Friday, January 14, 2011

Query 38: Redux

Kindar's Cure

Dear Agent:

Soothsayers have long predicted an Empress would birth three daughters and one would rise as the savior of her people. For Kindar, the middle daughter, fulfilling prophecy was the least of her expectations.

A weakness pushes Kindar to the margins of court life. From childhood, the gods have seen fit to mark her as flawed by sending her a devastating disease of cough and slow suffocation. Kindar’s choke lung has everyone, including the Empress, debating her place. Her elder sister’s grand wedding only another challenge in holding her head high and defying their predictions.

When her sister is murdered on her wedding night, the killer uses magic to conceal the deed and leaves behind a clue that implicates Kindar. In the space of a night, she moves from insignificance to stricken from the succession. Her efforts to find her enemies and clear her name mired by the stigma of the choke lung.

Banishment looms over Kindar when a wizard approaches her with his own untested vision. For enough coin, Maladonis Bin will lead her to a barren land where volcanic fumes just might cure the choke lung, allowing her to search for the true murderer. Her resolve will be tested in an area controlled by rebels with a young wizard who is a bumbling novice in his profession. With prophecy calling, Kindar must rally all her strength for a fight, not just for life and throne, but respect.

Kindar’s Cure is a fantasy with elements of romance, complete at xxxxxx words. Sample pages and synopsis are below.

Comments

Overall, I'm still trying to figure out why Kindar is a sympathetic MC. I'm hoping it's a fault with how the story is presented in the query. Her sister is dead but everything in Kindar's world seems to revolve around me, me, me. Her name is mud and she's wanting to find the murderer so she can reclaim her place in the succession. Is she truly so cold-hearted? If not, then just a few words to assure the reader that she wants retribution for her sister's murder would be good.

Soothsayers have long predicted an Empress would birth three daughters and one would rise as the savior of her people. For Kindar, the middle daughter, fulfilling prophecy was the least of her expectations.

I'm not thinking the Chosen One trope is your friend here. Why do the people need a savior? If you lead with this, I expect the query to follow through and let me know what fulfilling that prediction will mean. As it is, the whole prophecy thing seems to just get dropped.

A weakness pushes Kindar to the margins of court life. From childhood, the gods have seen fit to mark her as flawed by sending her a devastating disease of cough and slow suffocation. Kindar’s choke lung has everyone, including the Empress, debating her place. Her elder sister’s grand wedding only another challenge in holding her head high and defying their predictions.

I'm not sure "defying their predictions" works here in so close proximity to the prediction of one of the daughters becoming a savior. Nor do I see any predictions being made as everyone is still debating what should be done with her. Also, do the people see the prophecy as referring to THIS Empress? If so, most folk would probably look first to the eldest daughter as being the One, then skip the sick one, then look to the younger, who doesn't even really get mention here.

When her sister is murdered on her wedding night, the killer uses magic to conceal the deed and leaves behind a clue that implicates Kindar. In the space of a night, she moves from insignificance to stricken from the succession. Her efforts to find her enemies and clear her name mired by the stigma of the choke lung.

Here's where I think the reader needs assurance the MC has some sort of reaction to her sister's death other than that being implicated for murder pushes her out of succession. It's also a bit of a jump to conclude that pinning the murder on her makes the murderer HER enemy and not just a convenient way to slip justice.

Banishment looms over Kindar when a wizard approaches her with his own untested vision.

A cold reading of this query will leave a reader scratching their head over what "untested vision" might mean. I don't think it's necessary. Especially the "untested" part as what vision is pretested?

For enough coin, Maladonis Bin will lead her to a barren land where volcanic fumes just might cure the choke lung, allowing her to search for the true murderer.

With three thoughts going on in this sentence, you propbably want to separate out the last thought into its own sentence.

Her resolve will be tested in an area controlled by rebels with a young wizard who is a bumbling novice in his profession.

Maybe give us some reaction here: Kindar placed her trust in a young wizard only to find out he's a bumbling novice. If there is a romantic element in this story, here is where the reader likely needs a hint of it. Otherwise, Bin doesn't come across any more likeable than Kindar does.

With prophecy calling,

Still not sure how or why prophecy is calling.

Kindar must rally all her strength for a fight, not just for life and throne, but respect.

So if she loses her life and the throne, she'll be happy with post-death respect? The sentence order here is a little confusing.

Kindar’s Cure is a fantasy with elements of romance, complete at xxxxxx words. Sample pages and synopsis are below.

My Version

If being the Empress's middle daughter wasn't challenge enough, the gods marked Kindar in childhood with a wasting disease of cough and slow suffocation. Seventeen-year-old Kindar's choke lung has everyone, including her mother, debating her place, pushing her to the margins of court life, and hoping the problem will simply resolve itself. After all, there's a third daughter available if the unthinkable should happen to the first.

When the eldest sister is murdered on her wedding night, the killer uses magic to conceal the deed and leaves behind a clue that implicates Kindar. Devastated by her sister's death, Kindar tries to comprehend why anyone would go to such lengths to keep her from succeeding to the throne. With threat of banishment looming over her, she agrees to a young wizard's outlandish scheme. For a small ransom in coin, Maladonis Bin will break her out of her cell and lead her to a barren land where volcanic fumes just might cure her. Once time and health are on her side, she'll have the resources needed to search for the true killer and uncover the reason behind the conspiracy.

But first she's going to have to rally strength enough to fight: Fight for life in a wilderness controlled by rebels, fight for love when the young wizard's bumbling antics touch her heart, and fight for throne and respect when she discovers who killed her sister -- and why.

KINDAR'S CURE is a fantasy with romantic elements, complete at xxxxxx words. Sample pages and synopsis are below.

5 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I found the initial query a bit choppy and Phoenix's version overcomes that. I'd remove the phrase "debating her place" as I'm not sure what it means and it slows up that sentence.

I'd also try to make the ending go in the order: she risks losing respect, the throne and even her life.

Jeb said...

Overall, this has come a long way since I first saw it. I like Phoenix's version better, though, with one exceptiond:

"Devastated by her sister's death, Kindar tries to comprehend why anyone would go to such lengths to keep her from succeeding to the throne. With threat of banishment looming over her, she agrees to a young wizard's outlandish scheme."

'Trying to comprehend...such lengths' is rather passive for Our Heroine. is A smidge of re-combining might restore her active status:

Devastated by her sister's death and facing banishment for her supposed involvement, Kindar agrees to a young wizard's outlandish scheme.

Matt said...

With Phoenix's revision and the edits suggested by FH and Jeb, this query is stronger.

However, I'm having trouble with volcanic ash that cures choke lung. If this girl is a princess, and this is a known cure, why wouldn't every knight in the land brave the perils to bring back the cure? Even if the royals didn't want the princess cured, fame seekers would have tried their hands at it.

And if the cure for choke lung is unknown to the masses, wouldn't the wizard sell the cure to the masses and become wealthy?

Also, why does the princess need to make this journey? Wouldn't it be advisable to keep her in hiding while sending mercs after the cure?

I suppose this doesn't have to be answered in the query if it bothers no one else, but it's killing me...

Michelle said...

Thanks everyone. You've given me great pointers to think about.

Matt, Kindar asked the wizard the same questions. At this point, no one knows about the supposed cure and she has to go there and breath in the vapors herself. The cure cannot be brought to her.

I needed a device for the cure that would get her moving and thrust her into adventures. This princess isn't the sit at home type. She goes out and gets messy.

Thanks again for the great suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this doesn't even sound like the same story once the prophesy was taken out!
All the revisions and suggestions sound great :)