Query: Of Shadows and Angels

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Hillsy
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Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Hillsy » February 15th, 2011, 2:48 pm

Hi guys.

NEW REVISION FURTHER DOWN

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Dear Agent

Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.


The world is a harsh wasteland, terrorized by wild, magical beasts. Mankind exists in isolated city states, run by either the passive ‘City Network’ or by one of the aggressive, ambitious Gangs. They are walled in against the world and each other, locked in a war of petty skirmishes neither side can hope to win.

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Still in training and with a slew of discipline issues to his name, Layne is surprised when his superiors permit him to personally investigate how their security was so easily breached. However, someone with power and authority has another role for Layne: Traitor.

Framed as a conspirator, and without sufficient proof of his innocence, Layne’s only choice is to flee. But there’s only one place he can run – to the Gangs.

As Layne struggles to survive within the Gang’s Fortress he finds many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to label evil, his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name.

However, the assault on the Garrison is only the first step. Using prototype technology the Gangs, aided by the very people complicit in vilifying Layne, intend to end the stalemate and tip the balance of power irrevocably in their favour. But doing so may bring about a cataclysm that will stop the fighting permanently and only Layne can stop them. Assuming he can conquer his own fears and doubts in time.

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

NEW REVISION FURTHER DOWN
Last edited by Hillsy on February 17th, 2011, 10:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

Ermo
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Ermo » February 15th, 2011, 3:04 pm

Hi hillsy -

Here are my comments.
Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.
I don't think this is needed. You can get this information through more effectively in the rest of the query. I'd put the title and word count number at the end.
The world is a harsh wasteland, terrorized by wild, magical beasts. Mankind exists in isolated city states, run by either the passive ‘City Network’ or by one of the aggressive, ambitious Gangs. They are walled in against the world and each other, locked in a war of petty skirmishes neither side can hope to win.
Who is walled in - the Gangs?
Framed as a conspirator, and without sufficient proof of his innocence, Layne’s only choice is to flee. But there’s only one place he can run – to the Gangs.
Conspirator of what? Need more detail to know why he runs.
As Layne struggles to survive within the Gang’s Fortress he finds many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to label evil, his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name.
I like this twist. Can you narrow down the Gang's to one person/beast he connects with . It feels kind of distant.
However, the assault on the Garrison is only the first step. Using prototype technology the Gangs, aided by the very people complicit in vilifying Layne, intend to end the stalemate and tip the balance of power irrevocably in their favour. But doing so may bring about a cataclysm that will stop the fighting permanently and only Layne can stop them. Assuming he can conquer his own fears and doubts in time.
I'm confused, I have to admit. Isn't "stop the fighting permanently" a good thing? Why would Layne want to stop that?

I like the writing in here. I just want to get a better sense of the villian in here. It sounds like there is a big decision to be made by Layne and that's great but I had a hard time understanding the consequences of that decision.

I hope this helps a bit - good luck!

Joel Q
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Joel Q » February 15th, 2011, 6:12 pm

I remember this one from your earlier posts.
Flows well. Good details.
But could use a few tweaks.
You have a pretty good setup, world, character and conflict, but the end falls flat.
JQ

[quote="Hillsy"]

Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.
(Delete this and move title, scifi, and word count to a short closing sentence before your personal info.)


The world is a harsh wasteland, terrorized by wild, magical beasts. Mankind exists in isolated city states, run by either the passive ‘City Network’ or by one of the aggressive, ambitious Gangs. They are walled in against the world and each other, locked in a war of petty skirmishes neither side can hope to win. (clarify if they are "walled in" in separate cities, or in the same cities. From what I remember they are in different cities.)

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Still in training and with a slew of discipline issues to his name, Layne is surprised when his superiors permit him to personally investigate how their security was so easily breached. However, someone with power and authority has another role for Layne: Traitor. (good, gives us a look at Layne and his problem)

Framed as a conspirator, and without sufficient proof of his innocence, Layne’s only choice is to flee. But there’s only one place he can run – to the Gangs. (good, sets up conflict)

As Layne struggles to survive within the Gang’s Fortress he finds many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to label evil, his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name. (Good, but might give a detail about a specific action or two.)

(this last para could use some work.)
However, the assault on the Garrison is only the first step. Using prototype technology (I think that can all be deleted, b/c it doesn't help the story/query) the Gangs, aided by the very people (the real Garrison traitors?) complicit in vilifying Layne, intend to end the stalemate and tip the balance of power irrevocably in their favour. But doing so may bring about a cataclysm that will stop the fighting permanently and only Layne can stop (echo) them. Assuming he can conquer his own fears and doubts in time. (Delete this line unless you can give some more details as to why it's important.)
I agree, give us a hint at the real traitor, and maybe a motive.
And we need a "choice" --what is Layne's choice and what happens either way?
Why is he the only one who can stop them?
And again, agree with Ermo, isn't stopping the fighting a good thing? I think we need some clarification on this.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Emily J » February 15th, 2011, 7:27 pm

Hillsy wrote:Hi guys.

Well it's amazing what a few months away from a project and stumbling across a single sentence can do. So I've gone back re-jigged my query and I think (Hope? Pray?) I've got the wording right to get the ideas through. Under 300 words as well!! (299 to be precise...hehe)

Please, leave your comments, any thoughts are welcome.

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

Dear Agent

Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory. I agree with Joel Q and my impulse would be to drop this paragraph and add the title at the end


The world is a harsh wasteland, terrorized by wild, magical beasts. feels a bit adjective-heavy, I would suggest dropping "harsh" as it is implied and I think "The world is a wasteland" sounds better to my ears, also consider dropping wild- may be implied in "beasts" Mankind exists in isolated city hyphen here states, run by either the passive ‘City Network’ and what is the 'City Network?' sort of vague or by one of the aggressive, ambitious i think you are using two adjectives where you could pick one Gangs. They indefinite pronoun are walled in against the world and each other, locked in a war of petty skirmishes neither side can hope to win.

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Still in training and with a slew of discipline issues to his name, "slew of discipline issues to his name" feels wordy Layne is surprised when his superiors permit him to personally investigate how their security was so easily breached. However, someone with power and authority has another role for Layne: Traitor.

Framed as a conspirator, and without sufficient proof why do we need "sufficient" here? of his innocence, Layne’s only choice is to flee. But there’s only one place he can run – to the Gangs.

As Layne struggles to survive within the Gang’s Fortress comma here he finds many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to label evil, his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name. "his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name" feels stilted, what actions? can we use specifics rather than generalities?

However, the assault on the Garrison is only the first step. Using prototype technology comma the Gangs, aided by the very people complicit in vilifying Layne, w hat prototype technology? like the first technology ever?? what people? "complicit in vilifying" also feels a bit stilted intend to end the stalemate and tip the balance of power irrevocably in their favour. <-- british sp? But doing so may bring about a cataclysm that will stop the fighting permanently and only Layne can stop them. what cataclysm? Assuming he can conquer his own fears and doubts in time. the last sentence should be stronger

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So - how much more work do I need?

Thanks for your time and thoughts
This isn't bad. Right now it feels a bit vague, though. Two sides, some sort of conspiracy, a man framed as a traitor, I think I am missing some specifics. And what about those magical beasts in the first sentence?? Or the wasteland?? I kept waiting for that to come back but the first sentence seems like the introduction to the world outside the city-states that may be superfluous to the plot of your story. Is there magic in this world, what kind of technology? What are the differences between the city-states of the Gangs and that of the City Network? I'm not sure. Also, some of your phrases felt overly writer-y (if that makes sense) and could have flowed a bit more organically.

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GaoYuQing
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by GaoYuQing » February 15th, 2011, 11:20 pm

Only fair I try and return the favor before heading to bed. I'll leave alone the items beaten to death by previous posters. I can feel some of your pain: being torn between trying to hint at and refer to as much as possible without getting your word count too high. I'm good at picking things up by inference, but seems these items bothered others, and perhaps would a busy agent as well.
Hillsy wrote:Hi guys.

The world is a harsh wasteland, terrorized by wild, magical beasts. Mankind exists in isolated city states, run by either the passive ‘City Network’ or by one of the aggressive, ambitious Gangs. They are walled in against the world and each other, locked in a war of petty skirmishes neither side can hope to win. agree that first sentence seems a bit adjective-y. I liked the dual meaning behind the walls: both phyical and cultural/emotional

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Still in training and with a slew of discipline issues to his name, Layne is surprised when his superiors permit him to personally investigate how their security was so easily breached. However, someone with power and authority has another role for Layne: Traitor. I had to read the second sentence a couple times before I got it. Something about the phrasing just seems confusing. perhaps something more like "Still a cadet (or whatever your culture calls a trainee), with a host of black marks next to his name, Layne..."

Framed as a conspirator, and without sufficient proof of his innocence, Layne’s only choice is to flee. But there’s only one place he can run – to the Gangs.

