Peer Review of a Query

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Rhonda
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by Rhonda » December 8th, 2009, 12:29 pm

I'm reading this from the standpoint of someone who might buy the book rather than as an agent. I have to say that the story got much more interesting when you described it after others gave you advice than it was in your query letter. I would consider buying it based on the new information. So I think you're on the right track in making changes based on the advice given here so far. Personally, I would not even mention that he killed someone with his magic. That line kind of turned me off of the story right away. And one more thought. I'm not too sure about comparing it to both C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. It may seem silly to many, but to some those two authors are in completely different writing worlds. My personal experience is that liking one, doesn't tend toward liking the other (in my house those authors are comprable to Team Jacob and Team Edward between my kids). If you're going to compare, you might want to pick one or the other. Again, I'm not an agent. Maybe if I were, I would have different thinking.

wickerman
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by wickerman » December 8th, 2009, 12:55 pm

Just to piggy back off of Ms Moore's comments, I think you need a stronger hook.

On his first day at the Magi Academy, Nicholas Benson was shocked to discover that he shared a classroom with Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. As their rigorous training commenced, Nicholas and Joselyn became fast friends.

All of the above is fine, but it doesn't reach out and grab. It isn't bad, it just doesn't set YOUR book apart for a zillion other YA fantasy book queries. Neither sentence gets to the point. The plot and the distrust his friends and schoolmates have for Nicholas are the conflict of the story. The fact that he is going to Magi school and getting chummy with the Queen's daughter is secondary to the meat of the story.

I would say the hit between the eyes is the discovery of Nicholas's previously unrealized magic and the plot it allows him to uncover.

Now how to do that? Good question.

If I was an expert, Nathan and I would be making money together.

As it stands - HE makes money. I post on his message boards!


Good Luck
The shadow of the Wickerman is rising up again...

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Mira
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by Mira » December 8th, 2009, 1:58 pm

Cool - I like the changes. I think you're on the right track. :)

I'd tighten abit more, but I think you are on your way. Don't hesitate to sit with it abit, too. It's okay to let things gel...

Good luck!

gilesth
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by gilesth » December 9th, 2009, 8:50 am

Okay, I think this is the final draft of the new query! Thoughts on improvement, or should I move forward with this one and send it to agents?

Dear Agent,

Nicholas Benson spent most of his life either getting bullied or being shunned by the children in his home town because of his startling resemblance to a walking ice sculpture. That all changed, of course, when he enrolled in the world famous Magi Academy and met Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. As their rigorous training commenced, the two young novices spent a great deal of time together, so they became fast friends. One evening, while the pair practiced their magic, Nicholas’s ability allowed him to listen in on a conversation between two men who intended to kill the Queen and prevent the first national election from being held.

Since one of the conspirators happened to be the Queen’s own brother-in-law, Joselyn refused to believe her new friend when he told her what he heard. Terrified of losing his first and best friend, Nicholas turned to his teacher at the Academy for help, but even that man, wise though he was, found the tale difficult to believe. So rather than wasting time trying to convince everyone that the Queen was in danger, Nicholas took matters into his own hands and decided to sneak into the palace to save the Queen.

Defender of the Crown is a Young Adult Fantasy novel approximately 81,000 words in length. It is my first novel, but I have also begun work on the sequel, tentatively titled The Goblin Incursion.



Again, thank you all!

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ElisabethMoore
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by ElisabethMoore » December 9th, 2009, 5:10 pm

Disclaimer: I am a complete neophyte and my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Something felt off, but I couldn't initially pinpoint the problem; so, I began editing each paragraph, retyping below your original. Having completed that exercise, I think that what bothered me is wordiness. I don't recommend using my edits as is as I have not read the story behind the query and may have completely lost your voice in the process of editing. I was just trying to preserve your word choice and meaning while figuring out what was bothering me about the current draft. I do hope that comparing the two versions will illustrate what I mean by wordiness.
gilesth wrote:Okay, I think this is the final draft of the new query! Thoughts on improvement, or should I move forward with this one and send it to agents?

Dear Agent,

Nicholas Benson spent most of his life either getting bullied or being shunned by the children in his home town because of his startling resemblance to a walking ice sculpture. That all changed, of course, when he enrolled in the world famous Magi Academy and met Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. As their rigorous training commenced, the two young novices spent a great deal of time together, so they became fast friends. One evening, while the pair practiced their magic, Nicholas’s ability allowed him to listen in on a conversation between two men who intended to kill the Queen and prevent the first national election from being held.

Nicholas Benson spent most of his life being either bullied or shunned by the other children. That all changed when he enrolled in the world famous Magi Academy and met Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. During their rigorous training, the two young novices spent a great deal of time together, becoming fast friends. One evening, while the pair practiced, Nicholas magically listened in on a conversation between two men who intended to kill the Queen and prevent the first national election from being held.

Since one of the conspirators happened to be the Queen’s own brother-in-law, Joselyn refused to believe her new friend when he told her what he heard. Terrified of losing his first and best friend, Nicholas turned to his teacher at the Academy for help, but even that man, wise though he was, found the tale difficult to believe. So rather than wasting time trying to convince everyone that the Queen was in danger, Nicholas took matters into his own hands and decided to sneak into the palace to save the Queen.

Because one of the conspirators was the Queen's own brother-in-law, Joselyn refused to believe her new friend when he told her what he heard. Terrified of losing his first and best friend, Nicholas turned to his wisest teacher at the Academy for help, but even he did not believe Nicholas. So, Nicholas took matters into his own hands and sneaked into the palace to save the Queen.

Defender of the Crown is a Young Adult Fantasy novel approximately 81,000 words long. It is my first novel. Stop here. but I have also begun work on the sequel, tentatively titled The Goblin Incursion.



Again, thank you all!

gilesth
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by gilesth » December 16th, 2009, 7:46 pm

Alright, after several MORE revisions, this is what I have come up with...what do you think?

Dear Agent,

Filled with wild magic that threatens to explode out of him and destroy everyone he cares about, Nicholas Benson enrolls in Andere’s world famous Magi Academy to learn how to control his power. Because of his snowy complexion and frost-colored hair, the thirteen year old boy quickly attracts the attention of three older students who take it upon themselves to constantly remind Nicholas that he’s a freak. As his training begins, however, he discovers that he is paired up with none other than Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. Nicholas and Joselyn quickly hit it off, and despite a magical outburst that nearly burns Joselyn alive, they soon become inseparable friends.

That friendship nearly falls apart, though, when Nicholas overhears a disturbing conversation between Joselyn’s uncle and the Queen’s bodyguard. He discovers that the two men intend to assassinate the Queen and her daughter and then blame it on a small group of rebels. When Nicholas tells Joselyn about the conversation, she loses her tempter and insists that, not only would her uncle refuse to risk a civil war by committing treason, he would willingly sacrifice his life to save the Queen. Completely certain of what he heard, Nicholas must now decide whether he’ll pretend that the conversation never happened or risk losing the best friend he’s ever had to make sure Joselyn and the Queen remain alive and safe.

Defender of the Crown is a Young Adult Fantasy novel approximately 81,000 words in length. This is my first novel.

Thanks :D

Alexandra Little
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by Alexandra Little » December 16th, 2009, 9:03 pm

Disclaimer: this is my opinion, and while it may seem harsh I will call it how I see it.
gilesth wrote:Alright, after several MORE revisions, this is what I have come up with...what do you think? I should probably warn that I haven't read any of your past versions.

Dear Agent,

Some agents want title, genre, and word count up here. Adapt it per specific agent's requirements.

Filled with wild magic that threatens to explode out of him and destroy everyone he cares about, Nicholas Benson age? enrolls in Andere’s (Is this a person, as I presumed at first? Is it a country? Did you know that "andere" is the German word for "other"?) world famous Magi Academy to learn how to control his power. Because of his snowy complexion and frost-colored hair, the thirteen year old boy quickly attracts the attention of three older students who take it upon themselves to constantly remind Nicholas that he’s a freak. As his training begins, however, he discovers that he is paired up with none other than Joselyn Jameson, the daughter of the Queen. Nicholas and Joselyn quickly hit it off, and despite a magical outburst that nearly burns Joselyn alive, they soon become inseparable friends.

That friendship nearly falls apart, though, when Nicholas overhears a disturbing conversation between Joselyn’s uncle and the Queen’s bodyguard. He discovers that the two men intend to assassinate the Queen and her daughter and then blame it on a small group of rebels. When Nicholas tells Joselyn about the conversation, she loses her tempter and insists that, not only would her uncle refuse to risk a civil war by committing treason, he would willingly sacrifice his life to save the Queen. Completely certain of what he heard, Nicholas must now decide whether he’ll pretend that the conversation never happened or risk losing the best friend he’s ever had to make sure Joselyn and the Queen remain alive and safe. I have notes on this below.

Defender of the Crown is a Young Adult Fantasy I don't think you capitalize genre novel approximately 81,000 words in length. This is my first novel. Cut last sentence.

Thanks :D
Specific critique: I want to know location and rough time period. Fantasy can be divided into many different subgenres, and in researching for my own novel I've stumbled over agents and editors that would take urban fantasy but not high fantasy, so this is important. Your name choices confuse me further, as they are English/American spellings of Western names and then you throw in "Andere."

General critique: Your query is technically correct. However, I am wondering about the age group and plot. The query reads like upper middle grade or younger young adult, and there seems to be little here to account for 81,000 words. The choice you give Nicholas would (perhaps I should say should) be a no-brainer for a 16/17 year old but not necessarily an 11/12 year old. As it is, choosing between friendship and said friend's death is a weak choice to propel 81,000 words. There must be more involved in your novel, and you need to show it here.
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

Madaboutstories
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by Madaboutstories » December 16th, 2009, 11:13 pm

I agree with Alexandra about the struggle to decide between action and not. It is weak. I'm trying to find a way to rework the sentence because I'm sure it's really not what you mean. Maybe the protag needs to decide who to tell since the princess won't believe, in order to save his friend's life. I like the magic specifics you've added; it really helps shape the protags world/life experience.
Thanks for submitting. I'm learning a lot from the brave souls posting here.
To read a story is to breathe life into society-real or imagined, yet the imagined comes out of the truth.

Laura Hyatt

gilesth
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by gilesth » December 16th, 2009, 11:42 pm

There's actually two other plots that Nic has to work through in this book: he has to learn to stand up to bullies and stop them from picking on him, and he needs to learn how to control his power. I see, now, that I really DO need to reword how I state Nic's personal question because, as far as the book goes, it's not accurate. He actually DOES choose to save the queen regardless of the consequences. As for the age group of the plot, it's for anyone 13 and up. Word count is an issue. If I cut any more of the story, there's no plot left, characters become flat, and the setting descriptions almost completely disappear. But like I said, there's three whole plots in this book.

With that in mind, is there any more advise you can offer before I go back to my revisions? Thanks, again! :D

Alexandra Little
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Re: Peer Review of a Query

Post by Alexandra Little » December 17th, 2009, 12:32 am

gilesth wrote:There's actually two other plots that Nic has to work through in this book: he has to learn to stand up to bullies and stop them from picking on him, and he needs to learn how to control his power. I see, now, that I really DO need to reword how I state Nic's personal question because, as far as the book goes, it's not accurate. He actually DOES choose to save the queen regardless of the consequences. As for the age group of the plot, it's for anyone 13 and up. Word count is an issue. If I cut any more of the story, there's no plot left, characters become flat, and the setting descriptions almost completely disappear. But like I said, there's three whole plots in this book.

With that in mind, is there any more advise you can offer before I go back to my revisions? Thanks, again! :D
No problem =)

Even with the two other plots, I don't necessarily feel they should be included in your query. The plot that involves controlling his power, I think, should be a little more covered since that is his motivation for going to the academy.

If the main plot is saving the queen and Joselyn, then there needs to be a lot more exploration of that in the query. Something along the lines of: he needs to save the Queen, and plans on [doing this] in order to expose the guilt of (or stop) the two men, but [one or two constant adversaries or setbacks] and [his trouble controlling his magic(?)] get in the way. But in a bigger, better organized paragraph than that.
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

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