I'm a NOBODY(Try two)

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WilliamMJones
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I'm a NOBODY(Try two)

Post by WilliamMJones » December 30th, 2010, 2:53 am

I thought about why I couldn't keep any bit of voice in my original query, and I realized I was trying to add too much. So, this new attempt is with a clean slate, completely from scratch, all that stuff. I'll leave out the greeting and what not, it's just the synopsis I want looked at. And one hundred thousand thank yous to anyone who even took the time to look at this page.


Seventeen year old Dominic Taylor doesn’t believe his classmate Jennifer is normal, or even human. When he secretly follows her one night, he’s taken to a world where his human blood puts him in constant danger. The inhabitants of this world, powerful beings known as the Fey, have been feuding with humans for years. Jennifer, who is a half-Fey with no prejudices, becomes his only ally. As they search for a way to get him home, latent powers begin to reveal themselves and he realizes a horrifying truth: he isn’t human. As war breaks out, Dominic is forced to decide between going back to his human life and mother, and staying to find out more about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.



Second Version
Thanks for all the input. Here's try two. My main questions: 1, is it interesting, or does it read as more of a book report? 2, does it flow well?


Seventeen-year-old Dominic Taylor can open locked doors with a touch and pass security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to understand his powers, so when he sees his classmate Jennifer open a door he knows is locked, his curiosity gets the better of him and he follows her. On the other side of the door is a world of powerful shapeshifters called Fey, and Dominic’s human blood puts him in constant danger.

War is close between the Fey and a human organization devoted to the destruction of magic. As Dominic searches for a way home, he must avoid the Fey, who hate him because he is human, as well as the humans that would destroy him for his powers. When he and Jennifer become cornered, his powers reveal that he isn’t fully human: he’s half-Fey. As war breaks out, Dominic must decide between returning to his human, and searching for information about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on December 30th, 2010, 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Holly
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Re: I'm a NOBODY, jumping back in with a new query

Post by Holly » December 30th, 2010, 6:57 am

WilliamMJones wrote:I thought about why I couldn't keep any bit of voice in my original query, and I realized I was trying to add too much. So, this new attempt is with a clean slate, completely from scratch, all that stuff. I'll leave out the greeting and what not, it's just the synopsis I want looked at. And one hundred thousand thank yous to anyone who even took the time to look at this page.


Seventeen-year-old Dominic Taylor doesn’t believe his classmate Jennifer is normal, or even human.

This is telling. Show us something that he witnesses.

When he secretly follows her one night, he’s taken to a world where his human blood puts him in constant danger.

Telling again. How does he follow her? Sneak out a window? How do they get to this world? Slip through a mirror, a fence, or drive there in an old Chevy? This would be more exciting if you would put specifics in the sentence.

The inhabitants of this world, powerful beings known as the Fey, have been feuding with humans for years. Jennifer, who is a half-Fey with no prejudices, becomes his only ally.

All telling again. Can you show us some detail without adding to the length?

As they search for a way to get him home, latent powers begin to reveal themselves and he realizes a horrifying truth: he isn’t human. As war breaks out, Dominic is forced to decide between going back to his human life and mother, and staying to find out more about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.

More telling, and probably too much info. You could save some of this for the synopsis. Again, the writing would grab me more if you used a few specifics.



Hi, William. I'm about to enter Queryland myself, so you have my sympathy. Here goes.

First, to be honest, I think you could come up with a better title than I'M A NOBODY. It's as if you're cutting down the main character.

Second, every sentence tells us the plot in general. The query would grab me more if you could put in a few details -- without adding to the length. Add sparkle and give us a taste of the novel's personality.

Third, you could summarize more instead of saying "this happens, and then this happens." Have you looked at examples of successful queries?

Good luck to you. I hope some of this helps.

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Re: I'm a NOBODY, jumping back in with a new query

Post by Down the well » December 30th, 2010, 10:38 am

WilliamMJones wrote:I thought about why I couldn't keep any bit of voice in my original query, and I realized I was trying to add too much. So, this new attempt is with a clean slate, completely from scratch, all that stuff.
Hi WilliamMJones. I thought this was an interesting statement. It made me go look up your old query example, and my take away after reading both versions was that you've swung too far the other way now, lol. BUT, I think there's a hybrid in there somewhere that might work.


Here is the orginal query you posted:

Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems. << I think this is a good presentation of your main character. We know there is something different about him. I think you should keep this. When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers, he decides to find out more about her, and follows her through a door to another world. << Here, I think we need to know what it is he witnesses to make him follow a fellow classmate. Did she get past a security camera or metal detector the way he does? Also, it might be interesting to know about the door he follows her through. Is it some plain metal door in an alley? The door in the school hallway that is marked "Janitor"? Or is it a secret portal disguised as the fitting room at The Gap? Specifics like this will make us want to know more about the world you've created, and maybe convince us things around us aren't as mundane as they seem.


He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, << this is weak as is, but I think if you point out that Jennifer acts as his guide after she discovers he followed her to this otherworld it would help. and learns that his deceased father was one of them. << Here I think the line in your new query about Dominic's blood putting him in danger is important. The fact that he is half human trapped in a place that is about to do war with humans is good conflict. The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks. War is certain, unless Dominic can discover what his deceased father’s research calls the Source. On the way, To find it he will have to survive fend off attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers. << Ha! which is scarier?
WilliamMJones wrote:As inevitable war breaks out, Dominic is forced to decide between going back to his human life and mother, and staying to find out more about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.
<< I like this sentiment for your wrap-up sentence. It shows what is at stake personally for Dominic. The war is your big picture drama, but this choice is personal and adds an emotional element to the story. End your query on this choice.


My young adult fantasy novel, I’m a Nobody, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.

----------------------------------


Certainly you will need to rework the sentences, but I think the main ingredients are all here for a good query. You have an interesting character with unusual talents, a conflict that puts your MC in danger, and stakes that are both big picture and personal. All you need are the specifics that make your story unique. Good luck.

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Re: I'm a NOBODY, jumping back in with a new query

Post by Watcher55 » December 30th, 2010, 11:20 am

What to keep and what to bury? That is the question. I went over your earlier versions and perused a couple of your excerpts. I think the trick is to distill the story down to its main thrust and central conflict. Here's what I gleaned.

Dominic is strange
He opens locked doors and security systems ignore him

Questions about himself and an equally strange classmate lead him to the world of the Fey where he becomes an accidental hostage of a siege launched by group of magic hating humans.

Dominic’s newly revealed Fey heritage and his connection to the Source of Magic make him the perfect tool for either side.

The Source of Magic has the power to either save or destroy the Fey.

Dominic must locate and retrieve the SoM before the humans(?), then decide what to do with it.

If he fails…What?

This doesn't exactly fit Nathan's mad-lib template but the elements are there. Agents are looking for the story. Be relentless and don't give them time to breathe. You want to leave them asking anticipatory questions so you don't want to leave a lot of answers laying around.

The story has a lot of potential. Keep at it.

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Re: I'm a NOBODY, jumping back in with a new query

Post by mudpuppy » December 30th, 2010, 11:27 am

Hello, WilliamMJones,

Let me just say that I know what you're going through, I recently found out the query I was sending out stank more than a piece of Limbaugh cheese and I had to write a whole new one.



I would certainly check out this article,

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/bl ... eries.aspx

When I was stuck, it helped me by showing what work for query and what didn't. Hope this helps.

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Quill
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Re: I'm a NOBODY, jumping back in with a new query

Post by Quill » December 30th, 2010, 12:33 pm

WilliamMJones wrote:

Seventeen year old Dominic Taylor doesn’t believe
Better to say what he DOES believe.

Seventeen-year-old (hyphenate)
his classmate Jennifer is normal, or even human.
"Normal" is a query buzzword, by now a cliche, and is so subjective besides that it doesn't tell us much.
When he secretly follows her one night, he’s taken
"Is taken" is passive. How about "...one night to a world" or "she leads him to a world" or some such.
to a world where his human blood puts him in constant danger.
Compressing too much into one sentence leads to awkwardness: When he follows, he is taken to where his blood puts him in constant danger." You go from following (an immediate in the now) to "in constant danger" (implying over a period of time). A time lapse/grammatical problem you can fix by breaking into two or more sentences.
The inhabitants of this world, powerful beings known as the Fey, have been feuding with humans for years.
Good.
Jennifer, who is a half-Fey with no prejudices, becomes his only ally.
Unclear what you mean by "with no prejudices". Probably that she is not prejudiced against humans. But this is apparent by "becomes his ally". So I'd omit the phrase.
As they search for a way to get him home, latent powers begin to reveal themselves
Discord between the words "they" and "themselves", in that they seem to refer to each other but in fact do not (one refers to people, the other to powers). Also, powers revealing themselves is passive. It would seem to keep all sentence subjects being the people (especially in such a short description). It is also unclear at first in whom (or in Nature?) these powers reveal: they search, thus I'm thinking the powers reveal in both of them. How about "as they search, Dominic realizes that latent powers..." or some such.
and he realizes a horrifying truth: he isn’t human.
What is he? Fey? Half-human? Something else entirely? Maybe say.
As war breaks out, Dominic is forced to decide between going back to his human life and mother, and staying to find out more about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.
This does not seem like a dramatic enough crux: a choice between going back (what what reason, you don't say; presumably to avoid the war and possible death, but you only say "to his human life and mother" *eh*) and staying (to find out about himself and his dad *eh*). Part of the weakness is the weak verbs in the setup: going and staying; they just don't raise the blood.

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Re: I'm a NOBODY(Try two)

Post by Down the well » December 30th, 2010, 6:23 pm

Version number two.

WilliamMJones wrote:Seventeen-year-old Dominic Taylor can open locked doors without a key and pass security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to understand his powers understood his ability, so but when he sees his classmate Jennifer open a locked door with the touch of her finger he knows is locked, his curiosity gets the better of him and he follows her his instincts tell him he must follow her.
WilliamMJones wrote:On the other side of the door is a world of powerful shapeshifters called Fey, and Dominic’s human blood puts him in constant danger. None of this works for me.


I know I shouldn't force my own style, but, uh, I usually can't help myself. What about:

What Dominic finds on the other side of the door is a world he never knew existed. With Jennifer's help he discovers not only that a powerful race of creatures known as Fey inhabit the realm, but that he may have more in common with them than he could have ever dreamed. His father, it turns out, was one of the Fey, but one remembered as a traitor.
WilliamMJones wrote:War is close between the Fey and a human organization devoted to the destruction of magic. As Dominic searches for a way home, he must avoid the Fey, who hate him because he is human, as well as the humans that would destroy him for his powers.
Again, how about:

With a war over the stewardship of the earth brewing between the Humans and the Fey, Dominic's life is put in peril when the Fey lock the portal to their world in preparation for battle. Trapped in a land where his mixed blood makes him the enemy, he soon learns that the only way to save himself and possibly the world is to finish his father's research and prove that he was no traitor.



Please know that these are just suggestions from me. I think you've got the right idea here. You've got the dramatic elements in front of you, they just need to be organized in a way that makes the most sense to the reader. The most important thing is to present the conflict in a way that makes an agent want to read more. Anyway, I hope my comments help. I'm sure others will offer some constructive criticism as well.

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Re: I'm a NOBODY(Try two)

Post by lmjackson » December 30th, 2010, 8:26 pm

Seventeen-year-old Dominic Taylor can open locked doors with a touch and pass security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to understand his powers, so when he sees his classmate Jennifer exhibit the same talent open a door he knows is locked, his curiosity gets the better of him and he follows her. On the other side of the door is His curiosity takes him to a world of powerful shapeshifters called Fey, and Dominic’s human blood puts him in constant danger.

War is close looms ahead for between the Fey and a human organization devoted to the destruction of magic (does this human organization have a name? If so I'd use that, using commas to specific what it is they do). As Dominic searches for a way home, he must avoid the Fey, who hate him because he is human, as well as the humans that would destroy him for his powers. When he and Jennifer become cornered, his powers reveal that he isn’t fully human: he’s half-Fey. As war breaks out, Dominic must decide between returning to his human, and searching for information about his deceased Fey father and his true identity. I would rewrite or add to this part of the paragraph, it seems very rushed.
There query reads very flat to me, as if you had to cut a lot of information in an effort to make it more concise. The first paragraph is stronger than the first. There is, however, a good flow between the two.

The part I'm missing is the main conflict, the part that's going to make me want to pick this up off a shelf to find out what happens. The second paragraph needs to make a stronger case. There are three main points of interest:
1. Dominic is on the run from both humans and the Fey
2. Dominic finds out he's half Fey
3. Dominic must choose between the two parts of his heritage
Definitely hone in on these.

Good luck with your future edits! Already this one is much better than the original.
Junior student studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
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Quill
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Re: I'm a NOBODY(Try two)

Post by Quill » December 30th, 2010, 9:06 pm

First of all, I think it would be helpful if you posted new versions in line in the thread, so we know which post of comments go to which version, and so it's easier to quote the latest version.
WilliamMJones wrote: Second Version
Thanks for all the input. Here's try two. My main questions: 1, is it interesting, or does it read as more of a book report? 2, does it flow well?


Seventeen-year-old Dominic Taylor can open locked doors with a touch and pass security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to understand his powers, so when he sees his classmate Jennifer open a door he knows is locked, his curiosity gets the better of him and he follows her. On the other side of the door is a world of powerful shapeshifters called Fey, and Dominic’s human blood puts him in constant danger.

War is close between the Fey and a human organization devoted to the destruction of magic. As Dominic searches for a way home, he must avoid the Fey, who hate him because he is human, as well as the humans that would destroy him for his powers. When he and Jennifer become cornered, his powers reveal that he isn’t fully human: he’s half-Fey. As war breaks out, Dominic must decide between returning to his human, and searching for information about his deceased Fey father and his true identity.
It lacks a certain level of interest, I think partly due to word repetition. Within these two short paragraphs:

locked door: 2x
door: 3x total
human: 5x
powers: 4x (including powerful)
search: 2x
destruction/destroy: 2x

Nitpicks:

1. typo: "decide between returning to his human, and searching". His human what?

2. Can magic itself be destroyed? Wouldn't this be like destroying gravity, or the color red, or life itself? If so, how can it be destroyed? Wouldn't it take magic to do it, which would be a catch-22?

3. "He's never been able to understand his powers": the contraction is potentially confusing (He is never...). How about simply saying "He has never..."?

4. "become cornered" seems weak. How does one become cornered? How about "get cornered" or some such.

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