Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 10
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:10 am
Location: New England
Contact:

Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Shannon » December 15th, 2009, 1:28 pm

Feedback appreciated. /deep breath:


When thirteen-year-old Grey Hawkins is awakened by a terrifying vision of an attempted murder, she never dreamed it would trigger an event that caused her to transport to Ancient Egypt. Her unexpected disappearance propels the world’s most visibly clandestine organization into a frantic race against time itself to save her. The only problem is no one knows where or when she went.

In the flash of a vibrant blue light, Grey’s entire world changed. Yesterday, she was an ordinary girl. Today, she’s an Egyptian Goddess. Her vanishing unveils the hidden truth about museum artifacts and time travel, reveals ancient secrets about historical events, and unleashes her unparalleled power to control time.

As Grey struggles to understand her power, society member, Colin Maxwell, travels to past civilizations, carouses with pirates, embarks in a battle at sea, uncovers a sinister plot to destroy The Society, outwits a tyrannical monarch, prevents civil war, saves a queen, and narrowly escapes death in order to protect our time line and locate Grey before she’s lost forever to a changed history.

The Museum Chronicles: Legend of the Pharaoh King is a 71,000 word Young Adult fantasy novel that uses vibrant imagery to weave magical elements into historical fact.

Alexandra Little
Posts: 17
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 1:04 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Alexandra Little » December 15th, 2009, 2:58 pm

Shannon wrote:Feedback appreciated. /deep breath:


When thirteen-year-old Grey Hawkins is awakened by a terrifying vision of an attempted murder, she never dreamed it would trigger an event that caused her to transport to Ancient Egypt. Her unexpected disappearance propels the world’s most visibly clandestine organization into a frantic race against time itself to save her. The only problem is no one knows where or when she went. Time out right now. Whose point of view is this from? You introduce Grey first so I automatically presume Grey, but then you switch point of views in the middle in this paragraph big time by introducing an organization searching for her. "Visibly clandestine" is also a contradiction in terms, so you might want to elaborate on that at some point.

In the flash of a vibrant blue light, Grey’s entire world changed. Yesterday, she was an ordinary girl. Information restated, though in a different way. Today, she’s an Egyptian Goddess. So not only is she in Ancient Egypt, but she's an invisible unseen person as well? Her vanishing unveils the hidden truth about museum artifacts and time travel, reveals ancient secrets about historical events, and unleashes her unparalleled power to control time. Again, you switch point of view by starting out with Grey and then move to "uncovering hidden truths," which logically would happen not by Grey, as she's as gone as you can get at this point. In addition, you are summarizing what I'm presuming is your plot.

As Grey struggles to understand her power, society member, Colin Maxwell, travels to past civilizations, carouses with pirates, embarks in a battle at sea, uncovers a sinister plot to destroy The Society, outwits a tyrannical monarch, prevents civil war, saves a queen, and narrowly escapes death in order to protect our time line and locate Grey before she’s lost forever to a changed history. And this all came out of nowhere. I don't even know what to do with this, as I hardly see what it has to do with what came before.

The Museum Chronicles: Legend of the Pharaoh King is a 71,000 word Young Adult fantasy novel that uses vibrant imagery to weave magical elements into historical fact. And you're going to do it all in 71,000 words?!
Who is your main character, what happens, and what must they do in order to fix things? Your query, at this point, is all over the place.
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 10
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:10 am
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Shannon » December 15th, 2009, 3:17 pm

Hi Alexandra,

Thank you so much for your feedback. I appreciate you taking time to review this and give me your thoughts. I'm not sure if this clarification helps, since I realize you provided your feedback at face value.

1. Your PoV question brings up a good point. I will look at rewording.
2. I realize that Visibly clandestine is a contradiction - it was intentional. I guess that wording is too confusing?
3. Where is it written that gods are unseen?
4. Point taken about PoV and plot summary.
5. P3: I'm not sure how to incorporate this so it does not appear out of nowhere since part of the book is seen through Colin's Point of View and what he goes through to locate Grey.
6. And yes, it was done in 71,000 words.

Again, thanks for your feedback. I'll work on it.

KappaP
Posts: 58
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 12:44 pm
Location: Macedonia
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by KappaP » December 15th, 2009, 3:29 pm

Hey Shannon!

I agree with the above poster that I got way confused. IMO, try writing the query through the perspective of the guy doing the searching for Grey-- otherwise his apparition into the query is a little abrupt. But that could flow well "Colin is tasked with finding a girl who has disappeared. Only problem, he doesn't know when, etc." For some reason, my gut is telling me your query will flow better from that perspective (I say this as someone whose story is told from someone's perspective who is NOT the protagonist, so I understand it can be tricky).
www.patchesandsara.blogspot.com

Not a writing blog... at all.

c.ska
Posts: 25
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 6:22 pm
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by c.ska » December 15th, 2009, 4:17 pm

shannon, while the query is as mentioned slightly confusing, it left me wanting to read MORE. this is a good sign. your query needs to come alive, that's all. I have a feeling the actual book is both coherent and vivid. I hope the following comments may help : )
Shannon wrote:Feedback appreciated. /deep breath:


