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

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Ghost in the Machine
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

Post by Ghost in the Machine » June 3rd, 2010, 10:20 am

Hi Joel Q.

This new version does an excellent job explaining the details of the story and clearing up everyone’s questions. But—I know, ugh—the query is now on the long and laborious side. You have the maddening task of striking a balance between clarity and brevity. I’m struggling with this one myself.

I’ll try to find some places to tighten things up.

Suggestion for paragraph one: When newcomer Vitara stops a wizard from killing a friend, the wizard dooms Vitera with a powerful spell. On the next full moon, the wizard can absorb the life force from Vitara’s body.

Once a generation, the townsfolk of Port of Blue allow this dark wizard to take a life. The sacrifice allows the wizard 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.

Comment: There is something off in the transition between paragraphs one and two. I know you want the information in paragraph two. It’s important stuff. But it’s breaking the flow of the narrative you started in paragraph one. Here’s a possible fix:

Suggestion for paragraph two: The townsfolk from the Port of Blue are incensed by Vitara’s interference. Their long-standing agreement with the wizard—one life a generation for town’s protection—must be kept. Without a sacrifice, the wizard will lose his immortality, and the town will suffer.

Comment: The words ‘beat and shun’ have raised a red flag before. I think they sound weird together because ‘shun’ is to purposefully avoid someone to make them feel alone and unwanted, but to beat someone, you can’t ignore them. You are giving them attention, albeit really harmful attention. Again, it’s up to you.

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.

Comment: For your third paragraph, put the sword attack and the wounded child together.

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.

Suggestion: You could tighten up the first sentence above with something like: Vitera realizes his enchanted bond with the wizard is not just a curse, it’s a tool. If Vitera can give enough . . .

Sorry for rewriting so much. I know that sort of critiquing can be perceived negatively. Hopefully it will give you some ideas if you want to shorten your query.

Ghost in the Machine

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 3rd, 2010, 11:08 pm

Does the wizard start his monologue with 'We've been expecting you, Mister Vitara!'? And I do hope the squirrel-like minions get their own spin-off book...

Your latest draft is definitely more informative, Joel Q. I also like Ghost in the Machine's suggestions.

I suggested reversing the order of 'shun and beat' to 'beat and shun' as the townsfolk could beat Vitara and then shun him, always assuming that's what happens in the story.

'...the wizard might release his protection...' Would 'end' his protection sound better?

Vitara's friend could 'thrust' a sword into his heart rather than just 'stick' it. A stronger verb.

'A preservation side effect' sounds awkward to me. What about 'A paradoxical side effect'?

'...another side effect of the spell, can magically exchange...' Should a word like 'he' come after the comma?

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

Post by HillaryJ » June 8th, 2010, 12:35 am

Joel Q wrote:4th version

When newcomer *newcomer to...the world? I think you have to specify locale if you bring someone new there: the city, the quarter or the institution* Vitara tries to stop the wizard from killing a friend, he becomes the wizard’s victim instead and is put under a spell. *passive. I would go so far as to say he hath been cursed* 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 meantime, 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. *I find this whole paragraph awkward. Read it aloud, especially the first sentence.*

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. *This is really interesting, but it also sounds like a depressing read. What, as he is doing this, will hold the reader's interest? Does the town start to come around and believe that, if he's willing to sacrifice his body, they might aid him?*

(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. :-) *Dear God, the tongue-in-cheek horror!)*

With All That I Am is a XXXX word fantasy novel.
I feel that this query keeps backing up and then going forward again, without giving us many details of what happens and why we should care. Vitara sounds like a good person, but I don't get a real feel for him, and I don't get any sense of voice. Also, why is your word count secret? Or, is the ms not complete yet?
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Joel Q
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Re: Query/fantasy - With All That I Am / 4th Version

Post by Joel Q » June 9th, 2010, 6:43 pm

Thanks for everyone's help.

I'll need to think about the 5th version.
The last three replies had some good comments about voice, word choices and tightening the sentences all those final touches.

And no secret, the story is not finished, so no final word count yet.

I'll probably wait to finish the manuscript before I create the "final" query.

Agian, thanks.
JQ

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