YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

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gilesth
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YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » June 14th, 2011, 2:23 pm

I've been working on this query for a while. I've gotten some great feedback, and I like this a lot more than previous versions. But I miss stuff. Any and all feedback is appreciated :)

Please and thank you.

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Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he’s breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him. Not to mention what his dad will do.

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, an infamous dragon named Tiraenar is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find the Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy. To get inside the lair, Chris must find a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who guard an impassible labyrinth that leads to Tiraenar’s hoard. But first he needs to fight off a dragon-worshiping cult, escape the dungeon of a soul-eating demon, and avoid scrutiny from the dragon slayers’ guild. Too bad he just got grounded.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

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Let me know if you have questions, all comments are welcome, etc. :D

Hyaline
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by Hyaline » June 14th, 2011, 2:40 pm

gilesth wrote:I've been working on this query for a while. I've gotten some great feedback, and I like this a lot more than previous versions. But I miss stuff. Any and all feedback is appreciated :)

Please and thank you.

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

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he’s breathing fire and growing scales. I wonder if "too bad he's started to breathe fire..." would work better here? That would indicate change--as I read this, I was unsure if he, you know, usually breathed fire. Like maybe he was a self-loathing dragon. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him. Not to mention what his dad will do. This is a clever turn of the phrase, but feels kind of insubstantial without knowing what his dad is like...that is, if I started turning into a mythical beast, I think my parents would be supportive and sympathetic. So why would his dad be ticked? Is he a dragon hunter? Did Chris become a dragon because he screwed up something?

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. I might combine setences 1&2--"Chris has no idea....shapeshifting, let alone why it's happening." Lucky for him, an infamous dragon named Tiraenar is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find the Tiraenar Is it just Tiraenar (as in first mention) or The Tiraenar (as used here?) Either's cool, just be consistent. , he’ll force just out of curiosity--will he force, as in brute force, or is he more going to coerce the big scary dragon? the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer. I have to confess...this made me dislike our hero a bit. He's going to use this dragon, then kill it? I dunno, maybe it's the same overactive sympathy that makes me slam on the brakes to move turtles out of the road, but this felt cruel to me--unless you show me that dragons are unredeemable badies.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy. To get inside the lair, Chris must find a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who guard an impassible labyrinth that leads to Tiraenar’s hoard. But first he needs to fight off a dragon-worshiping cult, escape the dungeon of a soul-eating demon, and avoid scrutiny from the dragon slayers’ guild. Too bad he just got grounded.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words. This is just me--but I didn't get an urban fantasy vibe from this as much as I did straight-up fantasy. But that could just be me being one-sided.

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

Let me know if you have questions, all comments are welcome, etc. :D

Sounds really cool! Good luck!

michelleimason
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by michelleimason » June 14th, 2011, 2:43 pm

I think this query is strong. I have a good sense of the character and the conflict he faces. Just a few comments.

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he’s breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild (If this is an official organization, wouldn't it be Dragon Slayers Guild? And you wouldn't need the apostrophe then.) finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him. Not to mention what his dad will do. From what standpoint? Is his dad a dragon slayer, too? Does he have a position of power in the guild?

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, an infamous dragon named Tiraenar is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find theTiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer. I'm surprised the fact he's turning into a dragon doesn't give him a little more sympathy for the dragons. Does it occur to him they might be shapeshifters, too?

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy. To get inside the lair, Chris must find a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who guard an impassible labyrinth that leads to Tiraenar’s hoard. The previous paragraph implied he doesn't know where Tiraener is, while this one gives the layout. But first he needs to fight off a dragon-worshiping cult, escape the dungeon of a soul-eating demon, and avoid scrutiny from the dragon slayers’ guild. Too bad he just got grounded. Used "Too bad" in the first paragraph.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

This story sounds intriguing, and I think you're very close on the query. Good luck!

Krista G.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by Krista G. » June 14th, 2011, 3:05 pm

gilesth wrote:Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. Great opening line:) That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he’s breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him, not to mention what his dad will do.

