Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

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Meredith
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Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » April 26th, 2011, 12:59 am

The first query didn't do its job well enough. Here's a different take:

Rell isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. The only remnants that remain are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. Those storms and the blackened stumps of the Blighted Forest, ruined in one of the battles, are all the legacy of magic in Rell's experience. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the forest.

When Rell is caught out in a mage storm, he discovers an unexpected ability in himself. He can work magic. The trouble is the magic responds more to his emotions than to his will. That's a problem, since his big brother has a way of getting under Rell's skin. When he almost burns down the family's barn, the frightened neighbors make it clear he's no longer welcome.

No less terrified himself, Rell must leave home to find some way to control his magic. His journey will lead him to angry griffins, playful water dragons, a false teacher who is really more of a cult leader, new friends, the last surviving mage, and the tiny dragons who guard a library of magical knowledge.

MAGE STORM is a 58,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.


Newer version at post 3 7 9 below.
Last edited by Meredith on May 31st, 2011, 8:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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AllieS
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by AllieS » April 26th, 2011, 4:06 am

Rell How old is he? isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. The only remnants that remain Redundant. are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. Those storms and the blackened stumps of the Blighted Forest, ruined in one of the battles, are all the legacy of magic in Rell's experience. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the forest.

This seems more in the vein of a synopsis. You could probably combine this first paragraph into something much catchier, since the mage storms sound pretty cool, but it isn't coming off as cool as it could.

When Rell is caught out in a mage storm, he discovers an unexpected ability in himself. Awkwardly phrased. You could say something like, "he discovers he possesses the ability to etc.," though even that is a little more vague than I'd like it to be. He can work magic. This sounds very bland and also vague.The trouble is the magic responds more to his emotions than to his will. Could you give us some examples? That's a problem You already say "the trouble" in the previous line, so we know it's a problem. Also, the mention of Rell's brother comes out of no where. So far Rell is the only definite person in the query, and I feel that it'd go along smoother if you kept it that way., since his big brother has a way of getting under Rell's skin. When he almost burns down the family's barn, the frightened neighbors make it clear he's no longer welcome. Wouldn't his family stick up for him? I mean, it seems like the kid can't help it.

No less terrified himself I've read this line a couple times, and I still can't get a good grasp on what it means. Try rephrasing it to make your point clearer., Rell must leave home to find some way Vague. to control his magic. His journey will lead him A little too much telling. Even starting with, "After leaving home to search for (insert such and such) to control his powers, Rell stumbles upon (insert list here)" would work better. Not the best example, but hopefully you get my idea to angry griffins, playful water dragons, a false teacher who is really more of a cult leader, new friends, the last surviving mage, and the tiny dragons who guard a library of magical knowledge.

Hmm. This ends a little out of the blue. Could you find a way to close down the conflict? Overall, I think it sounds like a good story. Hope this helps!

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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » April 26th, 2011, 1:20 pm

Thanks so much.

Newer version:

Rell isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. All that remains are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the Blighted Forest in one of the battles of that war.

A mage storm strikes, the first now that Rell is old enough to help the men trying to save the livestock. When the storm aims a cloud of caustic yellow cinders at them, Rell's panic releases an unexpected gift for magic, creating a shield against the worst of the storm.

The trouble is that the magic responds more to Rell's emotions than to his will. The next day, when Rell's jealous big brother harasses him, the magic starts a fire that nearly burns down their barn. After that, the frightened neighbors want no part of Rell's erratic magic.

Terrified of his own abilities, Rell sets out to follow rumors of a teacher who could help him learn to control this "gift". Along the way, he has to deal with angry griffins, playful water dragons, a false teacher who is really more of a cult leader, new friends, first love, the last surviving mage, and the tiny dragons who guard a library of magical knowledge.

MAGE STORM is a 58,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.


See post 7 below for the latest version.
Last edited by Meredith on April 30th, 2011, 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AllieS
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by AllieS » April 27th, 2011, 4:12 am

Rell isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. All that remains are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the Blighted Forest in one of the battles of that war.

