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Awakening - YA fantasy wrapped round a murder mystery

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#1 Jackie B

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 10:33 PM

Dear Agent,

 

In the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, home to the world’s rarest metal, worst climate and strangest god, women can work in mines until they drop dead, but inherit thrones they can’t. That means seventeen-year-old princess Allii has zero-dynastic value. Ignored by her father, she stays busy building up her herbaria and trying to coax a few smiles out of her childless stepmother, Queen Bellizza.

Then Bellizza dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Accused of murder, Allii escapes her father’s justice and embarks of a journey of clue-hunting accompanied by a daemon-dog. Her ‘Find-Bellizza’s killer quest’ turns into something far more complicated when she realizes that everything she thought she knew Sallonia’s origins and her own were fabrications.

 

In a land built on lies, truth is not only a myth; it can get you killed. Bellizza’s murder is not an isolated crime but the first step in a many-headed conspiracy. If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike. But first, she has to stay ahead of the pair of tracker-assassins chasing her, human bloodhounds who never fail to get their man, woman, child or animal.

 

Awakening is a 95,000-word fantasy novel for young adults.

 

With sincere thanks for your time and consideration, 



#2 Jemi

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:50 PM

Sounds like an intriguing story line :)

I think I'd cut most of the 1st paragraph and start right in with Allii. 

...

17 y-o Allii's talent with plants may cost her not only her freedom but her life....

Even as a princess, 17 y-o Allii's life has no value...

Accused of killing her stepmother, 17 y-o Allii is on the run, right into a conspiracy that threatens her kingdom with civil war...

Instead of cheering up her stepmother, 17 y-o Allii's gift kills her...

***

 

Those are just some ideas to show you what I mean (I'm sure they don't match your story/tone/voice/plot).

For the most part I think it's characters/emotions/heart that sell agents on an idea. Focus in on Alli and build from there. While your world-building sounds great, I don't think you need all of it to sell the story. Use Allii to lure the agent into reading those pages!

 

Hope some of that helps. If it doesn't resonate with you, feel free to ignore. It's your story and you'll know best! Good luck! 



#3 Jackie B

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:13 PM

Hi.

Thanks so much. I suppose that is logical. The focus must be on the MC.

Thanks for the suggestions. I like the first one best.



#4 Jackie B

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:15 PM

So here is a new draft

 

Dear Agent,

 

17-year-old Allii prefers the world of plants to the world of other humans. Wandering among root systems, vegetative shoots, and apical buds is not just a passion. It is also a necessary antidote to life in her father's realm, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, home to world’s rarest metal, worst climate and strangest god, where women can work in mines until they drop dead, but inherit thrones they can’t. But her love for plants becomes her undoing when her beloved stepmother, Queen Bellizza, dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Now Allii is accused of murder, and on the run from her father’s justice, her sole companion a daemon dog who has an opinion about everything, starting with how dangerous it is live among humans, even for humans.

 

Allii is determined to find Bellizza’s killers. But her clue-hunting quest’ turns into something far more complicated when she realizes that everything she thought she knew Sallonia’s origins and her own were lies. In a land built on lies, truth is not only a myth; it can get you killed. Bellizza’s murder is not an isolated crime but the first step in a many-headed conspiracy. If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike. First she has to stay ahead of the pair of tracker-assassins chasing her, human bloodhounds who never fail to get their man, woman, child or animal.



#5 Derrick

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:32 AM

I think you need a bit more white space.

 

Your hook needs to be a bit more snappy. I think your hook is contained here:

 

But her love for plants becomes her undoing when her beloved stepmother, Queen Bellizza, dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Now Allii is accused of murder, and on the run from her father’s justice, her sole companion a daemon dog who has an opinion about everything, starting with how dangerous it is live among humans, even for humans.

 

I would make this a little tighter, snappier, and bring it up top, as it's own paragraph. Then proceed to give background and the details in the body.

 

Last, you need to end it with a bigger cliff-hanger. I feel like you could end on this point:

 

 If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike.

 

And I think that the last sentence could maybe come before it?


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#6 Jackie B

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:43 AM

Good points. Thanks a lot.

 

That was my original ending. Then I changed it. Sigh.



#7 ZacharyD

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:52 AM

Dear Agent,

 

In the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, home to the world’s rarest metal [this is never brought up again], worst climate [nor is this] and strangest god [nor this], women can work in mines until they drop dead, but inherit thrones they can’t. [This is a very busy sentence. Cut what isn't needed] That means seventeen-year-old princess Allii has zero-dynastic value. Ignored by her father, she stays busy building up her herbaria and trying to coax a few smiles out of her childless stepmother, Queen Bellizza.

 

Then Bellizza dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Accused of murder, Allii escapes her father’s justice and embarks of a journey of clue-hunting accompanied by a daemon-dog. Her ‘Find-Bellizza’s killer quest’ [awkward phrasing] turns into something far more complicated when she realizes that everything she thought she knew [of] Sallonia’s origins and her own were fabrications. [How?]

 

In a land built on lies, truth is not only a myth; it can get you killed. Bellizza’s murder is not an isolated crime but the first step in a many-headed conspiracy. If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike. But first, she has to stay ahead of the pair of tracker-assassins chasing her, human bloodhounds who never fail to get their man, woman, child or animal. [The stakes are introduced far too late in the query. I'd mention the bloodhounds once she escapes.]

 

Awakening is a 95,000-word fantasy novel for young adults.

 

With sincere thanks for your time and consideration, 

 

This sounds like a such a fun story. I hope to get to read it one day!



#8 alibi174

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 06:16 AM

Dear Agent,

 

In the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, home to the world’s rarest metal [is this particularly relevant to the plot? If so, explain. If not, cut], worst climate and strangest god, women can work in mines until they drop dead, but inherit thrones they can’t. [I agree with Zachary about the length and business of this sentence. Especially since it's your first sentence, I would suggest something short and punchy.] That means seventeen-year-old princess Allii has zero-dynastic value. Ignored by her father, she stays busy building up her herbaria and trying to coax a few smiles out of her childless stepmother, Queen Bellizza.

 

Then Bellizza dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Accused of murder, Allii escapes her father’s justice and embarks of a journey of clue-hunting accompanied by a daemon-dog. Her ‘Find-Bellizza’s killer quest’ turns into something far more complicated when she realizes that everything she thought she knew [of] Sallonia’s origins and her own were fabrications. [I'm with you until this last clause. Who fabricated the facts, and why does it matter (since her primary task is finding B's killer...are the two connected?)?]

 

In a land built on lies, truth is not only a myth; it can get you killed. Bellizza’s murder is not an isolated crime but the first step in a many-headed conspiracy [is this related to the fabrications you mentioned above? If so, this would be an opportunity to connect the two]If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike. But first, she has to stay ahead of the pair of tracker-assassins chasing her, human bloodhounds who never fail to get their man, woman, child or animal. [The stakes are introduced far too late in the query. I'd mention the bloodhounds once she escapes.]

 

Awakening is a 95,000-word fantasy novel for young adults.

 

With sincere thanks for your time and consideration, 


If you have a few moments, I'd appreciate your feedback on my query


#9 mindy24601

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 07:50 AM

Dear Agent,

 

In the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, home to the world’s rarest metal, worst climate i know Oxford commas are debatable, but I'd add one here, because this initial sentence is already bulky and strangest god, women can work in mines until they drop dead, but they can't inherit thrones, keep your syntax straight inherit thrones they can’t. That means seventeen-year-old princess Allii has zero-dynastic dynastic? value. Ignored by her father, she stays busy building up her herbaria and trying to coax a few smiles out of her childless stepmother, Queen Bellizza.

Then Bellizza dies after eating a rose-apple Allii grew especially for her. Accused of murder, Allii escapes her father’s justice and embarks of a journey of clue-hunting accompanied by a daemon-dog. Her ‘Find-Bellizza’s killer quest’ turns into something far more complicated when she realizes that everything she thought she knew Sallonia’s origins and her own were fabrications. i feel like this could be a lot snappier, pointed, and engaging. play around with your word choices and sentence lengths.

 

In a land built on lies, truth is not only a myth; it can get you killed. Bellizza’s murder is not an isolated crime but the first step in a many-headed conspiracy. If Allii fails to expose its authors, civil war will tear her country, the Serene Kingdom of Sallonia, no need to repeat the name twice into a million bloody shards, devouring the guilty and the innocent alike. But first, she has to stay ahead of the pair of tracker-assassins chasing her, human bloodhounds who never fail to get their man, woman, child or animal.

 

Awakening is a 95,000-word fantasy novel for young adults. and finish with your comparators, etc. 

 

Not bad, your story certainly sounds like it has potential, but I think you still need some work on the query. Make it snappier and more engaging (like the back cover of a book that you'd want to read). I know it's hard. You'll get there. 

 

Please consider returning a critique: http://agentquerycon...sysupernatural/

 

With sincere thanks for your time and consideration, 



#10 Jackie B

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 01:09 PM

Thanks everyone. 







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