Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
* * * * * 1 votes

MEMORIES FORGOTTEN - YA Fantasy - (Will Critique in Return)

Fantasy Fiction Adventure

  • Please log in to reply
49 replies to this topic

#1 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 19 December 2018 - 10:53 AM

Newest draft (5/1):
 
Editing in process.

 



#2 W.P.

W.P.

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 169 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationEurope

Posted 20 December 2018 - 12:37 PM

Hi! Thanks so much for the insightful critique. I'm here to return the favour. :)

 

 

 

Zadok’s life has started over countless times, but he always ends up playing the same character: the talented swordsman who protects his friends. Then he forgets everything. He essentially only knows his name and what to eat. Some magical creatures said he fought as a warrior, but he’s not sure he wants to fight in a war he barely understands.  ((I like this beginning, but I think it's a bit too "fat" and needs a bit of a trim. It doesn't have much of a punch to it because there is too much weighing it down. It could be succinctly summarised. Here's an example off the top of my head: "Zadok forgot his life once again. He remembers only his name, but magical creatures tell him he was a warrior who fought in the war. Now Zadok is expected to return to battle, but he doesn't even know what he's to fight for." I wasn't sure whether the war was the same or not, since it was ambiguous and vague, I just assumed it was.))
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans destroyed his life by killing massacred most magical creatures, so he must in turn demolish themtheirs. His only set back is the fact that But he cannot directly change a creature’s destiny ((why?)) and Zadok’s destiny is to stop him. He’ll do anything to stop Zadok though. succeed, (("to stop" was repetitive and jarring)) Even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again.
 
Zadok must gain ((find?)) a will to fight if he wants to survive. ((these stakes sound a bit strange, because just "wanting to survive" is a "will" that'll make someone fight--it's instinct. So this doesn't pack a punch.))  Kasen will break him, but he won’t lose his memories again without a fight. But how can he save anything if he can’t even remember who he is or what he should be fighting for? ((This is a tough stake to pull off. Because the main character doesn't care about the war or the conflict of the book, then it's hard to care either. It doesn't seem to affect him personally, so it doesn't affect us.))
 
MEMORIES FORGOTTEN is a YA fantasy/adventure novel complete at 100,000 words. I have published two flash fiction pieces that got favorable reviews on a website called Flash Fiction Friday. I also have an award-winning blog on Wordpress with over 730 subscribers. 

 

 

You have a tough story to put in a query format, but it can be done. I think first it should be trimmed down a little, and then we should get a bit of characterisation. Right now I don't know who Zadok is (as a person) what's his personality? what does he feel? He sounds hollow in the query, and I'm sure he isn't. This happens often because we focus so much on getting the premise right, we forget the most important part: character. 

 

Anyway, I hope this helps. :)

 

Thanks again for the critique!



#3 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 21 December 2018 - 12:40 PM

Thank you, W.P.!



#4 W.P.

W.P.

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 169 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationEurope

Posted 21 December 2018 - 03:20 PM

Zadok’s memories disappeared. ((this has a lot more punch than before!)) He only remembers a few things, but most of his life is a blur. ((this is redundant and vague. it adds nothing but filler. Trust your hook. It says it all.)) Some magical creatures tell him that he was a warrior once, a leader. The war continues on, but he doesn’t even know what to fight for. He'd rather learn who he was and stay out of the war. ((This last sentence doesn't pack as much of a punch as the other sentences. I wonder if you could phrase it in a more punchy way. An example off the top of my head, "Rather than fight, he wants to find his former self." Not the best example, but it is concise and trimmed. Anything that is short and punchy will do." But I do like this first paragraph.))

 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred magical creatures, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world his way, under his command. ((No idea what this means, but the paragraph still makes sense without it, in fact, it's a lot stronger without it.))He will do whatever it takes to have his dream ((odd choice of words. genocide is his dream? revenge is a dream? I would consider it a "goal" or "objective.")), even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time. ((good idea to only mention how often now. it was "info dumpy" in the first paragraph, but here it comes off as a shock, almost as a revelation. good stuff!))
 
