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YA Fantasy The Thief of Ages

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#1 Dollophead

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 01:29 PM

I was on here about a year ago but got really busy with student teaching and job hunting blah blah. Got some really good feedback on here that made me go back and edit my whole manuscript! So I'm back for more.

 

Will edit your query letter if you do mine!

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a powerful weapon from the eyes of history—died with him. Now a servant to her stepfamily, Beth plans to escape to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid her cruel stepsisters and impending war from the neighboring fairy kingdom, Arison. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students when she meets the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies.

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Impossible, maybe, but she knows she is at fault when Arison invades to find her. To clear her name and end the war, Beth must race against the fairies to prove the Wayfarer is only a myth—if that’s even true.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 


#2 HarlequinWriter

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 08:55 PM

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a powerful weapon from the eyes of history—died with him. Now a servant to her cruel stepfamily, Beth plans to escape to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid her cruel stepsisters and impending war from the neighboring fairy kingdom Why is there an impending war?, Arison. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students when she meets the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies. Why are Darks allowed on Academy grounds? 

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Impossible, maybe, but she knows she is at fault when Arison invades to find her. Did Arison believe the Darks? But if they're so evil, then why? And how did they learn this information? To clear her name and end the war, This might make more sense if we knew the reasons for the war Beth must race against the fairies to prove the Wayfarer is only a myth—if that’s even true. How do you prove something is only a myth? Maybe it you expanded on how she plans to do this, it could be more interesting. And it might be cool to learn about what makes the stolen weapon so powerful.  

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 



#3 Dollophead

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:05 PM

Thanks Harlequin Writer! That was really helpful!



#4 Dollophead

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:07 PM

My second attempt. P.S, I love to return query critiques!

 

_____________________________________________

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction from the eyes of history—died with him. Now a servant to her cruel stepfamily, Beth plans to escape to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid an impending invasion from the immortal fairies seeking human land. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students when she breaks curfew and stumbles into the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies.

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Beth doesn’t think so, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. To stop the genocidal manhunt, Beth must obtain a fate-reading from a mythical lake and prove she is not the Wayfarer—if that is even true.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.



#5 Daisy

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 06:47 AM

My second attempt. P.S, I love to return query critiques!

 

_____________________________________________

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction from the eyes of history—died with him.This is the only thing that stands out to me. I'm not sure how you snatch something from the eyes of history. Maybe the arms, but I've never had anything snatched from my eye. :smile:   Now a servant to her cruel stepfamily, Beth plans to escape to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid an impending invasion from the immortal fairies seeking human land. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students when she breaks curfew and stumbles into the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies.

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Beth doesn’t think so, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. To stop the genocidal manhunt, Beth must obtain a fate-reading from a mythical lake and prove she is not the Wayfarer—if that is even true. The part I highlighted in purple seems to come out of left-field.  Is there something difficult about getting to this mythical lake? I just feel like it needs a bit more info.   :smile: 

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.



#6 Patomac

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 08:39 PM

I didn't read the first version, so fresh eyes here! Also, I have a tendency to ask rhetorical questions when I don't understand, so know that you don't have to answer them. They're just to clarify my thinking process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. 



My second attempt. P.S, I love to return query critiques!

 

_____________________________________________

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction from the eyes of history—died with him. Now a servant to her cruel stepfamily, Beth plans to escape [I think 'plans to escape' is a little weak, considering in the next sentence we're at the academy. I don't think it conveys the right timing? Maybe something like "Beth's admission to the Royal Academy was a refuge from her cruel stepfamily and the immortal fairies invading human lands" or whatever. "But when Beth breaks curfew..."]to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid an impending invasion from the immortal fairies seeking human land. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students  everyone when she breaks curfew and stumbles into the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies.

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. [I'm not sure this sentence follows logically from the last paragraph. I'm not really concerned about the murder demons' emotions, if you know what I mean?] But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Beth doesn’t think so, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. [This is where you lost me. I read the first sentence of the query and assumed that Beth's father was the Wayfarer. Moreover, shouldn't Beth know if she is? I was picturing the Wayfarer identity as like, The Pink Panther. The psuedonym of a famous thief. Is it more like a Chosen One prophecy sort of identity? I can't tell from the query.]To stop the genocidal manhunt, Beth must obtain a fate-reading from a mythical lake and prove she is not the Wayfarer—if that is even true. [I want to know more about Beth's journey, please. Why does she need a fate reading? What perils stop her from getting to the lake? Etc.]