When thirteen-year-old Grey Hawkins is awakened by a terrifying vision of an attempted murder, she never dreamed it would trigger an event that caused her to transport to Ancient Egypt. (fine) Her unexpected disappearance propels the world’s most visibly clandestine organization into a frantic race against time (cut out itself?) to save her. The only problem is no one knows where or when she went. (stick to your narrator OR change narrator altogether, depending on what best represents your story)

In the flash of a vibrant blue light, Grey’s entire world changed. (changes?) Yesterday, she was an ordinary girl. Today, she’s an Egyptian Goddess. (I like the sound of that!) Her vanishing unveils the hidden truth about museum artifacts and time travel, reveals ancient secrets about historical events, and unleashes her unparalleled power to control time. (I'd love to read about all of that...BUT perhaps try to make it sound less of a 'list')

As Grey struggles to understand her power, society member, Colin Maxwell, (give the man a proper introduction...what is his relationship to grey, what is his mission / starting point etc) travels to past civilizations (too abstract) , carouses with pirates, embarks in a battle at sea, uncovers a sinister plot to destroy The Society, outwits a tyrannical monarch, prevents civil war, saves a queen, and narrowly escapes death in order to protect our time line and locate Grey before she’s lost forever to a changed history. (again, I do not for one second doubt all of this works in the story, BUT HERE it sounds like a list. break it down, simplify, link together the events in paragraph 2 and 3. )

The Museum Chronicles: Legend of the Pharaoh King is a 71,000 word Young Adult fantasy novel that uses vibrant imagery to weave magical elements into historical fact.
my advice, in a nutshell: aim for coherency, make a few decisions and stick with them. as already mentioned, I have no doubts that the book itself works, only a matter of getting the query to work for it!

thanks for sharing!

c.ska

Tricia
Posts: 4
Joined: December 15th, 2009, 4:13 pm
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Tricia » December 15th, 2009, 5:14 pm

I have a couple things to add. Choose one tense. Read your writing out loud and you'll find mistakes. Don't add extra words. an event that caused her to transport to Ancient Egypt. an event transports her to
Also if your story starts with the dream or Grey waking up you may want to rethink that. From what I've read it's considered by many a common mistake. Here's one link http://www.writersdigest.com/article/what-agents-hate/
Happy writing,
Tricia

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 10
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:10 am
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Shannon » December 15th, 2009, 5:21 pm

Thanks to everyone for the feedback so far. I appreciate it.

Good catch, Tricia. And rest assured, it doesn't start with a dream. =)

Alexandra Little
Posts: 17
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 1:04 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Alexandra Little » December 15th, 2009, 7:39 pm

You're welcome. (I hope. I usually tell it like it is when it comes to critiquing.)
Shannon wrote: 3. Where is it written that gods are unseen?
In this world, it is a little hard to see whatever god/goddess you worship. This is where you need to clarify your world building (difficult to do when you're trying to condense a fantasy novel down into a query, especially when world building is hard enough in the novel itself). The reader of the query will presume that the rules of this world (and what we know of Ancient Egypt) still apply until you make it very clear that it's different. Introducing time travel (in whatever form) and magical artifacts isn't adequate enough of a set-up to expect a visible, present deity. You can clarify how this works in your query (see my next paragraph).
Shannon wrote: 5. P3: I'm not sure how to incorporate this so it does not appear out of nowhere since part of the book is seen through Colin's Point of View and what he goes through to locate Grey.
A good way to handle two split points of view in a query (I'm presuming POV is split equally or close to it between Colin and Grey) is to look at some romance query examples. I've often seen them format one paragraph as "Grey never thought blah blah blah," keeping the focus on that character, and the next paragraph would be "Colin must blah blah blah," keeping the focus (at least initially) on that character, and then linking them together. That's a general cookie-cutter format that I've seen, but if Grey and Colin are equal as narrators I think that will help the point of view.
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

User avatar
Hillsy
Posts: 303
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 4:33 am
Location: Gravesend, UK
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Hillsy » December 16th, 2009, 7:42 am

Hi Shannon,

Normally I try and be quite in depth but I think this query would benefit drastically from a switch in perspective much like KappaP suggested and so alot of what I would correct is contained within stuff that would likely vanish anyways.

On the Plot Soup part -
("society member, Colin Maxwell, travels to past civilizations, carouses with pirates, embarks in a battle at sea, uncovers a sinister plot to destroy The Society, outwits a tyrannical monarch, prevents civil war, saves a queen, and narrowly escapes death in order to protect our time line and locate Grey before she’s lost forever to a changed history.")
- and wondering how to weave them in: I had a similar problem (Though treble the plot points...hehe). I found this helped massively. Write a para for each plot point and list them as though that is the only thing the books about. Then see which ones stem from a similar premise, or contain similar information. Then you can write those points together. Things that stand out on their own and don't tie in with anything else, these you can drop, giving you room to expand on the other, main points.

Good luck on the Rev!

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 10
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:10 am
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Shannon » December 16th, 2009, 10:30 am

Again, I would like to thank everyone for their feedback.

Here's R1:

Everything about museums is a lie. The world’s most powerful organization, known only as The Society, controls the museums of the world. One of their best cover ups of all time is that artifacts must be shielded from the elements to prevent fading and decay. The ropes and glass used to “protect” artifacts are just a cheap magician’s trick. The truth is artifacts are vessels used for time travel. Anyone who touches one might accidentally be whisked back in time. In the wrong hands, human history could be destroyed.

When society leader Christopher Hawkins’ thirteen-year-old daughter, Grey, has a terrifying vision of an attempted murder and is unexpectedly transported back in time, The Society is propelled into a frantic search to locate her before she alters history and is lost forever. The only problem is no one knows where or when she went.

Summoned into action, society traveler Colin Maxwell is assigned with the seemingly impossible task of locating Grey somewhere in time. With Grey’s life in danger, his identity as a natural time traveler threatened, and human history at risk, Colin faces a multitude of obstacles from drunken pirates to a tyrannical monarch as he travels through the past looking for Grey and protecting our time line from irreparable damage before it's too late.

Tzalaran
Posts: 53
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:30 pm
Location: Lincoln, NE
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Tzalaran » December 16th, 2009, 11:05 am

Your revision is much more clear, however the first two paragraphs are all set up. Backstory.

If the main character is Colin, he needs to be introduced right away and instead of telling about his adventures, show those adventures. Tie Colin's association with the Society into his time traveling abilities, and explain why he must rescue Grey. what is in it for him, or what does he stand to lose if he fails? Show how he begins the search for Grey, and you might want to explain why she is so important/ how she can alter the past and change the present.

This sounds like a book my sons would enjoy, but your query isn't doing it justice right now. focus on the story as much as possible, and leave the set up for the actual novel.

e.g., 'When time traveler Colin Maxwell is assigned with finding Society leader Christopher Hawkins' thirteen year old daughter Grey, the lie about artifacts needing to be shielded from the elements to prevent fading and decay are revealed to be a cheap magician's trick. The remnants of antiquity are actually portals through time, and the Society has worked for centuries to ensure that these relics don't fall into the wrong hands and destroy human history.' - This type of revision would open up the possibility to show Colin's adventure to find Grey more than you currently do, and hits most of the main points that you bring up.

hope this helps.
I'd rather hate myself for failing, than hate my life for never having tried.
"Success leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to failure." - Vlad Taltos

skottk
Posts: 12
Joined: December 15th, 2009, 5:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by skottk » December 16th, 2009, 3:54 pm

Shannon wrote:Again, I would like to thank everyone for their feedback.

Here's R1:

Everything about museums is a lie. The world’s most powerful organization, known only as The Society, controls the museums of the world. One of their best cover ups of all time is that artifacts must be shielded from the elements to prevent fading and decay. The ropes and glass used to “protect” artifacts are just a cheap magician’s trick. The truth is artifacts are vessels used for time travel. Anyone who touches one might accidentally be whisked back in time. In the wrong hands, human history could be destroyed.

When society leader Christopher Hawkins’ thirteen-year-old daughter, Grey, has a terrifying vision of an attempted murder and is unexpectedly transported back in time, The Society is propelled into a frantic search to locate her before she alters history and is lost forever. The only problem is no one knows where or when she went.

Summoned into action, society traveler Colin Maxwell is assigned with the seemingly impossible task of locating Grey somewhere in time. With Grey’s life in danger, his identity as a natural time traveler threatened, and human history at risk, Colin faces a multitude of obstacles from drunken pirates to a tyrannical monarch as he travels through the past looking for Grey and protecting our time line from irreparable damage before it's too late.
I couldn't figure out what I'm missing here, so I'm trying Nathans Query Mad Libs exercise from last year: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html.

Grey Hawkins is the thirteen-year-old daughter of the leader of the Society, a clandestine organization dedicated to concealing the truth that the museum artifacts are vessels for time travel. After a terrifying vision of an attempted murder, Grey inadvertently touches [something] and is transported backward in time, endangering not only her own life but all of human history. Colin Maxwell is the Society Traveler charged with finding Grey. He fights drunken pirates and a tyrannical monarch and protects our time line from irreparable damage before it's too late.

After that, I think I can tell you what I'm missing - it's the conflict. There's danger and a rescue - is there an enemy? Is the conflict Grey/Colin v. Nature, in that Grey's time travel will cause damage just because she's doing it? Compare with Back to the Future, where the damage to the future is character-driven - Marty screws up his future by being cooler than his dad, so he has to repair it by making his dad cooler. You may have this in your story, but it's not coming out here.
Also - could have come up with this without all the effort - what about the attempted murder? Does it happen? Is it important and relevant?
And a final premise question: if museum artifacts are so powerful, why do museums store them out in public behind velvet ropes instead of in locked rooms in remote mountain hideaways?

Still intrigued,
SK

User avatar
Shannon
Posts: 10
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 9:10 am
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Query Help: Museum Chronicles

Post by Shannon » December 17th, 2009, 2:32 am

Thank you for the feedback. Back to the drawing board.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest