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The Crown's Shadow (YA Fantasy) -- will return all critiques


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#1 Cengel

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 05:23 PM

I've made some final tweaks, particularly to make the stakes more clear in the third paragraph. I'm going to try it out. Thanks for the help!

 

UPDATED VERSION:

 

I still haven't included a first paragraph, but in the real query, this will of course include a greeting and personalization when applicable.

 

okay, so NEW DRAFT:

 

Seventeen-year-old Haruka plans to eliminate the Emperor and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. But Kage, her assassin, would rather read than kill.

 

The Emperor stole Haruka’s mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago, and she’s hungry for revenge. To take his throne, she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows. But her Kagani, Kage, isn’t the cold-hearted killer she envisioned; he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate.

 

Her plans further unravel when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital. As she continues to plot the demise of the man who has welcomed her into the castle, Kage urges her to question the narrative she’s believed her whole life: the Emperor as a monster, herself as a hero. But while Kage thinks the Emperor is well-intentioned, Haruka is certain that he is the monster she’s always imagined. And if she doesn’t act quickly, it could be her life that is lost.

 

Complete at 92,000 words, THE CROWN’S SHADOW is a YA Fantasy told from two perspectives: Haruka’s and Kage’s. It will appeal to fans of the twists in Renee Ahdieh’s A FLAME IN THE MIST and the rich magical system in Garth Nix’s CLARIEL.

 

 

 

OLD DRAFT: Haruka wants two things: revenge and the throne. She loves plans, and she has one that will accomplish both goals. Assassinate the Emperor—who stole her mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago—and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. She just needs the right assassin, so she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows.

 

But Kage, her Kagani, isn’t the ideal assassin she imagined. He would rather read than kill, and he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. If she orders Kage to take the Emperor’s life, she might lose Kage in the process.

 

Yet abandoning her plans would mean plunging into the unknown and following a new, uncertain path. One that could lead to its own rewards. Maybe even love. Things that Haruka has never admitted she wants. But old hatreds die hard. And when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital, she must act quickly, or it could be her own life that is lost.

 

The CROWN'S SHADOW follows both Haruka and Kage’s points of view. It is complete at 92,000 words.



#2 Derrick

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 07:08 PM

I really like this query. I think all the right parts are there for me to care about this. But I would like to see your hook really display what I think is special about your book (as far as I can tell from the query). Something like:

 

To assassinate the Emperor and install herself as Tsuhon's new leader, Haruka needs the right assassin. But her assassin, Kage, would rather read than kill.

 

So to me, that's the hook. And should be first. I'm reading your query, and when I get to the part about Kage, I'm like "Why isn't that the hook?"

 

From there, you just need to rearrange to get the body pieced back together. Like:

 

The Emperor stole Haruka's mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago. For revenge and the throne, Haruka makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows. But her Kagani, Kage, is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. He would rather read than kill, and he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate.

 

If she orders Kage to take the Emperor’s life, she might lose Kage in the process. Yet abandoning her plans would mean plunging into the unknown and following a new, uncertain path. One that could lead to its own rewards. Maybe even love. Things that Haruka has never admitted she wants. But old hatreds die hard. And when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital, she must act quickly, or it could be her own life that is lost. 


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#3 Faltho

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 07:23 PM

Haruka (Age and last name might be helpful here) wants two things: revenge (On who/ or why?) and the throne (Are these really two things, or are they connected?). She loves plans (This feels very generic as the start to a sentence which should start bringing me into the story), and she has one that will accomplish both goals. Assassinate the Emperor—who stole her mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago—and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader(So this isn't really two things, they're a single quest). She just needs the right assassin(A human won't due, and she can't do it alone?), so she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows(This sounds like a cool concept).

 

But Kage, her Kagani, isn’t the ideal assassin she imagined. He would rather read than kill, and he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. If she orders Kage to take the Emperor’s life, she might lose Kage in the process. (This paragraph is missing some 'voice'. Instead it sounds like this is a book report rather than a hook. Maybe spice it up with creative language or add enough detail to really make me intrigued as a potential reader)

 

Yet abandoning her plans would mean plunging into the unknown and following a new, uncertain path. One that could lead to its own rewards. Maybe even love(Again, a bit generic and out of left field. There was no hint this is important to the story at all). Things that Haruka has never admitted she wants. But old hatreds die hard(More generic statements). And when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital, she must act quickly(To do what?), or it could be her own life that is lost.

 

The CROWN'S SHADOW follows both Haruka and Kage’s points of view. It is complete at 92,000 words. (Is this high fantasy, a period piece with fantasy elements, low fantasy? Is this adult/NA/YA/MG?

