Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

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ocelott
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Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by ocelott » April 27th, 2010, 7:22 pm

Guess it's my turn. Be harsh, please. Rip me a new one.

[personalized agent greeting here]

In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son. Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) than anyone expected and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her. Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected when a feral assassin comes hunting her. With the help of one of the king’s advisors, she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down, and once he tells the king who she really is, has all the resources he needs to catch her.

THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.

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Quill
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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by Quill » April 27th, 2010, 8:57 pm

I like the premise.
ocelott wrote:
In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son.
A promising opening.
Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) than anyone expected
Confusion afflicts my feeble brain here. Are you saying he believes the courtesan is a courtesan? What else would he think she is? Why say this? And why say "anyone expected" when you've just said the king secretly hired her. Who would the "anyone" be, then, besides the king? Who else would have expected anything?
and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her.
I'm still liking it despite the aforementioned need for greater clarity (and despite this seeming none too original a story point)(prince or princess wants to marry down). I think it's the voice I like so far...
Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected
This is fine but I don't think you can credibly repeat "anyone expected". And it isn't any more specific here. Who expected anything of her? Also, it seems you are making her the main character, especially considering your book title. If so, this sure is a roundabout way to do it, sneaking her onto center stage late in the query after introducing her as a seemingly supporting character (to the king and prince). You might have to revise to somehow emphasize her earlier.
when a feral assassin comes hunting her.
What the heck is a feral assassin? A guy who's eschewed his table manners? I'm thinking of a feral cat that has lived in the wild and lost domesticity.
With the help of one of the king’s advisors,
Omit as an unimportant detail for the query.
she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down,
Okay.
and once he tells the king who she really is, has all the resources he needs to catch her.
I think you might want to up the ante and say more about who she is. And, better clarify and strengthen your second clause here. Once the assassin tells, he has resources? How, does the king tell him something? What does the king know?
THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.
I like it. I'm thinking the political part needs to be amped up a bit, and integrated more with the S&S aspect. You've done that to some degree, but like, more about the political possible consequences of the actions.

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Regan Leigh
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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by Regan Leigh » April 27th, 2010, 10:02 pm

I'm new at queries, so grain of salt...

ocelott wrote:Guess it's my turn. Be harsh, please. Rip me a new one.

[personalized agent greeting here]

In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son. "the king"? What king? This sentence and opening is very abrupt and made me go, huh?? Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) <I don't like the way you structured this sentence... than anyone expected and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her. <Feels like it should be two sentences. It's too mushed together and I don't retain the info well. Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected when a feral assassin comes hunting her. With the help of one of the king’s advisors, she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down, and once he tells the king who she really is, has all the resources he needs to catch her.

THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.
Overall I just felt like there wasn't enough to this query. It's rushed and vague. There wasn't anything for me to connect with. I'd also like to hear more of your writing voice instead of the quick book summary. I'm sure you love this story and feel good about it. Show that in your description. Make others love it or get invested in it with you.

And it needs to be longer, imo. Don't have to give away the ending, but answer more questions. Specifically the golden questions... (that I learned via AW threads)

1. What does your protagonist want?
2. What does s/he have to do to get it?
3. What happens if s/he fails to get what she wants? (the stakes)

Good luck!
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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by Krista G. » April 28th, 2010, 12:54 am

ocelott wrote:In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son. Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) than anyone expected and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her. I agree with Quill here - who exactly is the "anyone" in this sentence? Sounds like you're falling back on a stock phrase rather than putting words together yourself. This would be a great place to insert a world-building simile: "Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya [I'd eliminate the parenthetical] than a one-armed jouster from his horse," or whatever. Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected when a feral assassin comes hunting her. There's that pesky "anyone" again. And she proves to be more what? With the help of one of the king’s advisors, she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down, and once he tells the king who she really is, has all the resources he needs to catch her. This plot twist probably works well in the manuscript, but I'd like a clearer picture of it here. You don't have to give everything away, mind you, but the summary seems to cut off a bit abruptly. And what is the prince doing while the girl of his dreams is running for her life?

THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.
So I definitely like your concept, but there's just not enough summary here for me to get a good sense of the story. You definitely have room to add some words, so you might try fleshing it out a bit. Also, like Quill, I can't help but wonder who the MC is. If it's Katya, the query should open with her, and be from her perspective.

Good luck with this.
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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by NWolfe » April 28th, 2010, 3:33 am

ocelott wrote:
[personalized agent greeting here] (Everything I've read says to start with the story, then do the personalized greeting.)

In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son. Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) than anyone expected and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her. (This is a really long sentence. I've underlined it to drive the point home.) Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected ("Proves to be more than anyone expected" is a really awkward construction. I'm not even sure what you mean by it.) when a feral assassin comes hunting her. With the help of one of the king’s advisors, she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down, and once he tells the king who she really is (I'm hardly an expert, but a query is not the place where you want to be playing coy about important details. Come out and say who she is.), has all the resources he needs to catch her.

THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.
You know how a sound file suffers when you compress it too much?

That's this query.

Brevity is important, there's no question. But you've gone too far in that direction; concision is very unhelpful when it obscures important information.

Make it longer. I'm betting this is the first time those words have been uttered in this forum.

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wilderness
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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by wilderness » April 28th, 2010, 2:54 pm

You're probably the first person I've advised to make your query LONGER.

Seriously fantastic job in compressing the main plot and conflict of your story. We've got the plot down, but I think you could maybe add a few details to give it heart and voice. Try to give it the same tone as your pages.

Good luck!

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Re: Fantasy Query - THE COURTESAN'S BLADE

Post by theWallflower » April 28th, 2010, 4:24 pm

In an attempt to avoid any more scandals in a politically unstable kingdom, the king secretly hires a courtesan to occupy his wild son. Prince Anton, known for his drinking and indiscriminate sex with courtiers, falls harder for Katya (who he believes is merely a servant girl) than anyone expected and takes his obsession to the point of defying his father and threatening to give up his privileged life to marry her. Katya, however, proves to be more than anyone expected when a feral assassin comes hunting her. With the help of one of the king’s advisors, she escapes the castle, but the assassin is determined to chase her down, and once he tells the king who she really is, has all the resources he needs to catch her.
-I like the concept, sounds sexy, but I agree with wilderness. You suffer from over-summarization. Too much condensation. You can tell because your sentences run on and are too long. Plus your opening hook is not terribly catchy. You've got 129 words for 4 sentences. That's 32 words/sentence (avg), and that's a lot.
-I'd start with the second sentence, and clean it up to show, not tell, who Prince Anton is (give an incident where something he did had consequences).
-What's a feral assassin? Sounds like a contradiction in terms. Feral means wild, boisterous, not smooth and stealthy like an assassin should be. Otherwise, you're just a murderer.
-I'm confused who the main character is. You started with Anton, then focused on Katya's conflict. I need to know who the main protagonist is. I know what problems they both face, but I don't know what they're going to do about it. You give a hint in the last sentence, but it's too vague.
THE COURTESAN’S BLADE is a 98,000 word fantasy, a blend of swords and sorcery with politics.


-I should be able to tell what it's about from the synopsis. No need to list it here. Also, I feel that mixing swords & sorcery with politics is a hard sell. First, politics is an integral part of any society, whether it's governmental or social. Second, most people read fantasy to *escape* from the world because of things like politics.
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