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KIN-SEEKER (YA Fantasy/ adventure)


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#1 Whimsical_Werecat

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:58 AM

NOTE: See post #14 for updated query.

Well, here we go - my first time putting anything up in AQC for my fellow writers to critique. So, sharpen your claws, people (but not too sharp, eh? :blush: ), and feel free to do some suitable shredding of my query. I have been working on it, so this is not the first draft (which hopefully means I'm heading in the right direction with it, but boy, has it been a challenge!), but as with any written piece, fresh eyes and opinions is always super helpful (and appreciated)!


Dear Agent,

A strange, disturbing nightmare is the last, and only, thing Laeka’Draeon remembers. As he struggles to deal with his memory loss and unfamiliar, unwelcoming environment, a mysterious child appears and imparts an urgent request for him to seek the guardian dragons of the eleven kingdoms, all of which have vanished without a trace. That is, with one exception: him.

Every day that passes without the influence of the dragons, creatures of a baleful nature stir with increasing strength, spreading violence and terror across once-peaceful realms. Worse still are the rumours from the north, whispering fears that the mighty dragon towers of Klonnoth Aire are losing their warding powers. Without them, the barrier protecting the kingdoms will fail, consequently exposing the lands to the atrocities of long-exiled evils.

Determined to find his own answers as well as discover a way to restore the balance of peace in his world, Laeka’Draeon begins the daunting task of searching for his people. Yet despite his resolve, the undertaking does not come without concerns; Laeka’Draeon is troubled by frightening visions, and the realisation that in remembering nothing ... finding anything is possible.

KIN-SEEKER, is my middle-grade fantasy/ adventure novel, complete at 58,000-words.

Thank you most sincerely for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Naomi


Note: (this is not a part of the query btw) I 've been researching all over the place as to where my story would best fit into as far as being either YA or MG. I decided that, for now, I think it is suited to MG (upper end of MG mind you but MG nonetheless).

#2 writingkills

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 05:09 PM

Dear Agent,

A strange, disturbing nightmare is the last, and only, thing Laeka’Draeon remembers. As he struggles to deal with his memory loss and unfamiliar, unwelcoming environment, a mysterious child appears and imparts an urgent request for him to seek the guardian dragons of the eleven kingdoms, all of which have vanished without a trace. That is, with one exception: him.


Only use one adjective, if you can. Also, specifics are always useful. For example, a stronger opening might be: "The only thing Laeka'Draeon remembers is a nightmare of..."

Your "mysterious child" comes across as vague rather than as mysterious, and it confuses me a little. That's the sort of detail that has a place in your book, but perhaps not in your query. Instead, you could just say that Laeka'Draeon is required to seek the guardian dragons, because...

Every day that passes without the influence of the dragons, creatures of a baleful nature stir with increasing strength, spreading violence and terror across once-peaceful realms. Worse still are the rumours from the north, whispering fears that the mighty dragon towers of Klonnoth Aire are losing their warding powers. Without them, the barrier protecting the kingdoms will fail, consequently exposing the lands to the atrocities of long-exiled evils.


If you can impart this information by showing how these stakes matter to the MC, the query will be a lot stronger. Honestly, I'd take this paragraph out, and try and blend the stakes you've shown here with the rest of the query.

Determined to find his own answers as well as discover a way to restore the balance of peace in his world, Laeka’Draeon begins the daunting task of searching for his people. Yet despite his resolve, the undertaking does not come without concerns; Laeka’Draeon is troubled by frightening visions, and the realisation that in remembering nothing ... finding anything is possible.


I don't understand why that ellipsis is there. Take it out. :)

You're being vague again. Frightening visions of what?

KIN-SEEKER, is my middle-grade fantasy/ adventure novel, complete at 58,000-words.

Thank you most sincerely for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Naomi


My biggest concern with this is the voice. Your word choices are not middle grade, and I don't get a sense of who the MC is. In fact, you don't mention his age, which is an important detail in kid lit. If you hadn't specified that this was MG, I would have assumed I was reading about an adult fantasy novel. The book may not have the same problem, but you don't want agents feeling like this when they read your query.