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.



#7 HarlequinWriter

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 10:11 PM

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction from the eyes of history—died with him. Now a servant to her cruel stepfamily, Beth plans to escape to the Royal Academy, where she can avoid an impending invasion from the immortal fairies seeking human land. But Beth’s arrival at the Academy threatens the safety of all students when she breaks curfew and stumbles into the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies.

 

They seem to know Beth, and they seem to like her. But can the Darks be believed when they name her the Wayfarer? Beth doesn’t think so, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. Did the weapon originally belong to the fairies or something? More information on the weapon itself may be warranted.To stop the genocidal manhunt, You can raise the stakes by expanding more on this 'genocidal manhunt' Beth must obtain a fate-reading from a mythical lake and prove she is not the Wayfarer—if that is even true. Wouldn't she know if she stole a weapon of mass destruction? And wouldn't it be best for everyone if they knew for sure, and royal guards simply escorted her to the mythical lake?

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is complete at 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

 

Forgot to mention it in my last critique, but here's my query: http://agentquerycon...ger-ya-fantasy/



#8 Dollophead

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 10:37 PM

Harlequin, you have really valid critiques. Thank you so much for pointing out the logic flaws, I can't even tell you how much I need this.

 

Beth discovers she has the power to control the Darks. On top of that, they can't hurt her. They cite the reason for this to Beth being the Wayfarer. She doesn't know how this can be possible, but the fairies are convinced that Beth's influence over the Darks means she has the all-powerful weapon, and therefore has to be the Wayfarer.

 

The royal guards are all dead, killed by the fairies and the Darks. The mythical lake is so hard to find because it's just that--a myth. Beth wants to find it because anyone who steps inside it can see their fate. She thinks if she can prove to the fairies that she's not the Wayfarer by doing this, she can stop the war.

 

Does that help clarify? Maybe help to guide your critiques? I also have my synopsis posted on the synopsis editing forum too!



#9 Dollophead

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 12:14 AM

New version:

_______________

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction from the eyes of history—died with him. Now, fourteen-year-old Beth hopes the Royal Academy will be a refuge from her cruel stepfamily and the looming invasion of the kingdom of immortal fairies.

 

But when a broken curfew sets Beth in the path of the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies—Beth knows she won’t survive. Yet they refuse to harm her, recoiling at her touch and naming her the Wayfarer. Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth believes she can stop them. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender herself to the truth.



#10 BCVail

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 10:28 AM

New version:

_______________

 

Rumors of Beth Hawthorne’s father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a weapon of mass destruction (This makes it sound like a nuclear missile which is jarring as I assume this is fantasy. I just scrolled up and saw you said powerful weapon before which is better but I wouldn't hate a little more detail. Is it magic? A plague of some sort? Gunpowder like Saruman had in LOTR?) from the eyes of history—died with him. Now, fourteen-year-old Beth hopes the Royal Academy will be a refuge from her cruel stepfamily and the looming invasion of the kingdom of immortal fairies. (Generally I like to see in these first few sentences what the MC wants. To clarify, is it just to get refuge from her stepfamily and not get killed in an invasion? Or does she have a deeper story goal?)

 

But when a broken curfew sets Beth in the path of the Darks—demonic entities with murderous tendencies (I feel like I can assume a demonic entity will be murderous... and on second thought, leaving out the murderous leaves more to the imagination of what a demonic entity might have in mind as there are worse things than death) —Beth knows she won’t survive. Yet they refuse to harm her (Instead of telling us they refuse to harm her, I might touch on Beth's emotional reaction such as she's surprised when the name her Wayfarer) , recoiling at her touch (are they scared / nervous of her?) and naming her the Wayfarer. Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon (I love this line, it's first time I really felt her voice coming through), but it is the excuse (excuse to do what?) the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth believes she can stop them. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender herself to the truth. (For most of the query I thought the stakes were simply her life and the life of the kingdom, simple but not overly exciting. But mentioning surrendering herself as being the Wayfarer who can stop it (and assuming she may not be keen on that idea for whatever reason) is way more interesting. I might try to work that angle in a little earlier.)

 

 

Interesting premise. I think the query needs a little work, but if I saw this on a book jacket I'd give the first chapter a shot.

