Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 3

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 3

Post by fersnerfer » February 3rd, 2011, 11:52 pm

**updated version 3 At the top of page 2


Hi folks.

I have been away, rethinking this book as well as the query process I was using. After doing some soul searching, I have not only changed the title of the book, but am trying to approach the query from a different angle as well. I would love some feedback and perspective if you don't mind.

Thanks!


----

In the walled city of Bollingbrook, beneath airships and mountainous cathedrals, a young girl named Skyla, runs for her life.

Apparently she is a witch, although that’s news to her. Up until today, Skyla was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who reads people’s souls by watching their shadows play against the walls.

Now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed her. They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the man in white, the man with the long, terrible shadow. Surrounded by enemies, Skyla must flee her home, the city, and everything she has known, searching for answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk, where men go mad.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words, set in a world where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away, a world so close to us it has lived in our shadows forever.

[insert stuff about me]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me
Last edited by fersnerfer on February 11th, 2011, 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

User avatar
Dankrubis
Posts: 99
Joined: December 11th, 2009, 3:48 pm
Location: Irvine, CA
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by Dankrubis » February 4th, 2011, 12:28 am

Hello! I'm bored and I haven't critiqued a query in a while. I may be rusty. Anywho, things I take issue with are in red. My thoughts are in blue.
fersnerfer wrote: In the walled city of Bollingbrook, beneath airships and mountainous cathedrals, a young girl named Skyla, runs for her life. Is that comma after Skyla needed? Honestly I'm not sure. Also something I find interesting is your use of distance in this one sentence. You start with medium distance (walled city of Bollingbrook) then you pull back, (beneath airships, mountainous cathedrals!) then you get up close to Skyla. Might want to make it far, medium, close.

Apparently she is a witch, although that’s news to her. I think you're being redundant here with 'apparently' and 'that's news to her.' Maybe just drop 'apparently.' Up until today, Skyla was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who reads people’s souls by watching their shadows play against the walls. Strange sentence makeup. You're basically saying "OMG, she had no idea she was a which, she was just some dork who reads souls!" If you're meaning this to be tongue-in-cheek, then it needs work, because right now it's a little confusing. If tongue-in-cheek is your goal, just a suggestion - "She's a witch, although that's news to her. Up until today, Skyla was just an unpopular girl at school. Though it would explain how she can read people's souls...etc.

Now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed her.This reads weird because of the pronouns. When I first read it I was like, HAVE THEY OR HAVE THEY NOT CLAIMED THE MOTHER? They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the man in white, the man with the long, terrible shadow. This sentence is weird. It's intriguing, nothing wrong with that. But I feel maybe more is needed? Not too much, just give us more of an idea of how he fits in the story? Or how he relates to Skyla? Though I give you permission to completely ignore me on this. Surrounded by enemies, Skyla must flee her home, the city, and everything she has known, searching for answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk, where men go mad. Feels like this sentence should be another paragraph. It's more of a final, teaser sentence, whereas the rest of the paragraph is talking about shadows and the mother and this preacher dude who may or may not be bad.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words, set in a world where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away, a world so close to us it has lived in our shadows forever. Heh, honestly man, this last part kinda comes off as corny. Could totally be my tastes, though.
Not bad so far, but it needs tightening. Most important thing you need to work on- Skyla's conflict. You just kinda skim over how she's a witch and she's in danger. But why? Describe this devastating anti-witch coalition. Maybe go a little more into this shadow-soul-reading thingy to give us a better idea of what's at stake, because right now, I'm not sure there's enough. Good luck!

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by fersnerfer » February 4th, 2011, 2:30 am

I appreciate the feedback. I'll digest and give it another revision in a couple days.

Thanks again!
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by Quill » February 4th, 2011, 11:10 am

Agree that it's a bit brief. Compared to movie promotion this would be a teaser rather than the full preview we need.

Good mood, and well written, though.

User avatar
Falls Apart
Posts: 182
Joined: January 16th, 2011, 4:53 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by Falls Apart » February 4th, 2011, 2:14 pm

Very interesting premise! Just a couple of things that you might change . . .
Beneath the airships and looming cathedrals in the walled city in the walled city of Bollingbrook, a young girl namedSkyla runs for her life.

Apparentlyshe is a witch, or so the other citizens say. Up until today, Skyla was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who reads people’s souls by watching their shadows play against the walls. Now, the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed her. They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the man in white, the man with the long, terrible shadow. Surrounded by enemies, Skyla must flee her home, the city, and everything she has known to search for answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk, where men go mad.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words, set in a world where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away, a world so close to us it has lived in our shadows forever.