As Zadok sees creatures tortured ((by whom? Kasen? humans? I thought Kasen was avenging the creatures)) and learns ((kind of a weak verb, removes all emotion from it. learning something isn't feeling something. does he grieve? does he go on a rampage? I suggest a verb that hints at emotion)) of his family’s murder, he gets determined to stop Kasen. ((This sentence has a lot to it, but it is vague and rushed in a way that removes all sense of drama and emotion. I suggest really fleshing this out and injecting some emotion (Zadok's) into it--or a hint of it.))But how can he fight without losing his memories again? ((I know what you mean, but it sounds selfish and weak. It sounds like he's thinking of not fighting so that he won't lose his memories, but if he doesn't people will lose their lives. I'm guessing you mean that if he fights he might lose his memories and then he will stop fighting once again and Kasen will keep his massacre going and hurting people, but it is very ambiguous right now.))
 
 
The query is a lot more concise and punchy. Some parts are a bit unclear, though I pointed them out. The only thing that I think is a bit lacking, is the world. I know it's fantasy but I have no sense of what type of world it is, not hints of magic either except for the mention of "magical creatures" and the ability to wipe away memories. Other than that, it lacks "fantasy." But this is easily fixed by adding one or two details. Maybe rather than saying "magical creatures" you could tell us the actual "race" and you could say what kind of magic Kasen wants to use to massacre humans? 
 
anyway, I hope this helps. Thanks so much for your critique! 


#5 brandonyoung

brandonyoung

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 293 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand

Posted 21 December 2018 - 08:54 PM

 

Zadok’s memories disappeared. He only remembers a few things, but most of his life is a blur. Some magical creatures tell him that he was a warrior once, a leader. The war continues on, but he doesn’t even know what to fight for. He'd rather learn who he was and stay out of the war. (Doesn't work. Memories disappearing. Magical creatures that can talk to him. The war. Three different elements of your novel glossed over. Focus on only what's immediately important to Zadok and go in-depth on that.)
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred magical creatures, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world his way, under his command. He will do whatever it takes to have his dream, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time. (I don't even care about Zadok yet, so there's no way I'm going to care about Kasen. See if you can keep the query focused on Zadok, the protagonist.)
 
As Zadok sees creatures tortured and learns of his family’s murder, he gets determined to stop Kasen. But how can he fight without losing his memories again?

 

From first glance, this is really short. Turns out to be about 130 words, so you have a TON of space to add more detail. There's just no emotion and no character depth. At this stage, you're better off reading a bunch of query letters, heading over to Query Shark and reading those ones, and then starting from scratch. You might need to write this a bunch of times until you figure out what your story is actually about, and then chuck that into the final query.


I'm not currently in need of query letter revisions, but I am looking for some amazing beta readers. If you're interested in reading a very short standalone YA fantasy which is heavy on character, crying moments, and not so much on epic scopes and war, shoot me a DM and I'd love to lend you a copy. I'm also open to reading your novels in exchange!


#6 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 24 December 2018 - 01:34 PM

Thanks you guys! A new draft is posted if you want to take a look.



#7 kassamarandra

kassamarandra

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts
  • Literary Status:published, self-published, unagented
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Mark of Fate, Bad Caveman Publishing, 2011

Posted 27 December 2018 - 03:00 PM

 

newest draft:
 
Zadok’s memories disappeared after Castle Town was bombed. A group of various magical creatures take him in. They tell him that he was a powerful warrior, but he has never felt more useless and alone. The war continues on, but he doesn’t even know what to fight for anymore. He doesn’t want to fight; he would rather find who he was before instead. (I'm sorry but I don't feel that this is a true hook, there's little for stakes. Why should we care about this character? What makes him stand out?)
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred certain magical species before, including his, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world in his particular way, just like a script. He will do whatever it takes just to get it that way, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time. (I feel like the only important information in here is that he's the one taking your MC's memories and that it's time #8)
 
As Zadok finds the world in chaos from humans being kidnapped to magical creatures being tortured, (there's too much in this sentence) he wants this war to end. When he breaks in half after finding out about his family’s murder, he wants to stop Kasen himself before the world descends further into turmoil.(this is vague and feels thrown in there. Why is this important? and why hasn't it brought up sooner? )
 
