Friday, March 4, 2011

Query 65

Wild Hart

October 1814:

The people of Hereford huddle in the cathedral, praying. The werewolves are coming. A hundred people are dead, including the Baron, and even the protection of consecrated ground seems tenuous. Colonel William Hart stands alone on the cathedral steps with his gun.

Crippled and broken from a decade of war, William hardly inspires confidence in the people, but he has a secret - he is a werewolf too. Ten years ago when he lost control of the beast and killed his sister and fled Hereford. Now, called back to help by an old friend, he has to face the truth. His curse could save the entire town. As the other werewolves descend on him, the beast offers to help one last time and William starts to consider letting it free.

WILD HART is a completed Historical Horror of 80,000 words about an man who comes home to save the town he fled and the price he has to pay. I have a Masters of Arts in Medieval History with a focus on military history and folklore in Europe. This novel highlights older and less common aspects of the werewolf myth, particularly those from Eastern Europe and Russia.

Thank you for your consideration.

Comments

My honest first reactions to this were:
- Where's the hook?
- What's different about THIS story?
- How does this story expand into 80K words?

I think showing some things that are different about how werewolves are portrayed may work in your favor here.

October 1814:

I don't hate leading with the date like this. It could work, but it is unconventional. It does set me up for a straight historical, though, so the mention of werewolves jars me from that mindset.

The people of Hereford huddle in the cathedral, praying. The werewolves are coming. A hundred people are dead, including the Baron, and even the protection of consecrated ground seems tenuous.

I get what you're trying to do here. I think, though, we're getting too many specifics, like the Baron, taking up space that could better be used to intrigue us with some of those less-common myth aspects mentioned.

As written, we have people waiting for the werewolves to come. But people are already dead. Aren't the weres already "here"?

Colonel William Hart stands alone on the cathedral steps with his gun.

Here's where I start to squirm a bit. No one knows Hart's a werewolf, so the people are thinking he's out there protecting them with a gun. Wouldn't there be others on the steps with him with guns, too? So, I start thinking maybe it's because he's the only one with silver bullets. But do silver bullets kill in this mythic world? If so, and it's clear the weres have been around awhile since Hart's been called back, why haven't folk stockpiled silver bullets?

And since consecrated ground was mentioned, why can Hart stand there at all? Is holy ground only an issue to weres in wolf form?

Crippled and broken from a decade of war, William hardly inspires confidence in the people, but he has a secret - he is a werewolf too. Ten years ago when he lost control of the beast and killed his sister and fled Hereford.

Obviously, delete "when."

I do like the insertion of Hart being "crippled and broken from a decade of war." That paints a picture of a real character, although I'm not sure if "crippled" refers to his body or his mind.

Now, called back to help by an old friend, he has to face the truth. His curse could save the entire town.

I'm not sure what the truth is. Is it that his curse could save the town? One wolf against how many others? Or does he think he can negotiate his way out?

As the other werewolves descend on him, the beast offers to help one last time

"Offers to help one last time" implies the beast has helped Hart before. But all we know is that the beast killed his family.

and William starts to consider letting it free.

"starts to consider" implies that Hart never thought that would be a consequence from the moment his friend calls him back. Is our hero truly that naive?

WILD HART is a completed Historical Horror of 80,000 words about an man who comes home to save the town he fled and the price he has to pay. I have a Masters of Arts in Medieval History with a focus on military history and folklore in Europe. This novel highlights older and less common aspects of the werewolf myth, particularly those from Eastern Europe and Russia.

I think you can get away with either the first or the last sentence in this paragraph, but not both. Personally, I wouldn't use either. The first sentence (starting with "about") simply repeats what you've already told us without giving us new info. The last sentence is interesting, but leaves me asking why the myths of one culture are being transplanted into another culture. If this were a Slavic setting, I could see the relationship. But Hereford? I don't see the link.

Thank you for your consideration.

3 comments:

Matt said...

You painted a nice picture of a man pacing cathedral steps and then described it to me. But you should be describing a book, not a painting.

Don't start with a scene, start with a character. How you go about this depends on the content of your novel. Do we meet Hart before he becomes a werewolf? How was his relationship? with his sister? Did he utilize his dark side in war? You don't need to answer all of these questions, but use one (or something similar) as a starting point to help us get to know Hart and develop sympathy or empathy for him -- it's possible to do this in one sentence with a few choice words.

The last line clashes with the setting. Why are there eastern European and Russian werewolves in Hereford (the English city, I'm assuming)? This may be justified, but there isn't room to explain in a query. We'll know from the content of your letter that these are classical, not twilight, wolves.

The bit about education is nice because it's relevant to the story; however, it's superfluous in that it can be cut to make room for more plot description/characterization. In fact, I'd shorten the entire last paragraph to "WILD HART is an 80,000-word Historical Horror."

Chelsea P. said...

The first paragraph made me think this was an actual story opening. I liked the second and third paragraphs a lot. Your background, especially, made this sound very intriguing. Playing around a bit, I came up with this for an opening:

"Crippled and broken from a decade of war, Colonel William Hart hardly inspires confidence in the people of Hereford, but the beast inside him is the only thing keeping the werewolves outside from destroying their town.

Ten years ago he lost control of the beast and killed his sister and fled Hereford . . ."

That frees you up to give more details about what happens next.

Matt, I love that you called them "classical wolves". I'm so using that ;)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Chelsea, you read my mind on the opening.

Author, I hope you consider Divine Miss Phoenix's comments, Matt's overview and use Chelsea's idea on the opening. Loved cripple/broken image.

The mc seemed a little flat, I'd like to connect with him and know more about the story.

I felt like I was in good hands as I read this. A little more shaping of the diamond will bring out its lustre.

I think you've done extremely well with this query and look forward to the results of your digestion process.