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Thread: Query: Lucky

  1. #41
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    I'd like to have words with whoever thought this query thing actually helps agents identify marketable books. It's so much like writing advertising copy, trying to find that one phrase that catches someone's eye and encourages them to look closer. I'm a doctor, dammit, not a marketing specialist. Well, technically I'm an engineer with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, but you get the idea.

    I'm sad to admit that this version has received two rejects so far:


    Two days ago, Siobhan “Shy” O’Connor was an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl living quietly in Boston. Now she’s three thousand miles away from home, and the mystical Stone of Destiny has proclaimed her to be the new Defender of Ireland. That isn’t nearly as awesome as it sounds, because now Maeve, the Queen of the Sidhe, is trying to kill her.

    In order to keep Shy safe, her father agrees to become the new leader of the Warriors of the White Branch, who have protected Ireland from the Sidhe for countless generations. But Shy makes a foolish mistake, and the sword he needs to complete the ancient rite binds itself to her instead. Maeve takes her father prisoner and plans to use him as bait to lure the rest of the White Branch to their deaths. It’s all Shy’s fault, and it’s up to her to make it right.

    Shy must enter the Otherworld, sneak into Maeve’s fortress, free her father and escape, before the traitor within the White Branch opens the gateway between the worlds and lets the Sidhe back into Ireland. Maeve’s exiled son offers to show Shy a secret way in, if she agrees to help him in return. Shy knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she needs all the help she can get. If they’re lucky, they’ll be able to rescue Shy’s father and lock the Sidhe away in the Otherworld for good. If not, Maeve will kill them all … or make them wish she had.



  2. #42
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    Quick question: Is it Shy's mistake in letting the sword bind to her that causes the stone to declare her the Defender, or are they separate events?

  3. #43
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    They're separate. Shy's mistake leads to her father being captured; her plan to rescue to him leads to the moment where she is declared the Defender.

  4. #44
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    Okay, here are my thoughts on why it might not be grabbing people:

    Two days ago, Siobhan “Shy” O’Connor was an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl living quietly in Boston. Now she’s three thousand miles away from home, and the mystical Stone of Destiny has proclaimed her to be the new Defender of Ireland. That isn’t nearly as awesome as it sounds, because now Maeve, the Queen of the Sidhe, is trying to kill her. This flows well and promises a good read. It pops off the page and gives some taste of her personality

    In order to keep Shy safe, her father agrees to become the new leader of the Warriors of the White Branch, who have protected Ireland from the Sidhe for countless generations. The previous sentence has nothing to do with Shy. It's a subplot, and one not even involving Shy. It's her father's subplot, so should be eliminated. But Shy makes a foolish mistake, and the sword he needs to complete the ancient rite binds itself to her instead. I don't know whether it's a mistake per se. It sounds like her family kept her family history hidden from her, so why would it occur to her not to touch the sword? An agent/editor could see this as a big plot hole and I fear it might be. You may need to sit down and think about how it would change the plot if she knows about the sword and takes on the mantle anyway. See, right now, this plot reads as reactive, rather than PROACTIVE. Shy's reacting to her father's actions. She's reacting to Maeve's actions. She's reacting to Maeve's son's reactions. Where is the spirited Irish girl who is going to, hell or high water, protect her people? If she's in the story, she needs to be in this query. Maeve takes her father prisoner and plans to use him as bait to lure the rest of the White Branch to their deaths. It’s all Shy’s fault, and it’s up to her to make it right. I understand her motivation, but for a YA agent/editor, they could worry about a heroine who is led only by guilt. It's not as strong of a motivation as they might like to see, because guilt leads to making foolish mistakes, rather than a strong protagonist who might have to bargain with the devil, but does so of her own free will.

    Shy must enter the Otherworld, sneak into Maeve’s fortress, free her father and escape, before the traitor within the White Branch opens the gateway between the worlds and lets the Sidhe back into Ireland. This reads well and with some changes to the front could stand as is. Maeve’s exiled son offers to show Shy a secret way in, if she agrees to help him in return. Shy knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she needs all the help she can get. This is a subplot. Pull it out. Even the synopsis shouldn't have subplots. This is Shy's story. She's the lead, so make sure she's the one running the show.If they’re lucky, they’ll be able to rescue Shy’s father and lock the Sidhe away in the Otherworld for good. If not, Maeve will kill them all … or make them wish she had. We talked about this ending before, so I'm fine with it. I'd just remove the "they" and leave it "she."

    If it were me, rather than the slightly omniscient query you've got now, put some personality into it. The first paragraph has some. But the second paragraph is just a recitation without much of Shy showing through. Think the query through HER eyes. Let them know what kind of person she is. Does she use a catch phrase when someone pushes her? Like Maeve kidnapping her father and having her reply be, "Oh, I don't think so. Lady, you just made the wrong enemy." Etc. If so, put it in the query. Editors/agents WANT to root for the heroine. Make her as plucky in the query as the book. If she's NOT plucky in the book (which I would find hard to believe, being a good Irish lass), that might be another issue entirely.

    Good luck!

  5. #45
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    I appreciate the fresh perspective on this, Cathy. Let me ponder this a bit and see what I can come up with.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Shy does feel guilty for setting in motion the sequence of events that leads to her father's capture, which wouldn't have happened had her family not kept the truth from her. Nonetheless, her rescue attempt is characterized more by pluck and determination than anguish; she's a feisty girl, although it takes this crisis to break her out of her shell. No identifiable catch-phrase, though :-)

    Here's another crack at it. I'm hampered by my innate desire to be accurate, which often comes at the expense of drama. In reality, Maeve captures Shy's father before she becomes the leader of the White Branch, at which point the Stone declares her to be the Defender. She also has help during the mission, although she is the driving force behind the effort. Nonetheless, the goal is to attract an agent's attention, not summarize the plot, so I'm willing to set my principles aside momentarily. This version is on the brief side, so I'll try to add a sentence or two to further expand on Shy's character and motivations.



    Two days ago, Siobhan “Shy” O’Connor was an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl living quietly in Boston. Now she’s three thousand miles away from home, and the mystical Stone of Destiny has proclaimed her to be the new Defender of Ireland. That isn’t nearly as awesome as it sounds, because now Maeve, the Queen of the Sidhe, is trying to kill her.

    The Warriors of the White Branch have kept Maeve and her forces at bay for countless generations, and they aren’t ready to accept a teenage girl as their new leader, no matter what the Stone says. When Maeve takes Shy’s father prisoner, using him as bait to lure her into her realm, Shy realizes she’s on her own. The shamrock tattoo on her back is supposed to bring her luck, and she’ll need every bit of it before the night is done.

    Shy has to find the hidden entrance to the Otherworld, sneak into Maeve’s fortress, free her father and escape, before the traitor within the White Branch opens the gateway between the worlds and lets the Sidhe back into Ireland. If Shy is lucky, she’ll be able to rescue her father and lock Maeve away in the Otherworld for good. If not, Maeve will kill them both … or make Shy wish she had.

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