Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

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hagenpiper
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Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 18th, 2012, 10:54 pm

The capture and public execution of Neeku’s beloved twin couldn’t have come at a better time. A good omen. Or so the queen said on the eve of her daughter’s wedding. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the thieving abominations that mock them? A thief, yes. An abomination, true – like Neeku, but he’s not all bad. In fact, he’s quite generous and has more grief than he can handle. Since hoarding it will drive him mad, what better way to unburden himself than by slitting the bride’s throat and sharing his misery with everybody? Consider it a wedding gift, one for the whole city. After all, it’s a time to celebrate… a time to mock the gods.

Others like him say justice doesn’t come to Sneaks, “We’re cursed if you ain’t noticed.” Neeku can’t disagree more; it comes to those brave enough to steal it. He questions that when the wedding is cancelled, but doesn’t give up; Neeku isn’t the only one who desires the queen’s demise. If he can discover why the queen called the wedding off (a secret the rightful heir suspects catastrophically scandalous) then upon his ascension all laws against Sneaks will be rescinded. A simple exchange of services, but one that’s certain to go bad.

Since the queen will suffer whatever the outcome, Neeku spies. What he discovers sends him reeling, scrambling down path after path of shifting allegiances and new promises all ending in lies and betrayal. Justice eludes, and as his every deed grows increasingly desperate, the very definition of justice decays until he no longer desires it. Captured at last and facing his own execution, the realization strikes hard that his actions will soon result in the deaths of innocent thousands, leaving him with nothing but more pain.

Reflecting, he pieces together fragments of the journey and discovers an ancient magic and a new path leading where the curse cannot follow. And though this course of action entails his own death, he’ll die free of the guilt and misery haunting him since he failed to save his twin sister. That is, if a single friend remains who is willing to help him escape execution.

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an epic fantasy set among a fungaloid race in a mushroom city. It is 167,000 words.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by idanelly » July 18th, 2012, 11:16 pm

-I like the paragraph beginning "reflecting"
-the novel seems way too long. Any chance you could make two novels out of it?
-I think you have too much detail in this query. Seems confusing for the reader. Could try having less information but explaining that info better? Also you might try mentioning fewer characters

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 19th, 2012, 12:21 am

idanelly wrote:-I like the paragraph beginning "reflecting"
-the novel seems way too long. Any chance you could make two novels out of it?
-I think you have too much detail in this query. Seems confusing for the reader. Could try having less information but explaining that info better? Also you might try mentioning fewer characters
Well... I've got several problems. Publishers of Epic Fantasy (TOR, PYR etc.) look for in depth world building and strong arcs. The word count is high, but lower than most successful first time Epic Fantasy novels out there. It's not a matter of sloppy writing. First draft (three years ago) ended at 110,000 words. Too much had been glossed over, so I filled in the gaps leaving it 160,000 words. I hacked and slashed, trimmed the fat down to 120,000 words. The main character needed a complete overhaul and a new beginning to the novel to launch him properly. The added main character stuff sent it back up to 180,000 words, then over the course of a full rewrite and 24 hardcore edits (trimming fat, tying threads, straightening logic and filling gaps) it reduced to 140,000 words. Back to filling gaps and it ended at 170K Trimming brought it to 167K where it's locked. I can only hope that an agent will see not a single sentence fails to either build the world, develop character or push the story forward (in a significant way). Or that any harsh editing at this point may reduce word count but it'll be to the detriment of voice. That call is best left to an editor. Plus, the arc is very tight, tension high - fast pace, and there simply is no splitting this thing into two books in a satisfying way. The climactic and falling action occurs far too late for that, around 140K words in.

Can you maybe zero-in on what specifically you find confusing in the query so I might express it in a different, hopefully clearer way? Maybe there's something in there specifically that might seem important to me but really isn't - something I can't spot because I know the story too well?

Thanks.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by Beethovenfan » July 19th, 2012, 4:05 am

First of all, conratulations on completing a novel! A feat not for the faint of heart. Second, a story about a fungaloid people sounds very unique, and I am certainly intrigued. I would love to know what they look like and act like that makes them fungaloid. I don't really get any sense of that from the query as it stands.
Have you heard of the Query Shark (aka Janet Reid)? She has a blog that is fabulous for giving examples of what to do and what not to do. I highly recommend you check it out. Here's the link:

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
These 3 things MUST be in a query, and they must be clearly discernable.
1. What is the problem?
2. How does the problem get solved?
3. What will happen if the problem doesn't get solved?