As Layne struggles to survive within the Gang’s Fortress he finds many of his long-held beliefs are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war easier to swallow. Faced with an enemy he finds increasingly difficult to label evil, his idealism hampers the actions he must take to clear his name. perhaps I'm off base here, but prejudices dont sound like something that can be propoganda, but ideas can be. the reference to his idealism also makes me wonder what its focus is--perhaps correctly.

However, the assault on the Garrison is only the first step. Using prototype technology, the Gangs--aided by the very people complicit in vilifying Layne-- intend to end the stalemate and tip the balance of power irrevocably in their favour. But doing so may bring about a cataclysm that will stop the fighting permanently and only Layne can stop them. Assuming he can conquer his own fears and doubts in time.Ok, I have to confess I'm a big fan of using commas and hyphens when each seem most appropriate depending on the kind of pause. I also have to agree that mention of permanently ending the fighting made me wonder if it was a bad thing, though I know what you are driving at. perhaps something like "will put an end to more than just the fighting"
it's almost 11:30pm after a very weary day. hope I was coherent enough.

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Hillsy
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Hillsy » February 17th, 2011, 10:48 am

VERSION 2

First off, thanks all the comments. Believe it or not I think it must have been an improvement on my earlier efforts; most of you agreed on the same failings...excellent news...I think....

Well, this is like the least fun game ever!!!! How can you come up with a good two dozen sentences to describe something and decide all of them are either too vague, too confusing, too short, too long, too flowery, too boring or just rubbish? I tell ya, I've been staring at this page for 2 days now.....

A quick note. I've left the info line where it is for the moment purely because otherwise I'll be starting with 54 words of world building and exposition. I'm rather worried by this, what with the increased focus on hooks and pitch-lines, and so that info line says "This is whats further down, don't worry." I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this?

Anyways - Onto the revision

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

Dear Agent

Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.


The world is a wasteland. Civilisation has fractured into a loose network of isolated city-states. A number have gone rogue, withdrawing from the network and treating the passive Cities as just another resource. These Gangs and the Cities are locked in a war of petty skirmishes, neither side able to break the stalemate.

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. With a reputation for insolence, and still months away from completing his training, Layne is surprised when his superiors accept his intention to investigate the attack personally. The spectre of treachery looms around the Garrison High Command, and someone has already arranged for Layne to fill the role of traitor himself.

Framed and without proof of his innocence, Layne has to flee the City. But there’s only one place he can run to – and the Gang’s Fortress might just hold the evidence he needs.

Inside and in danger, Layne starts working the door at a high-class brothel to cover his identity. With growing understanding and respect for the brothel’s Madame, Lady Jenivere, comes the realisation many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war more palatable. Worse still, the actions necessary to clear his name are feeling more like torture and murder than ‘interrogation’ and ‘execution’.

Faced with an enemy increasingly difficult to label evil, and evidence that Garrison leaders are complicit in Gang plans to escalate hostilities, Layne’s own altruism might prevent him from stopping them. Because if the Gangs break the stalemate it could cause a cataclysmic, and permanent, end to the fighting…….and sometimes forging peace is more deadly than waging war.

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

So what do you think??? I've tried to bring in a bit more detail. I'm just hoping I haven't swamped the thing....it's now 313 words....getting dangerously long now.....

All comments welcome

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by glj » February 17th, 2011, 1:32 pm

Hillsy, I have not read this before, and didn't read the previous comments, so below are my first impressions. I hope they help. Don't get discouraged, writing the query letter should require as much effort and attention to detail as writing the manuscript itself, and more. Effort spent here is worthwhile.

It reads pretty well overall, but you spend too much time setting up (just my opinion). I suggested some changes/weak spots below.


Please consider for representation representing (less awkward) my science fiction novelmanuscript (agents seem to hate "fiction novel", as a novel is by definition a work of fiction), OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory. Save the detail for below. There is no need to repeat things. And you have a very limited number of words in which to get your story across.

Include the word count. If your word count is too high, then you are not yet ready to query!
[/color]


The world is a wasteland. Civilisation has fractured into a loose network of isolated city-states. A number have gone rogue, withdrawing from the network and treating the passive Cities as just another resource. These Gangs and the Cities are locked in a war of petty skirmishes, neither side able to break the stalemate. This is ALL setup. Yes, you need to communicate the setting, but try to work it in, don't dump here.


Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Not sure if this is needed. It seems that all you need to say to set up is that the two sides are fairly evenly matched, trading attacks and skirmishes, but no clear advantage is held by either side. With a reputation for insolence, Is this needed? Doesn't seem to be necessary. and still months away from completing his training, Doesn't seem necessary either, unless you are trying to show that Layne is new and expendable. Layne is surprised when his superiors accept his intention to investigate the attack personally. Awkward. How does someone accept your "intention"? What you are trying to say is Layne volunteered to investigate and was suprised when his superiors agreed. The spectre of treachery looms Cliche around the Garrison High Command, and someone has already arranged for Layne to fill the role of traitor himself. Telling, all telling. Don't tell us "treachery looms". What I get from this query, but only by reading between the lines, is that Layne volunteers to spy, is surprised that his superiors agree, they tell him that he is going to be set up to appear to be a traitor so that the enemy will accept him, but then the cover is so good that Layne has doubts that he will survive returning to the Garrison, assuming the enemy doesn't kill him. Does he have doubts whether he is being sent on a mission, albeit with a strong cover story, or does he think someone is just trying to get rid of him? But he is not a person of any power or position, so why kill him? Be careful that you don't drop hints that confuse the reader, i.e., the line that they have "already arranged" for him to play the role of traitor.

Framed and without proof of his innocence, Layne has to flee the City. But there’s only one place he can run to – and the Gang’s Fortress might just hold the evidence he needs. This doesn't say anything that the reader doesn't already know, or hasn't already guessed. He goes to the Gang's hideout? No surprise there, because if he doesn't, there is no story.

Inside and in danger, Again, the danger is implicit for a spy. Instead, you could tell us why he works at a brothel. Did the Garrison people tell him to go there? Is there a contact working there? Do the leaders of the Gang frequent the place? Is a brothel the best way to hide one's identity? Wouldn't it be more logical that Layne somehow broadcast that he is a traitor from the Garrison? Layne starts working the door at a high-class brothel to cover his identity. With growing understanding and respect for the brothel’s Madame, Lady Jenivere, comes the realisation many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war more palatable. This would have FAR more impact if you show us an instance of his realization, instead of telling it to us. It seems so cold and factual and uninteresting this way. Worse still, the actions necessary to clear his name are feeling more like torture and murder than ‘interrogation’ and ‘execution’. Again, showing this would be more gripping.

Faced with an enemy increasingly difficult to label evil, and evidence that Garrison leaders are complicit in Gang plans to escalate hostilities, This is what you need to pump up! Here is where my interest increased. And again, show us an incident that triggers Layne's realization. Make it real to the reader! Layne’s own altruism might prevent him from stopping them. This doesn't help. First, we haven't seen any indication of altruism on Layne's part. Second, it just sounds so remote. Use active, engaging language here. Hammer home the dilemma. "Layne wavers, knowing that he can only go home if he helps the Garrison. But if he helps the Gang break the stalemate and bring peace, the cost will be far more deaths--deaths on both sides. Or some such. Because if the Gangs break the stalemate it could cause a cataclysmic, and permanent, end to the fighting…….and sometimes forging peace is more deadly than waging war. Nice ending, I like it. However, I read this as the Garrison is trying to help the Gang win. Huh? This won't fly, unless you show us that the Garrison leaders are either a) going to get great positions in the Gang for selling out, or b) perpetrating some further deception. They wouldn't help the Gang to conquer and kill themselves, would they?

I see no tie-in of the title with the plot so far. Are you sure of the title?

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by GaoYuQing » February 17th, 2011, 2:41 pm

Well I liked the new version best, then read glj's post and went hmm. I think there's two camps of people on this forum. Those who want more detail and those who want less. I tend to be a minimalist myself, letting the reader wonder and want to fill in the blanks himself by reading the book. Besides, once you start adding detail about one aspect of the story, you'll find yourself hard pressed to ignore it in other parts, unless you want to artificially inflate one angle and subplot over the rest. And that's something I think happened with this critique, but to each their own, and you'll have to make the final call. Do you want to play down the background of your character at the expense of giving less insight into him to build up the plotline later? Or do you want to paint a portrait of your main character and sketch out the story, leaving the reader curious how he will prevail. Is your book character or event driven? That might be a key. That is to say, is your book built around how events happen and how your character faces them, or how your character drives events into action?
Just my two cents. I like this last query myself. You have a nice balance. Two sections to describe your setting and your main character's situation, a transition section to show pivital moment of change as he goes from city to gang, and two more sections to describe the drama after. Don't know if that was deliberate or not, but I think it works.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Lil Tailor » February 18th, 2011, 1:14 am

Hillsy wrote: Dear Agent

Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.