I love how you've condensed this, but there's something about the first line that I still don't connect with. I feel like starting with the storms that remain after the end of the war would leap into the story better. The last line in this section shows how Rell feels. But again, I still can't get a good grip on his character because you don't say how old he is.

A mage storm strikes, the first now that Rell is old enough to help the men trying to save the livestock This part could be phrased better. It's a little clunky. When the storm aims a cloud of caustic yellow cinders at them, Rell's panic releases an unexpected gift for magic, creating a shield against the worst of the storm. Yes! Specifics!

The trouble is that the magic responds more to Rell's emotions than to his will. The next day, when Rell's jealous big brother harasses him I think you could cut this. Just say, "The next day Rell's magic starts a fire ... etc.", the magic starts a fire that nearly burns down their barn. After that, the frightened neighbors want no part of Rell's erratic magic.

Terrified of his own abilities, Rell sets out to follow rumors of a teacher who could help him learn to control this "gift". Along the way, he has to deal with angry griffins, playful water dragons, a false teacher who is really more of a cult leader, new friends, first love, the last surviving mage, and the tiny Do we need to know they're tiny right now? dragons who guard a library of magical knowledge. Conflict?

MAGE STORM is a 58,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series.

Good changes!

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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by glj » April 27th, 2011, 12:19 pm

I agree with AllieS that this lacks a main conflict.

It has an inciting incident and a good background, but the closer it gets to the overall conflict of your story (and I assume there is one), the more general it becomes, degenerating into a listing of interesting creatures that the MC meets. But not a conflict. Who must Rell defeat with his new-found magic? Is the main conflict that Rell must learn to control his own magic in order to save his world?

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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » April 27th, 2011, 1:03 pm

Hmm. Even in the full novel I never explicitly state Rell's age. Just things like feeling old enough to help the men during the mage storm rather than be hustled off to safety with the children and the fact that his voice has finally settled and isn't cracking any more.

The main conflict really is Rell's need to control his magic. I could move on to where the stakes get raised on that--his magic could very well kill him if he doesn't figure it out. I'll think about that and post a revision soon.

Yes, there's someone he has to defeat (the teacher who's really a cult leader), but that's the climax, not the main conflict for this story.
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » April 30th, 2011, 4:30 pm

Latest version:

Rell isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. All that remains are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the Blighted Forest in one of the battles of that war.

A mage storm strikes, the first since Rell is old enough to help the men instead of being hustled to safety. When the storm aims a cloud of caustic yellow cinders at them, Rell's panic releases an unexpected gift for magic, creating a shield against the worst of the storm.

The trouble is that the magic responds more to Rell's emotions than to his will. The next day, when Rell's jealous big brother gets under his skin, the magic starts a fire that nearly burns down their barn. After that, the frightened neighbors want no part of Rell's erratic magic.

Terrified of his own abilities, Rell sets out to follow rumors of a teacher who could help him learn to control this "gift". Along the way, he discovers that there are others like him. What he learns from his new friends, though, is that magic is more dangerous than he ever dreamed and not just to those around him. If he can't find the right way to control it, the magic will kill him and add his ashes to the mage storms.

MAGE STORM is a 58,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.
Last edited by Meredith on May 31st, 2011, 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Joel Q » May 13th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Meredith wrote:
Solid query.
My one concern is how long this first paragraph is.
I think you could cut by 1/3 to 1/2 and still tell the story.
JQ


Rell isn't sorry that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. All that remains are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms like the one that killed his grandfather. His father may think that the world is poorer without magic, but Rell knows his family would be better off if their orchard hadn't been destroyed along with the Blighted Forest in one of the battles of that war.

A mage storm strikes, the first since Rell is old enough to help the men instead of being hustled to safety. When the storm aims a cloud of caustic yellow cinders at them, Rell's panic releases an unexpected gift for magic, creating a shield against the worst of the storm.

