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The City of One (YA)


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#1 DHero

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 05:25 PM

I've been working on this novel for over a year now, and I've been editing this query constantly. It's been rejected by about 20 agents, and I'm wondering if there's some glaring flaw in it. Here's what I'm working with--a lot goes on in the novel, so I find myself having trouble condensing it.


Dear Ms. [AGENT]:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived this war.

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. But by some chaotic work, his slow, peaceful life is thrown into a war zone where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must locate the City and outwit its dangers, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. She soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .

THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word YA novel that incorporates a little of everything commercial fiction, with just a touch of sci-fi. The novel also crosses over to an adult audience with a web of hidden literary themes, which can only add to the experience. With mainstream qualities similar to THE HUNGER GAMES, it appeals to just about anyone who can read. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve a flawless perfection in my work, with an inability to accept failure.

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[NAME]

Contact: [EMAIL]

#2 RC Lewis

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 06:25 PM

Hi, DHero. (Welcome to the site! :biggrin: ) I'll take a shot at it, and remember, you don't *have* to listen to anything I say. :wink:

* * * * *

Dear Ms. [AGENT]:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived this war. Instead of a hook, per se, you have backstory. Could work, but I'm not sure it says anything other than "This is a post-apocalyptic story."

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. But by some chaotic work (fancy-sounding, yet vague), his slow, peaceful life is thrown into a war zone (The way it's stated, it sounds like this should be unexpected to the reader, but after the first sentence clearly implying he has to go on a quest to find the city, it's exactly what's expected) where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must locate the City and outwit its dangers, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it. (What's "it"? Through the city?)

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope (Ah, so you've got two separate storylines and MCs that converge ... tricky to handle in a query) loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic (is this necessary?) epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. She soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony (could it just be "the colony"?) as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. (I'm having a hard time connecting the first sentence to the second. What does the situation with losing her brother and taking care of a child have to do with rebels and conspiracy? I don't have enough of a grip to see where the confusion and revenge come from.) It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that. (Just to make sure I'm clear, Mia's on Mars, but a mythical city on Earth might save that planet?)

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies (borderline cliché) and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. (Personally, I'm not a fan of "moral of the story" lines in queries.) But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . . (I'm a huge ellipsis fan, but I'd still lose this one.)

THE CITY OF ONE (not a huge deal, but there's a huge YA series following the "City of ____" pattern already out there ... just sayin') is a 100,000-word (that'll make some agents blink, but it can be done if the rest is compelling enough) YA novel that incorporates a little of everything commercial fiction, with just a touch of sci-fi. (You're telling the agent they won't be able to categorize it, so good luck figuring out which editors at which imprints to pitch it to. Pick the main genre. Sounds like science-fantasy in the vein of Orson Scott Card's PATHFINDER to me.) The novel also crosses over to an adult audience (we don't get to decide whether our novels are crossover--the public decides) with a web of hidden literary themes, which can only add to the experience. (This whole sentence feels unnecessary to me--the story should speak for itself.) With mainstream qualities similar to THE HUNGER GAMES (the advice I always hear is that if you're going to make comparisons, *don't* compare to any of the top 5 hottest books of the decade), it appeals to just about anyone who can read (Yikes! Don't do this! It's just begging an agent to roll their eyes and say, "Watch it not appeal to me," as they push the red button. Big turn-off.). As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve a flawless perfection in my work, with an inability to accept failure. (Please, delete this line. It will make you sound puffed up. Another agent turn-off. An agent knows there *will* be failure--there will be rejections. Stating that you won't accept such realities is not endearing.)

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[NAME]

Contact: [EMAIL]

* * * * *

I'm not an expert on multi-POV queries, so I'm not sure the best way to approach this so the Ivan and Mia threads don't feel quite so disjointed. I hope others will have ideas in that area.

