Monday, June 7, 2010

Query Revision 14

Face-Lift 778: Bound and Fallen

In a world of nine squabbling gods, no one seeks to upset them. But one girl did and now she must pay.

15-year-old Ki -- who hates her new name -- must serve the most capricious, and often bored, god of the nine. Wishing she could turn back time, Ki struggles to please the whims of her new deity. Her current random mission? To train a boy nicknamed 'the Designer'. 'De' for short. It's worse than her new name.

However, Ki discovers the training is a fa├žade. Her god, seeking amusement, has put her in the middle of a brewing god-war. De's family is supposed to be under the protection of the Sister gods, yet another god has forced his way into the house by sending a demon to possess De's father. The Sister gods and the unknown god all need De -- a Genius that could alter the balance of the pantheon -- and Ki is their best bet. Ki doesn't want De to lose his family the way she lost hers, but she doesn't want to upset the gods again either. With time running out, Ki must outmaneuver an entire pantheon to save De's life or watch as history repeats itself.


This version is also posted in the comments of the original on EE's site in case it sounds familiar to anyone.

Author, I think you're at that point in every rewrite where you've gotten a lot of feedback and you're trying to please everyone but in doing so you sort of let the query get out of control. It happens to most of us. The good news is that the NEXT version is usually head-and-shoulders above the previous versions.

Reading the first plot paragraph, I have no idea why Ki wants to turn back time. Is it because she wants to go back to a time when her parents were alive? Or because she just wants to go back to a time when it wasn't the capricious god she was serving? Was she serving another god previously if this is a new one for her? Do people get shuffled from one god to the next in this world?

I'd also like to get a better sense of De. In this version, "boy" could well mean an 8-year-old. If he's a hottie love interest, let's hear it up front. He's also referred to as "Designer" and "Genius". Too many handles that aren't explained -- stick with just one for better reader comprehension. Also, I still don't know what "training" means.

Your second plot paragraph is, unfortunately, still not very clear, IMO. I'm confused as to how De's life is in danger if all the gods need him and why they need Ki at all. And your stakes seem to switch from saving De's family to saving De's life. I'm also unclear if any of the gods are "good" gods. Is the main struggle humans against gods or gods against gods? Lots of extranneous words, I think, are getting in the way of a succinct summary. See if you can pare it down.

My Revised Version

In a world with nine squabbling gods, no one can afford to upset them. But one girl does and now she must pay.

15-year-old Ki serves the most capricious of the gods. Not by choice -- it's her punishment for [trying to stop the gods from killing her parents when she accidentally interferes with a divine bet]. Wishing she could turn back time, Ki struggles to please her new deity. Her current random mission? To train some boy in the art of [servitude]. The problem? The 'boy' is two years older than her and annoyingly attractive in that "how can I even concentrate when I'm in the same room with him" kind of way. Oh, and his new nickname, De, is even worse than hers.

Then Ki discovers the training angle is just a ruse; her trickster god has placed her smack in the middle of a brewing god-war. It seems De is a Genius -- born with the ability to [XXX], which could alter the balance of the pantheon. When one of the gods uses a demon to infiltrate De's family, the boy [abandons good sense and swears revenge]. Afraid to upset the gods a second time yet unwilling to watch De and his family end up like hers, Ki must find a way to outwit an entire pantheon and keep De from repeating her own gut-wrenching mistakes before it's too late.

Complete at 80,000 words, BOUND AND FALLEN is either a standalone YA fantasy novel or the first in a trilogy that [fouses on your theme or world]. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Michelle Massaro said...

Phoenix's suggestions here are right on. Her revision has helped unravel the plot in my own mind. It is very confusing trying to keep so many players straight. Definitely I would stick with the suggested simplification of "using a demon to infiltrate De's family". By the time I got to that line in your original version, my head was spinning. Too many uses of the word "god" getting jumbled up. [Her god, Sister gods, capricious gods, god-wars, then some unkown gods. Oy vey.] Prune it back and let the ones who survive the cut shine. Good luck!

Joe G said...

Phoenix actually made the plot sound interesting. I would take her advice very, very seriously. I didn't tune out by the second paragraph, I read to the end and had some idea of what the story was about.

And I must ask, why are you so obsessed with making sure we know she doesn't like her new name? We don't even know what her old name is, or why it's so great. We don't know why she HAS a new name. It's not an endearing character trait, it's just a bit of randomness that makes me go "Huh?" Honestly, from your query I get the impression that this book has a single minded focus on the characters complaining about their names and talking about the gods a lot.

Again, Phoenix made your heroine sound more sympathetic in her first paragraph and she didn't even write the book. In clear prose she gave her a sad history and a current problem. Open with that, not the fact that she doesn't like her new name.

Author said...

Thanks Phoenix for your helpful suggestions. I can see how your version simplifies the plot yet keeps it interesting.

However, I think I'm going to have to start from an entirely different angle. Mainly because 1)the reason why Ki must serve is a main mystery in the book 2)Ki's never told what to specifically train the boy in and is constantly making things up for the training 3)Ki's sworn to secrecy so De doesn't find out about the demon until late in the book.

Honestly, it was easier to write the book than this query. But thanks again for all your help. I think I'm getting there. Maybe.

And Joe - like Phoenix said, I was trying to please too many people. People kept griping about the names so that was my way of fixing it. If you saw my first attempt, I did nothing of the sort then.

Thanks once again!

Michelle Massaro said...

I was in the same quandry as you are with worrying about giving away too much plot. But I think we both need to get over that and not be afraid to lay it all out on the table. This is the agent after all, not our reader. :)

Anonymous #2 said...

"The reason why Ki must serve is the main mystery in the book."

It is essential that you reveal that in a query, preferably at the end.

150 said...

Hi, Author. Does Ki know why she is bound to serve her demon?

Kings Falcon said...

You need to tell the agent what the main mystery is. An agent will want to know there is a rational reason for the action and you can bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.
Use Phoenix's version and insert the details she guessed or left out.