The trouble is that the magic responds more to Rell's emotions than to his will. The next day, when Rell's jealous big brother gets under his skin, the magic starts a fire that nearly burns down their barn. After that, the frightened neighbors (what about his family?) want no part of Rell's erratic magic.

Terrified of his own abilities, Rell sets out to follow rumors of a teacher who could help him learn to control this "gift". Along the way, he discovers that there are others like him. What he learns from his new friends, though, is that magic is more dangerous than he ever dreamed and not just to those around him. If he can't find the right way tocontrol it, the magic will kill him and add his ashes to the mage storms.

MAGE STORM is a 58,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website. (I assume you'll adjust this for individual agents)

Thank you for your time.

Meredith
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » May 31st, 2011, 8:04 pm

Newest version:
To Rell, it's a good thing that magic died at the end of the Great Mage War. The remnants, like the violent, semi-sentient mage storms, made up of the ashes of dead wizards, are enough proof of that. His father may remember a time when magic was useful, but all Rell can see is the Blighted Forest that was destroyed in one of the battles of that war, along with his family's orchard.

When Rell and his family are threatened by a mage storm, Rell is struck by a mysterious blue cinder that doesn't burn like the others. The blue ember releases an unexpected gift for magic which allows Rell to shield his family against the worst of the storm.

When Rell's jealous big brother gets under his skin, Rell accidentally starts a fire with his magic that nearly burns down their barn. After that, the frightened neighbors want no part of Rell or his erratic magic.

Terrified that he can't control his magic, Rell sets out to follow rumors of a teacher who could help him learn to restrain this "gift". Along the way, he discovers that there are others like him. What he learns from his new friends, though, is that magic is more dangerous than he ever dreamed. If he can't find a way to control it, his magic will kill him and add his ashes to the mage storms.

MAGE STORM is a 59,000-word upper middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Meredith » June 1st, 2011, 3:51 pm

Or this one (different approach):

Rell doesn't want magic. He doesn't dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage. What he'd like is just not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for.

Magic isn't even supposed to exist anymore. The last of the wizards incinerated each other a generation ago in the Great Mage War, taking their magic with them. Or rather, leaving it behind in the violent, semi-sentient mage storms composed of their ashes, wreaking death and destruction wherever they pass.

Caught in a mage storm, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic. Suddenly, he's protected from the fury of the storm and able to shield his family, too. Maybe magic's not so bad, after all. Rell thinks he could get used to feeling special--until he realizes he has no control over his magic.
Now, he has to find someone who can help him learn to restrain this "gift" before he ends up adding his ashes to the mage storms.

MAGE STORM is a 59,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.
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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by Quill » June 1st, 2011, 5:00 pm

Meredith wrote:Or this one (different approach):

Rell doesn't want magic. He doesn't dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage. What he'd like is just not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change.

Magic isn't even supposed to exist anymore.
You start with five negative comments:

Rell doesn't want...

He doesn't dream of...

...not a mage.

What he'd like is not...

Magic isn't...

It is usually stronger to say what is, rather than what isn't.
Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for.
Well, what DID he wish FOR? Everything you mention is stuff he DOESN'T wish for. See the point there?
The last of the wizards incinerated each other a generation ago in the Great Mage War, taking their magic with them. Or rather, leaving it behind in the violent, semi-sentient mage storms composed of their ashes, wreaking death and destruction wherever they pass.
Then you contradict yourself, as though you are not sure what your story says:

"taking their magic... Or rather, leaving it behind"

Might be better to simply state what is, rather than what isn't and then what is.
Caught in a mage storm, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic. Suddenly, he's protected from the fury of the storm and able to shield his family, too. Maybe magic's not so bad, after all. Rell thinks he could get used to feeling special--until he realizes he has no control over his magic.
Now, he has to find someone who can help him learn to restrain this "gift" before he ends up adding his ashes to the mage storms.
This part conveys rather well the gist of the main event and conflict. It might come across as a bit glib, him saying maybe magic's not so bad after all, and he could get used to the feeling, after emphasizing all the power and death and destruction. Lessens the drama somewhat, for me. Not sure from the blurb if the story is humorous. Possibly a bit of inconsistency in the voice, hence we're not quite sure what to expect from the manuscript.
MAGE STORM is a 59,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.
Cool that the site asks for pages and a synopsis. That should help your chances. Sounds like an interesting story.

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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by AllieS » June 4th, 2011, 5:29 am

I like the different approach. Here are my thoughts.

Rell doesn't want magic. He doesn't dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage. What he'd like is just not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for. I agree with what Quill said about this. I think you could cut it all and start with the next paragraph. An intro line like this might work: "Magic isn't supposed to exist anymore in Rell's world," or something of the sort. Then you can tweak the rest to go along with it.

Magic isn't even supposed to exist anymore. The last of the wizards incinerated each other a generation ago in the Great Mage War, taking their magic with them. Or rather, leaving it behind in the violent, semi-sentient mage storms composed of their ashes, wreaking death and destruction wherever they pass. Yeah, you seem to contradict yourself. But that's something you can easily fix. I love the detail on what the mage storms are made of. This is a good paragraph.

Caught in a mage storm, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic. Suddenly, he's protected from the fury of the storm and able to shield his family, too. Maybe magic's not so bad, after all. Rell thinks he could get used to feeling special--until he realizes he has no control over his magic.

Now, he has to find someone who can help him learn to restrain this "gift" before he ends up adding his ashes to the mage storms. I miss the detail about the conflict you included in the previous queries. What you say here isn't enough to keep me interested.

MAGE STORM is a 59,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

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Re: Totally New Query for MAGE STORM (MG Fantasy)

Post by TomLysander » June 4th, 2011, 3:27 pm

Hi! I'm new here, but here are some of my thoughts on how to focus this query. My first instinct is that it is short and so you have some room to add more detail here.
Meredith wrote:Or this one (different approach):

Rell doesn't want magic. He doesn't dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage. What he'd like is just not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for.I agree with earlier critics: you want to get around the negativity of these opening lines. Turn it to presencer: instead of Rell not wanting magic, tell us why. My first guess is FEAR -- his first encounters with magic aren't those of magicians of old, but of mysterious ash storms that envelop cities and smother them. If Rell is in fact ambivalent -- likes the legendary magic, but knows that it is monstrous now -- then bringing out this double-sidedness is better than reflecting on negativity to start with.

Magic isn't even supposed to exist anymore. The last of the wizards incinerated each other a generation ago in the Great Mage War, taking their magic with them. Or rather, leaving it behind in the violent, semi-sentient mage storms composed of their ashes, wreaking death and destruction wherever they pass.This paragraph can be trimmed in terms of history -- and expanded in terms of the mage storms. Tell us why they're frightening; tell us who they hurt.

Caught in a mage storm, Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic.I like this idea of magic as infection -- is this more or less how magic operates in Rell's world? If so, it's worth drawing out. Suddenly, he's protected from the fury of the storm and able to shield his family, too. Maybe magic's not so bad, after all. Rell thinks he could get used to feeling special--until he realizes he has no control over his magic.does he hurt someone? does this magic change his dynamic with his brother?
Now, he has to find someone who can help him learn to restrain this "gift" before he ends up adding his ashes to the mage storms.might be worth expanding on this -- does he have clues? what are going to be the obstacles that he must face? but I like the idea of him outrunning his own devolution into ash and dust

MAGE STORM is a 59,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.
Again, the best queries will fit comfortably on a page, and you still have some white space left. So you should be willing to spread out a little -- expand on stuff here. You have the kernel of the plot, so you might focus on elements like character, world-building, tone, etc. If it matches the novel, I'd draw out the idea of magic-as-infection. I like this query as a start, so keep up the good work! Kudos, Tom

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