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Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 23rd, 2010, 10:31 pm
by Quill
Probably best to remove the comma after Soldiers of Life. Last tiny tweakage.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 23rd, 2010, 11:01 pm
by thewhipslip
I kind of like the pause there...but someone else said to remove it too. Hmm, I'll consider. Thanks, Quill!

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 23rd, 2010, 11:11 pm
by Quill
That's funny. I've liked the pause there, too. Then I thought it shouldn't be there. Hell with shouldn't. You decide.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 10:51 am
by stephmcgee
I think it's really well done. I'm on the fence about the comma between the Soldiers of Life and the Soldiers of Death. The pause can work, but on the other hand you never know how an agent's going to take that comma. The great unknown of the human factor in querying. The only nitpick I have is "fantasy novel." I think the agents are going to know you're querying a novel, regardless of genre. It might be one of those things like "fiction novel," that is a given. Well done overall.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 4:37 pm
by arbraun
thewhipslip wrote:Seventeen-year-old Thea Vans will do anything to protect her best friend, Tully. That’s why she’ll never speak to him again. Intriguing opener.

Thea can hurt or heal with a single touch. One touch causes nosebleeds, hives, projectile vomiting. Another cures colds, mends broken legs, or brings blissful sleep. She’s always hidden her abilities from everyone except her guardian uncle but that was before Left-Hander, the new and inexplicable voice in her head. And Left-Hander controls the powers now. Interesting. I'd use two hyphens for a dash and not have spaces between.

Unfortunately for Thea, Left-Hander prefers hurting to healing. Thea can’t stop her when she decides to punish someone - and it doesn’t take much to annoy Left-Hander. Nice eerie touch. Good specifity.

Before she can figure out just who – or what – Left-Hander is, a group of teenagers with powers identical to Thea’s hurt side turn the high school hangout into their feeding ground. Thea convinces Left-Hander to fight them, but doing so lands her in the middle of a society that Americans know nothing about. A world that her uncle kept hidden from her, where she’s a weapon of mass destruction in the war between the soldiers of Life, and the soldiers of Death. I'd delete "hurt side" as it reads awkwardly and doesn't add anything to the sentence.

Tully’s injured in the attack and only the soldiers of Life can heal him. Who are the soldiers of Life? And why is only "Life" capitalized? Why not "soldiers" also? If Thea can hide her abilities, maybe they’ll both make it through alive.

If Left-Hander cooperates.

THE WHIP-SLIP is a young adult fantasy novel complete at 90,000 words. This will fit well alongside the works of your clients xxx & xxxx.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 10:18 pm
by thewhipslip
Thanks, ar and steph!

I'm wondering if this would help clarify:

Before she can figure out just who – or what – Left-Hander is, a group of teenagers with powers identical to Thea’s attack the local park. Thea convinces Left-Hander to fight them, but doing so lands her in the middle of a society that Americans know nothing about. A world that her uncle kept hidden from her, where she’s a weapon of mass destruction in the war between the soldiers of Life (the healing side of her) and the soldiers of Death (the hurting side of her).


Thoughts anyone?

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 26th, 2010, 12:14 am
by stephmcgee
I think that one could definitely work. I'm not sure it needs parentheses. Maybe just commas to set it off.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 28th, 2010, 1:46 pm
by thewhipslip
This is another attempt (I know, I know, I'm obsessing) - I want to see if it's better:


The students and faculty of Waltham High School have had a lot of incidents lately – broken legs, allergic reactions, nosebleeds, heart palpitations – and they’re beginning to think 17-year-old Thea Vans has something to do with it.

They’re not wrong.

Thea’s always been able to hurt or heal with a single touch. Bruises, hives, projectile vomiting. Another touch cures colds, mends broken legs, or brings blissful sleep. Not even her best friend, Tully, knew about the powers – until Left-Hander came along, the new and inexplicable voice in her head. And Left-Hander controls the powers now.

Unfortunately for Thea, Left-Hander prefers hurting to healing. Thea can’t stop her when she decides to punish someone - and it doesn’t take much to annoy Left-Hander.

