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The Unsung Isle (Fantasy)

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#1 Anna_W

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 11:24 PM

It's time for my query to go to kindergarten. I'd like to consolidate and trim some fat, either from plot or relationships. Whichever is deemed least interesting to the eyeballs. Took a risk, threw a curse word in there. Don't hesitate to tell me if that's a miss for you.

 

Happy to reciprocate. Thank you kindly. 

 

When the young and hot-blooded gather, they'll pair off to do one of three things: fight, fuck, or fall in love. Mounting a resistance against oppression seems impossible under these circumstances. 

 

Rebel leader Saidan must navigate the pitfalls of human nature to free her people from the Derelynn Republic. After decades of being subjugated and spat on for their ability to wield magic, it will take more than one woman's rallying cry to mend their broken spirits. 

 

When a third nation matures into their age of sail, Saidan embarks on a journey to forge an alliance with their monarch. In pursuit of respect for her homeland, she reclaims her magic, survives the desert wasteland, hunts a deadly beast, and stifles a civil war. Empowered by her newfound station, Saidan intends to force her oppressors to bend at the knee.

 

That is, if she could just get everyone to cooperate for long enough.

 

Her lover is a sovereign willing to risk international war rather than compromise her nation's ancient traditions. Her comrade is a banished Derelynn soldier conditioned to fear magic wielders as condemned heathens. This trio agrees on only one thing: the enslavement of children under the Republic must stop. Together, they dismantle the underground market and expose the corruption rotting Derelynn's democracy to its core. 

 

Upending the Republic leaves the future ripe for the plucking. As desperate as these young leaders are for peace, their visions of the future clash. Freedom, integrity, and peace cannot coexist. They will choose between them to shape their countries’ fate. In the history books yet to be written, these decisions will distinguish the heroes from the villains.

 

I submit for your consideration THE UNSUNG ISLE, a fantasy novel of approximately 200,000 words featuring a spirited lesbian protagonist. Audiences of ELEMENTAL LOGIC will appreciate the diverse characters and settings drawing inspiration from Southern and Middle Eastern Asia in addition to familiar aspects of Western Europe. Its active prose, reflective of MISTBORN, will engage modern readers of the genre.

 



#2 giffordmac

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 11:28 PM

Hi, Anna, I'm not that familiar with fantasy, so take the comments that make sense to you & ignore anything that doesn't.

 

I'm not sure this adds to your query, as it seems to have little or no connection to anything that follows:

 

When the young and hot-blooded gather, they'll pair off to do one of three things: fight, fuck, or fall in love. Mounting a resistance against oppression seems impossible under these circumstances.

 

 

I believe you'd be better off starting with the second paragraph. I'm also having a tough time following some of the phrases you use. For instance, "the pitfalls of human nature" are what exactly? And "When a third nation matures into their age of sail" confuses me because only one nation has been named. And I'm not sure what "age of sail" means and why it's important, especially when there's no further reference to sailing (I see a desert, an underground market, and corruption, but there's nothing that even references water.)

 

Also, since there is only one name given and two (or three?) female characters in the story, I've gotten confused about who is doing what, as your pronouns at some times seem to refer to someone other than Saidan.

 

I'm not saying dumb it down, but it will pay to be very clear about the details you're presenting. The plot points you've outlined seem to come in chronological order, but I'm at a loss about how to connect them to one another.

 

I've often read that a debut novel of more than 100,000 words is a hard one to place. There is some leeway for epic fantasy, which this seems to be, but you might want to consider splitting this into two books. I'm not saying it's impossible to place a MS this long, but I think you can expect some real resistance from an agent or publisher based solely on the word count.

 

All that being said, I think the core of the story, stopping the enslavement of children, is not only an excellent theme, but quite appropriate in our current climate. My advice is to center the query around that, explaining how the worlds and the characters come to a crisis.

 

Hope this helps. I wish you the best of luck!


“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ― Elie Wiesel

 

~~~

 

 

 

 


#3 Dollophead

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 05:12 PM

When the young and hot-blooded gather, they'll pair off to do one of three things: fight, fuck, I have seen some successful queries with swear words. If you use a lot of this language in your manuscript then it's a good stylistic choice for you to include it or fall in love. Mounting a resistance against oppression seems impossible under these circumstances. This last sentence is very vague. Can you tie it in more specifically to the larger plot? What oppression? What circumstances? And where are the young and hot blooded gathering? 

 

Rebel leader Saidan must navigate the [pitfalls of human nature ] this is too vague. If you're trying to tell us about one of her flaws, be more explicit to free her people from the Derelynn Republic. After decades of being subjugated and spat on for their ability to wield magic, it will take more than one woman's rallying cry to mend their broken spirits. I'm confused. Is it women who can wield magic? Or is it everybody? Does this government oppress witches? And why? It's never just because governments hate a group of people--there's always a "reason" behind it, no matter how dumb.  

 

When a third nation matures into their age of sail, How about something like, "Deciding her rebel force is in dire need of an ally, Saidan embarks on a journey to forge an alliance with their monarch. In pursuit of respect for her homeland, she reclaims her magic, survives the desert wasteland, hunts a deadly beast, and stifles a civil war. Who, the monarch or Saidan? Also, this whole sentence is plot. I think you can leave it out, if you're not going to tell us what's at stake. Empowered by her newfound station, Saidan intends to force her oppressors to bend at the knee. I'm confused about what this last sentence has to do with the paragraph about the naval nation. 

 

That is, if she could just get everyone to cooperate for long enough. I understand that this is her voice shining through, but it's not a strong enough stake. What will happen if she fails to achieve her goal? At this point, is it still obtaining an alliance with this nation?

 

Her lover is a sovereign willing to risk international war rather than compromise her nation's ancient traditions. Her comrade is a banished Derelynn soldier conditioned to fear magic wielders as condemned heathens. Maybe you can introduce and the supporting characters earlier--actually this whole paragraph could be moved to the start of the query. This trio agrees on only one thing: the enslavement of children under the Republic must stop. I think you can mention that Saidan's motivation for leading a rebellion against the republic is because of child slavery much much earlier. Maybe when you first introduce the government's "oppression" Together, they dismantle the underground market and expose the corruption rotting Derelynn's democracy to its core. 

 

Use this paragraph first ^ then do the sailing to the other nation paragraph after. 

 

Upending the Republic leaves the future ripe for the plucking. I like this sentence, but it doesn't belong here. Perhaps you can find a better placement for it in a rewrite. As desperate as these young leaders are for peace, their visions of the future clash. Freedom, integrity, and peace cannot coexist. They will choose between them to shape their countries’ fate. In the history books yet to be written, these decisions will distinguish the heroes from the villains. I like the last sentence.

 

I submit for your consideration THE UNSUNG ISLE, a fantasy novel of approximately 200,000 this is very long...if you can half it, or split it into two books, that might make it more marketable words featuring a spirited lesbian protagonist. You don't need to tell us she's a lesbian, we read that in the query Audiences of ELEMENTAL LOGIC will appreciate the diverse characters and settings drawing inspiration from Southern and Middle Eastern Asia in addition to familiar aspects of Western Europe. Its active prose, reflective of MISTBORN, will engage modern readers of the genre. Good last paragraph!

 

Queries are frustrating and we all hate them. Keep at it! 



#4 mbal

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 05:17 PM

When the young and hot-blooded gather, they'll pair off to do one of three things: fight, fuck, or fall in love. (I personally don't think the use of the swear word here is working. I also think you need to introduce your MC right away. I would kick these two sentences and start with the second paragraph instead.) Mounting a resistance against oppression seems impossible under these circumstances. 

 

Rebel leader Saidan must navigate the pitfalls of human nature (too vague) to free her people from the Derelynn Republic. After decades of being subjugated and spat on for their ability to wield magic, it will take more than one woman's rallying cry to mend their broken spirits. I love this paragraph. 

 

