Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

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Joel Q
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Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

Post by Joel Q » May 22nd, 2010, 8:41 pm

4th Version is on the second page



Here's a quick first draft of a query, for a fantasy novel.
- - -

When a wizard lays claim to Vitara’s life, in order to suck it dry to continue his immortality, Vitara has little chance to escape before the next full moon.

The town’s people shun and beat him because of the curse he has brought to them. Even his friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a side effect of the wizard’s spell.

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to survive and save the town. The beating and attempted murder did leave physical scars, which give Vitara an idea. In order destroy the wizard’s plan, Vitara must give himself away, literally—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a shell of man. Nothing for the wizard to take.

But is giving away his life enough to conquer the magic?

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.
Last edited by Joel Q on June 2nd, 2010, 9:29 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am

Post by WilliamMJones » May 22nd, 2010, 10:50 pm

Joel Q wrote:Here's a quick first draft of a query, for a fantasy novel.
- - -

When a wizard lays claim to Vitara’s life, in order to suck it dry to continue his immortality, Vitara has little chance to escape before the next full moon.This is an interesting hook.

The town’s people shun and beat him because of the curse he has brought to them. What curse? Does it have to do with the wizard? You might want to be more specific. Even his friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a side effect of the wizard’s spell. I had thought Vitara was locked up, since he couldn't escape. How could the town's people get to him? If he isn't locked up, why can't he escape?

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to survive and save the town. The beating and attempted murder did leave physical scars, which give Vitara an idea. In order destroy the wizard’s plan, Vitara must give himself away, literally—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a shell of man. I'm not really sure what you mean here. How is he giving himself away? Is he just sacraficing random body parts. Is he doing something to help the town while sacraficing himself? Nothing for the wizard to take.

But is giving away his life enough to conquer the magic? I don't know about other agents, but Nathan hates rhetorical questions. You might want to restate this part.

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel. It might be a good idea to add some personalized sentance about the agent you're querying.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am

Post by Quill » May 22nd, 2010, 11:26 pm

Joel Q wrote:When a wizard lays claim to Vitara’s life, in order to suck it dry to continue his immortality,
Why Vitara?
Vitara has little chance to escape before the next full moon.
Why then?
The town’s people
Or townspeople?
shun and beat him
If one is beaten is one truly shunned? I thought shunning was like avoiding or banishing.
because of the curse he has brought to them.
What curse?
Even his friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a side effect of the wizard’s spell.

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to survive
If he knows he can't die, then survival is not an issue, is it?
and save the town.
From what?
The beating and attempted murder did leave physical scars, which give Vitara an idea.

In order destroy the wizard’s plan,
The wizard's plan to do what?
Vitara must give himself away,
To whom?
literally—piece by piece, limb by limb—
He has his organs and limbs cut off and out of him? Gross.
until there’s nothing left of him but a shell of man.
What exactly is a shell of (a) man?
Nothing for the wizard to take.
The wizard wouldn't want the shell?
But is giving away his life enough to conquer the magic?
How can he give away his life if he can't die (due to the spell...)?

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am /2nd Version

Post by Joel Q » May 24th, 2010, 1:16 pm

This should answer some of those comments/suggestions. Thanks for the input.

- - -
When Vitara tries to stop a wizard from killing a friend, the wizard relinquishes him. But magically lays claim to Vitara’s life instead. The wizard gives Vitara one month before he’ll return to suck the life force out of his body, to continue his own immortality.

The townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement—one life every generation for protection over the town. They fear the wizard will retaliate because of the situation. Even Vitara’s friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell.

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to save the town. The beating and attempted murder left physical scars. And the spells other side effect—Vitara can take on the deformities and diseases of others, a magical exchange. If the enchanted bond between the two can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard, but only if Vitara can give himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man.

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 2nd Version

Post by wilderness » May 26th, 2010, 4:07 pm

Joel Q wrote:
- - -
When Vitara tries to stop a wizard from killing a friend, the wizard relinquishes him. Who does the wizard relinquish? Vitara or his friend? But magically lays claim to Vitara’s life instead. I don't understand what that sentence means. The next sentence explains the curse better. The wizard gives Vitara one month before he’ll return to suck the life force out of his body, to continue his own immortality.

The townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement—one life every generation for protection over the town. They fear the wizard will retaliate because of the situation. Even Vitara’s friend tries to kill him. Is this the friend from the first paragraph? Maybe you should name him/her. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell.

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to save the town. The beating and attempted murder left physical scars. This doesn't quite flow from the previous sentence. And the spell has another s other side effect—Vitara can take on the deformities and diseases of others, a magical exchange. If the enchanted bond between the two can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard, huh? but only if Vitara can give himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man. Last part of the sentence is interesting but the first part is confusing.

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.
I think you've got an interesting hook here, but there are still sentences that don't make a lot of sense to me. Also, I'd like to see some more personality and motivation. Why did Vitara's friend not support him when Vitara saved his life? Why does Vitara suddenly want to save the town? How does he know that giving himself away limb by limb will solve the curse?

Hope that helps!

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am /2nd Version

Post by ceiser » May 26th, 2010, 6:48 pm

Hi, Joel Q. Looks like you're making progress. Here are my impressions. I hope they're helpful.
Joel Q wrote:This should answer some of those comments/suggestions. Thanks for the input.

- - -
When Vitara tries to stop a wizard from killing a friend, the wizard relinquishes him. But magically lays claim to Vitara’s life instead. These two sentences could be combined and simplified I think and "relinquish" doesn't feel right. What you want to say is something like: When Vitara prevents a wizard from killing his friend, he becomes the wizard's victim himself. But... The wizard gives Vitara one month before he’ll return to suck the life force out of his body, to continue his own immortality. Why does he do this? The way this reads, I'm asking myself why the wizard just doesn't do it now and get it over with. That, of course would mean no novel, so having a good reason is important. Does the magic take that long because it's so complicated? Is the wizard's ego on par with that of super villains and their preoccupation with death traps (that never work)?

The townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement—one life every generation for protection over the town. They fear the wizard will retaliate because of the situation. But the arrangement is still going according to plan, since Vitara is the new sacrifice, right? I'm a bit confused. Even Vitara’s friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell.

Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to save the town. So now we've moved to real danger? It almost feels like the wizard retaliated because the townspeople thought he would, but I may be crazy. The beating and attempted murder left physical scars. And the spells needs an apostrophe: spell's other side effect—Vitara can take on the deformities and diseases of others, in? a magical exchange. If the enchanted bond between the two can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard, but only if Vitara can give himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man.

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 2nd Version

Post by theWallflower » May 27th, 2010, 11:35 am

When Vitara tries to stop a wizard from killing a friend, the wizard relinquishes him. But magically lays claim to Vitara’s life instead. The wizard gives Vitara one month before he’ll return to suck the life force out of his body, to continue his own immortality.
-the wizard "relinquishes" him? Huh? "relinquish" means to give up something physically
-why one month?
-why does the wizard have to retreat?
-why doesn't Vitara just kill the wizard then and there?
-Why did the wizard want to kill his friend?
The townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement—one life every generation for protection over the town. They fear the wizard will retaliate because of the situation. Even Vitara’s friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell.
-shun and beat is redundant
-is the "one life for protection" think why Vitara tried to stop the wizard? If so, that needs to be at the beginning.
-"they fear... situation" is cuttable. The only important thing is the consequences to the characters
-these two paragraphs need to be combined. The important thing is that the wizard cast a spell on Vitara, and because of that spell, he is immortal. That sets up the plot.
Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to save the town. The beating and attempted murder left physical scars. And the spells other side effect—Vitara can take on the deformities and diseases of others, a magical exchange. If the enchanted bond between the two can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard, but only if Vitara can give himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man.
-tense change in first sentence
-do the deformities and disease last forever or do they go away?
-this sounds like a horror novel. A guy has to dismember himself to live? I don’t really get it. What is Vitara's goal? Is he trying to kill the wizard? How is he going to do it? What obstacles does he face? Is there anyone trying to stop him? How does dismembering himself make him sick and dying? People can live a long time with no limbs.
-I need more plot and less premise. You need to say what the sequence of events is after the inciting incident.
With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.
-how many words? That might make a difference in where you market it and how you write the query.
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 2nd Version

Post by Joel Q » May 27th, 2010, 4:59 pm

3rd Version

Ya'll have ask a lot of good questions, but to answer them all this would turn into a synopsis.
What I'm trying to get at is... Vitara and wizard are connected by a spell. the Wizard will get Vitara's life force, what ever that might be. Vitara knows this, so he trades his health for those who are deformed, sick and dying. Not much left for the wizard, Vitara's hoping it will be enough to kill him.

- - - -

When Vitara tries to stop a wizard from killing a friend, he becomes the wizard’s victim instead. The wizard casts a spell on Vitara and gives him one month before he’ll return to suck the life force out of Vitara’s body, and use it to nourish his own fading immortality.

The townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement with the wizard—one life every generation for protection over the town. Even Vitara’s friend tries to kill him. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell. Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to try to kill the wizard and save the town.

The beating and attempted murder left physical scars. And the spell’s other side effect—Vitara can magically exchange his health for the birth defects, wounds and diseases of others. If the enchanted bond between Vitara and the wizard can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard when he returns. But only if Vitara can give himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man.

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 3rd Version

Post by Margo » May 27th, 2010, 6:35 pm

Joel,

Lots of the information in the last version you posted seems pretty important for the query. Big improvement, I think.

Two suggestions.

1)Mention what the wizard is protecting the town from and what will happen without that protection.

2)I can't stress enough that it needs to be realllly clear why the wizard can't just kill your hero right then and there. Otherwise, it would look like the classic Bond-villain mistake. "Instead of killing you painfully and easily right now and being 100% sure you will not ruin my plan later, I am going to bind you to a needlessly complicated machine of death that looks a lot like the old Mouse Trap game, leave you completely unguarded, and enjoy pointless leisure activities instead of setting off my doomsday device immediately."

Anyway, good luck with the project and the query.
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 2nd Version

Post by WilliamMJones » May 27th, 2010, 11:29 pm

The story idea is very interesting, and the query has gotten alot better since the first draft. I do think there are two weak sentances that could be improved.
Joel Q wrote:Self pity only lasts so long before Vitara decides he wants to try to kill the wizard and save the town.
This sentance is just kind of akward. It feels like it throws off the flow of the letter, if that makes any sense.
Joel Q wrote:And the spell’s other side effect—Vitara can magically exchange his health for the birth defects, wounds and diseases of others.
You might be able to right this as a more active sentance. Rather than say "The spell also does this," you could say "When Vitara learns that the spell also does this, he..."

Other than those two parts it's a good query.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 2nd Version

Post by wilderness » May 28th, 2010, 3:42 pm

Joel Q wrote:3rd Version

Ya'll have ask a lot of good questions, but to answer them all this would turn into a synopsis.
What I'm trying to get at is... Vitara and wizard are connected by a spell. the Wizard will get Vitara's life force, what ever that might be. Vitara knows this, so he trades his health for those who are deformed, sick and dying. Not much left for the wizard, Vitara's hoping it will be enough to kill him.
All of the questions posed above are a result of two main problems I see with your query:

1. Clarity: Although you don't need to include every detail of your plot, the ones you do provide should make sense to the reader. This has actually improved a lot in your latest version, but there are still places where I don't follow your logic. For example, this "Vitara knows this, so he trades his health for those who are deformed, sick and dying. Not much left for the wizard, Vitara's hoping it will be enough to kill him" is actually a clearer description of what Vitara is trying to do than the words you use in the query. But it's not clear how he came up with the idea either. There has to be a logical flow.

2. Motivation: So you're not just writing a random series of events, you have to provide motivation. I don't understand the villain's, Vitara's, or Vitara's friend's motivations. Otherwise, like Margo indicated with her Bond comparison, your reader won't find the story believable enough.

Your query is your own of course, but there is a reason why people are asking all of the questions. Hope that helps!

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 3rd Version

Post by J. T. SHEA » May 28th, 2010, 6:35 pm

When a writer explains his story informally, it sometimes makes more sense than the formal query. That may be the case here. Why not develop the query from your informal description? Something like:-

Once in every generation (TOWN NAME) sacrifices a single life to a powerful wizard (NAME?). The wizard gains continuing immortality. The town gains his continuing protection.

Until Vitara (LAST NAME?)'s closest friend is chosen for the sacrifice. Vitara interferes, defying the wizard, his fellow townspeople, and ancient custom. He saves his friend from the wizard. He is rewarded with hatred, from the wizard, the town, and even his friend.

Still fearing the wizard, the townspeople beat and shun Vitara. His friend tries to kill him. And the wizard seeks even more than Vitara's life. He wants Vitara's very life force, the only thing that can now keep the wizard alive.

So Vitara decides to sacrifice himself, but not to the Wizard. He strives to give away his life force to deformed, sick and dying people, and thereby kill the wizard and save even the ungrateful town.

Sorry if I've guessed any details wrong. Incidentally feminine names often end in 'a' in several languages. And Vitara is the name of a Suzuki sports utility vehicle.

And Margo, you left out the part where the villain explains his whole plan to Bond in laborious detail!

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 3rd Version

Post by Margo » June 1st, 2010, 12:02 am

J. T. SHEA wrote:And Margo, you left out the part where the villain explains his whole plan to Bond in laborious detail!
Indeed, how could I have forgotten?!? I wonder if Bond would ever foil the villain without detailed instructions on the weak points in the evil plan. If you haven't already, I suggest reading the rules for being an evil overlord. Funny and true. If I ever decide to take over the world, I'm going to commit them to memory.
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 3rd Version

Post by Joel Q » June 2nd, 2010, 9:28 pm

4th version

Does this answer some of the hanging questions? Thanks for the help.


When newcomer Vitara tries to stop the wizard from killing a friend, he becomes the wizard’s victim instead and is put under a spell. The wizard will return at midnight on the next full moon, the only time the he can take a sacrifice, to absorb the life force out of Vitara’s body.

Once in every generation the Port of Blue allows a dark wizard to take a life, which he uses to nourish his fading immortality. In exchange the wizard protects the port from pirates and other wizards, but mostly from himself.

In the mean time, the townspeople shun and beat Vitara because he interfered with the long standing arrangement. They fear the wizard might release his protection or kill them all. Even Vitara’s friend tries to stick a sword into his heart. That’s when Vitara discovers he can’t die, a preservation side effect of the wizard’s spell.

When Vitara aides a wounded child, he accidentally discovers another side effect of the spell, can magically exchange his health for the wounds, birth defects and diseases of others. The beating, attempted murder and exchange left his body with physical scars, which gives him an idea to save the townspeople from more deaths.

If the enchanted bond between Vitara and the wizard can’t be broken there’s a chance to kill the wizard when he returns. But only if Vitara can give enough of himself away—piece by piece, limb by limb—until there’s nothing left of him but a sick, crippled, dying man.

(But only if he can survive the narcissistic monologue of how the wizard will kill him, has captured the spirit of the town and now has plans to start a chain of oppressed towns and rule them with small squirrel-like minions. :-)

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.
Last edited by Joel Q on June 2nd, 2010, 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

Post by Quill » June 2nd, 2010, 9:41 pm

Now, that is a morbid tale. Very dark stuff there.

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