 

 

Before I summarize my thoughts on this, let me just say, a query is one of the hardest things you'll write in your journey into the publishing world. With a 92,000 word novel, it might feel extremely difficult to succinctly yet compellingly tell me your story. That being said, don't give up. Take the good advice you feel adds to your query, ignore the advice which doesn't fit, and never feel obligated to make any changes unless you agree with them.

 

Now to the advice. A query's job is to give me a compelling synopsis, while building in stakes and potential world building. Your query needs a little help on all of it. The plot gets a little lost in here, and I feel like you're giving me very vague details, but nothing concrete enough to really entice me. I think by making your world building and wording in general a bit more compelling will make a world of difference. With this sort of story I'd expect to see a query that is dynamic and has a life of its own. In other words, bring your book to life with this query, because some agents will never see anything other than this. Lastly, I'm not too firm on what the stakes are. If she kills the emperor, she gets the throne, but she can also run away and fall in love? I think you have a lot of good ideas and a potentially good story here, you just need to make it shine.



#4 Derrick

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 10:46 AM

No critique this time. I think it's probably good enough to test out.


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#5 London C

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 06:19 PM

UPDATED VERSION:

 

First, to be clear, I did have all of the essential stats (world count, genre, etc) in a final paragraph in my query doc that I didn't copy with the text below. I've added it this time, so there's no confusion. I also had comp titles there that I didn't include last time. I still haven't included a first paragraph, but in the real query, this will of course include a greeting and personalization when applicable.

 

okay, so NEW DRAFT:

 

Seventeen-year-old Haruka plans to eliminate the Emperor and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. But Kage, her assassin, would rather read than kill. [This is a nice hook]

 

The Emperor stole Haruka’s mother [What does stole mean in this context? Is there a stronger word you can use?] and banished the rest of her family ten years ago., and Now ​[perhaps  not "now" but a stronger transition than "and"] she’s hungry for revenge. To take his throne, she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows. But her Kagani, Kage, isn’t the cold-hearted killer she envisioned; he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate.[While I like the complex emotions this invokes, it's a bit unclear why she can't hate the trait, or why she wants to]

 

Her plans further unravel when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital. As she continues to plot the demise of the man who has welcomed her into the castle, Kage urges her to question the narrative she’s believed her whole life: the Emperor asis a monster, herself as and she's a hero. But while Kage thinks the Emperor is well-intentioned, Haruka is certain that he is the monster she’s always imagined. [repetes what you say the sentence before: can you reframe this with something that adds to her belief?] And if she doesn’t act quickly, it could be her life that is lost.[fearing for your life is a pretty compelling motive, but since she's driven by revenge, it comes off as a bit weak to me. Is there a way you can broaden the stakes or give it a twist here?]

 

Complete at 92,000 words, THE CROWN’S SHADOW is a YA Fantasy told from two perspectives: Haruka’s and Kage’s. It will appeal to fans of the twists in Renee Ahdieh’s A FLAME IN THE MIST and the constant threat of darkness in Garth Nix’s CLARIEL.

 

 

 

OLD DRAFT: Haruka wants two things: revenge and the throne. She loves plans, and she has one that will accomplish both goals. Assassinate the Emperor—who stole her mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago—and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. She just needs the right assassin, so she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows.

 

But Kage, her Kagani, isn’t the ideal assassin she imagined. He would rather read than kill, and he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. If she orders Kage to take the Emperor’s life, she might lose Kage in the process.

 

Yet abandoning her plans would mean plunging into the unknown and following a new, uncertain path. One that could lead to its own rewards. Maybe even love. Things that Haruka has never admitted she wants. But old hatreds die hard. And when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital, she must act quickly, or it could be her own life that is lost.

 

The CROWN'S SHADOW follows both Haruka and Kage’s points of view. It is complete at 92,000 words.

 

This sounds like a compelling read, but I'd like a bit more from the third paragraph. One thing that strikes me is that the stakes for Kage aren't really present anyplace in the query. I think the third paragraph could be much stronger if you show any conflict between Haruka and Kage that comes from their different views about the Emperor. Does Kage have to follow Haruka's commands? How does his preference for reading come in?


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#6 Joseph Isaacs

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 05:06 PM

UPDATED VERSION:

 

First, to be clear, I did have all of the essential stats (world count, genre, etc) in a final paragraph in my query doc that I didn't copy with the text below. I've added it this time, so there's no confusion. I also had comp titles there that I didn't include last time. I still haven't included a first paragraph, but in the real query, this will of course include a greeting and personalization when applicable.

