Monday, November 22, 2010

Query Revision 41

Face-Lift 840: Living in Forgotten

Dear Agent,

An unnamed city divided by a single wall.

On one side is the Forgotten, named by its inhabitants since those who promised to protect them, hunt them down. The imperfects, unwanted and corrupt live daily by fighting for their basic needs.

On the other side live the Privileged, the perfect, beautiful people who have everything and share nothing, at least not knowingly.

Khris, a fourteen year old boy, has managed to survive by sneaking over the wall and stealing to eat, and by hiding from the gangs of Forgotten and the raiders from Privileged.

When running away from a bunch of thugs, he runs into a small mute boy with a very big Talent, one he’s used to protect himself from harm. Together they learn to understand each other and slowly a small band of kids form a protective circle around the small boy, Magus.

In the Forgotten, a gang will corner them into an impossible heist, one that leads them into the heart of the government while in the Privileged, the Protective Committee get ready to hunt for more Talented, hoping to extract the power for their own gain even if it means killing.

Now Khris and his friends must find a way to escape from the city and hope to find a home somewhere where they can be free.

My young adult fantasy, LIVING IN FORGOTTEN (working title), is complete at 70,000 words. It's the first instalment of a planned trilogy, yet is quite capable of standing on its own. LIVING IN FORGOTTEN is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Comments

I think this version definitely gives us a better idea of what the story is about. I think it still needs some finessing and a few more concrete details, though, to help set it apart. The voice, as well as the setup in the city, has a literary fiction feel to it, but I'm not convinced that the plot and resolution continue that literary/thematic thread. If this is an allegory, we need to see that a bit more clearly in the stakes and the resolution, I think.

An unnamed city divided by a single wall.

Leading with this sentence frag with its "unnamed city" and the names Forgotten, Privileged and Magus are what set up that feeling of allegory. But we don't really get a follow-through on that allegorical tone. If it really isn't allegory (and I'm thinking it really isn't), then saying the city is unnamed raises the question in the reader's mind: who would not name a city? Is it the author not naming it? Or do the inhabitants not have a name for it, even though they name other things?

On one side is the Forgotten, named by its inhabitants since those who promised to protect them, hunt them down. The imperfects, unwanted and corrupt

OK, I'm going to be very literal here. If the inhabitants are being hunted, they aren't forgotten. Maybe go with the Privileged having turned their backs on these rejects.

live daily by fighting for their basic needs.

This is redundant with Khris surviving by stealing and hiding from gangs and hunters. Since Khris' struggle is more specific, I would delete it here.

On the other side live the Privileged, the perfect, beautiful people who have everything and share nothing, at least not knowingly.

at least not knowingly sets up a thought that isn't followed through on. We're not told what it means, so it can be deleted.

Khris, a fourteen year old boy, has managed to survive by sneaking over the wall and stealing to eat, and by hiding from the gangs of Forgotten and the raiders from Privileged.

When running away from a bunch of thugs, he runs into a small mute boy with a very big Talent, one he’s used to protect himself from harm.

At some point in the query, we'll really need to know what Talent is.

Together they learn to understand each other and slowly a small band of kids form a protective circle around the small boy, Magus.

How would Magus have a problem understanding Khris? What motivation do the kids have to protect Magus? Does he need protecting with his big Talent? Does he offer mutual protection to the kids through his Talent?

"Kids" also makes it sound like these are tweens and preteens, which doesn't make this feel like a YA story. However, I do like the detail of the "protective circle" very much.

In the Forgotten, a gang will corner them into an impossible heist,

Using future tense makes it sound like this heist will be the climax, but we learn a bit later that it isn't.

one that leads them into the heart of the government

this is a great start to the tease of what this heist is about, but the reader still doesn't know what the consequences of going along -- or not -- with this heist will be.

while in the Privileged, the Protective Committee get ready to hunt for more Talented, hoping to extract the power for their own gain even if it means killing.

We still don't know what Talent is or how many people in Forgotten have it so we don't have a clear idea of what the "gain" is. The mention of killing is confusing. Can they extract the power from the dead, or does this mean they don't mind killing people without Talent to get to those who do?

Now Khris and his friends must find a way to escape from the city and hope to find a home somewhere where they can be free.

Do Khris and the other kids all have Talent, too? Or are they trying to protect Magus? Why can't they escape the city? What happened with the heist? This seems a bit of an anti-climactic way to end the query. You want to make the agent beg to read your pages.

My young adult fantasy, LIVING IN FORGOTTEN (working title), is complete at 70,000 words. It's the first instalment of a planned trilogy, yet is quite capable of standing on its own. LIVING IN FORGOTTEN is my first novel.

This last can be shortened as it's needed for information purposes only: LIVING IN FORGOTTEN is a 70,000-word stand-alone young adult fantasy with series potential. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.

There are a lot of questions here, but that doesn't mean they all need to be answered. How many of the kids are in danger (not the number but a general idea of how many people in general have Talent), how they're in danger and what the heist is all about all seem pretty significant, though.

You're getting there! We all go through multiple revisions before we nail it, so in you're in good company ;o)

4 comments:

Maria said...

Hi Phoenix,

Thank you for the help that you're giving me, I really need it and I totally appreciate it.
The reason the city is unnamed is because no one ever really uses it. The Forgotten, also known as the Forgot and the Privileged, the Prevy for short are the names that The Forgots use. The Prevys just call their side of the wall the City Proper and just ignore the other side.

My idea was because since most of the Forgots don't really have that much of a schooling system and most live in the streets all names including their proper names are more descriptive and less "typical name". Cross, Dart, Fingers, Magus, etc. Except for Khris, short for Khristopher since the Elders who raised him suspect that he was born in the Privileged and as such they gave him a Prevy name

As for the talent, no one really knows about it. Khris and the others think that Magus is the only one to have a talent until they break in to the PC and discover that the raids were a means to hide the real reason they are kidnapping Forgots. See only certain kids 3-10 years old (Imperfects, Prevy name - children with disabilities) are displaying talent (a kind of magic that varies from kid to kid- illusions in Magus case).

I don't want to bog the query down with all this back-story so I've been struggling with giving enough with out weighing it down.

Which is starting to feel like a Herculean task :)

My problem is what do I explain and what do I leave out.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Hi Maria,

Great job! This is much, much clearer.

I concur with pretty much every one of Phoenix's points. I would add in the first paragraph, shouldn't that be "are the Forgotten," not "is the Forgotten"? In fact I would make a few grammatical tweaks:

On one side are the Forgotten: the imperfects, the unwanted, and the corrupt who live by fighting daily for their basic needs.

In terms of how much backstory to reveal, I would say don't try to explain the entire system but since the plot hinges on Magus' abilities, do specify exactly what he can do. This is more important to your query than the fact he is mute or small. i.e.:

When running from the local gang, Khris is saved by/saves a young boy called Magus, one of the so-called Talented children who can light fires with his mind/ see the future/ read minds/ etc. But while his Talent is a valuable survival skill, it also makes Magus a prime target for Privileged raiders. Together he and Khris learn to understand each other and slowly a small band of kids form a protective circle around the valuable boy.

Hope this helps!

no-bull-steve said...

Hi Maria,
Nice job continuing to work on this. This version is *much* clearer than the previous one on EE. It still needs work and just about everything I noticed and was going to comment on, Phoenix nailed!

Your explaination of the names is interesting and in some places, somewhat plausible. I think even uneducated people would come up with a better name than Forgotten or Forgot. I like Prevy wayyy better than Privledged... especially if it's the poor folks using the term for the other side.

City Proper is a term that doesn't make much sense. Naming a city is something that goes back to long ago. Give it a name that the folks on that side of the wall call it even if the poor side refer to it as Prevy. (I'd like them to call the citizens "Previes").

Put yourself in the mindset of the people. Don't thin what an outsider would think..what would THEY think. No one likes to be thought of as "Forgot" -- I'm sure the kids I went to gradeschool have mostly forgotten about me, but the people who are important to me call me by a name.

The people living there would call it something. Camp Town. Morning Shadow. Left Wall. Dartville. Something.

If you want, make up a story about something that happened that got the people starting to call it a name. For an example of that, read the opening pages of Stephen King's Salem Lot.

Good luck!

AA said...

This is much better than the original. Pay attention to Phoenix and the other commenters and you'll have enough on your plate for another revision, I think.