Query: Defender of the Crown

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gilesth
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Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 11th, 2010, 1:08 pm

This is the newest version of the query I want to send out for my novel. I've done several revisions before, and I've gotten AWESOME help from you guys here. Thanks for taking a look at it :)

Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, though, he creates magical lightning storm that takes the life of a bully from his school. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he moves to the the capitol and enrolls in the Magi Academy. On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson, is also enrolled at the Academy, and they share a classroom. Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture, the two become fast friends.

While practicing his one evening at his aunt’s restaurant, Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Since Joselyn is his first real friend, though, he refuses to let anyone take her away. With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to stop the Archduke from killing the Queen. Her disloyal bodyguard intercepts Nicholas, and when the mage tries to overpower him, Nicholas is forced to decide whether he’ll lay down and die or let his wild magic take the lives of the men who would kill his best friend.

DEFENDER OF THE CROWN is a young adult fantasy, complete at 79,000 words.

--------------

Thanks again :D

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HillaryJ
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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by HillaryJ » May 11th, 2010, 1:27 pm

gilesth wrote:
Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone.*good hook* At the age of thirteen, though, he creates magical lightning storm that takes the life of a bully from his school. *this is passive, considering the act. Maybe, At the age of thirteen, defending himself from a school bully, he sparks a lightning storm (I think the magic would be implied here), killing the boy.* Unable to control his power and terrified of hurting anyone else, he moves to the the capitol and enrolls in the Magi Academy. *This is his choice? Is there no ruling body that would require he do so, following that act?* On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson, is also enrolled at the Academy *cut:, and they share a classroom. If they become friends, they obviously are spending some time together, and this just slows down the pace of the query* Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture, the two become fast friends.

While practicing his one evening at his aunt’s restaurant *check this sentence. Think you're missing a key noun*, Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Since Joselyn is his first real friend, though, he refuses to let anyone take her away. With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to stop the *Archduke's plot*. Her disloyal bodyguard intercepts Nicholas, and when the mage tries to overpower him, Nicholas is forced to decide whether he’ll lay down and die or let his wild magic take the lives of the men who would kill his best friend.

DEFENDER OF THE CROWN is a young adult fantasy, complete at 79,000 words.

--------------

Thanks again :D
That last sentence is 41 words long (!) and the action in it is a little bland (intercepts, overpower). It doesn't give me the life or death feel it should. Maybe something like: Caught by the bodyguard, Nicholas is forced to fight for his life, and as his magic rages around him, he must decide whether Joselyn is worth killing for. Or something like that.

Good luck!
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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 11th, 2010, 1:29 pm

That helps! :D I shall revise.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 11th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Okay, so how's this?

Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, though, he sparks lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the the capitol to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson, is also enrolled at the Academy. Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture, the two become fast friends.

While practicing one evening at his aunt’s restaurant, Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Since Joselyn is his first real friend, though, he refuses to let anyone take her away. With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to save the Queen. Before Nicholas can stop the Archduke, the disloyal bodyguard throws the boy through a window to the palace lawns. In a fight for Joselyn’s life, Nicholas must decide whether he’ll lay down and die or use his wild magic kill once more.

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HillaryJ
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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by HillaryJ » May 11th, 2010, 2:21 pm

gilesth wrote:
Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, though, he sparks lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the the capitol to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson *I find it weird that the Queen's daughter has a last name. Seems unnecessary.*, is also enrolled at the Academy. Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture, the two become fast friends.

While practicing one evening at his aunt’s restaurant, Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Since Joselyn is his first real friend, though, he refuses to let anyone take her away.*This sentence could be a little strong - this time with feeling!* With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to save the Queen. Before Nicholas can stop the Archduke, the disloyal bodyguard throws the boy through a window to the palace lawns. In a fight for Joselyn’s life, Nicholas must decide whether he’ll lay down and die or use his wild magic kill once more.
Better.