Before she can figure out just who – or what – Left-Hander is, a group of teenagers with powers identical to Thea’s attack the local park. Thea convinces Left-Hander to fight them, but doing so lands her in the middle of a war between the soldiers of Life and the soldiers of Death. A war where Thea is the weapon of mass destruction.

If either side finds out what she is, thousands will die – but her best friend is injured in the attack on the park and taken by the soldiers of Life. Thea follows with the hope that if she hides her abilities, maybe they’ll both make it through alive.

If Left-Hander can cooperate.

THE WHIP-SLIP is a young adult fantasy complete at 90,000 words. This will fit well alongside the works of your clients xxx & xxxx.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 28th, 2010, 3:24 pm
by Preacher
i actually like this query. I wonder, however, if the first sentence can be changed and read something like, "There has been a rash of broken legs, allergic reactions, nosebleeds and heart palpitations at Waltham High, and they're beginning to think 17 year old Thea Vans has something to do with it." It is probably just me and a structural thing. To me it reads a little better in that construct but, again, it is probably a personal preference thing. I also wonder if maybe we need to have a hint as to why they think she is responsible.

The rest of the query reads nicely for me. It sets up all the things i would think should be there and gives us the stakes.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 28th, 2010, 3:39 pm
by arbraun
It's been my experience that the "weapon of mass destruction" might be seen by agents as cliche or too vague. I liked everything else though.

Hope this helps.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 28th, 2010, 9:27 pm
by Quill
I like previous openings better. This one reads like an evening news report.

Also, what do you mean by the teens attack the local park? They go after the trees with ball bats? Trash the water fountain? Smash the paving blocks with sledgehammers?

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 30th, 2010, 9:14 am
by thewhipslip
Here's my newest version:

Seventeen-year-old Thea Vans will do anything to protect her best friend, Tully. That’s why she’ll never speak to him again.

Thea’s always hidden her ability to heal or infect with a single touch – but the powers don’t belong to her anymore. Left-Hander, the new and inexplicable voice in her head has taken control, and unfortunately for Thea, she’s got a two-year-old’s temperament. A few cases of hives, broken legs, projectile vomiting, and heart palpitations all with Thea at the scene have put her in the spotlight at school – and now Tully thinks she’s possessed.

Thea would argue, but she knows nothing about her origins or who Left-Hander is, thanks to her guardian’s lack of blab. She doesn’t know that the teenagers who reawaken dead eels at the local waterway and sic them on a crowd of high schoolers are called The Whips, soldiers of Death.

Thea’s reward for fighting the Whips and saving her classmates is information: the Whips and Slips (the soldiers of Life) have been fighting for centuries, and their greatest weapon is Thea, whose set of powers could be used to kill thousands. Run-and-hide would be a smart move –

Except Tully’s injured in the waterway attack and is taken to the Slip base to heal. Thea’s got no choice but to follow and make sure he makes it out alive. Good thing the Slips don’t realize she’s got some Whip in her too. If she can just control her powers, maybe she and Tully can make it out alive.

As long as Left-Hander cooperates.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 30th, 2010, 1:39 pm
by arbraun
thewhipslip wrote:Here's my newest version:

Seventeen-year-old Thea Vans will do anything to protect her best friend, Tully. That’s why she’ll never speak to him again.

Thea’s always hidden her ability to heal or infect with a single touch – but the powers don’t belong to her anymore. Left-Hander, the new and inexplicable voice in her head Comma has taken control, and Comma after "and," not before unfortunately for Thea, she’s got a two-year-old’s temperament. A few cases of hives, broken legs, projectile vomiting, and heart palpitations all with Thea at the scene have put her in the spotlight at school – and now Tully thinks she’s possessed. Do you really want your protag' to have a two year old's temperament?

Thea would argue, but she knows nothing about her origins or who Left-Hander is, thanks to her guardian’s lack of blab. She doesn’t know that the teenagers who reawaken dead eels at the local waterway and sic them on a crowd of high schoolers are called The Whips, soldiers of Death. Very nice detail here.