To end your query think of this: What terrible choice does your main character have to make and what are the consequences? (the best kind of choices are ones where the MC isn't a clear winner. Where they have to give something up no matter what (this ties in the personal stakes))

 

 

 

Thanks for the critique Robin! I'm sorry, but this version just isn't working for me. In a query I like to see who the character is, and their conflict introduced. In my opinion a hook should contain at least a part of the following formula: when (character) is faced with (inciting incident/ conflict) they must (overcome conflict) to (complete their stakes/ goals). It looks like you have some interesting material here to work with. Someone erasing Zadok's memories and there was a bombing. He's told he's a powerful warrior but he doesn't know what he should be fighting for. If you look at your ms and only talk about the story up to the first turning point/ point of no return, you may be able to capture some of your stories mystery and suspense. 

 

I hope something in there is useful. 

Regards. 



#8 callalilly

callalilly

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 220 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 27 December 2018 - 03:20 PM

(These are a few thoughts for you to consider or ignore -you'll know what works for your query.)

newest draft:
 
Zadok’s memories disappeared after Castle Town was bombed.
 
(I kind of want to separate the above as it feel like your hook and therefore could stand alone before moving to the below -I don't know if that's what you were going for though.)
 
When a group of various magical creatures take him in, they tell him of his past as a powerful warrior, with his memories gone though, he has never felt more useless and alone. The war rages on, but Zadok doesn’t even know what to fight for anymore. His warrior spirit is gone with his memories, leaving him uninterested in fighting but obsessed with finding out who he was before.
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred certain magical species before, including his, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world in his particular way, just like a script. He will do whatever it takes just to get it that way, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time. (Unless your book in multi-POV, I would suggest changing this section. It focuses on Kasen when your book is about Zadok I assume? The information is key, but I think to frame it in Zadok's perspective would be best. Also is Zadok human then? If so, maybe include that in the beginning so readers understand that there are humans and then there are these others.)
 
As Zadok finds the world in chaos from humans beings kidnapped to magical creatures being tortured, he wants this war to end. When he breaks in half after finding out about his family’s murder, he wants to stop Kasen himself before the world descends further into turmoil.
 
I think you've got a cool sounding story. I suggest deciding if you should work with Zadok's or Kasen's story in the query- Like I said, unless this is a multi-POV story, you should work only with your main character and insert the other in the frame in which the main character sees them. Another thought: your hook focuses on the missing memories, if that is your main theme, I suggest focusing more on it throughout the query -how does it affect Zadok? I'm also unsure about your last line -I think if your going to introduce the fact that Kasen killed Zadok's family, you might introduce it sooner as to then explain how it affects Zadok in his already complicated life dealing with the war and his missing past life. Just a thought however, again you'll know what is best. Good luck, sounds like a great read!)
 
 

 



#9 darlah

darlah

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 17 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:None

Posted 29 December 2018 - 02:19 PM


 

Zadok’s memories disappeared after Castle Town was bombed. A group of various magical creatures take him in. They tell him that he was a powerful warrior (How do they know?), but he has never felt more useless and alone. The war continues on, but he doesn’t even know what to fight for anymore. He doesn’t want to fight; he would rather find who he was before instead. (Why is this so important?)
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred certain magical species before, including his, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world in his particular way, just like a script. He will do whatever it takes just to get it that way, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time.
 
As Zadok finds the world in chaos from humans being kidnapped to magical creatures being tortured (This part seems a bit wordy), he wants this war to end. When he breaks in half after finding out about his family’s murder, he wants to stop Kasen himself before the world descends further into turmoil.(How will it descend into turmoil. What has happened so far? Is the world almost destroyed already? Maybe you should put in more stakes as well. Will Zadok die? Why hasn't Kasen killed him already if he already erased his memory 8 times?)


#10 NerdWitch

NerdWitch

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 149 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUnited Kingdom

Posted 30 December 2018 - 09:06 AM

 

newest draft:
 
This hook doesn't grip me enough. Why was it bombed? Who is Zadok? Zadok’s memories disappeared after Castle Town was bombed. After Castle Town was bombed, Zadok's memories disappeared. A group of various magical creatures take him in. What sort of creatures and why? They tell him that he was a powerful warrior, but he has never felt more useless and alone. The war continues on (mention the war at the beginning), but he doesn’t even know what to fight for anymore. He doesn’t want to fight; he would rather find who he was before instead.
 