Your query should be 250 words or less. An agent has hundreds of queries per week to go through. Don't make yours so big that they delete upon first glance. Decide what's absolutely necessary, and stick with that. Don't give any backstory. Lay out only the the three things listed above. Simple to say, difficult to do!


hagenpiper wrote:The capture and public execution of Neeku’s beloved twin couldn’t have come at a better time. A good omen. Or so the queen said on the eve of her daughter’s wedding. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the thieving abominations that mock them? A thief, yes. An abomination, true – like Neeku, but he’s not all bad. In fact, he’s quite generous and has more grief than he can handle. Since hoarding it will drive him mad, what better way to unburden himself than by slitting the bride’s throat and sharing his misery with everybody? Consider it a wedding gift, one for the whole city. After all, it’s a time to celebrate… a time to mock the gods. Your first paragraph should begin with the protagonist. Introduce him right away. I don't truly know it's Neeku until the second paragraph. Also, I'd say this first paragraph is mostly backstory. Begin with the problem. What is Neeku's problem?

Others like him say justice doesn’t come to Sneaks, “We’re cursed if you ain’t noticed.” Neeku can’t disagree more; it comes to those brave enough to steal it. What is "it?" Justice? If so, spell it out. Don't make me have to guess. Also, how does one steal justice? He questions that when the wedding is cancelled, but doesn’t give up; Neeku isn’t the only one who desires the queen’s demise. I didn't know before this that justice meant the death of the queen. If he can discover why the queen called the wedding off (a secret the rightful heir suspects catastrophically scandalous) then upon his ascension all laws against Sneaks will be rescinded. A simple exchange of services, but one that’s certain to go bad. I'm seeing that Sneaks are a specific faction, or people. You mention them at the beginning of the paragraph, but I didn't realize they were important until the end. And even then, I'm guessing that they are important from clues. Don't make me guess! Tell me who Sneaks are why they are important. Paragraph 2 should spell out how the protagonist will solve the problem that was laid out in paragraph 1. It should also give me an idea of what horrible thing will happen if the protagonist fails (this would be the stakes). Paragraph 3 (if there is to be a paragraph 3) should be a short bio.

Since the queen will suffer whatever the outcome, Neeku spies. What? I don't even understand this sentence. Neeku decides to spy because no matter what, the queen is going to suffer? I don't get it. What he discovers sends him reeling, scrambling down path after path of shifting allegiances and new promises all ending in lies and betrayal. Justice eludes, and as his every deed grows increasingly desperate, the very definition of justice decays until he no longer desires it. Captured at last and facing his own execution, the realization strikes hard that his actions will soon result in the deaths of innocent thousands, leaving him with nothing but more pain.This is the best sentence in your entire query because it lays out what the stakes are. I'm still unsure what the problem is, other than Neeku wants the Queen dead.

Reflecting, he pieces together fragments of the journey and discovers an ancient magic and a new path leading where the curse cannot follow. And though this course of action entails his own death, he’ll die free of the guilt and misery haunting him since he failed to save his twin sister. That is, if a single friend remains who is willing to help him escape execution. He finds an ancient magic while he's incarcerated?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an epic fantasy set among a fungaloid race in a mushroom city. It is 167,000 words.
I hope I wasn't too brutal, but it's better than telling you only what you want to hear, right? Go check out the Query Shark, write another query, and repost.
Best of luck!
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by elbowpatch » July 19th, 2012, 10:11 am

Hagen,

Thanks for all your help with my query.

Here's some general questions and then I will get to the nitty gritty.

Who is Traju and why is his dagger important? I always think that if you can't figure out a book's title from its query there's a problem with either the title or the query.

