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Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Query (#atozchallenge)

No, I'm not confused. Well, not about my post, anyway.  Today I'm participating in the Query Letter Blogfest, hosted by Alicia, Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita. Tomorrow I will post my letter P. I figured it would be okay to switch the days, since they were so close together. Moderators? Am I out of line? :)

So, today I'm posting my query blurb for Fighting Fate. I'm currently in the midst of substantial (painful) edits, which is why I've left the word count blank. It's wrought with problems, so hack away. PLEASE!



Dear ________,

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to say she’d met Prince Marcus. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. The odd magnetism between them makes it impossible for either to resist the other.

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of a prophecy about the two young adults forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

Fighting Fate, a New Adult Romance/Urban Fantasy novel of about XX,000 words, is the first of a three-part series, though it can stand alone.

(Personalization goes here)

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Rosie Connolly


UPDATE

Here's a second draft. Hopefully I've addressed some of the issues. I'm not afraid of comments and know this is really rough, so don't hold back, folks. I can take it.

And thank you!


When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to meet Prince Marcus. For reasons he can’t explain, he saves her from being discovered by security. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. What neither of them could have anticipated was that their meeting and future relationship had been foretold as the first in a series of events leading to civil war and the destruction of the nation.

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart in order to maintain her control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

19 comments:

mooderino said...

hey Rosie,

This is all very subjective so keep the salt handy.

I'd say it feels a little too generic. Girl meets boy. Mother wants to keep them apart becasue of big secret, but they are young and foolish etc. That's fine as a bare bones narrative, but it could apply to any story (good or bad). I didn't really get a sense of what makes your story special.

How do they meet (specifically)? What's the attraction (magnetism is too vague)? Is the magic cool and diffrent? How? What is the nature of the prophecy? I realise you want it to be a big surprise but agents don't care about being rewarded for their patience. If it's a neat premise, it'll work even if they know what it is.

Hope that helps.
regards,
mood

RosieC said...

Thanks, Mood. I agree with everything (no salt added, even). It's a first draft, to be sure. Let's see if I can't make some improvements and repost.

Stephen Tremp said...

My advice to anyone ... pay an editor to critique and polish it. I had my editor do mine and it is in such better shape.

Wendy G. Ewurum said...

My two pennies, I though you gave an excerpt from somewhere in the book, not the beginning. In fact by the time I got to the end of the fist version I was looking for where to get a hold of the book to see what Mood highlighted.

I think there's something exciting in the making. But then of course I'm a sucker for magic.

Theresa Milstein said...

I think it's tight until the end, where it gets a little awkward. I think you can make them unaware of the prophecy in the first paragraph and leave it out of the 2nd. My suggestions:

"Neither of them know their meeting has been foretold. According to the prophecy, their relationship will lead to civil war and the destruction of the nation.

After the Queen threatens Anabelle’s life, the couple flee. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the their lives and the nation's depend on their decision."

I'd also leave out the sky blue eyes and let us know more about who she is and what attracts her to the prince. Something more tangible than physical description. Let the reader invest in them and their relationship.

D U Okonkwo said...

I think it's a good short query, which is what agents prefer. You may want to take out the bit in the last paragraph which states that it's a new novel, though.

Holly Dodson said...

You're getting closer with your revised draft. Here are my thoughts in [brackets]. ;)

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic [we need to know what kind of magic she has] and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion [what royals? Is this the "real world" or a fantasy world?], she only wants to meet Prince Marcus. For reasons he can’t explain, he saves her from being discovered by security.[<- this is slipping POV...turn it around and relate the event through your MC's eyes.] After she gains his attention, however, Marcus [decides- maybe begins?] to pursue this daredevil commoner with her [sky blue eyes - eye color doesn't matter in a query] and unexplained magic abilities. What neither of them could have anticipated was that their meeting[,] and future relationship[,] had been foretold as the first in a series of events leading to civil war and the destruction of the nation.

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. [Really? She really didn't realize this? Seems a little obvious.] The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy [forces-does it force her or does she choose to keep them apart?] her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart in order to maintain her control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen [suggests - nobody suggests a threat. She threatens her life. Much more powerful that way.] a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

Overall it sounds like a really interesting story, you've just got to clarify some plot elements to strengthen it. Good luck! :)

Natasha Hanova said...

*Hands clapping* So happy to see more on this story.

I have a sneaky feeling Anabelle's true goal in this story goes deeper than just meeting Marcus. Her wanting to say she met Marcus sounds more like a surface goal. The story-worthy goal should be something Anabelle works toward throughout the novel.