Hope I helped, and I wasn't too mean. :)

#3 Jemi

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 05:27 PM

Sounds like you've got an intriguing premise, but I have to say I was confused by the query. I think you'd be better off if you tightened it up and eliminated some of the descriptors. I'll play around with your first paragraph to give you an idea what I mean...

A strange, disturbing nightmare is the last, and only, thing Laeka’Draeon remembers. As he struggles to deal with his memory loss and unfamiliar, unwelcoming environment, a mysterious child appears and imparts an urgent request for him to seek the guardian dragons of the eleven kingdoms, all of which have vanished without a trace. (I don't know if the dragons have vanished or the kingdoms or both) That is, with one exception: him. (This makes me think he's a dragon, but I'm not sure that's right)


Laeka’Draeon remembers only one thing - a nightmare of his world collapsing into chaos. If only the situation was that simple. In reality, not only have the eleven kingdoms vanished, but the guardian dragons are gone too. Without them, monsters worse than any nightmare are descending on those who are left behind. And even without a memory, Laeka’Draeon is the only one who can fix it.

Okay - that's not very good and I made some stuff up, but I hope it shows you what I mean! Feel free to ignore whatever doesn't click with you. Good luck with it.

#4 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 27 February 2012 - 08:38 PM

Thanks so much for your feedback Dizzy and Jemi. I really appreciate it! It's so great having fresh eyes on this. It makes it so much easier to step back and look over things again, and see the points which my too-involved eyes find difficult to notice (agh, it can be a bit of a bane knowing everything about your story, and not knowing exactly how the explain it tightly and simply. Eesh!)

@Dizzy - You're right about the voice, which is why I've had a little trouble deciding if the story should stay at MG or if it really is YA. It may very well be the latter. As far as Laeka'Draeon's age is concerned, the tricky thing is he doesn't know how old he is (memory-loss and all that). But I should have put emphasis on the fact that he's young (I had that detail in a previous version - I can't believe I left it out in this one! Thanks for pointing that out)

@Jemi - Thank you for your advice. It really helps! And yes, that last sentence was intended to let the reader know that he is, in fact, a dragon. But I think it needs to be worded better.

You guys are awesome. I'll take what you've given me and work on refining my query. Again, thanks. I really appreciate you both taking the time out to help :happy:

#5 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:52 PM

Aright here's an updated version. I hope it makes more sense. I think one of my weaknesses is obscure exposition when trying to shorten things (or attempt to make them sound intriguing). Anyone feel free to let me know if I'm heading in the right direction with this.


Dear Agent,

The only thing Laeka’Draeon remembers is a nightmare of voices screaming out in terror at the coming of something vast and terrible.

If waking up in an unfamiliar place with only the remnant of a bad dream as a clue to his past wasn’t troubling enough, Laeka’Draeon soon learns the guardian dragons have abandoned their towers and mysteriously vanished. Without them, evil creatures are rising up and spreading chaos across the once-peaceful lands of Valadae.

Despite his young age and hindering memory loss, as the only guardian dragon left, the key to finding the rest of his people and restoring peace to his world lies with Laeka’Draeon; and he is not about to let his personal disadvantages hold him back from finding the answers and setting things right.

KIN-SEEKER, is my middle-grade fantasy/ adventure novel, complete at 58,000-words.

Thank you most sincerely for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Naomi


NOTE: I am contemplating on whether to change the audience bracket to YA. The reason I originally considered it to be MG was due to the style of the story (adventure/ quest), the main charcters (none are human), and the main themes (friendship, courage, self-discovery). To be honest my writing style is better suited for a more older readership (10+), but 10 - 13 year-olds are in the MG grouping, right? And kids these days are savvy readers. I don't use overly complicated words, but my prose is a little more advanced than average MG reads (and the novel is a fantasy, afterall). What do the rest of you AQCers think? Anyone feel free to give their opinion on what they think my story sounds like. :smile:

#6 CFAmick

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:25 AM

Here's an article about MG vs. YA:

http://write4kids.com/feature6.html

#7 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:28 AM

Thanks for the link CF! Going by the info on that site, my story is leaning more toward YA (although a publisher may slot it into the in-between age bracket of 10 - 14, once it gets into their hands. I guess we'll see).

