Friday, March 1, 2013

Forging Fridays - Getting to the Roots

Today is our sixth Forging Fridays Query! Yay! We love volunteers! As stated before, I won't be stating the identities of the volunteers for Forging Fridays unless otherwise requested. If you feel like unmasking yourselves in the comments, be my guest. But, I won't mention anyone by name.

Here is our very next volunteer! *applause* *cheers* *confetti*


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Dear (Agent Name), 

Justice and revenge, are they the same thing? Rhetorical questions are kind of frowned upon in queries simply because you want to invite the agent to think up their own questions, not to answer yours. With rhetorical questions, there is always the chance they'll just say, "No" and send the auto-response rejection. The two main characters of my recently completed (recently completed screams NOT REVISED enough, it's not necessary) novel, HEROES: VENDETTA, ask themselves this question. Set in modern day England, this character-driven story is an 111,000 word science fiction and fantasy for YA. Emotional, dark, epic, and with a bit of teen humor, the story shows us how hatred consumes an individual, teaching us there is a line between justice and revenge. The world of X-Men meets the world of Final Fantasy in this story told from the POVs of the two characters.Okay, so I'd recommend losing this entire paragraph with few exceptions: keep this last sentence and the title and word count. Telling them your book is good will not convince them. You have to show them it's good.

Jason Conner is a mage who can use the four elements air, water, earth, and fire. Influenced by comic book heroes as a boy, his dream was to become a hero and make a difference despite being born different. But thanks to the International Mage Council (IMC) and their army called the White Knights, no dream is possible this is very vague, how so?. With a growing anti-mage sentiment, hope for any future is lost Why? Because he is a mage? But aren't the IMC keeping Jason down too?. Jason didn’t want to give up hope, but his dream was completely shattered with the murder of his parents when he was just a boy Okay, if his hopes to become a hero were lost many years before this book begins, they don't need to be mentioned here Make sure the info you share in the query is what the agent HAS to know. If they don't HAVE to know it then take it out. Now 18 years old and with no hope of a future again, future is very vague--what should he have hope for? Are we talking happiness? Success? A family? Or future as in they kill everyone when they turn 19? We need more clarity here, Jason's only wish is justice for the death of his parents In what way? Against who? We don't know who the enemy is here. No longer caring about his academics, Jason decides to begin a life-changing quest Okay, this doesn't ring true. We have no inciting incident to begin your story and we don't have a clue what makes him do this. Yes, his parents died and maybe he's wanted justice for 10 years (or so) since then, but what happened to make him decide to go. THAT needs to be in here. to hunt down the murderers across England, taking the law into his own hands. But is it really justice? Again, avoid the questions. 

Silent and reserved, 19 year old Gray Maelstrom This is a personal preference, but I feel it is VERY difficult to write an effective query from two POVs. Focus on the main one, if there isn't a main one, focus on the most compelling one. It's okay if you don't mention that there is another POV in the query. If they like the writing and story enough, that won't matter, another element-using mage, only wants to live a quiet life of peace with his brother Jako and his lover Sarah. To Gray, they can adapt to the IMC’s cruel discrimination towards mages What discrimination? In what way? and aren't the IMC mages themselves? This is really confusing. We have many details we don't need and few details we do.. Even when requested to join his father’s rising crusade against the humans this took me a minute to realize we aren't talking about robots/aliens, do mages not consider themselves human? , Gray refuses. But when the IMC strikes and Sarah is murdered by the White Knights, Gray can no longer ignore this should be a motivating, moving force. Use something more powerful than 'can no longer ignore' something like 'joins their cause with a vengeance for blood' or something will carry the kind of impact you're looking for. the large anti-mage sentiment. Unable to forgive the IMC this implies they asked for his forgiveness or that he should forgive them, Gray’s grief morphs into a hunger for vengeance this is the emotion we're looking for, you don't need an additional sentence to say this. Joining his father’s crusade against the humans, Gray begins his quest to avenge the deaths of his loved ones, forgetting that his choices have consequences too vague here. You need to tell us what is at risk, what can he lose? Without that, why should the agent care?.
  
My name is (Name redacted) and I’m currently enrolled at (Redacted) University as a sophomore. HEROES: VENDETTA is my first novel and I’ve been working on it for six years and now I’m confident that this completed science fiction/fantasy novel will appeal to YA, my target audience whom I’m very familiar with I'd recommend losing this whole sentence, it throws up all kinds of red flags. Agents want experienced writers and will most likely assume that someone's first book isn't good enough. Also, you never want to tell an agent how long it took you to write because it doesn't matter and is unnecessary.. It’s the first book of a series I’m planning They may not be able to sell a series so you shouldn't commit to it in the query. If you have to say something about it, say "This is a standalone with series potential." or nothing at all.. I have ideas for four more books Again, I'd recommend taking this out. Thank you for your time and consideration. If you’re interested please email me and I will be honored to send you what you request.Unnecessary, this is a given. 

Sincerely,
(Name redacted)

Okay, a few overall thoughts. I think this is a cool idea. I hear nothing Sci-fi here though, it sounds like fantasy (mages specifically). Also, I'd recommend changing the title. Heroes the tv series is too recent and well known and some aspects of the story sound too similar that it will feel like an imitation (especially with the mention of X-men - which with mages I'm not sure applies anyway). A unique title will make you stand out instead of blending in. Hone this down to it's bare roots and polish it til it really shines. Focus on one main character for the query, or if you want to highlight both, then explain how they interact. Why are these the two characters you've chosen? What conflict/goal/enemy do they share? What will they lose if they fail? THIS is your query. Everything else is unnecessary.

Good luck!

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Okay, that's it for today and this query. Thank you so much for volunteering, oh mystery writer! :) I really hope this helped you, the query just needs some polish and reworking. It takes guts to send in a query, to me or an agent. Go you! You have awesome guts! :)

So, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree with my assessments? Discuss! Also, happy Forging Fridays! May we all be tougher and stronger thanks to our days in the fire. 

2 comments:

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    1. For what it's worth, I agree that a title change is a good idea. Say your book really takes off and gets converted into a graphic novel at some point, you want your title to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

      I'll be honest, the second PoV felt much more interesting to me than the first based on the description. Which character do you love the most? Maybe make that one your focus for the query?

      However, if you must have two pov's, I have a suggestion, if I may. What if you said something like, "Jason and Gray are on opposite sides of the world, but they both have deep grudges against the IMC" And then in short simple sentences said what they were doing, why they were fighting, and what they were up against? Just a thought. If it reads like the back of a book, it will read well to an agent?

      Good job submitting. It is dang hard writing these query letters!! I learn so much from reading these!

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