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CLOSED From Ashes of the Past (epic fantasy)


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#1 kassamarandra

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 05:21 PM

UPDATE IN #19

 

Hi All, 

 

I've workshopped this query here before under a different title. After an extensive revision, I'm back looking to polish up my query. Will return critiques. 

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Cas

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Once, Ember was the only Greater Elemental in all of her magical world. She could turn the earth molten beneath the Dark King’s feet in one breath and smite his armies with torrential storms in the next. Once, she had been a Champion, Defender of the Light. Now that is all gone.

 

Ember wakes after a thousand years to find her elemental power and her memories missing. She soon learns that she sealed a doorway between two worlds to keep the Dark King, her nemesis, from achieving his goals. For more than a millennium, Ember and her seal succeeded in keeping the Dark King in Pangaea—that was until Vashti, created by the Dark, broke the seal and released Ember.

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of all her elements. Unlike Ember, Vashti is no one’s Champion. She serves herself first, and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti. Nor can she stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

But in order to earn a path back to her power, Ember must face the real reason she shut herself and her memories away. Meanwhile Vashti, chafing beneath her master's tightening grip, must face the King's lies and discover who she is, if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is an adult epic fantasy set in a complex secondary world and told from multiple points of view. [the rest of housekeeping here]



#2 lnloft

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 07:16 PM

Hi All, 

 

I've workshopped this query here before under a different title. After an extensive revision, I'm back looking to polish up my query. Will return critiques. 

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Cas

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

Once, Ember was the only Greater Elemental in all of her magical world. She could turn the earth molten beneath the Dark King’s feet in one breath and smite his armies with torrential storms in the next. Once, she had been a Champion, Defender of the Light. Now that is all gone. The problem with this hook is that I don't have the context to have it mean anything. I don't know what a Greater Elemental is. I don't know who the Dark King is, and therefore it doesn't mean anything to say Ember can smite him. I don't know what a Defender of the Light is. There are too many proper nouns in here for a query. You do have a good cadence and flow to the writing, so purely in a technical sense this sounds good and your voice does come through, but now the job is to take those qualities and overlay them on something that has meaning to the reader.

 

Ember wakes after a thousand years to find her elemental power and her memories missing If her memories are missing, how does she know her powers are missing?. She soon learns that she sealed a doorway between two worlds to keep the Dark King, her nemesis, from achieving his goals. Having her learn this so quickly rather negates the impact of her losing her memories for me, like it wouldn't really change anything if she lost them or not. For more than a millennium, Ember and her seal succeeded in keeping the Dark King in Pangaea—that was until Vashti, created by the Dark, broke the seal and released Ember.

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of all her elements. Unlike Ember, Vashti is no one’s Champion. Once again, I don't have the context for these sentences to hold much meaning to me. She serves herself first, and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But without the elemental power that once defined her This clause is a little confusing, because we've been talking about Vashti, so my initial assumption was that this clause was also about her, only to find it's actually about Ember, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti. Nor can she stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

But in order to earn a path back to her power, Ember must face the real reason she shut herself and her memories away Wait, Ember is the one who removed her own memories and power?. Meanwhile Vashti, chafing beneath her master's tightening grip, must face the King's lies and discover who she is, if she's to find a path to her freedom. Up until now, Vashti has been presented as an antagonist to Ember, so it seems a little odd to now place high stakes on what Vashti must achieve. I'm assuming she's also a POV based on your line below, but I think the most effective thing for the query would be to focus on just one of them.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is an adult epic fantasy set in a complex secondary world and told from multiple points of view. [the rest of housekeeping here]

Good news, as I noted before, is that your writing itself is good. There's a cadence and a flow that I enjoy from reading your query; pleasing to the inner ear. But the contents are a bit muddled.

 

Starting off, where does your story begin? It seems to me that a lot of what you present is backstory, so I don't get enough sense of the plot. Does the reader know from the get-go that Ember was once this Greater Elemental? If not, then frame the query in the same way, with the reader discovering it with Ember.

 

Also see where you can simplify, especially in terms of proper nouns and terms that you've created. I learned the hard way that these things just muddle queries up. I don't think we need to know that Ember is a Champion, Defender of the Light, for instance, because those things just distract and take up room from displaying the plot. Because plot is where things are thin here, unfortunately. Ember wakes up amnesiac and discovers that she sealed evil in a can. And Vashti's there, and the Dark King is going to destroy everything. And... what is Ember going to do? Is she going to go on a quest? Spy on the Dark King? Give us something more tangible to grasp for where the plot is going to go other than "face her own past". She's going to be facing those reasons while doing what?

 

Good luck.


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


#3 Jemi

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 09:54 PM

 

Once, Ember was the only Greater Elemental in all of her magical world. She could turn the earth molten beneath the Dark King’s feet in one breath and smite his armies with torrential storms in the next. Once, she had been a Champion, Defender of the Light. Now that is all gone. (That's a lot of proper nouns - it's not character soup but it's edging in that direction) (I like the hints that nothing is as it was but wonder if you could simplify some to streamline a bit)

 

Ember wakes after a thousand years to find her elemental power and her memories missing. (interesting! maybe start here???) She soon learns that she sealed a doorway between two worlds to keep the Dark King, her nemesis, from achieving his goals. For more than a millennium, Ember and her seal succeeded in keeping the Dark King in Pangaea—that was until Vashti, created by the Dark, broke the seal and released Ember. (again, intriguing, but I think you could streamline) (This implies that Vashti is on Ember's side and has deliberately released her.. after reading on I'm not sure if that's true)

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of all her elements. Unlike Ember, Vashti is no one’s Champion. She serves herself first, and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti. Nor can she stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

But in order to earn a path back to her power ​(another interesting element - earning back power - but leaves us with questions. who has taken power and why?) , Ember must face the real reason she shut herself and her memories away (hmmm. This implies she's taken her own power away) (you might want an ...or this happens... ending to this sentence). Meanwhile Vashti, chafing beneath her master's tightening grip, must face the King's lies and discover who she is (not sure about that last bit - maybe who she wants to be???), if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is an adult epic fantasy set in a complex secondary world and told from multiple points of view. [the rest of housekeeping here]

 

Sounds like an interesting story.

I think I'd be tempted to start the query with Ember awakening. I assume this is where your story starts and I think it would be a good opportunity to let us into her emotions. For me, it's the emotions of the character that sells the story as opposed to the plot (although we have to include enough of that too! - such a tough balance!). I'd like to see more emotions throughout the query. 

Just to play around to show you what I mean by streamlining...

Ember awakes to find that not only has she slept for a millennium, but that powers she no longer has are key to saving her world.

The Dark King wants to wipe out her world's population in order to possess the magical natural resources of Pangaea. if she is to save her people and herself, Ember must work with Vashti, an elemental whose morals are as weak as her powers are strong.

Okay, not great, too short, not in your voice, and probably doesn't really match your story much at all  :smile: but it's just to show what I mean. You might be able to eliminate some fo the details of the setting/backstory while adding emotions and building that empathy for your characters.

Hope some of that makes sense for you! If not, feel free to ignore. It's your story and you'll know best. Good luck with it!



#4 A Fatalist Dawn

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 10:50 PM

Once, Ember was once the only Greater Elemental in all of her magical world. She could turn the earth molten beneath the Dark King’s feet in one breath and smite his armies with torrential storms in the next. I love this line! Once, she had been a She was once a Champion, Defender of the Light. Now that is all gone. I like the dramatic setup to her amnesia, but there is so much terminology thrown around that it distracts from your hook. Champion? Defender of the Light? Are these titles or something else? 

 

Ember wakes after a thousand years to find her elemental power and her memories missing. She soon learns that she sealed a doorway between two worlds to keep the Dark King, her nemesis, from achieving his goals. "Achieving his goals" is very vague. 

For more than a millennium, Ember and her seal succeeded in keeping kept the Dark King in Pangaea—that was until Vashti, created by the Dark King, broke the seal and released Ember. So, why would Vashti, the Dark King's servant/creation release her master's nemesis? Also, released Ember from what, exactly?

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of all her elements. Unlike Ember, Vashti and is no one’s Champion. She serves herself first, and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. I think there should be a break here. This part can be placed in the same paragraph you introduced Vashti.