The world is a wasteland. Civilisation has fractured into a loose network of isolated city-states. A number have gone rogue, withdrawing from the network and treating the passive Cities as just another resource. These Gangs and the Cities are locked in a war of petty skirmishes, neither side able to break the stalemate.

Start here
Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. With a reputation for insolence, and still months away from completing his training, Layne is surprised when his superiors accept his intention to investigate the attack personally. The spectre of treachery looms around the Garrison High Command, and someone has already arranged for Layne to fill the role of traitor himself.

Framed and without proof of his innocence, Layne has to flee the City. But there’s only one place he can run to – and the Gang’s Fortress might just hold the evidence he needs. You should combine these two sentences. Then write one more sentence to expand.

Inside and in danger, Layne starts working the door at a high-class brothel to cover his identity. With growing understanding and respect for the brothel’s Madame, Lady Jenivere, comes the realisation many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war more palatable. Worse still, the actions necessary to clear his name are feeling more like torture and murder than ‘interrogation’ and ‘execution’.
Faced with an enemy increasingly difficult to label evil, and evidence that Garrison leaders are complicit in Gang plans to escalate hostilities, Layne’s own altruism might prevent him from stopping them. Because if the Gangs break the stalemate it could cause a cataclysmic, and permanent, end to the fighting…….and sometimes forging peace is more deadly than waging war.
You are drowning me with info. You really need to make me want to read it. Why is layne special? you say he has a reputation for insolence. Give me an example. Show me why he is totally wrong for this job, why its totally surprising. Your story sounds interesting, just cut the fat. I tend to think less is more as well. And at least for me, when I start explaining my world I tend to just bog down the reader.

I know you're funny because the "maths!" line is like the funniest thing I've read in a while and I'm confident you'll get it.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Hillsy » February 18th, 2011, 7:19 am

Right. I think what’s happening is becoming somewhat unhelpful and a bit of clarity is needed here. That is to say I’m not disregarding the opinions here. I suffer from a chronic lack of confidence so it’s not that I think “I know better” it’s that I think “I’m too stupid to get what they mean”. I’d like to make that distinction straight up.

OK, I’ll be honest. Glj and Lil Tailor’s response kinda made me angry, in that frustrated “What do you want from me!!!” kind of way (usually delivered kneeling on the floor and screaming at the heavens, Platoon style). After I retrieved my computer from the bin and putting away the shotgun, I remembered none of this is personal and so I tried to ask myself ‘why’ I’m so pissed.

I think it’s because I’m not just trimming fat – I’m taking limbs off as well. I mean I’ve got no mention of my second protagonist and her POV probably takes up a good 35-40% of the word count, most of which is centred around a second main plot ina different location to the first. I’m also ignoring the magic system and the science behind it (This is proper, full-blown science fantasy here) which is the entire reason the war exists in the first place and in doing so slashed two more vital characters. I’ve got a massive plot twist at the end – that’s gone. How in the name of Zeus do you keep a plot alive when so much of it has been removed?

And therein lies the problem I think. I’m trying to keep a whole body alive, everyone else only needs one part of that body functioning to say “Yes, I think that works”. Problem is everyone thinks a different part of the body is vital.

“He who defends everything, defends nothing.” – How true.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Lil Tailor » February 18th, 2011, 10:50 am

Mmm... don't feel that way. I have like 47 different versions of the same query letter on my computer. I promise, I know how you feel.

There is an exercise in one of Nathan's posts (yes I'm going to be that guy) where he tells you to boil your story down to one sentence. Then three... so on and so forth. It's hard.

I think you have plenty of room here to add the new character. I'm going to paraphrase. and yes... I know its cheesy

"Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. Still reeling from his last 5 day bout in solitary confinement for stealing from the officer's mess hall, Layne is surprised when his superiors decide he must find out what happened. Yet the more he digs into it, the more he finds the spectre of treachery looming in around the Garrison High Command... and someone has already arranged for Layne to fill the role of traitor.

Framed and without proof of his innocence, Layne flee the City and the only place he can go is the Gang’s Fortress. *

There he meets Tracy, a wise-cracking, magic flinging female elf. Turns out that the city is really a cover for the consortium of trolls who, after a lifetime of living under bridges, have decided they have had enough. Together, they will have to travel to never never land in order to confront the head troll himself! Layne will have to make a choice, is he willing to turn his back on his former life or will he combine his military skills with Tracy's magic in order to save not just the elves, but the world as well."

OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS is a 65000 word fantasy novel. The full novel is available upon request.

**

I'm probably not being helpful, but I tried.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by GaoYuQing » February 18th, 2011, 11:16 am

I feel your pain. Wanna create a scream choir? :3
As I grouse in the last post in my query thread, everyone seems to want different things, both the reviewers here and the agents I've researched so it can feel a bit like an excersize in futility sometime. Still--to reassure everyone reading this who may have been among this number--I believe my query letter has only gotten better since I began seeking other opinions. Complaints are merely the sparks thrown up by the friction of progress. Ultimately we're just going to have to pick a path and stick to it. For those agents who have blogs and guidelines detailing what they like, this makes it a bit easier. Beyond that we just have to go with our gut.
Keep at it. I have this image that our books are like our babies, and when we meet someone new we want to show them all the pictures in our wallet and cell phone, but time doesn't permit, so we have to pick the images that we like the best and which we feel display the character of our baby to the best advantage.

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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Hillsy » February 18th, 2011, 11:30 am

Haha....That's pretty impressive!

My point was that the questions will always keep coming....What if someone wants to know about the Gang's history? Their motivations? etc

Without going into specifics, there will always be people who say "this should be in" there or ask "why isn't that be in there". Sometimes you've got to say you don't agree. In your paraphrasing, there's no history to the conflict. Some people will be cool with that, others won't.

The only other option you've got is to edit out the bits that give arise to questions, and sooner or later you're going to cut into the bones that hold the whole thing together. Yeah you can put the remains back together but it stops being the story you wrote but something smaller but neater.

But, hey, I really appreciate that you're trying to help!

Joel Q
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by Joel Q » February 18th, 2011, 12:05 pm

Hillsy wrote:
Please consider for representation my science fiction novel, OF SHADOWS AND ANGELS, where Layne, a military trainee, is framed as a traitor and must find proof of his innocence deep within enemy territory.
(Still think this needs to be delete, and reuse the title, genre, word count in a closing sentence, based on QueryShark.)

The world is a wasteland. Civilisation has fractured into a loose network of isolated city-states. A number have gone rogue, withdrawing from the network and treating the passive Cities as just another resource. These Gangs and the Cities are locked in a war of petty skirmishes, neither side able to break the stalemate.
(To save space this paragraph could be deleted, but would reuse, at least a portion of, the last sentence --skirmishes/stalemate-- in the next paragraph as the second sentence.)

Layne barely survived the latest Gang strike, a bold assault on the City’s military facility, the Garrison. With a reputation for insolence, and still months away from completing his training, Layne is surprised when his superiors accept his intention to investigate the attack personally. The spectre of treachery looms around the Garrison High Command, and someone (too vague, doesn't help query, delete or reword, give a small hint, a political leader, ranking officer, his supervisor, etc.) has already arranged for Layne to fill the role of traitor himself.

Framed and without proof of his innocence, Layne has to flee the City. But there’s only one place he can run to – and the Gang’s Fortress might just hold the evidence he needs. (reword, move the "and"... run to, the Gang's Fortress--and it might just hold...)

Inside and in danger, Layne starts working the door at a high-class brothel to cover his identity ( Not sure what that means, sounds like a subplot, maybe to much for a query... how about to buy food, or to fit in, something simple). With growing understanding and respect for the brothel’s Madame, Lady Jenivere, comes the realisation many of his prejudices are just Garrison propaganda, designed to make the war more palatable. (good) Worse still, the actions necessary to clear his name are feeling more like torture and murder than ‘interrogation’ and ‘execution’.

Faced with an enemy increasingly difficult to label evil, and evidence that Garrison leaders are complicit in Gang plans to escalate hostilities, Layne’s own altruism might prevent him from stopping them. Because if the Gangs break the stalemate it could cause a cataclysmic, and permanent, end to the fighting…….and sometimes forging peace is more deadly than waging war. (Like that line, that's from your first try, right?)
I'm not sure about a query for a epic scifi manuscript, maybe world building is important, if so keep that in there.
But I think the more important issue you have is we're still not sure what Layne is supposed to do, and why it's him.
Is he questioning his loyalty to one side or the other?
What did he discover about his false treason?
What does Layne want to see, the stalemate or the peace?
I think we need to see Layne's story question in a clearer light, the choice he has to make and how it impacts the story.
Other than that, I think you have a solid query.

littlebird
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Re: Query: Of Shadows and Angels

Post by littlebird » February 25th, 2011, 6:00 pm

Not sure that this helps, but I left my second MC out of my query besides mentioning her name...

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