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WISH UPON A BIRD - Middle grade fantasy

Fiction Fantasy Middle Grade

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#1 Cez

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Posted 09 August 2018 - 07:25 AM

New Version

 

Dear agent,

 

In the town of Humming, ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices. Then there is the one in every hundred, like eight-year-old Lark, who has sight but no voice.

 

In Humming, mute people are bad luck, they are ignored, they are invisible.

 

To survive, Lark catches and sells songbirds, that are coveted not only for their songs, but for their wishes. Every kind of bird carries a different wish; robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any with under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for it all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself, and with a voice she’ll be able to enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for a crown and a place in history.

 

So when Lark hears a Nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the bird.

 

But the forest hides more than just birds, and when Lark discovers a hidden grave and a diary full of faces, she begins to doubt everything she knows about her town and herself.

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.



#2 taylorhale

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Posted 09 August 2018 - 08:20 AM

Dear agent,

 

In the town of Humming, ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices. Then there is the one in every hundred, like eight-year-old Lark, who has sight but no voice. (Start with character, not setting. It's generally stronger. Consider something like: Eight-year-old Lark is the only child in Humming who has sight, but no voice. In a town where ninety-nine out of a hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices, Lark feels____ (however Lark feels about this. Happy/sad/alone/isolated/like a freak)

 

In Humming, mMute people are bad luck, they are ignored, they are invisible. (not necessary to restate where this takes place. Also might be punchier if you break each part into its own sentence. Mute people are bad luck. They are ignored. Invisible.)

 

To survive, Lark catches and sells songbirds, that are coveted not only for their songs, but for their wishes. Every kind of bird carries a different wish; : (comma, not semicolon) robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any with wish under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for it all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself, and with a voice she’ll be able to enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for a crown and a place in history. (Too long. Find a way to break up?)

 

So when Lark hears a Nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the bird.

 

But the forest hides more than just birds, and when Lark discovers a hidden grave and a diary full of faces, she begins to doubt everything she knows about her town and herself. (I think this might be too vague. What do you mean about a diary full of faces?) I need more here because I'm not sure if this means that the town is haunted, or the town secretly kills people, or something along those lines)

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.

This sounds so wonderful! Thanks so much for your feedback on my query - I was in the process of reviewing yours when I realized you'd also reviewed mine. Hope my two cents help :-)

 

One thing: I'm pretty sure eight years old is too young for MG.

 

http://deareditor.co...protagonist-be/

 

BUT perhaps other resources say differently :-)



#3 jphollis

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 12:45 AM

First of all, let me say that this sounds like a great premise. I wasn't sold on it until the end, but this is the type of book I might like to read. That said, I think your query needs to work harder to sell this story. Here are my thoughts, Hope they help.

 

 

 

In the town of Humming, ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices. Then there is the one in every hundred, like eight-year-old Lark, who has sight but no voice. I agree with taylorhale: you need to start with your character. But I believe that you also need to focus on the twist in your story, the fact that no one minds being blind, but not having a voice is the worst handicap. You might say something like, "Eight-year-old Lark is the only one in the town of Humming who can see but she can't talk".  Then move into your next line.

 

In Humming, mute people are bad luck, they are ignored, they are invisible. I would condense this. Make it more concise.

 

To survive Was she cast out by her family for her deformity? I want to know this., Lark catches and sells songbirds, that are Look for words like this to cut. (Also, you shouldn't use 'that' after a comma in a relative clause. Use 'which' instead. Read up on restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses if you want to dive into the grammar a bit more) coveted not only for their songs, but for their wishes. Every kind of bird carries a different wish; robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck. I would recommend cutting this sentence. Your next sentence does the work for you of explaining why she wants to catch a nightingale.

 

Only one bird can grant any with under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for it all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself, and with a voice she’ll be able to enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for a crown and a place in history'A place in history' is pretty vague. What does this even mean? You can either expound on this (concisely) or lose the who clause starting from 'where everyone in Humming...'

 

So when Lark hears a Nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the bird. It's probably just mean, but this exciting, energetic sentence ends with a clunk with the dull word, 'bird'. Can you come up with something else? Maybe 'to catch her prize' or something?

 

But the forest hides more than just birds, and when Lark discovers a hidden grave and a diary full of faces Real faces? Or pictures of faces?, she begins to doubt everything she knows about her town and herself.

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.


No query or synopsis up yet. Stay tuned if you wish to reciprocate on a critique I've given you.

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#4 Wayfarer

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 10:30 AM

Dear agent,

 

In the town of Humming, ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices. Then there is the one in every hundred, like eight-year-old Lark, who has born with sight but no voice.

 

In Humming, the mute people are bad luck. They are ignored, they are invisible.

 

To survive, Lark catches and sells songbirds, that are coveted not only for their songs, but for their wishes. Every Each kind of bird carries a different wish; robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any wish under the sun; the nightingale, and Lark has been looking for it all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself. and with a voice she’ll be able to enter the yearly annual Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for a crown and a place in history. So when she hears a Nightingale’s song in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the bird.

 

But the forest hides more than wolves, hunters, and rare songbirds. For when Lark discovers a hidden grave and a diary full of facesshe learns her world may be other than it seems, and begins to doubt everything she knows about her town and herself.

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.

First I want to say this sounds like a wonderful story, good job on being a creative human. Second, this is also a pretty good query. Most of my adjustments where to structure and phrasing to make it flow better (in my opinion). Anything I adjusted was because I felt it sounded clunky, but again, that's subjective.

 

The only thing I think is unnecessary is the mention of the festival. It's a great reason for her to want her voice to prove herself, but its still a lesser goal than actually getting her voice. So it just feels like world building that isn't needed to get the plot, setting, or character across to us. It breaks the flow of She doesn't have a voice > there's a way to get her voice > she finds this way and chases it > finds something instead/in addition. And turns it into She doesn't have a voice > there's a way to get her voice > if she gets her voice she can sing in a festival > she finds the way to get her voice and chases it > finds something instead/in addition.

 

The festival is a metaphor for finding acceptance in her culture, but obtaining her voice is still the primary thing to reach acceptance, the metaphor is therefore superfluous for the query to get the point of She needs voice > she finds voice across.



#5 Cez

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 05:53 AM

No 2:

 

I know I should begin with my character and I've tried that, but it raises too many questions in the beginning, so I thought I'd explain up front.

 

Dear agent,

 

In the town of Humming, ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices. Then there is the one in every hundred, like eight-year-old Lark, born with sight but no voice.

 

Despised and ignored for her muteness, which is believed to bring bad luck, Lark survives by catching and selling songbirds, which are coveted not only for their songs, but their wishes. Each kind of bird carries a different wish, robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any wish under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for it all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself and enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for the title of Nightingale.

 

So when Lark hears a nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the wish.

 

But when a hunt goes wrong and Lark discovers a hidden grave and an old diary, she starts unravelling a mystery about Humming’s past, about the two families that rule the town, and about a mute child who changed history.

 

Clue by clue, Lark begins to doubt everything she knew about her town and herself, and she has to decide just how far she is willing to go to get a voice.

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.



#6 lnloft

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 08:03 PM

What about something like: “In a town where ninety-nine out of one hundred people are born blind but with beautiful voices, eight-year-old Lark is the one left over. She was born with sight but no voice, an affliction considered bad luck by those around her.” It would maintain your basic structure but get Lark into the first paragraph. It also moves the bad luck forward, and (a little thing) it establishes Lark is a girl in the first paragraph. Your first draft didn’t do that until the fourth paragraph, and I didn’t intuite from the name.

Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#7 Cez

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Posted 12 August 2018 - 09:58 AM

Thank you all for your advice, and yes Inloft, that sounds like a good idea. I'll give it a try. 



#8 Cez

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Posted 12 August 2018 - 10:26 AM

No 3. I'm still not sure about the first paragraph.

 

Dear agent,

 

In the town of Humming where ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices, eight-year-old Lark is the odd one out. Born with sight but no voice, she is ignored and despised for her muteness, which is believed to bring bad luck.

 

To survives, she catches and sells songbirds, which are coveted not only for their songs, but their wishes. Each kind of bird carries a different wish, robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any wish under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for one all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself and enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for the title of Nightingale.

 

So when Lark hears a nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the wish.

 

But when a hunt goes wrong and Lark discovers a hidden grave and an old diary, she starts unravelling a mystery about Humming’s past, about the two families that rule the town, and about a mute child who changed history.

