Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy (version 2)

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Write2Me
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Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy (version 2)

Post by Write2Me » August 25th, 2010, 1:22 pm

Dear Agent,

Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson had a seemingly normal life until a class assignment turned his life upside down- he now has only one week to live. When Aaren is forced to trace his family’s roots for a history class project, he stumbles across some very disturbing information which might explain why his family keeps moving around the country. An explosive confrontation erupts when he accuses his parents of being liars and criminals, and they finally reveal a secret they've been hiding for years...

He was never adopted.

Rage consumes him as more secrets are exposed, and he snaps after learning of their betrayal. So long curfew! Ignoring all of his parent’s rules, he goes wild, but the fun stops when he starts experiencing severe mood swings and hallucinations. Desperate to uncover the truth about his mysterious past, he embarks on a risky journey where danger lurks around every corner. Aaren must outsmart the drifter who is stalking him, tangle with ruthless ninjas, and escape a team of trained assassins-who want him alive. The questions surrounding his true identity will finally be answered on his fourteenth birthday, when his eyes will be opened to a secret world of immortals and the frightening destiny that awaits him.

Forever Young: The Rebirth is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 64,000 words. The novel combines the action of the Highlander television series, the low fantasy and family drama of Tuck Everlasting, humor, and teen-aged angst of The Catcher in the Rye.

+....Paragraph personalized to Agent and biographical details....

Pierre S.
Address
Email


I've actually queried a bunch of agents and this is like version 10 million and 1 ( ok..not that much but it feels like it). I'm wondering if i need to add, omit, reword, or anything really that will get an agent to want to read the manuscript. All criticism is helpful and wanted, I thank you all for your feedback in advance.
Last edited by Write2Me on August 29th, 2010, 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Meredith
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy

Post by Meredith » August 25th, 2010, 2:02 pm

Write2Me wrote:Dear Agent,

Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson had a seemingly normal life until a class assignment turned his life upside down- he now has only one week to live. When Aaren is forced to trace his family’s roots for a history class project, he stumbles across some very disturbing information which might explain why his family keeps moving around the country. An explosive confrontation erupts when he accuses his parents of being liars and criminals, and they finally reveal a secret they've been hiding for years...

You've got two things seemingly at odds in this paragraph--a seemingly normal life with a family that keeps moving around the country.
Also, in general, this could be tightened up. The "one week to live" feels a little melodramatic here with nothing to support it. The "explosive confrontation" is probably enough without more detail.


He was never adopted.
I have no idea why this should be such a turning point for the character. I'd stick with the confrontation as the catalyst and save the details for the synopsis.

Rage consumes him as more secrets are exposed, and he snaps after learning of their betrayal. So long curfew! Ignoring all of his parent’s rules, he goes wild, but the fun stops when he starts experiencing severe mood swings and hallucinations. I'd lose most of this. "Rage consumes him" is cliche. The mood swings and hallucinations feel like they've come out of left field.Desperate to uncover the truth about his mysterious past, he embarks on a risky journey where danger lurks around every corner. Aaren must outsmart the drifter who is stalking him, tangle with ruthless ninjas, and escape a team of trained assassins-who want him alive. The questions surrounding his true identity will finally be answered on his fourteenth birthday, when his eyes will be opened to a secret world of immortals and the frightening destiny that awaits him. Whatever happened to one week to live?

Forever Young: The Rebirth is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 64,000 words. The novel combines the action of the Highlander television series, the low fantasy and family drama of Tuck Everlasting, humor, and teen-aged angst of The Catcher in the Rye.Skip the comparisons.

+....Paragraph personalized to Agent and biographical details....

Pierre S.
Address
Email


I've actually queried a bunch of agents and this is like version 10 million and 1 ( ok..not that much but it feels like it). I'm wondering if i need to add, omit, reword, or anything really that will get an agent to want to read the manuscript. All criticism is helpful and wanted, I thank you all for your feedback in advance.
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

Joel Q
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy

Post by Joel Q » August 25th, 2010, 4:04 pm

I like what you got going on here.
But I think you could tighten this up.
I also think you need to answer two question, why just 2 weeks to live and why his parents lied about adoption.
Write2Me wrote:Dear Agent,

Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson had a seemingly normal life until a class assignment turned his life upside down-(CUT) he now has only one week to live.MOVEto other paragraph Start the query here....When --Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson--is forced to trace his family’s roots for a history class project, he stumbles across some very disturbing information which might explain why his family keeps moving around the country. An explosive confrontation erupts when he accuses his parents of being liars and criminals, and they finally reveal a secret they've been hiding for years...