Kasen – the enemy’s leader – has a debt to repay. Humans massacred certain magical species (what species and why were they massacred) before, including his, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world in his particular way, just like a script. This bit doesn't really make sense. He will do whatever it takes just to get it that way, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time. (This is interesting but maybe mention earlier that his memories were erased)
 
As Zadok finds the world in chaos from humans being kidnapped to by magical creatures and being tortured, he wants this war to end. When he breaks in half breaks down after finding out about his family’s murder, he wants to stop Kasen himself before the world descends further into turmoil.
 
 

 

Overall, I think there's an interesting story at the heart of this query but there's also a lot to unpack. I think you need to start with the hook, and then think about the query structure. Introduce Zadok in a slightly different way, who is he? What are his stakes? How is he connected to Kasen? Then, go into more depth perhaps about the magical species - who are they and why are they important to Zadok and his world? Keep going, you'll get there.


Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 


#11 Koechophe

Koechophe

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 276 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:I work as a copy editor for online courses

Posted 31 December 2018 - 08:40 PM

Heya Robin, hope I can be of some help. Fair warning, I dig pretty deep, and my claws are quite sharp. 

 


(Before I get to line-by-line critique, I saw a major problem with this query on my first readthrough. It is completely, utterly lacking in voice. Any of it. If I read this out loud, I would naturally do it in a monotone. I think you got so caught up in making it brief that you cut away any shred of your own individuality from this query until it sounds like something an 80-year-old college professor would read out of a history book. Brevity is important, and you do a great job of it. But voice is far, far more important. More than knowing you've got an interesting story, agents want to know that you are are a capable writer. Many of my comments will be geared towards helping add more voice and excitement.) 
 
Zadok’s memories disappeared after Castle Town was bombed (This sounds like a news report, it's way too impersonal. Something like "After barely surviving the bombing of his home town, Zadok awakens with no memories whatsoever" gives the same info, but is a lot more compelling). A group of various magical creatures (Here's another spot where the voice is bland. "Various magical creatures" just sounds super boring. Even if you just chuck in one specific animal, along with some character trait, it'll read a lot better. You also can easily merge this sentence with the next one. I mean, "The gentle werewolf who rescued Zadok told him he..." or something like that, gives a better image than "various magical creatures".)  take him in. They tell him that he was a powerful warrior, but he has never felt more useless and alone(Okay, we've got potential here. These feelings are great, let's give a bit of info on why he's feeling them. Assuming it has something to do with the amnesia (and I'm sure the injuries involved, because there's got to be some sort of injuries there), you could do something like "... but without any family or friends that he can remember, and with his body bruised and broken from the bombing, Zadok feels useless and alone"). The war (Uhm... what war? There's been no explicit mention of a war thus far. You can keep the mystery of this by replacing "the war" with a mention of the animal(s) that take Zadok in, and say "their war", to help the reader feel immersed in Zadok's perspective) continues on, but he doesn’t even know what to fight for anymore(We can cut this and merge the next sentence with this one. "The creatures ask Zadok to resume fighting in their war, but he has no desire to fight...") He doesn’t want to fight; he would rather find who he was before instead.
 
Kasen – the enemy’s (This again feels jarring, because we don't know anything about the war that's going on. I can read between the lines to guess it's a war between animals and people, but that seems contradicted by Zadok's presence with the animals, and by the next sentence. EIther explain the war a little bit more, or cut things like this) leader – has a debt to repay. Humans (We could easily merge this sentence with the last one to avoid the repetition. "Humans massacred Kasen's entire species, leaving him with nothing but a harsh vendetta to keep him company") massacred certain magical species before, including his, so he must demolish them in return. But he wants to save the world in his particular way, just like a script(This is a very confusing sentence. The motive of "demolishing the humans" and "saving the world" seem at odds with eachother, and we don't get any context behind why or how he even wants to save the world. Also, the statement "in his own particular way" is so vague it brings nothing to the table. Assuming that he wants to save the world, but only if it means anhilating the humans (or at least the bad ones, it could read something like, "In his mind, Kasen wants to rebuild the world into a place of peace and prosperity, but in his heart, Kasen will stop at nothing to find his revenge, even if he must erase..."). He will do whatever it takes just to get it that way, even if it means erasing Zadok’s memories again, for the eighth time.
 