 

Clue by clue, Lark begins to doubt everything she knew about her town and herself, and she has to decide just how far she is willing to go to get a voice.

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.



#9 Wayfarer

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Posted 13 August 2018 - 11:56 AM

No 3. I'm still not sure about the first paragraph.

 

Dear agent,

 

Born with sight but no voice, eight-year-old Lark is ignored and despised in her home town of Humming. For there the mute are shunned, thought to be no more than bad luck.

 

To survives, she catches and sells songbirds, which are coveted not only for their songs, but their wishes. Each kind of bird carries a different wish, robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck.

 

Only one bird can grant any wish under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for one all her life. If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself and enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for the title of Nightingale.

 

So when Lark hears a nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night--fleeing (just a personal change I like better than just running) from wolves and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory-- (em-dash adds emphasis and helps to unclog the sentence) to catch the wish.

 

But when her (I only change this because it makes the above paragraph makes it seem like she hears the bird a single time, so carrying that into this paragraph with 'her' flows better than implying that she's gone on multiple hunts for this same Nightingale as implied by the use of 'a') hunt goes wrong and Lark discovers a hidden grave and an old diary, she stumbles upon a mystery about Humming’s past, about the two families that rule the town, and about a mute child who changed history.

 

Clue by clue, Lark begins to doubt everything she knew about her town and herself, and she has to decide just how far she is willing to go to get a voice. (This emphatic line is a bit confusing for me. It implies that, while previously the Nightingale was the only way to earn a voice, her focus has shifted to the mystery and that will in turn give her a voice instead. Prior to discovering the mystery she was always able to earn a voice if she caught a nightingale. But this reads like now she can only earn a voice by uncovering the truth of the mystery. It also seems like the voice is the driving, lesser conflict that draws her into the main conflict. So it appears odd to then cap the query off by implying that it's actually the main conflict and the mystery is the lesser, as implied by unraveling the mystery = her voice. Sorry for the winded response here.)

 

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.

Made some suggestions above, some are just subjective taste and others are confusions I came across in the consistency of things.



#10 Tyokunbo

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 01:40 PM

Thanks for reviewing my query.

Dear agent,
In the town of Humming where ninety-nine out of every hundred people are born blind, but with beautiful voices, eight-year-old Lark is the odd one out. Born with sight but no voice, she is ignored and despised for her muteness, which is believed to bring bad luck. (I love the voice of this opening paragraph)

To survives (survive), she catches and sells songbirds, which are coveted not only for their songs, but their wishes. Each kind of bird carries a different wish, robins are for health, bluebirds for laughter, thrushes for courage, and blackbirds for luck. (Good world building).

Only one bird can grant any wish under the sun, a nightingale, and Lark has been looking for one all her life. (We know what Lark wants) If she catches it, she’ll be able to wish a voice for herself and enter the yearly Feast of Song, where everyone in Humming competes for the title of Nightingale. (Does she lose anything by not taking part in the festival?)

So when Lark hears a nightingale’s call in the forest, she risks hunting at night, running from wolves, and even trespassing in another hunter’s territory to catch the wish. (I like the obstacle she faces).

But when a hunt goes wrong and Lark discovers a hidden grave and an old diary, she starts unravelling a mystery about Humming’s past, about the two families that rule the town, and about a mute child who changed history. (This is where I start to ask questions. The sudden introduction of new themes cause confusion. It's as though you're not treating the hunt as an obstacle to Lark's quest).

Clue by clue, Lark begins to doubt everything she knew about her town and herself, and she has to decide just how far she is willing to go to get a voice. (Since you've introduce new themes, it's not possible to close the query in an emphatic manner. We don't know the options open to Lark - and their consequences?)

WISH UPON A BIRD is a MG fantasy novel complete at 60 000 words.

 

 

I’m impressed by the tone of the query: confident, assured, masterly. I’m with you until you suddenly introduce the mystery surrounding Humming’s past. From then on I started asking questions.



#11 wheeler1992

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 12:09 AM

I would suggest aging up your main character. Eight is on the younger end of middle grade novels and kids enjoy reading about kids older than they are. An eight, nine, or ten year old will read an eleven or twelve year old protagonist but a ten, eleven, or twelve year old reader will not typically read an eight year old protagonist.





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