Query: "Griffin's Song" YA Adventure

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Thalia
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Re: Query: "Griffin's Song" YA Adventure

Post by Thalia » October 11th, 2011, 3:24 pm

Hey! First of all, I definitely like the concept. I can be kind of harsh, or so I'm told, but if I am it doesn't mean I don't think it's still pretty good.
GingerWrite wrote:When pirates slaughter fourteen-year-old Sarah Whitman’s parents, she becomes a captive on the deadliest pirate ship in 18th century Hansa: the Griffin’s Song. Captain Tiras refuses to kill her while she is a child, but that means her time is up the second she becomes a woman on her sixteenth birthday. This sentence doesn't flow so well. Or well at all. I'd suggest Captain Tiras refuses to kill a child, but the second she turns sixteen her time is up.

Within hours of boarding, Sarah discovers that one crew member is bent on having her killed sooner rather than later. Um... no. That is way too vague, and you never touch back on it. Either make it seem like it's part of the story, take it out completely, or come up with an alternative like Within hours of boarding, Sarah discovers that not all of the crew shares their captains reservations. Her only buffer is Charles, a low-ranking shipmate who could literally hold the key to her escape. Then, when a doctor tells Sarah she is ready to bear children, she thinks she’s run out of time and the doctor accidentally dies at her hand*. I agree, that sentence does not work. Furthermore... why does she need a doctor to tell her? If she gets her period, she probably knows what it means, and if she's never heard about it, she'd probably be running around the ship going "OH MY GOD MY PRIVATES ARE BLEEDING" without a care about who might hear. Anyhow, assuming there's a logical reason for this situation, but all of that becomes insignificant when she recieves a groundbreaking piece of news: she can now bear children. would work. I don't know. Now she must keep this secret while Tiras punishes her for accidentally killing the doctor who was the only man willing to treat his men. But in these punishments Sarah begins to gain strength and believe that she could be tougher than her captors. That seems very strange and... yeah, just cut out the doctor murder and say that Sarah is trying to keep that piece of information secret while Tiras knows something is up.

Meanwhile, a captain of the Royal Navy of Hansa is tracking the pirates. If they are caught, Sarah will die with them as an accomplice. No, she won't. And even if they thought she was an accomplice, she could say she was pregnant and they wouldn't kill her (this was a popular lie female pirates used to avoid execution).This makes no sense.If she fails to escape, her captain will kill her. This race against the clock will end, either way, by the day she turns sixteen. That's a good ending sentence.
Basically, stuff doesn't add up all the time, and I feel like you're throwing in a bunch of added info for shock value. It's more important to have a consistant, coherent query than one with so-called 'shockers'. Those shockers have no effect if we don't have a solid enough foundation to care.

Good luck!

ETA: Okay, so I thought about your query in class, and have a few extra comments.

First of all, I'm on the 'fourteen-is-too-young' ship. It's not about the actual age so much as the time she has. A YA book where the issue is time should not take place over one year, let alone two. Fifteen and six months should be the minimum.

Second, 108k words is also very long. A YA adventure should be around 80k, maybe even lower. 108k in YA is even getting long for fantasy, which is the longest genre.

Lastly, I think I pinned down the main problem with your query-- Sarah. What is she going to do? What's her plan? She needs to act, rather than react, and we don't see this in the query. We just get the stakes.

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