Monday, June 13, 2011

Query 90

Face-Lift 909: Dominion

When 16-year-old Nova McDonough uproots to the one-stop-light town of Raceland, Kentucky to live with her estranged father, a crow begins stalking her everywhere she goes. Nova wants to blend in, but as her first day at school progresses, she makes sassy bully Johnda Mulroy’s hit list and then becomes weirdo numero uno when the crow enters the cafeteria, freaks everybody out, and then lands on Nova’s shoulder. Later, an ancient dragon crashes a company picnic where Nova is a guest. Being badgered by a bird seems minor in comparison. That’s when local boy, Robert Blevins, finally starts offering answers.

Robert tells Nova hers is one of six families who still wield Biblical Noah’s power of dominion over animals. He and Johnda are also in practice. The root of dominion lies inside a temple hidden within the Appalachian woods. The temple is in peril, thanks to an expansion project in the works for the local steel mill. Some, like Johnda, will kill to protect their mystical birthright, opting to wield the dragon as a weapon against the factory to squash the expansion.

The conflict worsens when Nova and Robert intervene, rescuing the dragon’s first intended victim. Together they must figure out how to protect their gift without allowing the bloodshed of innocents. Nova must also grapple with her feelings for Robert; feelings that his girlfriend wouldn’t like. Their decisions make them Johnda’s next targets and the more Nova uncovers the secret history of dominion, the more she is convinced her own father has killed for it in the past.

DOMINION is a paranormal fantasy for young adults. Complete at 70,000 words, it has the potential to become the first book in a trilogy, similar to SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater, and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Comments

When 16-year-old Nova McDonough uproots to the one-stop-light town of Raceland, Kentucky to live with her estranged father, a crow begins stalking her everywhere she goes.

Query 89 started off with a teen moving to a small town, too. I wonder how many YA queries start that way since it seems to be a convention that most YA books start with the MC moving to a new town and starting a new school.

The estrangement is necessary to the story, but why does Nova wind up with him? Is it her decision to move to such a small town? A quick explanation, if it is quick, could work well here.

Nova wants to blend in, but as her first day at school progresses, she makes sassy bully Johnda Mulroy’s hit list and then becomes weirdo numero uno when the crow enters the cafeteria, freaks everybody out, and then lands on Nova’s shoulder.

A lot of this could be tightened. For example, we can assume the day progresses.

If six families in the small town have dominion too, wouldn’t the populace be getting used to animals acting strangely? Or does Nova have some different power/attraction than the others?

Later, an ancient dragon crashes a company picnic where Nova is a guest.

This tidbit seems to be dropped in rather abruptly. Aside from introducing the dragon, what is the reader supposed to understand from this? That the dragon is making contact with Nova like the crow is? If so, seems she would have some dominion over it same as Johnda does. Does the dragon interact with Nova?

“Later” makes it sound like the picnic is taking place on the first day of school too, but aren’t most company family picnics held on Saturdays? Is the company the steel mill and does her dad work there?

Being badgered by a bird seems minor in comparison.

I think this is a “duh” statement that can be deleted.

That’s when local boy, Robert Blevins, finally starts offering answers.

Robert tells Nova hers is one of six families who still wield Biblical Noah’s power of dominion over animals. He and Johnda are also in practice.

Didn’t God grant humanity in general dominion over animals, not just Noah? What does “in practice” mean? They’re still learning, or they practice dominionism?

The root of dominion lies inside a temple hidden within the Appalachian woods.

What is meant by “root?” Is it an actual object or a spiritual base of power? Is there a reason it’s in Appalachia and not hidden somewhere Noah would have accessed it? Or are there lots of these temples and they appear wherever practitioners gather? We don’t need the whole history here, just a hint why this story is set in America.

The temple is in peril, thanks to an expansion project in the works for the local steel mill.

This sentence is nice and succinct and works.

Some, like Johnda, will kill to protect their mystical birthright, opting to wield the dragon as a weapon against the factory to squash the expansion.

There are a couple of ideas here that need better separation, I think. Will the ones with dominion lose their power if the temple is destroyed? Is it “some” or Johnda who is opting to wield the dragon? Did someone get killed at the picnic?

The conflict worsens when Nova and Robert intervene, rescuing the dragon’s first intended victim.

What conflict is being referenced here? Given its placement, it should be referring to the dragon going against innocents, but I think you mean the dominion folk are split and in conflict.

Together they must figure out how to protect their gift without allowing the bloodshed of innocents.

So are Nova and Robert also working against the adults with power? I think this aspect, as it’s one of the obstacles, could be played up more in the query.

Nova must also grapple with her feelings for Robert; feelings that his girlfriend wouldn’t like.

