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WORTHLESS - Adult Fantasy

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#1 CarterT

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 09:14 PM

This query has gone through a lot of revisions (almost as many edits as the manuscript itself), but I think I'm getting close! (Leaving out the obligatory agent-specific stuff and contact information). Any feedback is appreciated.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Abusive father, crushing poverty, soldiers with automatic weapons, and the literal darkness that ended the world. X isn’t sure what’s worse, but he’s running from them all.
 
A scavenger by necessity, X is one of the few to travel beyond Haven’s towering walls and return alive; relics from the long-dead world his only means of scraping by. Inside the city isn’t much safer though, and when an encounter with a member of Haven’s self-entitled upper-class costs him a valuable find, and almost his life, he’s left with nothing. 
 
Empty handed, X slinks home, and right into another merciless beating at the fists of his drunken father. But the shockingly violent end to their confrontation leaves X with a whole new set of problems. And not a lot of options. 
 
Now, with a body on his hands, X will need to make a choice – try to reason with guards who end their sentences with broken bones, and accept their judgement, or risk it all for freedom in the world outside Haven’s walls. A world where, with each setting sun, bloodthirsty creatures of absolute shadow rule the night.
 
WORTHLESS is a near-future, dystopian fantasy, complete at approximately 110,000 words, with series potential. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories like ‘The Demon Cycle’ series or ‘Attack on Titan’.
 


#2 lnloft

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 09:46 PM

 

This query has gone through a lot of revisions (almost as many edits as the manuscript itself), but I think I'm getting close! (Leaving out the obligatory agent-specific stuff and contact information). Any feedback is appreciated.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Abusive father, crushing poverty, soldiers with automatic weapons, and the literal darkness that ended the world. X isn’t sure what’s worse, but he’s running from them all. Hmm, part of me really likes this hook, and part of me isn't sure. I like the second sentence, but I'm not sure about the first one as a fragment and not immediately introducing the MC. But I'm also very aware that the power of the second sentence relies on the first one being as it is. The more I look at it, the more I think it's good as a whole, but there was that niggling fact that it made me pause first as to whether it was okay or not, and agents aren't likely to linger around considering, they're just going to make a snap decision and go. I'm really hoping that someone else will chime in and like this, because then we can just say that I'm a bit more of an outlier.
 
A scavenger by necessity, X is one of the few to travel beyond Haven’s towering walls and return alive; relics from the long-dead world are his only means of scraping by. Inside the city isn’t much safer, What's the danger in general, though? though, and when an encounter with a member of Haven’s self-entitled upper-class costs him a valuable find, and almost his life, he’s left with nothing. 
 
Empty handed, X slinks home, and right into another merciless beating at the fists of his drunken father. But the shockingly violent end to their confrontation I think you need to be specific here that X's father dies. I wasn't really sure what happened until I looked at the next paragraph. And honestly, until I read on, I didn't feel that this paragraph added much new. But obviously the death of his father should be a rather big deal leaves X with a whole new set of problems. And not a lot of optionsYes, you're saying something different, but this sentence feels too similar to the end of the last paragraph.
 
Now, with a body on his hands, X will need to make a choice – try to reason with guards who end their sentences I like the attempt of sprucing up the writing, of saying that guards beat people up as often as they talk, but within this context I actually thought that "sentence" here referred to the legal kind, where they guards were sentencing people to punishments that included broken bones, and it was only second or third re-read that I got it right. with broken bones, and accept their judgement, or risk it all for freedom in the world outside Haven’s walls. A world where, with each setting sun, bloodthirsty creatures of absolute shadow rule the night. And? The stakes need to be fluffed up just a bit here. If X goes to the guards, will they beat him up and then send him on his way? Because that's what it sounds like, but I think it's supposed to be harsher. And if he goes into the world outside, what then? Is he just going to wander forever, hoping the monsters don't get him? There should be some kind of a bigger goal out there, otherwise it doesn't make much sense for him to pick that dangerous route.
 
WORTHLESS is a near-future, dystopian fantasy, complete at approximately 110,000 words, with series potential. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories like ‘The Demon Cycle’ series or ‘Attack on Titan’.

 

Sometimes when I put a lot of comments on one of these things, it can actually be a good thing, because it means there's a lot to work with. That's the case with your query. It's actually in a pretty solid place. Obviously not there yet, but I'd agree that you are getting close. It's a lot of shoring up little things, but I think you can get there. Good luck.


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#3 lnloft

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 05:54 PM

(Posting on behalf of DT919)

 


 

With the massive caveat that I have no idea if what I think works reflects the thoughts of an agent at all, I suppose I can offer some thoughts on your query. 

 

It all looks very solid and I don't think there's anything that would stop me from reading on once I'd started it. I'd maybe cut it down a little bit - to three paragraphs rather than four. Though there are obviously a lot of successful query letters out there with that level of detail, you offer two dilemmas (the encounter with the upper crust and with his dad) but it's a long time before you set out how he's going to deal with them. Having just read lnloft's critique before posting this, I'd agree about the second and third paragrpahs being too similar (though I do quite like the pull back and reveal of the dead body in paragraph 4).

 

I like the specifics that you've used in your description, like "towering walls", which don't use up much space but really build up a sense of your world.

 

More specific thoughts:

Abusive father, crushing poverty, soldiers with automatic weapons, and the literal darkness that ended the world. X isn’t sure what’s worse, but he’s running from them all. [I guess if I was an agent, I’d wonder how these were of equivalent levels of terribleness. But I’d probably recognize that you were phrasing it this way for style and give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe "what's" should be "which is"?]

A scavenger by necessity, X is one of the few to travel [tense? “to have travelled” reads more naturally?] beyond Haven’s towering walls and return [you should change this to “returned” if you modify the tense above.] alive; relics from the long-dead world his only means of scraping by. [I’m not sure you need the second part of this sentence – I don't think it adds any important new info and it makes the sentence a lot less snappy. An agent paying attention to your grammar might also be annoyed at this use of a semicolon as I think a semicolon should be followed by an independent clause] Inside the city isn’t much safer though, and when an encounter with a member of Haven’s self-entitled upper-class costs him a valuable find, and almost his life, he’s left with nothing.

 Empty handed, X slinks home, and right into another merciless beating at the fists of his drunken father. But the shockingly violent end to their confrontation leaves X with a whole new set of problems. And not a lot of options. [The last sentence seems unnecessary duplication, as you're going to set his options out in the next paragraph.]  

 Now, with a body on his hands, X will need to make a choice – try to reason with guards who end their sentences with broken bones, and accept their judgement, or risk it all for freedom in the world outside Haven’s walls. A world where, with each setting sun, bloodthirsty creatures of absolute shadow rule the night. [Some lovely details in this paragraph, and you set up the action of the plot well. This is your strongest one for me.  There might be more unnecessary repetition here as well with your "setting sun"/"rule the night" – each implies the other anyway?]

 WORTHLESS is a near-future, dystopian fantasy, complete at approximately 110,000 words, with series potential. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories like ‘The Demon Cycle’ series or ‘Attack on Titan’.

 

 

It looks pretty good to me though. Hope that helps.


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.


#4 JEMitchell

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Posted 14 June 2019 - 03:04 PM

I think the query sounds interesting, though I have a few issues with some of the presentation. As some of the people above have said, the hook line has an issue in that they’re clearly not equivalent despite what the tag line says. Poverty and an abusive father are terrible, but soldiers hunting you is clearly worse, and neither holds a candle to the world-ending manifestation of darkness (which is vague and not really tpuched upon).

The other issue is that the by the third paragraph, it starts to read more like a synopsis than a query.

My final issue is on the stakes in the last paragraph. At what point does he have to make this choice? Is that what’s actually at stake in the book, or is this just his first hurdle? Cause at the moment, it just feels like an immediate initial consequence of his actions, rather than a climactic choice (although they are interesting stakes!)

You have a pretty solid core that I think can be condensed to leave room for more plot if his decision beyond the wall is only the first act. Here’s how I’d rewrite things. Take what works for you!
________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Scavenging relics of a long-dead world to scrape out a living, X is one of the few to dare crossing beyond Haven’s towering walls - and one of the fewer to return alive. Life inside the city has never much safer though; and after a squabble with a self-entitled Haven noble and a drunken beating turned tussle with his father leave him minus one priceless relic and plus one corpse, it becomes just as dangerous.

Now a wanted criminal, X is forces to decide – try to reason with guards who end their sentences with broken bones, and accept their judgement, or risk it all for freedom in the world outside Haven’s walls. A world where, with each setting sun, bloodthirsty creatures of absolute shadow rule the night.
 
WORTHLESS is a near-future, dystopian fantasy, complete at approximately 110,000 words, with series potential. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories like ‘The Demon Cycle’ series or ‘Attack on Titan’.

"Writing is like taking a boat onto the ocean. You pack as many provisions and plan as many contingencies and travel routes as possible beforehand, but once you open those sails, it’s up to the ocean where you’ll end up."

 

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