Also hope some of this helps. I look forward to seeing where you take it. :happy:

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#3 DHero

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 07:03 PM

Hi, DHero. (Welcome to the site! :biggrin: ) I'll take a shot at it, and remember, you don't *have* to listen to anything I say. :wink:

* * * * *

Dear Ms. [AGENT]:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived this war. Instead of a hook, per se, you have backstory. Could work, but I'm not sure it says anything other than "This is a post-apocalyptic story."

I thought of doing a hook, but this is the only good way I can think of establishing that plot point and blanketing it over both stories.

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. But by some chaotic work (fancy-sounding, yet vague), his slow, peaceful life is thrown into a war zone (The way it's stated, it sounds like this should be unexpected to the reader, but after the first sentence clearly implying he has to go on a quest to find the city, it's exactly what's expected) where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must locate the City and outwit its dangers, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it. (What's "it"? Through the city?)

I'll try completely overhauling Ivan's paragraph ._.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope (Ah, so you've got two separate storylines and MCs that converge ... tricky to handle in a query) loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic (is this necessary?) epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. She soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony (could it just be "the colony"?) as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. (I'm having a hard time connecting the first sentence to the second. What does the situation with losing her brother and taking care of a child have to do with rebels and conspiracy? I don't have enough of a grip to see where the confusion and revenge come from.) It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that. (Just to make sure I'm clear, Mia's on Mars, but a mythical city on Earth might save that planet?)

-Do you think "enigmatic" is necessary? I think it eases the flow a bit, but now I'm not too sure.
-I want to show that Mia's civilization has a formal name--Second Colony. Just calling it "the colony" makes it sound really generic.
-What if I connected the first two sentences with something like, "While trying to avenge her brother..."? Mia's anger is focused at a woman named Karen who takes pleasure from watching Mia lose her brother. I'd have to find a way to work that in, too.

-And, yes, Mia lives on Mars, but Earth's City of One can save the terraformed planet. Mia finds out about the City, and having to get to Earth is when the two stories converge.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies (borderline cliché) and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. (Personally, I'm not a fan of "moral of the story" lines in queries.) But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . . (I'm a huge ellipsis fan, but I'd still lose this one.)

That's the best I can summarize the novel with, even if it might sound a little cliche. There are a ton of themes and such going on.

As for the last line, it takes the hope surrounding the City of One and warps it into something dark and uncertain at the same time. What don't you understand about that line?

THE CITY OF ONE (not a huge deal, but there's a huge YA series following the "City of ____" pattern already out there ... just sayin') is a 100,000-word (that'll make some agents blink, but it can be done if the rest is compelling enough) YA novel that incorporates a little of everything commercial fiction, with just a touch of sci-fi. (You're telling the agent they won't be able to categorize it, so good luck figuring out which editors at which imprints to pitch it to. Pick the main genre. Sounds like science-fantasy in the vein of Orson Scott Card's PATHFINDER to me.) The novel also crosses over to an adult audience (we don't get to decide whether our novels are crossover--the public decides) with a web of hidden literary themes, which can only add to the experience. (This whole sentence feels unnecessary to me--the story should speak for itself.) With mainstream qualities similar to THE HUNGER GAMES (the advice I always hear is that if you're going to make comparisons, *don't* compare to any of the top 5 hottest books of the decade), it appeals to just about anyone who can read (Yikes! Don't do this! It's just begging an agent to roll their eyes and say, "Watch it not appeal to me," as they push the red button. Big turn-off.). As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve a flawless perfection in my work, with an inability to accept failure. (Please, delete this line. It will make you sound puffed up. Another agent turn-off. An agent knows there *will* be failure--there will be rejections. Stating that you won't accept such realities is not endearing.)

I know there are a lot of other "City of _____" titles out there, but I can't change the title here; no can do.

And THANK YOU for the whole vague genre thing. It isn't science fantasy at all, nor does it stray much at all from established science (when it's science-fictiony at all, which it rarely is). There are no fantasy or magical elements whatsoever. Should I change the commercial fiction thing to JUST commercial fiction? I'd like to keep the "touch of sci-fi" too, but would that really screw up the categorization that much?

I'll get rid of the Hunger Games reference, alright. But I need to keep the "web of hidden literary themes" in there, because that's the second layer of the novel, really. It's a huge thing, and this novel is actually a near-exact blend of literary and commercial fiction. I want to mention a crossover audience, too, because that's also a big thing. The novel appeals to everyone I can think of, but I'm trying not to state that because that's for the publisher, not the agent.

I'll get rid of all the really bad stuff, though. The rest I have to work with.


As for that last line, I'm definitely keeping it. It says I won't accept failure, meaning if I fail, I'll go back to working until I succeed. I don't think agents want people who readily accept failure and leave it that way.

#4 RileyRedgate

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 11:00 PM

Hi there, DHero.

No, seriously. You want to do this to your last paragraph.

"THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word YA novel that strikes a balance between commercial and literary.that incorporates a little of everything commercial fiction, with just a touch of sci-fi. The novel also crosses over to an adult audience with a web of hidden literary themes, which can only add to the experience. With mainstream qualities similar to THE HUNGER GAMES, it appeals to just about anyone who can read. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve a flawless perfection in my work, with an inability to accept failure."

As for that last line, I'm definitely keeping it. It says I won't accept failure, meaning if I fail, I'll go back to working until I succeed. I don't think agents want people who readily accept failure and leave it that way."


No, no. This is completely assumed. It's what we DO as writers. It's like saying, "You should hire me for your construction company because dude, look, I have hands. I can operate machinery." It's something agents will take for granted. Of course an agent isn't going to want a client with a short chain that's easily yanked; that'd be ridiculous. Why even raise the issue?

Also, 'flawless perfection' is redundant.

You also say you 'can't change the title'. Sir, you might be in for a dose of heavy disappointment. I'd be surprised if a publisher DIDN'T want to change your title, in the wake of the Mortal Instruments series's success.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .


RC was right. This is cliche, and you're not getting away with it in a letter that's a page long. I legitimately don't understand who or what the antagonist is. In fact, I don't understand the conflict. What's this random child Mia has? She's exposing a conspiracy, but trying to find a city on another PLANET at the same time? How is that even physically possible?

You have very few words to tell us about your story. Simplification is your very best friend. We don't need to know your intricate subplots; save them for the synopsis (or even just the novel). For now, you've got to settle.

author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#5 Tom Preece

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 12:52 AM

Gently. Gently.

Read for a while Dhero. This isn't about writing your novel but about marketing it and there is much wisdom here. Please remember we're on your side because in here that's the only side there is.

You've written a great story. You must have or you wouldn't be here. That's good. That's why we all do it. Your query letter needs to be another story that makes an agent/publisher want to read it, but the query is fast, flirtatious, and intriguing,

Making a pronouncement of what it is undercuts what you said before. Your query shouldn't leave the reader any doubt. Declare it in your title to be the genre you think your agent/publisher thinks it should be.

It's all show not tell, sizzle not steak.

You want the query reader to decide what cut of steak is in there and that he/she wants it. If you tell them what it is, they may decide they don't.

#6 RileyRedgate

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 01:29 AM

It's all show not tell, sizzle not steak.

You want the query reader to decide what cut of steak is in there and that he/she wants it. If you tell them what it is, they may decide they don't.


Wise, wise words, Mr. Preece. If the tell matches with the show, it's needless reiteration. And if it DOESN'T match up, why risk telling us something your story isn't?

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#7 bkeats

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 10:56 AM

RC, Preece and anticipa have all given you some A-1 advice, DH, so I'll hold off until your next version (I promise to review it). In the meantime, take your time and give us the basics; WHO are your main characters, WHAT do they hope to accomplish, and WHAT is standing in their way?
Happy Writing :smile:

#8 the transylvanian

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:02 PM

DHero, rise and try again! I changed my query more than ten times ( it is still not good enough) and the title to it several times. It is taking the same ammount of hard work as writting the book. If this would be so easy, none of us would be here. As many times you try, we will be happy to help you impove.

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#9 rewrighter

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:47 PM

I agree with everyone else...with a final comment. 100,000 words is huge for a first time author, and pretty long for YA in general. It screams out I NEED AN EDITOR - of course, maybe you don't. Maybe you're the exception to the rule of revise, revise, revise but agents probably see that number and assume otherwise.
Good luck!

#10 DHero

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:43 PM

I didn't see much helpful criticism past the first response. You guys are telling me to avoid mentioning what the novel is actually about, not mentioning that it's a debut novel or part of a series, etc.

As for the antagonist, much of the novel has no antagonist. This isn't some high fantasy where there's an evil wizard chasing after anyone. It's like real life. The only thing keeping the characters from their goals throughout most of the novel is the effort it takes to get there. I've kept this novel as realistic as possible, which isn't too hard for me to do because I'm writing the thoughts of people my age, and I'm naturally adept at psychoanalysis.

The only thing I really want to change right now about the part you all keep calling cliche is find a way to make it sound less like morals. There are no morals in this story, again like real life. The life/leadership/love thing is more like a few themes, but if it sounds like morals, then I want to tweak the wording.

So here's the overhauled version:


Dear Ms. AGENT:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived this war.

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. But before he can understand what's going on, he's being attacked by bandits and followed by a psychotic little girl, and he's allied with a mercenary group. Life becomes a war zone where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must outwit the dangers of the City, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. The heartless leader Karen seems to be pulling some strings, and even the kid has a secret. Once introverted, Mia soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .

THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word commercial/YA novel with just a touch of sci-fi. Also embedded within the lines is a web of hidden literary themes and symbols, which can only add to the experience. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve only the highest quality in my work, with an inability to settle for failure.

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
NAME

Contact: EMAIL



---And, Mortal Instruments or not, the title won't change, and I will totally oppose any attempt to change it.

#11 TansyRagwort

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:59 PM

Dear Ms. AGENT:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know itJust tightening up. This doesn't add much.. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived thisthe war.

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. But before he can understand what's going on, he's being attacked by bandits and followed by a psychotic little girl, and he's allied with a mercenary group. Life becomes a war zone where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must outwit the dangers of the City, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. The heartless leader Karen seems to be pulling some strings, and even the kid has a secret.This is side story stuff that they can just find out from reading. It's cool and all but for word count purposes I'd cut it from the letter. Once introverted, Mia soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .

THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word commercial/YA novel with just a touch of sci-fi. Also embedded within the lines is a web of hidden literary themes and symbols, which can only add to the experience. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve only the highest quality in my work, with an inability to settle for failure. Open-ended makes it sound like this book can't stand alone. Which it should be able to do. Leaving an indeterminate ending is fine. But this should be a whole complete story that sets off a longer story.

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
NAME

Contact: EMAIL


I don't think you should ignore Anticipa's advice. But it is your query letter. This advice is based on similar statements put up in slushpilehell.tumblr.com or on query shark. The agents just tear them apart. Good luck though.

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#12 DHero

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:02 PM

1. "Hundreds of years ago, a global war ravaged Earth. Legends burn of a sanctuary that survived this war." doesn't sound like it flows very well to me.

2. As for Karen, the main complaint for Mia's story was that people didn't know what Mia was angry about. Mentioning Karen having something to do with what's going on explains who, what and why Mia is angry.

3. It's fully capable of serving as a standalone title. How could I make that clearer?

#13 TansyRagwort

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:07 PM

1. I'd tweak it like this but its just me. (Note as we know it is a cliche so I was just getting rid of that.) "Hundreds of years ago, a global war ravaged Earth. Legends still burn of a sanctuary that survived the war." That to me works when I read it out loud. But its just my opinion. This isn't a you need to do this fix.

2. But I have no reference to who Karen is or what she might have done. It'll take up extra words you don't have in this context. I can see Mia being upset about her brother being dead. If you don't mention Karen's name but bring up that she is upset at the people behind the epidemic then it'll work a bit better. IMO.

3. I just didn't like the words open-ended. That's all. And people use "this is a standalone novel with series potential" all the time. Its brief and it works.