 

 

If you have the time, I'd appreciate another set of eyes on my query for The Sleeping and the Dead.



#11 Dollophead

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Posted 24 September 2018 - 11:45 PM

Okay guys I tried again:

 

Fourteen-year old Beth needs a fresh start, which the Royal Academy could very well be. Even attending as her vain stepsisters’ servant would provide refuge from from a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies on the verge of invading. Plus, she would leave behind rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the eyes of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But Beth’s studies at the Academy resurrect murmurs the legend of the Wayfarer could be true, and that the fairies are searching for him. When a broken curfew sets her in the path of the demonic Darks, she knows she shouldn't have survived. She knows her touch shouldn't burn them. And she knows they are lying when they hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. Taking the Darks for their word, the fairies invade, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can stop it. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth.



#12 HarlequinWriter

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 09:28 PM

Fourteen-year old Beth needs a fresh start, which the Royal Academy could very well be. After reading the whole query I must ask, a fresh start from what? Even attending as her vain stepsisters’ servant would provide refuge from from a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies on the verge of invading. Plus, she would leave behind rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the eyes of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But Beth’s studies Is it her presence or her the subjects she's studying that being back the rumors? If the latter is true, then 'studies' is the appropriate word but I just want to make sure at the Academy resurrect murmurs that the legend of the Wayfarer could be true, and that the fairies are searching for him. When a broken curfew sets her in the path of the demonic Darks, she knows she shouldn't have survived. She knows her touch shouldn't burn them. And she knows they are lying when they hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. Taking the Darks for their word, the fairies invade, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can stop it. This seems like something you should really expand on. How? Why her? She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth. This last sentence confuses me. Are you implying she's actually the Wayfarer?



#13 MGSCAL

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 09:31 PM

Fourteen-year old Beth needs a fresh start, which the Royal Academy could very well be (Not sure if you're shooting for a hook or not here. But the opening sentence is very passive. I noticed you started with a more bombastic openers before, but consider expanding on why she needed a fresh start? How did it make her feel to live in a village where everyone believes she's the child of an infamous thief?). Even attending as her vain stepsisters’ servant would provide refuge from from a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies on the verge of invading. Plus, she would leave behind rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the eyes (pages) of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But Beth’s studies at the Academy resurrect murmurs the legend of the Wayfarer could be true, and that the fairies are searching for him. (Consider making this more personal. The Wayfarer is her father and this knowledge has caused her a great deal of grief (either positive or negative depending on your MC's relationship with him). When a broken curfew sets her in the path of the demonic Darks, she knows she shouldn't have survived. She knows her touch shouldn't burn them (there's no precedent to her having a dangerous touch. So this sentence feels like it comes out of left field). And she knows they are lying when they hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for (what is this excuse you speak of? Is them making her the Wayfarer the excuse you speak of?). Taking the Darks for their word, the fairies invade, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can stop it (I like this sentence. You can even open with some variation of this as a hook if you want.). She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt (the genocidal manhunt of who or what? the folks at the Royal Academy? Genocide is the wholesale killing of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, or something cultural based.) long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer (you make this sound like people are dying at the expense of her avoidance, meaning people are dying because she's avoiding the fairies. This sounds interesting and gives your MC a darker, antihero sort of twist if this is the case)or surrender to the truth ("or surrender to the truth to stop the genocidal manhunt." It souns like your final statement leads right into the stop/end of the manhunt).

 

Overall, I think you have something good here. I'd like more emotional oomph tied to the concepts you have here. One of which being the emotional value as to why she needed a fresh start. The "touch shouldn't burn them" deal felt tacked on. My favorite part is your last little paragraph. It's the most intriguing for me. Partly because "genocidal manhunt" sounds menacing, but is really all that menacing in your novel? Or just bait-and-switch?


Check out my query(first link). And a blurb from an old story (bottom link)  :smile:

http://agentquerycon...aladult-sci-fi/

http://agentquerycon...le-humorsci-fi/

http://agentquerycon...ce-of-velisity/

crYAiwHt.jpg

 

"The laws governing what we perceive as reality, time and space, and matter do not apply here. Illogic becomes the logic. Absurdity becomes orthodox.” 

-Valharia


#14 Dollophead

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 10:11 PM

Thanks, @MGSCAL, for the critique. It really helped me see my query through fresh eyes and envision the necessary change. 

