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The Blasphemer's Cypher—YA Fantasy (Will Critique in Return)

Fiction Fantasy Offbeat/Quirky Young Adult

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#21 lnloft

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 05:48 PM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I've revised this with your comments in mind (for a third time). I think this is getting closer, but it's 264 words—perhaps a bit long?

 

Query revision 4:

 

When fourteen-year-old seamstress Jinxx Relinkerys deciphers a hidden note she finds in the castle, she possesses the evidence she needs to stop Lady Margaté plans to destroy Jinxx’s life. This feels a little too much like jumping in in the middle of things. My reaction isn't so much, "Oh, that's interesting," as, "Wait, who's Margaté and how and why does she want to destroy Jinxx's life?" However, a note isn’t strong enough proof to convict a noble. Fortunately, Jinxx is secretly studying magic. If she can learn how to use it in time, she might be able to save herself,.

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. Her life is like a dream This phrase just feels too blasé. Can you pick something a little stronger sounding? until Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life. This is basically reiterating what you've already said in the hook. I realize that down below you start elaborating, but you need to get something going sooner, without repeating yourself. Actually, taking a step back and looking at things, just delete the first paragraph. That voids the repetition problem, and it deals with the issue I had with the hook before.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. At first, Margaté  restricts her bullying to choir practice, but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous.

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her mentor Is the priest her mentor? Or is she close to the priest and learning magic from someone else? and end her apprenticeship. When Jinxx deciphers a  note she finds in the castle, she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. Yeah, this only reinforces my thought that you should delete the first paragraph. This again is information you're presenting twice, and the query does just fine only learning it here. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next.

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, she needs more than her sewing and math skills. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use.

Hmm. I think the big issue is that I'm not really feeling the stakes yet. I understand that Margaté is going to hurt Jinxx, but I don't feel the emotion behind it. Maybe it's that right now overall Margaté's threat feels very... petty, I guess. What is presented in the query is thus: Margaté is bullying Jinxx, and Jinxx might lose her apprenticeship because of it. And that's all unfortunate, but it doesn't come across as properly impactful. So two things that I think are worth playing up: the actual physical danger, and what Jinxx is getting out of her magic lessons. The magic's kind of a big deal, but honestly, for purposes of the query right now, it could be traded out for any hobby and nothing would really change. So can you give us a bit more on what the magic does and how Jinxx's life is changed by learning it? That will help make the reader care more that she might lose it.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck.


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#22 Valmodeus

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 08:37 PM

Can't figure out forum editing: https://docs.google....it?usp=drivesdk

Here's my query: http://agentquerycon...sky-ya-fantasy/

#23 lnloft

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 08:57 PM

Can't figure out forum editing: https://docs.google....it?usp=drivesdk

Here's my query: http://agentquerycon...sky-ya-fantasy/

Hey Valmodeus,

 

Neither of those links are directing properly. Best way to give feedback on someone's post is to just hit the "Quote" button down at the bottom of their post; that'll pop their post up in yours in the gray box (as seen above^^), and you can type your comments directly into that. Don't make people go to an external source to see.

 

The link to your query is just directing back to the main general forum page, so you might want to double check that link as well.


Please note I'm also posting on behalf of people who can't sign up, so if I provide a link in the main body of the post, make sure to reciprocate on that thread.


#24 London C

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 12:41 PM

Revised version at the top of page one. Thanks, @LNLOFT for the feedback :smile:


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#25 Anna.k

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 12:57 PM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I've revised this with your comments in mind (for a third time). I think this is getting closer, but it's 264 words—perhaps a bit long?

 

Query revision 5:

 

Born with a deformity and dependent on crutches, Jinxx expected to be a seamstress until her math skills lead to an apprenticeship studying magic—something only few people know exists. The apprenticeship not only gives JInxx a future to hope for, but keeps her family out of desperate poverty. First impression is that there's way too much going on here; why can't she be a seamstress if she's crippled? Can she still use her hands? And what does math skills have to do with magic? 

 

Then Lady Margaté, heiress to the local barony, struts into choir practice and starts to ruin Jinxx’s life. Now there's choir practice which also seems random.

 

Margaté wants revenge for her father’s death and thinks Jinxx’s family is responsible. Ok so this seems like the meat of the plot/story; not her deformity or apprenticeship...At first, Margaté restricts her bullying to choir practice,?? Is Margate a peer or a teacher? but it isn’t long before rumors begin to circulate that Jinxx’s close friendship with the local priest is inappropriate and scandalous. Also confused why there's a priest involved...where is the magic school held? in a church?

 

Jinxx fears the rumors will reach her magical mentor and he’ll terminate her apprenticeship. When Jinxx deciphers a note she finds in the castle,Ah so it's set in some form of the Middle Ages, might want to hint that earlier... she’s certain it’s proof Margaté is spreading the rumors. However, accusing a noble requires much more than a note. When a Jinxx finds a second coded note, she learns Margaté’s plans only start with rumors: violence is next.

 

Jinxx’s magic studies are all theory, not practice, but as a terrible sneak and even worse liar, Terrible Sneak insinuates she's a terrible person who sneaks, not that she's terrible at sneaking around? she needs more than her sewing and math skills. ​I feel like you need to pick a lane here...there's choir, sewing, math and magic, but I'm not sure which have anything to do with the plot. To stop Margaté, Jinxx needs magic she can’t use. Not sure what this means....

 

THE BETRAYER’S CYPHER is a 85,000 word YA fantasy novel set in a world reminiscent of late-eighteenth-century Andalusia, full of flamenco duende. The story has elements Valynne Maetani’s INK AND ASHES mixed  with Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST HISTORIES, spiced with a sprinkle of  GLEE.

 

It sounds like the story is about Margate getting back at Jinxx for a family feud and Jinxx doing...I'm not sure what it is she's doing about it  which you definitely need to clear up. Is she planning on hexing her? At this point there's too much information. Interested in seeing the next draft though.

Thanks for your help on my query it was appreciated!







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fiction, Fantasy, Offbeat/Quirky, Young Adult

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