Monday, August 1, 2011

Query Revision 89: Redux 2

(Note: I'll post July sales stats tomorrow. Special treat: translation of numbers sold into money made.)

Cry of the Witch

When Callie Richards considered the consequences of having sex, she expected a grounding, maybe The Talk. Getting stalked by a killer sorcerer, though, is a bit much for any girl to take sitting down.

Callie's first romantic encounter awakens her ancestral powers. She's a witch, and her family's got serious baggage: her line has been hunted down and slaughtered by an evil sorcerer named Bellary, and he‘s coming for Callie next. Bellary's talent of draining magical energy from witches and humans alike has left him undefeated. To be truly invincible, though, he must wait for Callie's powers to fully mature. It gives her time, but not much.

Callie gathers a coven to fight against Bellary, but their inexperience may put them at a deadly disadvantage against the powerful sorcerer. It’s up to Callie to become the witch she was born to be. Because if she fails her powers, and the world will be his to control.

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

Comments

The focus in this version is much, much better. I know it had to be hard to delete the boyfriend and the grandma and the individuals in the coven as well as the various magic types and the whole history of the town and its relationship to magic. Personally, I'm a little torn about losing the boyfriend since having a love interest die is a bit of twist and might make the story stand out a little more.

The writing here is also much improved, though it could still be tightened a bit. For instance, the sorcerer is always adjectified (I'm trademarking that term, btw): killer sorcerer, evil sorcerer, powerful sorcerer. My thought would be to tighten a bit and then add a sentence about the BF getting killed in the last paragraph.

When Callie Richards considered the consequences of having sex, she expected a grounding, maybe The Talk. Getting stalked by a killer sorcerer, though, is a bit much for any girl to take sitting down.

Opening with the consequences of having sex from a teen's naive perspective is a much stronger opening than we saw in the previous versions.

The "is a bit much" clause, however, doesn't really seem to fit -- especially the "sitting down" part.

Callie's first romantic encounter awakens her ancestral powers. She's a witch, and her family's got serious baggage: her line has been hunted down and slaughtered by an evil sorcerer named Bellary, and he‘s coming for Callie next. Bellary's talent of draining magical energy from witches and humans alike has left him undefeated. To be truly invincible, though, he must wait for Callie's powers to fully mature. It gives her time, but not much.

Bellary seems like a pretty stock evil sorcerer, sort of existing just to gain power and give Callie an enemy to battle. Adding a bit of motivation to Bellary's character would help make him not feel so much like a trope.

Do humans have magical energy? What's the real threat here? Is it specifically to Callie and other witches, or is it to regular humans too? And are witches not human?

Callie gathers a coven to fight against Bellary, but their inexperience may put them at a deadly disadvantage against the powerful sorcerer. It’s up to Callie to become the witch she was born to be. Because if she fails her powers, and the world will be his to control.

"May put" dilutes the danger. Try just "puts."

The last sentence has got an extra "and" and/or is missing a few words in its first half.

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

Missing an "is" and a hyphen: "106,000-word"

My Version

Whenever Callie Richards considered the consequences of having sex, she figured on a grounding and The Talk. Having a killer sorcerer stalking her -- not so much.

Callie's first sexual encounter with the boy she loves awakens her ancestral powers. She's a witch, and her family's got serious baggage. For centuries the sorcerer Bellary has hunted down and slaughtered the most adept members of her line, and he‘s coming for Callie next. Bellary's talent of draining magical energy from his victims has left him undefeated. To be truly invincible so he can [accomplish X], he must wait for Callie's magic to fully mature. That gives her time, but not much.

Callie gathers a coven to fight Bellary, but their inexperience puts them at a deadly disadvantage against the powerful sorcerer. Their vulnerability is brought home with aching clarity when Bellary murders Callie's human boyfriend and sucks down his life-force, proving Bellary can use even non-magical beings to his profit. It's up to Callie now to become the witch she was born to be. Because if she fails to master her powers before Bellary seizes them for his own, the world will be his to control.

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

7 comments:

Chelsea P. said...

The story sounds great, and I love Phoenix's inclusion of the boyfriend. However, I think it might work better for me, stake-wise, to know that the wizard has captured the boyfriend but not yet killed him. That way, you've got the boyfriend's life and the fate of the world at stake, a combination that makes me go, OMG what will happen?!?

:)

Chelsea P. said...

Sorcerer, not wizard!! Doh.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

This version is so improved. Phoenix's tweaks are grand.

I have a problem with the first line however. Could be me, maybe I'm missing something in it.

When Callie Richards considered the consequences of having sex, she expected a grounding, maybe The Talk.

Here's my problem: why would she expect to be grounded or get the talk when she was considering? Considering to me is an internal solitary thought process. To be grounded or get the talk she'd have to be verbalizing rather than considering wouldn't she?

Good job on nailing this down so well. Super improved in many ways. Sacrificing the boyfriend,that had to be a hard choice.

Now that I've looked at the opening para again, I don't a connection from line one two line two.

Actually the query starts off nicely at para 2. Drop her age in that line and I'd be happy.

I'd use Phoenix's closing line for the finale.

Fine job of regrouping.

AA said...

I was wondering the same thing- How would anyone know she was considering having sex?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Phoenix,
Question: how many queries would you guess you've written? Thousands, millions?

How many did you write do you think before you felt you were getting it? Approx. of course.

Did you get help with a crit group on your queries as you moved through the process?

I'd love to read a post on your journey in this area. I am interested in how this came together for you. Did you/do you use Evil Editor's site or others for a litmus test?

Do all queries need a crit? I'd be interested in other writers shedding light as well.

I know you're getting out of the crit area but it may offer some of us solace to understand how long it can take to tackle the query well.

Thanks!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Great questions, Mac!

Now that the blog has some more free time, I'd be happy to answer in a future post. I appreciate the inspiration!

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey Phoenix,
Glad you'll do a post on this, a nice wrap up for us (me) as we wave goodbye to the critting.

Look forward to it.