(I have a problem with this paragraph. You switch to Kasen's point of view. This totally breaks the immersion, especially since Kasen is the antagonist. You need to write this from Zadok's perspective. Talk about when they meet so that we still feel like we're reading about Zadok here.)
 
As Zadok finds the world in chaos from humans being kidnapped to magical creatures being tortured We can actually trim this. "With humans and creatures alike being kidnapped and tortured..." , he wants this war to end. When he breaks in half (Is this a metaphor, or is Zadok some sort of magical creature that can actually break in half?) after finding out about his family’s murder, (I really don't think we need this in here. It would take too much time to establish Zadok's story sufficiently for his family's death to have emotional resonance.) he wants to stop Kasen himself before the world descends further into turmoil. (You can add a lot more tension by just making this last paragraph one sentence, and then add another one to show what will be holding Zadok back. Something like "As the war rages and death counts rise, Zadok knows the only way he can end the fighting is by slaying Kasen. But every time he loses his memories, Zadok must start all over again in their prolonged struggle.)
 
This query has good bones. You've got the right type of information here, you just need to present it better. Hope some of my advice helps, good luck and happy writing!
 
-I critique because I care. 
 
 

 



#12 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 02 January 2019 - 02:48 PM

Thanks everyone for the critiques! They were very helpful!

I have a new draft posted now. I tried mixing in what everyone said. I hope it's better.



#13 kassamarandra

kassamarandra

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts
  • Literary Status:published, self-published, unagented
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:Mark of Fate, Bad Caveman Publishing, 2011

Posted 02 January 2019 - 04:06 PM

 

(Jan. 2, 2019: I took away the whole structure and tried to rework it. This might be a total fail. Who knows? I hope it does work at least to a point though.)
 
Newest draft:
 
Two weeks earlier Zadok woke up to  in a magical war with zero memories and a magical war around him. But that was about two weeks ago. Not much has changed now since then besides the fact he remembers how to cook some food and he can fight with a sword. (so your missing memories are different than mine but I don't know how this last part should fit in with the hook. You want to introduce your character, the conflict (both of which you have), and the personal stakes (which you don't have, or at least they're not high enough for a true hook. Missing memories can't be the sole focus imo)  
 
He knows (learns, discovers, how does he know if he's forgotten?) Kasen is the leader of the enemy’s army. They have been killing humans and anyone who doesn’t follow them for a while now. They took Zadok’s memories too. Why? (no rhetorical questions in a query.) He has no idea, but he’s determined to find out.
 
Zadok is also curious about the war. He knows creatures are getting tortured and killed. He saw water spirits imprisoned recently with large burns all over their bodies. He doesn’t know much about the war though besides the fact creatures want him to fight in it. (this feels incomplete. Okay, so they're missing, now what?)
 
Apparently, he was one of the top warriors before, which put a target on his back. Kasen is searching for him again, but Zadok’s not sure he wants to fight. He never asked for this war. But he knows he can’t hide out forever. They’ll kill him either way. He has to do something. (I got some great advice on how to close off a query letter that really helped me. What terrible choice does your main character have to make and what are the consequences? (the best kind of choices are ones where the MC isn't a clear winner) try and and/or statement at the end to show stakes.)
 
 

 

 

Thank you for the critique! 

 

I think you have an interesting story here. I like the voice in this query, but I think it needs some refining. You'll want to consider what Zadok wants, what's standing in his way, and how he'll get it



#14 W.P.

W.P.

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 169 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationEurope

Posted 03 January 2019 - 11:02 AM

Thanks so much for the critique. I'm here to return the favor. :)

 

 

Zadok woke up to zero memories and a magical war around him. But that was about two weeks ago. Not much has changed now besides the fact he remembers how to cook some food and he can fight with a sword. ((The first sentence is the only one that is strong and relevant. Not sure why cooking or that two weeks have passed is important. If nothing has changed then it's not relevant here I think.))
 
He knows ((how does he learn this ?)) Kasen is the leader of the enemy’s army. They have been killing humans and anyone who doesn’t follow them for a while now. ((this last part totally removed the tension and sense of danger you had been building.)) They took Zadok’s memories too. Why? He has no idea, but he’s determined to find out. ((I like that this is in Zadok's POV, making the query tighter. But the way it is written removes any sense of ... tension? it reads as an FYI. I think it's because it's a bit too wordy. A way of keeping it tidy: "He learns that the enemy's leader, Kasen, who's trying to wipe out humanity, was the one who took Zadok's memories." Not the best example but it does show that it can be more concise.))
 
Zadok is also curious about the war. ((curious is a very strange word in this context when you're also talking about torture and massacre. Just doesn't feel like a strong enough word. What does he feel? fear? outrage? pity?)) He knows creatures are getting tortured and killed. He saw water spirits imprisoned recently with large burns all over their bodies. He doesn’t know much about the war though besides the fact creatures want him to fight in it. ((this paragraph could be stronger. I think it's too wordy and "watered down". an example off the top of my head: "Amidst the war, creatures are being tortured and killed and they want Zadok to fight for them, for the war to be over." Again, not the best example, but it's more concise))
 

 

Apparently, he was "Before losing his memories, he was one of the top warriors before, which put a target on his back. Kasen is searching for him again, but Zadok’s not sure he wants to fight. He never asked for this war. ((sounds a bit strange. no one said he asked for it. the paragraph is stronger without it)) But he knows he can’t hide out forever. They’ll kill him either way. He has to do something. ((not sure these two last sentences are working. if they will kill him either way, then it doesn't matter much what will happen, does it? so why should we care when he doesn't even have a choice. And "he has to do something" is too vague and doesn't actually build up tension, it is a bit underwhelming actually. Though the "he can't hide forever" does pack a punch))
 
 
The query is definitely more coherent because of the POV, but I think some explanations are needed and some of the paragraphs can be more concise. Some parts read more like exposition rather than story, such as "apparently he was one of the top warriors."
 
I hope some of this helps. :) 


#15 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 06 January 2019 - 01:56 PM

Thanks for the critiques guys! A new version is up! I feel more confident about this one.



#16 callalilly

callalilly

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 220 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 06 January 2019 - 03:42 PM

Hi Robin LeeAnn. I'm back returning the favor to your query :) As I say before -these are just suggestions, feel free to ignore if you don't like. Thank you for the critique on my query too.

 

 

Newest draft (1/6):
 
After winning a war and bringing peace, everything was reset with a bomb and a spell (I'm a little confused here -the term "reset" and "peace" makes me think that everything should be, well peaceful. Your following sentence indicates otherwise though. So maybe a "but" needs to be inserted? ie: After winning a war and bringing peace, everything was reset with a bomb and a spell, but now humans are getting murdered again, magical creatures are being captured and tortured, and Zadok – one of the best warriors – has lost all of his memories. But that was two weeks ago." Maybe that works a bit better to tie the first and second sentence together? Just a thought however). Humans are getting murdered again. Magical creatures who do not comply will be captured and tortured until they change their minds. And Zadok – one of the best warriors – lost all of his memories. But that was two weeks ago. 
 
Zadok learns that Kasen – the leader of the enemy’s army – wants to eliminate humans (I'm unsure if Zadok is human or a magical creature). He took Zadok’s memories too. Zadok has no idea why, but he’s determined to find out.
 
Zadok’s not sure he wants to fight in the war though; he’d rather get his memories back. He doesn’t know if a war is what’s best for him. But the more he discovers what was taken from him, including his family, the more his spark to end this war turns into a flame.
(This is a small thing, but I'd suggest re-structuring the beginning of one or two of these paragraphs, they all start with Zadok's name, so perhaps if one started differently, it'd look a little better aesthetically speaking. But again, just a thought)
Zadok also learns that this isn’t the first time the war got…reset (Unsure you need the ellipses). After losing his memories for the eighth time now, he realizes there’s parts of him that will never return. He has to find a way to stop Kasen from taking his memories again or the cycle will never end.

 

I think this is a better version the last I read. I'm still confused about a few things, but I think they're easy fixes should you think it right to address. I would ask -because I want to grasp the right plot; would you say your main plot is Zadok getting his memories back? Or is it the war itself? I think the last sentence is a good indication of your plot, and I'd suggest maybe introducing this concept earlier since I believe it is more essential to your query. BUT again and again, just ideas that you can consider or delete. Thanks and good luck!



#17 Koechophe

Koechophe

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 276 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:I work as a copy editor for online courses

Posted 06 January 2019 - 06:39 PM

Heya Robin, hope I can be of some help!

 

So after a cold read of this, I think phrasing could use work, and also direction. I'll give more insight in the actual critique, then at the end.

 

 

After winning a war and bringing peace, everything was reset with a bomb and a spell.(this is too much of a travel-logue type writing for it to make an exciting hook. Maybe spice it up, and simplify (and put it in present tense). "A single bomb shatters all peace in the land".)  Humans are getting (You want to avoid the present progressive tense, as well as "getting" or "being" as they bring no imagery and reads as being very passive. Instead of "humans are getting murdered" try something like "dead bodies line the streets". murdered again. Magical creatures who rebel are do not comply will be captured and tortured until they change their minds. And Zadok  – one of the best warriors – lost all of his memories (the problem with this is that it feels so out of context. You're describing an upset, and then you randomly throw Zadok in. I actually think you're better off starting your hook with Zadok as you did before. Something like "Zadok awakes to a world in chaos," and then continue with the rest of your sentiments about people dying and animals getting tortured). . But that was two weeks ago.  (we don't need to know this for the purposes of queries. Time in general should be avoided unless explicitely necessary, which I don't think is true here).
 
Zadok learns (So this ends up feeling travel-log-ish again. I would avoid using "learns" or "discovers" or anything like that in a query. Queries should be composed of events, not information. For instance, we don't need to know in the query that Kasen took Zadok's memories. All we need to know is that Kasen is targetting Zadok, and that helps establish him as the antagonist.) that Kasen – the leader of the enemy’s army – wants to eliminate humans. He took Zadok’s memories too. Zadok has no idea why, but he’s determined to find out.
 
Zadok’s not sure (this phrase is too wishy-washy to establish Zadok as a strong character. Something like, "has no desire to," or even "is conflicted about" gives a better connotation than just "not sure". It doesn't carry much urgency or impact). he wants to fight in the war though; he’d rather get his memories back. He doesn’t know if a war is what’s best for him(this is a really bad sentiment for the character, because it establishes him as extremely selfish. People are dying in a war, and he's only concerned about what's best for him? Consider reworking). But the more he discovers what was taken from him, including his family, the more his spark to end this war turns into a flame.
 
Zadok also learns that this isn’t the first time the war got…reset. After losing his memories for the eighth time now, he realizes there’s parts of him that will never return. (We don't really need to know this either. It doesn't add dramatic tension, and the fact that it's a cycle is much cooler in the book than in a query, since it's just backstory to us now.) He has to find a way to stop Kasen from taking his memories again or the cycle will never end.
 
I know you've revised this a lot, but I think you might be missing the point of a query, in some ways. Every draft I've read reads like you're trying to give the reader information about the book. That is not what a query is for. A query is ~400 words where you try to immerse the reader into the story. You give them events, you give them charactarization, and you give them the very best you have to offer as a writer. Agents care far more about your ability to immerse readers into your book than your actual book's plot. What you need to do is use these 400 words to really, really get your agent into the story.
 
Queries should also be the beginning of the book. You don't need to capture the whole scope of your story and frankly, you shouldn't even try. My advice is to try to immerse the agent in the story. Let me demonstrate with a book I wrote a while back, but never published.
 
Here's how the query would start if I was just distilling information (and I'm spitballing in both of these).
 
"Fourteen-year-old Glen is a Legacy; the son of Divine parents. As such, his right side is perpetually bathed in a yellow glow, and his left side is covered in dark strings, representing his inner corruption. Because he cannot stand the presence of Divines, he had to be shunted from his parents presence at birth. He has spent his life trying very hard to prepare for the journey he will take, to purify himself so that he can return home and meet his parents."
 