 

But Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti. Nor can she stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

But  In order to earn a path back to her power, Ember must face the real reason she shut herself and her memories away. Meanwhile Vashti, chafing beneath her master's tightening grip, must face the King's lies and discover who she is, if she's to find a path to her freedom. I'm actually in favor of this line. Firstly, it's clear Vashti is more of an anti-heroine than a villain. While she may be your MC's antagonist, she's an interesting foil. I think this line could work if your novel (and query) focuses on the opposing tension between Ember and Vashti.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy set in a complex secondary world (Epic fantasy, by definition, is set in a secondary world. Also, we can see from the query that it's not the primary world, so you don't need to state this. Saying it's "complex" is vague and cliched. What well-written and well-built epic fantasy world isn't complex?) and told from multiple points of view. [the rest of housekeeping here]


Check out my poetry book, The Groundwork of Realization (2018).
 

#5 kassamarandra

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 12:37 PM

Thank you all for your input. I've revised based on the feedback so hopefully the story is more clear now. I tried a different layout where each mc has their own paragraphs (like a romance query) 

 

@ A Fatalist Dawn

You nailed Vashti's role. She is not the antagonist, but an anti-hero. She is also a mc and the Dark King is the antagonist. 

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Version 2

 

As the only Greater Elemental, Ember could once smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath thier feet. She’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that is all gone.

 

 

 

Ember awakes to find that not only has she slept for a millennium, but that she sealed a doorway to keep her nemesis and his armies in her world. Ember succeeded in her goal until Vashti, created by the Dark King to open the portal, broke the seal and released Ember. Except now, Ember’s missing not only her elemental powers but parts of her memories as well.

 

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King strikes out for the portal again. But earning a path back to her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away if she hopes to stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop the Dark King once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If she’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but Vashti must face the King's lies and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy {housekeeping}



#6 Jemi

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 08:57 PM

I like this approach!

In a typical romance query, the 1st paragraph = intro MC #1 & problem 

2nd paragraph = intro MC #2 & problem 

3rd paragraph = tie the 2 stories together and add stakes

I know you're not writing a romance but I wonder if keeping it in the same pattern might be effective  :smile:

 

As the only Greater Elemental, (Not sure you need that bit) Ember could once smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath thier feet. She’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that is all gone. ​(I don't think you need that last bit. The repetitive emphasis on 'once' does the job)

 

Ember awakes to find that not only has she slept for a millennium, but that she sealed a doorway to keep her nemesis and his armies in her world. Ember succeeded in her goal until Vashti, created by the Dark King to open the portal (I like that addition!), broke the seal and released Ember. Except now, Ember’s missing not only (might want to rephrase one of these) her elemental powers but parts of her memories as well.

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King (this sounds like V & the DK are the same person-even when you made it clear earlier they are not) strikes out for the portal again. But earning a path back to her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away if she hopes to stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect. (I like that last line too. The paragraph might need some tweaking tho - seems a bit complex)

 

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty (might be too much of a cliche to use) to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop the Dark King once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If she’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but Vashti must face the King's lies  (I'm not sure about the last bit - what lies? why does she have to face them? how are these lies involved in anything? If they're important, they should probably show up earlier) and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

I like the direction that you're going! Hope some of that helps  :smile:



#7 callalilly

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 08:50 PM


 

As the only Greater Elemental, Ember could once smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath thier their feet. She’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that is all gone. (I like this hook so much! Your original was good, but I think this is so much more cool sounding. My only unsure thought is with the last six words. I want to try something like: "She’d once been a champion, a defender, but that was long ago. " I don't know if that works for your book, but I feel like it reads slightly with a more ominous tone, which in hooks is great. But ignore if you don't like.)

 

 

Ember awakes to find that not only has she slept for a millennium, but also that she sealed a doorway to keep her nemesis and his armies in her world (Love it. But I do wonder, did she forget about sealing the door? Why does she discover this fact only after waking?). Ember succeeded in her goal (what was her goal?) until Vashti, created by the Dark King to open the portal, broke the seal and released Ember (Released her from where?). Except now, Ember’s missing not only her elemental powers but parts of her memories as well (Ah, now a few of my questions get answered. Maybe introduce the part about the memories earlier)

 

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King strikes out for the portal again. But earning a path back to her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away if she hopes to stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop the Dark King once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If she’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but Vashti must face the King's lies and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom. (Since this is more than one persons story, I would suggest splitting the query evenly -2 paragraphs for Ember, 2 for Vashti. The hook and the majority of the query is for Ember so I thought it was a 1 person story. When Vashti takes the spotlight in the last paragraph I was thrown slightly.)

