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  1. #1
    Jordan Fowler

    Query II: the understater returns

    Me again Last year i posted a query letter that was, as many people said quite delicately, terrible. So I took another shot at it and here is the second attempt. You said be more specific and leave out the personals so I did. Here goes.

    P.s. any comments on the story line would be appreciated as well. It's been said "there is no worse creation than a cheap imitation" so if you have read a book that you think is similar please tell me so i could research and make adjustments. Thanx


    I have researched the genre of the books your agency has represented in the past and I have come to believe that the book or rather books that I have written it the category of your expertise. The book in question is called ďZadok.Ē It is the first in a series of epic/ gothic/ fantasy books set in the mythical world Quaiimyra. These books delve deeply into the relations between gods and men, the so-called dead and the truly living, the good and the human. It would be fair to say that the books are macabre in nature, someone said ďDarkĒ but to itís class I consider this to be complementary.

    The story tells of a Paladin of light. These Paladin are great warriors gifted with the ability to see the near future, anticipation in combat is their strength. This Particular Paladin, Zadok, having committed an unspeakable crime is condemned to death but when he flees from the honorable death, trying to right the wrong he had done, he is then sentenced to a fate worse than death. He is branded a coward and banished in dishonor from the nation he has served all his life. The crime he had committed is beyond his understanding for it was committed while under the possession of the Lord of Light and Guardian of the faithful __________. So in his banishment Zadok tries to understand what had happened. He travels to a temple and while there he receives no answer but a terrifying vision of his future. He sees himself as a Vanikan Knight a dread subservient of the Lord of Darkness Caladus. Zadok leaves the temple determined that if he canít make himself the enemy of Caladus and the Morochian Empire he will die before surrendering to such a destiny. He then Joins the Voltean Clan that is revolting against this empire, but as he passes his days he finds that every plan he makes to evade his fate only brings him closer to the Demon lord. While in the rebellion he commands the liberation of the fortress Shakdet from the clutches of Moroch and in doing so is offered a second chance at an honorable death by his estranged country. He sees this as the escape he has been looking for and is only too happy to accept. Fate is not mocked though, and those who try will only find themselves facing and repeating the errors of their past and again he runs from his death. After hearing the advice of the guardian of life he decides that maybe the only way around destiny is through it and so he rides to the dark city in the black desert and becomes the Vanikan Knight. His destiny fulfilled he then turns on the Vanikan and on the steps of the Veníkarou kills everyone of the Vanikans and then attempts to kill the demon lord himself and is destroyed. He then awakes on the Astral Plane before a tribunal of the gods here the mistery of his destiny is revealed to him and he having been a vessel of light and darkness is given the opportunity to join the gods on the astral plane. He refuses though he sees that mankind has no need for another deity to pit man against his brother. So instead of being a god he returned to earth and cursed with the terrible weight of immortality in a mortal realm. On his arrival he witnesses the two titans of light and darkness battling again over the black desert as they had thousands of years ago. He turns away from the sight not caring for who will triumph, instead he returns to the place where he began his fateful journey and reflects on the man he has become. While he is there the Lord of light comes to him having killed the demon lord (or did he) and asks that Zadok free him from his own curse of life in this world. He does this and so the story begins. The story of a cursed man who stands for mankind against the gods who would twist our destinies for their own ends.

    A little about me, I had a unusual upbringing. I was raised in a religious group and actually lived in over twenty different countries. Although I was raised by fundamentalist parents I do not consider myself religious. One factor leading up to the writing of this book was the attempt to understand the apparent need humanity has for god even if this deity is one of their own design. I studied Chinese language and culture at the university in HaiKou China. I have always had a keen interest in mythology and studied the works of Robert Graves among others. I think my book has such mythological overtones due to this. Presently I am working as an English teacher and have been for five years now. This job gives me the time that I need to write these books.

    I anxiously await your reply to this query.

    Sincerely Jordan Fowler.

  2. #2
    Simon Says

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    Jordan -

    Either you got a lot of bad feedback last year - or else you forgot everything you were told or else you just decided to ignore everything you were told. In which case I would suggest you send this query exactly as is.