Perhaps you can work this in a bit more organically if it's a major bit?

Their decisions make them Johnda’s next targets and the more Nova uncovers the secret history of dominion, the more she is convinced her own father has killed for it in the past.

So is she afraid that her dad will kill her and Robert for interfering? I’m not quite sure how her father killing in the past ties in with the climax otherwise.

DOMINION is a paranormal fantasy for young adults.

What makes it paranormal? Contemporary fantasy, maybe?

Complete at 70,000 words, it has the potential to become the first book in a trilogy, similar to SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater, and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

I think we could name a lot of books that are first in a trilogy, not just Shiver and BC. As written, that’s what this actually says. What makes your book similar to Shiver and BC? Characters? Themes? Settings? Writing style? It’s OK to make a comparison, just be specific about what you’re comparing and make it a meaningful comparison.

My Version

Since Nova McDonough’s mom doesn’t need a 16-year-old around while she’s trying to snag a new hubby, Nova’s shipped off to live with her dad. As if the one-stoplight Kentucky town isn’t bad enough, there’s some crow stalking her everywhere she goes. Things aren’t better at school either. On the first day, she makes sassy bully Johnda Mulroy’s hit list, then that stupid crow makes a beeline through the cafeteria, freaking everyone out when it lands on her shoulder. It’s at her dad’s company picnic, though, when things get really weird: an ancient dragon crashes the party and [charbroils all the hamburgers].

Local boy Robert Blevins has some answers. Nova and her dad are one of six area families -- his and Johnda’s included -- descended from the Sons of Noah who wield power of dominion over animals. Their source of power, carried into the New World generations ago, lies inside a temple hidden in the Appalachian woods. The temple is now in peril, thanks to the local steel mill’s planned expansion project, and Johnda and the others have called the dragon here to use as a weapon against the mill.

When the dragon attacks the mill’s vice president, and Nova and Robert barely rescue him in time, it’s clear the others are willing to kill to protect their birthright. Nova’s own father may even be willing to kill her if she continues to interfere. Together, Nova and Robert must figure out how to protect their gift before innocent blood is spilled

Complete at 70,000 words, DOMINION is a YA contemporary fantasy with romantic elements and series potential. The motif of a dark mythology played out in a remote and timeless town echoes that of SHIVER, by Maggie Stiefvater, and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

9 comments:

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I found myself stumbling over words a couple of times while reading this query. "Uproots" for one. It sounds more like something Nova's father would do to her than something that Nova could do herself. I'm not sure about "sassy" as an adjective to describe a bully either. It doesn't explain how Nova feels about Johnda or what form her bullying takes.

I agree with Phoenix's suggestions: particularly on conveying more of the shock that Nova and the other characters likely feel when a supposedly mythical creature shows up for their company picnic and clarifying whether the root of dominion is an actual plant root or something else. I'd also explain why the root can't just be moved from the temple to a safer location.

Anonymous said...

I think this story sounds interesting. I would read it.

AA said...

Good catch on dominion. Humans didn't have this power between the time of Adam and Eve leaving the garden and the time of Christ's resurrection, with the excepion of Noah and his family. I don't remember reading where it was taken away from Noah's family, though.

Dominion was given to humans again by Christ (the second Adam), but in order to have it, it is necessary to have faith.

This ms is fiction, though, and doesn't seem to be following the Bible exactly, nor would it need to.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

That’s when local boy, Robert Blevins, finally starts offering answers.

Ix-nay on the ommas-cay.

I see this more and more lately. What do they teach them in these schools?

Your opening is very much improved.

BuffySquirrel said...

I don't think they teach them to look at the sentence without the phrase in commas and see if it still makes sense. Which this one doesn't.

This is much better.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Am I the only one having a problem with descendents of the six families squabbling? Johnda as a member of the six clans torments Nova and wants to kill whoever to protect the temple? Is he going to kill a whole corporation or the guys who run the heavy equipment?

I think he's on the wrong team. As one of the six chosen by the Giver of Dominion I would think murder would be a no no on his to do list. 10 Commandments and all that.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

But if you check the original Rule Book, it's a veritable catalogue of murders committed by the good guys, NTM by the Giver himself.

Xenith said...

Too much explanation, I think, and overly lomg sentences. The "what happens" is getting lost.

batgirl said...

The story sounds much more interesting this time - hurray for specifics!
Author, are you a fan of Jane Louise Curry's Appalachian fantasies? It's a great setting for fantasy, as shown by Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John stories, also.
If you're aiming for the Shiver market, you might want to play up the romance more strongly. Are Johnda and Robert going to be rivals for Nova?