Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Query 32: Redux 2

All Things Together for Good

Anaiiya is a human living among the last gargoyle tribe—and their last defense against a kingdom turned against them. The gargoyles teeter on the brink of starvation despite Anaiiya’s more and more frequent raids on the palace storerooms. Their fate seems sealed when the mad Queen sends a band of fanatics to destroy their tribe once and for all, until Anaiiya blacks out—and awakens covered in blood to find she’s killed every last member of the Queen’s rogue army with her bare hands.

The battle shakes something loose within her...now the river boils when she sings and drops of blood show her visions and play symphonies only she can hear. As Anaiiya flexes her newfound supernatural muscles to defend her beloved tribe, she draws the attention of other magical creatures—both good and evil—who want to use her abilities for their own ends. Now dark forces war for control of the powers she is only beginning to understand. Powers that could save her tribe, or destroy them all.

Comments

This revision is much cleaner and much more focused! The writing is strong and would work well as backcover copy.

But does it work as a query? I'm torn. I think this is one that's going to depend on what an agent is looking for. This is all set up. Yet, because we know the genre, the query gives us a reasonable expectation of what the plot is. That would likely be enough for agents looking for very short plot descriptions, but someone like Janet Reid might be peeved that they're not getting the "well, what happens?" piece.

My biggest concern, though, is whether it's hooky enough. Will gargoyles and the writing be enough to pull this out of the generic trope-filled slush? It might, because many fantasy readers read fantasy because they expect -- and want -- certain tropes (same as other genre readers -- I'm not dissing fantasy readers; I'm one myself!).

You could certainly send this out to a handful of agents and see what the response is. I personally prefer this version over the others I've seen. What do other critters out there think?

I do have a few minor tweaks to this version:

  • Change "more and more frequent raids" to "increasingly frequent raids"
  • Change "their fate" to "the tribe's fate"
  • Delete "rogue" from "Queen's rogue army"
  • Delete comma between "her tribe" and "or destroy"

13 comments:

Matt said...

I think specifics would help here. Perhaps elaborate on how Ana defends the gargoyles (pre-power) and why they need to depend on a girl for survival. A clearer picture of the enemy would also be nice.

You can take care of her backstory in one word by introducing her as orphan Anaiiya.

I'm feeling lost without genre and word count. Extremes such as good and evil imply that this is a child's tale, but the action is decidedly adult (or YA).

I'm not a fan of the word something -- too vague. I avoid writing it whenever possible.

It's short. There's plenty of room to show where the plot is going (otherwise people will assume tropes and cliches: she's the heir to the kingdom etc.).

fairyhedgehog said...

This is looking very polished. I wondered at the end though if you could say something more about the choices involved for her in using her powers, or how she will have to fight off the dark powers, or something! She seems a bit more passive there.

Phoenix said...

I'm feeling lost without genre and word count.

Matt, the author included those in her first version:

ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD is a 109,000-word fantasy novel.

I didn't think about going back and picking that up for this post. I'll try to remember to do that in the future. Thanks for the prompt!

vkw said...

This is much better, but it very vague and I am not sure that its going to stand out in the slush pile the way you are hoping.

I kind of want to know why the Queen wants the gargoyle's destroyed. Maybe Anaiiya shouldn't be raiding the storehouses?

I love the way you described her magical abilities.


Then my second question comes - how does anyone force anyone to use their superpowers? Now, I do in fact know a bad guy can bribe, threaten, kidnap, trick, torture (maybe), or mind control - to name a few. But, I sure would like to know how the baddies are going to force Anaiiya to do what they want her to do in your novel.

vkw

Lauren K said...

I'm curious about the good and evil magical creatures who want to use her powers. Are Anaiiya's interactions with them the real story?
I think this query is a real improvement on the previous versions. Personally I think I'd go with a little less set up and tell a bit more of what happens next, but I think this works pretty well as it is.

becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beckahrah said...

Ok, I made some tweaks based on your (and others) recommendations. Better? Worse? Alternate ideas? I know the first 2 lines are uber passive, and I'm not sure how to fix that, but I like this opening 'hook.' Love it or lose it?

"Anaiiya has no idea what manner of monster she is becoming. She thought she was human—just an orphan living among the last gargoyle tribe—and their only daytime defense against a kingdom turned against them. With supplies running thin and their home in disrepair, her adopted family teeters on the brink of starvation despite Anaiiya’s increasingly frequent raids on the palace storerooms. The tribe’s fate seems sealed when the mad Queen dreams that the gargoyles harbor traitors and sends a band of 'pro-human' fanatics to destroy them once and for all, until Anaiiya blacks out—and awakens covered in blood to find she’s killed every last member of the deranged Queen’s army with her bare hands.

The battle and the bloodshed change Anaiiya...now the river boils when she sings and drops of blood show her visions and play symphonies only she can hear. As Anaiiya flexes her newfound supernatural muscles to defend her beloved tribe, she catches the attention of other magical creatures—not all of them friendly—who don’t hesitate to use the gargoyles as pawns to control Anaiiya and the powers she is only beginning to understand. Powers that could save her tribe or destroy them all.

Matt said...

Well done. This version has me curious about your first pages.

I would change the last line of paragraph one because Ana couldn't know she killed them with her bare hands if she blacked out. Describe her waking up with blood covered hands amidst a slaughtered army and the reader will assume it was her doing.

Matt said...

Regarding the passive first line: I would just get rid of it and start with Ana protecting the gargoyles (that's a better hook in my eyes).

Phoenix said...

I'm not crazy about "has no idea what manner". I'd just get to the point: "Anaiiya is becoming a monster." Or add some reaction on her part: "Anaiiya is terrified of the monster she's becoming."

I'd nix "daytime" -- it bogs down the sentence.

Find a stronger word than "disrepair".

That last sentence in P1 is kind of a mess. Maybe:
The tribe’s fate seems sealed when the deranged Queen, seeing only traitors in every species that isn't human, sends a battalion/brigade to destroy them. Then Anaiiya blacks out. When she wakens covered in blood, every last member of the Queen's army lies dead -- at her hands.

Nix "not all of them friendly" and "don't hesitate to"

So:
Anaiiya is terrified of the monster she's becoming. She thought she was human—just an orphan living among the last gargoyle tribe, their only defense against a kingdom turned against them. With supplies running thin and their very home crumbling around them, her adopted family teeters on the brink of starvation despite Anaiiya’s raids on the palace storerooms. The tribe’s fate seems sealed when the deranged Queen, seeing only traitors in every species that isn't human, sends a batallion to destroy them. Then Anaiiya blacks out. When she wakens covered in blood, every last member of the Queen's army lies dead -- at her hands.

The battle and the bloodshed change Anaiiya. Now the river boils when she sings and drops of blood show her visions and play symphonies only she can hear. As Anaiiya flexes her newfound supernatural muscles to defend her beloved tribe, she catches the attention of other magical creatures -- beings who use the gargoyles as pawns to control her and the powers she is only beginning to understand. Powers that could save her tribe or destroy them all.

beckahrah said...

Thank you all for your help! You're awesome. :D

What about this as the 2nd paragraph instead? It's more specific but I don't know...


The battle and the bloodshed change Anaiiya. Now the river boils when she sings and drops of blood show her visions and play symphonies only she can hear. As Anaiiya flexes her newfound supernatural muscles to defend her beloved tribe, she catches the attention of someone she never expected—her father. A wicked man who deals in demons and black magic, he is shocked to find his only child alive and demands she join his quest to remake the world according to his vision. When she hesitates, he lays a trap: Join him or watch her beloved gargoyle tribe die.

Lauren K said...

I really like the newest version. I have a much better idea of what's going on and what she's facing. I vote yes for including the father in the query

Matt said...

Including the father gives us a clear sense of the true villain, but in a tight query I'm happy assuming the Queen is the villain.

Also the father conflicts with the orphan statement in the first paragraph, which would require elucidation as to why Ana thought he was dead, adding to the word count.

The choice given at the end -- join me or they die -- isn't really a choice because the answer is obvious. And it's cliche.

On the other hand, the father-daughter can be compelling if done well. If you do include it, get rid of the choice or offer a tougher one.