Query Critique - The Volatiles

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Nessa
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Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Nessa » December 24th, 2009, 6:39 pm

****** UPDATED VERSION, SCROLL DOWN :)********


Ok guys so I was nervous in putting this up, because maybe it’s really bad but I am giving it a shot :) Be rough and tell me if it sucks. I lurked on these forums a while and finally joined. This YA Fantasy novel is called The Volatiles. Thanks you for taking your time to read it guys.

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Dear Superb agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet uncontrollable gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, Braden has complete control over something he does not fully understand.

When Braden is orphaned, he meets a man that understands his ability. Lucifer Cornelius offers to teach Braden the trade if Braden accepts to join the Volatiles. Braden accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. After years of hard work and lessons Braden is finally ready for his first mission. On his first trip with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the web of lies and tricks that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl that has a mind that is more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

(My personal information)
Last edited by Nessa on December 24th, 2009, 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tzalaran
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Tzalaran » December 24th, 2009, 9:38 pm

Just my perspective, take what helps and ignore what doesn't. :)
Nessa wrote:
Dear Superb agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet uncontrollable gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, Braden has complete control over something he does not fully understand. First he has an uncontrollable power, then he has complete control over it. contradictory. sporadic, or untrained would fit better than uncontrollable, or rework it so that you make it clear that he isn't in full possession of this ability, but that he can dominate others once he gains control.

When Braden is orphaned, he meets a man that understands his ability. Lucifer Cornelius offers to teach Braden the trade if Braden accepts to join the Volatiles. Braden accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. After years of hard work and lessons Braden is finally ready for his first mission. On his first trip with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds. This comes off flat to me. The premise solid, but it is very clinical, not much passion to the paragraph. This is where the fantastic element of your query needs to unfold and grab the agent, and this just doesn't grab me as well as it could. Breathe life into it and you'll be golden. Does he eagerly accept? i understand what happens, but i get no sense of the character.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the web of lies and tricks that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl that has a mind that is more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan. Once again, solid but flat. The plot sounds interesting, but the words themselves are bland. i see potential in Braden coming to disagree with this group who took him in, indoctrinated him in nefarious plots, and he grows to rebel against their values, but this paragraph doesn't show me how the character grows, or the choices he must face. i don't get a sense of the stakes, or why it is hard for Braden to break free of this dark society.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

(My personal information)
i think if you focus on making the reader care about Braden and the choices that he makes, you will be much better off in the query. Show us how going from orphaned to having this family makes the decision to help his mark a huge moral dilemma. Hint at what the secrets he uncovers will mean, and why the girl is so important to the group other than that she's just uber-powerful. What can she give them that Braden (i really like that name btw) feels he must prevent.

I see the basic plot here, but you need to show me the story. The best way to do that is by focusing on the protagonist and antagonist, the stakes, and the choices. Hope this helps.
I'd rather hate myself for failing, than hate my life for never having tried.
"Success leads to stagnation. Stagnation leads to failure." - Vlad Taltos

Nessa
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Nessa » December 24th, 2009, 9:52 pm

SCROLL DOWN DOWN DOWN TO THE BOTTM FOR THE VERY NEW VERSION!! Thanks for your suggestions! Here is an updated version. I didn't notice that my hook was a little but messed up. You start missing those little nasties when you have your eyes glued to this query for days...

Dear Superb agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet untrained gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, Braden can only destruct if his power is not honed.

When Braden is orphaned, he meets a man that understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the trade. Lucifer Cornelius offers to teach Braden the trade if Braden joins the Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. After years of hard work and lessons Braden is finally ready. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, but all of that is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

THE VOLATILES is a 90,000 word fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time.

(My personal information)
Last edited by Nessa on December 25th, 2009, 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dakota388
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Dakota388 » December 25th, 2009, 10:48 am

Nessa wrote:Thanks for your suggestions! Here is an updated version. I didn't notice that my hook was a little but messed up. You start missing those little nasties when you have your eyes glued to this query for days...

Dear Superb agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet untrained gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, Braden can only destruct if his power is not honed. I'm not completely sold on this sentence. I'm not sure why. It may be too vague, or passive. Maybe something more to the point like "Able to manipulate and shut down minds, his untrained power killed his own sister and threatens to kill a lot more..." (Not great, but just a quick example). Not that he killed his sister but something that shows me how destructive his power is. It doesn't have to be a whole paragraph or anything but something that makes me say, "Wow, that is dangerous. I hope he figures it out."

When Braden is orphanedDid his parents die? Disappear? That detail might increase the power of this sentence. But be careful not to introduce a bunch more questions unless they can be tied to the end of the query. (Like if Lucifer killed his parents or something. "When Braden's parents are murdered, he turns to a man that understands his ability..." , he meets a man that understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the trade. Lucifer Cornelius teaches Braden the trade but in return Braden must join his band of Volitiles. (Just a thought).offers to teach Braden the trade if Braden joins the Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. For years, Braden struggles with their training until finally he feels ready... I'm just trying to keep things from happening to Braden and make him do things. After years of hard work and lessons Braden is finally ready. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl.I like the story. I am already routing for him. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Cool.Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, with Lucifer probing his mind at every step, he may have to sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life to.../color]all of that is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

THE VOLATILES is a 90,000 word fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time.

(My personal information)


I think it sounds like a good story. My comments are purely suggestions. I am a rank amateur so accept my advice at your own peril.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

Nessa
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Nessa » December 25th, 2009, 11:00 am

THE NEWEST VERSION IS AT THE BOTTOM!

Thanks so much Dakota! I don't think you are new to this, your suggestions were very very helpful!! Thank you!
Here is the newest version guys. Sorry I am redoing this so many times I am just uncovering so many new things that you guys helped out with. Oh and also Dakota, his parents are murdured by Lucifer but Braden blames the killing on himself and his powers after a major argument.. I didn't want to make the quesry too complex. I know that I have been told not to take everyones advice but the advice you guys gave me is really helpful. Thanks!

Dear Agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet untrained gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, his untrained power already killed his best friend and threatens everyone around him if it is not honed.

When Braden’s parents are murdered he turns to a man who understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the trade. Lucifer Cornelius teaches Braden the trade but in return Braden must join the band of Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. For years, Braden struggles with harsh training until finally Lucifer feels he is ready. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, but all of that is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

(My personal information)
Last edited by Nessa on December 25th, 2009, 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dakota388
Posts: 55
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 11:17 pm
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Dakota388 » December 25th, 2009, 11:46 am

Nessa wrote:Thanks so much Dakota! I don't think you are new to this, your suggestions were very very helpful!! Thank you!
Here is the newest version guys. Sorry I am redoing this so many times I am just uncovering so many new things that you guys helped out with. Oh and also Dakota, his parents are murdured by Lucifer but Braden blames the killing on himself and his powers after a major argument.. I didn't want to make the quesry too complex. I know that I have been told not to take everyones advice but the advice you guys gave me is really helpful. Thanks!

Dear Agent,

Braden first discovered his powerful, yet untrained gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, his untrained power already (I think it is smoother without already) killed his best friend and threatens everyone around him if it is (not needed since we are still talking about the power) not honed.

