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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.


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#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."

 

https://writingjems.wordpress.com/


#5 London C

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 06:43 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. (The concept of this hook works for me, but not the execution. I'd like ti better if you could structure the first sentence as a true sentence, and not a list-fragment. Is the character's name X?)
 
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, (I'd put this either at the front of the sentence or at the end. Here, it looses the emphasis I think it should get. A find is replaceable, a life isn't). 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 (shockingly implies more story than you want to go into here, I suspect) 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,(excellent turn of phrase) 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. (I'm not fond of setence fragments in queries. Can this be reworked as a complete sentence?)
 
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’.

 

 

The structure of this works well. I get all the basics and there are some nice bits of language in there. With a bit of tuning, I suspect this will be a winner.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#6 NoNoNoNo

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 12:58 AM

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 saw some discussion on this: it totally works for me. World-ending darkness might be worse than hunger on a blackboard, but tell that to someone who's starving. As for opening with a fragment and starting with a list, I'd chalk it up to artistic license but it's a slight yellow flag.
 
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. - Yellow flag darkening. Your opening sentence is two independent clauses, both leading with the predicate. It's similar to your first paragraph. Now starting to wonder if the whole manuscript will read like it was written by Yoda I am.

It's still probably in artistic license territory, but I'd like it better if one of those thoughts read in proper order, something along the lines of "Relics from the long-dead world beyond Haven's towering walls are X's only means of scraping by...etc"
 
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. - Cool. 
 
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. - Cool
 
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’.
 
This is a pretty strong query. I get a good sense of what's happening and what I'm in for. Only my two cents but for me this is really close to sending out.


#7 Sreid

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 05:11 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. In a query, many people recommend you put your best foot forward. Is a rather disjointed list of bad things really the best you can offer? You want an agent/publisher to read beyond the first sentence. Might I suggest you at least switch it around a bit, so you start with "X isn't sure what's worse, his abusive father, their crushing poverty…" Also, while "the leteral darkness…" does evoke images in my mind, if it "ended" (past tense) the world, you have no story. There is no world. It's already over. Either that or I will want some clarity on the matter real soon.This strikes me as a placeholder name, until you as the author have decided on the real one, but since you say you have revised this several times, I guess I'm wrong. In that case, X's parents must have had literally zero imagination. It also begs an explanation posthaste. 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. A clear and easy to read paragraph. Good.
 
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. I understand from the next sentence that he killed his father, but before I got there, I reread the previous two sentences. It may just be me, but making your readers reread things isn't usually good.
 
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 Nice, 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. These creatures, I presume, are the "darkness that ended the world," (which obviously didn't end since you are writing a story about it). If they are one and the same, might I suggest you always call them "bloodthirsty creatures of absolute shadow" and avoid possible confusion in your readers minds?
 
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’.

 

 

I wrote a bunch, but take my advice with a grain of salt. I suck at query-writing. I'm working on about version 50 for my present fantasy novel, and still it sticks to my tongue like primordial skum when I read it aloud. Your query is better than mine, and if you can just rid yourself if your initial list, it'll almost be ready.



#8 Anna.k

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:05 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 this seems kind of vague, I think you need more of a 'hook')
 
A scavenger by necessity(This would be a cool detail to start with maybe?) X is one of the few (Why, because he's the only one daring enough to go? Or is he forced to?) 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. (This is a nice plot setter, but need some more details. What sort of encounter? What sort of relics? and how does it cost him?)
 
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. (Hmm also vague. What kind of problems? And not a lot of options for what? What violent end did they meet? Did he kill his father? Be more specific.)
 
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 (This phrasing comes off awkward and not sure what it means exactly) 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.(Ahh great so here you have stakes. Although 'creatures of absolute shadow' is too vague for me. A bit more description of the creatures?)
 
WORTHLESS is a near-future, dystopian fantasy, (Now that dystopian is supposedly 'dead'--sad, I know, I still love it and read em all but what can you do--you may want to market it more as just an (urban?) fantasy or (soft?) sci fi instead) 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’.

 

 

Hey I like this premise! It sounds very 'Walled City' ish by Ryan Graudin and I would totally check it out in any bookstore. I think the query is getting there but it does need some more information and details. As it is,, it's quite short, so I wouldn't be afraid to flesh it out a bit more. 

Good luck and would appreciate a peek at my query! Thanks!!



#9 SuzieTheWriter

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 11:56 AM

 

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.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

An? 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 are 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. 
 
I'm very confused by where this story takes place at this point. You're describing in and outside the city but I am not sure about the sense of time. 
 
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  This is 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’.
Ah, I see the setting time now, but I wish it was more clear in the beginning.
 
Overall, intriguing premise!

 


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http://agentquerycon...antic-thriller/






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