Fungaloid race? Mushroom city? These are either the elements that makes your novel essentially different from all the other court politics/fantasy/conspiracy novels out there or they are a distraction and unnecessary. Don't save it to the end as an aside. How does the fact that they are fungaloids affect the story, What is a Fungaloid? What is a mushroom city? The only image that comes into my mind is the Smurfs, which is probably not what you are going for.

hagenpiper wrote:The capture and public execution of Neeku’s beloved twin couldn’t have come at a better time. A good omen. Or so the queen said on the eve of her daughter’s wedding. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the thieving abominations that mock them? A thief, yes. An abomination, true – like Neeku, but he’s not all bad. In fact, he’s quite generous and has more grief than he can handle. Since hoarding it will drive him mad, what better way to unburden himself than by slitting the bride’s throat and sharing his misery with everybody? Consider it a wedding gift, one for the whole city. After all, it’s a time to celebrate… a time to mock the gods.


The point of view of this paragraph is unclear. I assume you are writing from Neeku's perspective, but that's unclear. He obviously plans to slit the throat of the princess in revenge, but you never explain why he doesn't. I see what you are trying to do here, but I'm not sure it works. How about


A good omen. Or so the queen said when she executed Neeku's twin (sister?) on the eve of her daughter's wedding. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the theiving abominations that mock them.

Was (Insert name of twin here) a thief? Yes. An abomination, true. But so is Neeku and he's not all bad. He's quite generous. Since he has more grief than he can handle he decides to slit the bride's trhoat and share his misery. Consider it a wedding gift, one for the whole city. After all it's a time...



Others like him say justice doesn’t come to Sneaks, “We’re cursed if you ain’t noticed.” Neeku can’t disagree more; it comes to those brave enough to steal it. He questions that (unlcear referent) when the wedding is cancelled, but doesn’t give up; Neeku isn’t the only one who desires the queen’s demise. If he (too much going on here) can discover why the queen called the wedding off (a secret the rightful heir suspects catastrophically scandalous) then upon his (unclear referent) ascension all laws against Sneaks will be rescinded. A simple exchange of services, but one that’s certain to go bad. (Why is it certain to go bad, only because you're the omniscient writer, do the characters think it's going to go bad)
What's happening here is that Sneaks allies with the reightful heir (is he the crown prince, is he disinherited, it's unclear) to spy on the queen. So just sat it, though I'm still wondering why he doesn't just slit the princesses' throat. Is it because the Queen postponed the wedding.

Since the queen will suffer whatever the outcome, Neeku spies. What he discovers sends him reeling, scrambling down path after path of shifting allegiances and new promises all ending in lies and betrayal. Justice eludes, and as his every deed grows increasingly desperate, the very definition of justice decays until he no longer desires it. Captured at last and facing his own execution, the realization strikes hard that his actions will soon result in the deaths of innocent thousands, leaving him with nothing but more pain.

All too vague and too many words.

Reflecting, he pieces together fragments of the journey and discovers an ancient magic and a new path leading where the curse cannot follow. And though this course of action entails his own death, he’ll die free of the guilt and misery haunting him since he failed to save his twin sister. That is, if a single friend remains who is willing to help him escape execution.

Curse where did that come from?

I appreciate your trying to write in the voice of the novel, but you have too much to convey. I think you can leave off belaboring the point about justice. We don't need to explain the motivation for someone bringing down the downfall of the queen executing his sister it's evident.


Is there some sort of magic tied to guilt going on here? It seems like there's more going on with Neeku's guilt than what would occur in a non-fantasy world?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an epic fantasy set among a fungaloid race in a mushroom city. It is 167,000 words.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 19th, 2012, 12:06 pm

Thanks for having a look at this!

[quote="elbowpatch"]Hagen,

> Who is Traju and why is his dagger important? I always think that if you can't figure out a book's title from its query there's a problem with either the title or the query.


Traju's dagger is the symbol around which the story's theme develops. It shouldn't matter what I title it since the publisher will choose a title they feel best markets the product.

Fungaloid race? Mushroom city? These are either the elements that makes your novel essentially different from all the other court politics/fantasy/conspiracy novels out there or they are a distraction and unnecessary.

The spores from which these people draw their spirits are central the main character's curse and the conspiracies he unravels. I did not create a setting that has no relevance to the development and outcome of the story.

Don't save it to the end as an aside. How does the fact that they are fungaloids affect the story, What is a Fungaloid? What is a mushroom city? The only image that comes into my mind is the Smurfs, which is probably not what you are going for.

The very gist of the plot can be conveyed without it, but ok... let's scrap all that and start again.

THE QUESTIONS I'M DISMISSING AS I WRITE AND WHY - maybe I'm wrong to...

Neeku never thought he would sacrifice himself to save the goddess who turned him into an abomination – a Sneak. [Why? Back story, doesn't matter - see synopsis]

For sixteen years he and his twin sister lived as thieves in a mushroom city, relying on their cuttlefish skin to hide them from bounty hunters and patrolmen. Waking up late one day, he discovers she has been captured; and failing to thwart her executioners, he must share his misery with the city and steal the justice the gods deny accursed Sneaks. [Why they are cursed? Back story / see synopsis]

He sets off to attend a wedding and slit the bride’s throat, [Why do this? Already said... see previous sentence] daughter of the queen whose patrolmen captured and killed his sister. [Why? Already said... see sentence 2] Discovering it cancelled at the last minute, [Why? Patience...] he falls in with the rightful heir, [What's his name? Doesn't matter. See synopsis.] who believes the reason for the cancellation may be scandalous enough to overthrow the queen. [Why? Read on.]

Neeku spies, discovers the princess has become a Sneak like himself – and that there’s a cure. The rightful heir insists Neeku steals the cure’s components. [Why? Already said... Read the last sentence of the previous paragraph.] Spying again, Neeku learns the rightful heir is behind the princess becoming a Sneak [But how? Doesn't matter / see synopsis] and had drafted the laws condemning them. [What laws? Back story / see synopsis.]

Switching sides, Neeku offers to gather the components of the cure in exchange for a share of it. He embarks on a dark journey to the goddess’s tomb [What goddess? Already said... see sentence one] in the stem of one of three giant mushrooms upon which the city is built. After Neeku seizes the goddess’s sacrificial dagger, [What does this dagger have to do with anything? Already said... See sentence one of this paragraph.] a servant of the queen steals away with it [Why? He's a jerk. See synopsis], leaving Neeku in custody and facing the revelation that the great mushroom will soon die along with innocent thousands. [How'd he find that out? Doesn't matter, see synopsis.]

Awaiting his own execution, he pieces together fragments of his journey to discover an ancient magic inherent in his curse. [Whats the nature of this magic? What fragments did he piece together? What does the magic do? Doesn't matter, doesn't matter, doesn't matter - see synopsis times 3.] If there only exists a single friend who is willing to break him out, Neeku might retrieve the dagger and sacrifice himself to replace it before the mushroom falls.[Why must he sacrifice himself? Doesn't matter - see synopsis.] Justice may not come to Sneaks, but nobody can stop him from giving it [To whom? Already said... see last sentence of the previous paragraph.] and dying free of the guilt and misery haunting him since his sister’s death.

Anti-hero turns hero in TRAJU’S DAGGER, an unusual epic fantasy at 167,000 words.


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

Now without all the clutter:

Neeku never thought he would sacrifice himself to save the goddess who turned him into an abomination – a Sneak.

For sixteen years he and his twin sister lived as thieves in a mushroom city, relying on their cuttlefish skin to hide them from bounty hunters and patrolmen. Waking up late one day, he discovers she has been captured; and failing to thwart her executioners, he must share his misery with the city and steal the justice the gods deny accursed Sneaks.

He sets off to attend a wedding and slit the bride’s throat, daughter of the queen whose patrolmen captured and killed his sister. Discovering it cancelled at the last minute, he falls in with the rightful heir, who believes the reason for the cancellation may be scandalous enough to overthrow the queen.

Neeku spies, discovers the princess has become a Sneak like himself – and that there’s a cure. The rightful heir insists Neeku steals the cure’s components. Spying again, Neeku learns the rightful heir is behind the princess becoming a Sneak and had drafted the laws condemning them.

