Thursday, April 14, 2011

Query 70: Redux


Dear Agent,

Andra has despised sorcerers since they executed her mother for witchcraft. Twelve years later, the war between witches and sorcerers has ended, but Andra's convinced the peace won't last-- not while sorcerers pay the price required by magic with the blood of innocents. Like her mother, Andra plans to become a witch, even though it means sacrificing a piece of her spirit and risking insanity with every spell.

Now an unknown enemy has targeted her brother and ensnared him in a spell that drains his life-force. Andra isn't a witch yet, and her runes are nothing more than squiggles in the air. Desperate, she turns to her friends, including her ex-best-friend, Declan. Together, they trace the spell to the sorceress Camilla, a cold-blooded hunter who has killed a hundred witches and whom Declan knows by another name: Mom.

Camilla plans to use the stolen life-force to assassinate the Magister, then frame Andra's father. Andra doesn't care about the Magister or Council politics, but there's nothing she won't do to save her family, even when it turns out the only way to destroy the spell is to become what she despises the most--a sorceress.

THRICE BORN is a 60,000 word YA urban fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.



I really like the structure in this version much better! I like the way you build the tension throughout. I love many of the touches here, such as "Mom" and "what she despises the most."

I do think it needs one more pass to make a few things clearer to someone reading this cold.

First is the distinction between witches and sorcerers. I keep trying to wrap my head around what the differences might be. It seems like they are both learned skills and not something you're born as. So is the distinction in the basis for the spells? Witches use benign, organic spells and sorcerers have to have blood to make their magic work? But then why would witchcraft require soul and sanity to work? So then what does it mean to become a sorceress? Is it like swearing allegiance to another flag or something more insidious given the "blood of innocents" thing? I'm trying hard to understand, but this is a real sticking point for me. I think if we're clear up front, then when we know Andra may have to become a sorceress we can empathize more.

Second is why Andra wants to become a witch given the downside. What's the upside; what's her motivation? Is it just that Mom was one?

Third, I think we need to know what faction the Magister is aligned with. A simple edit here to add in a couple of words is all this needs.

The only other thing I would suggest is either not name Camilla or Declan just to make things easier for a reader.

All in all, THIS is what a real revision is all about! Kudos!


AA said...

You know, this is very good, with the exceptions Phoenix mentioned. The biggest problem for me was the main difference between witches and sorcerers- what is it?- because you don't want it to come across as an unfounded racial issue. But the conflict is very clear.

Chelsea P. said...

This really drew me in. I agree with the comments about the witch/sorceress thing but that's about it. Love the "Mom" line.

Sara Jane Wade said...

Sorry it took me so long to respond, but RL has been kicking my ass lately. Anyway, thank you to everyone who commented, and to you Phoenix! I'll try to revise my comments to incorporate your advice. Though I'm beginning to hate my query, so maybe I should let it rest for a while :) Thanks again!