I find that reading aloud (and very slowly) helps to catch typos like these. Stock up on Sucrets and water before trying to read your entire novel aloud.
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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 11th, 2010, 2:43 pm

Just the last paragraph this time.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Joselyn is Nicholas’s first real friend, and he won’t let anyone hurt her. With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to save the Queen. Before Nicholas can stop the Archduke, the disloyal bodyguard throws the boy through a window to the palace lawns. In a fight for Joselyn’s life, Nicholas must decide whether he’ll lay down and die or use his wild magic to kill once more.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by wilderness » May 11th, 2010, 4:40 pm

Hi, I'll give it a go:
gilesth wrote:
Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, though, he sparks a lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the the capitol to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson, is also enrolled at the Academy. Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture, the two become fast friends. The ice sculpture comparison doesn't work for me - it seems awkward. I'd rather know why a princess would befriend him.

While practicing one evening at his aunt’s restaurant, Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. Aunt's restaurant seems like a pretty random detail. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack. Why do they want to stop the election? If it is a monarchy, why is there an election? Provide motivation

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Joselyn is Nicholas’s first real friend, and he won’t let anyone hurt her. If Joselyn is his friend, does she believe him? With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to save the Queen. Before Nicholas can stop the Archduke, the disloyal bodyguard throws the boy through a window to the palace lawns. In a fight for Joselyn’s life, Nicholas must decide whether he’ll lay down and die or use his wild magic to kill once more. Your conflict here is the conflict for one scene, not the whole book. Somehow you have to make his struggle to control his powers apply to his whole life.
You've got a plot here, but I think you need to add some personality. I don't really get a sense of Nicholas's or Joselyn's characterizations. What makes them unique? See if you can incorporate your novel's voice.

I hope that helps! Good luck.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by HillaryJ » May 11th, 2010, 6:03 pm

You could add in why Nicholas likes Joselyn so much (she accepted him no matter that he was different or was nice even though she had no cause to be, as royalty), showing both some of her personality and the things he admires.

I got a glimpse of how he works in his unwillingness to hurt others (guess that should be a given for the hero) and in his loyalty to Joselyn. It wouldn't hurt to see more of him in the query, to differentiate him from other characters.

The bit about how he looked like an ice sculpture did seem thrown in, but I don't know that it should be omitted. It certainly sets him apart and shows Joselyn as someone able to overlook even the most obvious differences between people. It would need to be better integrated, or maybe added as the reason the bully was beating him up, so that we know what he looks like.
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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by GeeGee55 » May 12th, 2010, 12:39 am

I think this is quite good. Gives a good idea about what happens in the story. Just needs some tweaking.



Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. Good beginning- At the age of thirteen, though,- this construction seems a bit off and I don't think though is the word you want. Perhaps - But, at the age of thirteen, a school bully threatens him and he causes the boy's death with a magical lightning storm that takes the life of a bully from his school. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he moves to the the capitol of where? and enrolls in the Magi Academy. On his first day of training, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn Jameson, is also enrolled at the Academy, and they share a classroom. Despite Nicholas’s resemblance to a walking ice sculpture- I'm not sure what you mean by comparing him to a walking ice sculture, does he resemble one or is he one?, the two become fast friends.

While practicing his one evening at his aunt’s restaurant,- I don't think you need to mention the restaurant either Nicholas uses his magic to listen in on a conversation between Joselyn’s uncle, the Archduke of Wellia, and the Queen’s new bodyguard. With the country’s first national election only months away, both men believe imply perhaps that the only way to stop it is to kill the Queen and her daughter and then blame a group of anti-royalist rebels for the attack.

No one believes Nicholas when he accuses the Archduke of treason. Since Joselyn is his first real friend, though- you don't need the though, smoother without it, he refuses to let anyone take her away from him. With the future of the country at stake, Nicholas sneaks into the palace to stop the Archduke from killing the Queen. Her disloyal bodyguard intercepts Nicholas, and when the mage ? tries to overpower him, Nicholas is forced to decide whether he’ll lay down and die or let his wild magic take the lives of the men who would kill his best friend.

DEFENDER OF THE CROWN is a young adult fantasy, complete at 79,000 words.

Sounds interesting. Good hero. Good luck with it.

