Friday, March 15, 2013

Forging Fridays - Not A Synopsis

Today is our eighth Forging Fridays Query! Yay! We love volunteers! As stated before, I won't be revealing 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 next volunteer! *applause* *cheers* *confetti*


It was great to meet you at the REDACTED Writers’ Conference. Thanks for the one-on-one time and the interest in seeing my query. Per your submission instructions, I am attaching a query letter to this e-mail. Good start, personalized and professional. Agents meet a LOT of writers at conferences, so if you can think of something to say (non-creepy) that will identify you specifically in their mind, that's a good plan (i.e. if they mentioned during your discussion that they are going on a trip next month: Your upcoming trip to Harry Potter World sounds so awesome, I hope plans for that are going well! or...whatever)
Something is weird here with the formatting, I'm going to assume it's just a problem that occurred via email, but it should be no indents, a hard return in between paragraphs, just fyi. The Reckoning is the story of lose this, you should have the title in a different place and include genre and word count in the same sentence. Like "The Reckoning is a YA fantasy with Asian overtones(if it has that) and is complete at 97,000 words." This part should be jumping straight into the story "When Ion Uustus is abandoned by his mother, the empress yada yada...make sense? Ion Uustus, a boy abandoned by his mother, the empress, to live with a cloister of secretive monks when he was six-years-old. Bullied and terrorized each day of the ten years since, Ion is a hard, suspicious teen by the time a small cabal comes to him, asking the boy to be the savior of the very people that have made his life a misery. Okay, the voice here is really lacking. This sounds more like a review by an outsider than a query by the author. You need to be in his head, in the voice the book is written in. Read some of the other queries we've had on previous Forging Fridays for examples.
Vail Tewdwr is a beautiful and talented girl of privilege. She is a natural leader, sister to the next emperor of the Eastern Empire, but living in an upstairs-downstairs world that does not see value in its women. Again, the voice problem is throughout the entire query.
As time runs out on Ion’s chance to save his people, he journeys to the Eastern Empire—deep into enemy territory—battling newly-discovered powers like what? it's okay to be specific , ancient enemies, and a mother determined to see him fail.
Ion and Vail meet. The boy has not seen a girl in the ten years since he was sequestered with the monks and is impossibly shy. The unlikely pair end up forming a fast friendship. Vail helps Ion begin to heal from the psychological trauma of his years being bullied. For her part, Vail is drawn to the quirky this is what we need to see! show us his personality, his quirkiness in the query! We want to love him, but this is plot detail, we need characterization and reasons to care. boy who is genuinely offended by the limitations forced on her by her people. The encouragement he gives her to ignore social convention helps Vail become the only leader that could save humanity from extinction.
Friendship turns into love, riddling Ion with uncertainty. How does he choose between the loyalty he has to his people, wishing to be reunited with his mother, and the love of a girl that is finally offering him hope?
The climax of the story has Ion overcome by the chance of failure and that new, but largely dormant, power within him is unleashed—announcing to the world that Ion is the prophet that he has been sent to kill. We don't need to know the results, we need to care about what they could be.
I think readers will identify well with a teenage boy desperate for his family’s acceptance but determined to grow into the man he wants to be and a talented girl willing to threaten the status quo in order to be the leader the world needs.
I am a debut author and this is the first in a proposed series. This line is unnecessary and can actually hurt you...if you want to include it, I'd say "stand-alone with series potential". It's weird, but true. 
Thanks again for your consideration. I look forward to the possibility of sharing the entire manuscript with you. Again, this last line is unnecessary. I'd cut it. 

You have the beginnings of a cool fantasy query here, but you're heading more in the synopsis direction than the query direction. Also, this is WAY too long. You want it short and sweet. Who is it about? What is happening? When & Where is the setting? Why do we care? These questions should include your Inciting Incident, Main conflict and Consequences.  Okay, just for kicks, lets try a bit of an example here. I wouldn't recommend using this exactly as I don't know your story or your voice, but just to give you an idea what I'm talking about. Let's try writing a paragraph. 

Abandoned by his mother, the Empress, and bullied and terrorized every day for ten years since, Ion Uustus, is the last sixteen year old anyone would expect to be the savior of his people. But when the Cabal comes to the monastery Ion grew up in and asks him to do just that, Ion is faced with a daunting task. He must save a people who have done nothing but hurt him...and time is running out. This already tells us who (Ion), inciting incident (quest & cabal), what is happening (leaving monestary?), why do we care (bullied kid gets to save the world? okay!) Setting (Empress indicates likely fantasy). Main conflict (why save a world that has treated you so bad?)

In the next paragraph, I'd give a bit about Vail, but you don't need nearly as much as you have. In fact, I think you'd be fine to just leave her out. As I said in this other Forging Fridays critique, two central characters makes for a hard query, just write about the main one. Anyway, all you REALLY need after this beginning paragraph is one section about what he has to do, what stands in his way, and what happens if he fails. Forget everything else, write one paragraph about that, and the rest isn't necessary.


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 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. 


  1. I agree-too long and synopsis-like. I want to feel more than be told what your MC is feeling and the effects of the climax and so forth. Good luck! Queries aren't easy. (at least for me it takes months of tweaking, writing from a completely different angle, etc)

  2. Some great advice here. Lots for me to learn from. Thanks so much to the author for submitting!! Jenn, I love how you're so helpful and positive with the critiques. There's hope for us all, right? :)