Monday, June 20, 2011

Query 74: Redux 2

The Desmona Child

Dear Agent,

Looking back, Marine Desmona might have done things differently.

She wouldn’t have danced with Duke Sinclair, let his cold hands touch her while his eyes absorbed light in that uncanny, lifeless way. She wouldn’t have gone to the stable alone, where he could ambush her and attempt to pry into her mind. And she wouldn’t have hesitated to escape into the trees framing Adara’s borders.

Now, locked in a magic closet and chained to a conjured bed, she has only half-hopes of being rescued. Her grieving father might end up a soulless slave to Duke Sinclair, who tormented her with scandalous caresses and cruel promises. The Duke might’ve thought immortality was valuable, but being the future bride of a madman was unappealing to her, especially if death couldn’t offer refuge.

All because she has magic, a throwback heritage from before Adaran kings burned witches.

Having the magic was bad enough – she’d be burned alive in front of cheering spectators if her powers were discovered by anyone other than the Duke – but he kept her family’s secret quiet because he wanted to use her. She was rare, a womb that could pass on magic to another generation.

Yes. If Marine had one more chance, she’d change everything. She’d escape, leave Adara behind, and head to Atlantis. There, she’d learn to be more powerful than Duke Sinclair. She could save her father.

Now, if rescued, she’d make up for her stupid mistakes.

THE DESMONA CHILD is a 85,000-word YA fantasy. The fall of Atlantis occurs in the sequel, THE DESMONA BRIDE.


This is another query revision where the structure has been completely re-envisioned and is now heading in the right direction, I think. Overall, this one entices me a lot more than the previous versions.

What doesn’t work for me are the negatives – the things Marine wouldn’t do – and the passives. By making those present and active, the query will be strengthened, I think. There’s also some tense shifting going on that needs to be cleaned up. And I think the query would be stronger if Marine wasn’t waiting around to be rescued throughout. That could be cleaned up by simply rephrasing the “Now, if rescued” phrase.

My Version

Looking back, 18-year-old Marine Desmona can clearly count every one of her stupid mistakes.

The first mistake was dancing with Duke Sinclair and letting his cold hands touch her while his eyes absorbed light in that uncanny, lifeless way. The second was going to the stable alone where he could ambush her and rape her mind. The third was not fleeing Adara and heading for Atlantis the moment she had the chance. But of course, she would never have left her father behind. Not then.

Now, locked in a magic closet and chained to a conjured bed, she can only dream of rescue from the madman who torments her with scandalous caresses and cruel promises. The sorcerer who means to make her his bride and condemn her father to a future as a soulless slave. All because she has magic, a throwback heritage from the days when Adaran kings hunted witches for sport.

If anyone other than the duke should discover her powers, they’d burn her alive in front of cheering spectators. The duke, however, doesn’t plan to give her up. No, he wants to use her. More to the point, he wants – needs – a womb that can pass on magic to another generation. That can grant him immortality.

Grabbing her one opportunity for escape, Marina rushes out of Adara and toward Atlantis, the City of Magic. There she intends to become more powerful than Duke Sinclair so she can make that sorcerer skank pay for ravaging her, body and mind. But mostly, so she can save her father.

THE DESMONA CHILD is a standalone 85,000-word YA fantasy. The sequel, THE DESMONA BRIDE, chronicles the fall of Atlantis and the crucial role Marina plays in its destruction.


Wilkins MacQueen said...

I am very impressed with this revision. Congrats. Reads like you've got a handle on the action now.

I try and read the query, form my two bits then sneak a look at Phoenix's version. Her version moved the query along so well.

Great turn around. Not very helpful but I enjoyed this so much more. Better focus, direction.

vkw said...

I liked Phoenix's version. I was even interested in the book, enough to think about reading it. That's what your going for. The negatives wasn't appealing.

"she can only dream of rescue from the madman who torments her with scandalous caresses and cruel promises."

you may want to try -

"she dreams of rescue while enduring the scandalous caresses and cruel promises of the madman."

