Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Query Revision 22

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Face-Lift 773 - Genevieve: Return to Aefre

Destin is nothing special, just another body among the living, content with the simplistic life he leads.

Being comfortable was never an issue, until he was attacked by a hooded figure wielding flaming spheres and interrogated by a detective about his possession of a letter and strange remedy book. The book is the source of his new trouble land abilities of magic now his forced companion. Over concerns for Destin's safety, the detective thrusts Destin into another realm, the magical one.

The land of Aefre is a land of dreams with bugs no longer an issue, cars nonexistent, and the means to live well within every person's grasp. As Destin explores Aefre he encounters a world that is free of the obsessing nature of money and offers a life of time spent in the pursuit of dragons, dwarves, and knowledge.

When Destin's book is revealed as more than just a method of entertainment but a mythical potions text, he is set with the task of defending the book from a power hungry individual, and ultimately the protection of Aefre.

Phalon is a collector of magical items, intent on increasing his own power any way that he can. Lying, stealing, and killing are nothing in the pursuit of greatness and when he finds that Destin has the book he desperately wants, chase ensures. But he never expects to be thwarted by someone devoid of natural magical talent. Destin perseveres using the powers of the book to defend himself and his friends from Phalon's goons, though he is provided with warnings that to harness these powers could bring disastrous repercussions.

Destin continues to forge an existence in Aefre through romantic relations, friendships, and acquiring a home in an attempt at normalcy while he waits for Phalon's next move. The final attack by a band of Phalon's thieves leaves Destin ready to end the cat and mouse chase. He extends an offer to Phalon for a one-on-one duel in an upcoming Wizard Tournament, not knowing if his challenge will solve his problems and if he can keep his possession a secret from the rest of the realm in the process.

Genevieve: Return to Aefre is a contemporary fantasy of 88,000 words. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Comments

You've introduced the antagonist in your revision, which helps the reader better understand the stakes, so that's excellent. However, the query is a bit long and wordy. The good news is that the wordiness makes it easy to edit down. The bad news is that it's missing a hook -- something unique that distinquishes the story from other fantasy novels. Something to make it pop out of the slush pile. What's the unique take on convention that will compel a reader to grab this book up rather than the next one on the shelf?

Here's my revision suggestion for cutting away some of the chaff and getting to the kernel of your story:

Destin is a simple man, just another body among the living -- until he's attacked by a hooded figure wielding flaming spheres. As if that weren't enough, a detective's started snooping around, asking about a certain letter and the strange home-remedy book Destin's recently discovered. A book that confers an array of disturbing and potent magical powers on Destin. To keep him safe, the detective thrusts him into Aefre, a magical realm.

At first, Aefre appears idyllic: It's peaceful, technology-free and money-free, with plenty of time to spend in the pursuit of dragons, dwarves, and knowledge. Time even for a home and a bit of romance. But this Eden, too, has a serpent. Power-mad Phalon is a collector -- and consumer -- of all things magical. And he's willing to lie, steal or kill in pursuit of greatness. Destin's book, a mythical potions text, draws Phalon's interest and fuels his greed. He and his goons hunt Destin, determined to take the book's power for his own and make Aefre his.

Using the book's powers, Destin thwarts Phalon's band of thieves. Phalon, himself, though, isn't so easily defeated. Destin challenges him to public one-on-one combat in an upcoming Wizard Tournament, determined to put an end to Phalon's bid for supremacy. But Phalon's magic is strong, and to counter it means Destin will have to draw even more power from the book, an act that threatens disastrous repercussions for him and for the realm he desperately wants to save.

GENEVIEVE: RETURN TO AEFRE is a contemporary fantasy of 88,000 words. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

14 comments:

Slush said...

Phoenix,

Thank you so much for taking a look at this for me. You are a master word-smith.

I have to say that your version looks better than mine by far.

I appreciate all of the help and I am glad that I was at least moving in the right direction.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Have not read the earlier version, so I'm coming at this new. You have a certain flair in your writing - which is great. I think it might be hampering the query in some ways though as you have so few words to get your point across.

Here's a quick look at the beginning.

Destin is nothing special, just another body among the living, content with the simplistic life he leads. (Repetitive and can be said in much fewer words. Also makes him sound boring. Not the way you want to start a query letter designed to catch someone’s attention.)

Being comfortable was never an issue, until he was attacked by a hooded figure wielding flaming spheres and interrogated by a detective about his possession of a letter and strange remedy book. (Whoa. Jarring transition - too much squashed into one place where everything’s been so drawn out before.)

The book is the source of his new trouble land abilities of magic now his forced companion. (Typos??)

Over concerns for Destin's safety, the detective thrusts Destin into another realm, the magical one. {I’m almost completely lost. This needs some reorganizing. This is also all setup for what comes next. Where does the story really start?)

The land of Aefre is a land of dreams with bugs no longer an issue, cars nonexistent, and the means to live well within every person's grasp. (Awkward)

As Destin explores Aefre he encounters a world that is free of the obsessing nature of money and offers a life of time spent in the pursuit of dragons, dwarves, and knowledge. (Infodump. I know you need to world build, but it’s not as necessary in a query as you might think. What is the underlying theme of your story? What is universal – no matter what world it’s set in? If you can boil it down to that and use a few juicy details to flesh it out, then you have your query world building.)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Here's an example (which adds things to your story that probably don't exist).

Destin’s simple life never prepared him for being attacked by a hooded figure wielding flaming spheres or interrogated by an overbearing detective. When that detective thrusts Destin into a magical realm – for his own safety, of course – Destin thinks he’s found paradise. Aefre is a land of dreams with no bugs or cars. It’s free of the obsessing nature of money and offers a lifetime spent in the pursuit of dragons, dwarves, and knowledge.

But Aefre is also home to Phalon, a collector of magical items, intent on increasing his own power any way that he can. Destin has the mythical potions text that Phalon desperately wants. Being devoid of natural magical talent, Destin seems an easy target. But the book has other ideas.

AA said...

This is odd: Who is Genevieve? Said love interest? I don't get the title. How can you Return to Aefre if you've never been there before?

Slush said...

Sarah, thank you for your comments as well. They will definitely help me as I craft this query once more.

AA- the title has to do with the potions book.

Thanks.

Joe G said...

Since Destin isn't a common name I'm confused. Does he live in the real world and go to a fantasy world? It bugs me that his name is Destiny without a y.

AA said...

Destin seems fine as a name to me. Maybe that's because too many of these fantasy queries I've read look like the author sneezed into a bowl of alphabet soup.
"Crathzyzl goes on a quest to save Grylvyral, the queen of the Phaeries, along with his faithful dragon, Phideaux."
At least Destin is pronouncable.

Joe G said...

At least it doesn't have any werepires. I'd prefer that the name was Desden but I always prefer names that sound credible.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Desden is more credible than Destin? Um, okay. They seem almost the same to me.

If the name doesn't carry some special meaning, I think pronounceable is a good way to go.

The title is a little different story. Maybe. Some editors/agents want to know what the title has to do with the story. If it's not evident in the query, that might be a slight ding against you.

On the other hand, titles fall by the wayside often during the publishing process. Other editors/agents will likely be concentrating on the body of the query.

Slush said...

I really need to tell my husband, named Destin, that his name is not credible... he has been living a life with a name that's considered a farce by many.

I find that comical. The same thing happened on the first post of this query when it was even more of a mess and everyone wanted to point out that it seemed like a child's name.

Joe G said...

I think I was the only one in this thread who thought it was a weird name, and I still do, even if your husband has it :P According to a name website, it's the 935th most popular name in the US, and its female counterpart is Destiny (or Destinee). Or possibly it's another take on the name Dustin.

Also there's an apparently popular city in Florida called Destin. But anyway, let's drop the highly controversial topic that is the name Destin.

Slush said...

Sarah- thanks for the feedback. The title needs some re-working but I have never been able to think of anything better.

If anyone has ideas that would be great.

Phoenix said...

Hi Slush: I'll weigh in quickly on MC name and title.

I think where most people have an issue with the name Destin is that it's so close to "Destiny," which is rather too "cute" for a chosen-one type of fantasy. Just like I wouldn't name a character in an adult book who shifts into gryphon form "Griff," I would hesitate to use a nominative of "Destiny" for this type of story. In another story type, it's a fine name.

As for the title, I think just leaving the name "Genevieve" off it would solve the issue. Explaining the book has that name but not a personality in the query or cover copy is a tad difficult, so avoiding it is probably the simplest route. "Return to Aefre" works fine, IMO. Should the series get picked up, it might be something like "Return to Aefre: Book 1 in the Genevieve Chronicles." But you're not pitching the series yet, so I would leave out "Genevieve" for now.

Slush said...

Phoenix

Thanks for the thought process on the title and MC name.

The feedback is most appreciated.