HillaryJ wrote:Following is Version Three of this query. I'm working on my second revision of the complete story now and plan to query soon, so any feedback (particularly likes/dislikes) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time, folks.
War Witch Callista Shea was born to stand between gentle witches and those who would harm them. But a refusal to kill an unarmed opponent at the Council’s orders has left her shunned and relegated to living among normals (There are good, but, I'm wondering if there might be a better way to say this. It tells us she's basically a good person: she wants to protect the innocent, and refused to kill an unarmed opponent just because she was told to do so. Saying this a little more bluntly might make it sparkle a bit more? Maybe?) Now an advisor to the FBI’s paranormal sub-agency in Seattle, she examines crime scenes for illegal uses of magic. Her training has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to the tropes of city life and has the dating acumen of a cavewoman. (I think using specific examples for these would be better. If she can't figure out how to turn the computer, always tries to walk across the street when she isn't supposed to, say those things. Also, maybe use some sort of fantasy and/or paranormal creature instead of cavewoman? Cave troll, maybe?)
Her plan for blending with normals is interrupted by the brutal slaying of two witches. ('Interrupted' is not a strong enough verb here. She's painted as a moral, but kind of helpless-in-the-real-world character. Saying her plans are interrupted seems like an understatement. If she really cares about protecting people so much as you said in the first line, wouldn't she be, I don't know, horrified, or anxious to find the killer? It would seem more consistent and make me like her more if you followed through on her passions. That's what's making this story sound good. If she cares, we care.) War Witches protect their kind, and Callista’s power and aggression grow when fueled by her coven’s fear. As an advisor, she’s supposed to remain on the sidelines, but her frustration grows as the normal Agents fail to find a suspect. When Callista discovers the killer is collecting power by sacrificing paranormals, she is compelled to act. (This is following through on the passion she has, but it reads a little too passive, I think. I'd suggest rewriting these lines completely and try to show her frustration as the agency fails, so we will be right there with her as she decides to start hunting him herself. Get rid of passive phrases like 'power and aggression grow', 'frustration grows', 'compelled to act.' Tight, concise sentences showing the agency failed, the link she makes about the evil motives of the killer, and her push to go after him herself will make this so much better. But the killer is protected by dark magic illusions and reanimated soldiers, and Callista’s first solo hunt becomes a fight for survival.(I like the last sentence, specifically the image of reanimated soldiers.)
HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
I'm not usually into urban fantasy, but I like this. What I like most is that it doesn't sound like chic-lit with angels and vampires instead of shoes and boys. I mean, it doesn't have that really common voice that you see really often. It focuses instead on a character that seems to care about important things
(like protecting innocent people), which makes it harder not to care about her.
The passive phrases need to go, though. It should make the query flow much better. Also, hopefully, make the character shine a little more.
I like this though. I think it has a lot of promise. I would like to see the revisions for this.