It's clear that the Queen stands in the way of a relationship between Anabelle and Marcus. The Queen serves as the protagonist for your main character. I think adding a little more about what/how the Queen imposes her will would highlight the story conflict. Is there any other source of conflict for Anabelle?

I like Marcus' voice in the second sentence (especially 'daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes), but its a POV shift and I'm not 100% sure, but I think the query should be written in one POV. You might want to Google that though.

I'm curious to know more about the prophecy and wonder if there's a way you can work it into the query even though your MC doesn't know about it.

That said, I want to read this book when it comes out. :-)

Nat Sanders said...

Okay, HELLLOOOOOOO!
I'm happy to give my humble advice... ;-)

The Story sounds GREAT! WOHOO! And I will write my advice in BIG FAT LETTERS. But don't worry, I promise I'm not screaming at you...

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to say she’d met Prince Marcus. I PERSONALLY NEED A STRONGER HOOK. THIS FIRST SENTENCE IS GOING TO DECIDE IF THE AGENT READS ON OR NOT, AND THIS DOESN'T GIVE IT TO ME. IT'S TOO LONG, AND ISN'T CONCISE ENOUGH. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. The odd magnetism between them makes it impossible for either to resist the other. THIS IS A LITTLE CONFUSING. I THINK THE WRITING IS GREAT AND I CAN DEFINITELY HEAR THE VOICE, BUT IT COULD USE SOME ORDER...

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of a prophecy about the two young adults forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.


OKAY, LET ME GET BACK TO THE NORMAL SIZE LETTERS... I think the story sounds great, but only if I really, really concentrate on reading this query. There is a way to fix it, and it won't be a problem for you with this little advice here: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/writing-query-letter.html
It's Elana Johnsons blog and she offers a FREE ebook on how to write the perfect query. It's a simple concept that works every time and it would really polish your query: Hook, Setup, Conflict, Consequence. When you follow these steps you will write a query that will blow agents away. Because you have the story, but it doesn't come across.

Check it out. I did and it really helped me. That, and a lot of hard work on my side... but that's just me ;-)

Hart Johnson said...

The second one looks a lot better in the first paragraph but the second seems to have some repetition and such. here is how I'd do it:

Anabelle didn’t know her stunt had attracted the attention of the Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart to maintain her own control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen threatens Anabelle’s life, the couple runs away without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

***

I love that we have the same title today! It looks like a great story! This sounds like one of those where the queen, by trying to STOP something from happening is actually setting it into motion.

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiner's Book Blog) said...

I like the second revision and would request pages from it.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Lori Ehrman Tinkey said...

Hi Rosie, okay, I'll get specific, but only because you asked :-). Hope this is helpful to you!

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to meet Prince Marcus SOLID, BUT DARE FROM WHOM? LIKE THE UNSEEN THIRD PARTY. MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME?. For reasons he can’t explain I WOULD SKIP THIS PHRASE, he MARC saves her from being NOT MY FAVE WORD discovered by security. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained THAT'S TWO 'EXPLAIN' WORDS MIGHTY CLOSE TOGETHER magic abilities HOW DOES HE KNOW?. What neither of them could I WOULD KEEP PRESENT TENSE have anticipated was that their meeting and future relationship had been foretold as the first in a series of events leading to civil war and the destruction of the nation PHEW (BREATHE). I LITTLE AWKWARDLY LONG FOR QUERY, IMO BUT ALSO - WHAT CIVIL WAR BETWEEN WHOM AND DESTRUCTION OF WHAT NATION, PLEASE? WHERE ARE WE? BUT I LOVE THE IDEA.

Anabelle didn’t realize that I WOULD SKIP 'THAT' her stunt would also I WOULD SKIP 'ALSO' attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart HOW CAN SHE DO THIS? in order to maintain her control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life SUGGESTS TO WHOM?, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy THIS IS GETTING A LITTLE CONVOLUTED BUT WOULD BE EASY TO STRAIGHTEN OUT. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction TO EACH OTHER is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

I feel I get it, and I like it lots!, but it was work. In the meantime, I lost the voice of the characters I was hoping to hear. I would straighten out the timeline to eliminate redundancies, then add characterization.

Lori M. Lee said...

I'm going to echo mooderino and ask what makes this story unique? Give us more details.

Abby Stevens said...

What an interesting premise! I love books about royalty. I do think you need to expand upon Annabelle's magical abilities in the later part of the query. Here are my edits/suggestions:

When ##-year-old Anabelle Lindsky uses her magic to sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion on a dare, she only wants to meet Prince Marcus. For reasons he can’t explain, he saves her from being discovered by security. Marcus decides to pursue the daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities - but what neither could have anticipated is that their meeting was foretold long ago as the first event leading up to civil war and the destruction of their nation.