--------------

Thanks again :D[/quote]

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 12th, 2010, 10:22 am

Totally reworked the last paragraphs. Here's what I have now. And it focuses more on the overall plot!

Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, he sparks a lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the city of Lottown to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn, is also enrolled at the Academy. No longer the princess because of her magical talent, she befriends Nicholas.

With skin the color of snow and hair like ice, Nicholas quickly learns that his bully problems are far from over. Still barely able to control his powers, he struggles to keep from killing the trio of older students who love nothing more than beating him up and calling him a freak.

Bullies aren’t the worst of his problems, either. Without an heir, the Queen is putting together a parliament so that she can step down from the throne. However, Nicholas soon learns of two separate plots to kill the Queen before the first national election can take place. One of the assassins is Joselyn’s uncle. He and the Queen’s new bodyguard, a powerful mage, plan to kill Joselyn and the Queen, pin the murders on a group of anti-royalist rebels, and then stop the election from ever happening.

Nicholas won’t let his friend die. When she refuses to believe that her uncle could commit treason, he’s left with few options. His only advantage is his deadly magic. With the future of the nation at stake, Nicholas must decide whether or not he’ll kill again to save his best friend.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by Quill » May 12th, 2010, 10:56 am

gilesth wrote:
Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, he sparks a lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the city of Lottown to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn, is also enrolled at the Academy.
Good so far, but delete "to the city of Lottotown." The fewer names the better.
No longer the princess because of her magical talent, she befriends Nicholas.
Awkward. What you are implying is that because she is no longer the princess because of her talent, she befriends him.
With skin the color of snow and hair like ice, Nicholas quickly learns that his bully problems are far from over.
Awkward again; you leave it to us to piece together the scenario; oh, because his skin is white and his hair is...icy, bullies are attracted to him. Why not say it more clearly. Like, say, "Because his skin and hair...bullies want to beat him up"?
Still barely able to control his powers, he struggles to keep from killing the trio of older students who love nothing more than beating him up and calling him a freak.
Reduce the words needed to convey this info. Delete "who love nothing more" and "calling him a freak" as being weak and necessary. How about "struggles to avoid killing"?
Bullies aren’t the worst of his problems, either.
Third time for the word "bullies" and second for "problems" makes this sentence a non-starter.
Without an heir, the Queen is putting together a parliament so that she can step down from the throne. However, Nicholas soon learns of two separate plots to kill the Queen before the first national election can take place. One of the assassins is Joselyn’s uncle. He and the Queen’s new bodyguard, a powerful mage, plan to kill Joselyn and the Queen, pin the murders on a group of anti-royalist rebels, and then stop the election from ever happening.
Nice summation. Delete "soon" from "soon learns" and "ever" from "ever happening." Those little modifiers are killers.
Nicholas won’t let his friend die.
Author aside (telling, not showing). You probably intend for this to be Nick's resolve talking, but that's not how it comes across.
When she refuses to believe that her uncle could commit treason, he’s left with few options.
In your big finish-up of the query, I think you need stronger sentiments and action than "she refuses to believe" and "he's left with few options."
His only advantage is his deadly magic.
"Only advantage" is dry and awkward, and "deadly" is deadly to the prose. I do like the idea that that's what he must rely upon, and I think you can say this in an exciting, clear way.
With the future of the nation at stake, Nicholas must decide whether or not he’ll kill again to save his best friend.
Okay, how about combining the first and second sentences? "With the future of the nation at stake, his only recourse is magic"? And lose the deciding and the whether or not of it all.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 12th, 2010, 11:54 am

My brain hurts...but I think this is better :)

Dear [agent],

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, he sparks a lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the Magi Academy. On his first day, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn, is also enrolled at the Academy. She and Nicholas work together so closely that they become fast friends.

Because his skin is the color of fresh snow, Nicholas learns that his bully troubles are far from over. Still barely able to control his powers, he struggles to avoid killing the trio of older students who torment him at every turn.

