Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Query 22: Redux

Genevieve Awakens

Possessing a book that confers magical powers seems harmless enough to Destin Darious, through the fact that this item can poison even the noblest of intentions leads Destin on a fight for his life, and the lives around him.

Destin is tired of living in a world where he doesn't feel he belongs. His hobbyist activites involving a home remedy book are just a distraction -- until he's attacked by a hooded figure brandishing freakish enchantments. To add to his troubles, a detective begins asking questions about his possession of the book, a fabled artifact of unknown power. To keep him out of trouble, the detective thrusts Destin into Aefre, the magical realm.

The land of Aefre is tranquil: a world where the means to live well within every person's grasp, the perfect home that Destin has always dreamed of. Unfortunately, Aefre is not as idyllic as it seems. Phalon, a kleptomaniac with an affinity for magical items, is determined to kill in the pursuit of his obsession. Phalon's desires gravitate toward Destin and the mythical potions text. His acolytes hunt Destin, with a desperate desire to obtain the book and provide Phalon with the object that will complete his collection.

Using the book's powers, Destin fends off the attacks, though attempts to keep his friends protected from Phalon only make matters worse. Phalon, himself, thought, isn't so easily defeated. Destin challenges Phalon to a duel in an upcoming Wizard Tournament. Though he is not sure if his challenge will solve his problems or unleash disastrous consequences on on him and the realm he now calls home.

GENEVIEVE AWAKENS is a contemporary fantasy of 88,000 words. This is my first novel.

Comments

I'm going to be honest: While I assume this is just a draft and you're working on getting the content right -- what to include and how best to include it -- the odd turns of phrases, missing words, and typos presented here will likely be enough by themselves alone for an agent to reject the query. A couple of minor mistakes can be overlooked if the rest of the presentation is strong, but more than a couple and the agent will assume -- rightly or wrongly -- these types of mistakes are carried through in the ms.

I like the title change up to a point (previous title was Genevieve: Return to Aefre) . I think most commenters were concerned first that the other versions of the query didn't give the reader a clue about who/what Genevieve is and second they found it a strange name for a book. So, while it's a better title conceptually, it doesn't address critter concerns.

Possessing a book that confers magical powers seems harmless enough to Destin Darious,

On first blush, this is a very nice opening and assuming readers are reading fast, it could well stand as is. A deeper read will have readers asking if Destin is just keeping the book on a shelf somewhere and why doesn't he plan on using it?

through the fact that this item can poison even the noblest of intentions leads Destin on a fight for his life, and the lives around him.

Here's where the syntax starts being off. It isn't the "fact" that leads Destin on his fight. It's a fact that you could buy a gun and shoot your neighbor. That generally isn't a concern until you actually do it. I'm also assuming from this that Destin goes beyond merely possessing the book to trying to use it. Did he think trying to use it would be harmless? The second half of this sentence doesn't seem to flow logically from the first half.

Destin is tired of living in a world where he doesn't feel he belongs.

A little insight into why he doesn't feel he belongs would work well here. It would also ground us when you tell us later why Aefre is Destin's dream home.

His hobbyist activites involving a home remedy book are just a distraction

From a cold read, I don't think I would necessarily get the connection between "a book that confers magical powers" and "a home remedy book". Does Dustin know at this time that the book confers magical powers because this is the only point in time where he could possibly think it harmless to possess it. If he does know it, then it seems simplistic to call it a home remedy book. And if he is using it ("hobbyist activities" is a bit awkard), then is it just biding its time or is he experiencing magical powers?

-- until he's attacked by a hooded figure brandishing freakish enchantments.

Are enchantments so commonplace in this world that a layman could distinguish between regular and freakish ones?

To add to his troubles, a detective begins asking questions about his possession of the book, a fabled artifact of unknown power. To keep him out of trouble, the detective thrusts Destin into Aefre, the magical realm.

The land of Aefre is tranquil: a world where the means to live well within every person's grasp, the perfect home that Destin has always dreamed of.

Since you've already termed Aefre a realm, you don't need "the land of". Also, this sentence seems to be missing a word or two. Otherwise, it's a frag -- and not a stylistic one.

Unfortunately, Aefre is not as idyllic as it seems. Phalon, a kleptomaniac with an affinity for magical items, is determined to kill in the pursuit of his obsession.

"is determined to kill" is an odd phrase here. It seems to infer Phalon plans to kill for each item he acquires. Is it true he premeditates killing along with the stealing? Or do you mean "he'll even kill to get what he wants"?

Phalon's desires gravitate toward Destin and the mythical potions text.

So is the mythical potions text the same as the home remedy book and/or the book that confers magical powers? Being direct and consistent will help keep the reader focused.

His acolytes hunt Destin, with a desperate desire to obtain the book and provide Phalon with the object that will complete his collection.

I don't think the last half of this sentence is needed. Phalon wants the book and sends his henchmen after it. Of course his people will want to do their job.

Is a kleptomaniac's collection ever complete? If he's just looking to complete a collection, then that could be an obsession, but it wouldn't be kleptomania. Be clear with the words you choose.

Using the book's powers, Destin fends off the attacks, though attempts to keep his friends protected from Phalon only make matters worse.

The last part of this sentence is pretty vague; it's not really providing the details you want it to. In this version of the query, the reader doesn't have much of an idea how long Destin has been in Aefre so that he has friends here is a bit of a surprise. On top of that, the reader has no idea what the attempts might entail and what it means to make matters worse. Also, worse than what? Destin is fending off the attacks in the first part of the sentence. That seems positive.

Phalon, himself, thought, isn't so easily defeated. Destin challenges Phalon to a duel in an upcoming Wizard Tournament.

I'm not sure the logic here is clear in the query. Destin has fended off the attacks, so is Phalon still threatening him somehow? It's not clear to me at this point why Destin would challenge him openly. Also, this is the first time the query infers Phalon is a wizard. What we've been told before this is that he's a kleptomaniac after magical artifacts, he's a killer, and he has acolytes to do his dirty work for him. Now he's a wizard, too?

Though he is not sure if his challenge will solve his problems or unleash disastrous consequences on on him and the realm he now calls home.

This is another sentence frag that isn't stylistic. Stylistic frags are OK; non-stylistic ones aren't.

If Destin defeats (kills?) Phalon that solves his problem. Check. If Phalon wins, he gets the book and completes his collection. Is that what results in the disastrous consequences? Maybe add a phrase earlier that qualifies what it means if he completes his collection so the reader better understands what it would mean if Destin loses.

GENEVIEVE AWAKENS is a contemporary fantasy of 88,000 words. This is my first novel.

Overall, I think this is a little better than the last version, but still isn't quite there yet.

4 comments:

vkw said...

It's a . . . okay. It sounds more young adult than an adult fantasy novel to me. That was my first thought.

I think the following needs to be removed or rewritten.

"possessing a book that confers magical powers seems harmless" Really? So Destin knows he has a magical book and he considers it harmless? Do we often consider whether or not a book is harmless? I don't think so. Well okay I once saw a satan bible and thought that possessing that book maybe be harmful. . . .I think it's one of those things that if you have to ask the question you know the answer. Following that logic Destin would suspect it was harmful.

I would rewrite the entire first paragraph it is not conveying what you want it to.

"hobbyist activities are just a distraction until he is attacked."

There is no cause or effect in this sentence. He does not give up his hobbies, feelings of not belonging or his distractions because he is attacked. Those things happen - there is correlation but not causation.

the cause and effect would be - he confirms or discovers there is something wrong, special, unique, troublesome, valuable about the book when he is attacked by a hooded criminal who tries to steal it.

"To add to his troubles" - no, no, you don't mean that. You mean, "A detective investigating the attack is more concerned about the book than Destin's injuries. He then reveals zzzzz and sends him to Aefre for his protection.

That's a start.

I kept on thinking of the diaper rash creme when I read the MC's name. I was wrong it was Desitin but still. . . . that was the first bad sign.


vkw

AA said...

I don't see the logical sense in this query.

First, why would anyone think of a book that "confers magical powers" as harmless?

Why would a detective shove D. into a magical realm "to keep him out of trouble" if that realm is where the villain is? Does the detective not know about the villain? Not a very good detective, is he?

If Aefre is "tranquil: a world where the means to live well within every person's grasp, the perfect home that Destin has always dreamed of" then it IS idyllic. The two sentences contradict each other.

As far as I know, desires don't gravitate.

"though attempts to keep his friends protected from Phalon only make matters worse." This is vague. What attempts? How do they make matters worse?

How " unleash disastrous consequences"? What consequences? How are they unleashed?

I'll need a lot more specifics to get a picture in my mind of what's going on here.

Slush said...

Thank you for the comments. I will re-work this. Phoenix, I appreciate the line-by-line breakdown. It was helpful.

As you say a couple of re-writes will not make it perfect. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Slush,
I played around a bit.

Dusit is tired of living in a world he doesn't belong to. His lonely hobby, studying a home remedy book, almost gets him killed when he's attacked by a hooded figure, locked and loaded with freakish spells and curses. The attacker, Phalon, wants the book very badly. A stranger saves the boy's life by shoving him to safety in Aefre, the world where the Phalon can not get to him, just yet.
Aefre is a perfect world for Dusit but Aefre is not eutopia. Phalon slides back into Aefre as Dusit studies his book and prepares to etc.

Hope this helps. Set it aside for a while and take a breather.

Look forward to the massage.
Bibi