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  1. #1
    -- debraji
    Guest

    query puzzle - round 1

    While my novel is with the beta readers, I thought I'd work on my query and synopsis. I'm a long time lurker, and have watched with interest as you take people through the process of writing compelling queries. So now it's time to put my head on the block.

    *

    Tamana Sorn thought she’d long ago severed her connections to the hidden realm of Tanagal and its ruler, Queen Maire. She's eked out a quiet living with her herbs and potions: teaching her apprentice, Braye, how ash-onion softens bad dreams, how beggar's cap increases generosity. But now Tamana receives an invitation to return in her dead brother’s name. When she finds the body of a murdered Tangalian in her garden, and when her strangely gifted apprentice disappears, she is caught up in events more deadly than she’d imagined. War is brewing.

    One thing’s certain: Tamana can no longer hide from the coming storm as a simple village healer. She returns to Tanagal and encounters Corrid, a man ensnared for seventy years in deerhound form. She frees him, only to be abducted by shapeshifters who force her to change shape with disastrous results. They hand her over to the brutal lord of Herron, who is pursuing a curious and dangerous agenda of his own. With Corrid’s help, Tamana escapes and flees downriver, damaged and uncertain of her ability to master her fears. Yet she becomes increasingly convinced that Queen Maire holds the answer to Braye’s abduction. To retrieve him, Tamana and Corrid must travel across Tanagal past the boundaries of death itself, for the Queen has hidden Braye among the dead to keep him safe from the enemy that would destroy them all.

    XXXXXXX is a 98,000 word fantasy combining the grounded feel of [Author1's] [Title1] with the wry sensibility of [Author2's] [Title2].

    [brief credits paragraph listing published stories]

    If you are interested in XXXXXXX, sample chapters, a detailed and expanded synopsis, or the complete manuscript are ready to be printed and mailed.

    [contact info, thanks, etc.]



  2. #2
    Nathan Nicholl
    Guest

    Re: query puzzle - round 1

    The first sentence is blah.

    "Tamana Sorn severed connections with the Tanagal and its ruler, Queen Maire, after she accidently blew up a pogo-stick factory."

    "She'd" should be "she had" and "she's" should be "she has." They aren't recognised contractions.

    "But now Tamana receives an invitation to return in her dead brother’s name."
    This doesn't tell us anything interesting

    The second paragraph needs less plot and a lot of tightening. Only the last sentence is interesting.

    "...enemy that would destroy them all."
    Too cliche.

  3. #3
    Harriet Sanders
    Guest

    Re: query puzzle - round 1

    I think the first full paragraph is awesome (love the details about ash onion and beggar's cap!)
    I'd kill the second paragraph. It's too detailed and the first paragraph is enough of a hook... we know messed-up stuff is going to happen and the agent can learn the rest by reading the book.
    I also feel the standard closing paragraphs are too wordy. Just say, "I'd love to send you the first 50 pages of the completed 50,000-word manuscript."
    Harriet

  4. #4
    Richard Lewis
    Guest

    Re: query puzzle - round 1

    This excellent sentence of the query: She's eked out a quiet living with her herbs and potions: teaching her apprentice, Braye, how ash-onion softens bad dreams, how beggar's cap increases generosity.” Should be the standard for the rest. It’s specific and unique and piques the interest.

    Why is Tamana hiding? What’s at stake if she comes out of hiding?

    Who invites her? “In her dead brother’s name” : does this mean *as* her dead brother?

    Why can’t she no longer hide? What forces her hand?

    Shapeshifters are pretty standard fantasy fare, but the idea of having a disastrous result is interesting, but how exactly is the result disastrous? Does ash-onion harden nightmares?

    “Uncertain of her ability to master her fears” The agent will get nothing out of this. Each sentence should have something to hold his/her interest.

    How does she become convinced the Queen is involved? The queen is a non-character in the query. Sounds like she is actually Taman’as ally when you say she’s “hidden” Braye among the dead. Is she? Does this come as a plot twist?

    Who is the enemy? Does Tamana know? Does the enemy chase her into the land of the land?

    There also seems to be lacking a satisfying conclusion, relating to how Tamana has changed or learned.

  5. #5
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: query puzzle - round 1

    Hi Debraji.

    This is mighty fine for a first stab. You've been paying attention.

    Tamana Sorn thought she’d long ago severed is an awkward start, in my opinion. She must have severed her ties rather than just thought she had. But now, though the ties are severed, she has to jump back into things based on events.

    Perhaps: Taman Sorn had severed her connections long ago to the hidden realm of Tanagal and its ruler, Queen Maire.

    One thing’s certain: Tamana Sorn can no longer hide from the coming storm (don't know that I like storm though)as a simple village healer. I actually think this is a more catching beginning sentence.

    But now Tamana receives an invitation to return in her dead brother’s name. So? Not sure why this is important, I guess. And how does it relate to the dead body in her garden--now THAT'S interesting.

    Agree with comments about the second paragraph. I think you're giving too many plot details. I think it's important to state that the Queen is involved, and I agree with Nathan: I like your last sentence.

    or the complete manuscript are ready to be printed and mailed. You're probably trying to put a new slant on the same old "manuscript is available blah, blah," but this isn't it. The agent assumes it's ready to be printed and mailed - don't point it out. Just offer it.

    ~ Bea

  6. #6
    -- debraji
    Guest

    Re: query puzzle - round 1

    Thanks, everyone. Lots of good advice to chew on. I'll rework and repost the query.

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