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, an infamous dragon named Tiraenar is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. So we're not in a fantastical world. I'd like to know a little more about how our normal world overlaps with Chris's. If Chris can find the Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer. I think this is the most intriguing line in the whole query. More about this at the bottom.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy. To get inside the lair, Chris must find a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who guard an impassible labyrinth that leads to Tiraenar’s hoard. But first he needs to fight off a dragon-worshiping cult, escape the dungeon of a soul-eating demon, and avoid scrutiny from the dragon slayers’ guild. Too bad he just got grounded. These last few sentences sound like you're just rattling off plot points to catch our attention. I wish I had a little bit better idea of how all these events fit together, more causes and effects.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words. Great title. Makes me think Chris is going to find out more about himself than he expects to.
The voice is good, and nothing really confused me. I did want to get a better sense of how all of this fits into our real world, since this is urban fantasy and you mentioned the Rocky Mountains. I also suspect Chris is going to have a hard time following through with his duty as a dragon slayer; I think he's going to develop too much empathy for this dragon (maybe because he finds out Tiraenar is his uncle?). If that's the case, you might want to hint at that internal conflict. That might even be a nice thought to end on. (Just an idea. I won't feel bad if you don't take it.)

Best of luck with this. Sounds like you're almost there.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

akila
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by akila » June 14th, 2011, 3:59 pm

Very interesting premise. Comments below:
Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he’s breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him. Not to mention what his dad will do.
I felt like the "That's a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old." is too obvious. Of course, it's a cool job. I would delete that line and add "Sixteen-year-old" in front of the first line so it reads . . . "16-year-old Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. Too bad he's starting to breathe fire and grow scales."
But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, an infamous dragon named Tiraenar is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find the Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer.
I agree --- the line "If Chris can find Tiraenar" is the most interesting one and it is kind of lost in this paragraph.
Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy. To get inside the lair, Chris must find a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who guard an impassible labyrinth that leads to Tiraenar’s hoard. But first he needs to fight off a dragon-worshiping cult, escape the dungeon of a soul-eating demon, and avoid scrutiny from the dragon slayers’ guild. Too bad he just got grounded.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.
I'm not sure I understand how the last few things connect, either. Like others here, I am really surprised that you are titling this as "urban fantasy." It seems much more to be a straight fantasy. But, interesting concept and I think it's a really straightforward query. Good luck!

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » June 14th, 2011, 6:44 pm

Great notes, I can REALLY work with these :D.

Chris may empathize with dragons in a future book if I ever get the opportunity to write a sequel, but for now, he believes all dragons are evil. He is half-dragon, but he doesn't find that out until mid-way through the book. And in this universe, dragons are the only known shapeshifters. Every time I tried to make this clear, though, I spent too much time explaining it. I think I need to work it in, even though it's not very integral to the overall plot.

In the final paragraph, I'm trying to illustrate the challenges that Chris will have to face, and I think I have an idea of how to do that and keep what's written.

For the dragon slayers' guild, it's not the official name. The actual guild is The Fraternity of Wyrm Fiends. Since that's quite a mouthful, I decided not to spend any time or space explaining that the Fraternity is the slayers' guild. :D

Thanks again for the notes! It's VERY helpful. And I can see that I'm moving in the right direction.

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » June 15th, 2011, 2:21 pm

How's this?

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s shapeshifting, they’ll kill him because dragons are the only creatures capable of transforming their bodies.

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, Tiraenar, a dragon infamous for terrorizing Europe in the 16th century, is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer before Tiraenar can burn Denver to the ground.

Reaching the dragon’s den won’t be easy, even with the help of satellite imaging. To get inside the lair, Chris needs to fight off a cult that worships Tiraenar. Then he must navigate an impassible labyrinth that’s guarded by a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who supply the beast with tasty, virgin snacks. If only he could avoid the scrutiny of the dragon slayers’ guild.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

michelleimason
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by michelleimason » June 16th, 2011, 9:40 am

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s shapeshifting, they’ll kill him because dragons are the only creatures capable of transforming their bodies. Don't know if you need the because. I think your first instinct was right that it's enough to say they'll kill him.

But Chris has no idea how to hide his unexpected shapeshifting. He doesn’t even know why it’s happening. Lucky for him, Tiraenar, a dragon infamous for terrorizing Europe in the 16th century, is holed up in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can find Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. And then he’ll kill it, fulfilling his duty as a dragon slayer before Tiraenar can burn Denver to the ground. This last line now gives us a sense of why he needs to kill Tiraener, but I think you need to give the impression he has plans to do something like that sooner. It sounds like he's been hiding out for a long time. It can easily be solved in that first line about Tireaner but saying he's just arrived and is planning to burn Denver to the ground. That will remove any sympathy for the dragon from the beginning.

Reaching the dragon’s den won’t be easy, even with the help of satellite imaging. To get inside the lair, Chris needs to fight off a cult that worships Tiraenar. Then he must navigate an impassible labyrinth that’s guarded by a city of mountain-dwelling gnomes who supply the beast with tasty, virgin snacks. If only he could avoid the scrutiny of the dragon slayers’ guild. Make this last line more active. Something like: And he has to do it all without tipping off/drawing the scrutiny of the dragon slayers' guild.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

It's looking really good. I thought it was strong to start with, and these revisions make it even stronger. Good luck!

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » June 22nd, 2011, 10:06 pm

Thanks, all :D I just got back from vacation, so I'll start working on it when I'm over the jet-lag.

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » July 3rd, 2011, 5:29 pm

I didn't like where the query was going. I needed to put some other stuff in there, so here are some re-writes I came up with. I've been trying to make improvements on my own, but I'm distracted by leaks in my crawlspace. Any ideas for me while I try to sort out my breaking home?

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him.

Lucky for him, a dragon named Tiraenar is abducting virgins and hauling them up to his den in the Rocky Mountains. If Chris can track down Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting before he starts collecting piles of gold. Then he’ll fulfill his duty as a dragon slayer and save the young women in Tiraenar’s snack jar.

When Chris is contacted by a member of a dragon-worshiping cult, he’s confronted with the idea that not all dragons are evil. And while he starts questions the guild’s blind mission to exterminate all dragons, he knows he still needs to hunt down Tiraenar and end his reign of terror.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy, even with the guild’s GPS network. Chris will be forced to navigate an impassible labyrinth guarded by a city of gnomes and fend off a soul-eating demon. And all of this must be done under the watchful eye of the guild auditor who’s investigating Chris’s involvement in the destruction of Denver’s Invesco field.

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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by Matt_X » July 4th, 2011, 3:26 pm

Hi there,

This is very intriguing premise and you have really interesting elements in this letter. My comments are below.
gilesth wrote:Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him. I agree with the previous poster--a guild usually has an official name, and if this one does I'd use it here, and if it's DSG, capitalize it.

Lucky for him, a dragon named Tiraenar is abducting virgins and hauling them up to his den in the Rocky Mountains. I'm missing the connection with the previous statement. His problem is that he's turning into a dragon--in what way is it lucky for him that a dragon is abducting virgin? The lucky thing is that Tiraenar--presumably unlike other dragons?--has the ability to help Chris, which we learn only in the next sentence, perhaps too late. Consider this: Luckily for him, the dragon Tiraenar has the ability to teach him to control his shapeshifting, but reaching Tiraenar won't be easy, even with the guild's GPS devices.If Chris can track down Tiraenar, he’ll force the dragon to teach him how to control his shapeshifting before he starts collecting piles of gold. Who is the 'he' collecting piles of gold--Chris or Tiraenar? And what's the relevance to the plot? Then he’ll fulfill his duty as a dragon slayer and save the young women in Tiraenar’s snack jar.

When Chris is contacted by a member of a dragon-worshiping cult, he’s confronted with the idea that not all dragons are evil. And while he starts to question the guild’s blind mission to exterminate all dragons, he knows he still needs to hunt down Tiraenar and end his reign of terror. I see what you're trying to say here, but it's little awkward. You don't need to remind us that Tiraenar is still bad--leaving it with Chris's new insight that there are good dragons is enough.