  3. #3

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    Wow. Jordan, this is way to long, too filled with strange names that only you know, too...long. You gotta boil your story down to a few lines because that's all the time an agent will give you. Drop the first paragraph and the one about yourself. Make it shorter, man--who's your hero, what's his goal, what stands in his way, what are the consequences if he fails. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    "The story tells of a Paladin of light. These Paladin are great warriors gifted with the ability to see the near future, anticipation in combat is their strength."

    Strong in The Force, this one is.

    Seriously, the reason Jedi can block blasters is that they start their block even before it's fired because they can read their opponent's mind and know what they're about to do. Your Paladins remind me way too much of Jedi, and the "branded a coward" reminds me of the '60s western, Branded.

    I know it's almost impossible to come up with a story that doesn't owe anything to any other story, or doesn't have similar elements, but you need to show why this one is different, fresh and original. Your story outline (It's not a query, although it's intended as one.) goes on far too long to keep my interest, so I don't know how original it really is. Before trying again, look through some of the many threads here about queries and learn what a proper query looks like.

  5. #5
    Diana W

    Re: Query II: the understater returns


    This is way, way too long to be a query. Your plot paragraph alone is about 600 words and the entire query should be around 400 at most.

    Do a search on this site for query letters and read them all very carefully. It will become very clear to you how off-target your letter is. Maybe you can use this summary as a starting point for your synopsis.

    As for how to improve your query, it should be written in an active voice and it should "show" not "tell." You essentially have two paragraphs to make an agent care about your main character and want to read more. Do that and skip the plot details and funny names.

    For example:

    The story tells of a Paladin of light. These Paladin are great warriors gifted with the ability to see the near future, anticipation in combat is their strength. This Particular Paladin, Zadok, having committed an unspeakable crime is condemned to death but when he flees from the honorable death, trying to right the wrong he had done, he is then sentenced to a fate worse than death. He is branded a coward and banished in dishonor from the nation he has served all his life.

    To be honest I didnít read any further than this because you lost me already. But hereís an example of how you need to adjust the writing above passage so it reads like a query:

    Zadok is condemned to death. Wishing to make amends for the vicious murder/theft/assault he committed, he escapes from his cell only to be recaptured days/week/years later and banished from his nation. He is branded a coward, a dishonorable label never bestowed on a warrior such as him. For Zadok is a Paladin, a gifted man of combat with the ability to see the future. Only the one future he cannot see is his own.

    Can you see the difference? Obviously, I havenít read your book so my rewrite is most likely not very applicable to your story, but the writing is. You need to write the query in an active, engaging voice that will draw an agent in.

    Good Luck!

  6. #6
    Diana W

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    Please excuse the typos in my above post. I was in a hurry.

  7. #7
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    It doesn't sound bad... but unless I was trying to place a book in the "Star Wars" lines, I'd want to see a lot more that convince me it's not a George Lucas pastiche.

    I'd like a little more that's visual, that actually sells some glimpses of the book. Is this high-tech, or low? Are there elves & wizards waiting in the wings? Do they ride camels, four-legged blue ostriches, Hummers, or hovercars? or do they have point-to-point interplanetary teleport? Do they live in tall buildings, floating archipelagoes, space stations, underground warrens? one single huge city, a series of hamlets, an endless suburb? Does the story take place on a small island, across a planet, or spanning the galaxy?

    In short, I'd enjoy more context for the story.

  8. #8

    Re: Query II: the understater returns

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    Okay, I'm going to be very honest with you & hope you can handle that.

    Your first and last paragraphs should be completely deleted. Don't use one word of them. All that chitchat is stuff you can discuss with an interested agent if/when you actually have one calling you. Until then, skip it. None of it belongs in a Q.

    "The story tells of a Paladin of light."

    You never tell them, "The story tells." You simply go into the overview of the story. Overview. Not every piddling little detail.

    Ask yourself, what is my book about? One sentence. Then a paragraph. Jump straight into the storyline with an opening sentence hook. I don't see anything in your post that would work, frankly, because you talk too much. It's too conversational, and the sentences are too long. Get to the bones of the story and work from there. Your description reads like a rambling chat you're having over dinner with a pal. Well, you don't have that much time to get the agent interested in your story. Remember that agents read hundreds of Q letters. It's a competition, Jordan. You may have an interesting book here, but your Q letter doesn't do it justice.

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