So, in saying that, I'll probably change it to YA.


#8 Cat Woods

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:02 AM

If your manuscript style matches your query letter style, I'd peg this as YA, just via style, tone and voice.

I think you can tighten up some of your sentences yet. The over all idea is there (and nicely laid out), but some of your writing could be cleaned up. Shorten some sentences for clarification, etc.

Keep it up. This sounds like an interesting project.

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#9 H. Bruce

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:46 PM

The second query is lightyears better than the first. So a marked improvement there to be certain. I have a big problem with the syntax of this sentence: "Despite his young age and hindering memory loss, as the only guardian dragon left, the key to finding the rest of his people and restoring peace to his world lies with Laeka’Draeon; and he is not about to let his personal disadvantages hold him back from finding the answers and setting things right." As opposed to dissecting this one, I would urge you to hack it up and just try again.

I am in line with what Cat said, tighten this up by an means necessary. It is a very informative sentence and definitely gives me a clearer picture of your story and your MC's conflict but it was taxing to read. So yes, well done from first query to second, well done indeed. I think you need another revision here but you are much, much closer with your second attempt than your first. I'll be anxious to read the updated verison!

ps - sounds like Laeka is on the lam to me!!!

#10 bstratford

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:30 PM

I have to agree with H Bruce. 53 words in that sentence. WOW! And the previous paragraph starts with a 37 word sentence.

I only see one active verb in the query and "learns" is not a terribly exciting verb. I see, "is", "are rising", "lies". I think this is really sad when it sounds like there could be a lot of action in the book. Special note here: If you haven't purged your MS of passive verbs, I would strongly recommend taking a look at it before sending it out. see this great article on the subject http://grammar.quick...sive-voice.aspx

For example, your hook has "thing" as the subject and "is" as the verb. To make it more active, and therefore more punchy, make Laeka’Draeon the object. Something like (and I really mean something like this. Don't use it word for word.) "Laeka’Draeon remembers the nightmare; voices screaming, something vast and terrible threatening. He remembers the nightmare, but that's all he remembers."

I look forward to the next revision reflecting the action in the story.
Just another story teller struggling to wrangle words to become an author.

#11 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:21 AM

Cat, HB and bstrat - you guys are awesome! Thank you so much for your input - it truly is invaluable. And as you can see, it's really helping me out!

@Bstrat - Thanks heaps for the link! I was aware there were such things as passive and active words/ sentences, but I just didn't have a solid understanding of it. I feel I know about it a lot better now, and that'll help me to keep my eyes open and avoid them if necessary. And you've inspired me to take on my next editing project (hunting down passive verbs in my MS!).

@Cat - Yeah, the more I think on it, the more I realise that my project is YA.

@ HB

ps - sounds like Laeka is on the lam to me!!!


Wouldn't he like to know! lol :wink:

Anyway, here's the next version of my query. I feel as though I'm on the right track now. Just need to see if more polishing can be done.

Dear Agent,

In the nightmare, Laeka’Draeon remembers voices screaming in terror and the feeling of something vast and horrifying closing in. But that is the only thing he can remember; the only possible clue to his past.

Confronting an unfamiliar, unwelcoming land, Laeka’Draeon quickly discovers he is not the only one in a troubling situation. The guardian dragons have abandoned their towers and mysteriously vanished. As a result, evil creatures run riot, spreading chaos across the once-peaceful kingdoms of Valadae.