 

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy {housekeeping}

 

I read a older version a while back and while it was good, this is a great updated version. The stakes are amazing! I was impressed at how the letter had grown! I just had a few suggestions that you can as always ignore if they don't work. Good luck!



#8 brandonyoung

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 10:11 PM

Version 2

 

As the only Greater Elemental, Ember could once smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath thier feet. She’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that is all gone. (Nice. Just wondering if clarification is possible. Is she the only Greater Elemental, or the only Greater Elemental LEFT?)

 

Ember awakes to find that not only has she slept for a millennium, but that she sealed a doorway to keep her nemesis and his armies in her world. (Awakes from what? Was there some massive battle I missed?) Ember succeeded in her goal (What goal? Sealing her enemies with her? On first glance, that seems bad -- or at least it's phrased in that way) until Vashti, created by the Dark King to open the portal, broke the seal and released Ember. Except now, Ember’s missing not only her elemental powers but parts of her memories as well. (I'm lost. Mainly because there are so many twists in this paragraph. She slept for a millennium, but also did this. She succeeded until this happened. The Dark King released her -- is this good or bad? -- except this happens. My brain is overloading.)

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her (This bit is good. She defined herself by her power -- now that power is gone so what does that make her? Good stuff.), Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King strikes out for the portal again. (I'm confused with the portal. What is it and do we want it open or closed?) But earning a path back to her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away if she hopes to stop the Dark King from committing mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal. (Long, awkward sentence.) A world he covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and the Dark King second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop the Dark King once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If she’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but Vashti must face the King's lies and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy {housekeeping} (I wouldn't think you need to tell us it's multi-POV considering more adult epic fantasies are multi-POV in some way)

 

The two people before me seemed to like this query a lot. Didn't work for me and I probably would have stopped reading by the end of the first full paragraph just out of confusion. Too many threads flying in too many directions and my brain just got tired.


If you have time, I'd love your feedback on my query...

 

http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/39047-this-cosmic-graveyard-space-fantasy/

 

...or my synopsis:

 

COMING SOON


#9 kassamarandra

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 11:53 AM

Version 3

​Thanks in advance! 

 

Dear AGENT:

 

[personalization]

 

Ember could smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. As the only Greater Elemental, she’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. Ember wakes to find she’s not only slept for a millennium, but she’s missing parts of her memory and the elemental power that defined her. And, while in stasis, her nemesis created a second Greater Elemental.

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and her master second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop her master once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If Vashti’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but she must face the King's lies and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King strikes out for the portal again. But earning back her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away. If she hopes to stop Vashti, Ember must find the path back to her power. Otherwise, Vashti will commit mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal,. A world her master covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy [housekeeping]



#10 A Fatalist Dawn

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 11:03 PM

Juggling two MCs in the same query is incredibly tricky. The risk of giving each MC their own paragraph is that query can feel disconnected and overly complicated. I'll offer my suggestion for your structure, based on some advice I've read (feel free to accept or reject):

 

Paragraph 1: Introduce Ember and Vashti in the same paragraph. Put them on the same stage together, right away. How are they similar and, more importantly, how are they different?

 

Paragraph 2: Set up the stakes. Here, you want to put the two on a collision course. How will their goals clash? This may be where you will want to mention the Dark King, considering he's the thread that connects the two. (Vashti is trying to serve the Dark King; Ember is trying to stop him from committing genocide on the world beyond the portal.) Be specific about what each stands to lose. (In this case, it seems Ember is concerned about protecting the world entrusted to her, while Vashti is concerned about gaining her own freedom.)

 

Paragraph 3: Wrap up the query. You will want to mention this is multi OR dual POV. 

 

Also, how many POVs are we talking about here? Is it just Ember and Vashti, and do they alternate? Romance is a totally different beast than epic fantasy, but if you're opting for giving each MC her own paragraph, I would definitely try to focus on one of them. So, if you're focusing on Ember, use the second paragraph to explain how Vashti fits into Ember's story, without going into detail about Vashti's goals, etc. Here's an example I hope will help: http://queryshark.bl...03/199-ftw.html

 


Check out my poetry book, The Groundwork of Realization (2018).
 