Thea’s reward for fighting the Whips and saving her classmates is information: the Whips and Slips (the soldiers of Life) have been fighting for centuries, and their greatest weapon is Thea, whose set of powers could be used to kill thousands. Run-and-hide would be a smart move –

Except Tully’s injured in the waterway attack and is taken to the Slip base to heal. Thea’s got no choice but to follow and make sure he makes it out alive. Good thing the Slips don’t realize she’s got some Whip in her too. If she can just control her powers, maybe she and Tully can make it out alive.

As long as Left-Hander cooperates.
This is much better and much more specific. Good job.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 30th, 2010, 5:30 pm
by elfspirit
This is a huge improvement. Congratulations for persisting. It gives me hope:)

In this version, the psychological complexities and torments Thea endures become more intriguing. This is a book I would definitely read.

Re: The Whip-Slip query

Posted: September 30th, 2010, 5:54 pm
by Quill
thewhipslip wrote:Here's my newest version:

Seventeen-year-old Thea Vans will do anything to protect her best friend, Tully. That’s why she’ll never speak to him again.

Thea’s always hidden her ability to heal or infect with a single touch – but the powers don’t belong to her anymore. Left-Hander, the new and inexplicable voice in her head has taken control, and unfortunately for Thea, she’s got a two-year-old’s temperament. A few cases of hives, broken legs, projectile vomiting, and heart palpitations all with Thea at the scene have put her in the spotlight at school – and now Tully thinks she’s possessed.
I liked the simplicity of some of the previous versions of this paragraph. Here it takes some thinking to connect "cases" with Thea. And there's potential confusion with the two "she's" in the paragraph, neither immediately clear if referring to Thea or to Left (I think the first is Left and the second to Thea). The other thing is that Tully and Thea are so close in word length and spelling that I first thought it was Thea thinking herself possessed (which would make sense).
Thea would argue, but she knows nothing about her origins
Thea knows nothing of her own origins? Is there a question about whether or not she emerged from her mother's womb? Is this something she wonders about and has reason to believe she knows nothing about?
or who Left-Hander is, thanks to her guardian’s lack of blab.
Lack of blab? Is this more or less the voice of the novel? It feels loose for a query.
She doesn’t know that the teenagers who reawaken dead eels at the local waterway and sic them on a crowd of high schoolers
Dead eels after high schoolers? Are the schoolers in the waterway swimming? Is the "local waterway" a canal or something?
are called The Whips, soldiers of Death.
Before, it was intriguingly ambiguous, but it seems you wish to spell out this soldiers thing more. Wondering now whether this teen gang are really soldiers of the actual mythic figure Death, the guy with the scythe? Or what.
Thea’s reward for fighting the Whips and saving her classmates is information: the Whips and Slips (the soldiers of Life) have been fighting for centuries,
So it's sort of a spiritual war somehow manifesting through teens and eels and such? Who do the soldiers of Life serve, Life itself? Wondering what this war is about, what's it over, and why teens?
and their greatest weapon is Thea, whose set of powers could be used to kill thousands.
Missing the poetic and current-speak "weapon of mass destruction" which evoked volumes without saying too much. "Greatest weapon" and "set of powers" doesn't particularly ring, and seems tepid. Could be just me.
Run-and-hide would be a smart move –
This strikes me as cliche, and doesn't give much info. Sounds like an author aside although I'm thinking it's supposed to be an interjection from Thea's mind.
Except Tully’s injured in the waterway attack and is taken to the Slip base to heal. Thea’s got no choice but to follow and make sure he makes it out alive.
Why does she have no choice in this matter? Why would she question his ability to make it out, aren't the Slips the good guys?
Good thing the Slips don’t realize she’s got some Whip in her too. If she can just control her powers, maybe she and Tully can make it out alive.
Do you really think it wise to say "make it out alive" twice?
As long as Left-Hander cooperates.
Wouldn't it be more dramatic to say "If Left-Hander..."

Also, why would we doubt this? I mean, you said, in effect, Left-Hander is a two-year-old. And while you've implied Left has the power, it doesn't seem there's been any real impediment from Left since the beginning of this query.