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#14 DHero

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:13 PM

1. Still burning, when I first read it, seemed like the legends began in the present day. I also don't think "legends" flows to "burn" very well.

2. I state that Karen is the leader of the colony, and she's heartless. What do you think I could add about Karen's involvement?

3. Wouldn't "series potential" still be misleading? I have two prequels definitely planned, and then there's potential for at least one sequel.

#15 TansyRagwort

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:18 PM

1. you had legends burn so I was going off of that. But still burning sounded like the started in the past to me. But meh. It was just an idea. You do what works best for you.

2. Umm...well I would just cut her but if you want to add stuff about her? Well why does Mia blame her? What makes her heartless? How is she even connected to the epidemic? Does she know about Mia and her rebels? It just gets complicated and confusing. But your call which way to go. Simplest solution is to cut her out.

3. a series doesn't have to be in chronological order. So I don't find it misleading. But that's just me.

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#16 DHero

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:33 PM

People were saying Mia's story didn't make sense, and following the criticism, I put in Karen to have it make sense. I don't have query space to go into her character. In the novel, she's Mia's antithesis, but was once just like her [Her story is the first prequel], and everything that happened to Mia and to both of them through the story was just as she planned, including killing off her brother. But I can't explain something like that in one brief sentence.

One solution I can think of is "... The heartless leader Karen, Mia's total antithesis..."

(by the way, I'm finding your method of critiquing to be really helpful :smile: )

#17 Joel Q

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:43 PM

I didn't see much helpful criticism past the first response. (Take a step back and rethink this.)




Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived this war.

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world(what does that mean?). But before he can understand what's going on, he's being attacked by bandits and followed by a psychotic little girl, and he's allied with a mercenary group.(That's all tell. What does it have to do with his goal? Sure he might have to deal with that in the story, but think bigger picture for the query.) Life becomes a war zone where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability (ability to do what?), Ivan must outwit the dangers of the City,(so he found the City?) and his people are counting on him to lead them through it.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, (what does that mean? They're in space? an airplane? )Martian colonist Mia Hope loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. The heartless leader Karen (leader of what? And what does this have to do with Mia?) seems to be pulling some strings, and even the kid has a secret. Once introverted, Mia soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that.

(Are Mia and Ivan on the same planet?)


Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .(Give us a hint. Because it really needs to connect this two people and maybe the history of the planet, if not, it might just be a gimmick. We need to know.)

(It seems you have too many unimportant details in the query, sure they are important in the story. But we don't need to know them all. Give us a solid story line, the character's goals and the leave us wanting more.)

THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word commercial/YA novel with just a touch of sci-fi.(seems like a lot of Sci Fi) Also embedded within the lines is a web of hidden literary themes and symbols, which can only add to the experience. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series,(recommend the standard, This is a complete novel with series potential... or something like that. I strive to achieve only the highest quality in my work, with an inability to settle for failure. (

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
NAME

Contact: EMAIL


And, Mortal Weapons or not, the title won't change, and I will totally oppose any attempt to change it.
If that is in the actual query or in your attitude with a publisher, you can go ahead and save yourself some time and headaches and start looking into self publishing.


Need extra help, check out my editing services on my blog.

#18 Stephanie Diaz

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:46 PM

Dear Ms. AGENT:

Hundreds of years ago, a global conflict ravaged Earth as we know it. Legends burn which tell of a sanctuary that survived the this war. (Really, this doesn't tell us anything unique about your story or the present conflict besides that the story takes place after a semi-apocalypse. I highly recommend checking out how to write a hook. There are plenty of resources & examples on this site, and elsewhere)

At the age of fifteen, nomadic heir-to-the-chief Ivan Tirel discovers this legend and knows he must find the City of One, the key to piecing together his shattered world. (See, this first sentence could work as your hook, with some tweaking. You'd just delete "the City of One" and refer to it as "the last place left on earth after...") But before he can understand what's going on, he's being attacked by bandits and followed by a psychotic little girl, and he's alliesd with a mercenary group. (Correct the tenses in the last sentence to make it straight present tense) Life becomes a war zone where nobody is safe—not even his father. Plagued by doubts of his own ability, Ivan must outwit the dangers of the City, and his people are counting on him to lead them through it.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the night sky, Martian colonist Mia Hope loses her brother, the last of her family, to an enigmatic epidemic which leaves a young child in her care. The heartless leader Karen seems to be pulling some strings, and even the kid has a secret. Once introverted, Mia soon finds herself at the head of a rebel gang, hell-bent on exposing a conspiracy within the dystopian Second Colony as she struggles to manage her confusion, sorrow and revenge. It's up to Mia to salvage her deteriorating planet—and the City of One might do just that.

Both Ivan and Mia must become the masters of their destinies and their people as they fight to discover the true meaning of leadership, of life, and of love. But beneath the City's fabled promises lies something sinister. . . .

THE CITY OF ONE is a 100,000-word commercial/YA novel with just a touch of sci-fi . Also embedded within the lines is a web of hidden literary themes and symbols, which can only add to the experience. It is a stand-alone with series potential. As my debut novel of an open-ended, four-book series, I strive to achieve only the highest quality in my work, with an inability to settle for failure.
(Really, agents don't care about the themes in your book at this stage--besides, that's "telling," which is something agents say over and over again that you should not do in a query. And, like anticipa said, the failure thing will make agents pause. It is assumed that you're in this for the long haul and unwilling to give up.)

If you're interested, I'll gladly send you sample chapters of THE CITY OF ONE. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
NAME

Contact: EMAIL


And, Mortal Weapons or not, the title won't change, and I will totally oppose any attempt to change it. (You might want re-assess your path to publication, then. Agents/editors/publishers insist on title changes all the time.)


Don't mean to sound harsh--just trying to let you know stuff that others will tell you later on. I'm sure you can make this great :) Good luck!

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#19 DHero

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:50 PM

To be honest, I just facepalmed at some of the critiques in there, which makes me think you think anything not explicitly stated cannot be inferred. Things like "Somewhere in the night sky," and you thinking things like an airplane, in which case "night" would be about 500% irrelevant. And then wondering if Ivan and Mia are on the same planet. If Ivan and Mia were on the same planet, Mia wouldn't be in Ivan's "nighty sky". With examples like that in mind, I'm finding it hard to take your critiques seriously.

As for your critiques of the opening line, I want it to sound like a legend, not two short, dead sentences.

And if agents didn't want us to tell them about us or our novels, we wouldn't be writing query letters. It's important to show them things instead of telling them, but Ms. Agent is only shown what she asks for, and if you don't tell her what she can ask for, she won't want to see it.

#20 Stephanie Diaz

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:58 PM

To be honest, I just facepalmed at some of the critiques in there, which makes me think you think anything not explicitly stated cannot be inferred. Things like "Somewhere in the night sky," and you thinking things like an airplane, in which case "night" would be about 500% irrelevant. And then wondering if Ivan and Mia are on the same planet. If Ivan and Mia were on the same planet, Mia wouldn't be in Ivan's "nighty sky". With examples like that in mind, I'm finding it hard to take your critiques seriously.

And if agents didn't want us to tell them about us or our novels, we wouldn't be writing query letters.


I think it's important to remember that you're the writer, so everything is clear to you. When you send it to someone else, they aren't necessarily going to understand everything the same way. Things that make perfect sense to you will make others go "huh?" That's why we have this site, though, to see what other people do think when they read our queries.

There's a difference between telling agents about your novel and showing them. Of course agents want to know what it's about! What they DON'T want you to do is this: "My novel is a fast-paced action with themes that deal with overcoming hardships." Instead, they want you to SHOW these themes in your explanation of the plot, but explaining how a character has to overcome a hardship--but not using those terms.

I highly recommend you check out this site: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ It's run by literary agent Janet Reid. I think you'll see what we mean if you glance through her revisions of query letters that people send in.

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