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FIREWEAVER (YA Contemporary Fantasy)


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#21 Skyval

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 12:36 PM

Fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep looking for clues about her mother’s murder, hoping to return the favor. But in the process, she uncovers secrets from mage-kind’s tumultuous past, tacking a target to her forehead.

Something about this first sentence bothers me. I've read it several times and maybe it's because of that, I'm dissecting it too much, but what I'm getting is two actions that don't agree. She enrolls in school and is simultaneously looking for clues. Seems like one action should follow the other. Then, she's "hoping to return the favor," like she considers someone murdering her mother a favor and she'd like to thank them. Or maybe she wants to kill THEIR mother. I know it's about voice, but just reading weird for picky me. Plus you don't have any cool magic in the query like you do in the ms. Just thinking your current version is vague and has standard generalizations about "secrets" with no specifics. I know you're a fan of short and brief, but your current version is 207 words INCLUDING the bio. Why not add some more flavor and enticement with another 20 words or so?

Messing around a bit here...

Fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey doesn't count on tacking a target on her own forhead when she enrolls in Paranormal Prep hoping to find clues about her mother's murder and settle the score. But some in mage-dom would rather cast a (scary spell. Seems like here you could add some voice instead of the favor part) than reveal secrets better left buried.

OR...

Fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey doesn't count on tacking a target on her own forehead when she enrolls in Paranormal Prep hoping to pick up a lead on her mother's unsolved murder. But in the dusty archives of Mage-dom's ancient school, she discovers hints of an all-powerful object hidden long ago and (here you could hint at bad guys and good guys and show Nisha has to figure out which category her mother belonged to.)

Dunno. Just throwing more into the discussion.
Skyval

#22 RC Lewis

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:07 PM

Okay, playing hook-y...

Current:

Fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep to look for clues about her mother’s murder, hoping to return the favor. But in the process, she uncovers secrets from mage-kind’s tumultuous past, tacking a target to her forehead.

Variation(s):

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer, not tack a target on her own forehead. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's role in the search for a powerful artifact, and those who continue the search would prefer Nisha keep her nose in the books.

OR

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer, not tack a target on her own forehead. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.

OR ... ???

Thing is, if I start the hook with "when," I may need to change the third paragraph so it's not too matchy-matchy. :unsure:

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#23 MarcyKate

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:10 PM

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer, not tack a target on her own forehead. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.


I vote for this one!

#24 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:15 PM

I think that one is strongest, too, but I'm not sure I like the bit about her not wanting to tack a target on her own forehead. Because ... er, who WOULD want to do that? :blink: I'd snip that clause away. It worked marvelously in the original as a clincher, but I don't get the same punch from it in the middle.

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#25 Stephanie Diaz

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:15 PM

I second Marcy's vote :P

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#26 RC Lewis

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 03:21 PM

Good call, ant. So:

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.

?

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#27 AMK

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 05:14 PM

I like that one much better than the earlier versions. Good work!

As for the query revision at 18 (or something close), it feels a little vague. Can you tell us what the artifact is or perhaps something about the enemy or the secret? Is her mother one of the bad guys? Is she? I know you don't want to give anything away, but I don't have much to hold on to. Does that make sense?

You know, as I read everybody's query, I wish I knew the story so that I could help more. Has anyone ever considered giving us a casual overall on their story before their query?

#28 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 05:17 PM

Me likey! :laugh:

If you're going to reveal the secret, I'm running away. I haven't read that far yet! :blush: I would tentatively agree with stating the artifact outright, though. Unless that's also a huge plot twist.

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#29 RC Lewis

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 05:25 PM

I'm hesitant to get into the details of the artifact, partly because from the MC's perspective, it's a means to an end--the vehicle of discovering whether or not her mom was on the right side of the fence. Not that the artifact itself is a super-twist, but it's part of the mystery.

I love that in the query I'm having the same quandaries I had in the ms. :tongue: How much do I reveal, and how soon? Ugh...

Ant, you already know the basics of the secret, but you don't really know yet why it's a big law-breaking deal. And putting it in the query would require way too many details, I think.

The big question is whether I can avoid "Ugh, writer's being coy and vague," and instead achieve, "Ooh! Must read NOW and see what this is all about!"

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#30 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:10 PM

Oops. Just noticed posts I missed. I'll leave my comments anyway. They might help.

Fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep looking for clues about her mother’s murder, hoping to return the favor. In the process, uncovering other secrets from mage-kind’s tumultuous past tacks a target to her forehead.

The Order of Mages has changed a lot since its medieval heyday. They embrace the internet, seamlessly follow fashion trends, and only indulge in the most minor blood sacrifices. One thing that hasn't changed among the various sects is their inability to agree on anything important.

When Nisha arrives at the hidden academy for mages-in-the-making, keeping a frail fire-newt alive through the semester and dealing with her spoiled-rich-boy study partner are the least of her problems. As her instructors continue the bickering of centuries, she seeks the truth about her mother's death and tries to keep anyone from discovering her own secret. If it gets out, it could achieve the impossible—uniting the sects.

Against her.

FIREWEAVER is a contemporary fantasy for young adults, complete at 84,000 words. My short story “Significantly Other” was published by Crossed Genres in October 2010, and I’ve been teaching math to teenagers for ten years.


The voice remains good but you can clean it up. All the 'ing' words give it a passive flavor you don't want. A few parts read more formally than I think your voice warrants.

