QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

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johydai
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QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by johydai » December 1st, 2010, 9:48 pm

Here is my working query...
__________________________________

Dear [Agent Name]:

Seventeen-year-old Nadine refuses to marry arrogant, ruthless Prince Kellan, even though the marriage is the Queen's dying command. On the eve of the grand wedding, she flees this obligation—and runs headlong into another. Nadine has been marked from birth to protect the Last Dragon, the final hope for the kingdom's rebel forces. When the leader of the Rebellion summons Nadine in the midst of her flight, she has no choice but to accept her destined responsibility.

The king's armies are burning a path across the land to capture the dragon and the immortality-granting gold vein in its heart. Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister, Nadine escorts the dragon toward the Rebellion's distant headquarters while struggling to master her inherited water-controlling powers. As she gets to know the dragon, she falls in love with the kind human soul inside the beast and begins to dream of a future with him.

But what she cannot guess is that Prince Kellan, who by day hunts her at his father's bidding, is with her by night as the Last Dragon.

THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
[My Name]
__________________________________

Thank you for your help,
Johydai

Jaligard
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by Jaligard » December 1st, 2010, 11:47 pm

FIrst of all, that sounds awesome. The twist at the end seals it for me.

The beginning feels a little clichéd to me. You're stepping into destined-to-save-the-world and unexpected-birthright realm, so be careful with that. You've got some capitalization issues: the Queen, the king, Last Dragon, Rebellion.
johydai wrote:Seventeen-year-old Nadine refuses to marry the arrogant ruthless Prince Kellan, even though the marriage is the queen's dying command. On the eve of the grand wedding, she flees this obligation—and runs headlong into another. Nadine has been marked from birth to protect the last dragon, the final hope for the kingdom's rebel forces. [This sentence is a little awkward.] When the leader of the rebellion summons Nadine in the midst of her flight, she has no choice but to accept her destined responsibility. [Not sure why she can flee one but not the other, but alright.]

The king's armies burn a path across the land to capture the dragon and the immortality-granting gold vein in its heart. Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister, Nadine escorts the dragon toward the rebellion's distant headquarters while struggling to master her inherited water-controlling powers. As she gets to know the dragon, she falls in love with the kind human soul inside the beast and begins to dream of a future with him [This also seems a little weird. She must know it will never work out; he's a dragon and she's . . . well, not a dragon.]

But what she cannot guess is that Prince Kellan, who by day hunts her at his father's bidding, is with her by night as the Last Dragon. [I get tripped up a little here. I love the twist, but maybe try rewording?]

THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Just a few notes. I like this story and the query is an extremely good start. I worry that you're hitting two fantasy archetypes, but I really love the dragon twist. Not sure if the water-controlling powers help or hinder you. They do come out of left field.

Mark17
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by Mark17 » December 2nd, 2010, 1:13 pm

First off, that twist is awesome. I would agree with the previous poster though, that beginning seems a little cliched, you might lose someone before the big twist. Maybe you could condense the beginning and just be like she doesn't wanna marry Prince Kellen etc, so she goes to help the last dragon... and then give a description of why the last dragon is important and also let us know that it's a human. Then you can say she falls in love with him (it would be a lot less weird since we know he is a human) and then boom the twist. I have also heard that 97,000 words might be long for YA, so if you can, cut out some stuff. Otherwise this sounds awsome.
Good luck.

Nicole R
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by Nicole R » December 2nd, 2010, 1:51 pm

Oh yay! Congrats johydai - you made my day thinking about this story. I'm a sucker for romance, adventure and dragons. This seems to have all three! Plus, it reminds me of Dragonheart, which I adore.

I think you have a great start to a query here, and I have a few suggestions I think would make it even stronger.

- Like others have said, I was a little confused by the capitalized names. At first, I thought the Last Dragon was a military title that indicated a human, not an actual dragon. So you might want to clarify that.

- I also wanted to know more about Nadine's motivations. The line about "no choice but to accept her destined responsibility" seemed a little bit like a cop-out to me. She seems like a confident, independent character and you hint that she's stood up to difficult decisions before. Why would she suddenly cave to destiny just because? Maybe this can tie into more information about her water-controlling powers.

- I'm torn on the twist ending. I like it a lot, although I worry it might not be as "twisty" as you think in the fantasy genre. I've also heard conflicting arguments about whether or not to give away the ending in a query. I'd try to find a way to close with Nadine's struggle to make their love work, without specifically stating the ending or Prince Kellan's role.

Great job! Also, if you haven't already read "The Song in Silence," by Elizabeth Kerner, you might want to pick it up. It's a very similar story.

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CharleeVale
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by CharleeVale » December 3rd, 2010, 5:08 pm

This sounds like a great story. The problem is that I wasn't interested until the last line. That's never something that should happen in a query. You need to put the thing that will grab the audience the most at the very beginning.

This feels a bit like a list to me. This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened. Have you ever noticed that whenever someone is telling a story, and something happens, the first question people ask is 'why?' I'm missing the 'why?' here.

Why doesn't she want to marry him? Is he ugly? fat? Just has a bad temper? Is she spoiled? Why is SHE the one who guards the last dragon? etc. etc. etc.

Hope this helps!

CV

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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by Juls Duncan » December 20th, 2010, 5:25 pm

I ready liked your story...

Remember this is just my thoughts, so take it as you will... I think you should use the twist in your hook. That way the agent will see that, and want to read more. The other (posts) have already told you everything else I would have. Keep up the good work... I can't wait to read your reworked query... Juls

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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by mudpuppy » December 29th, 2010, 5:14 pm

Water-controlling powers? Now that's an oringal idea, I would put that some where in first paragraph to avoid soudning cliche. I agree with previous posters as well, because they basically listed anything I was planning on suggesting. :)

glj
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by glj » December 30th, 2010, 4:44 pm

I agree that this sounds fun and has a good hook. Others suggested moving it up. It is possible, I suppose. But watch out for the problem I point out below in your first paragraph.

Your letter says YA, but 97,000 words seems WAAAAAY too long to be young adult. I'm not sure what is considered to be the YA upper limit, but 97,000 is too long. Most regular fantasy by first time authors is not over 100,000 words (at least lately?).

I hope this helps you. This sounds like it has much potential, so don't rush the query, as it must sparkle.



Seventeen-year-old Nadine refuses to marry arrogant, ruthless Prince Kellan, even though the marriage is the Queen's dying command. On the eve of the grand wedding, she flees this obligation—and runs headlong into another. Nadine has been marked from birth Here you switch from talking about events in the immediate and specific sense and back out to more of a distant viewpoint, as in a summary. This jars me. to protect the Last Dragon, the final hope for the kingdom's rebel forces. Oh, so she is expected to serve both sides? You might want to play this up, as this is a BIG conflict for her and I missed it on my first read. When the leader of the Rebellion summons Nadine in the midst of her flight, How would he find her if she is running away? she has no choice but to accept her destined responsibility. See Nathan's recent repost about how the protagonist MUST have a choice, but must be forced into making a decision. Show us why she capitulates. Is it to prevent bloodshed? A sense of obligation to the people of the kingdom who are being brutalized?

For some reason, and it may just be me, I didn't immediately grasp that Nadine isn't royalty, but is both designated to be the dragon's protector AND the prince's bride. So Prince Kellan is the queen's son. For some reason, I assumed that Prince Kellan was from another kingdom and possibly an enemy kingdom, with the king's armies being sent against Prince Kellan. Oops.

The king's armies Wait, isn't the king dead and the queen dying? Otherwise, Nadine would not take the throne. Suggest you use another word instead of "king's", such as empire's/throne's/kingdom's/queen's or so forth. are burning a path across the land to capture the dragon and the immortality-granting gold vein in its heart. Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister, Nadine escorts the dragon toward the Rebellion's distant headquarters while struggling to master her inherited water-controlling powers. How do her water-controlling powers tie in? They must be important for you to include them in your query, but as a reader, I don't see any point to telling us this. As she gets to know the dragon, she falls in love with the kind human soul inside the beast and begins to dream of a future with him. But your first paragraph tells us that he is ruthless and arrogant-a contradiction. You may want to explain/hint that is how he is forced to behave, or that is what she is told by others, or somehow show that her view is not correct. It does, however, explain why she is not aware for some time that the dragon is Prince Kellan, if she has this image of the prince in her head and the dragon is completely different in personality.

But what she cannot guess is that Prince Kellan, who by day hunts her at his father's bidding, is with her by night as the Last Dragon. Very nice! Can you expand on this? As you can see from the previous comments, this has piqued much interest. Show us WHY she falls in love, and at the same time show us her cluelessness as to who the dragon is. Then show the dragon's torment, too. Maybe even why he is trapped into doing things he doesn't want to do? Show us why it will be so difficult and unlikely for the two of them to find happiness. The curiosity as to how this is all going to turn out is what you want to create in the reader. You have a good start.

THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 97,000 words.

Meredith
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » January 7th, 2011, 7:26 am

johydai wrote:Here is my working query...
__________________________________

Dear [Agent Name]:

Seventeen-year-old Nadine refuses to marry arrogant, ruthless Prince Kellan, even though the marriage is the Queen's dying command. On the eve of the grand wedding, she flees this obligation—and runs headlong into another. Nadine has been marked from birth to protect the Last Dragon, the final hope for the kingdom's rebel forces. When the leader of the Rebellion summons Nadine in the midst of her flight, she has no choice but to accept her destined responsibility. This sets up the story, but it doesn't give me any reason to care about Nadine. To me, she's just a teenager who runs away from her problems. Rather than say she's running away from her obligations--not very heroic--is there some other way to phrase this? Is she afraid of the prince? Fear that he will misuse her water-controlling powers? Secretly sympathize with the rebels? Something to help the reader relate to Nadine in a positive way.

The king's armies are burning a path across the land to capture the dragon and the immortality-granting gold vein in its heart. Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister,Nadine escorts the dragon toward the Rebellion's distant headquarters while struggling to master her inherited water-controlling powers. There's a whole lot going on in these two sentences. Since they never appear again in the query, do we need to know about the soldier and his sister here? And when did Nadine suddenly acquire water-controlling powers (there has to be a more elegant way to phrase that)? They aslo do not appear again in the query, so maybe they don't need to be mentioned at all. As she gets to know the dragon, she falls in love with the kind human soul inside the beast and begins to dream of a future with him. The prince is arrogant and ruthless, but as a dragon he's kind? Does she wonder what happens to the dragon during he day? Exactly what kind of future is she dreaming of, 'cause . . . well . . . Maybe wish for is more apt. Put some detail in here that makes this unique.

But what she cannot guess is that Prince Kellan, who by day hunts her at his father's bidding, is with her by night as the Last Dragon. So, the PRINCE is the last hope of the REBELS? Also, while this twist is interesting, you could be giving away too much of the ending in the query. It's pretty easy from here to guess how the story ends.

What are the stakes in this story? What happens if the king finds out that his son is the last dragon? What are the rebels fighting for? In other words, what happens if Nadine fails?


THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
[My Name]
__________________________________

Thank you for your help,
Johydai
I think this sounds like an interesting story. (I'm a sucker for dragons, too.)
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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wordranger
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Re: QUERY: THE LAST DRAGON (Fantasy)

Post by wordranger » January 8th, 2011, 10:19 pm

Like some of the others, I am a dragon-sucker, too. That's why I opened your post. This could be a great story, but I think you may be in danger of losing everyone with your first line. Been there, done that.

Now, this is going to be really hard, but you need to find a way, at least in the query, to make your story sound different. The first line has been done so many time across so many genres that an agent might only get that far and trash you. Maybe not, but why risk it?

The last line is actually what I think your story is about. If there is a way to work with that, and try to "dance around" the cliché parts, I'd do that.

By the way... there is nothing wrong with cliché. You just need to make sure yours is something special. Which, I know, is SUPER SUPER hard! (I'm having the same problem)

Ya gotta love queries!
Words are your friend.
Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

Jennifer Eaton, WordRanger
My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

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