Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Query Revision 8: Redux

Heartsouls

Original query here.

Dear Agent:

Bird-men with swords in place of hands crash Comtesse Marguerite Navarre’s party, killing her family and sending her tumbling, literally, over the dividing wall between the races. Forced to flee her aristocratic place among the Argents, she turns for help to four men of the subservient race of Silvers. And secrets repressed for thousands of years come spilling out.

Someone has rediscovered the magic of Marguerite’s world, an elemental ability to control fire and air and create monsters, and they intend to crush the Argents to keep it for themselves. For the magic of heartsouls requires an Argent paired with a Silver. Kill the smaller population of Argents and the magic cannot exist.

But in a twist of irony, the blackbirds send Marguerite colliding right into her heartsoul match, granting them alone the magic to return the fight. A fight Marguerite’s sense of duty will not let her evade. Unfortunately, Jorge fails to inspire her confidence. He is her opposite in every way, from his enormous charm to his complete lack of scruples. Can she trust a man who finds lies easier than truth and believes in nothing?

With attacks continuing, Marguerite must turn to Jorge, and learn the magic of heartsouls, to save the Argents and find the killers.

Heartsouls is an epic fantasy with strong elements of romance. My first work, it is the first of a series, with the second well on its way.

Thank you for your consideration.

Comments

I think you've done a good job in focusing down the query to the heart of the story. I do have some comments around some of the structure, though.

Bird-men with swords in place of hands

This is a strong image but it has me focusing too much on these bird-men, I think. Are they steel swords grafted on? If not, how does that biology work? This is one time I'd suggest leaving out the detail.

crash Comtesse Marguerite Navarre’s party, killing her family and sending her tumbling, literally, over the dividing wall between the races.

This doesn't give me a clear idea of Marg's age. Is she older and it's a party she's hosting, or is it a party for her and she's very young or young adult? When Jorge is introduced, the answer becomes clearer, but I'm still not sure if this is YA or not.

Forced to flee her aristocratic place among the Argents,

Except for the reference to Argents, the rest is implied in the sentence before.

she turns for help to four men of the subservient race of Silvers. And secrets repressed for thousands of years come spilling out.

Not clear where the secrets come from. As written, there's strong indication the secrets come out of her.

Someone has rediscovered the magic of Marguerite’s world, an elemental ability to control fire and air and create monsters,

"elemental" seems to go with fire and air, but not so much with monster creation.

and they intend to crush the Argents to keep it for themselves. For the magic of heartsouls requires an Argent paired with a Silver. Kill the smaller population of Argents and the magic cannot exist.

These thoughts seem to contradict themselves: the bad guy wants to keep it for himself but if he kills the Argents it won't exist. Is this a case of "if I can't have it no one will"? But he has it because he's created the blackbirds, right?

But in a twist of irony, the blackbirds send Marguerite colliding right into her heartsoul match, granting them alone the magic to return the fight.

YOU know the bird-men are nicknamed "blackbirds" but the reader doesn't. This thought comes a bit removed from where Marg goes tumbling over the wall. I think you're taking a long time to set up the premise here and being a bit repetitive as you do.

A fight Marguerite’s sense of duty will not let her evade. Unfortunately, Jorge fails to inspire her confidence.

I'd name Jorge sooner or put his name closer to a lead-in sentence about him.

He is her opposite in every way, from his enormous charm to his complete lack of scruples. Can she trust a man who finds lies easier than truth and believes in nothing? With attacks continuing, Marguerite must turn to Jorge, and learn the magic of heartsouls, to save the Argents and find the killers.

A good wrap-up, though I would reverse the finding and saving.

Heartsouls is an epic fantasy with strong elements of romance. My first work, it is the first of a series, with the second well on its way.

Thank you for your consideration.

The "first-first-second" beats here are a bit awkward. Also, you want to be sure you leave the reader with the impression Book 1 can stand on its own. Also, also, don't forget word count (which is a bit on the high side...).

My Revision

When hoardes of unnatural creatures crash Comtesse Marguerite Navarre’s 21st birthday party, they kill her family, burn her villa, and send her tumbling, literally, over the dividing wall between races.

