Friday, June 24, 2011

Query Revision 95

Face-Lift 914: Home

Dear Agent,

Some violins sound magical when played by maestros, but when Home plays his violin, magic happens.

Cursed with immortality by the Faerie Queen, Home drifts about the world, never settling, returning every fifty years to repair the magical barrier that protects his hometown from the troubles of the outside world. War, plagues, famines; to his people these are mere words, but he has seen them occur many times, for as the barrier is renewed, so is his curse.

His most recent visit would have been like all the others, had a curious woman named Kasi not decided to follow him across the barrier when he left. When they are captured by soldiers, Home plays a wild song on his violin, his anger creating a dark spell that transforms the listeners, including Kasi, into animals.

Regretting what he has done, Home tries to reverse the spell, but his violin will no longer play. In order to restore both the violin and Kasi to their former selves, Home will have to revisit the dark places of his past, including the dangerous faerie realm, but he does not have much time. The barrier is already weakening, and without Home's ability to reinforce it, the war spreading across the world could destroy the town once and for all.

My fantasy novel, Home, is complete at 62,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Comments

Focusing on Home in this version helps tighten the focus of the query in general. I think that was a smart move.

You’ve also given us genre and word count here -- which you need to do. Unfortunately, now my focus is on those. 62K for an adult fantasy is extremely short. In the earlier version, I was willing to believe Kasi was a teen and Home an eternal teen and this was YA. The word count would work in that case. But with adult characters and targeted to an adult readership, I don’t think this is going to fly with agents at 62K.

Some violins sound magical when played by maestros, but when Home plays his violin, magic happens.

This is a nice opening to establish genre and character and your unique twist to magic.

Cursed with immortality by the Faerie Queen, Home drifts about the world, never settling, returning every fifty years to repair the magical barrier that protects his hometown from the troubles of the outside world.

At first, I’m thinking Home may be fae, but then he has a hometown in the mortal world, so he’s human, right? Can you add why he was cursed? We don’t know whether the Faerie Queen in this setting is good or evil, so Home could have earned that curse for all we know.

I’m also a bit torn over what Home is doing. Protecting or imprisoning? That’s a major philosophical question that doesn’t seem to be addressed.

War, plagues, famines; to his people these are mere words, but he has seen them occur many times, for as the barrier is renewed, so is his curse.

Semi-colon should be a colon.

I’m stumbling over why a curse of immortality needs to be renewed or why the curse and his renewing the barrier are connected. If he let the barrier fall, does that mean his curse would be lifted? I’m not yet convinced that what Home is doing is either smart or right.

His most recent visit would have been like all the others, had a curious woman named Kasi not decided to follow him across the barrier when he left.

No one in apparently a few hundred years has thought to leave? It sounds like the barrier is easily crossed. If the question of whether it's OK to protect a town by not allowing anyone in or out is a part of your story, Kasi being more than curious might be a good way to introduce that idea.

When they are captured by soldiers, Home plays a wild song on his violin, his anger creating a dark spell that transforms the listeners, including Kasi, into animals.

Regretting what he has done, Home tries to reverse the spell, but his violin will no longer play.

What does Home regret? That he freed himself? Or the way in which he freed himself? Or just that Kasi got caught too?

Is there a reason the violin stops playing? Sounds a bit like a plot contrivance without a reason behind it.

In order to restore both the violin and Kasi to their former selves, Home will have to revisit the dark places of his past, including the dangerous faerie realm, but he does not have much time.

By mentioning the faerie realm, I’m guessing the violin’s magic is somehow connected to the realm. But if Home is on the outs with the Queen, does he expect help there? And if not help, how does he think he can coerce a realm of magical beings to restore his magic when he has none?

The barrier is already weakening, and without Home's ability to reinforce it, the war spreading across the world could destroy the town once and for all.

