Thursday, December 30, 2010

Query 47: Redux 2

The Guardian Legacy

Dear Agent:

Ex-government agents aren’t supposed to have magical swords, glowing grey eyes, or superhuman speed. Then again, young Lincoln Taylor shouldn’t be able to slow time, stop bullets mid-flight, or turn those former agents into human popsicles.

Back home in North Carolina, Lincoln was a typical teenager, just starting his freshman year of high school. But when puberty suddenly included acquiring powers that belong in comic books and not real life, Lincoln becomes a guardian-in-training at the top-secret Atlas Academy. Once his training’s complete, he’ll join the ranks of other supernatural undercover agents, using his powers to protect world leaders from dangerous assassins and evil conspiracies.

But first, he and his fellow recruits must protect themselves.

For the past ten years the Black Baron has been secretly recruiting young guardians before they’ve gained their powers – before the Academy even knew they exist. Under his leadership, they’ve joined hundreds of former guardians eager to punish their one-time allies. With surprise on their side, they invade the Academy and imprison the staff.

After narrowly escaping the initial assault, Lincoln and six friends embark on a daring mission to free the prisoners and defend their home. But for Lincoln the cost to defeat these evildoers includes likely losing his new powers forever. It may even include his life.

THE GUARDIAN LEGACY, a 71,000 fantasy adventure for early teens, is a standalone novel with series potential. The completed manuscript is available upon request.

Though not a guardian, I do routinely foil evil conspiracies, most of which revolve around my three children and the mysterious villain who frames them for his crimes.

Thank you for your consideration.



Yep, I think this is just about there! I only stumbled a bit in two places.

First, I'm not clear why the ex-guardians are eager to punish their allies. Why would hundred of do-gooders opt to not do good any more? If that many are deserting, I would start thinking maybe there's something wrong with the Academy not the deserters. This is a new element you've introduced and, since it furrows my brow rather than gives me an "aha" moment, I'd be tempted to just not mention it. Keep the focus on what the evil Black Baron wants to accomplish. And punishing by itself as a motivator is a bit too vague. Maybe something like: Under his leadership, they plan to take down the organization that forced him to abdicate his power, then restore him to the presidency of Nuclear Arms R We (or whatever his motivation for punishing the Academy is).

Second, I don't think "includes" works with the cost to defeat. It especially doesn't work with "his life" (which also needs "losing" in there, too, I think), since anything else included in the cost doesn't really matter if he's dead. "He died and he lost his powers" -- see how the loss of power loses its impact? I would still go with something close to my original suggestion:

But for Lincoln the cost to defeat these evildoers likely means losing his new powers forever. It may even mean losing his life.

Now, I have a hunch this author is a compulsive tweaker. And there are lots more compulsive tweakers out there. Editors adore these folk -- up to a point. They put in the work to refine their writing and get things just right. The problem is that everything can always be improved. At some point, that proverbial stake needs to be driven into the ground. At some point, the compulsive tweaker has to dot their final i and send their work out. And then they have to GIVE IT A CHANCE. No jumping to change the query or the first 5 pages being sent with it at the first rejection received -- or in some cases even before the rejections start trickling in. After the fist 8 or 10 rejections is soon enough to re-evaluate if you have a pretty good query and pretty strong first pages to begin with (it's a tough, tough market out there).

Put all that compulsive energy to better use by distancing yourself from the manuscript while it's out on submission to agents or editors and by working on something else. You HAVE to take a break from the current work in order to see it more objectively. Trust yourself to know when a manuscript or a query is ready, and be able to acknowledge the compulsion to tweak for the unhealthy practice it can become. Edit, edit, edit of course, but when changes become changes for change sake alone, it's time to call it.

Not that this author has quite reached that point yet, but just a tip to them and the rest of you who fit the compulsive tweaker profile as to what to be on the lookout for when you hit edit mode.


fairyhedgehog said...

This looks good. My few suggested tweaks follow, but please remember I'm just a British reader and not in the industry at all!

Love the first paragraph. It had me hooked.

I wondered about "acquiring" rather than the simpler "getting" but that could just be me.

I wondered about tenses in the fourth paragraph because I stumbled a bit on "has been recruiting" being followed by "before they knew".

the cost to defeat these evildoers includes likely losing his new powers forever. I would say "the cost of defeating these evildoers may be the loss of his new powers forever".

I'm guessing this is good to go. Good luck with your submissions.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I read once that when the piece feels better, after letting it sit/gel revising and so on, once it feels better you're there.

Divine Miss P did a post about stopping before you edit out the passion, the raw writing that is so crucial.

Forge on, best on your submission.