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by fersnerfer » February 4th, 2011, 11:58 pm

Thanks for more feedback.

BTW, Dankrubis, I am curious which part of the last line you felt was corny. I understand that I might have gone a little over the top, but I am curious where exactly, you felt I crossed the line. :) Just wondering if you could go into a finer detail on it.

And I do mean that sincerely. I find your criticism valuable.
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

User avatar
Dankrubis
Posts: 99
Joined: December 11th, 2009, 3:48 pm
Location: Irvine, CA
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by Dankrubis » February 5th, 2011, 4:03 pm

fersnerfer wrote:Thanks for more feedback.

BTW, Dankrubis, I am curious which part of the last line you felt was corny. I understand that I might have gone a little over the top, but I am curious where exactly, you felt I crossed the line. :) Just wondering if you could go into a finer detail on it.

And I do mean that sincerely. I find your criticism valuable.
Heh, all good Fersnerfer. Sorry, guess I got lazy at the end.

OK, there's actually a couple issues with it. I'm gonna use a situation to describe my first issue.

You're a little kid. You're at a campfire. It's nighttime. There's an adult telling a scary story with a flashlight under his chin. The adult is telling the story in a spooky voice.

A lot of queries are told in a voice (not necessarily spooky). Which is all good, the spooky voice makes the story spookier. But in my opinion, when you get to the part where you're talking about the name of the novel and how many words it has, the spooky voice needs to go away and you need to get back to being professional. The adult has spooked the kids and it's time for bed, but now he's tucking everyone in with the voice still going. It's a little weird. But! This is just my opinion. I'm sure other writers, maybe even Nathan himself, are on the other side of the fence.

Now, if you were to keep it, I still have a couple issues. The line "A world so close to us it has lived in our shadows forever" is heavy handed (and what I was originally referring to when I said it was corny). But also, the American Revolution never happening thing. It's a big thing to just throw in there at the end. Though I'm not sure plopping it down in the beginning is the way to go either. I don't know if you know comic books, but there was this old series of comics called "What If?" The stories were quaint, like "What If Wolverine Didn't Have Claws?" and "What If Professor X Didn't Exist?" The stories, while fun, were kinda, I'll say it again, corny. When you explain your world in this fashion, I feel, while cute, it takes away from what you've created. It lessens it a bit.

I think an agent (and a reader) would take the story more seriously if they didn't know this was a American-Revolution-never-happened scenario.

OK! I think I've redeemed myself for my laziness. Again though- A lot of what I've said here I really do feel is based partly on taste. But a warning- I do have some good tastes. Heh.

Good luck on your revisions!

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by fersnerfer » February 6th, 2011, 12:05 pm

I think you make some excellent points.

Thanks!
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by fersnerfer » February 6th, 2011, 11:06 pm

Take II. Thanks again for all the helpful comments.

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

Beneath airships and mountainous cathedrals, through the streets of a walled city, Skyla runs for her life.

Skyla had been called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally. Up until today, she was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls. But now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed Skyla. They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the smoking man in white, the man with the long terrible shadow.

Surrounded by enemies, her home burned, Skyla must flee everything she has known, seeking answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk and where men go mad. As she searches for a place to belong, Skyla learns what she is capable of and must decide not only if it is a curse, but whether she will control it, or be controlled herself.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words.

[stuff about me]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

Ermo
Posts: 111
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 12:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 2

Post by Ermo » February 9th, 2011, 12:53 pm

Hi fernerfer -

Here are my comments.
Skyla had been called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally.
A little bit of a tense change here from the opening sentence. I also feel like it's a tone change. We go from a girl running for her life to a more playful paragraph about an unpopular girl. Maybe it's better to just start with this sentence?
a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls.
Really like that line.
But now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed Skyla.
How? Like literally grabbed her?

So, Skyla is pursuing these shadows because otherwise they'll kill her or because she wants to avenge her mother or both? Can you provide an example of what she is capable of - I think that'd be interesting. It also might set up the internal struggle (which is great to have). Something like: When flames burst from Skyla's fingertips in response to being called Pizza Face one too many times, she wondered what it was she was capable of and if she'd one day succumb to the flames.

Good luck - sounds cool!

User avatar
Dankrubis
Posts: 99
Joined: December 11th, 2009, 3:48 pm
Location: Irvine, CA
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by Dankrubis » February 9th, 2011, 4:24 pm

fersnerfer wrote: Beneath airships and mountainous cathedrals, through the streets of a walled city, Skyla runs for her life. I agree with Ermo. The sentence placement is jarring. It might be better to begin with the second paragraph, then move into how witches aren't popular (and give us more reason as to why!) and how she's running for her life.

Skyla had been called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally. Up until today, she was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls. I still take issue with how this is set up. Skyla's been called a witch her entire life. Check. She never thought the people calling her a witch were serious. Check. But she can see stories in people's shadows? (A better line, also concurring with Ermo). How did she not think she had some sort of power all her life if she could read shadows? Unless she thought everyone could read shadows? But now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed Skyla. How are these shadows claiming? Are they literally engulfing them and making them disappear? They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the smoking man in white, the man with the long terrible shadow.

Surrounded by enemies, What enemies? One of the major problems of this query is that it doesn't give us a firm grasp on the Antagonist. Who is Skyla running from? Is it the preacher? If so, come out and say it. If it isn't, tell us who is. her home burned, Skyla must flee everything she has known, seeking answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk and where men go mad. As she searches for a place to belong, Skyla learns what she is capable of and must decide not only if it is a curse, but whether she will control it, or be controlled herself. I do think this is a decent ending paragraph, you just need more info on the story before it.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words.

[stuff about me]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me
Getting better!

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 2

Post by fersnerfer » February 9th, 2011, 4:59 pm

Thanks for the feedback! Will digest and revise in a couple days!


BTW - Am I the only one who just hates writing both queries and synopsis?
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

bcomet
Posts: 588
Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK

Post by bcomet » February 9th, 2011, 9:06 pm

Hi. I like the way this is shaping up here.

A few notes:
fersnerfer wrote:Take II. Thanks again for all the helpful comments.

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

Beneath airships and mountainous cathedrals, through the streets of a walled city, Skyla runs for her life.

Skyla had been called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally. Up until today, she was just a girl unpopular at school, a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls. But now the shadows have claimed her mother. They’ve almost claimed Skyla. They have drawn the attention of a preacher, the a smoking man in white, the man with the a long terrible shadow.

Surrounded by enemies, her home burned, Skyla must flee everything she has known, seeking answers in The Heavy Dark, a places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk, and where men go mad. As she searches for a place way (?) to belong, Skyla learns what she is capable of and must decide not only if it is a curse, but whether she will control it, or be controlled herself.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words.

[stuff about me]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me
Just a little housework. Hope that is helpful.

fersnerfer
Posts: 52
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 9:36 pm
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 2

Post by fersnerfer » February 9th, 2011, 10:07 pm

Take III

I decided to go with removing the "Skyla runs for her life" bit. I also tried to clarify the plot a bit more.

Tell me what you think.

Thanks for all the help!

----

Skyla has been called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally.

Up until now, Skyla has just been a girl unpopular at school, a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls. She always thought it was just a game, until things actually came out of the darkness, taking her mother and almost claiming Skyla as well.

She has also drawn the attention of a preacher-now-witch-hunter, The Reverend Lyle Summers, the smoking man in white with the long terrible shadow. Her home burned, Skyla must flee everything she has known, seeking answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk and men go mad. As she searches for a place to belong, Skyla learns what she is capable of and must decide not only if it is a curse, but whether she will control it, or be controlled herself.

THE HEAVY DARK is an urban fantasy novel, complete at 140k words. {stuff about me}

Thank you for your time and consideration.

-Me
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

Joel Q
Posts: 131
Joined: December 10th, 2009, 12:11 pm
Location: The other side of Pikes Peak
Contact:

Re: Query feedback - THE HEAVY DARK - take 2

Post by Joel Q » February 10th, 2011, 11:59 am

fersnerfer wrote: Skyla has been (Lots of passive verbs in here)called a witch her entire life, but she never thought they meant it literally.

Up until now, Skyla has just been a girl unpopular at school, a girl who sees stories in people’s shadows as they play against the walls. She always thought it was just a game, until things actually came out of the darkness, taking her mother and almost claiming Skyla as well.

She has also drawn the attention of a preacher-now-witch-hunter, The Reverend Lyle Summers, the smoking man in white with the long terrible shadow. (Her home burned, Skyla must flee everything she has known,) (I don't like the wording of that line, almost cliche) seeking answers in places where the eyes cannot see, where ravens talk and men go mad.(really like the second half of that line) As she searches for a place(echo word) to belong, Skyla learns what (she is capable of)(I want to know more about that, or at least give us a hint) and must decide not only if it is a curse, but whether she will control it, or be controlled herself.
Nice job.
You're working this query out pretty good.
Just a few minor changes and it should be done.
JQ

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest