Lodestar query first go (new version posted)

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stephmcgee
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Lodestar query first go (new version posted)

Post by stephmcgee » September 25th, 2010, 2:47 am

Okay, I'm just going to jump in with it. This is my first real attempt at a query for any project and for this one especially.


Dear [insert agent’s name here],

The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting start to get into NASA, he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on him. His wish comes true and he finds himself switching from the Air Force to where he’s always wanted to be.

Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training.

After two years of training, Derek and his friends are assigned to the International Space Station. While there he meets Alnair, and learns that everything he knows about angels is wrong. She pulls him into a world where angels war for supremacy in the universe, for rule over humans, and where the existence of everyone revolves around the chosen hero.

The former angel guardians of Pluto and its moon have taken the disc, an object which holds the ability to create black holes which then act as passages between galaxies and even universes. The angels that have called on Derek for help feel their enemies moving closer. If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever.

Lodestar is my adult urban fantasy complete at 83,000 words. [Insert witty yet true biographical information here.] Thank you for your time.
Last edited by stephmcgee on February 28th, 2011, 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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D.S. Deshaw
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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 25th, 2010, 5:03 am

Hi! This sounds really interesting :) I hope my comments are a bit helpful.
stephmcgee wrote:Dear [insert agent’s name here],

The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting start to get into NASA, he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on him. Why not try putting this in present tense as well? It's an interesting first line. His wish comes true and he finds himself switching from the Air Force to where he’s always wanted to be.

Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training. This is a little stilted for me because of the periods, although I think you may have done that on purpose? I think you could probably come up with a better way to bring up Elizabeth and Roxie though, without making them seem like after thoughts :)

After two years of training, Derek and his friends are assigned to the International Space Station. Everything after this point is probably what your book is about? The rest seems like back story; there's no conflict or action. You could almost start your query exactly here -> While there he meets Alnair, and learns that everything he knows about angels is wrong. She pulls him into a world where angels war for supremacy in the universe, for rule over humans, and where the existence of everyone revolves around the chosen hero. How does she put him there? Explain more about this world and about these three things if you can :)

The former angel guardians of Pluto and its moon have taken the disc maybe capitalize this to 'The Disc' so we know it's important?, an object which that instead of which, perhaps holds the ability to create black holes <- everything after this should be its own sentence or it becomes an run-on. Try starting the next sentence with 'The black holes act as... which then act as passages between galaxies and even universes. The angels that who instead of that maybe? have called on Derek for help feel their enemies moving closer. Who are their enemies? If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever. What is 'all'? Our world, the universe? The stakes could be big here, but 'all' seems so vague that it loses a bit of its impact :(

Lodestar is my adult urban fantasy complete at 83,000 words. You can probably leave out the word 'complete' since people shouldn't query until their MS is complete anyway :) It should be a given [Insert witty yet true biographical information here.] Thank you for your time.
You have a really interesting premise here, but I think it's overshadowed by some of your back story. I would start the query where he meets Alnair and explain in more detail what happens after that point. Good luck!
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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by cheekychook » September 25th, 2010, 2:48 pm

stephmcgee wrote:Okay, I'm just going to jump in with it. This is my first real attempt at a query for any project and for this one especially.


Dear [insert agent’s name here],

The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting start to get into NASA, he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on him. His wish comes true and he finds himself switching from the Air Force to where he’s always wanted to be.

Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training.

After two years of training, Derek and his friends are assigned to the International Space Station. While there he meets Alnair, and learns that everything he knows about angels is wrong. She pulls him into a world where angels war for supremacy in the universe, for rule over humans, and where the existence of everyone revolves around the chosen hero.

The former angel guardians of Pluto and its moon have taken the disc, an object which holds the ability to create black holes which then act as passages between galaxies and even universes. The angels that have called on Derek for help feel their enemies moving closer. If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever.

Lodestar is my adult urban fantasy complete at 83,000 words. [Insert witty yet true biographical information here.] Thank you for your time.
First off, congrats on taking the plunge into the query-writing pool---that's a big leap!

I'm going to preface my comments by saying that I don't read adult urban fantasy, so please keep that in mind when reading the questions that I have.

I agree with D.S. DeShaw that you might be better off without your first sentence in past tense. Something like "When Derek Steventon wishes on a shooting star to get into NASA he has no idea the shooting star is wishing on him too."

Questions: Are Elizabeth Foster and Roxie important characters? Queries are supposed to focus only on central characters---if they're both significant, tell us a tiny bit more about them, if they're not, leave them out altogether. If it's important that he's dating but drawn to another woman simultaneously you can pretty much just say that (Derek begins dating a fellow trainee (is she a trainee too?) but finds himself drawn to one of his instructors---or something like that, depending on why it's important to mention this). Also, it stood out to me that Derek and Elizabeth have last names yet Roxie doesn't.

The two year jump seems a bit unexpected---is there a leap like that in the novel? Or is that just how long training lasts?

At this point in the query I had absolutely no idea there was going to be a fantasy component to this novel---maybe that's just me, because my brain doesm't always "go there" since it's not my genre of choice, but I was surprised to suddenly see mention of angels. I was thinking commercial fiction or science fiction up to this point.

Who is Alnair? A human? An angel? Does Alnair have a last name? Also, since I'm still surprised there are angels in the first place I'm wondering what Derek previously knew about angels and in what way that knowledge was all wrong. Again, this could be my unfamiliarity with the genre. For that reason I won't comment on the plot from that point forward.

The title should be all caps when you intro it (LODESTAR is adult urban fantasy and is complete at 83,000 words)---I'd leave out the word "my"---it's implied by the fact that you are the one querying about it.

There is no one way to write a query and this is a good first attempt. Try to focus on the main characters, the conflicts and the main plot points. And don't be concerned if you wind up rewriting it a zillion times---all but a very lucky few wind up doing that. Seriously. I know. Best of luck to you and welcome to the Query-Quandry!
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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by arbraun » September 25th, 2010, 3:15 pm

Hi stephmcgee. Remember, the following are just opinions meant to improve your query. Keep and discard what you wish.

<The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting start to get into NASA, . . .

I'd not have a typo in a query. I think you meant "shooting star." I'd proofread ten times.

<. . . he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on him.

This is an interesting concept.

<Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training.

This is good specifity. I'd delete "begins to." Too passive.

<If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever.

"All is lost" is a bit cliche. I'd be more specific.

Otherwise, you did a good job telling what the protagonist does and what's at stake.

Cheers,

A. R.

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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by Netti » September 26th, 2010, 1:40 pm

stephmcgee wrote:Okay, I'm just going to jump in with it. This is my first real attempt at a query for any project and for this one especially.


Dear [insert agent’s name here],

The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting start to get into NASA, he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on him(This sounds like the star is real in some way but you give no indication of who it is later. Is the star really Alnair?). His wish comes true and he finds himself switching from the Air Force to where he’s always wanted to be.

Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training.(This sentence doesn't seem to be relevant to the overall plot.)

After two years of training, Derek and his friends are assigned to the International Space Station. While there he meets Alnair, and learns that everything he knows about angels is wrong. She pulls him into a world where angels war for supremacy in the universe, for rule over humans, and where the existence of everyone revolves around the chosen hero.

The former angel guardians of Pluto and its moon have taken the disc(Should "disk" be capitalized?), an object which holds the ability to create black holes which then act as passages between galaxies and even universes(Are these angels different from the ones that want Derek's help? I feel like there should be more indication of what they're doing with the disc.). The angels that have called on Derek for help feel their enemies moving closer. If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever.

Lodestar is my adult urban fantasy complete at 83,000 words. [Insert witty yet true biographical information here.] Thank you for your time.
So, that was my first official query critique! I hope it was helpful to you.
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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by WilliamMJones » September 26th, 2010, 1:43 pm

stephmcgee wrote:Okay, I'm just going to jump in with it. This is my first real attempt at a query for any project and for this one especially.


Dear [insert agent’s name here],

The day that Derek Steventon wished on a shooting startsar to get into NASA, he had no idea that shooting star was wishing on himI agree that this could be better in present tense. Also, it's never really explained. Is the shooting star an angel? Alnair maybe?. His wish comes true and he finds himself switching from the Air Force to where he’s always wanted to be.

Derek quickly makes friends among his fellow airmen in NASA. And begins to date Elizabeth Forster. But he’s drawn also to Roxie, their astronomy instructor during training. Are either of these characters important? Does it matter to the story that he's interested in them?

After two years of training, Derek and his friends are assigned to the International Space Station. While there he meets Alnair, and learns that everything he knows about angels is wrong What did he think he knew in the first place?. She pulls him into a world where angels war for supremacy in the universe, for rule over humans, and where the existence of everyone revolves around the chosen hero This sentance reads a little awkwardly. Maybe break it into two sentances..

The former angel guardians of Pluto and its moon have taken the discDisk, an object which holds the ability to create black holes. The black holes which then act as passages between galaxies and even universes. The angels that have called on Derek for help feel their enemies moving closer. If they succeed in reaching the Milky Way, all might be lost forever. Why are the Angles calling on Derek for help? What's so special about him?

LodestarLODESTAR is my adult urban fantasy complete at 83,000 words. [Insert witty yet true biographical information here.] Thank you for your time.

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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by stephmcgee » February 28th, 2011, 8:12 pm

Newest version:


Dear [agent name],

Into each hero’s life a star must fall. Too bad those heroes don’t know this when they’re born.
Derek Steventon’s life has gone exactly to plan– early graduation from college, Air Force, and now NASA. While training, he falls for fellow airman Liz Forster. Their mysterious astronomy instructor, Roxie Mitford, has drawn him in, too. Then the shit hits the fan. While on the ISS for a short mission, he meets Alnair and is pulled into a world where nothing he knows about angels is true.
Here, angels aren’t the spirits of dead humans. Nor are they at the beck and call of deity. Instead, they fight for supremacy in the galaxy and to make sure humans keep their livable environment. Now, Alnair leads him to the Council of Elders who tell him the disc, an object which opens passages between galaxies and universes and can kill angels on sight, has been stolen. They also tell him they need his help to prepare against the upcoming war.
The Council determines once-guardian Marah has taken the disc. They feel its use but can tell nothing more. If Derek can’t reach the Sisters, a group of farseers who often lent their advice to the Council, their enemies could wipe out the entire galaxy, leaving humans to die off as the space around them.
LODESTAR is my adult urban fantasy of 73,300 words. [Insert witty but true biographical info here.] Thank you for your time.

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Re: Lodestar query first go

Post by SariBelle » February 28th, 2011, 10:58 pm

Hey Steph,
Good on you for starting on the query process. I just wrote my first one too.
stephmcgee wrote: Dear [agent name],

Into each hero’s life a star must fall. Too bad those heroes don’t know this when they’re born. I actually preferred your original opening line, although I agree with others about changing the tense. Also, if the star actually is a sentient being, like one of the angels, I'd expand on that in the query.

Derek Steventon’s life has gone exactly to plan– early graduation from college, Air Force, and now NASA. While training, he falls for fellow airman Liz Forster. Their mysterious astronomy instructor, Roxie Mitford, has drawn him in, too. I feel like everything in this para before here is backstory. If his relationships with Liz & Roxie aren't significant to the plot I'd leave it out. If they are I think they need to be expanded on to show how this fits into the stakes. Then the shit hits the fan. This is cliche. While on the ISS I'd say International Space Station to avoid confusion for a short mission, he meets Alnair Is Alnair an angel? and is pulled into a world where nothing he knows about angels is true.

Here, angels aren’t the spirits of dead humans. Nor are they at the beck and call of deity. Instead, they fight for supremacy in the galaxy and to make sure humans keep their livable environment. Who are they fighting against? Why are they fighting for humans? Why are humans so important that these angels need to protect them? Now,Alnair leads him to the Council of Elders who tell him the disc, an object which opens passages between galaxies and universes and can kill angels on sight Is the disk sentient and can see? Or is that on the holder's 'sight'?, has been stolen If it's known, I'd put who stole this disk in. 'Has been stolen' is passive and doesn't tell us who Derek and the angels are fighting against. They also tell him they need his help to prepare against the upcoming war Why do they need Derek? What is special about him that makes him the only one who can help?.

The Council determines once-guardian Marah has taken the disc. I'd incorporate this info into the preceding para. They feel its use but can tell nothing more. If Derek can’t reach the Sisters, a group of farseers who often lent their advice to the Council, their enemies could wipe out the entire galaxy, leaving humans to die off as the space around them I'm a bit confused by the end of this sentence. Should it be 'like the space around them'?.