#11 kassamarandra

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 10:02 AM

Thank you for the advice Fatalist, I've read query shark. The story has 5 POV's, 2 mc's (both Ember and Vashti have their own stories) and the antagonist (Vashti's master)) and the ms starting with Vashti, 



#12 brandonyoung

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 05:56 AM

Dear AGENT:

 

[personalization]

 

Ember could smite her nemesis’ armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. As the only Greater Elemental, she’d once been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. Ember wakes to find she’s not only slept for a millennium, but she’s missing parts of her memory and the elemental power that defined her. And, while in stasis, her nemesis created a second Greater Elemental. This hook is BETTER than what you had before. Her nemesis creating a replacement in her absence = really cool.

 

Unlike Ember, Vashti is in full command of her elements; she’s no one’s champion. She serves herself first and her master second, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to please him. But with Ember back in the world, preparing to stop her master once again, Vashti fears she isn’t strong enough to stand up against Ember. If Vashti’s free from her master’s control she just may gain the upper hand, but she must face the King's lies and discover who she wants to be if she's to find a path to her freedom.

 

(I know what you're trying to do with the dual POV query, but I feel like this is way too early to give us another viewpoint. I was just getting into Ember and I really want to learn more about her, learn how she deals with what's happened, how she feels about it, what's going on with HER -- not some other character. If you really want to do the dual-POV thing, of course no one can stop you. What it does, though, I think -- and I feel it -- is it grinds the query to a stop and you lose all momentum.)

 

(Also, it's still slightly unclear to me who Vashti is and who the "master" is. I'm guessing Vashti is the second Greater Elemental and the master is Ember's nemesis. But Vashti saying "with Ember back in the world" makes me believe Vashti knew about Ember before and therefore that can't be right. It's because you introduce Vashti immediately after introducing the second Greater Elemental. That's where the possible misconception comes in.)

 

Without the elemental power that once defined her, Ember has little hope of confronting Vashti when the Dark King (Her nemesis and Vashti's master? If so, is there a way to just give the guy one name for the sake of the query?) strikes out for the portal again (Maybe an artefact from a previous draft. What's the portal?). But earning back her power means she must face the real reason she sealed herself away. (She sealed herself away? You say this as if we were supposed to already know.) If she hopes to stop Vashti, Ember must find the path back to her power. Otherwise, Vashti will commit mass genocide on the unsuspecting world beyond the portal,. A world her master covets. A world Ember was created to protect.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy [housekeeping]

 

This is a huge improvement from what I read previously. I genuinely think it's a good story, but the fact that you are unable to define the actual protagonist is a little concerning. I can't really make any judgment because you haven't given us a word count (maybe it's some 300k word epic) but surely there's ONE protagonist whose actions carry the plot forward. By the sounds of this, Ember is that protagonist. Vashti sounds like an antagonist to her protagonist. Like, I'll take your word for it that you absolutely cannot sell the story without going into two POVs, but I still wonder if there's any way at all you can just focus on Ember. From what I've read, I don't need to know about Vashti. It adds nothing groundbreaking.

 

Otherwise, maybe just spend more time on Ember before going into Vashti because it kills the momentum (for me, at least).

 

BUT if you are firm on the dual-POV query, then I think all you have to do is clear up the Dark King / Nemesis / Master scenario, as well as some of that "portal" stuff which I think is leftover from an older revision, and you should be pretty much good to go! Good job and good luck.


If you have time, I'd love your feedback on my query...

 

http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/39047-this-cosmic-graveyard-space-fantasy/

 

...or my synopsis:

 

COMING SOON


#13 kassamarandra

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 03:18 PM

Version 4 Single POV

 

I know it's a little short, but here is a single POV query. (Dual is in post #9)

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

When Ember wakes from stasis she discovers she’s no longer the only Greater Elemental. Her nemesis, Caethiel, created his own in order to reopen the doorway into another world. But missing the elemental power that defined her, Ember is helpless to stop him.

 

Once, Ember could smite Caethiel’s armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. She’d been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. After waking from stasis, she realizes she’s not only missing her powers, but parts of her memories as well. And no one will tell her why she sealed the doorway in the first place. After speaking with her mentor, Ember learns there’s more to her missing powers than just being cut-off from them. And a dark power, rooted in her nightmares, is offering to fill the void.

 

With Caethiel’s Greater Elemental leading his armies, Ember must decide to wield the dark power and risk losing herself, or earn her way back to the elements, even if it means uncovering the real reason she sealed herself away.

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV adult epic fantasy [housekeeping- complete at 125,000 words]



#14 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 01:27 PM

When Ember wakes from stasis(stasis? What do you mean by that?), she discovers she’s no longer the only Greater Elemental (What's that? Like she can control elements?). Her nemesis, Caethiel, created his own (his own what?) in order to reopen the doorway into another world. But missing the elemental power that defined her, Ember is helpless to stop him (So, she lost her power? How?).
 
Once, Ember could smite Caethiel’s armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. (I think this sentence should be earlier in your query. Explain who she is more before you start talking about Caethiel.) She’d been a champion - a defender - but now that’s all gone. After waking from stasis (still not sure what this is), she realizes she’s not only missing her powers, but parts of her memories as well (Why?). And no one will tell her why she sealed the doorway in the first place (What doorway? How would they know?). After speaking with her mentor (mentor for what?), Ember learns that there’s more to her missing powers than just being cut-off from them (What do you mean by that?). And a dark power, rooted in her nightmares, is offering to fill the void. (Where did this dark power come from?)
 
With Caethiel’s Greater Elemental leading his armies, Ember must decide to wield this dark power and risk losing herself, or earn her way back to the elements, even if it means uncovering the real reason why she had she sealed herself away.
 
This story seems interesting, but I need to know more of what is going on. If you introduce an idea, be sure to explain it. Also, I'd start with Ember's story for a while before talking about Caethiel.
 
If you have the time, please return the favor: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/


#15 Koechophe

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Posted 31 December 2018 - 09:05 PM

Heya, hope my advice will be of benefit to you. Fair warning, my claws are long, sharp and merciless (there's a reason my avi is a flaming hand).

 


 

When Ember wakes from stasis she discovers she’s no longer the only Greater Elemental. Her nemesis, Caethiel, created his own in order to reopen the doorway into another world. But missing the elemental power that defined her, Ember is helpless to stop him. (This is way, way too jarring.

1) I have no idea what a Greater Elemental is, especially since the fantasy trope of "elementals" are specific to one type of element. Chuck out that title and give us specific description of what Ember is.

2) The "Doorway into another world" is super confusing because I don't even know if the world you're referring to is like our world, or not. Chuck that out as well, we don't need it here in the hook (we probably don't need it at all). Also, if you do throw this in, give us a bit more on why he wants to do that. Even the phrase, "Summon monsters from another world", or "steal riches from another world," makes a lot more sense than just making a doorway there.

3)"Missing elemental power". What elemental power? What even is that? 

4) Why was she in stasis? Did she get captured and forcibly put to sleep? Was she just really tired? Is it the Greater Elemental equivalent of a spa day? 

 

Hooks need to be crisp, clear and biting. This one just misses the mark and ends up leaving me really confused. 

 

Once, Ember could smite Caethiel’s armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet (Now, why on earth isn't this your hook? Cut out the specific name, and this is a BEAUTIFUL hook). She’d been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. (this is just a repetition of the last idea, cut it) After waking from stasis (I still don't like this word use. It makes us question too many things. 1. Why was she in stasis, 2. What was said stasis (is it like some futuristic stasis pod?), 3. What woke her up? Even if you just say, "After being captured and put to sleep..." and we know everything we need to know for it to make sense). , she realizes she’s  not only missing her powers, but  and parts of her memory (it needs to be singular here to be grammatically correct) memories as well. And no one will tell her why she sealed the doorway in the first place. (Doesn't seem important, and throwing this in there feels like info dump) After speaking with her mentor, Ember learns there’s more to her missing powers than just being cut-off from them. (We don't really need to know that she's got a mentor, and saying "there's more to it" tells us nothing, since we don't even know why "it" happened in the first place. If you were to insert something about Ember's feelings here, about feeling lonely and helpless without her powers, or something to that effect, then the next sentence is far more impactful, and the query flows much more smoothly). And a dark power, rooted in her nightmares, is offering offers (present progressive almost always sounds clunky) to fill the void.