What do you guys think of this update?:

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Fourteen-year old Beth Hawthorne needs a fresh start; something humans have trouble obtaining in a land overpopulated with immortals.

 

But things will be different at the Royal Academy, away from the threat of invasion from a neighboring kingdom of fairies. She can’t wait to leave rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the pages of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But Beth finds inconspicuousness a challenge when the Academy begins crawling with conspiracies about the Wayfarer legend—namely that the fairies are searching for him. And when a broken curfew sets her in the path of the demonic Darks, she knows she shouldn't have survived. She knows they are lying, too, when they hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. Taking the Darks’ word, the fairies attack, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can stop it. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth.

 



#15 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 07:04 PM

Thanks, @MGSCAL, for the critique. It really helped me see my query through fresh eyes and envision the necessary change. 

What do you guys think of this update?:

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Fourteen-year old Beth Hawthorne needs a fresh start; something humans have trouble obtaining in a land overpopulated with immortals.

 

But things will be different at the Royal Academy, away from the threat of invasion from a neighboring kingdom of fairies. She can’t wait to leave rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the pages of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But Beth finds inconspicuousness a challenge when the Academy begins crawling with conspiracies about the Wayfarer legend—namely that the fairies are searching for him. And when a broken curfew sets her in the path of the demonic Darks, she knows she shouldn't have survived. She knows they are lying, too, when they hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but it is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairy kingdom has been waiting for. Taking the Darks’ word, the fairies attack, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can stop it. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth.

 

Just something from my own observations of having my queries critiqued, and critiquing others: as I'm reading, if I'm not clear on something, I read the next few lines or paragraphs to see if my question has been answered or whether the question even NEEDS to be answered for the query to make sense. Because sometimes, as authors, we knowingly raise questions to entice the reader, not because we've accidentally left out information the reader needs in order to make sense of the query. But if I get to the end and feel like I still don't really get certain crucial elements of the plot, then I feel like clarification is called for.  (Does that make sense?)

 

So after reading this updated draft, what I find myself wondering is: what's the Royal Academy? A school? Is it in another kingdom or land altogether? If she's 14, why does she need a fresh start? What does it mean that the Wayfarer "snatched a mythical weapon from the pages of history?" What would the Darks' motivation for lying about her being the Wayfarer? I'm also confused about why she "knows she shouldn't have survived." Survived what, when? 

 

Why do the fairies want the weapon? What are they going to do with it? Are they good or evil? What's their relationship to these 'Darks'?

 

Also, I find "begins crawling with conspiracies" a little passive and think it could be stronger if you start this paragraph with something like "But despite her fervent desire to blend in, conspiracies about the Wayfarer have followed Beth to the Academy." 

 

I know it's so, so hard to figure out how to distill an entire novel down to a few paragraphs that are clear and concise. You try to explain something and just raise more questions. Been there myself. I think you might consider whether there are some things you could clarify as succinctly as possible as you move forward.



#16 Koechophe

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 11:39 AM

 

Fourteen-year old Beth Hawthorne needs a fresh start; something humans have trouble obtaining in a land overpopulated with immortals.

 

I read this sentence a few times, and it just isn't doing it for me. It's a bit clunky. Hooks are also all about the art of suggestion. You're trying, with a single sentence, to get the reader to imagine the world you unfold in your book. The only thing I imagine from this hook is some social tensions between two different races, which isn't unique or exciting. I don't get any charactarazation (beth isn't anything, from reading this) and it's just sort of there. Pinpoint what world you want your readers to imagine, and then write your hook accordingly. 

 

But things will be different at the Royal Academy, away from the threat of invasion from a neighboring kingdom of fairies This sentence reads really clunky as well. It's not clean and it sounds like an info dump. We also don't know anything about Royal academy and it's never clarified. She can’t wait to leave rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the pages of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong. Good last line, it's clean and brings great charactarization.

