Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Query 87: Redux

Worldbreaker

Time has finally run out for Libby Sparks. Her dark destiny has been a carefully hidden secret for sixteen years, but as Libby Sparks arrives for her mandatory Inquest like every other sixteen year old in world, but she walks in knowing she is about to die. The room is silent as the Caliph begins the ritual to divine Libby’s talents and destiny. When the Caliph pronounces Libby as the prophesied Destroyer, the one person in the world with seven immensely powerful talents capable of tearing apart their Guardian ruled society, chaos erupts.

The knife meant to end her life barely misses Libby’s throat, but her real problems have just begun. Strict tradition and hidden motives grant Libby a reprieve until her eighteenth birthday when the full power of her talents will be released. Libby fears she will spend the next two years alone when family and friends abandon her until a grungy, secretive boy named Milo risks speaking to her. He is someone to talk to, and maybe more, but Libby quickly finds out she is not the only one hiding something. Milo’s secrets may be just as dangerous as hers, inciting Guardian attacks that force Libby to use her talents and reveal her true power.

Secrets, betrayal, attempts on her life, everything against her adds up quickly for Libby. She realizes she only has two options if she wants to make it past her eighteenth birthday. Either bury her talents deep and convince everyone she has no intention of breaking the world, or embrace who she is and truly become the Destroyer.

Worldbreaker is a young adult dystopia novel, complete at 90,000 words. This is the first book in a series of three, entitled The Destroyer Series. Libby’s decision between shunning her destiny and running toward it willingly will propel her into the next two books as she attempts to rescue her stolen army and break a world already broken by lies and betrayal so it can be remade into something better. Books two and three, Secret of Betrayal and Darkening Chaos, are also complete at 92,000 and 109,000 words respectively.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.

Comments

This expanded version gives us Milo, who appears to be a complication. Otherwise, I'm still not getting a good feel of how this story is different from other Chosen stories. Especially not to carry it over into three books. And honestly, from this description, I'm not at all clear how this is dystopian rather than fantasy. I don't see any dystopian elements here. Does anyone else?

The problem, I think, is that the query lacks mid-level details. We have the low-level details of the audience participation in the Inquest and we have the high-level details that there are powerful talents and secrets and Guardians. But the missing details such as what those talents are and whether the Guardians are bad guys are what, I think, will help bring the world more to life and give us a better understanding of what the plot is.

Unfortunately, the way it reads in the query, it sounds like that two-year reprieve is more of an author-installed plot device than something that's grown organically from this world. Since it figures so prominently here, I think a quick explanation at least of who is behind the hidden motives for allowing her to live would help.

Time has finally run out for Libby Sparks.

In this version, we find out that she still has 2 more years.

Her dark destiny has been a carefully hidden secret for sixteen years, but as Libby Sparks arrives for her mandatory Inquest like every other sixteen year old in world, but she walks in knowing she is about to die.

Obviously, clean up this sentence. And when you do, one use of 16 years should be enough. But if her talents haven't manifested and the Caliph has to use ritual to divine them, how does Libby know she's going to die? And wouldn't she know about the 18 yo rule if tradition is as strict as we're told later?

The room is silent as the Caliph begins the ritual to divine Libby’s talents and destiny. When the Caliph pronounces Libby as the prophesied Destroyer, the one person in the world with seven immensely powerful talents capable of tearing apart their Guardian ruled society, chaos erupts.

The first sentence here is redundant.

The knife meant to end her life barely misses Libby’s throat, but her real problems have just begun.

I'm guessing someone panics and tries to kill her but whoever has hidden motives stops them. But I have to think too hard to come up with that, and I have to read the next sentence and then try to work out the seeming contradiction of someone trying to kill her, but no, she has a reprieve.

If a reprieve is one of the real problems just beginning, then I think an explanation of what a problem is might be good here.

Strict tradition and hidden motives grant Libby a reprieve until her eighteenth birthday when the full power of her talents will be released. Libby fears she will spend the next two years alone when family and friends abandon her until a grungy, secretive boy named Milo risks speaking to her. He is someone to talk to, and maybe more, but Libby quickly finds out she is not the only one hiding something.

There's a hint at what may be a budding romance here? On first read, "grungy, secretive boy" made me think of a boy around 8 or 9, so the "and maybe more" phrase was a surprise.

What else is Libby hiding? Didn't the Caliph divine her secret already?

Milo’s secrets may be just as dangerous as hers, inciting Guardian attacks that force Libby to use her talents and reveal her true power.

I'm confused here because I thought she had to be 18 before she could come into her power. I'm even more confused because I'm still clueless what her talents are. Since you mention earlier they can tear the society apart, I'm left to wonder what 7 talents could have that kind of social impact. I'm thinking along the lines of negotiation and persuasion. Will she be an expert brainwasher? Is she all about mind tricks or are her talents more physical?

Secrets, betrayal, attempts on her life, everything against her adds up quickly for Libby.

Where does the betrayal come in? Is there more than one attempt on her life?

She realizes she only has two options if she wants to make it past her eighteenth birthday. Either bury her talents deep and convince everyone she has no intention of breaking the world, or embrace who she is and truly become the Destroyer.

