Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

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shadow
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Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 12th, 2010, 6:55 pm

Scroll Down for Newer VersionI have been working on this query a long time. In fact the whole time I have been revising my manuscript. I have placed it in drawers and kept my eyes off it for weeks and then came back to it but it is no use anymore. I think that the best thing I can do now is get opinions and revise accordingly. The most horrible thing is that there is so much more to my novel then I have written. So much more that my betas loved and I tried to scrunch in as much as I could to make the story sound not too vague in the query. I am honestly probably the worst person to write a query. I can critique them. I can read them and find issues and stuff, but can I critique my own? That's the whole problem. Ok, so if this sucks I am sorry to have taken your time. I think I will need millions of revisions until I get it perfect, but anyways I personally am in a bit of a trap because query and synopsis are my worst nightmares. :)

Dear Super Awesome Agent who will want my manuscript badly. JK,

Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker, the other, killing to live.

Vitiosus never knew why he felt guilt for slaying human beings that were enemies. It was his duty, as a warrior. As the days passed that strange connection to the human race angered his father, the King, particularly after Vitiosus left an enemy seeker to live. That was when he first discovered his father’s darkest secret: He used an innocent human woman to bring life to Vitiosus, only to throw her away like garbage…

Vitiosus confronts his father who decided that he has no choice but to secretly send his son to be executed. In the dungeons was the first time Vitiosus stared into the warm eyes of a human girl that sparked the early feelings of love in him. Conquering the girl’s trust, Vitiosus escaped the dungeons with her, only to come back for revenge on his father.

When the old king his found dead Vitiosus is ordered to fight to death for the throne with the next heir of their bloodline. Afraid for the safety of the girl he fell in love with Vitiosus sends her away to a nearby human settlement. But when he rides out to see her, he discovers that a group of rebels that want to overthrow his kingdom have taken her hostage. With no other way to go, Vitiosus has to unite with his archenemy, his half-brother in order to save Tiya and his kingdom.

‘Overcast Shadows’ is an 88,000 word YA Fantasy novel. This is my very first written novel but I have been studying writing and writing short stories for a few long years. (Personalized info…) Thank you for your time.

Best Regards,

(Personal info..)

Be very VERY VERY VERY Harsh Please! I have thick skin. After all you are critiquing my Query not me :D and I will thank you for it!
Last edited by shadow on March 12th, 2010, 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by JustineDell » March 12th, 2010, 7:48 pm

shadow wrote:
Dear Super Awesome Agent who will want my manuscript badly. JK,

Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. Okay, how are two half-brothers seperated at birth? They either don't have the same mom or dad, which means they aren't twins, right? But they were born at the exact same time, right? How does this happen? One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker, the other, killing to live. Suggestion--> One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker. The other killed to live as a warrior. And, does protecting the valley mean protecting the people? Also, I added "as a warrior" part so we know which brother Vitiosus is.

Vitiosus never knew why he felt guilt for slaying human beings that were enemies. It was his duty, as a warrior. As the days passed that strange connection to the human race angered his father, the King, particularly after Vitiosus left an enemy seeker to live. So, their not human? Hmmm...and his half-brother is a seeker, right? That's interesting. Although, I would like to know why seekers were the enemy of the warriors. That was when he first discovered his father’s darkest secret: He used an innocent human woman to bring life to Vitiosus, only to throw her away like garbage… You mention the human thing again here. You need to point out somewhere that they aren't human.

Suggestion: Vitiosus felt guilt for slaying innocent human beings soley because his father, the King, deemed them enemies. But it was his duty as a warrior. Vitiosus develops a strange connection to the human race, making him leave an enemy seeker alive. This angers the King. Then Vitiosus learns his fathers darkest secret: he used an innocent human woman to bring life to Vitiosus, only to throw her away like garbage. After confronting the King, Vitiosus is sent to be executed.



Vitiosus confronts his father who decided that he has no choice but to secretly send his son to be executed. In the dungeons was the first time Vitiosus stared into the warm eyes of a human girl that sparked the early feelings of love in him. Put the name of the girl in this paragraph, not at the end like you currently have it. Conquering the girl’s trust, Vitiosus escaped the dungeons with her, only to come back for revenge on his father.

When the old king his found dead Vitiosus is ordered to fight to death for the throne with the next heir of their bloodline. The "old king"? Is that his father or his father's father? And, I'm guessing he ends up having to fight his brother, so you may want say: The King is soon found dead. Vitiosus is ordered to fight to the death for the throne with the next heir of their bloodline: his half-brother. (The sentence still reads a little awkward to me, the way you have it and the way I have it, but hopefully you get the drift) Afraid for the safety of the girl he fell in love with Vitiosus sends her away to a nearby human settlement. But when he rides out to see her, he discovers that a group of rebels that want to overthrow his kingdom have taken her hostage. With no other way to go, Vitiosus has to unite with his archenemy, his half-brother in order to save Tiya and his kingdom. Normally when people escape the dungeon, when they are found, they are put back in the dungeon, right? So how is it that Vitiosus is able to visit people? Also, this paragraph has two seperate things that Vitiosus must face: the battle for the throne with the other heir (which I assumed was his brother) and then the battle for his kingdom (which his has to do with his brother) - so, can you see my confusion?