Switching sides, Neeku offers to gather the components of the cure in exchange for a share of it. He embarks on a dark journey to the goddess’s tomb in the stem of one of three giant mushrooms upon which the city is built. After Neeku seizes the goddess’s sacrificial dagger, a servant of the queen steals away with it, leaving Neeku in custody and facing the revelation that the great mushroom will soon die along with innocent thousands.

Awaiting his own execution, he pieces together fragments of his journey to discover an ancient magic inherent in his curse. If there only exists a single friend who is willing to break him out, Neeku might retrieve the dagger and sacrifice himself to replace it before the mushroom falls. Justice may not come to Sneaks, but nobody can stop him from giving it and dying free of the guilt and misery haunting him since his sister’s death.

Anti-hero turns hero in TRAJU’S DAGGER, an unusual epic fantasy at 167,000 words.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by elbowpatch » July 19th, 2012, 1:27 pm

Much better.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 19th, 2012, 1:37 pm

elbowpatch wrote:Much better.
I don't think so. I think it's dreadfully boring.

How about this:

Neeku is a fungaloid living in a city built atop giant mushrooms. He’s no ordinary fungaloid, the spore from which his spirit was drawn cursed him with splotchy skin that changes colors like a cuttlefish, allowing him to sneak around camouflaged. Long ago, the gods condemned Sneaks, and at age six, when Neeku and his twin first develop their shameful spots, they are abandoned in the slum to fend for themselves.

Life in the slum isn’t easy; the twins grow up as thieves, eluding bounty hunters, and often rescuing other abandoned sneaks. Time and again the twins rescue each other, but it’s only a matter of time – all sneaks eventually get caught and branded all over to prevent them changing colors.

When Neeku wakes up late one morning and finds his sister missing, he scrambles to rescue her, but fails. He hopes she will survive branding; and she does, but the queen orders her thrown on the bonfire anyway – a horrific end to a fungaliod since cremation prevents body and soul from returning to the roots of the great mushrooms to be recycled and reincarnated. Instead, it’s eternal oblivion.

In utter despair, Neeku listens on as the queen declares his sister’s death a good omen, a sign the gods approve of the princess’s marriage to a foreign emperor. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the abominations that mock them? With nothing left to live for, nobody left to lose, Neeku can think of no better way to join his sister than after having slit the bride’s throat in front of her dear mother and the whole city. Let her bleed out on the temple floor. After all, it’s a time to celebrate, a time to mock the gods.

“Justice doesn’t come to sneaks, Neeku,” warns a beggar branded long ago. “We’re cursed if you ain’t noticed.” Or does it come to those brave enough to steal it?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an unusual epic fantasy in which anti-hero turns hero. It is 167,000 words.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by Beethovenfan » July 19th, 2012, 2:21 pm

Hi. It's me again. Hope you don't mind.

hagenpiper wrote:
elbowpatch wrote:Much better.
I don't think so. I think it's dreadfully boring.

How about this:

Neeku is a fungaloid living in a city built atop giant mushrooms. He’s no ordinary fungaloid, the spore from which his spirit was drawn cursed him with splotchy skin that changes colors like a cuttlefish, allowing him to sneak around camouflaged. Long ago, the gods condemned Sneaks, and at age six, when Neeku and his twin first develop their shameful spots, they are abandoned in the slum to fend for themselves. This sentence is backstory.

Life in the slum isn’t easy; the twins grow up as thieves, eluding bounty hunters, and often rescuing other abandoned sneaks. Time and again the twins rescue each other, but it’s only a matter of time – all sneaks eventually get caught and branded all over to prevent them changing colors. Backstory

When Neeku wakes up late one morning and finds his sister missing, he scrambles to rescue her, but fails. He hopes she will survive branding; and she does, but the queen orders her thrown on the bonfire anyway – a horrific end to a fungaliod since cremation prevents body and soul from returning to the roots of the great mushrooms to be recycled and reincarnated. Instead, it’s eternal oblivion.

In utter despair, Neeku listens on as the queen declares his sister’s death a good omen, a sign the gods approve of the princess’s marriage to a foreign emperor. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the abominations that mock them? With nothing left to live for, nobody left to lose, Neeku can think of no better way to join his sister than after having slit the bride’s throat in front of her dear mother and the whole city. Let her bleed out on the temple floor. After all, it’s a time to celebrate, a time to mock the gods.