And the secret. Again, I think if you're going to mention it, you're going to have to tell more. Otherwise the query reader won't be intrigued, s/he'll be frustrated: "Huh? Where'd this secret whatzit come from and how does it fit in?" You're telling us the secret's important rather than showing it matters. E.g., ...least of her problems. She's got a secret. If anyone finds out she's got more magic in her little finger than any of the main mages have in their whole bodies (or...finds out she's impervious to any spells the mages can throw; or... finds out she's got the mark of the Grand Mage-to-be on her knee; or...you get the picture)...Well, she might succeed in doing the impossible. Unite the sects against her.

Okay, not so good and I have no idea how your story goes. But you see what I mean? I don't think you can lead us up the path and then slam the door in our faces.

And naturally, that's just my opinion. The voice is still great.

#31 Skyval

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 06:28 PM

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.

For what it's worth, I like this one, too. I don't think you need to say any more about the artifact--just the phrase "powerful artifact" implies it's of value for good or evil and sets up a bad guy/good quest. And by saying her mother's "mysterious role" you've left open which side she was involved with but indicated it led to her death. A lot of info in just a few words! What I like most is you've actually given some info about the story in an enticing way rather than using the standard but meaningless "secrets." My guess is agents get "secreted" to death and probably yawn at that word.
Skyval

#32 RC Lewis

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:27 PM

Okay, I sense we're getting close. Here's what I've got so far, and also a potential change for the 3rd paragraph. The underlined sentence is the pivot point--I added it into the earlier revision, but not sure it did enough of the job. With the alternate, I think I've eradicated all uses of the word "secret." Debating between "what a freak she is" and "about her freakish nature" or something else.

* * * * *

When fifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find clues to her mother's murderer. But in the school's dusty archives, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.

The Order of Mages has changed a lot since its medieval heyday. They embrace the internet, seamlessly follow fashion trends, and indulge in only the most minor blood sacrifices. One thing that hasn't changed among the various sects is their inability to agree on anything.

Nisha arrives at the hidden academy for mages-in-the-making and finds keeping a frail fire-newt alive through the semester and dealing with her spoiled-rich-boy study partner are the least of her problems. She has a secret that breaks the Order’s most fundamental laws. As her instructors continue the bickering of centuries, she seeks the truth about her mother's death and tries to keep anyone from discovering that secret. If it gets out, it could achieve the impossible, uniting the sects—against her.

FIREWEAVER is a contemporary fantasy for young adults, complete at 84,000 words. My short story “Significantly Other” was published by Crossed Genres in October 2010. I’ve been teaching math to teenagers for ten years, surprising students by regularly discussing YA literature during downtime.


Alt. 3rd Graf:

Nisha arrives at the hidden academy for mages-in-the-making and finds keeping a frail fire-newt alive through the semester and dealing with her spoiled-rich-boy study partner are the least of her problems. Her existence breaks the Order’s most fundamental laws, and she only gets away with it because no one knows ... yet. As her instructors continue the bickering of centuries, Nisha seeks the truth about her mother's death and tries to keep anyone from finding out what a freak she is. If they do, it could achieve the impossible, uniting the sects—against her.

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#33 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:34 PM

I vote thumbs up on the alternate. The 'freak' thing adds a personal feel to Nisha's dilemma.

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#34 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:39 AM

* * * * *

When fFifteen-year-old Nisha Grey enrolls at Paranormal Prep, she hopes to find search for clues to her mother's murderer. But in the school's dusty archives,. Instead, she discovers her mother's mysterious role in the search for a powerful artifact—a role that has Nisha second-guessing her plans for revenge.

The Order of Mages has changed a lot since its medieval heyday. They embrace the internet, seamlessly follow fashion trends, and indulge in only the most minor blood sacrifices. One thing that hasn't changed among is the various sects' is their inability to agree on anything.

Nisha arrives at the hidden academy for mages-in-the-making and finds keeping a frail fire-newt alive through the semester and dealing with her spoiled-rich-boy study partner are the least of her problems. She has a secret that breaks the Order’s most fundamental laws. As her instructors continue the bickering of centuries, she seeks the truth about her mother's death and tries to keep anyone from discovering that secret. If it gets out, it could achieve the impossible, uniting the sects—against her.

FIREWEAVER is a contemporary fantasy for young adults, complete at 84,000 words. My short story “Significantly Other” was published by Crossed Genres in October 2010. I’ve been teaching math to teenagers for ten years, surprising students by regularly discussing YA literature during downtime.


Alt. 3rd Graf:

Nisha arrives aNow, at the hidden academy for mages-in-the-making, Nisha and finds keeping a frail fire-newt alive through the semester and dealing with her spoiled-rich-boy study partner are the least of her problems. Her existence breaks the Order’s most fundamental laws, and she only gets away with it because but no one knows ... yet. As her instructors continue their centuries-old bickering of centuries, Nisha seeks the truth about her mother's death and tries to keep anyone from finding out what a freak she is. If they do, it could achieve the impossible, uniting the sects—against her. (This last is awkward. Maybe something like: If they do, the sects will finally be united. Against her. Something like that would pack a bigger punch, I think, rather than dragging it out.)


Yeah, use the alternate. Much better. Above, I tightened and polished a bit to do away with some passives, echoes, and indefinites. Use anything you like, ignore everything else.

Just my opinion, naturally.

#35 RC Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 10:41 AM

Thanks, Cheryl. :happy:

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