To accomplish his quest, Chris will be forced to navigate an impassible labyrinth guarded by a city of gnomes and fend off a soul-eating demon. And all of this must be done under the watchful eye of the guild auditor who’s investigating Chris’s involvement in the destruction of Denver’s Invesco field. Literary agents are book wonks. They may not get this reference, or know whether it's something you made up or in the real world, which it may be important for them to know, since I think you're trying to show how elements of the real world exist in this fantasy world. Consider "Mile High Stadium", much better known.


Once again, great work on this! Hope my comments were helpful, and best of luck.

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » July 6th, 2011, 10:17 pm

How's this?


Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him.

He’s not just afraid to be hunted like an animal. Chris spent his entire life believing that all dragons are evil and must be destroyed. But unlike those beasts, Chris doesn’t have any desire to abduct young women or destroy cities. In fact, he wants to protect people. If he is turning into a dragon, though, he’s terrified that he’ll become a monster. He needs to figure out what’s wrong before his only options are running for his life or surrendering to the guild.

Lucky for him, a dragon named Tiraenar is just showed up in the Rocky Mountains. When the dragon abducts a young virgin, Chris takes it upon himself to track Tiraenar. If Chris can find the beast, he’ll force it to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. Then he’ll fulfill his duty as a dragon slayer and save the young woman in Tiraenar’s snack jar.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy, even with the guild’s GPS network. Chris will be forced to navigate an impassible labyrinth guarded by a city of gnomes and fend off a soul-eating demon. And all of this must be done under the watchful eye of the guild auditor who’s investigating Chris’s involvement in the destruction of Mile High Stadium.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.


I stuck with the "dragon slayers' guild" simply because adding explaining that the Fraternity of Wyrm Fiends is the official dragon slayer's guild just took up too much space. I need to keep this short and to the point, and I don't think the name of the guild is relevant to the plot.

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » July 18th, 2011, 8:27 am

I think I got it...

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him.

He’s not just afraid to be hunted like an animal. Chris dedicated his life to the belief that all dragons are evil and must be destroyed. But doesn’t feel evil. In fact, he wants to use his newfound power to help people. If he doesn’t find a way to stop his transformation soon, though, he’ll be left with two choices: surrender to the guild and forfeit his life or run and hide, leaving behind his family and friends.

Lucky for Chris, a dragon named Tiraenar just showed up in the Rocky Mountains. When the dragon abducts a young virgin, Chris takes it upon himself to track Tiraenar. If Chris can find the beast, he’ll force it to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. Then he’ll fulfill his duty as a dragon slayer and save the young woman in Tiraenar’s snack jar.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy, even with the guild’s GPS network. Chris will be forced to navigate an impassible labyrinth guarded by a city of gnomes and fend off a soul-eating demon. And all of this must be done under the watchful eye of the guild auditor who is investigating Chris’s involvement in the destruction of Mile High Stadium.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

gilesth
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Re: YA Fantasy Query: THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW

Post by gilesth » July 20th, 2011, 12:58 pm

New version. I want to send this out tomorrow.

Dear Agent,

Chris Drake hunts dragons with an assault rifle. That’s a pretty cool job for a sixteen-year-old. Too bad he started breathing fire and growing scales. If the dragon slayers’ guild finds out that he’s turning into a dragon, they’ll kill him.

He’s not just afraid of being hunted like an animal. Chris dedicated his life to the belief that all dragons are evil and must be destroyed. But he doesn’t feel evil. In fact, he wants to use his newfound power to help people. If he doesn’t find a way to stop his transformation, though, he’ll be left with two choices: surrender to the guild and forfeit his life or run and hide, abandoning his family and friends.

Luckily, a dragon named Tiraenar just showed up in the Rocky Mountains. When the dragon abducts a young virgin from Chris’s school, the slayer takes it upon himself to track down Tiraenar. If Chris can find the beast, he’ll force it to teach him how to control his shapeshifting. Then he’ll fulfill his duty as a dragon slayer and save the girl in Tiraenar’s snack jar.

Reaching Tiraenar’s den won’t be easy, even with the guild’s GPS network. Chris must fend off a soul-eating demon and navigate an impassible labyrinth guarded by a city of gnomes while simultaneously avoiding the scrutiny of the other local dragon slayers.

THE DRAGON’S NEPHEW is a Young Adult urban fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

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