Born to Bondage query II

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 15th, 2011, 10:56 pm

See end of thread for latest update


Really in light of all the query version's I've done now this number would be more like alphabet soup, but this particular one has been revised in light of the helpful comments made following the first post.

Paul Neilsson is a broken man. His job, self-esteem, house and even his wife and children—everything that gave his life purpose and meaning have been stripped from him, leaving him a husk of the man he once believed himself to be. Able to bear it no longer, he turns in his despair to suicide as the ultimate escape, only to wake up after and find his body naked, mutilated and horribly, terribly alive.

One nightmare had been escaped only to wind up in another far worse. He discovers that he is now just one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world—the property of a monstrous being known only as the Banshee. Having felt his despair and the surrender of life, she had reached to claim what he had cast aside and now feeds on his fear and terror even as his body labors in her mines. Following a suicidal attempt at defiance, an even worse fate is forestalled only by the arrival of a giant sorceress who appears to be both kin to and unlike the Banshee. Introducing herself to Paul as Dawn, she inexplicably offers to liberate him…if he will only agree to be her slave instead. With nothing left to lose and seeking only to escape, Paul agrees, never imagining what was to follow.

Now enslaved to his strange savior, Paul travels with his new Mistress and an enigmatic fellow slave named Sharn from world to world, facing a future that is uncertain at best. As part of his servitude, Dawn’s magic has begun to work on his body, taking the image of perfection lying deep and long-denied in his subconscious as its template to change him—and even Dawn cannot predict the end result. His first life had been a failure but now he has a chance at a new one, perhaps as someone or something entirely different. As he tries to answer the questions posed by his new existence, he finds himself changing both physically and mentally. Servant, traitor, victim, and perhaps a savior himself--Paul becomes all of these in turn as he finds himself involved in struggles that will affect the fate of millions and the future of worlds—in the end to learn that it is only when you surrender your life that you find it.

Thank you for reading the synopsis of my fantasy novel “Born to Bondage.” Complete at 250,000 words I am looking for an agent to help me find the right publisher. <insert agent-specific detail showing you’ve read up on them>
Personal detail???

If I follow the advice from the previous thread I find myself stuck trying to say anything about my life at all. All the advice I read says not to bother the agent with irrelevant details about your life that don’t affect the book: like job, schooling and background. But I don’t have any published work worth mentioning. (Poetry.com and its predecessor’s publications don’t count I wouldn’t think. They’d publish a chimp’s work) Mention of the forum at least shows I didn’t just pick up a pen one day and decide to scribble some words down. I may wind up including some version of that paragraph at least in the final version.
This synopsis may suffer from the opposite problem the last one had—too much information instead of too little. (Synopsis alone is closer to 400 words than 300) Especially as the entire start to end of the banshee segment takes up only 4 chapters of the book. But here are my thoughts. Keeping in mind the teaser on the back of a book as my guide, I want to draw the reader into the life of the character enough to show an overall sketch of the story without revealing too much detail. If I answer all the questions or tell all the travels there’d be no point in reading the book after all!
Of course, looking at this now, I have to wonder if the weakness lies in my book rather than my synopsis if this is the result. Really wish I had someone else to read it and give me their opinion. However, working with the LOTR example, what would one say? You’d have to explain some of the Hobbit’s backstory at first and the main characters, but most of the travels—which comprise the majority of the word count—would be glossed over aside from some key places or characters, winding up with the final confrontation in Mordor. Hmmm, I don’t think my synopsis is too far from that pattern. Especially as the physical journeys are just an accompaniment to those taking place in the mind of the character and it would be pointless to mention worlds.
The first post led me to add more meat to the query, I suspect and hope this one will help me trim the fat, leading to a nice balanced word steak ;)
Last edited by GaoYuQing on February 21st, 2011, 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 17th, 2011, 3:13 pm

bump?
I see people have read it at least from view counts. Is it too much? I got kind of gabby I know, writing it as I did late at night. v.v

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

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by Dankrubis » February 17th, 2011, 6:16 pm

Welcome to the forums GaoYuQing! I'll throw a critique your way. Things I take issue with are in red, my thoughts as I read are in blue.
GaoYuQing wrote: Paul Neilsson is a broken man. This is a tad cliche, plus it's telling us, not showing us. But this is a query, hard to get through it without telling. His job, self-esteem, house and even his wife and children—everything that gave his life purpose and meaning have been stripped from him, leaving him a husk of the man Cliche. he once believed himself to be. Able to bear it no longer, he turns in his despair to suicide as the ultimate escape, only to wake up after and find his body naked, mutilated and horribly, terribly alive. Awwwwwwwsome.

One nightmare had been escaped only to wind up in another far worse. He discovers that he is now just one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world—the property of a monstrous being known only as the Banshee. The hell? Having felt his despair and the surrender of life, she Since the Banshee was not originally referred to as a female, this pronoun threw me for a second. had reached to claim what he had cast aside and now feeds on his fear and terror even as his body labors in her mines. This last sentence is too convoluted. I've read it five times now and I'm still having trouble figuring out what's going on. Following a suicidal attempt at defiance, I've got a problem with the wording here, and I'm having trouble even figuring out why. I think when you put any form of the word 'suicide' and 'attempt' next to each other, the brain subconsciously lumps them together. So I'm pretty sure you're describing the attempt at defiance as suicidal, but my brain keeps reading it as a suicide attempt at defiance. Which makes no sense. Heh. Maybe wait for some other opinions on this. an even worse fate is forestalled only by the arrival of a giant sorceress who appears to be both kin to and unlike the Banshee. Introducing herself to Paul as Dawn, she inexplicably offers to liberate him…if he will only agree to be her slave instead. With nothing left to lose and seeking only to escape, Paul agrees, never imagining what was to follow. OK. I feel like you're jerking us around now. I'm gonna sum up the past two paragraphs in a succinct (and probably offensive, sorry) manner- Guy loses everything you could possible lose! He tries to kill himself, but fails! Worst life ever! But wait, he's actually a slave on an alien planet to a horrible, horrible demon! He attempts suicide again and fails again! But wait! Another demon frees him from the other demon, but this demon might be even worse than the other demon! Honestly right now, I'm just like, I get it, Paul's life is shit and he can't even kill himself. Why should I care about this guy?

Now enslaved to his strange savior, Paul travels with his new Mistress and an enigmatic fellow slave named Sharn from world to world, Oh good! Something is happening to Paul besides getting shit on and failing suicide attempts. facing a future that is uncertain at best. As part of his servitude, Dawn’s magic has begun to work on his body, taking the image of perfection lying deep and long-denied in his subconscious as its template to change him—and even Dawn cannot predict the end result. This seems kinda big to be almost non-nonchalantly plopped down here. So in return for Paul's service, Dawn agreed to change Paul into his ideal self as represented in his subconscious? Neat. His first life had been a failure but now he has a chance at a new one, perhaps as someone or something entirely different. As he tries to answer the questions posed by his new existence, he finds himself changing both physically and mentally. Servant, traitor, victim, and perhaps a savior himself--Paul becomes all of these in turn as he finds himself involved in struggles that will affect the fate of millions and the future of worlds—in the end to learn that it is only when you surrender your life that you find it. All right, all right, ending strong. Loving the last line especially.



If I follow the advice from the previous thread I find myself stuck trying to say anything about my life at all. All the advice I read says not to bother the agent with irrelevant details about your life that don’t affect the book: like job, schooling and background. But I don’t have any published work worth mentioning. Check out Nathan's FAQ on the blog portion of this site. If I were you I'd read everything there, but I'm pretty sure he goes into specifics about how you should talk about yourself in queries. (Poetry.com and its predecessor’s publications don’t count I wouldn’t think. They’d publish a chimp’s work) Mention of the forum at least shows I didn’t just pick up a pen one day and decide to scribble some words down. I may wind up including some version of that paragraph at least in the final version.
This synopsis may suffer from the opposite problem the last one had—too much information instead of too little. (Synopsis alone is closer to 400 words than 300) Especially as the entire start to end of the banshee segment takes up only 4 chapters of the book. But here are my thoughts. Keeping in mind the teaser on the back of a book as my guide, I want to draw the reader into the life of the character enough to show an overall sketch of the story without revealing too much detail. If I answer all the questions or tell all the travels there’d be no point in reading the book after all! While the Banshee section is probably needed in the book, I don't think it works in the query. See below.
Of course, looking at this now, I have to wonder if the weakness lies in my book rather than my synopsis if this is the result. Really wish I had someone else to read it and give me their opinion. However, working with the LOTR example, what would one say? You’d have to explain some of the Hobbit’s backstory at first and the main characters, but most of the travels—which comprise the majority of the word count—would be glossed over aside from some key places or characters, winding up with the final confrontation in Mordor. Hmmm, I don’t think my synopsis is too far from that pattern. Especially as the physical journeys are just an accompaniment to those taking place in the mind of the character and it would be pointless to mention worlds.
The first post led me to add more meat to the query, I suspect and hope this one will help me trim the fat, leading to a nice balanced word steak ;)

You eventually get to the guts of the story, and I like where it's going, but for a query, you need to get there quicker. I suggest trimming or even axing the section about the Banshee. As far as the bare bones of what you need for a query (well, story), you need the main character, what the main character wants, and what's preventing the main character from getting it. The first two paragraphs don't reveal any desires of the MC beyond wanting to die, and it's real hard to root for that kind of character.

Also, give us a better idea of who the antagonist is. Dawn seems to be a hardass, but not necessarily the bad guy. What's stopping Paul from achieving his goals?

That's about it. Seriously though, sounds like a fantastically unique work. Pretty cool. Good luck man!

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 17th, 2011, 8:06 pm

Thanks Dank. I think you hit on a lot of the things I really needed to hear. A couple made me cringe, but I deserved them. I hope more people may weigh in, but yours alone has me really thinking in some new directions. As I mentioned in the last part of this one, my first query had too little info apparently, and I knew this one probably had too much, it was knowing where to make the cuts. This is why I was so excited to find this forum. It always helps to see your work reflected through someone else's eyes and mind.

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

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by fersnerfer » February 17th, 2011, 9:41 pm

I am going to put my comments in blue.


GaoYuQing wrote:Really in light of all the query version's I've done now this number would be more like alphabet soup, but this particular one has been revised in light of the helpful comments made following the first post.

Paul Neilsson is a broken man. His job, self-esteem, house and even his wife and children—everything that gave his life purpose and meaning have been stripped from him, leaving him a husk of the man he once believed himself to be. Able to bear it no longer, he turns in his despair to suicide as the ultimate escape, only to wake up after and find his body naked, mutilated and horribly, terribly alive. I think you could cut away a lot of the beginning and get straight to this point.

One nightmare had been escaped only to wind up in another far worse.This line is redundant. We know this from the previous paragraph He discovers that he is now just one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world—the property of a monstrous being known only as the Banshee. Having felt his despair and the surrender of life, she had reached to claim what he had cast aside and now feeds on his fear and terror even as his body labors in her mines. Again, this could be pared back. We know that A) he killed himself, B) he woke up a slave on an alien world working in mines. Following a suicidal attempt at defiance, an even worse fate is forestalled only by the arrival of a giant sorceress who appears to be both kin to and unlike the Banshee.Again, we are back to the suicide again here. Remember that the point of the query is to get to the point. Your writing is great, but you may want to try condensing things a bit, rather than lose your point in a lot of detail. Introducing herself to Paul as Dawn, she inexplicably offers to liberate him…if he will only agree to be her slave instead. With nothing left to lose and seeking only to escape, Paul agrees, never imagining what was to follow.

Now enslaved to his strange savior, Paul travels with his new Mistress and an enigmatic fellow slave named Sharn from world to world, facing a future that is uncertain at best. As part of his servitude, Dawn’s magic has begun to work on his body, taking the image of perfection lying deep and long-denied in his subconscious as its template to change him—and even Dawn cannot predict the end result. His first life had been a failure but now he has a chance at a new one, perhaps as someone or something entirely different. As he tries to answer the questions posed by his new existence, he finds himself changing both physically and mentally. Servant, traitor, victim, and perhaps a savior himself--Paul becomes all of these in turn as he finds himself involved in struggles that will affect the fate of millions and the future of worlds—in the end to learn that it is only when you surrender your life that you find it.I think that this paragraph can also be condensed a bit. I like the last line here as well. But just remember that the point of the query is to make an agent want to read your book.

Thank you for reading the synopsis of my fantasy novel “Born to Bondage.” Complete at 250,000 words I am looking for an agent to help me find the right publisher. <insert agent-specific detail showing you’ve read up on them>
Personal detail???

To me, the hook is where he wakes up after committing suicide, not so much the suicide itself. I would try cutting straight to that, since that is where the story is. It's hard to condense a huge universe you've created with an epic story down into 250 words or less, but remember: all this is for is to make them want to read the manuscript.

I am also concerned about the length. 250k words is long. A lot of publishers might want to make it into parts. But that is a suggestion from before, if I recall.

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

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 17th, 2011, 11:07 pm

Thank you. Both of these responses have me rethinking the direction and emphasis of my query entirely. I've written something in light of this, but I'm going to let it sit and simmer for a while and post it later when I've had a day or two to think about it. As has been said and I admitted, the banshee section is only a piece of the greater story, but the real goal and drive of the protagonist...well that may come off as less exciting and dynamic if phrased wrong. Food for thought. Thanks.

glj
Posts: 109
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 11:23 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by glj » February 18th, 2011, 12:35 am

This spends too much time telling us, the reader, that Paul's life is a mess. Don't tell us this, show us. The fact that he lost everything doesn't make us sympathetic. After all, maybe he's a drunk and a gambler? Sympathy for the protagonist is more likely to be created if Paul didn't deserve it.


Paul Neilsson is a broken man. His job, self-esteem, house and even his wife and children—everything that gave his life purpose and meaning have been stripped from him, leaving him a husk of the man he once believed himself to be. Poor wording here. So he wasn't a husk, he only believed himself to be a husk? Able to bear it no longer, he turns in his despair to suicide as the ultimate escape, only to wake up after and find his body naked, mutilated and horribly, terribly alive.

One nightmare had been escaped Passive wording and awkward. only to wind up in another far worse. Too much telling. If you show us his nightmare, that is enough. He discovers that he is now just one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world—the property of a monstrous being known only as the Banshee. "Banshee" is enough. Trust the reader to understand that the banshee is monstrous. Better yet, show us monstrous behavior. Having felt his despair and the surrender of life, she had reached to claim what he had cast aside and now feeds on his fear and terror even as his body labors in her mines. Good! I really liked this sentence. It tells us much about Paul and the banshee. Following a suicidal attempt at defiance, This seems unnecessary. an even worse fate is forestalled only You over-use the words "only" and "now". by the arrival of a giant sorceress who appears to be This is a phrase to watch out for. It "appears to be" to whom? This is the author talking to the reader. both kin to and unlike the Banshee. She is like, and not like, the banshee? So vague it says nothing. Introducing herself to Paul as Dawn, she inexplicably Why "inexpicably"? To make the reader think her mysterious? offers to liberate him… if he will only agree to be her slave instead. She can't liberate him by enslaving him. She offers him a better slave opportunity. Or she can "liberate him from the banshee". But "liberate", as used, is wrong. With nothing left to lose and seeking only to escape, Paul agrees, never imagining what was to follow. Of course he doesn't imagine what is to follow. This is a statement so obvious it doesn't need to be said.

Now enslaved to his strange savior, You already told us this. Plus, hinting that she is his "savior" gets ahead of the story, where you tell us that Paul is transformed. Paul travels with his new Mistress Too much of a sexual connotation with "mistress"? Or was it intended? and an enigmatic fellow slave named Sharn from world to world, facing a future that is uncertain at best. This last part is unnecessary. Trust the reader to understand the situation. He's a slave. Of course his future is uncertain. If he breaks her favorite cup, she could kill him in her anger. As part of his servitude, Dawn’s magic has begun to work on his body, taking the image of perfection lying deep and long-denied in his subconscious as its template to change him—and even Dawn cannot predict the end result. His first life had been a failure but now he has a chance at a new one, perhaps as someone or something entirely different. As he tries to answer the questions posed by his new existence, he finds himself changing both physically and mentally. Servant, traitor, victim, and perhaps a savior himself--Paul becomes all of these in turn as he finds himself involved in struggles that will affect the fate of millions and the future of worlds—in the end to learn that it is only when you surrender your life that you find it.

Thank you for reading the synopsis of my fantasy novel Redundant to say "fantasy novel". It's like saying "false lie". “Born to Bondage.” The title is typically in all caps, no quotation marks needed. Complete at 250,000 words I am looking for an agent to help me find the right publisher.

Okay, some commenters have already said this, but 250k is WAY too long for a first novel. If you check around, some agent's submission guidelines explicitly say that they will not accept manuscripts greater than 120K from unpublished authors. And that is for fantasy and science fiction, the two most generous genres. Don't torpedo yourself by submitting a manuscript more than twice as long. Plus, if you submit and they reject, they won't look at it again, after you have split it into two books.

Just from reading your query, an agent might come to a negative opinion about the wordiness there and stop reading long before getting to your word count. A wordy, excessive query might suggest a wordy, excessive manuscript. So below is an example of how you might put the query on a diet, but still say essentially the same thing. It is not easy to convey the sense of a story in about 250 words, but it can be done. Take some time and read agent critiques of query letters, if you haven't done so already. It will give you some sense of what they will and won't like.


Paul Neilsson is a broken man. He turns to suicide for escape, only to wake up naked, mutilated and horribly alive--now one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world and the property of the Banshee. She sensed his despair and rescued him for her own use. She feeds on his fear as his crippled body labors in her mines. An even worse fate is forestalled by the arrival of Dawn, a giant sorceress. She offers to save Paul's life if he will agree to be her slave. With nothing left to lose and desperate to escape being worked to death in the mines, Paul consents.

Honoring their agreement, Dawn works her magic on his body, using the image of perfection in his subconscious as a template for changing him. Even Dawn cannot predict the end result.

Not knowing your story, I stopped here. Your ending was pretty vague, along the lines of "then interesting stuff happens". But the problem is that you don't show us any of the interesting stuff. THIS is where you can really hook our interest. Everything up to this point is setup. Everything. So now give us a taste of the new and improved Paul. Can he go back and fight the banshee? Does he have big powers but big limitations, like a genie in a bottle? By developing this (well, by at least giving hints), you should be able to create more curiosity and interest in the reader.

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by wilderness » February 18th, 2011, 12:36 am

GaoYuQing wrote:
Paul Neilsson is a broken man. His job, self-esteem, house and even his wife and children—everything that gave his life purpose and meaning have been stripped from him, leaving him a husk of the man he once believed himself to be. Able to bear it no longer, he turns in his despair to suicide as the ultimate escape, only to wake up after and find his body naked, mutilated and horribly, terribly alive.

One nightmare had been escaped only to wind up in another far worse. He discovers that he is now just one of a multitude of slaves on an alien world—the property of a monstrous being known only as the Banshee. Having felt his despair and the surrender of life, she had reached to claim what he had cast aside and now feeds on his fear and terror even as his body labors in her mines. Following a suicidal attempt at defiance, an even worse fate is forestalled only by the arrival of A giant sorceress arrives, who appears to be both kin to and unlike the Banshee. Introducing herself to Paul as Dawn, she inexplicably offers to liberate him…if he will only agree to be her slave instead. With nothing left to lose and seeking only to escape, Paul agrees, never imagining what was to follow.

Now enslaved to his strange savior, Paul travels with his new Mistress and an enigmatic fellow slave named Sharn from world to world, facing a future that is uncertain at best. As part of his servitude, Dawn’s magic has begun to work on his body, taking the image of perfection lying deep and long-denied in his subconscious as its template to change him—and even Dawn cannot predict the end result. His first life had been a failure but now he has a chance at a new one, perhaps as someone or something entirely different. As he tries to answer the questions posed by his new existence, he finds himself changing both physically and mentally. Servant, traitor, victim, and perhaps a savior himself--Paul becomes all of these in turn as he finds himself involved in struggles that will affect the fate of millions and the future of worlds—in the end to learn that it is only when you surrender your life that you find it. This is all telling us what he goes through, but not showing us.

Thank you for reading the synopsis of my fantasy novel “Born to Bondage.” Complete at 250,000 words I am looking for an agent to help me find the right publisher. <insert agent-specific detail showing you’ve read up on them>
Personal detail???
There's a lot here that can be cut. Sentences like "One nightmare had been escaped only to wind up in another far worse" do not advance the plot. The last paragraph is mainly a summary of what he is learning, but that sort of thing doesn't really belong in a query.

It's okay if you focus on only the first few chapters of your book -- a query is meant to be a teaser, not a synopsis. Take a look at Kristin Nelson's Blog Pitch Workshop, on the right side of her blog: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/

Hope that helps!

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 18th, 2011, 8:31 am

Oi. Feel like I've gone a few rounds. One thing I've learned though is the wide range of conflicting views and opinions I'll face if this forum is representative of the types of agents out there. Not very reassuring. I'm not complaining or regretting posting my queries on here, it's just a little bewildering. I say too little and people want me to expand, I expand and people want me to reduce, sometimes slashing the very descriptions others had asked for. Some want more of the storyline while others say to just focus on the opening events. And from my reading of agent blogs and query workshops, this really is the sort of diverse views I'll be facing.
Then there's the length issue. I'm not sure I *can* even split the book in half. It's complete in itself and any division, with the neccessary changes that would involve, would ruin the flow of the whole. But I'm just complaining, I still dont regret seeking feedback. It can only be good for me in the long run.

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

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by fersnerfer » February 18th, 2011, 11:19 am

I feel your pain GaoYuQing. It really is that subjective.

Have you tried reading QueryCShark's blog? She has some very good pointers (as she shreds queries apart) and I felt that I learned a lot from her website. one of the things that I found most frustrating was just how subjective the whole process is. She will hate one query and then love another query for the same reasons she hated the other one. Sometimes a submission will break all the rules but she will love it "Because it works" and makes her want to read more.

It goes to show just how important it is to research the agents beforehand, making sure you have a good idea of what they are looking for and then tailoring your query to them.
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 18th, 2011, 11:47 am

fersnerfer wrote:I feel your pain GaoYuQing. It really is that subjective.

Have you tried reading QueryCShark's blog? She has some very good pointers (as she shreds queries apart) and I felt that I learned a lot from her website. one of the things that I found most frustrating was just how subjective the whole process is. She will hate one query and then love another query for the same reasons she hated the other one. Sometimes a submission will break all the rules but she will love it "Because it works" and makes her want to read more.

It goes to show just how important it is to research the agents beforehand, making sure you have a good idea of what they are looking for and then tailoring your query to them.
Very true. I have looked over Query Shark's blog, though I have yet to do as she asks and read the whole thing. I've also read Kristen Nelson's as she was the first agent I queried (now I regret having burned that bridge as I was rejected). I've also checked and read other sites and blogs online and it's just reinforced my feeling that there are no rules. What I have gotten from these reviews that is especially helpful is how my words sound in someone else's ears. I may write something and think it sounds and means one thing, but when another reads it, it comes out totally differet. I had some real "ACK! NO!" moments reading some of these reviews, but thank God they caught those. Just makes me want to find a critique partner even more >.<
I don't have that long a list of agents I wanted to contact, so I'm hoping they all have blog sites like the first 4 I queried. But some of those didn't give any info on what they like in a query so they were blind shots.

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

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by Joel Q » February 18th, 2011, 12:28 pm

GaoYuQing
You have an interesting story here. Good descriptions and details.
I tried to go through and make suggestions, but I realized I was just cutting.
I think that's the big issue here.
So, my thought. Cut 1/3 of the query. And that should be easy because...you repeat info in each paragraph.
Cut any phrase that is similar, like "broken man/husk of man"
And cut a few extra descriptions or double adjectives.
( I can see how your story is 250,000 words)
Delete Sharn from the query, doesn't help it, just adds more length.

But you also need the story question, what's Paul's major choice that impacts the plot, the end?
The last line is great... but how does that relate to Paul and the story question.

Good luck.
JQ

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 18th, 2011, 1:44 pm

Joel Q wrote:GaoYuQing
You have an interesting story here. Good descriptions and details.
I tried to go through and make suggestions, but I realized I was just cutting.
I think that's the big issue here.
So, my thought. Cut 1/3 of the query. And that should be easy because...you repeat info in each paragraph.
Cut any phrase that is similar, like "broken man/husk of man"
And cut a few extra descriptions or double adjectives.
( I can see how your story is 250,000 words)
Delete Sharn from the query, doesn't help it, just adds more length.

But you also need the story question, what's Paul's major choice that impacts the plot, the end?
The last line is great... but how does that relate to Paul and the story question.

Good luck.
JQ
Thanks Joel. I've done just that I think. I have two versions of my query now, each taking a different tack and emphasis, but both now under 300 words (down from close to 400) by taking exactly this advice, though I haven't cut Sharn out yet as she's a constant throughout the story, a member of an impromptu trinity. But maybe I still will. Dawn and Paul are the real core characters, though I've toned down Dawn's presence in the query.
Maybe I'm just naturally wordy in my writing, and I do like describing things. Making up for my real life speaking I guess. Maybe I just need someone who can read my work and let me know if I need to prune here or there. Then my tome wouldn't be so imposing. Any takers? First 3 chapters up at http://gaoyuqing.deviantart.com/ :)
But working from the idea laid down, for instance, in K. Nelson's blog:
"When writing your pitch paragraph, all you need to do is examine the first 20 or 50 pages of your manuscript. Then zero in on the main catalyst that starts the story forward—the main conflict from which all else in the novel evolves. It’s the catalyst kernel of your story that forms your pitch. Don’t worry, I’ll show you some examples over the next couple of days but what you need to remember is that your pitch paragraph needs to read like the back cover copy of a novel. Notice that when you read the back cover of a book, it just gives a hint or a teaser of the story and that it also usually focuses on a crucial early event in the novel. That gets the ball rolling.
And the back cover copy of a book never reveals the ending—and neither should your pitch paragraph. After all, if I want to read the entire novel, I don’t want to know the ending beforehand"

This "back of the book" mentality is really what shapes my view of a query letter, and I've really tried to shape it in that fashion. The query in the form I've submitted so far really focus on the first 4 chapters, getting the ball rolling for all that will follow, leaving the rest teasing and making you wonder what's happening (well that's my intent anyways >.> ).
Anywho, thanks again, and I'll submit 1 or both versions I've created for contrast once I've mulled over them a bit longer. One follows the general shape I've done so far, just polished and shaped down in response to comments, and one's a shift away from it in response to some suggestions from Dankrubis, focusing more on Paul's desires/struggles/obstacles/goals. Thing is, at least at this point I find this second version much more boring, so we'll see.

User avatar
wilderness
Posts: 541
Joined: February 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by wilderness » February 20th, 2011, 1:28 pm

I say too little and people want me to expand, I expand and people want me to reduce, sometimes slashing the very descriptions others had asked for. Some want more of the storyline while others say to just focus on the opening events.
Hi again. I just wanted to clarify why I slashed so much. It's not that I don't want you to include details -- you absolutely should. But I thought there was too much of the plot included, going too far into the book. Instead, give us more details about about the setup, the opening chapters. Focus your query. Also, only include description that is showing not telling. If you're confused by what that means, check out this link: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/09 ... lling.html

Hope that helps!

User avatar
GaoYuQing
Posts: 78
Joined: February 10th, 2011, 9:47 am
Contact:

Re: Born to Bondage query II

Post by GaoYuQing » February 20th, 2011, 3:21 pm

wilderness wrote: Hi again. I just wanted to clarify why I slashed so much. It's not that I don't want you to include details -- you absolutely should. But I thought there was too much of the plot included, going too far into the book. Instead, give us more details about about the setup, the opening chapters. Focus your query. Also, only include description that is showing not telling. If you're confused by what that means, check out this link: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/09 ... lling.html

Hope that helps!
Thank's for the link. I had indeed wondered about that. I'll have to re-read some of my stuff with an eye for this now to see if this is a problem for me. But maybe part of the confusion here was in "how far" into the plot I was really getting? After all, the whole banshee episode takes up only the first 4 chapters of 27. I understand what you're thinking, but if I didn't want to convey the idea that the whole book is about Paul and the Banshee, then I had to complete that scene. The Banshee takes only a minor role in the scheme of Paul's adventures, with Dawn being the key element, and she's not introduced until chap 4. But this gives me new food for thought, both the telling issue as well as what portions to focus on.
Thank you very much. And please don't be bothered by my whining. As I say elsewhere, bitching is the sparks thrown up by the friction of progress. ;)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests