Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Query Revision 62

Face-Lift 868: The Puppet Mistress

“Should you accept this challenge, you will be bound to the magic of the game.” When Vaila Grayson, ignores the opening message on a mysterious video game, she quickly realizes what a mistake it is.

The strange magic imprisons Vaila inside her gaming room and with no saves, continues, or resets, the only way to escape is to successfully complete the game or let her avatar die. She might be able to focus, if her video knight was a just a collection of pixels. Cenric Alva, however, is a real knight. Unaware that he is a pawn in her game, Cenric believes he has fallen victim to a puppet mistress, a wicked magician who now controls his movements.

Mental challenges, frustrating side quests, and impossible riddles are the least of her problems as Vaila and Cenric confront terrible and fascinating monsters. When a mystical beast bites Cenric during battle, Vaila cannot ignore the blood dripping from a similar wound on her own arm. Gamplay becomes further complicated when Vaila discovers that her spirit is now bound to Cenric’s. They must now endure each other’s physical pain and wild emotions. Their intimate connection will drag her into whatever doom lies in wait for Cenric, and so Vaila has only one chance to save them both.

“The Puppet Mistress” is a 70,000 word, YA fantasy novel. This is an action-adventure tale told in alternating points of view.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to sharing the entire manuscript with you.

Comments

I think this version is a real improvement. I do notice you pulled away from the romance angle. I was a little concerned about possible age ickiness, but if your characters are age-appropriate, then I think the romance will help set this apart from other works that are basically rehashes of video-game play. IMO, you need that angle, but I'd love to hear how others feel about it.

“Should you accept this challenge, you will be bound to the magic of the game.” When Vaila Grayson, ignores the opening message on a mysterious video game, she quickly realizes what a mistake it is.

What makes the video game "mysterious"? Does it suddenly show up on her shelf? Does she get an email from someone she doesn't know inviting her to play online? Sometimes adding adjectives doesn't help to clarify but opens the reader to more questions. No comma after Grayson.

The strange magic imprisons Vaila inside her gaming room

Does Vaila really have a personal, dedicated gaming room?

and with no saves, continues, or resets, the only way to escape is to successfully complete the game or let her avatar die. She might be able to focus, if her video knight was a just a collection of pixels. Cenric Alva, however, is a real knight. Unaware that he is a pawn in her game, Cenric believes he has fallen victim to a puppet mistress, a wicked magician who now controls his movements.

Mental challenges, frustrating side quests, and impossible riddles are the least of her problems as Vaila and Cenric confront terrible and fascinating monsters.

Mental challenges and riddles can be lumped together here to get the point across. You can use that space to elaborate on other aspects. Also, "fascinating" is a subjective value. Your reader will understand that video games have a variety of monsters to best.

When a mystical beast bites Cenric during battle, Vaila cannot ignore the blood dripping from a similar wound on her own arm.

If it's a beast one would normally recognize, go ahead and name what it is. Using "ignore" here and in the first paragraph calls attention to the word. I also think you can be more direct than "can't ignore".

Gamplay becomes further complicated when Vaila discovers that her spirit is now bound to Cenric’s. They must now endure each other’s physical pain and wild emotions. Their intimate connection will drag her into whatever doom lies in wait for Cenric, and so Vaila has only one chance to save them both.

"Bound spirits," "enduring each other's burdens" and "intimate connection" all pretty much indicate the same thing, so this can be streamlined.

“The Puppet Mistress” is a 70,000 word, YA fantasy novel. This is an action-adventure tale told in alternating points of view.

I would use either "action-adventure" or "fantasy" -- your query will make it clear what it is.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to sharing the entire manuscript with you.

My Version

Ignoring the obvious creep-out warning that players will be bound by its magic, Vaila Grayson clicks Start on her new vid game -- then can't shut it off. With no saves, continues, or resets, the only way to quit is to successfully complete the game, let her avatar die, or just walk away. When she tries to walk, she can't -- literally. Something's locked her in her room. And about that avatar? Her video knight is not just a collection of pixels. Cenric Alva is a very real knight.

When Cenric suddenly can't move or make a decision on his own, he believes he's fallen victim to a puppet mistress, a wicked magician who controls him. And that's a real problem when a gryphon attacks, raking its fangs down his sword arm before he can react. Whoever's pulling his strings is surely going to get him killed.

With blood dripping down her own arm, Vaila freaks -- and watches the knight fall to his knees in response. Burdened by each other's pain and wild emotions, they have to find a way to overcome terrible monsters, impossible riddles, and the love that sparks between them while rushing toward a shared doom neither can foresee. All while And in this game Vaila will get only one chance to save them both.

THE PUPPET MISTRESS is a 70,000-word YA fantasy with romantic elements, told in alternating points of view. I look forward to sharing the completed manuscript with you.

4 comments:

All-Stars said...

Great job on the re-write, Phoenix. It makes me want to read my novel all over again!

Just a few things to address:
1) Vaila is a national video game champion, so she has a special room for gaming. It is beacuse of her celebrity status that she is hand selected to play the game as a "prototype." I wasn't sure if this was important enough for the query or not.

2) Cenric is bitten by a Lob Ombre (in Spanish "wolf-man" or werewolf). I don't name the beast specifically because I didn't want people puzzling over what a Lob Ombre is or jump to conclusions with the werewolf thing

3) Vaila is 16 and Cenric 23, not too creepy of an age difference

I had a hard time deciding what information could stay and what needed elaboration. I thank you all for your feedback in advance.

chelsea said...

I might introduce her as "sixteen-year-old national video game champion, Vaila." I think her age and her winning status are crucial to the query. Otherwise, I think this is really shaping up.

Can you add in a hint about Cenric's appearance/attractiveness? Every time I read, "She might be able to focus, if her video knight was a just a collection of pixels," I think, "Oh, here comes the hotness description", but it never comes. Maybe something like, "Cenric is a very real, very gorgeous knight."

This sounds like a fun read, and the puppet-mistress thing is much clearer in these versions.

Sarah said...

Great job on the new version!

I agree with All-Stars, you should mention Vaila's background. Can you flesh out both characters a little more, even if it's just throwing in a couple extra words, i.e. "Vaila, a cocky video game champ" or "smart but superstitious Cenric"?

And maybe it's just me, but I still feel like there needs be some kind of bigger picture moment, some hint as to why this is happening.

vkw said...

Valla's background and why she is chosen to play the game should be in the query and how she gets the game.

16 year old girl with a 23 year old man may not be creepy to you, but when it is YOUR 16 year old girl with a 23 year old man then it's an entirely different story.

I really would encourage the author to rethink the ages.

If the girl is 18 then 23 works better. If the boy is 18, then it's okay too.

vkw