentence that should be included earlier, and also clarified. The other problem is that it's not stakes.

 

I feel like you left us hanging with Kate's friend: Did Kate keep looking for her? I think if you could expand upon the last paragraph, give us an update on the friend, and give us some stakes you query would be good to go.

 

Can you please look at my query when you get a chance? Thanks! http://agentquerycon...ery-in-post-22/



#17 RoseGlacier

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 03:14 PM   Best Answer

I'm going to do some thinking and editing, and come back to this later. Thanks for all your help!







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