This seems to contradict the statement above that she's already used her talents against the establishment. Are the Guardians OK with her just stuffing them back inside and saying, "Mea culpa"?

Worldbreaker is a young adult dystopia novel, complete at 90,000 words. This is the first book in a series of three, entitled The Destroyer Series. Libby’s decision between shunning her destiny and running toward it willingly will propel her into the next two books as she attempts to rescue her stolen army and break a world already broken by lies and betrayal so it can be remade into something better. Books two and three, Secret of Betrayal and Darkening Chaos, are also complete at 92,000 and 109,000 words respectively.

I like the highlighted bit very much.

You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you? I'm still not convinced the story arc in Book 1 is clear enough. There are some hints that there's some politicking going on, and Milo adds an intriguing element, but I still don't have a good feel from the query as to who the antagonist is or what the obstacles are. Even the decision she needs to make about whether to shun or run isn't really clear to me.

I don't think "rescue her stolen army" is a bonus here. First, what army? And second, how does one steal an army? It doesn't intrigue, though, so much as as seem to jump the shark without further explanation, which you certainly don't want to get into here. I'd delete.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.

My Version

This is, of course, just a suggested framework -- a way to hang a few more details onto the query.

Every 16-year-old under Guardian rule undergoes a mandatory Inquest to divine hidden talents. For most it's a simple rite of passage. For Libby Sparks it's a death sentence. As the presiding Caliph uncovers each of the seven powerful talents Libby struggles to hide, it becomes increasingly clear she is the prophesied Destroyer, capable of tearing apart [the iconoclastic society built on a millenium of war.]

The laws are clear: She's not to be touched till her 18th birthday. That's when her talents should emerge and when [the Guardians will sacrifice her to glean her immense power.] But one [senator] unwilling to chance fate tries to assassinate her before her [talent types] can grow and manifest. Only [intervention by a Guardian] keeps her alive. Betrayed by those around her and with friends and family abandoning her, Libby resigns herself to spending the next two years alone. That is, until a grungy, secretive teen named Milo risks visiting her. Libby welcomes him as someone to talk to -- and maybe more -- but the secrets he's hiding may be just as dangerous as she is.

When Milo [does something] that incites the Guardians to attack, Libby has to choose. Either bury her talents deep where neither she nor the Guardians can ever access them, or embrace who she is and truly become the Destroyer.

WORLDBREAKER, a YA fantasy complete at 90,000 words, is the first book in The Destroyer trilogy where Libby must ultimately break a world already broken by lies and betrayal so it can be remade into something better. SECRET OF BETRAYAL and DARKENING CHAOS are also complete.

Thank you for your consideration.

4 comments:

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I'm guessing that the dystopian element is the Guardians running things, but since the query doesn't say much about them, it's hard to tell.

A couple of sentences need to be cleaned up, split into two, or checked for missing words and punctuation.

The first sentence of paragraph two is confusing. I initially understood it to mean that the Caliph screwed up the ritual meant to kill Libby, but if she has a two year reprieve, why is he trying to kill her at all?

My personal opinion on writing queries for books that are part of a series is that you should try to treat the sequels like a bonus; suggesting something along the lines of "If you like this and it sells well, I've got more books planned or ready to go." The more emphasis you put on the sequels, the more readers of your query will worry that the first book isn't so much a complete story as setup for future books. Ideally, your query should make it seem like your book isa great read all by itself, regardless of whether the next two books ever come out. That's just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Landra said...

Dystopian- usually a fictional future earth or earth-esque environment and I don't glean that element from the query. It wouldn't hurt to give a small mention.

I understand the big stake, but I kind of feel lost with the 2 year aspect.

I agree with Ink and Phoenix on the sentence and punctuation cleanup.

Overall Phoenix's version had a great flow and drew you into the story. I think the original appeared a little jumbly to me and the detail provided in the first paragraph didn't match the lack of detail following. To explain more clearly you get super description in the 1st para. and then turn vague.

Xenith said...

I haven't seen any earlier versions of this, so the first paragraph had me thinking WTF?? The opening sentences need some context.

If a friend comes up toy ou and says "Hey, what's your book about?", what would you say?

Riley Redgate said...

The most intriguing element of dystopias, I've found, is how dystopian the society is. The big-picture aspect. That's what I'm not seeing from the query, at present. I'd like to zoom out a little - showing how the MC fits into the society at the beginning, so that it can be a huge shock when the Destroyer action is pulled out.

Sounds like you have some awesome stakes, but I don't know at this point why I should root for Libby as opposed to your dystopian society. At the end you hint that it might not be bad for her to Destroy some stuff - why? Is there some dreadful institution that needs overhaul?

Looks like 'Guardian-ruled society' is the key to my question. It sounds like one of those super-restrictive societies. Lay it out for us - who are these Guardian guys? And why shouldn't they just get rid of Libby ASAP, if she can ruin them? The 'strict tradition and hidden motives' don't completely sell me on her survival. Having to fight for her life would be a far more interesting read than her just waiting it out until she's 18, with possible problems of social estrangement (which is what I gleaned from para 2).

Sounds like an epic story. Best of luck.