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  1. #1
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    Query Critique Please - Siren Pacific

    Any suggestions would be very helpful. Thanks!

    Dear Agent:

    Arden Reines would love nothing more than to spend her days singing with the ocean or seducing men with her song. Instead, she’s been forced to spend her entire life hiding the fact that she’s a Siren. High school is boring enough, but for a mythical creature, it’s pure hell. The sexy new guy at her school doesn’t help her plight, either. He makes her insides tremble with longing. But as her clan’s future guardian, dating humans isn’t an option.

    Then, a Siren in her clan is killed, the vocal chords ripped from her neck. Arden knows the identity of her people is no longer a secret. The Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult bent on killing the few remaining Sirens on Earth, has discovered them.

    The Sons of Orpheus plan to slaughter the Sirens. They won’t stop until everyone in her clan is dead. Arden could flee, which means leaving her home and the ocean behind. Her only other choice is to stop the Sons before the Sirens of Pacific Grove are exterminated. Leaving her precious ocean is unthinkable, but staying to fight might end her life.

    Complete at approximately 70,000 words, SIREN PACIFIC is a young adult urban fantasy. I teach high school English to precocious ninth graders, and their enthusiasm inspires me to write. They have also assured me that sirens are the new vampires for young adult readers. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,


    Beth



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    You need more of the story. As much as possible, use third person, present tense, active voice. Don't repeat things. Don't tell what the MC doesn't do, tell what she does. Leave your ninth graders out of it. So, a foundation something like this:

    Dear Agent:

    Arden Reines would love to sing with the ocean or seduce men with her song, but she must hide the fact that she’s a Siren. High school is boring enough, but for a mythical creature, it’s pure hell. The sexy new guy at her school makes her tremble with longing, but as her clan’s future guardian, dating humans isn’t an option.

    Then a Siren in her clan is killed, her vocal chords ripped from her throat, and Arden knows the identity of her people is no longer a secret. The Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult bent on killing all the Sirens on Earth, now hunt them.

    Arden...(does whatever she does at her great peril, and the Sons of Orpheus do what they do, but who will win? etc.)

    SIREN PACIFIC is a 70,000 word young adult urban fantasy.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


    DEFinitely need more story, even at the beginning. For example, why is she hiding out with humans? Is it because of the Sons of Orpheus, or some other reason? Was there a war or something?
    Last edited by John Oberon; 04-04-2013 at 06:13 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks so much for the suggestions. How does this sound?

    Dear Agent:

    Siren life is boring. Arden Reines would love to sing with the ocean all day or seduce men with her song, but instead she must hide the fact that she’s a Siren to protect her people from those who would hurt them. Even high school fails to break the monotony. Sure, there’s a sexy new guy at her school who makes her tremble with longing, but as her clan’s future guardian, dating humans isn’t an option.

    Then a Siren in her clan is killed, the vocal chords ripped from her throat, and Arden knows the identity of her people is no longer a secret. The Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult bent on killing all the Sirens on Earth, now hunt them.

    The Sons of Orpheus are cunning and strike quickly, exterminating her people one by one. Arden makes the decision to stay and fight, because leaving her precious ocean is unthinkable, but there will be only one survivor, and the odds are not on Arden’s side.

    SIREN PACIFIC is a 70,000 word young adult urban fantasy.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    Why exactly is it the Sons of Orpheus want to kill the Sirens? Since the Sirens don't do anything there seems to be no threat from them, so why go to the trouble of exterminating them? I'm saying this because the agent/editor needs to see some idea of the stakes involved. If the Sirens are wiped out then what are the consequences?

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah...plus, am I right thinking she lives in the ocean, like a mermaid? Or does she just live near it? And again, why is she hanging out with humans? Why does that protect her people? What's the beef? Still no real story there. You'd think there'd be a heckuva prelude to vocal chord ripping.

  6. #6
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    Excellent questions! Here is Take #3. Does this answer them? (It is so hard, because all of your questions would be answered if you could just read the book!)

    Dear Agent:

    Siren life is boring. Arden Reines would love to sing with the ocean all day or seduce men with her song, but long ago Sirens hid among humans, living as normal people to protect themselves from those who were afraid of them. Even high school fails to break the monotony. Sure, there’s a sexy new guy at her school who makes her tremble with longing, but as her clan’s future guardian, dating humans isn’t an option.

    Then a Siren in her clan is killed, the vocal chords ripped from her throat, and Arden knows the identity of her people is no longer a secret. The Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult bent on killing all the Sirens on Earth, now hunt them. Although the Sirens are peaceful people with families, the Sons believe they are mythical, bloodthirsty monsters. To make matters worse, Arden is their main target.

    The Sons of Orpheus are cunning and strike quickly, exterminating her people one by one. Arden makes the decision to stay and fight, because leaving her precious ocean is unthinkable, but her powers are still developing, and the Sons of Orpheus seem unaffected by her song. There can be only one survivor, and the odds are not on Arden’s side.

    SIREN PACIFIC is a 70,000 word young adult urban fantasy.

    Thank you for your time and consideration

  7. #7
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    Ok, Scratch the one above. Use this one:

    Dear Agent:

    Siren life is boring. Arden Reines would prefer to sit on the beach and sing with the ocean all day or practice seducing men with her song, but her clan forbids it. Even high school fails to break the monotony. Sure, there’s a sexy new guy who makes her tremble with longing, but as her clan’s future guardian, dating humans isn’t an option. Long ago, Sirens hid among mortals and integrated into their society, living as normal people to protect their identity from those who thought they were dangerous.

    Then a Siren in her clan is killed, the vocal chords ripped from her throat, and Arden knows the identity of her people is no longer a secret. The Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult bent on killing all the Sirens on Earth, now hunt them. Although the Sirens are peaceful people with families, the Sons believe they are mythical, bloodthirsty monsters. To make matters worse, Arden is their main target.

    The Sons of Orpheus are cunning and strike quickly, exterminating her people one by one. Arden makes the decision to stay and fight, but her powers are still developing, and the Sons of Orpheus seem unaffected by her song. She must stop the Sons, but the odds are not in Arden’s favor.

    SIREN PACIFIC is a 70,000 word young adult urban fantasy.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Well, right off the bat, I can tell you the Sons DON'T believe Sirens are mythical, else they wouldn't be hunting them.

  9. #9
    Senior Member SapphireBlue's Avatar
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    Why is the sexy new human at school even relevant? Unless he becomes a major character, leave him out. And if he does--why, how and when is he important?

  10. #10
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    Thought I'd take a shot at 1st-paragraph:

    As a Siren, Arden Reines craves a life on the beach, singing with the ocean and seducing men with her songs. But her clan forbids it--instead, the future clan guardian is forced to endure the tedium of high-school algebra and phys-ed, while dreaming about guys she's not even allowed to date. She can't risk exposing her secret.

    But when a Siren in her clan is killed, her vocal chords ripped from her throat....
    ....She does what? Now, why not go into Arden's character/psychology, instead of all the details about her enemy?

    --When the first Siren is killed and "the identity of her people is no longer a secret," do you mean that the public becomes aware of Sirens? Or that only the predators have found them? If the latter, why state the obvious?--the fact that Sirens are being killed shows predators have found them. If the former, what are the consequences of people knowing about Sirens? Can the Sirens enlist their help? There's a lot of potential drama/conflict/complications here.

    --Why the name "Sons of Orpheus"? Was Orpheus associated with vicious killing? I don't get the reference/association.

    --Does this "sexy new guy" have a role? Out of necessity, does Arden disobey her clan and "come out" to this guy to ask his help? What are the complications here--does Arden struggle with the conflict of wanting to sing/seduce this guy, which might distract her from the task of saving her clan? Great inner conflict there--Or do you mention this "sexy new guy" only to illustrate Arden's social isolation? If he doesn't play a role, don't mention him.

    --What are the specific personal problems that Arden must overcome/conquer in order to defeat the predators and save her people? If predators killing her clan is the outer story layer, surely the inner story layer concerns Arden's conquering something within herself that will allow her to defeat the predators and save her people, correct?

    So I think the query is too much "outer" story, not enough inner story of your main character, which is where the drama lies--again: how the main character overcomes things within herself that would prevent her from achieving her goal: to save her clan. So she conquers things within herself, which allows her to defeat her enemy.

    In other words:
    "Arden makes the decision to stay and fight, but her powers are still developing, and the Sons of Orpheus seem unaffected by her song."

    This is the real story drama; why not elaborate on this?

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