Meeting of the Waters - query request

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ryanznock
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Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by ryanznock » February 20th, 2010, 11:50 pm

Thank you in advance for any feedback you can provide.

Edit: Please see the revised query here - viewtopic.php?f=13&t=925&p=12128#p12128.

If you want to read the first five pages, you can find the latest version here - viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1111&p=12130#p12130

Also, if you have a few minutes to spare, I would greatly appreciate help with my 4-page synopsis, located here - viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1306



Original first draft of the query below.
Dear [Agent],

Two weeks before the 2016 Olympics, Jaime Adricks quits his favorite online video game, Ages: High Seas, where thousands followed the exploits of his pirate character, Captain Bluff. He was this close to defeating his archenemy, but he can’t take the game seriously anymore since the cross-over started with Ages: World War. Nazis have no damned place in the seventeenth century Caribbean.

But when he finds out his suicidal ex-girlfriend Afiong has disappeared in a politically unstable Brazil, to bring her home safely Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra, a Brazilian gamer who claims to have faerie powers, and whose superspy character in World War just recently smuggled her way aboard a time-traveling U-Boat into Jaime’s High Seas.

Alê guides him through a country about to break into civil war, convinces him to help her defeat video game Nazis, and falls for his daring charm in the game, in reality, and occasionally in-between. But before he can believe he can let himself fall in love again, Jaime has to come to terms with the pain he caused Afiong, and learn to accept the magical world Alê reveals to him.

Meeting of the Waters is a 113,000-word [genre] novel. I don't have any print fiction credits, but the role-playing game website http://www.enworld.org is publishing my War of the Burning Sky fantasy novel as a monthly column, and since 2002 I have written two dozen role-playing game products that have been published (some in print, most online) by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I have a wee problem with this book. I don’t know what genre it is. Though the focus is a love story, it’s not a romance by the way I see the genre defined. (It might count as a traditional romance; y’know, the Arthurian kind with questing and such.) It has a strong component of magical realism, but there’s a lot more action than a normal literary novel has, because I have parallel stories of them in the real world, and their characters fighting time-traveling Nazis and evil pirates. Does that make it contemporary fantasy?

Thanks in advance for any feedback. This site is excellent, and (blatant flattery warning) y'all are too.
Last edited by ryanznock on April 26th, 2010, 7:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Holly
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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Holly » February 21st, 2010, 12:04 am

Hello, ryanznock. First, your novel sounds really interesting. Good luck!

Comments on the last paragraph:

The novel's title should be in ALL CAPS without the italics. That's an industry standard.
Your genre looks like fantasy.
DON'T point out the credits you don't have! You have some credits.

MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 113,000-word fantasy novel. The role-playing game website http://www.enworld.org is publishing my War of the Burning Sky fantasy novel as a monthly column. Since 2002 I have written two dozen role-playing game products that have been published (some in print, most online) by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by CoachMT » February 21st, 2010, 12:10 am

First impressions: While I like the premise and your writing style, I think the query is suffering from your uncertainty about the book's genre. It's hard to follow and I'm not sure what kind of story it is either... I wouldn't shorten Alessandra's name in the query unless you say "Ale to her friends" or something like that. The switch jangled me at the start of the third paragraph -- it seemed at first like you were tossing in another character out of nowhere.

And I agree with Holly's comment about your credits. Just state what you have an leave it at that... no apologies necessary = )

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Lunetta22 » February 21st, 2010, 12:17 am

I think it sounds interesting. I'm not a gamer by any means, but I like the romance aspect. Is Ale's magic actually real, or does she just think it is, or is it real only the game? I think if it's real, it could be fantasy. I'm not sure of contempary fantasy.

I like the idea, but I'm not sure about the opening sentence. What does any of this have to do with the 2016 Olympics?

Good luck with this!

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by ryanznock » February 21st, 2010, 12:50 am

The 2016 Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I suppose I should mention that.

She goes by Alê in the story, so I suppose I could just use that all the way through.

Thanks for the comments, especially about the credits.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Holly » February 21st, 2010, 1:02 am

ryanznock wrote:The 2016 Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I suppose I should mention that.

She goes by Alê in the story, so I suppose I could just use that all the way through.

Thanks for the comments, especially about the credits.
Yes, mention that about the Olympics and Brazil. I missed it at first, too, but then remembered reading it in the news.
I think you should work some more on your first sentence.
There are a million websites with advice about queries. This is a good one:
http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... -hook.html
She writes about the importance of the first sentence, which should be a hook. The hook sometimes is an enticing summary of some important conflict or theme in the novel.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by jordynface » February 21st, 2010, 4:22 am

Some quick thoughts off the top of my head.

1. What bearing do the 2016 Olympics have on your story? Am I missing this?
2. Definitely use the same name for Ale all the way through.
3. This looks to me like fantasy with sci-fi elements... I'd choose the genre you think it fits best (even if you're not sure) and structure the query around this to give it more cohesiveness.
4. I don't think you need to mention what credits you DON'T have (ie. print fiction -- I have no credits I've made money off of, but I don't say that in my query). Only mention what you have, especially since yours seems to relate really well to your novel.