 

With Caethiel’s Greater Elemental leading his armies (Here we have the issue that no worldbuilding whatsoever has been done in the query. And that's okay, we probably don't need it. But statements like this end up feeling out of place. We still don't know what a Greater Elemental is (and I'd toss out that term entirely, because 10 bucks says explaining what a greater elemental is in your query would end up reading terribly), we don't know what these armies are, we don't know who's at war with who, we don't know who Ember's people are or why they're fighting with Caethiel's people, etc. All you need to do is imply threat from Caethiel and explain why it's happening, and you can negate the need to answer all of those questions I just threw out. Even a simple sentence (spitballing here cause I don't know your book) like "With Caethiel seeking to dethrone Ember's king and rule the land under his iron fist, Ember..." And the reader's not confused, because those concepts are are perfectly normal and sensical) , Ember must decide whether to wield the dark power and risk losing herself to the dark power, or earn her way back to the elements, even if it means uncovering the real reason she sealed herself away. (Again, this is just too vague and it detracts. Something better would be approaching it from the angle of her memories, and giving us more specific details. "Even if it means restoring her own, terrible memories of the monster she was before she fell asleep." Something like that.)

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV (No need to say multi-POV, that is literally a stipulation of epic fantasy. Single-pov epic fantasies are all but non-existant, and they're usually classed as high fantasy because they lack the scope of multiple people.) adult (No need to say adult, "epic fantasy" is an adult genre. If I read a query for a "YA-epic fantasy" novel, I'd just laugh.) epic fantasy [housekeeping- complete at 125,000 words]

 

This query is a bit bare. You have wiggle room here to help us feel more immersed. A lot of it is cutting things that make the reader confused, but I think you could also add in a bit more of who Ember is. Show us her personality. Make us sympathetic for her. You can also give a tinge more about the world, and what's going on. Paint a little picture of the conflict and why it's happening. 

 

I think you're right to do a singular POV for this query (and feel free to call me a hypocrite because I doggedly assert that showing both POVs works better for mine). I

 

Hope this helps. Good luck and happy writing! 

-I critique because I care



#16 kassamarandra

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 01:19 PM

Okay try #5

 

Thank you everyone who's commented. I appreciate the input. 

 

It's still a little short, but I want to nail a direction and see where the questions are before I start filling in. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

As the only Elemental, Ember could smite armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. She’d been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone.

 

Soon after waking, Ember learns she was in a great battle to save her world from the Dark King. But in creating a lock on an interdimensional door, something went wrong and Ember wakes up a thousand years into the future with no powers and missing memories.

 

She wants nothing more than her elemental powers back—without them she’s incomplete—but her nightmares warn her of a darkness encroaching on her world. With the darkness offering chaotic power, to replace her missing balanced magic, Ember must find a way to reconnect with the elements before she faces the Dark King, or lose herself to the lure of darkness.  

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV Adult Epic Fantasy with worldbuilding that would appeal to fans of City of Brass and Forest of A Thousand Lanterns. It is complete at 125,000 words.



#17 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 03:30 PM

As the only Elemental (What's an elemental? Can she bend the elements or so? Like Avatar?), Ember could smite armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. (That's cool that she can do that, but why does she do that?) She was a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. (Why is it gone?)
 
Soon after waking (This sounds like she was in a coma or so, but I'm not sure.), Ember learns she was in a great battle to save her world from the Dark King. But in creating a lock on an interdimensional door (Wut. Why an interdimensional door? What purpose was that for? And who's the Dark King? What is the Dark King doing? I thought she was great at battles. I'm confused.), something went wrong and Ember wakes up a thousand years later  into the future with no powers and missing memories.
 
She wants nothing more than her elemental powers back (What memories is she missing if she remembers her powers?) since she feels incomplete without them. she’s incomplete—But her nightmares warn her of a darkness encroaching on her world (Is there any signs of that? Wait. What happened after the Dark King won the battle? Did some other person come and safe the day? Is the world in chaos now?). With the   The darkness offers chaotic power, to replace her missing balanced magic. (Is Ember tempted by this?) Ember must find a way to reconnect with the elements before she faces the Dark King, or lose herself to the lure of darkness.  
 