"The sorcerer who means to make her his bride and condemn her father to a future as a soulless slave. All because she has magic, a throwback heritage from the days when Adaran kings hunted witches for sport."

Maybe . .

He will have her as his bride -- a union that will grant him immortality and their children will inherit her curse. Magic. If anyone else knew she had this ability, she would be burned at the stake in front of a cheering mob like in decades past.

The Duke's plans do not end there, he also plans a special torture for her father. He will become the Duke's mindless slave and live out his final days groveling at the duke's feet. (You may want to mention why. That is not clear in any of the queries)


Ink and Pixel Club said...

I hadn't read the previous versions of this query before reading this one. I feel like I got a better sense of what the book is about from reading the older queries, so you might want to consider working some of those details back in. I'd include Marine's escape and some of what she does afterwards, so potential agents don't think the whole book is just Marine wishing someone would rescue her from captivity.

Put the detail that the Duke intends to possess the body of the child to become immortal back in. It makes his goals clear and gives him some major villain cred.

Is the bed in the closet? I found this setup confusing.

How will Marine be able to ensure her father's safety if she escapes?

As with any query where a sequel is mentioned, you want to make it clear that your first book is a complete story that can stand on its own.

Jo-Ann said...

Phoenix's version is, as usual, smmoth and well structured.

My quibble is with the term "madman". It's vague. What are you trying to tell the reader about him? Do you mean depressed/ power-hungry/ ruthless/ angry/ unpredictable/ foolish/ delusional/ sadistic/ stupid/ anxious... all of which can and have been used as synonyms for "mad"? And if it's "all of the above" maybe ust pick the one that best describes the feature that's causing M problems in the story.

Ms. Snip said...

I like this, too. But I had the same issue with liking Marine - it seems here like she's waiting to be rescued after making a bunch of mistakes that led her to being captured in the first place. I feel like we need to see some of the passion and anger in her at what is happening so she doesn't seem like a total wimp. Here's some thoughts on putting that in there (of course, you'll need to evaluate how to do it in your voice, for your character), but just an idea of what would make me like her more. I might try something more like -

Locked in a magic closet, chained to a conjured bed, Marine Desmona has plenty of time to count the mistakes that led her here.

Instead of dancing with Duke Sinclair’s cold hands leading her, she should have stabbed him through the eye absorbing light in that canny, lifeless way. Instead of going to the stable alone, she should have taken a squad of protectors – or at least picked up a pitchfork to invade his brain in a more visceral way than he pried into hers. Instead of fearing the trees framing Adara’s borders, she should have run headlong for their safety.

Now, her father’s fate is to become the soulless slave of Sinclair, while she sits on her hands contemplating whether or not an offer of immortality had ever been less appealing. The thought of becoming the bride of the madman whose scandalous caresses and cruel promises torment her is nauseatingly unacceptable.

Why her? Because of a throwback heritage that during it’s time would have marked her a sporting hunt for Adaran kings - magic. Desmone had thought her secret getting out and being burned alive to the cheers of a crowd was her worst nightmare. Turns out Duke Sinclair finding out he could use her womb to pass magic on to his own spawn made the flames seem appealing.

Now her heart is afire with the flame of revenge. She would rescue her father, go to the City of Magic and become more powerful than the Duke’s most twisted dreams. She would make him pay for every minute since she stepped into the stable. As soon as she figured a way out.

batgirl said...

Much better. I'd suggest cutting the light-absorbing-eyes though. It's a distracting detail in a query - it's the guy's actions that matter, not that his eyes don't radiate light (I mean, whose do?). Use the space to bring back the info about possessing the baby, which is way creepier.

batgirl said...

Also, I'm still bugged about the name Duke Sinclair. Obviously the author doesn't mean to change it, having taken it through more than one revision. But it makes me think her villain is a good old boy with a pickup truck, not a titled nobleman.