So has he been looking for a way to restore his magic for 50 years? If he was leaving town when Kasi followed him, I’m assuming he’d already reinforced the magic for that cycle. Maybe this world follows the idea that time works differently in the faerie realm? A day there is like 20 years or so in the mortal world? Without validation of a time differential, then Home being short on time doesn’t make sense if the concern is about his hometown. If the concern focused on Kasi, that might be more practical depending on what kind of animal she’s been turned into and its life expectancy.

My fantasy novel, Home, is complete at 62,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

I think you can delete the “I look forward” sentence. It’s polite but not necessary.

6 comments:

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Divine Miss Phoenix asks/brings up such good points.

This to me is a dreamy sort of thing that doesn't grab me.I want to be grabbed.

You are kind of all over the map here. Weak wishy washy main character, why did soldiers, who the heck is what's her name?

Give me a reason to care about your characters. A lisp, a withered hand/leg. A connection.

Maybe the story is grand but you need to romance me into your world in the query.

Loved the opening sentence.

Be clear. What animal was K turned into? That may start the story.

When Home played his violin and turned K into a jackaroo and the soldiers into whatever it was pure magic. (because)

You've got good stuff here. Nail it.

Anonymous said...

This new version is much better than the version you had posted on EE's site. I agree with Phoenix and Wilkins about the first sentence. It's great. It really drew me in and made me think, "oh, what's going to happen?"

I still can't quite get a grasp on what's going on though. Did he or did he not reinforce the barrier this time? Why did he play that song when he knew it was going to turn everyone including Kasi into animals? I can see why he'd get mad at the soldiers, but I wouldn't feel bad about that. So I'm assuming he feels bad about Kasi.

I think the story sounds like it could be interesting, but you need to work a little more on showing us that.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

Definite improvement over the previous draft. Now it's clear that this is Home's story and we have abetted sense of who he is.

I like the idea of the first sentence, but I think the wording could be tweaked a little so the first half doesn't sound quite as forced.

It almost sounds like Home made a bargain with the Faerie Queen: she gives Home the ability to protect his hometown from all the horrors of the world, but catch is that he will guard the town forever without ever enjoying the peace his magic creates there. Whether or not that's the case, you need to fully explain Home's curse. I'm not clear whether Home's constant wandering is part of the curse or a side effect of his being immortal and not wanting to grow attached to people he will inevitably lose.

I think you made the right call putting the focus on Home instead of Kasi, but now you need to connect her with the story a little more. I know there was some question in the comments on the first draft of the query about what Kasi's purpose in the story is, and now I'm even less certain. My one guess is that if the innocent Kasi wasn't caught up in Home's spell, Home might not feel so regretful and so eager to undo what he has done, preventing him from discovering that his magic is gone until some later time. Explain who Kasi is and what connection she has to Home.

Sarah Laurenson said...

This is really good.

Immortality? Is that his curse? I didn't quite get that. Yeah, I got that he was living a long time, but not that immortality was his specific curse. And I felt a bit lost on what the curse really was. Seemed important to know.

62K is not out of the realm of possibility for adult fiction - even fantasy. There are a number of shorter books out there but they tend to be on the funny side of things.

Tuck Everlasting is a good look at a middle grade novel with an immortal character.

Masako Moonshade said...

I think the biggest problem here is we're not sure what happens in the outside world and what happens in the sealed-off home world and what happens in the Fae realm. Is Kasi an outsider or an insider? Is Home's hometown part of the Fae? Etc, etc, etc.

Also, am I right in thinking that the world his hometown is sealed off from is 'our' world? Because if it is, it might be cool to mention which war is going to bulldoze Home's hometown.

Xenith said...

You get more oomph to this by trimming the sentences
e.g.

Cursed with immortality, Home drifts about the world, never settling, returning every fifty years to repair the magical barrier that protects his hometown from the outside world.

and making the sentences more direct

e.g.

This time when he leaves, a curious woman named Kasi follows him across.

(That last one can be done better.)