Thursday, February 3, 2011

Query Revision 59

Face-Lift 864: The Time Weaver

Seth believes that he has his life under control. That magic doesn't exist in his ordinary world.

Seth believes that he's human.

But when a dormant gene awakens within Seth and temporarily stops the flow of time, it begins a series of events that challenge everything he believes.

The kingdom of Findoor sits on the brink of war with a dark and powerful warlord determined to exact revenge on the land that banishedhim. When time stops, wizards on both sides take notice. They believe Seth is a Time Weaver, a race that could manipulate time and space and control magical energy as if it were part of them. A race thought to be extinct.

The warlord covets the powers that Seth now wields. Findoor needs a savior to rescue them from an attacking army far more powerful than its own. Seth just wants his old life back; only some things can't be undone.

But there is more to the escalating war than black versus white; a darker and more ancient evil stirs, locked in time that spans generations. A wizard in the warlord's army seeks to revive this evil, and Seth, plagued by doubt and fear of his own powers, is all that stands in his way.

THE TIME WEAVER puts an unlikely hero in a world that is not his own, with an ability he never wanted, and fighting a war he didn't start.

Comments

This reads much better than the first version! Just a little finessing (lots of "that's" and "believe's" in it) and it should READ well enough to send out.

My concern, however, is whether it's compelling enough as is to stand out.

Seth believes he's human. We've had a handful of SF/F queries on this site that start with the MC believing they're human when they're not. That revelation is more an expectation than a plot point these days.

Two factions at war now battling over the powers of a Chosen One. The one thing this story lacks is a prophecy, but the setup is otherwise predictable.

An ancient evil with only the MC able to thwart it.

Now, I'm a sucker for same-themed fantasy stories myself. There are a lot out there because they sell. But how best to sell one to an agent or editor? THEY are your audience.

I'm thinking that the MC being able to manipulate time and space is your hook here. However, I'm not getting a real feel about what that means from this query. How does that work? Maybe people are stopping and starting time all the time. How would we know? Would it seem seamless to us regular folk? How is controlling magical energy different for Seth than being a wizard? Weaving some of those details here in place of Seth thinking he's human might work better.

Here's how I would simply smooth out THIS version of the query. But does it have the heart it needs to get pulled from the slush?

My Version

Seth believes that he has his life under control. That magic doesn't exist in his ordinary world. That he's simply human. But when a dormant gene awakens within him and he temporarily stops the flow of time, Seth is forced to challenge those beliefs.

The kingdom of Findoor sits on the brink of war with a dark and powerful warlord determined to exact revenge on the people who banished him. When time stops, wizards on both sides take notice. Only a Time Weaver can manipulate time and space and control magical energy as if it were part of them. And the race of Time Weavers has been extinct for a thousand years. Or so they thought. The warlord covets the power Seth now wields. And Findoor needs a savior to rescue them from an attacking army far more powerful than its own.

Seth just wants his old life back -- only some things can't be undone. Because with the rise of a new Time Weaver, a darker and more ancient evil, locked in time, now stirs. And Seth, plagued by doubt and fear of his own powers, is all that stands in its way.

Complete at XXX words, THE TIME WEAVER puts an unlikely hero in a world that is not his own, with an ability he doesn't want, fighting a war he's not sure he can win.

4 comments:

vkw said...

I hate to give critcism without good advice but I don't like the start to this query.

A minion over at EE's blog gave me some advice that probably the best advice I ever received, (or read and I've read some "how to" on writing):

Imagine a teacup on a table, begin pulling the tablecloth it's sitting on and at that moment when the teacup is about to fall off the table - that is where your story begins.

It's hard for me: I always want to get a running jump on it -----and I start miles back.

Can you tell me how does this story begin? Is Seth sitting on the couch contemplating what it is and is not to be human? I know that wasn't it. What was it?

The rest of the query is okay, I think.

I strongly suggest that you do not ever refer to good as being white and black as evil. One it's cliche and two some people may perceive offense when none was intended.

vkw

not normally anon said...

I agree with vkw. Cut the whole believing and believing wrongly. Blech.

I'll go from the original query on this comment rather than Phoenix's. Take a deep breath author. Know that I'm doing this to help you see what you're doing wrong and correct it in future queries.

This may be the most passive query I've ever read. Passive in the sense that really NOTHING happens! A novel (especially a fantasy novel) should be centered around the action. Here's what I mean. These are the "non action" verbs in your query....ALL OF THEM!

Seth believes
Seth believes -- neither actions

a dormant gene awakens-- unless the dormant gene is a character, this is not active action

and temporarily stops-- not even permanent action

it begins -- not active action by the MC

The kingdom of Findoor sits --passive not action

determined to exact revenge -- being determined is NOT action...exacting revenge, yes, but not being determined to!

on the land that banished him.-- this is the first real active action we have in the query and it's happened "offscreen" (in the past)

wizards on both sides take notice--not MC and not active action

They believe -- back to the believing....

a race that could manipulate -- being able to do something isn't the same as doing it! not action!

The warlord covets -- not MC and not real action

powers that Seth now wields -- what powers???

Findoor needs -- needing is not action

from an attacking army -- is the army attacking? that's the first real hint of active action and it's being done TO something not actively doing it.

Seth just wants -- wanting is INACTION.

some things can't be undone--what's BEEN DONE????

a darker and more ancient evil stirs-- stirring is really really a minor action and one with no consequences until REAL action is taken. I could be stirring to kill a million people but unless I do it, nothing happens!

wizard...seeks -- not MC and not real action!

Seth, plagued by doubt and fear of his own powers, is all that stands in his way. -- that's the ONLY action we've seen Seth take?!?! Standing in the way?!?!

Nope. This does not work. The concept may be a good one but until we see Seth really do something, he comes across as a wussy, inactive blob that has forces pulling him apart. That's not MC material in fantasy novels.

I hope this doesn't come across as overly harsh. Learning this stuff now--correcting major mistakes--will help you avoid lots and lots of angst and frustration in the query process.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I think Phoenix is right: there isn't quite a hook into this story yet.

What would you say makes your book different from everything else out there? Unusual characters? A strong voice? An extraordinary world that people will want to explore and revisit, over and over? The framework is all here, now you need to give it that extra "I'm special!" sparkle.

I will point out that there's a lack of detail. Seth could be anywhere from 16 to 35, and could be anything from a student to a lawyer to a pro athlete. More importantly, you need to tell us what does he want and what can he do?

Good luck!

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Dear Author:

Seth thinks he's human and magic doesn't exist. Man, was he wrong when... as a Time Weaver...

"That magic doesn't exist in his ordinary world" isn't a sentence.

Something in Seth stops time and he must face reality, in the mean time, the Kingdom (proper noun) etc.

I'd rework sentence construction and take a close look at other things.

Seth, a Time Weaver, who thought he was human until time slowed and

then go on.

Seth isn't a race. He can be a member of a race. A race is an it not a them. Races are thems.

Lots of problems in the writing.

BUT they all can be fixed.

I didn't read Phoenix's version on purpose.

I'd start at:

The Kingdom of Findoor, on the brink of war, has two wizards,who take notice of Seth.

Then go on about Seth, the member of a race of TW's though to be extinct, and so on.

I didn't read the first submission.

You have more work here. Good luck, Phoenix is nicer than I am but I mean well.

The query would not tickle my fancy at this stage. Look forward to your revision.