When Braden’s parents are murdered he turns to a man who understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the trade. Lucifer Cornelius teaches Braden the trade but in return Braden must join the band of Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image. For years, Braden struggles with the Volitiles'harsh training until finally Lucifer feels he is ready. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile, Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than the Volatiles put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, but all of that a personal preference of mine is to not say things like "but all of that..." I think the sentence could be better if you found a way to be specific. You've already told us what all of that is in the previous sentence so by saying all of that, seems repetitive. IMHO. To me, it's kind of like saying, "and all of those things I told you before are important because..." Something like... "His mission to save her is complicated by Lucifer's probing of his mind..." See how much more specific that is. I'm not saying to use that but you see what I mean.is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

(My personal information)
Let some of the others here give you more advice before you change your query too much. Try to take the common suggestions of each response. Otherwise, you will find yourself changing your query after each person replies and you will slowly lose your own vision. Something that sounds good or bad to me may sound great to someone else. Try to get a few replies and take the common suggestions to make them your own. Since today is Christmas, you may need to give this site a few days before people have a chance to weigh in. I guess what I am saying is to take this as a marathon not a race. I have been working on my query since July and have yet to get a single request from an agent. (You can see it here if you'd like. It is for my book called The Light of Epertase). My latest query has only been sent out once (and rejected) but I will wait until the new year to bother the other agents.
So, what I am suggesting is to take our advice, rewrite your query as you feel is needed, and then sit on it for a couple of days. When you look at it with fresh eyes, you will see things you didn't see before.

I hope this helps. Good luck.
"The Light of Epertase"-A fantasy novel coming August 1st from Rhemalda Publishing

Nessa
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Nessa » December 25th, 2009, 10:11 pm

Thanks guys. I have taken time off for the day and returned and mingled with my query. I hope it makes much better sense now.

To a Superp Agent, (Inserts name)

Braden first discovered his gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, his untrained power killed his best friend and threatens everyone around him if it is not honed.

When Braden’s parents are murdered he turns to a man who understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the skill. Lucifer Cornelius says that he will teach Braden under one circumstance. Braden must join the band of feared Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the organization founded by Lucifer. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than all the Volatiles’ put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, but all of that is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time,

(My personal information)

Madaboutstories
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by Madaboutstories » January 3rd, 2010, 8:40 pm

I love the line "not knowing the secrets that hide behind the image." Succinct and telling-well done. You have a great voice. I'm only confused by the girl not being able to protect herself if she is more powerful. Is she just naive?
To read a story is to breathe life into society-real or imagined, yet the imagined comes out of the truth.

Laura Hyatt

saskia
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Re: Query Critique - The Volatiles

Post by saskia » January 4th, 2010, 6:57 pm

Nessa,

I think that your query is good in the way of being concise and the info that it conveys. But I think it is still too flat and needs to be livelier in the writing. Just my 2 cents you can take it for what it’s worth.

Good luck,
Some more specific comments:


Braden first discovered his gift of hypnosis at a very young age. Able to manipulate and shut down minds, his untrained power killed his best friend and threatens everyone around him if it is not honed.


I think the above paragraph is too flat and needs more juice. The ideas are good but the tone seems flat to me. I think you should look at some hooks that are livelier to get some ideas. I think you can find some on query tracker.


When Braden’s parents are murdered he turns to a man who understands his ability and his want for the knowledge of the skill. The phrase “want for the knowledge of the skill” seems clunky to me. Lucifer Cornelius says that he will teach Braden under one circumstance. (why not join these two sentences? It makes it flow better) Braden must join the band of feared Volatiles. Braden eagerly accepts, not knowing the secrets that hide behind the organization founded by Lucifer. On his first mission with a fellow Volatile Braden discovers the dark truth about the clan. They are blood-thirsty assassins, playing tricks with minds.

I don’t like the adjectives in the paragraph above: feared, eagerly, dark, blood-thirsty. Not to be mean but I think they are so ordinary and I think the paragraph works better without them.

Braden soon finds himself involved in the world of lies that the Volatiles carry with their identities, until he is ordered to shut down one little girl. A little girl whose mind is potentially more powerful than all the Volatiles’ put together. Braden is on a desperate run to save the girl, and uncover the truths of the clan, but all of that is not so easy when he has Lucifer probing his mind every step of the way. Braden must sacrifice his own powers and possibly his life, in order to protect the little girl and destroy the Volatiles.

The Volatiles is a 90,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is available upon request.

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