It's not terrible, but it's just raw information. I doubt you feel very much reading this. Here's how it should be done:
 
"Glen just wants to go home.
For his entire life, Glen has been incapable of bearing the presence of his Divine parents. His heritage splits him in half; the right side of his body glows, and his left side is covered in thousands of black strings, representing his inner corruption. Glen yearns for the day when he can purify himself of the darkness, when he can overcome every trial the Divines send him so he can finally meet his real family."
 

Again, not refined, but can you see the difference? Query writers must immerse the agent in a moment, so effectively that they don't want to stop reading.

 

I know it sucks, and it's hard, but querying is a marathon, not a sprint. I hope some of my advice helps. I'm a college student as well, so I'm rooting for you =D.



#18 NerdWitch

NerdWitch

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 149 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting, unagented
  • LocationUnited Kingdom

Posted 07 January 2019 - 06:15 PM

 

Newest draft (1/6):
 
After winning a war and bringing peace, everything was reset with a bomb and a spell. Humans are getting murdered again.(I would honestly start here, because I think this is a good hook) Magical creatures who do not comply will be are captured and tortured until they change their minds. And Zadok – one of the nation's best warriors – has lost all of his memories. But that was two weeks ago. 
 
Zadok learns that Kasen – the leader of the enemy’s army – wants to eliminate humans. He took Zadok’s memories too but Zadok has no idea why. but He’s determined to find out the truth.
 
Zadok’s not sure he wants to fight in the war though; he’d rather get his memories back. He doesn’t know if a war is what’s best for him. But the more he discovers what was taken from him, including his family, the more his spark to end this war turns into a flame.
 
Zadok also learns that this isn’t the first time the war got…reset. After losing his memories for the eighth time now, he realizes there’s parts of him that will never return. He has to find a way to stop Kasen from taking his memories again or the cycle will never end.

 

This version reads much better than the first one and I think there's an interesting story here :) it needs a little tweaking and then I think you've got something good! Keep going! 


Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 


#19 W.P.

W.P.

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 169 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationEurope

Posted 08 January 2019 - 08:10 AM

I'm back! :) Thanks for the critique
 
 
After winning a war and bringing peace, everything was reset with a bomb and a spell. ((this is too vague. It'd be better to start with your next sentence)) Humans are getting murdered massacred again. Magical creatures who do not comply will be captured and tortured until they change their minds into compliance. And Zadok – one of the best human warriors – lost all of his memories. But that was two weeks ago. ((this still reads as odd))
 
Zadok learns that Kasen – the leader of the enemy’s army – wants to eliminate humans. He ((redundant since you said it two lines ago. also, if he knows who kasen is then he knows what his goal is (to kill humans) so it's not needed)) took Zadok’s memories too. Zadok has no idea why, but he’s determined to find out.
 
Zadok’s not sure he wants to fight in the war though; ((this makes him sound wishy-washy. maybe instead of saying that you could say that he's being asked to fight in the war)) he’d rather get his memories back. He doesn’t know if a war is what’s best for him. ((implied by his uncertainty. that and war isn't good for anyone)) But the more he discovers what was taken from him, including his family, the more his spark to end this war turns into a flame.
 

 

Zadok also learns that this isn’t the first time the war got…reset. After losing his memories for the eighth time now, he realizes there’s ((there are)) parts of him that will never return. He has to find a way to stop Kasen from taking his memories again or the cycle will never end.
 
 
The stakes are there and they are clear, but I think the main problem with this particular query is that nothing happens. It all could be summed up by "Zadok learns." He learns this and that and I know it's because he has lost his memories, but the fact remains that nothing really happens in the query and so it all feels like an info dump. Zadok is too passive in this. I too have the same problem with my story since it starts with the main character being kidnapped and having absolutely no power over anything. but when the character doesn't have agency in the query, it is important to highlight the other things happening in a way that feels active and dynamic and how these things impact the main character--to compensate for their lack of agency.
 
I think that once you find a way to overcome that issue, everything will fall into place. :) I've had that issue with this query and my last one as well, but it can be overcome.
 
Keep it up and good luck!


#20 Robin LeeAnn

Robin LeeAnn

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 202 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South

Posted 11 January 2019 - 10:50 PM

Thanks for the edits guys! I have a new draft updated now.







0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users