LODESTAR is my an adult not sure you need to include the word 'adult', but could be wrong urban fantasy of 73,300 words. [Insert witty but true biographical info here.] Thank you for your time.
I think this is a good start but there's a few questions I think need to be answered within the query. Specifically:
- Why is Derek the one who has to fight this war? What makes him special?
- Why do the angels devote themselves to keeping humans alive?

Good luck :)

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Re: Lodestar query first go (new version posted)

Post by Guardian » March 1st, 2011, 6:19 am

Regardless I love angels (I'm also writing about them), but somehow they're completely out of characteristics in your query. First off, angels are angels. If you're giving them a completely new meaning, they're not angels anymore. Second, who or what against they're fighting? I have no idea.
Here, angels aren’t the spirits of dead humans. Nor are they at the beck and call of deity. Instead, they fight for supremacy in the galaxy and to make sure humans keep their livable environment.
And based on this description, they're not angels at all. They're simply some sort of winged aliens. Period. You may call them angels, but from that they won't be angels. Also why are they doing this, why they're truly fighting for? I have no idea. Make it clear. Fighting for supremacy is an alibi, an excuse. It's the opposite of "The evil is intending to destroy the world.".
the Council of Elders
Cliche. Drop it or rename it.
their enemies could wipe out the entire galaxy, leaving humans to die off as the space around them.
Since when space is around us? We're just a tiny, meaningless spot in the universe and presumably the worst weekend, a cruel hangover for our mother Earth. If you're not giving a true reason for this in the story and tell why humans are so meaningful (Other than we love to believe we're so important; something what we never was and presumably never will be.), drop this line.
urban fantasy of 73,300
Your WIP sounds as a science fiction or maybe, just maybe as a fantasy. Based on this query your work has no true connection to urban fantasy at all. The prerequisite for urban fantasy is that is must be primarily set in a city. The only fantasy elements are the angels, but as they're not even true angels based on your descriptions, your work is not even a fantasy. In your place I would go with science fiction as right now it sounds like as a sci-fi with ISS, space tech and some winged aliens.

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Re: Lodestar query first go (new version posted)

Post by stephmcgee » March 2nd, 2011, 12:14 am

And based on this description, they're not angels at all. They're simply some sort of winged aliens. Period. You may call them angels, but from that they won't be angels. Also why are they doing this, why they're truly fighting for? I have no idea. Make it clear. Fighting for supremacy is an alibi, an excuse. It's the opposite of "The evil is intending to destroy the world.".
Winged angels is a Christian world view. There are other views of angels. One of which I found in my research and which I riffed on.
Into each hero’s life a star must fall. Too bad those heroes don’t know this when they’re born. I actually preferred your original opening line, although I agree with others about changing the tense. Also, if the star actually is a sentient being, like one of the angels, I'd expand on that in the query.
I removed it because I took the scene out of the book. The story starts much later than the scene this opening line referenced. I loved the line and the scene, but it had to go.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

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Re: Lodestar query first go (new version posted)

Post by Guardian » March 2nd, 2011, 4:03 am

stephmcgee wrote:Winged angels is a Christian world view. There are other views of angels. One of which I found in my research and which I riffed on.
Actually they're not just in the Christian world view, but in many others too. And yes, there are different views. I'm well aware of that as I'm using almost all those views in my WIP (Winged, wingless, etc, etc...). The essence is; you can't expect from the readers to know what you know, especialy if they're reading the query. They're not mind readers. If they're angels, around 95% of the people will associate for the winged ones (Just as I did when I read your query, while maybe I know a bit more about these mythical beings then the average reader.). If you don't use wings, make that clear in the query, or your novel won't fulfill the reader's expectation (In the first round; the Agent's expectation) as based on your query they will imagine different creatures what you actually have. So if they're not winged ones, but wingless beings from planet X, add this somehow into your query, otherwise the reader will associate for to winged ones immediately and will be disappointed when they'll read about something else what you promised.

Oh, and sorry. They're not out of character as I believed as I misread a line yesterday. I read; "they're not spirits." Somehow I skipped the "dead man" part of that sentence. With that, it's perfecto.

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