When a third nation matures into their age of sail, (This first bit needs to be reworded and I wouldn't call them a third nation? Seems unnecessarily confusing) Saidan embarks on a journey to forge an alliance with their monarch. In pursuit of respect for her homeland, she reclaims her magic, survives the desert wasteland, hunts a deadly beast, and stifles a civil war. Empowered by her newfound station, Saidan intends to force her oppressors to bend at the knee.

 

That is, if she could just get everyone to cooperate for long enough.

 

Her lover is a sovereign willing to risk international war rather than compromise her nation's ancient traditions. Her comrade is a banished Derelynn soldier conditioned to fear magic wielders as condemned heathens. This trio agrees on only one thing: the enslavement of children under the Republic must stop. I might take this out, the two other characters aren't named and don't seem important to the main premise you're trying to get across. If you want to mention them, You could say with two companions, she works to dismantle the ...etc  Together, they dismantle the underground market and expose the corruption rotting Derelynn's democracy to its core. 

 

Upending the Republic leaves the future ripe for the plucking. As desperate as these young leaders are for peace, their visions of the future clash. Freedom, integrity, and peace cannot coexist. They will choose between them to shape their countries’ fate. In the history books yet to be written, these decisions will distinguish the heroes from the villains.

 

I submit for your consideration THE UNSUNG ISLE, a fantasy novel of approximately 200,000 words Woah, that is way too long featuring a spirited lesbian protagonist. Audiences of ELEMENTAL LOGIC will appreciate the diverse characters and settings drawing inspiration from Southern and Middle Eastern Asia in addition to familiar aspects of Western Europe. Its active prose, reflective of MISTBORN, will engage modern readers of the genre.



#5 happy werewolf

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 12:50 PM

Hi Anna!

Kudos to you on having the courage to post your query (something I've not yet been brave enough to do)!

Your book sounds excellent - brimming with adventure and exploring topics that are very relevant in today's world.

I am new to querying, and no expert on adult fantasy, but I just wanted to chime in and say I agree with almost all of what giffordmac said.

I think if you simplify the language and some of the concepts, you'll have a cleaner query that is easier for a busy agent to read without having to try to decipher what you mean in a few spots.

I think you are better off cutting the first paragraph, as it is general info that doesn't tell us about your main character. You could, however, add the info from para one down into para two instead of saying "the pitfalls of human nature."

I also agree with the others that the "third nation" is confusing. Up until you mention that, it sounds like Saidan is trying to rebel against a corrupt government in her home nation, not trying to fight a neighboring country. You probably explain it perfectly in the book but in a query there's not enough space, so I'd just keep it simple.

Cutting your story down to the bare bones, this is what I understand the plot to be:

A young rebel, Saidan, is trying to rally her people to rise up against a corrupt power that is subjugating them. The Republic enslaves children and does other horrible things to Saidan's people (make sure you give specific examples so we know what they're facing).

Every time Saidan tries to get a rebellion organized, her young "troops" are more interested fighting amongst each other and/or having sex.

Frustrated, she sails to another land that is rising in power, hoping to make allies to help her win against the Republic. There, she teams up with two unlikely allies who have very different belief systems (maybe you can expand on these a touch more?).

All three of them are willing to set aside their differences to fight for a common goal: ending child slavery.

Of course, once they achieve that goal, all bets are off, and the one-time allies clash anew.

That is so totally a book I would read!!😀

If you revise, I suggest emphasis on specifically how Saidan's people are being mistreated so we know what she's fighting (especially the child slavery) and the fact that three very different people are coming together to battle a common cause. Those, to me, are the most compelling elements of your story.

There are some really gorgeous lines in here that I hope you keep, like the last sentence of para two and the one about history books yet to be written.