This has gotten a lot better. Mostly, I just want some clarification in some parts. I have questions throughout for that. Good luck!
 
If you can, I have a new draft posted: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/


#18 W.P.

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 10:37 AM

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

 

 

As the only Elemental, Ember could smite armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. She’d been a champion, a defender, but now that’s all gone. ((very strong beginning! Love it))

 

Soon after waking, Ember learns she was in a great battle She'd battled to save her world from the Dark King, but in creating a lock on an interdimensional door, ((not sure why she did this and how this would help without context)) something went wrong and Ember wakes up a thousand years into the future with no powers and missing memories. ((I feel like the paragraph is sort of going around in circles, rather than moving forward. a stronger way of doing it would be to change the first sentence.))

 

She wants nothing more than her elemental powers back—without them she’s incomplete—but her nightmares warn her of a darkness encroaching on her world. With the darkness offering chaotic power, to replace her missing balanced magic, Ember must find a way to reconnect with the elements before she faces the Dark King ((I assumed the battle had been done and over with, so I was confused as to why the king had returned.)), or lose herself to the lure of darkness.  

 

 

FROM ASHES OF THE PAST is a multi-POV Adult Epic Fantasy with worldbuilding that would appeal to fans of City of Brass and Forest of A Thousand Lanterns. It is complete at 125,000 words.

 

 

This is a tight, compelling query. :) Good job. The only things that left me confused were the interdimensional door and the return of the dark king. I think both these things might need a bit more context.



#19 kassamarandra

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 05:05 PM

Try # 6

I added Vashti back in as a named character b/c the book starts with her so I want readers to be familiar with her name. She is not the antagonist, she's a 2nd mc. 

 

Thanks in advance. 

 

_______________________________________________________________________

As the only Elemental, Ember could smite armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. She’d been a champion, a defender of two worlds, but now that’s all gone.

 

Soon after waking from stasis, Ember learns she was in a great battle against the Dark King to save a world she was created to protect. But something went wrong. By using the elements within herself to create a lock on an interdimensional door, Ember put herself in stasis and ended the war. A thousand years into the future she’s woken with no powers and parts of her memory missing, and the Dark King is trying to get through the doorway once again.

 

Despite her missing memories, Ember wants nothing more than her elemental powers back—without them she’s incomplete. But her nightmares warn her of a darkness encroaching on her world and while she was in stasis the Dark King created a second Elemental, Vashti. With Vashti wreaking havoc in her world, and the darkness offering chaotic power to replace her missing balanced elemental magic, Ember must find a way to reconnect with the elements or lose herself to the lure of darkness.



#20 Jemi

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 07:39 PM

 

As the only (would 'final' work here? From later in the query, it appears she was 'made', so maybe... As an Elemental, Ember was created to...???) Elemental, Ember could smite armies with torrential storms and turn the earth molten beneath their feet. She’d been a champion, a defender of two worlds, but now that’s all gone.

 

Soon after waking from stasis, Ember learns she was in a great battle against the Dark King to save a world she was created to protect. But something went wrong. By using the elements within herself to create a lock on an interdimensional door, Ember put herself in stasis and ended the war. A thousand years into the future she’s woken with no powers and parts of her memory missing, and the Dark King is trying to get through the doorway once again.

 

Despite her missing memories, Ember wants nothing more than her elemental powers back—without them she’s incomplete. But her nightmares warn her of a darkness encroaching on her world and while she was in stasis the Dark King created a second Elemental, Vashti. With Vashti wreaking havoc in her world, and the darkness offering chaotic power to replace her missing balanced elemental magic, Ember must find a way to reconnect with the elements or lose herself to the lure of darkness.

 

I like it! I think you've done a really good job with the query...

BUT...

(Don't hate me!)

If Vashti is the 1st character in the story, would it make more sense to focus on her in the query? That way there's no disconnect for the agent who is going from reading the query to reading the pages. (Having said that.. with the query as is, I think the world building is sufficient that it wouldn't be too confusing for the agent, just might flow better for them if you lead with V)

 

In the thousand years since she was created, Vashti has learned a few tricks. Now she's wondering if it's time to use them against her creator...

 

Okay - that probably doesn't match the first scene with her in it, but it's just to give you an idea to springboard from.






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