“Justice doesn’t come to sneaks, Neeku,” warns a beggar branded long ago. “We’re cursed if you ain’t noticed.” Or does it put the word "justice" here come to those brave enough to steal it?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an unusual epic fantasy in which anti-hero turns hero. It is 167,000 words.
This is really coming along! I have a much better sense of the story, who the people are and that this really is a unique world you've built. Nice! Question: have you checked out the Query Shark yet? If not, take a moment or to and read some of the queries she has critiqued. You will be glad you did.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 19th, 2012, 5:50 pm

How about this:

Neeku lives in a city built atop giant mushrooms. He’s no ordinary fungaloid, the spore from which his spirit came cursed him with splotchy skin that changes colors like a cuttlefish. The spots are considered shameful, and at age six, Neeku and his twin are abandoned in the slum, left to fend for themselves. There they grow up thieves, eluding bounty hunters with their camouflage skin, and often rescuing other abandoned Sneaks. Time and again the twins rescue each other, but it’s only a matter of time – all Sneaks are caught eventually and branded all over to prevent them changing colors.

When Neeku wakes up late one morning and finds his sister missing, he scrambles to rescue her, but fails. He hopes she will survive branding; and she does, but the queen orders her thrown on the bonfire anyway. In despair, Neeku stares at the bonfire while the queen declares his sister’s death a good omen, a sign the gods approve of the princess’s marriage to a foreign emperor. What better way to thank the gods than by reining in the abominations that mock them?

With nothing left to live for, nobody left to lose, Neeku can either slink away in his shit-stained skin, feeling sorry for himself, or fight back by slitting the bride’s throat in front of her dear, dear mother. What better way to share his grief? Let the whole city savor the sight of her bleeding out on the temple’s holy floor. After all, it’s a time to celebrate, a time to mock the gods.

Anti-hero turns hero in TRAJU’S DAGGER, an unusual epic fantasy of 167,000 words.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by Elsinora » July 20th, 2012, 3:14 am

Your second version was the best so far, so I'll critique that one. Your hook is good, but you're trying to cover way too much for a query. Here's how I would tighten it for better effect:
Neeku never thought he would sacrifice himself to save the goddess who made him a Sneak.

For sixteen years he and his twin sister have lived as thieves in a mushroom city, relying on their cuttlefish skin to hide them from bounty hunters and patrolmen. Waking up late one day, he discovers she has been captured; and failing to thwart her executioners, he must share his misery with the city and steal the justice the gods deny accursed Sneaks. When the queen's patrolmen capture and execute his sister, Neeku sets out to slit the princess's throat in revenge.

He sets off to attend a wedding and slit the bride’s throat, daughter of the queen whose patrolmen captured and killed his sister. Discovering it cancelled at the last minute, he falls in with the rightful heir, who believes the reason for the cancellation may be scandalous enough to overthrow the queen.

Neeku spies, discovers To his surprise, Neeku discovers the princess is a Sneak like himself – and that there’s a cure. The rightful heir insists Neeku steals the cure’s components. Spying again, Neeku learns the rightful heir is behind the princess becoming a Sneak and had drafted the laws condemning them. He journeys to the goddess's tomb to steal the ingredients for the cure, only to discover a terrible truth. The great mushroom sustaining the city is dying, and only one thing may be able to save it--Neeku's death.

Switching sides, Neeku offers to gather the components of the cure in exchange for a share of it. He embarks on a dark journey to the goddess’s tomb in the stem of one of three giant mushrooms upon which the city is built. After Neeku seizes the goddess’s sacrificial dagger, a servant of the queen steals away with it, leaving Neeku in custody and facing the revelation that the great mushroom will soon die along with innocent thousands.

Awaiting his own execution, he pieces together fragments of his journey to discover an ancient magic inherent in his curse. If there only exists a single friend who is willing to break him out, Neeku might retrieve the dagger and sacrifice himself to replace it before the mushroom falls. Justice may not come to Sneaks, but nobody can stop him from giving it and dying free of the guilt and misery haunting him since his sister’s death.

Anti-hero turns hero in TRAJU’S DAGGER, a 167,000 word unusual epic fantasy at 167,000 words.
To put that in clean copy:

Neeku never thought he would sacrifice himself to save the goddess who made him a Sneak.

For sixteen years he and his twin sister have lived as thieves in a mushroom city, relying on their cuttlefish skin to hide them from bounty hunters and patrolmen. When the queen's patrolmen capture and execute his sister, Neeku sets out to slit the princess's throat in revenge.

To his surprise, Neeku discovers the princess is a Sneak like himself – and there’s a cure. He journeys to the goddess's tomb to steal the ingredients for the cure, only to discover a terrible truth. The great mushroom sustaining the city is dying, and only one thing may be able to save it--Neeku's death.

Anti-hero turns hero in TRAJU’S DAGGER, a 167,000 word epic fantasy.


I would add a line explaining what a Sneak is and tinker some with the voice, but this should be your basic framework. A good query establishes three things about your story: the protagonist, the inciting incident, and the conflict. That's it. It's not a place for lots of detail and subplots, just the basics.

Also, 167,000 words is extremely high. Yes, many famous fantasy novels were longer, but they were also published in a very different time. The publishing world is more risk averse now and unlikely to take a risk on such a long debut.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by elbowpatch » July 20th, 2012, 7:57 am

For what it's worth I agree with Elsinora with the caveat that the following sentences of yours (or similar ones which convey the same information) should be in the Query.

Neeku is a fungaloid living in a city built atop giant mushrooms. He’s no ordinary fungaloid, the spore from which his spirit was drawn cursed him with splotchy skin that changes colors like a cuttlefish, allowing him to sneak around camouflaged

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by Elsinora » July 20th, 2012, 2:51 pm

Good point, elbowpatch! Yes, those lines should go at the start of your second paragraph, although I would change them to make it clearer that the "cuttlefish skin" (I like that description, by the way) is what makes someone a Sneak.

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by hagenpiper » July 21st, 2012, 9:09 pm

178 words:

Neeku never thought he would live to see twenty-three. Though his splotchy, cuttlefish skin makes stealing easy, his mushroom city is brimming with bounty hunters, all looking for color-changing Sneaks like him.

Waking up one day, he finds his twin is missing. Bounty hunters. Panicking, hurries to save her, but fails. The queen declares the catch a good omen, a sign the gods’ approve of her daughter’s union. What better way to show thanks than by executing the Sneak abominations that mock them?

With nothing left to live for, nobody left to lose, Neeku can either slink away in his splotchy “shit-stained” skin, feeling sorry for himself, or slit the bride’s throat and share his grief – a wedding gift for the whole city. Let them watch her bleed out on the temple floor. What better way to mock the gods?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an epic fantasy of 167,000 words.

Question is, does it still make sense?

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Re: Query: Traju's Dagger (Epic Fantasy)

Post by LurkingVirologist » July 22nd, 2012, 4:20 pm

hagenpiper wrote:178 words:

Neeku never thought he would live to see twenty-three. Though his splotchy, cuttlefish skin makes stealing easy, his mushroom city is brimming with bounty hunters, all looking for color-changing Sneaks like him.

Waking up one day, he finds his twin is missing. Bounty hunters. Panicking, hurries to save her, but fails. The queen declares the catch a good omen, a sign the gods’ approve of her daughter’s union. What better way to show thanks than by executing the Sneak abominations that mock them?

With nothing left to live for, nobody left to lose, Neeku can either slink away in his splotchy “shit-stained” skin, feeling sorry for himself, or slit the bride’s throat and share his grief – a wedding gift for the whole city. Let them watch her bleed out on the temple floor. What better way to mock the gods?

TRAJU’S DAGGER is an epic fantasy of 167,000 words.

Question is, does it still make sense?
Still makes sense. Since you've probably got 70 or 80 words to play with, do you think it might be worth expanding at the very end to foreshadow his anti-hero --> hero transition? As written, it implies that Neeku is going to essentially be a villain protagonist, in particular because he's not directly targeting the queen who murdered his sister, but rather the queen's daughter (who could be an innocent 3rd party based on only the available query text). The beginning and middle of the query are definitely much tighter and more vivid than when you started, so nice work.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

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