‘Overcast Shadows’ <-Capitolize the title is an 88,000 word YA Fantasy novel. This is my very first written novel <-Delete I have been studying writing and writing short stories for a few long years. <--You could probably leave this out too unless you are taking some creative writing program in college. (Personalized info…) Thank you for your time.

Best Regards,

(Personal info..)
There you are Shadow :-) I hope this helps. I wanted to add a few more comments here and there, but I didn't want the whole screen to be red. Sorry if you hate me. It's a really good start, and I think you've got something interesting here.

~JD

http://www.justine-dell.blogspot.com/

"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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shadow
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 12th, 2010, 7:52 pm

JD thanks so much! I know it sucks now but I am staying optimistic because I hope for it to be better after countless revisions! lol. I am going to read through that sea of red and repost it with your advice taken! Thanks again! Oh and they are not twins but I wasn't sure how to explain that. Vitiosus is 19 and the other one Gabriel is 22. I also forgot to mention that it's only Vitiosus who isn't fully human because of his father. They are linked by their human mother.
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 12th, 2010, 8:24 pm

\
DOWN TO THE NEWEST VERSION> IN FACT IT'S ON PAGE 2Ok here is a revision. I hope this makes more sense. I know a query isn't a synopsis so I don't want to tell the whole story in it... hmmm I don't even really know. You guys tell me!

Dear Agent,

Dear Awesome Agent,

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in Young Adult, and because you represent a few novels like “” and “” that I have read and enjoyed.

Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. One human and one Lasserta. One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker. The other killed to live as a warrior.

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince that doubts his nation’s cruelty towards the human race. Yet he follows his duties as a warrior until he is forced to face an equal adversary, a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill. He cannot explain his bonds with the human until he discovers the truth’s about his mother. Wishing to keep his secrets in the dark the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. To make things worse a group of rebels take hold of a human girl Vitiosus fell for, and now he must discover the reason for his father’s hate and unite with his worst enemy, his half-brother before time runs out for Tiya and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellion.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000 work of YA Fantasy. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and will be glad to send you the full manuscript at your request.

Best wishes,
Last edited by shadow on March 14th, 2010, 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by GeeGee55 » March 12th, 2010, 11:58 pm

shadow wrote:Ok here is a revision. I hope this makes more sense. I know a query isn't a synopsis so I don't want to tell the whole story in it... hmmm I don't even really know. You guys tell me!

Dear Agent,

Dear Awesome Agent,

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in Young Adult, and because you represent a few novels like “” and “” that I have read and enjoyed.

Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. One human and one Lasserta. One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker. The other killed to live as a warrior. For me, this opening is not working.

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian warrior, forced to kill in order to live. He questions his nation’s cruelty towards the human race,yet he follows his orders until he is forced to face a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill.One day he discovers the truth: the seeker is his half=brother. And go on from there Wishing to keep his secrets in the dark the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. To make things worse a group of rebels take hold of a human girl Vitiosus fell for, and now he must discover the reason for his father’s hate and unite with his worst enemy, his half-brother before time runs out for Tiya and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellion.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000 work of YA Fantasy. This is my first novel.

Play with it a bit more. It sounds interesting, but the story doesn't flow well in this version.

Thank you for your time, and will be glad to send you the full manuscript at your request.

Best wishes,

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by ahalaw » March 13th, 2010, 3:31 pm

You're going to get mixed reviews about your first paragraph because some people feel you don't need to state that you're looking for an agent--it's a given. If you cut that, we can jump into your hook. As for your second paragraph, I need to see some verbs. The fragments are distracting. You can also combine some of the sentences: "Two half brothers forcefully areseparated at birth, one human and one Lasserta. One isturned to protecting his valley as a seeker, the other killed to live as a warrior." By the way, how is he killed to live as a warrior?

Here are my suggestions for paragraph 3:

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince thatwho doubts his nation’s cruelty towards the human race humans. Yet he follows his duties as a warrior until he is forced to face an equal adversary, [consider including his/her name] a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill. He cannot explain his bonds with [use name again] the human until he discovers the truth’s about his mother. Wishing to keep his secrets in the dark, the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. To make things worse, a group of rebels take hold of a human girl Vitiosus fell for fell in love with, and now he must discover the reason for his father’s hate. To do it, he and unite with his worst enemy, his half-brother, before time runs out for Tiya and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellion.

OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000-word work of YA Fantasy.

