A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version, Page 4*

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katbrauer
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *Updated*

Post by katbrauer » July 12th, 2010, 4:58 am

Heather B wrote: Control will be theirs; it’s time for the humans to be back on top. Deathling’s hold inconceivable power that has diseased the human mind with paranoia. These magical creatures have to be reigned in and managed brought under control – it’s irrelevant that they were human once, because every man knows deathlings are dangerous (use a stronger word, especially since you repeat it in the third paragraph).

Corvette O’Connor is outspoken, admired, and extremely pro-human. But on her seventeenth birthday she wakes a banshee (I find this awkward) and her world shatters as quickly as glass when she screams. Suddenly Corvette is one of the despised, rejected by her family and friends. Only her best friend Liz, despite the bigotry against deathlings, is excited about the change.

All Corvette wants is to be the center of attention again. It’s not until she meets Blaine, a dangerous and sexy deathling, that she realises sometimes it’s better to be inconspicuous. Deathlings are being murdered, and with every spirit found, another human becomes immortal. Corvette is close to finding (stronger word) the person behind the attacks when she uncovers a plan to turn Life into Death. It’s then that Liz and Blaine disappear and Corvette is faced with an impossible choice; save Blaine’s life or save Liz’s soul. (Oooh, that's a great problem! ...er, you know what I mean.)

A LIFE IN DEATH is my completed, 85,000 word young adult fantasy novel. It will appeal to fans of Richelle Mead’s strong, female protagonists and just about any fantasy reader that has, at some point, felt the crushing pressure of social rejection.
I don't think you need the first paragraph. If you adjust the second, adding a word here and there to explain the idea of "deathlings" and how they're hated by regular humans, then it's unnecessary. I also think you might want to add in a clause or two about Liz's excitement, as her interest and the reasons behind it is unclear.

:) Kat
:) Kat
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sarramaria
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by sarramaria » July 12th, 2010, 7:54 pm

Control will be theirs; it’s time for the humans to be back on top. Deathling’s hold inconceivable power that has diseased the human mind with paranoia. These magical creatures have to be reigned in and managed – it’s irrelevant they were human once, because every man knows deathlings are dangerous.
I'm not sure about opening with this. I think the next part about Corvette is much more interesting, so jump right into it. Also, I don't completely understand what a "deathling" is and what their role in society is. I understand that they are dangerous and hold power, but what do they do? Is a Deathling the same thing as a banshee? And how does someone become one of them? Just randomly?
Only her best friend Liz, despite the bigotry against deathlings, is excited about the change.
Is her friend "excited" about the change? Or just accepting? Supportive? If she's truly excited, then maybe leave out the "bigotry against deathlings" part in this sentence since we already know people don't like them from your earlier paragraph.
Corvette is close to finding the person behind the attacks when she uncovers a plan to turn Life into Death.
This is unclear. Are you talking about turning humans into deathlings?
A LIFE IN DEATH is my completed, 85,000 word young adult fantasy novel. It will appeal to fans of Richelle Mead’s strong, female protagonists and just about any fantasy reader that has, at some point, felt the crushing pressure of social rejection.
I really like this ending where you give a specific example of the kind of readers who will like your book.

Overall, I think you have a strong query, but maybe think about taking out the first paragraph and clarifying who or what the deathlings are. It definitely sounds like something I'd like to read!

Sarra

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Heather B
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Heather B » July 13th, 2010, 8:24 pm

Thanks Kat and Sarra!
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FK7
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy

Post by FK7 » July 13th, 2010, 9:02 pm

Hello Heather! Thanks for sharing your query! Here's my take on it.
Heather B wrote: Dear …

Magical creatures known as deathlings inhabit the earth; and humans, fearful of their powers and their close link with Death are left with one option for a normal life: eradicate them. It doesn’t matter that deathlings were human once – or that most of them still look human now. This is not the right place for this paragraph. Exposition isn't a bad thing, but QueryShark & Miss Snark, among others, suggest your first paragraph brings your MC forward immediately so we know whom this story concerns. Otherwise, we just can't relate or care.

Corvette O’Connor is outspoken, fierce and firmly on the side of humans. As the most popular person at her school she never considers turning to be an option – until it happens. This is not clear. By turning I suppose you mean turning into a deathling? Do people do it by choice? Why would they? What do they have to offer? Since we don't know what she could turn into or what the choice entails, it's difficult to care about her decision or to feel the shock when she actually turns On her seventeenth birthday she wakes as a banshee and suddenly her world shatters as quickly as glass when she screams. I don't know what a banshee is. Shattering like glass is also a clichéd metaphor, try to make your own or invent a new one that conveys the same message and that could convey a voice as well! She loses her golden popularity as her both her family and friends turn their back on her. Why do they turn their back on her? How did she end up turning in a banshee? Is that the reason? Again, the conflict you are setting up we can't relate to because we don't understand the stakes yet. Corvette is left with only the support of her best friend Liz who, despite the prejudice against deathlings, is able to overcome the shock of Corvette turning.

It’s not until Corvette gains the attention of Blaine, a strikingly handsome and seemingly dangerous deathling that she learns how to move between Life and Death – the place human’s souls go when they die. As a banshee, Corvette is expected to help with this transition but her inquisitive nature takes her on a more dangerous path. Too general. Since we still don't know what Banshees do or how they do it, I can't relate. She stumbles upon a pile of dead fairies, witnesses humans becoming immortal and uncovers a plan to turn Life into Death. I don't know why you capitalize Life and Death. I suppose they're either names of people or life and death in general is so important to the people of this world that they capitalize it? I also don't understand what turning Life into Death means... a genocide? holocaust? It’s just as she's close to finding the one behind it all that Liz and Blaine go missing. Now Corvette has to choose between saving Blaine’s life or saving Liz’s soul.

A LIFE IN DEATH is my completed no need for comma 85,000 word young adult you can use the YA shortcut to streamline the flow a bit more fantasy novel set between the stages of Life and Death. It will appeal to fans of Richelle Mead’s strong, female protagonists, who have a subjective view of right and wrong and just about any fantasy reader that has, at some point, felt the crushing pressure of social rejection. Punctuation is out of whack here. I don't know Richelle Mead's work so I can't say if the comparison is accurate, but you should stop there. Whether your MC is a strong protagonist will be left for the agent to decide and subjective view of right and wrong is also very general and doesn't convey voice or originality.

<Insert personalisation here>

Sincerely, …
This isn't a bad query, but it needs work. You are too much in your head and you allude to things we can't possibly know or understand without some explaining.
-The link between Banshees and Deathlings is not clear, if there is any.
-You don't explain what a Deathling or a Banshee is exactly... sounds like a banshee is an angel and a deathling is a vampire from the vibe I got? You mention Banshee help in the transition to death, but not what their role is. Since we don't know what these creatures do (except that they're magical) we don't know or care
-The conflict appears to be Corvette's turning, but the stakes don't show up until much later when the sexy deathling and bestfriend disappear. Since we don't know why a family would frown on a Banshee, we don't really understand (therefore care) about Corvette's situation.

My suggestions would be to:
-Take out 1st paragraph, present Corvette immediatly
-In one sentence, explain the role of banshees and their links with deathlings
-There are flow and punctuation issues which you need to fix

You have a good premise and clearly your world building is solid! You just need some distance so you can better explain what your novel is about. As it is now there's too much that's unexplained and convoluted.

I hope this helps!

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Heather B
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Heather B » July 13th, 2010, 11:07 pm

Thanks heaps, FK7. It's really hard to step back and critique your own work so the in-depth analysis is much appreciated. I haven't explained what a banshee is because I (wrongly) assumed people were familiar with them - thanks for bringing that to my attention.

And it's back to the drawing board again. :D
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FK7
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by FK7 » July 13th, 2010, 11:42 pm

I've heard of Banshees and last I remembered they were some kind of Amazonians... but I'm really unsure!

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Heather B
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Heather B » July 14th, 2010, 4:44 am

Ha Ha, they're Irish folk lore. Spirits that take human form, usually a woman. They presage a death by wailing. Mine are slightly different but that's the general description.
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Margo » July 14th, 2010, 10:42 am

Heather B wrote:Ha Ha, they're Irish folk lore. Spirits that take human form, usually a woman. They presage a death by wailing. Mine are slightly different but that's the general description.
Hi, Heather.

Actually, the banshee concept is not that obscure, even for people who have never encountered Celtic folklore. We have the cliche 'screaming like a banshee' and even an 80's band with banshee in the name. There are actually quite a few pop culture references to banshees. Of course, many fantasy fans would know the banshee, because so much fantasy is based on Celtic myth and folklore. I'd suggest, if you feel you should define it, that adding something very brief like "...a banshee, a female spirit whose cry (wail, wailing) presages death..."

Good luck with this.
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Quill
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Quill » July 14th, 2010, 11:00 am

Heather, I didn't know what they were. Thanks for explaining.

Now I'm in the hip crowd, too.

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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Margo » July 14th, 2010, 12:20 pm

Quill wrote:Heather, I didn't know what they were. Thanks for explaining.

Now I'm in the hip crowd, too.
I'm amazed. Out of curiosity I texted a few friends who read fantasy. Six for six, all knew.

I would hope an agent who specializes in fantasy would know this, from the fantasy and even sci-fi books borrowing from Celtic lore (Pratchett for gosh sakes), from the comic book series, from the numerous cliche references in pop culture that actually use the term in context, but maybe you can't count on it after all.

<shuffles off in deep depression about modern education and shaking fist> Get off my lawn!
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Margo » July 14th, 2010, 12:42 pm

It occurs to me that perhaps the banshee confusion could be an advantage for you, Heather. It means it hasn't been done to death like vamps, weres, angels, and demons.
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Heather B
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Heather B » July 14th, 2010, 6:31 pm

Margo wrote:
<shuffles off in deep depression about modern education and shaking fist> Get off my lawn!
Ha Ha I believe this is my lawn.
Margo wrote:It occurs to me that perhaps the banshee confusion could be an advantage for you, Heather. It means it hasn't been done to death like vamps, weres, angels, and demons.
And that's what I'm hoping for. As far as I know there aren't any current books (bar one, grr...) that focuses on a banshee protagonist. And in the one exception, she calls it the proper Bean Sidhe.

In the query I'm working on, I'm thinking of omitting the banshee part, just to streamline things. A deathling is any magical creature in my world so I'm just going to focus on that. (Hopefully)
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Margo » July 14th, 2010, 10:44 pm

Heather B wrote:
Margo wrote:
<shuffles off in deep depression about modern education and shaking fist> Get off my lawn!
Ha Ha I believe this is my lawn.
LOL. Actually I just meant that I'm feeling old and cranky again, not that I'm laying claim to your landscape. :)
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Quill
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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Quill » July 14th, 2010, 10:48 pm

Referring to that Clint Eastwood movie, huh. Gran Torino.

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Re: A life in Death - YA Fantasy *New Version*

Post by Margo » July 14th, 2010, 11:06 pm

Quill wrote:Referring to that Clint Eastwood movie, huh. Gran Torino.
Go ahead. Water my lawn.

Sorry, wrong movie. Dirty Harriet.
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