Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Query 89: Redux

Cry of the Witch

Dear Agent,

Callie Richards’s seventeenth birthday was definitely one to remember. Hot, dizzy and nauseated to most people would be signs of the flu. But Callie doesn't get cold medicine or a cool washcloth from her grandma but the evolving truth. She’s a witch, potentially the most powerful witch in existence. And her unfocused powers just came in.

She learns that numerous family members were slaughtered at the hands of an evil sorcerer named Bellary and he‘s coming for Callie next. Bellary has sworn to make the non-magical community his energy source and with his talent of absorbing magical powers from his victims he has become unmatched. However to obtain true invincibility he must wait until Callie’s powers over all five elements are fully mature and she can focus them at will.

Callie rises to lead a powerful coven entwined with multiple layers of magic contributed by an empathic, a necromancer and a vampire. The group uncovers a rare tribal magic running through the heart of the town. Callie and her coven may be able to control it in time with practice. However Callie has only learned to focus three of the elements and the coven’s inexperience puts them at a deadly disadvantage. Bellary’s first attack leaves Callie’s boyfriend paying the price of their immature powers with his life. It’s up to Callie to become the witch she was born to be. If she fails again both her powers and the world will be his to control.

CRY OF THE WITCH a 106,000 word YA urban fantasy.

Thank you for you time and consideration.

To be honest, I think this version is less clear than the original. For me, the different kinds of magic all run together. We have a witch whose craft might be elemental in nature, a sorcerer who absorbs magic (but only when those magical powers are mature -- and it seems like he can absorb all kinds?) and who can use non-magicals as energy sources, an empath, a necromancer (who I usually think of as villainous, so I'm not sure how s/he's different from the evil sorcerer), a vampire, and rare tribal magic. I can't wrap my head around that many different magics and understand how they can all work together and/or against one another.

I'm also not clear on the coven. Bring in different magics to make it strong: check. Bring together a bunch of magical folk who have yet to come into their powers and call it a powerful coven: uncheck. Are there no magical folk whose powers are mature -- like grandma -- they can recruit into the coven?

And then I'm afraid we have what seems like a contradictory plot point. First, Bellary must wait for Callie to come into her power. But he attacks before she's mastered her craft? Or before any of the others in the coven do either? How does that benefit Bellary?

I don't think we need her symptoms or the relief in the first paragraph. Or grandma if she's not integral to the story other than to serve as the family's geneologist. And is her boyfriend one of the coven members mentioned or a non-magical person?


Wilkins MacQueen said...

This made my eyes cross. Evolving truth? Unfocused powers? If family were slaughtered she'd know, trust me. Learned they were slaughtered? Why were they slaughtered why is Bellary coming after Callie?

What five powers? What three powers? You've pulled stuff out of the hat that doesn't tell me what the story is about. Callie sounds like a third person and I can't figure out what she wants and what is stopping her or where this goes.

Sorry my friend. I need to connect the dots. I do like the energy in your writing. It needs to come together better for me.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

P.S: This makes no sense: Bellary has sworn to make the non-magical community his energy source and with his talent of absorbing magical powers from his victims he has become unmatched.

You may have a good ms, the query is all over the map.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the feedback. Now I can work on simplfing it. (its all explained in the ms) Guess its back to the drawing board! :)

Xenith said...

Kristin Nelson's series on writing pitch paragraphs might be useful here (First post and the rest are in the side bar) They're all about finding the initiating event and building the pitch on that. Then that becomes the basis of the query.

(And I'm in the queue on Phoenix's sidebar. Eep.)

Jo-Ann said...

I can't remember the original, which is a good thing, because I like to view the query on its merits as presented, rather than from what I already know about the story.

You can save a few words by cutting out most of the first para, all we need to know is that she got magic for her 17th birthday, and I'm assuming it was a surprise.

Maybe I'm ignorant but I always thought that depending on your philosophy there were either four elements (water, air, earth, fire) or about 94 natural ones (eg, hydrogen, helium, etc - with a few more artificial ones. What's the fifth?

Has he already started to attack the non magical community? I'm assuming he needs to kill to gain their energy, and if so, how much does the non-magical community know about him? How does the conven defend the innocents?

To be honest, a lot of this smacks of Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

There are five elements... earth air fire water and spirit. Bellary only kills non magical humans for food, which he hasnt had to do for almost a centery. (But that was a blood bath he casued between two indian tribes) Todays non magics arent nearly as superstious as those early settlers (think of the witch craft trials) and so they dont believe in magic the same. In Harry Potter they cast spells with wands this kind of magic is done with elements... But I am working on the query so thank you for all the feedback :)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Author, Show us your stuff. I'm sure the story is great.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Author, Show us your stuff. I'm sure the story is great.