Best of luck.

--ahalaw

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by ahalaw » March 13th, 2010, 3:33 pm

ahalaw wrote:You're going to get mixed reviews about your first paragraph because some people feel you don't need to state that you're looking for an agent--it's a given. If you cut that, we can jump into your hook. As for your second paragraph, I need to see some verbs. The fragments are distracting. You can also combine some of the sentences: "Two half brothers forcefully are separated at birth, one human and one Lasserta. One is turned to protecting his valley as a seeker, the other killed to live as a warrior." By the way, how is he killed to live as a warrior?

Here are my suggestions for paragraph 3:

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince thatwho doubts his nation’s cruelty towards the human race humans. Yet he follows his duties as a warrior until he is forced to face an equal adversary, [consider including his/her name] a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill. He cannot explain his bonds with [use name again] the human until he discovers the truth’s about his mother. Wishing to keep his secrets in the dark, the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. To make things worse, a group of rebels take hold of a human girl Vitiosus fell for fell in love with, and now he must discover the reason for his father’s hate. To do it, he and must unite with his worst enemy, his half-brother, before time runs out for Tiya and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellion.

OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000-word work of YA Fantasy.

Best of luck.

--ahalaw

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by Erica75 » March 13th, 2010, 8:21 pm

I'm so sorry that I'm not posting anything constructive yet, but I have a story that relates. I'm a teacher and a few years ago, a parent said this to me at orientation: "I have to leave now. My daughter's dad and his wife are here and they don't know I'm back in town." I looked it up and her daughter and the other woman's daughter were 3 days apart in age. So, therefore, they were half-sisters who weren't twins and VERY close in age. (Naughty Daddy) So, who knows?!?
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by Bron » March 13th, 2010, 10:06 pm

shadow wrote:
Dear Awesome Agent,

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in Young Adult, and because you represent a few novels like “” and “” that I have read and enjoyed.

Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. One human and one Lasserta. One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker. The other killed to live as a warrior. I would cut this whole paragraph. The half brothers separated at birth doesn't make sense. From what you said in a post, I presume you mean they were separated at Vitiosus's birth, as he is younger, but what you have here will make agents wonder. Plus, all the information in this paragraph is revealed later in the query.

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince that doubts his nation’s cruelty This could be read to mean that he doubts his nation is cruel to humans. I'd change 'doubts' to 'questions' towards the human race. Yet he follows his duties as a warrior until he is forced to face an equal adversary, a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill. He cannot explain his bonds with the human until he discovers the truth’s change to 'truth' or 'truths' without the apostrophe if there are multiple truths about the mother about his mother. Wishing to keep his This sounds like you are still talking about Vitiosus. Perhaps change to 'The King, hoping to keep his secrets in the dark, orders Vitiosus's execution. If you leave it as is get rid of the word 'for' secrets in the dark the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. I read your first query and I think you need a sentence here to explain that Tiya springs him from jail. This explains why he wasn't executed and introduces Tiya. Her current introduction feels a bit rushed.To make things worse Cut the start of the sentence. Use something like 'But whena group of rebels kidnap Tiya, Vitiosus must discover the reason for his father’s hate and unite with his worst enemy, his half-brother, before time runs out for Tiya and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellion.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000 work of YA Fantasy. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and will be glad to send you the full manuscript at your request.

Best wishes,

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by KaylingR » March 14th, 2010, 3:16 pm

This stuff does take forever to get right. Here are my suggestions, take or leave them as you fancy. :)



>>I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in Young Adult, and because you represent a few novels like “” and “” that I have read and enjoyed.
If you're going to include this, I'd put it at the end.

>>Two half brothers forcefully separated at birth. How were they seperated? should we have assumed they'd be together?One human and one Lasserta. One turned to protecting his valley as a seeker.What's a seeker? The other killed to live as a warrior.What do you mean 'killed to live?'

This hook doesn't work for me. I don't understand what it means. From this I think you're getting at something like blood is thicker than water, or you can't mess with fate but I just don't know. From the rest of the query it sounds like V's big conflict is between Lssertian duty, as put forth by his father, and human connections as represented by mother & brother. What's the choice V has to make, and what will be the consequences? I'm not going to get all the subtleties in a query, but I need to understand the nature of the basic conflict.

>>Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince that doubts questions? his nation’s cruelty towards the human race what makes Lassertians not human? And how are they cruel to humans?. Yet he follows his duties as a warrior until he is forced to face an equal adversary, a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill. Why can't he kill this guy? Has he killed other humans? He cannot explain his bonds are there many? who does he need to explain them to?with the human until he discovers the truth’s about his mother. What truth? How does he discover? Wishing to keep his secrets in the dark the King orders for Vitiosus’ execution. To make things worse a group of rebels take hold of a human girl Vitiosus fell for V's human love, and now he must discover the reason for his father’s hate and unite with his worst enemy, his half-brotherhis half brother is his worst enemy? Then why couldn't he kill him? before time runs out for Tiya who? and before the Kingdom is conquered by the rebellionIs this a human rebellion?.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS' is a 88,000 work of YA Fantasy. This is my first novel.don't advertise its your first novel

Thank you for your time, and will be glad to send you the full manuscript at your request.

Best wishes,

You have a lot of extra verbage here, for example:
Yet he follows his duties as a warrior He is a dutiful warrior until he is forced to face faces an equal adversary, a human seeker that he cannot drive himself to kill kill .

Getting you something like:
He is a dutiful warrior until he faces a human adversary he recognizes as his equal.

16 words as opposed to 27. But I wouldn't stress cutting it down until after your get your thoughts clear in the query.

Good luck!

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 14th, 2010, 3:55 pm

DOWN DOWN TO NEWEST REVISION!
Dear Agent,

Vitiosus is a young Lassertian Prince that questions his nation’s cruelty towards the human race, who have been at war with the Lasserta for decades. He is a dutiful warrior until he faces an equal adversary, a human seeker Gabriel, that he almost looses his life to. In return for his life, Vitiosus leaves Gabriel wounded yet alive. He cannot explain his strange connection to humans until he discovers the truth about his mother from an old warrior who gives him half a pendant that his mother, Orianna, had left to two sons. She was forced to give birth to Vitiosus in the dungeons because the King needed a healthy heir, and the Lassertian queen was slowly dying.

To make things worse a group of human rebels kidnap Tiya, a beautiful human girl that Vitiosus saved from the dungeons. Every clue leads to Gabriel and Vitiosus believes that the seeker is after him for revenge. When their path’s cross, both warriors are determined to end one another’s life until they see each other’s pendants. Realizing that is was all a set up for them to slay one another. Vitiosus must unite with his adversary, his half-brother before time runs out for Tiya and the Kingdom is conquered by the rebels.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS' is an 88,000 word work of YA Fantasy.

Thank you for your time, and will be glad to send you the full manuscript at your request.

Best wishes,
Last edited by shadow on March 14th, 2010, 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by ljkuhnley » March 14th, 2010, 4:43 pm

...
Last edited by ljkuhnley on May 18th, 2012, 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 14th, 2010, 5:25 pm

@ljkuhnley - Thanks soo much! From what you told me I just realized that I am addfing waaay too much sub-plot that neednt be told. I mean there is ton's of sub plot but it makes the query way too confusing to read. LOL. So I tried to stay at the core of the MAIN plot and main conflict this time.

Here goes:

Dear Agent,

Dear Agent,

Vitiosus is a dutiful and trained Lassertian warrior until he nearly loses his life in battle to Gabriel, a human seeker. He spares Gabriel’s life for a reason he himself doesn’t fully understand. Determined to discover his past he finds out that he was born in a nearby human settlement, stolen away from his mother by the King, his cruel father. The only trace left of his mother is half a pendant. Soon Vitiosus’ stallion is slain with his own sword and the guard that sipped out of his goblet died of poisoning. He is sure that someone is out there to kill him, and all the clues lead to the seeker that he had spared.

When their path’s cross, both warriors are determined to end one another’s life until they see each other’s pendants that connect. They must put all their hatred behind and unite together against the rebellion that threatens to erase the Lassertian and human kingdom all together, before it’s too late.

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS’ is an 88,000 word YA Fantasy novel. (Personalized info).

‘OVERCAST SHADOWS’ is an 88,000 word YA Fantasy novel. (Personalized info).

ME!
Last edited by shadow on March 15th, 2010, 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by shadow » March 15th, 2010, 11:53 am

Bump! Any body want to take a stab?
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Re: Query Critique - Overcast Shadows - First Try

Post by Erica75 » March 20th, 2010, 5:15 pm

I'm not the best for advice since I'm still perfecting my own query, but I want to bump you up and make a few points.
1. In all of your revisions, you've kept the part about the mc sparing the life of Gabriel. Considering the sentence says he almost loses his life to Gabriel, this seems odd.
2. I do think you should include even a few words about why the humans need a seeker. This term is very broad and I'm not getting its relevance yet.
3. The sentence that begins "Determined to discover..." is way too long. If you're 'determined to' keep it, watch your comma useage. They evade me all the time and I see they're doing the same to you (I think, but since I have trouble, it would do to consult an expert) (and if you find a comma expert, I could use him/her :).
4. Apparently, in the first paragraph, they decide not to kill each other. In the second, they have no other agenda. What happened? You don't have to spell it out, of course, but I'm not seeing the connection yet. And sorry to be nitpicky, but there shouldn't be an apostrophe in paths.
4. You have room to add here. Nathan's blog says 250-350 words is great and many other agents have examples around 300 words.
5. Good luck!!!
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