Someone, it's clear, has rediscovered the magic of Marguerite's world, lost now for thousands of years. What else could create such monsters and control fire but the ancient magic of heartsouls? And since it requires a pairing between an aristocratic Argent and a subservient Silver, how else to keep it for themselves but to kill off the smaller population of Argents to ensure their complete dominion.

In a twist of irony, though, the creatures send Marguerite colliding right into her heartsoul match, granting them alone the ability to return the fight -- a fight Marguerite’s sense of duty will not let her evade. But Jorge, the Silver rogue fate pairs her with, fails to inspire her confidence. He is her opposite in every way, from his irritating yet irresistible charm to his utter lack of scruples. Can she trust a man who finds lies easier than truth and believes in nothing?

With attacks continuing and genocide imminent, Marguerite must reconcile her feelings for Jorge to learn the magic of heartsouls -- or lose her people forever.

HEARTSOULS is an epic fantasy with strong romantic elements. Complete at 140,000 words it is a standalone novel with series potential.

Thank you for your consideration.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The author's re-write is so much better, very nice job. Having said that, Divine Miss Phoenix spun it into a fine tuned, polished query that leaves me wanting to read on. Her line comments are tremendous. I'd totally go with hers.
Best,
Bibi

vkw said...

the query is better - congratulations to the author and praise for Phoenix. I'm reluctant to give some feedback for fear of ruining it but. . .

I have a few peeves

I didn't like "crash" - it seems too benign for what happened.


Marguerite's life as she knows it ends on her 21st birthday when hoards of unnatural creatures murder her family and burn her villa to the ground. She survives because she tumbles over a wall that separates her artiscratic world from the serfs that exist only for the elite's pleasure. (or something to that effect)

Someone, it's clear, has rediscovered the magic of Marguerite's world, lost now for thousands of years. What else could create such monsters and control fire but the ancient magic of heartsouls? Power that is created when heartsouls, an artictratic Argent mates/pairs (? - I would specify which myself) with a subservient silver. It's also clear whoever is behind the Ardent raids wants to keep the power to himself.

(I'm not sure this is clear at all. If I was the supervillian and could murder the Ardents, I would get into hostage taking and kidnapping. That way I get to keep the power without murder and mayhem. Also it sounds like a specific Argent must mate with a specific Silver. I would make this clearer) (Perhaps the villian just wants to eliminate the Argents altogether but then he doesn't get magic. Hmmmm bizarre. Anyway. . . moving on)

In a twist of irony, though, the creatures send Marguerite colliding right into her heartsoul match, granting them alone the ability to return the fight -- a fight Marguerite’s sense of duty will not let her evade. But Jorge, the Silver rogue fated to be her mate/partner/, fails to inspire anything but irritation. He is her opposite - while she is shy and committed to duty, he's irrestably charming and never lets scruples stand in the way of his fun. Can the two develop the (trust, relationship) needed to save the Argents?

I changed the last sentence for a couple of reasons. First, I don't believe in absolutes. No one believes in nothing, even people who don't care about others care about themselves and puppies. Second, it's a bit cliche.

vkw

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much everyone. Your comments are really helpful. The query was getting little response besides rejections, so hopefully this spices it up.

Thanks to you especially Phoenix for having such a great site and posting these so quickly. You are an angel.

Michelle

Matt said...

Hi Michelle,

You must have heard this many times, but 140k is too much. A high/low word count can sink the most finely tuned of queries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for the suggestions. I've cut out over 6,000 words so far, aiming to get the count down to a more reasonable number. Though right now, I'm not feeling too hopeful about anything. My optimism comes and goes.

vkw said...

Hang in there, author. My work expanded to 132,000 words at one point and is at 100,000 right now. I am pleased with the cuts and am thinking about cutting a few more scenes.

One piece of advice I read was to identify the scene you dislike the most and cut it. Then the most boring scene and so on and so on. Also identify long descriptive pieces and cut those as well after weaving the most important parts somewhere else.

vkw

Anonymous said...

I'm taking it chapter by chapter and got it down another 1400 this weekend.

Thanks for the encouragement VKW. We all need that at times.

Michelle