Monday, December 6, 2010

Query 41: Redux

Unwanted (New Title)
Originally "Living in Forgotten"

Tagus is a city divided by a single wall.

On one side live the Forgotten, imperfects, unwanted and the corrupted live in a daily struggle, ignored by those who were sworn in to protect them all. On the other live the Privileged, the perfect beautiful people who have everything and spare nothing, raiding across the wall to keep the poor scared and their mines working.

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 the Forgotten and the raiders of the Privileged.

When running away from a bunch of thugs, he runs into a deaf-mute boy with a very big Talent, illusions so real that the five year old has managed to survive the streets alone. Together they learn to communicate with each other and slowly a small band of teens form a protective circle around the valuable 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 the last few Talented, hoping to extract the power for their own gain even if it means killing anyone who stands in their way.

Refusing the gang will be foolish but getting caught by the Prevys will be deadly.

UNWANTED is a 70,000-word stand-alone young adult fantasy with series potential. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Author, I think you're a little stuck at Stage 3 of query writing. You're answering critters' issues point by point, but maybe it's time to let this particular structure go and try a new direction -- a true re-envisioning of this query.

Consider what the most powerful selling point of your book is. Is it the divided city? By opening with so much description of the city, it seems that it is. But the rest of the query doesn't really support that. If you were ramping up the tension in those first sentences, they could work. As it is, they're telling not showing; world-building but not plot-building. And the focus moves from big picture to Khris to his extended social circle and back out to big picture and back to social circle. Maybe see what happens if you put the query entirely in Khris' POV.

How about just FORGOTTEN as a title?

My Revision

This streamlines the POV but it doesn't go beyond what you've presented us in your query versions. Only you know if there are other elements you can introduce to punch it up some. It's just a template to start with.

Like every kid in Tagus' ghetto of the Forgotten, fourteen-year-old Khris survives on wits: To eat, he sneaks over the city wall and steals food from the Privileged. To live, he evades the gangs of imperfects, unwanted and corrupt that prowl the streets. And to stay free, he hides from the Prevy raiders who terrorize the Forgotten, recruiting workers for their mines.

In his brutal world, Khris doesn't have much use for trust -- or friends. Until he runs into Magus, a deaf-mute boy with a very big Talent -- the ability to create illusions so real the five year old has managed to survive the streets alone. At first, Khris sees the boy no differently than the Protective Committee that hunts people like Magus: nothing more than a Talent to be exploited. Soon, however, he realizes the benefits go both ways and as he learns to communicate with the boy, they attract a small band of teens to them, kids tired of scrabbling their way alone.

But Magus' Talent is in high demand. A Forgotten gang that discovers them presses Khris and the boy into committing an impossible heist -- one that would lead them into the heart of the government where X would happen. Meanwhile, the Protective Committee has begun another roundup of Talented -- and killing everyone who gets in the way. Refusing the gang would be foolish, getting caught by the Prevys deadly.

The simple answer is to give up the boy. But nothing in the Forgotten is simple.

FORGOTTEN is a 70,000-word stand-alone young adult fantasy with series potential. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.


fairyhedgehog said...

Phoenix's version is a big improvement. For a start, I was wondering why the have's would raid the have-nots, and now I know!

The interesting story is starting to emerge.

AA said...

I was wondering how they can extract the power from the talented people and use it for their own gain. Phoenix's version is clearer on this point.

You might consider using the title Forgotten.

Maria said...

Thanks Phoenix. I was stuck! Seeing the same thing over and over again makes one's brains a little messed up.

I am going to take your advise and rewrite the whole thing although I think I will use most of your revision ;)

Phoenix said...

I just left this comment over at EE's for another dystopian novel:

There's a UK agency that only has short windows of time for accepting submissions that is open now through the end of Dec -- and they're specifically looking for YA dystopia.

Zeno Agency

Just FYI :o)

Phoenix said...

Hmm. Not sure why that link's not linking.

Maria said...

Phoenix you're the BEST :)
I will clean this up and send this as soon as possible to you for revision.

Anonymous said...

Divine Miss Phoenix, how do you do what you do so well? Man.
PS Skipping a class tomorrow to get my 'puter fixed.