Anabelle also didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart in order to maintain control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen threatens Anabelle’s life, the couple run, ignorant of the prophecy.

Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depend on their decision.

Angie said...

Just commenting on the second version. I agree about the POV shift - you should stay in Annabelle's POV from beginning to end. The other thing that stands out to me is the last sentence. You already say that they ran away, so it sounds as if they've already made the decision that you propose they have to make. Being that they don't know about the prophecy, the stakes for the couple (from their POV)gets kind of lost. Finally, when you use phrases such as "never could have anticipated", "didn't realize" etc, it comes off as a bit cliche.

I think that you have a good story here, you just have to think about what makes your story unique and focus on that and setting up the stakes a little better. I like the idea that the girl does magic to see the Prince, yet that idea gets lost in the query - is her magic important at some point?

Good luck with it!

Marie Rearden said...

I switched Q and P as well. Have not gotten a disqualification letter yet. *crosses fingers*

Here's a few comments. I'm by no means an expert (boy, that's an understatement!), so take this with a grain of salt.

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to meet Prince Marcus. (consider: On a dare, Anabelle Lindsky uses... What better way to meet Prince Marcus, the insert words to show why Anabelle wants to meet the prince here)For reasons he can’t explain, he saves her from being discovered by security. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. What neither of them could have anticipated was that their meeting and future relationship had been foretold as the first in a series of events leading to civil war and the destruction of the nation. (Nice!)

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. (consider 'But the violent, impulsive Queen name? knows of the prophecy...)The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart in order to maintain her control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a (consider 'She threatens...)threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

So, the stakes are the fate of the nation, but the MC's don't even know about that? I'm a bit confused. I do like the idea, but try to be more concise as to the stakes. Do they find out? How do they react? Was this one of three? A cliffhanger?

Sorry for all the questions. I may not be very good at this. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Marie at the Cheetah

Kalen O'Donnell said...

Hey, looks interesting! I agree about the POV consistency - and I'd like to see some more voice shine through. Easier said than done, but I think it doesn't help that you're glossing over all of what sound like the standout part of the story. The stuff you're vague on like her inexplicable magic and the prophecy about them, that's the stuff I want to hear more about - but I don't know if an agent is going to be hooked enough to give you an opportunity to tell them more about it. So why wait? You have to put your best foot forward. Don't save the goods for later. If there's something super special about your MC, THATS what we want to know! Every fantasy novel has the MC who's special or unique in some way. We need specifics.

Carol Riggs said...

Hey, nice to see a query on this. My first thoughts is that it feels too general...like, what specifically is her magical abilities that led her to get into the restricted area of the palace? Your first line should also be your hook, your grabber; it could use a little more punch here. It's interesting, yes, but not ultra-punchy.

You do start off with A's POV and switch to Marcus's. Is she the MC or is this your dual POV idea? Not sure, but it may be better to stick to one POV for a query...

Good luck! :)

Robin Weeks said...

I'm still learning how to write a query myself, so keep that in mind.

The first line is passive (um, I think that's the right word)--a dare causes Anabelle. Have Anabelle act: not the dare. ("On a dare, Anabelle..." or even "Annabelle only wanted to meet the Prince. On a dare. Which required just a bit of magic.") I agree with other comments that it would be cool to have a hint of how magic helped--that will help your story stand out from all the other I-used-magic-and-married-a-prince stories.

Also, you pussyfoot a lot on the language (which is what I do in my query when I'm struggling with trying to cram too many elements into the blasted thing): "For reasons he can't explain"; "she gains his attention"; "the Queen's knowledge forces her" (oh, and I think it's queen, unless you're addressing her--"Hi, Queen!" The queen turned around with a scowl--but I could be wrong); "the queen suggests a threat"; "the couple run without any knowledge." Either cut that language or make it painfully specific. Cutting is a fine option: if you can't explain it, don't let it take up space in the query. If it needs to be there, it must reveal more than it conceals. (No, you can't read my query to see if I practice what I preach.) :)

Last line--"worth the risk of avoiding the queen's wrath"--is a bit counter-intuitive: there IS no risk if they can avoid her wrath, right? :)

I think there are a lot of fun elements here. Prophecies and star-crossed lovers are always cool. I also think you've identified the important elements--I have a feel for the conflict, the main storyline, the characters, and the world--and that's not easy to do! Just tighten the language and you'll be golden.

Check out Elana Johnson's (free) ebook "From the Query to the Call": http://bit.ly/hVZw3M. Helped me a TON.

Cool post--thanks for letting me play!

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