 

okay, so NEW DRAFT:

 

Seventeen-year-old Haruka plans to eliminate the Emperor and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. But Kage, her assassin, would rather read than kill.i think this as two sentences didn't work for me. i would combine them, the reading part is clever and different, and the hook here, good job with that

 

The Emperor stole Haruka’s mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago, and she’s hungry for revenge. To take his throne, she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows. But her Kagani, Kage, isn’t the cold-hearted killer she envisioned; he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. this is nice and helps me want to read it

 

Her plans further unravel when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital. As she continues to plot the demise of the man who has welcomed her into the castle, Kage urges her to question the narrative she’s believed her whole life: the Emperor as a monster, herself as a hero. nice But while Kage thinks the Emperor is well-intentioned, Haruka is certain that he is the monster she’s always imagined. And if she doesn’t act quickly, it could be her life that is lost.

 

Complete at 92,000 words, THE CROWN’S SHADOW is a YA Fantasy told from two perspectives: Haruka’s and Kage’s. It will appeal to fans of who like the twists in Renee Ahdieh’s A FLAME IN THE MIST and the constant threat of darkness in Garth Nix’s CLARIEL. hmm from the query i didn't get the constant threat of darkness so much as lovable monster, so this part didn't work for me, as either the previous part or this part don't seem to match, it signals something is off. i would just cut this part as the lovable monster part is your hook. overall great job! You are very close

 

 

 

OLD DRAFT: Haruka wants two things: revenge and the throne. She loves plans, and she has one that will accomplish both goals. Assassinate the Emperor—who stole her mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago—and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. She just needs the right assassin, so she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows.

 

But Kage, her Kagani, isn’t the ideal assassin she imagined. He would rather read than kill, and he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate. If she orders Kage to take the Emperor’s life, she might lose Kage in the process.

 

Yet abandoning her plans would mean plunging into the unknown and following a new, uncertain path. One that could lead to its own rewards. Maybe even love. Things that Haruka has never admitted she wants. But old hatreds die hard. And when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital, she must act quickly, or it could be her own life that is lost.

 

The CROWN'S SHADOW follows both Haruka and Kage’s points of view. It is complete at 92,000 words.

Here is mine (Soul Hosts)  if you'd be so kind:

http://agentquerycon...irection/page-2



#7 Ethaaang

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Posted 04 April 2019 - 11:49 AM

Seventeen-year-old Haruka plans to eliminate the Emperor and install herself as Tsuhon’s new leader. But Kage, her assassin, would rather read than kill.  Is Kage hired by Haruka?  This may not matter, just letting you know where my thoughts went.  I do like the alliteration in eliminating the emperor. 

 

The Emperor stole Haruka’s mother and banished the rest of her family ten years ago, and she’s hungry for revenge. To take his throne, she makes a Kagani, a being who can merge with shadows. But her Kagani, Kage, isn’t the cold-hearted killer she envisioned; he is sweet in a way she wishes she could hate.  Oh, okay.  Interesting. 

 

Her plans further unravel when the Emperor unexpectedly summons her to the capital. As she continues to plot the demise of the man who has welcomed her into the castle, Kage urges her to question the narrative she’s believed her whole life: the Emperor as a monster, herself as a hero. But while Kage thinks the Emperor is well-intentioned, Haruka is certain that he is the monster she’s always imagined. And if she doesn’t act quickly, it could be her life that is lost.  I think this paragraph is good but could use another sentence.  Put me a bit more in your story.  Your query is relatively short, as I’ve read they’re supposed to be between 300-400 words. 

 

Complete at 92,000 words, THE CROWN’S SHADOW is a YA Fantasy told from two perspectives: Haruka’s and Kage’s. I like that you incluced the two perspectives.  My story is also from two perspectives, I may steal this from you.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, afterall.  It will appeal to fans of the twists in Renee Ahdieh’s A FLAME IN THE MIST and the constant threat of darkness in Garth Nix’s CLARIEL.

I know you’re not supposed to compare your novel to other published works.  This is something on the agentquery how to write a query checklist. 

 

Please take a look at mine, Dramaturgy.  Thanks!!!



#8 Jackie B

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 01:54 AM

I think the line about the assassin who'd rather read than kill is the hook. The suspense comes from whose version of the past is correct - Haruka's or Kage's. Intriguing.

 

Only one question. Generally when it's a story with a dual POV, the query is written in both. I wonder if we can hear a bit more from Kage. it won't strengthen your query.






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