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Age of Exploration Query Advice

Historical Fiction

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#1 AndrewF

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 01:13 PM

EDIT: thank you for the feedback, I looked at the comments and I updated my query. Let me know if this is less like a synopsis. 

Hi, i've posted here a long time ago and you have given me great advice. Please feel free to pick apart and give me advice on my below query letter. I appreciate your feedback. The below book is an Adult Historical Fantasy.

 

Young Will Raynor longs to escape an ever-industrializing Britannica and its polluted skies. He reluctantly joins the Royal Navy and hopes for a peaceful time sailing the high seas but his naiveté is quickly shattered. His ship embarks to Arcadia; a place shrouded in whispers and sailor’s stories. Rumors say that beyond Arcadia’s pristine shores are savage Gunthers; they resemble a man but have curved, pointed teeth, pale skin, and beady black eyes.     

 

Will begrudgingly accepts his position aboard a river patrol ship and is thrust into combat as his crew is ambushed. Will barely survives the chaos and learns the rumors are true as he is taken prisoner by a cunning Gunther warlord. Will struggles to survive captivity while the warlord unites the Gunthers and forms an army to ruthlessly purge the island of its seaborne invaders.

 

Will makes friends amongst the prisoners and learns they will be forced to fight on the frontlines against Britannica’s redcoats. War erupts and Britannica’s iron-fisted control over the island crumbles. Koko’s rebellion fights for freedom, the Empire of Britannica fights for control, but in the carnage of war, Will and his friends fight for survival. 

 

With Britannica’s empire crumbling, Will escapes captivity and turns to a young upstart captain. The pair devise a daring defense. Though he is no war hero, Will must silence the warlord before war engulfs the island and annihilates both men and Gunther.   

 

AGE OF EXPLORATION is an adult historical fantasy complete at 95,000 words. This story is a standalone novel with series potential. I graduated from the University of Waterloo with a major in Business and Military History. 



#2 lnloft

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 05:31 PM

I'm not going to go line by line, because right now, there is a fundamental issue of Will being a spectator to his own story. The query is about the Gunthers and their war, and Will is just along for the ride. He has very little agency, and what little he does do has no specifics. We've got a disjointed telling of events that half the time doesn't even mention Will. Will is your MC. The query MUST be about him.


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#3 AndrewF

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 08:32 AM

Don't lots of characters become spectators in their own story. Will is a young recruit, he does not do much except survive until the very end. But that surviving is a challenge that some readers have enjoyed. Is there anyway to make a query work like this?   



#4 mwsinclair

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 08:53 AM

To me, the issue is there's very little story in this query. I really have no sense of anything in it. Regardless of how strong the description may be, there needs to be story in the query to sink our teeth into it.



#5 AndrewF

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 03:21 PM

To me, the issue is there's very little story in this query. I really have no sense of anything in it. Regardless of how strong the description may be, there needs to be story in the query to sink our teeth into it.

Thank you, I just changed it and hopefuly you see more of Will's side of the story or does it need more? If it needs more, and I assume it does, what does it need?



#6 Carney

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 04:06 PM

Don't lots of characters become spectators in their own story. Will is a young recruit, he does not do much except survive until the very end. But that surviving is a challenge that some readers have enjoyed. Is there anyway to make a query work like this?   

 

Perhaps this is your issue...Will is supposed to be your main character, yet you say he doesn't do much. How is this story? A query must (according to agents) answer these important questions: who is the MC? What does s/he need or want? What challenges keep the MC from achieving the goal? What happens first and then what comes next? A successful query compels the reader to keep reading. In other words, you are trying to engage the agent and compel her/him to ask for more. As currently written, I fear this query does not compel the reader to want more. We need to care about the main character and his/her goal. If Will does nothing, then why would anyone care about him? 



#7 CarterT

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 11:24 AM

You also need to mentally separate the idea of the MC being a true spectator (no input on the outcome), vs an engaged player in the plot. 

 

So, highlight how the MCs choices change the flow of the story. How are their actions/reactions different than what somebody else would do? Why did you choose that person to be the main focus of the story instead of somebody else? What makes them special?

 

A book can be about the 'story', but generally it's the connection with the characters that keep people reading (unless the story is really something else. Game of Thrones might be a good example of this.)

 

So, in a nutshell, focus your query on what Will does, or the choices he makes. Even if you're keeping the same plot points, laser in on how he is playing an active role in changing the outcome, or how his decisions lead up to the next scene. 

 

If any of this was helpful, I'd appreciate feedback on my query as well (found here). 

 

Thanks.







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