He was never adopted. (I really like this... why would parents tell their flesh and blood, he was adopted? To save him from soemthing??? Or is he really theirs? I want to find out. But you leave us hanging with this)

The below paragraph needs to reworked...you got too much info and not enough true plot
Put the 1 week to live in here and the reason why. And answer the adoption question, or at least have Aaren looking for the answer as part of the story...


Rage consumes him as more secrets are exposed, Good, but cliche, rework. and he snaps after learning of their betrayal. So long curfew! Ignoring all of his parent’s rules, he goes wild, but the fun stops when he starts experiencing severe mood swings and hallucinations. Desperate to uncover the truth about his mysterious past, he embarks on a risky journey , Good, but from here the plot gets scrambled/lost.


where danger lurks around every corner. Aaren must outsmart the drifter who is stalking him, tangle with ruthless ninjas, and escape a team of trained assassins-who want him alive. Can you go down to one villian for the query, 3 are too many) The questions surrounding his true identity will finally be answered on his fourteenth birthday, (How does he know this? when his eyes will be opened to a secret world of immortals and the frightening destiny that awaits him.

Is the one week to live related to him turning 14 in one week or is death coming in one week? Or did one of the bad guys tell him one week?

I want to see one or two events that lead him to the dark moment of the story question, and then what's he going to do about it?

Forever Young: The Rebirth is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 64,000 words. The novel combines the action of the Highlander television series, the low fantasy and family drama of Tuck Everlasting, humor, and teen-aged angst of The Catcher in the Rye.

You have some good stuff in here. Rework that paragraph and give us an idea of what Aaren is facing, and what he decideds is his best action.
JQ


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TigerGray
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy

Post by TigerGray » August 25th, 2010, 4:55 pm

Write2Me wrote:Dear Agent,

Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson had a seemingly normal life until a class assignment turned his life upside down- he now has only one week to live. When Aaren is forced to trace his family’s roots for a history class project, he stumbles across some very disturbing information which might explain why his family keeps moving around the country. An explosive confrontation erupts when he accuses his parents of being liars and criminals, and they finally reveal a secret they've been hiding for years... (I feel that there are too many underdeveloped concepts here. I suspect the vague nature of a lot of these statements is an attempt to build suspense, but to me it falls flat because I am frustrated by the lack of logical connection. How does the school assignment lead to the confrontation lead to the never adopted? I have no idea why NOT being adopted would be a problem. I also wonder about family information of that nature being available to a very young man who is doing what really amounts to a throwaway school assignment. The family is picking up and moving because of this, yet it's available after a quick Google search?)

He was never adopted.

Rage consumes him as more secrets are exposed, and he snaps after learning of their betrayal. So long curfew! Ignoring all of his parent’s rules, he goes wild, but the fun stops when he starts experiencing severe mood swings and hallucinations. Desperate to uncover the truth about his mysterious past, he embarks on a risky journey where danger lurks around every corner. Aaren must outsmart the drifter who is stalking him, tangle with ruthless ninjas, and escape a team of trained assassins-who want him alive. The questions surrounding his true identity will finally be answered on his fourteenth birthday, when his eyes will be opened to a secret world of immortals and the frightening destiny that awaits him.

(I think it would be interesting if you mentioned the strange visions in the first paragraph. Perhaps doing so would tie together some of the concepts, though I am still stuck on not being adopted as a problem. Also the word ninjas makes me automatically roll my eyes. It would be funny if it were done in a tone that indicated to me that the story itself was intended such, but you read to me as very serious in this letter. Also expanding on his destiny and so forth is something to think about.)

Forever Young: The Rebirth is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 64,000 words. The novel combines the action of the Highlander television series, the low fantasy and family drama of Tuck Everlasting, humor, and teen-aged angst of The Catcher in the Rye.

(I wouldn't compare your work to such well known, lauded works. It may very well be true, but I think it could come across as arrogant and off putting)

+....Paragraph personalized to Agent and biographical details....

Pierre S.
Address
Email


I've actually queried a bunch of agents and this is like version 10 million and 1 ( ok..not that much but it feels like it). I'm wondering if i need to add, omit, reword, or anything really that will get an agent to want to read the manuscript. All criticism is helpful and wanted, I thank you all for your feedback in advance.
"Who knows themselves better than the blind?' - for every thought becomes a tool." --Luis Borges

http://tigergray.blogspot.com/

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 26th, 2010, 2:47 pm

Thirteen-year-old Aaren has only a week to live. Great opening catch leads nowhere.
He discovers he was never adopted. By his parents? So what?
He goes nuts in several senses of the word. Why? So what?
A drifter stalker? Ninjas? Trained (non-Ninja?) assassins? These could be interesting.
A secret world of immortals? Who? What? Where? How?
I don't mind the comparisons, but do capitalize all titles, including your own.

'Very disturbing information' and 'An explosive confrontation' and 'more secrets are exposed' and 'a risky journey where danger lurks around every corner' and 'the frightening destiny that awaits him' are all vague notions, not steak, not even sizzle. A very common query problem, by the way.

Your query is a bit like a locked-room mystery, with clues scattered about here and there. Unfortunately, Sherlock Holmes isn't an agent. Your story sounds like the nowadays almost archetypal 'Seemingly ordinary teenager discovers he/she is really very important in a world he/she never knew of, and the knowledge could kill him/her'. Which is ok, but try give us more of the story arc, almost a mini-synopsis, in say two paragraphs, or condense a longer synopsis.

In other words, if someone asks you what your novel is about, what do you say? Why should anyone read your novel? Why did you write it. What was the core idea that inspired you?

Give the impression you have an exciting secret you want to share with the agent. But do share more of it. Spoilers are not a problem in queries, unlike in blurbs.

Write2Me
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy

Post by Write2Me » August 29th, 2010, 12:42 pm

Thank you all for the feedback. It's all been extremely helpful. It's hard to criticize your own work. Fresh eyes, without inside knowledge of the workings of the book is exactly what I need to help develop this query.

I've made an attempt to revise it and took many of your suggestions into consideration. Let me know what you think.

Thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson had no idea that a class project would screw up everything in his life. When Aaren is forced to trace his family’s roots for a history class project, he finally decides to take a peek at his adoption records, and discovers that none exist! Confused, he confronts his parents, and they confess to a devastating secret.

Realizing that his parents are liars and criminals, Aaren hurtles down a path of self-destruction, spiralling out of control. Little does Aaren know that his parents were doing him a favor by keeping his true identity from him. On the verge of losing his sanity, he embarks on a risky journey to find his biological parents, but danger lurks around every corner. A drifter is tracking his every move, and a powerful but secretive organization is sending a team of assassins to hunt him down. The details of his past will finally be revealed on his fourteenth birthday, when his eyes will be opened to a secret world of immortals.

An ancient immortal known only as Devagma has been imprisoned for the last thousand years. His imprisonment is nearly over, and he's preparing to resume his devious plans to enslave the human race. Aaren and a few remaining immortals are the only beings on Earth with the abilities to destroy Devagma once and for all. Only problem is, Aaren hasn't decided if humanity is even worth saving.

Forever Young: The Rebirth is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 64,000 words.

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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy (version 2)

Post by mfreivald » August 29th, 2010, 4:02 pm

This applies to the recent version.

As I read through, the detail of his adoptive situation, the nature of his parents, the stalker, assassins, etc. were mostly confusing. But then the revelation that his past is interwoven with immortals was completely disorienting. I think you need to shorten the "adoption angst to search story" way down and get right to the point that he's discovering a world of immortals.

You might try something like:
It was bad enough that thirteen-year-old Aaren Danielson discovered his parents lied about his adoption. But then he finds that he was spirited away from a family of immortals, and now that he has remade contact with them, his life is in danger.

Now you can build the tension of assassins and the impending release of Devagma. I think we need a little more clarity on the nature of that danger and where the assassins come from.

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TigerGray
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy (version 2)

Post by TigerGray » August 29th, 2010, 4:53 pm

For me, the premise just does not work on a base level. The parents are keeping this big secret--and even with the revision I didn't understand that whole thing--but they haven't invested in a little basic forgery? This kid is thirteen. It's not an age known for its diverse skill sets. I know this is a common trope in YA, though, so maybe you're safe there. Personally though I would suggest making the plot event a meeting with someone important, perhaps? Something a touch more plausible would be welcome. Also I am no adoption expert but it seems to me the family would NEED records, in order to accomplish mundane life things like school enrollment and medical insurance coverage.
"Who knows themselves better than the blind?' - for every thought becomes a tool." --Luis Borges

http://tigergray.blogspot.com/

Write2Me
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Re: Query:Forever Young-YA Urban Fantasy (version 2)

Post by Write2Me » August 29th, 2010, 5:05 pm

hm....yea well if its common it may also be boring/conventional so you have a point. I may just have to blow up the query and take a different direction with it to make it less tried-and-true.

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