I feel you on the word count issue, as my books and stories always have the same problem. In my case, betas and crit partners have been invaluable in identifying where to cut side stories/extraneous characters/boring scenes, etc.

Best of luck!

Keep Writing!

~Werewolf
Blog: www.astheheroflies.wordpress.com

Twitter: @astheheroflies

#6 ScarlettLeigh

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Posted 16 October 2018 - 08:09 PM

Hi Anna W!

 

When the young and hot-blooded gather, they'll pair off to do one of three things: fight, fuck, or fall in love. Mounting a resistance against oppression seems impossible under these circumstances.  I think it's hard to start queries with generalizations like "when the young and hot-blooded gather" because it isn't immediately clear what the connection is to your story. Without a sense of who the character I'm supposed to be following is, it's hard to feel grounded in the story. The next paragraph feels like a much stronger starting point.

 

Rebel leader Saidan must navigate the pitfalls of human nature to free her people from the Derelynn Republic. (what are the "pitfalls of human nature" exactly and what does navigating them look like?) After decades of being subjugated and spat on for their ability to wield magic, it will take more than one woman's rallying cry to mend their broken spirits. (This feels a bit general again. Rather than zooming out and speaking broadly about the people, a more economical use of this space might be to elaborate on how Saidan plans to accomplish her goal... what is she going to do to free her people?)

 

When a third nation matures into their age of sail, Saidan embarks on a journey to forge an alliance with their monarch. In pursuit of respect for her homeland, she reclaims her magic, (What is her magic? Would love to know more about this!) survives the desert wasteland, hunts a deadly beast, and stifles a civil war. Empowered by her newfound station, Saidan intends to force her oppressors to bend at the knee.

 

That is, if she can get everyone to cooperate for long enough (Get who to cooperate? Her people? Why would her people not cooperate? I think you're going for a punchy voice here, but as it stands, this is raising more questions than answering them for me.)

 

Her lover is a sovereign willing to risk international war rather than compromise her nation's ancient traditions. Her (Unclear whether the pronoun is referring to Saidan or her lover) comrade is a banished Derelynn soldier conditioned to fear magic wielders as condemned heathens. This trio agrees on only one thing: the enslavement of children under the Republic must stop. Together, they dismantle the underground market and expose the corruption rotting Derelynn's democracy to its core. (This paragraph is taking the story in a new direction... what happened to that initial goal of saving Saidan's people from Derelynn? If the children are the real reason she's fighting, I'd love to see this goal worked in earlier.)

 

Upending the Republic leaves the future ripe for the plucking. As desperate as these young leaders are for peace, their visions of the future clash. Freedom, integrity, and peace cannot coexist. They will choose between them to shape their countries’ fate. In the history books yet to be written, these decisions will distinguish the heroes from the villains. (These stakes feel vague, to me. Instead of speaking in generalities, be specific. How do their visions clash? What actually happens if they fail? Distinguishing between hero and villain is a common fantasy trope—and one of my favroites!—but how is your take on this unique? The more you can show how the stakes here are specific to your story and characters, the stronger your query will be!)

 

I submit for your consideration THE UNSUNG ISLE is a fantasy novel of approximately 200,000 words featuring a spirited lesbian protagonist. Audiences of ELEMENTAL LOGIC will appreciate the diverse characters and settings drawing inspiration from Southern and Middle Eastern Asia in addition to familiar aspects of Western Europe. Its active prose, reflective of MISTBORN, will engage modern readers of the genre.

 

This is a really solid start, and I love seeing all the bones of an adventurous epic fantasy present. I think what you could focus on the most is honing in the central concept. Is it a story about a rebel trying to free her people, or is it a story about a band of warrior/ sovereigns who come together to try and end the enslavement of children. Even if the story, ultimately, accomplished both things, only the main plot needs to be touched on in the query. Saidan certainly seems to be your principle protagonist, so I would consider filtering the action through her (third limited) POV. Sometimes you're in third limited, and sometimes you zoom out and start talking about the story omnisciently. The query is strongest when you're filtering it through Saidan and her voice :)

 

Hope this helps!







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