Even though disadvantaged by young age and memory loss, Laeka’Draeon is not about to hold back from finding the answers he seeks and setting things right. As the only guardian dragon left, he is the last hope for finding the rest of his people and restoring peace to his world.

KIN-SEEKER, is my YA fantasy/ adventure novel, complete at 58,000-words.

Thank you most sincerely for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Naomi

#12 bstratford

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:17 AM

Hi Whimsi,

I think this one is much better than the last one. My primary issue is that six out of your first seven sentences use dependent clauses (5 start with it and 1 ends with it). I know some people say you shouldn't use dependent clauses, but I personally don't think there is anything wrong with them ... unless you use them all the time ... especially if really aren't doing any work. For example: if you cut "As a result," would any meaning be lost? I'd recommend mixing up your sentence structures. It keeps the reader wondering what is coming next.
Just another story teller struggling to wrangle words to become an author.

#13 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:34 PM

Thanks for the additional tips, bstrat. :happy:

In regards to the "As a result" example, the reason for the evil creatures running riot is because the dragons have disappeared, so the two cases would need to be shown to be linked. It also lets the reader know that the stakes are higher than just Laeka'Draeon's own personal desire to find out what happened to him and his people.

Anyway, I'll sit back and think over how I could re-word it differently. I'll also look over the other sentences and have a play around with them.

Thanks again!

#14 Whimsical_Werecat

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    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling series), recently published into eBook format by Starsea Press via Smashwords.

    KIN SEEKER (Book One in the Dragon Calling Series), set for its first print run via Lightning Source, in early 2014!

Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:41 PM

Did a few more small tweaks. Anyone feel free to make any comments or further suggestions. Thanks! :smile:

Laeka’Draeon remembers voices screaming in terror and the feeling of something vast and horrifying closing in. But that nightmare is the only thing he can remember; the only possible clue to his past.

Confronting an unfamiliar, unwelcoming land, Laeka’Draeon quickly discovers he is not the only one in a troubling situation. The guardian dragons have mysteriously vanished and evil creatures run amok, spreading chaos across the once-peaceful kingdoms of Valadae.

Although disadvantaged by young age and memory loss, Laeka’Draeon is determined to search for the answers and set things right. As the only guardian dragon left, he is the last hope for finding the rest of his people and restoring peace to his world.

KIN-SEEKER, is my YA fantasy/ adventure novel, complete at 58,000-words.

Thank you most sincerely for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Naomi

#15 Dan Jacobson

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:10 PM

Hey Were! You were kind enough to comment on my query, so I wanted to stop by and return the favor. A lot of my suggested changes are just word swaps, which could be just a stylistic thing, so feel free to disregard any you don't like. I do think the first sentence sounds better slightly compacted, like I've written below.

I also wonder if you'd consider adding a bit more detail about the things Laeka needs to search for or how he goes about searching. Just to give us a sense of what he'll actually be doing throughout the story. Is he fighting the evil creatures? Is he search for the other lost dragons? How does he do those things? Just some things to think about, hope it helps!



Laeka'Draeon remembers voices screaming in terror as something vast and horrifying creeps closer. But that nightmare is the only thing he can remember.

In an unfamiliar and unwelcoming land, Laeka’Draeon quickly discovers he is not the only one in a troubling situation. All of the other guardian dragons have disappeared and evil creatures are running amok, spreading chaos across the once-peaceful kingdoms of Valadae.

Hampered by inexperience and missing memories, Laeka’Draeon is nevertheless determined to search for the answers and set things right. As the only guardian dragon left, he is the only one who can find his people and restore peace to his world.

#16 CJ Brassington

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 02:56 PM

Great feedback, everyone!
This is coming along nicely Whimsi! One thing that I keep stumbling over is the use of "his people" when the mc is a dragon. This could be confusing when the fact that he is a non-human creature is given somewhat indirectly. Since the title is Kin-Seeker, perhaps you could swap out "people" for "kin", or "kin-dragons", etc.

I agree that the voice and content feel more like YA than MG. Your edits are for the better! Good work.
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