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  1. #1
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    Query - DAY OF THE BLACK MOON

    *Note: The italicized line is only left if the agent wants book comparisons. It's a co-authored multi-pov fantasy novel, so any advice is welcome.

    Dear NAME,

    What happens when the prophesied hero isn’t a hero? A lot of subverted fantasy tropes.


    THE DAY OF THE BLACK MOON is a 121,000 word epic fantasy with multiple points of views. This is the first of a four book series; we are drafting book two and outlining three and four. Fans of Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn will find a similar balance between character focus and world building.

    After reading your BLANK on BLANK.COM, I think this story might appeal to you because . . .

    The elven king broke the succession line and named his second child as heir. Princess Alina Forestborn abdicated her claim to avoid a civil war, but she cannot help micromanaging her little brother. When his betrothed dies from poison, the crowned-heir leaves to escape her haunting memories. Alina lets him go and hides the rumors of a prophesied hero, deciding the prince should grieve in peace instead of burdening himself with the news and all it entails. Now, she must face her oppressive father, insane mother, and the growing threat of another djinn war alone.

    Alina must prepare Cale Doubleheart, the foretold hero, to fulfill the prophecy—through the death of one he will break the djinn’s hold and bring peace to the continent of Atia. Yet Cale, trying to decide if he fears his destiny or his trainer more, continues to fail, and Alina fears he will never succeed. Their time runs out when an unthinkable act shakes Atia’s foundations. Cale stands between the annihilation of elves, the death of magic, and war, but Cale’s inability to fulfill his role may cause others to rise in his stead.

    I am working on my Bachelor’s degree in English, as is Ariel, the co-author. We have worked as editors, journalists, and social media-marketing writers. Our short stories have won county and state-level awards, Internet contests, and were published in the Creative Writing Institute’s first anthology, Overruled.

    The complete or partial manuscript is available upon request.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Regards,

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Some initial thoughts and reactions:

    121,000 is a bit on the hefty side for a fantasy novel (unless you're George Martin). I don't know that I would point out the multiple PoVs; unless that is significant to the story for some reason (and most epic tales bounce between characters as a matter of course), I'd leave that out. I'm also not sure that the agent would care where you are in the writing process of other books; what's important is this book.

    "Line of succession", not "succession line". Identify the second child by name, even if he's not a key character. After all, much of your first paragraph is about him (and Alina, of course).

    "Micromanaging" is not a word I associate with fantasy. How about "overseeing every moment of his life"? How young is he, exactly, if he's engaged? Use more powerful, direct wording: "When his betrothed is poisoned..." "Crowned-heir" is not a term I'm familiar with; even if you coined it for your story, I'd use a more typical phrase here, or simply just "the prince". You don't want your agent to wonder what the heck you're talking about. That whole sentence is also rather long and cumbersome. See if you can chop it up and tighten it up.

    The combination of djinns and elves seems a bit odd. They're from completely different mythos (mythoses?). That's a lot of fearing: "Yet Cale, trying to decide if he fears his destiny or his trainer more, continues to fail, and Alina fears he will never succeed." Since when are prophecies so specific that they identify one specific guy? How does everyone know he's the chosen one? What makes him so special, other than his apparently complete lack of suitability for the role?

    "Their time runs out when an unthinkable act shakes Atia’s foundations." Vague. Can you expand on this a bit? Who is affected by this act? Is it personal or global or somewhere in between?

    "Cale stands between the annihilation of elves, the death of magic, and war." That's a big list. Can you focus on just one for this query?

    "Cale’s inability to fulfill his role may cause others to rise in his stead." Good, maybe they'll find someone who can actually do the job ;-)

    At the end of all of this, I don't have a good sense of what the crisis is. War's a-coming, the elves are doomed, Cale's useless. Why did you spend so much time talking about the prince, when the story seems to revolve around Alina and Cale? Focus on the essentials aspects of your story: Character (who's involved?), Crisis (what's happening?), and Consequence (what happens if the hero fails?).

    If this story is co-written, you should say "we are working on our degrees", not "I am, and oh yeah, so is my sister". Give yourselves equal billing.

    Give it another try and let's have a look.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
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    I agree that there was a lot of unnecessary details in here. And when you start off saying "subverted fantasy tropes" I think it's going to be a comedy but your query isn't funny so it's probably not.

  4. #4
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    Great advice, guys, thanks!

    Definitively gave us some things to think about. I never realized "crowned-heir" could be a coined term. I read so much Fantasy I thought everyone would know it. The word Micromanaging bothered us too, but we couldn't think of another--yet. Djinn and elves, yeah, there's a lot of culture going on in here. The world is huge (we've been building it for over 6 years now). The vague line . . . we might just delete it? That's line talking about a center-point event, but it won't make any sense without having read it. We'll look at the details too, see what we don't need.

    I wanted to just say "our degrees" but my darling sister graduated( a few days ago, actually), so we were going to revise the anyways.

    But, you said, "War's a-coming, the elves are doomed, Cale's useless." That is kind of the gist we wanted to give. Cale and Alina are big characters, but her brother is too, and some other people we don't have time to mention in the query. With multi-povs we thought it best to focus on one of the story lines.

    Thanks again. We'll get to revising it soon.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toriel View Post
    But, you said, "War's a-coming, the elves are doomed, Cale's useless." That is kind of the gist we wanted to give.
    If that's the spin you're looking for, then structure your query around that. Here's the situation, here are the consequences, here's what Aline/Cale/whoever is going to do about it. The paragraph about the crown prince doesn't seem to add anything, for example; you say he's an important character, but that certainly isn't obvious at the moment.

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