Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Query 32

All Things Together for Good

Taraseya will end the war between Nephilim and Guardians. Ancient, immortal, and endowed with devastating powers, the sworn enemy races have been locked in a standoff over control of the Earth for millennia. Taraseya is both Nephilim and Guardian, and more powerful than any member of either race. Her allegiance will determine control of this world, and all others, for all time. There is only one problem—

Taraseya is dead.

Twenty years after her mother the Queen of Laryial threw Taraseya from the cliffs, driven mad by her unwilling union with the Nephilim, a strange force ripples through the universe. Guardian and Nephilim are drawn to the Earth kingdom once more. To their mutual shock, they find that control of the Earth now rests with a penniless orphan living with the last gargoyle tribe.

Anaiiya, unaware of her true name or nature, is too concerned with defending her adopted tribe against constant attack by a band of murderous zealots to worry about some feud between two ancient powers. But neither side is prepared to let her go. Plans are made; the trap is set. She must choose now, or watch the last gargoyle tribe, the only family she has ever known, die.

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

Comments

I think this is another case where the writing is nice and the words flow well. But it isn't quite specific enough as to what the plot actually is or what the consequences to the MC actually are. I'm betting the book addresses these things, but the query sort of sidesteps them. Adding just a bit more clarity will really put this query over the top.

Taraseya will end the war between Nephilim and Guardians.

Is this a prophecy or are you telling us the end of the book in the first sentence? This is the first impression a reader gets of your story. Yes, it does play off the "problem" at the end of the paragraph, but it sets up an uncomfortable expectation: if you tell us something then take it back once, will you do it again?

Ancient, immortal, and endowed with devastating powers, the sworn enemy races have been locked in a standoff over control of the Earth for millennia. Taraseya is both Nephilim and Guardian, and more powerful than any member of either race. Her allegiance will determine control of this world, and all others, for all time.

There is only one problem—

Taraseya is dead.

An interesting but odd setup in the query. She apparently was alive if she's now dead, so the reader expects to learn how and why she died before she chose a side. But no, we're going to learn that she's reincarnated. At least my assumption is that she's been reincarnated.

Twenty years after her mother the Queen of Laryial threw Taraseya from the cliffs, driven mad by her unwilling union with the Nephilim,

I would put "threw Taraseya from the cliffs" after "Nephilim."

a strange force ripples through the universe. Guardian and Nephilim are drawn to the Earth kingdom once more.

This statement negates what we learned in the first paragraph -- that they have been "locked in a standoff over control of the Earth for millennia". When did they take their eye off the prize?

To their mutual shock, they find that control of the Earth now rests with a penniless orphan living with the last gargoyle tribe.

Is it uncommon for angels to reincarnate? What shocks them? That she's penniless, an orphan, living with the gargoyles -- or simply the fact Taraseya lives again? Seems the angels wouldn't so much care as to her social status if she has the power to stop the war single-handedly.

Anaiiya, unaware of her true name or nature, is too concerned with defending her adopted tribe against constant attack by a band of murderous zealots to worry about some feud between two ancient powers. But neither side is prepared to let her go. Plans are made; the trap is set.

Are the two races cooperating to make the plans and set the trap? I'm not clear on the plot point here.

She must choose now, or watch the last gargoyle tribe, the only family she has ever known, die.

What is her choice? To join the war at large or to choose a side? It seems her family is only surviving because of her presence, so if they're going to die, it sounds like her choice is whether or not to join the war at all. But of course, the angels are setting her up to choose sides, but whichever side she chooses, her family will die.

So if she doesn't choose a side and she stays with her tribe to protect them, what are the consequences on the angel side? Why should the reader care whether the Guardians or the Nephilim win? Why should Anaiiya care?

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

8 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I wasn't sure at first if Taraseya was a place, maybe a kingdom. Also, it wasn't immediately obvious to me that Nephilim is a plural word like Cherubim. So I floundered for a while in the first paragraph.

I felt a bit cheated after being told she was dead to find that she is in fact alive. I was prepared to accept ghost, spirit, or zombie as "dead but still active" but reincarnated feels rather too alive to me.

I think Phoenix pinpoints other places where this could be a bit clearer.

vkw said...

Okay, I give up, in the query where is the information nephilim and guardians are angels? I googled nephilim and most often scholars translate it to mean "giants".

I maybe uneducated and everyone in the world but me knows nephilim refers to something "real". But if the common understanding is giants, then I think I would spell it out for the ignorant masses right off.

So we have this instead:

The mellennia war between the Nephilim and Guardians, angels in battle for control of earth, is over. Taraseya, an orphan living . . ., will determine the winner.

Then go on to explain who Taraseya is, what starts teh story, what's the conflict, what's Taraseya's external goal and the consequence if she fails.

One question I have and you may not want to explain it in the query, but if Taraseya is the offspring of two angels - how is it that she dies? And then is reincarnated?

The P3 is so vague, it's meaningless. The first two paragraphs are too specific.

vkw

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

No, she's not reincarnated; she survived the Queen's attempt to kill her. And this is NOT an angel story. But clearly Im not doing this right. Hm...let me send Phoenix my synopsis, maybe that will help. I shall revisit the drawing board yet again. :)

Phoenix said...

Hi Becky: Sorry I got two important pieces so wrong, but yes, they were both assumptions on my part. Like the hedgehog, the dead to alive thing really threw me.

And most fantasy/paranormal novels that include nephilim (there are quite a few out there! Google "nephilim novel" for that view) portray them as fallen angels. So, without further description, I assumed Fallen Angels and Guardian Angels. I think any agent who reps the genre would likely make the same assumption.

Seeing HOW people interpret your words can really be the most eye-opening part of a critique. I've included factual historical details that readers "catch me out on" (having howitzers during the Civil War, for instance) because they assume the details are anachronistic. Whenever I see details tripping readers up, I know I need to explain them further or just change them.

I got your synopsis, and I've added it to the queue for us to look at next week.

becky said...

I understand. I'm looking forward to your critique of my synopsis...I'm hoping it will give me more direction for my query. :) Thank yo ufor all your help!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hm. Before I read the comments, I rewrote it a bit using your words and accidentally left her alive - or at least left her fate questionable. Only there's nothing that connects Taraseya with Anaiiya. And I don't know about the choice at the end.


Ancient, immortal, and endowed with devastating powers, Nephilim and Guardians have been locked in a standoff over control of the Earth for millennia. Taraseya is both Nephilim and Guardian, and more powerful than any member of either race. Her allegiance will determine control of this world, and all others, for all time. There is only one problem—

Driven mad by her unwilling union with a Nephilim, the Guardian Queen of Laryial threw her daughter, Taraseya, from the cliffs twenty years ago.

Control of the Earth now rests with Anaiiya, a penniless orphan living with the last gargoyle tribe. Unaware of her true name or nature, Anaiiya is busy defending her adopted tribe against constant attack by a band of murderous zealots. But neither Guardian nor Nephilim are prepared to let her go. Plans are made; the trap is set. She must choose now, or watch the last gargoyle tribe, the only family she has ever known, die.

Matt said...

A heads up: Taraseya looks like a Mary Sue. Google "Mary Sue online test" and fill out the form to see if she is.

Maybe start the next query with Taraseya living as an orphan. I like the "Taraseya is dead" line, but there's too much set up here.