 

Here's how you might compose this so that it flows more smoothly and transitions better, while using fewer words and providing more info:

"Royal academy, a (I'm guessing here) boarding school that provides humans safe haven from the invading fairies, might just be Beth's chance to escape her past. To leave rumors that her long-dead father was the Wayfarer--a thief who snatched a mythical (specify the weapon. Was it a sword? An axe? A book? "Weapon" is too vague) from (the pages of history is also too vague, and doesn't really evoke much. More specifics here)--in her village, where bedtime stories belong"

 

But Beth finds for something that's clearly YA fiction (protag is 14) that word is not a good choice. inconspicuousness a challenge when the Academy avoid words like "begins" that are passive verbage, and "crawling with conspiracies" makes no sense and is vague. Try "... a challenge when rumors that the fairies are searching for the Wayfarer spread like wildfire." begins crawling with conspiracies about the Wayfarer legend—. We need a new sentence here, you use dashes too often. Just kill this sentence and put the info in the other one, as I did in my example namely that the fairies are searching for him. And when a broken curfew vague, not relavent. sets her in the path of the demonic Darks also vague. Who are the Darks? What are their motivations? Why do I as a reader care?, she knows she shouldn't have survived too vague. Why DID she survive? why did she know she shouldnt?. She knows they are lying, too, when they hail her as the Wayfarer. 

 

So that last paragraph somewhat falls apart at the end. Here's the relevant portions I would keep. Remove/rework the rest so it's clearer.

"But Beth finds blending in a challenge, when rumors that the fairies are looking for the Wayfarer spread like wildfire." You can actually toss this on the end of your first paragraph, since it's pretty short. Then you can devote your entire next paragraph to establishing who the Darks are (they sound like a main antagonist, along with the fairies), how Beth meets them, and what role this plays in the plot.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but she it is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairies have fairy kingdom has been waiting for to invade. Taking the Darks’ word, When the fairies attack, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy is on her Beth's conscience.

 

These are just events, there's no stakes here. Are the fairies going to keep going? Do they threaten the whole land? If so, we'd better see it here. Me guessing your plot, I'd add a sentence, so it reads like this:

 

Beth doesn't own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful sword (still guessing on that one), but she is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairies have been waiting for to invade. When the fairies attack, the destruction of the Academy is on Beth's conscience, and the fairies aren't finished yet. They plan to overrun the kingdom, purging the mortals from the lands they desire. 

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can has the power to stop it. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfareror surrender to the truth. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Part of your stakes is the mystery of why Beth is being called the wayfarer, a mystery that actually works pretty well. Just flat-out saying that she is doesn't do your query any favors, especially in such a vague statement. It also isn't good to give two different paths that she might go down in order to solve. Just pick the one that actually happens in your book and use it. Either she proves she's not, or she becomes it, though I'm guessing it's the latter and she tries the former unsuccessfully. If that is the case, here's how you could better portray it. 

 

"A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth has the power to stop it, if she can avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to confront the rumors about her past and embrace the identity of the Wayfarer that's infected her life like a plague."

 

Wow that's a lot of red, but let me just add a few more notes. 

-That word count is super-duper long for YA, even if it's fantasy. It's going to be a hard sell, let me just warn you of that up front. 

-It's a pet peeve of several literary agents to say "XXX novel is complete at", because they know it's complete, or you wouldn't be querying. It's usually better to say, "XXX is a XXXX novel of XXX words". 

 

Good luck and happy querying! I critique because I care. 



#17 Dollophead

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 09:20 PM

 

 

Fourteen-year old Beth Hawthorne needs a fresh start; something humans have trouble obtaining in a land overpopulated with immortals.

 

I read this sentence a few times, and it just isn't doing it for me. It's a bit clunky. Hooks are also all about the art of suggestion. You're trying, with a single sentence, to get the reader to imagine the world you unfold in your book. The only thing I imagine from this hook is some social tensions between two different races, which isn't unique or exciting. I don't get any charactarazation (beth isn't anything, from reading this) and it's just sort of there. Pinpoint what world you want your readers to imagine, and then write your hook accordingly. 

 

But things will be different at the Royal Academy, away from the threat of invasion from a neighboring kingdom of fairies This sentence reads really clunky as well. It's not clean and it sounds like an info dump. We also don't know anything about Royal academy and it's never clarified. She can’t wait to leave rumors of her long dead father being the Wayfarer—the thief who snatched a mythical weapon from the pages of history—in her village, where bedtime stories belong. Good last line, it's clean and brings great charactarization.

 

Here's how you might compose this so that it flows more smoothly and transitions better, while using fewer words and providing more info:

"Royal academy, a (I'm guessing here) boarding school that provides humans safe haven from the invading fairies, might just be Beth's chance to escape her past. To leave rumors that her long-dead father was the Wayfarer--a thief who snatched a mythical (specify the weapon. Was it a sword? An axe? A book? "Weapon" is too vague) from (the pages of history is also too vague, and doesn't really evoke much. More specifics here)--in her village, where bedtime stories belong"

 

But Beth finds for something that's clearly YA fiction (protag is 14) that word is not a good choice. inconspicuousness a challenge when the Academy avoid words like "begins" that are passive verbage, and "crawling with conspiracies" makes no sense and is vague. Try "... a challenge when rumors that the fairies are searching for the Wayfarer spread like wildfire." begins crawling with conspiracies about the Wayfarer legend—. We need a new sentence here, you use dashes too often. Just kill this sentence and put the info in the other one, as I did in my example namely that the fairies are searching for him. And when a broken curfew vague, not relavent. sets her in the path of the demonic Darks also vague. Who are the Darks? What are their motivations? Why do I as a reader care?, she knows she shouldn't have survived too vague. Why DID she survive? why did she know she shouldnt?. She knows they are lying, too, when they hail her as the Wayfarer. 

 

So that last paragraph somewhat falls apart at the end. Here's the relevant portions I would keep. Remove/rework the rest so it's clearer.

"But Beth finds blending in a challenge, when rumors that the fairies are looking for the Wayfarer spread like wildfire." You can actually toss this on the end of your first paragraph, since it's pretty short. Then you can devote your entire next paragraph to establishing who the Darks are (they sound like a main antagonist, along with the fairies), how Beth meets them, and what role this plays in the plot.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but she it is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairies have fairy kingdom has been waiting for to invade. Taking the Darks’ word, When the fairies attack, and Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy is on her Beth's conscience.

 

These are just events, there's no stakes here. Are the fairies going to keep going? Do they threaten the whole land? If so, we'd better see it here. Me guessing your plot, I'd add a sentence, so it reads like this:

 

Beth doesn't own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful sword (still guessing on that one), but she is the excuse the desperately overcrowded fairies have been waiting for to invade. When the fairies attack, the destruction of the Academy is on Beth's conscience, and the fairies aren't finished yet. They plan to overrun the kingdom, purging the mortals from the lands they desire. 

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth knows she can has the power to stop it. She need only avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to prove she isn’t the Wayfareror surrender to the truth. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Part of your stakes is the mystery of why Beth is being called the wayfarer, a mystery that actually works pretty well. Just flat-out saying that she is doesn't do your query any favors, especially in such a vague statement. It also isn't good to give two different paths that she might go down in order to solve. Just pick the one that actually happens in your book and use it. Either she proves she's not, or she becomes it, though I'm guessing it's the latter and she tries the former unsuccessfully. If that is the case, here's how you could better portray it. 

 

"A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth has the power to stop it, if she can avoid the genocidal manhunt long enough to confront the rumors about her past and embrace the identity of the Wayfarer that's infected her life like a plague."

 

Wow that's a lot of red, but let me just add a few more notes. 

-That word count is super-duper long for YA, even if it's fantasy. It's going to be a hard sell, let me just warn you of that up front. 

-It's a pet peeve of several literary agents to say "XXX novel is complete at", because they know it's complete, or you wouldn't be querying. It's usually better to say, "XXX is a XXXX novel of XXX words". 

 

Good luck and happy querying! I critique because I care. 

 

 

Wow, thank you Koechophe! You seem like you really know what you're doing. I appreciate it :)

 

I'm actually having a lot of trouble with 1.) the Darks and 2.) the Wayfarer's weapon. When I say the Darks are soul-eating monsters, editors will say to cut it for being too obvious. When I leave it out, people ask what they are. Anyone have any ideas?

 

Nobody in my story knows what the Wayfarer's weapon is until the end of the series. All the world knows is that the weapon was (allegedly) used by an ancient conqueror, who (allegedly) used it to take over the continent. It disappeared when the Wayfarer stole it. Do you guys have an idea for how to convey this in a friggin query?

 

I can't thank you all enough :)



#18 Koechophe

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 10:08 AM

I think that "Soul eating monsters" isn't bad because it's obvious, it's problematic because it's vague. What's a "monster?" how does someone's "soul get eaten"? It brings more questions than it answers. Are the Darks humanoid? Perhaps if you were to give a longer description of what the Darks are, I could help you condense it down into query-form. 

 

With the whole weapon thing, the way you do it now reads accidental. You instead need to show that calling it a vague "weapon" is intentional. Instead of calling it a mythical weapon, maybe call it an "unknown weapon of untold power," or something to that effect. 



#19 Dollophead

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 03:32 PM

Thanks Koechophe! Your advice has been so valuable to me!

 

Here we go again:

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear [AGENT]

 

I have read about your interest in [WHATEVER] and am pleased to tell you I have [STUFF YOU WANT].

 

When fourteen-year-old Beth Hawthorne becomes a servant at the Royal Academy, she hopes to leave rumors of her long-dead father being the Wayfarer--an ancient thief who snatched a powerful weapon from history--in her village, where bedtime stories belong.

 

But blending in becomes a challenge when threat of invasion by a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies reaches the Academy. Overpopulated and desperate for land, the fairies make no secret of their quest for the Wayfarer’s mysterious weapon, hoping to use its untold power to conquer Beth’s kingdom. As suspicion turns back to Beth’s bloodline, she is determined to disprove the myth once and for all—until she takes a wrong turn through the forest and barrels into the demonic Darks.

 

Rather than shred her to pieces and swallow her soul, however, the Darks hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, but she is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairies have been waiting on. When the fairies attack, Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy and her kingdom on her conscience.

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth has the power to stop it. To end the genocidal manhunt, she need only prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is a novel of 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.



#20 ScarlettLeigh

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 04:24 PM

Hi Dollophead!

 

When fourteen-year-old Beth Hawthorne becomes a servant at the Royal Academy, she hopes to leave the rumors of her long-dead father being the Wayfarer--an ancient thief who snatched a powerful weapon from history--in her village, where bedtime stories belong. I like this opening! I get a nice sense of who Beth is, what her world is like, and what she wants. It makes me eager to keep reading! Fourteen does feel a little on the young side for YA—not much, but sixteen is average. The only reason I point it out is that your comps are SJM (older YA) and Patrick Rothfuss (Adult), so I wonder if Beth's younger age and the older comps send a contradictory message. Could you bump her age up just a bit?

 

But blending in becomes a challenge when threat of invasion by a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies reaches the Academy. Why does this make blending in a challenge? Overpopulated and desperate for land, the fairies make no secret of their quest for the Wayfarer’s mysterious weapon, hoping to use its untold power to conquer Beth’s kingdom. As suspicion turns back to Beth’s bloodline, she is determined to disprove the myth once and for all—until she takes a wrong turn through the forest and barrels into the demonic Darks.

 

There's a lot of excellent complicating action in this paragraph, and I appreciate how active Beth feels. There are a few places I wasn't quite making the "cause and effect" connections though, and I wonder if a little re-wording could smooth this out, so the chain of events is more clear. Maybe something like: "But when a neighboring kingdom of immortal fairies invades the Academy, searching for the Wayfarer's mysterious weapon, it becomes impossible for Beth to hide. Determined to dispell the rumor of her bloodline's connection to the Wayfarer once and for all, she [does something], but then takes a wrong turn through the forest and barrels into the demonic Darks."

 

 

Rather than shred her to pieces and swallow her soul, however, the Darks hail her as the Wayfarer.

 

Beth doesn’t own an extra pair of shoes, much less an all-powerful weapon, Lol! but she is the excuse for invasion the desperately overcrowded fairies have been waiting on she is the reason why the faries have targeted the Academy in their quest to find new lands after their homeworld became overpopulated. [reads just a little smooth, I think] When the fairies attack, Beth flees with the destruction of the Academy and her kingdom on her conscience. 

 

A war against immortals cannot be won, but Beth has the power to stop it. To end the genocidal manhunt, she need only prove she isn’t the Wayfarer—or surrender to the truth.

 

THE THIEF OF AGES is a novel of 113,000 words. Readers who love the high-stakes adventures of Patrick Rothfuss’s THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE series, and the sophisticated magic of Sarah Maas’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES series will enjoy THE THIEF OF AGES. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature and teach reading intervention at an elementary school. Per your agency's submission guidelines, I have included the [WHATEVER] pasted below.

 

The one thing I'm left really wanting to know more about by the end is why Beth is so desperate to prove she isn't the Wayfarer—other than for angst reasons. Is it related to some past trauma? It's not only due to the invading faries because she wanted to dispell her connection long before they arrived. If you can work this reason in, or at least hint at it, it will help strengthen Beth's goal.

 

Good luck!







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