His problems don’t end there. Without an heir, the Queen is putting together a parliament so that she can step down from the throne. However, Nicholas learns of two separate plots to kill the Queen before the first national election can take place. One of the assassins is Joselyn’s uncle. He and the Queen’s new bodyguard, a powerful mage, plan to kill Joselyn and the Queen, pin the murders on a group of anti-royalist rebels, and then stop the election from happening.

With the future of the nation at stake, Nicholas must risk killing again and rely on wild magic to save his best friend.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by gilesth » May 12th, 2010, 3:45 pm

I looked it over, and I think I like this final paragraph better:

With the nation’s future at stake, Nicholas must rely on wild magic to save his best friend. Even if that means risking another man's life.

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by Quill » May 12th, 2010, 3:52 pm

Hey, the new version is MUCH better. Good going!

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Re: Query: Defender of the Crown

Post by theWallflower » May 12th, 2010, 4:47 pm

Nicholas Benson never meant to kill anyone. At the age of thirteen, he sparks a lightning storm to defend himself from a schoolyard bully. Unable to control his power, and terrified of hurting anyone else, he agrees to let his parents send him to the city of Lottown to train at the Magi Academy. On his first day, Nicholas is surprised to learn that the Queen’s daughter, Joselyn, is also enrolled at the Academy. No longer the princess because of her magical talent, she befriends Nicholas.
-"sparks"? I'm not sure if I love or hate that word usage as a verb
-The two sentences are obviously related, but not tied together. They should be.
-You could just say she's an ex-princess because of her magical talent. Conserve your words. This also indicates that having magic ability debases you in this society. Is this what you want to communicate
-I didn't know by the end of the paragraph that this is an alternate world. Clear that up quicker. Schoolyard bully is a colloquialism.
-How is he unable to control his power? What more evidence is there?
-"Nicholas is suprised to learn that the" is wordy. Conserve your words. How do they meet?
-There's a lot of back story in this first paragraph. If I was an agent, my interest would be draining, not piquing.
With skin the color of snow and hair like ice, Nicholas quickly learns that his bully problems are far from over. Still barely able to control his powers, he struggles to keep from killing the trio of older students who love nothing more than beating him up and calling him a freak.
-Sounds generic. Is this the whole of the plot?
-What does his appearance have to do with anything? I want an idea of his character.
-And what is "hair like ice"? Is it cold? Blue? Is his hair made of icicles?
-I'd kill this paragraph if I were you. Harry Potter had trouble with bullies too, but Draco rarely made a difference in the central plot of any books until the last.
Bullies aren’t the worst of his problems, either. Without an heir, the Queen is putting together a parliament so that she can step down from the throne. However, Nicholas soon learns of two separate plots to kill the Queen before the first national election can take place. One of the assassins is Joselyn’s uncle. He and the Queen’s new bodyguard, a powerful mage, plan to kill Joselyn and the Queen, pin the murders on a group of anti-royalist rebels, and then stop the election from ever happening.
-"You don't vote for kings (queens)" - King Arthur
-This is still not the plot. You keep bringing out the background, but not what the protagonist is going to do about it. I couldn't tell you one thing that Nicholas Benson has done so far, except electrify a bully, who probably deserved it. You keep saying what might happen, but not what does happen. It's all premise, not plot.
-A parliament won't eliminate the need for a monarch. England still has a queen.
-"He and the Queen's new bodyguard..." is wordy and awkward.
-Is Queen capitalized by itself? Is the Queen?
Nicholas won’t let his friend die. When she refuses to believe that her uncle could commit treason, he’s left with few options. His only advantage is his deadly magic. With the future of the nation at stake, Nicholas must decide whether or not he’ll kill again to save his best friend.
-His friend? You mean the ex-princess? I've already forgotten about her. And when is she in immediate danger of death.
-What is he going to do? Is he going to kill them all with lightning? Sounds like a pretty light plot. Protagonist A encounters an obstacle and overcomes it. Not very exciting.
-His moral quandary is not very exciting. Heroes kill every day. Indiana Jones viciously murdered any number of middle easterners or Germans. He shot a guy in the streets at point blank range in cold blood, while onlookers watched. No one seemed to care.
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