Best Wishes! Hope I helped. :)

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Limari » February 21st, 2010, 11:24 am

I agree with everyone that says don't mention what you DON'T have. You want to keep it positive, not negative, and play to your strengths. Many agents I've read emphasize that queries should be short and concise. Most don't even finish reading a query and reject it because it's too long. One minute is the average time they take to read per query.

Check out this article :http://www.writersdigest.com/article/ba ... aph-query/

You can also look up http://queryshark.blogspot.com/, or http://www.guidetoliteraryagents/blog .

Nathan also has really good advice in his blog. Make sure you check all of them out!

Your novel sounds amazing, and I wish you all my best.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by ryanznock » February 22nd, 2010, 1:34 am

Thanks for the advice. Here is my next stab at a query.


Dear [agent],

Pirates versus time-traveling Nazis. That’s the wildly popular gimmick of the latest Ages: High Seas expansion, and it’s what made Jaime Adricks quit playing his favorite online video game, even though he had thousands following the exploits of his brilliantly daring pirate character, Captain Jonathan Bluff.

He won’t be able to stay away long, though. His suicidal ex-girlfriend calls for help from Brazil, which in the run up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics seethes with civil discontent as an international crisis brews off the coast of the tropical nation. To navigate a country about to have a civil war and bring his old lover home, Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra “Alê” Rocha, a beautiful Brazilian gamer whose World War II superspy character just recently smuggled her way into Captain Bluff’s Caribbean seas aboard a time-traveling U-Boat.

Between dodging anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and tech-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for this woman who claims to possess faerie powers and who wants his help sinking a fleet of internet Nazis. But with the media stoking the fires of war and an apparition of his missing ex-girlfriend blaming him for her death, Jaime has to stop believing what others tell him to if he’s going to win Alê’s heart and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.

The Meeting of the Waters is a 113,000-word science fiction novel. The role-playing game website http://www.enworld.org is publishing my War of the Burning Sky fantasy novel as a monthly column, and since 2002 I have written two dozen game products that have been published (some in print, most online) by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Holly » February 22nd, 2010, 2:02 am

ryanznock wrote:Thanks for the advice. Here is my next stab at a query.



Dear [agent],

Pirates versus time-traveling Nazis. That’s the wildly popular gimmick of the latest Ages: High Seas expansion, and it’s what makes Jaime Adricks quit playing his favorite online video game, even though he has thousands following the exploits of his brilliantly daring pirate character, Captain Jonathan Bluff. This long sentence doesn't make sense -- you don't explain why the gimmick makes him quit playing. Can you tie this in better to the info below?

He won’t be able to stay away long, though. His suicidal ex-girlfriend calls for help from Brazil. In the run up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the country seethes with civil discontent as an international crisis brews off the coast [cut of the tropical nation]. To navigate a country about to have a civil war and bring his old lover home, Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra “Alê” Rocha, a beautiful Brazilian gamer whose World War II superspy character just recently smuggled her way into Captain Bluff’s Caribbean seas aboard a time-traveling U-Boat.

Between dodging anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and tech-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for this woman who claims to possess faerie powers and who wants his help to sink a fleet of internet Nazis. But with the media stoking the fires of war and an apparition of his missing ex-girlfriend blaming him for her death, Jaime has to stop believing what others tell him to if he’s going to win Alê’s heart and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.

THE MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 113,000-word science fiction novel. The role-playing game website http://www.enworld.org is publishing my WAR OF THE BURNING SKY fantasy novel as a monthly column. I have written two dozen game products that have been published (some in print, most online) by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
I'm no expert, so please take that into account.

This is better than the first version. My main constructive criticism: your sentences are too long.

Put the title of your novels in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. That's the professional way to write book titles. Put the titles of other things -- video games, etc. -- in italics.

Good luck.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by CoachMT » February 22nd, 2010, 8:54 am

ryanznock wrote: He won’t be able to stay away long, though. His suicidal ex-girlfriend calls for help from Brazil, which, in the run up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, seethes with civil discontent as an international crisis brews off the coast of the tropical nation. To navigate a country primed for civil war and bring his old lover home, Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra “Alê” Rocha, a beautiful Brazilian gamer whose World War II superspy character just recently smuggled her way into Captain Bluff’s Caribbean seas aboard a time-traveling U-Boat.

Between dodging anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks,(You've set a scene of adventure and excitement before, this phrase adds an element of humor that doesn't fit well with the rest for me) and tech-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime falls for Ale who claims to possess faerie powers and who wants his help sinking a fleet of internet Nazis. But with the media stoking the fires of war and an apparition of his missing ex-girlfriend blaming him for her death, Jaime has to stop believing what others tell him to if he’s going to win Alê’s heart and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.
I agree with the changes Holly made above and would add these myself. Also, the last line "stop believing what others…" doesn't fit for me. Is he supposed to stop believing the ex-gf? or someone else we haven't been told about? I'm not sure, but it's not flowing with the rest which is developing into a strong query in my opinion. Hope this helps. = )

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by ryanznock » February 22nd, 2010, 4:50 pm

I understand that the last sentence is a little weird, but I was having trouble compressing what I was getting at. An element of the conflict is that while Jaime is having this adventure and falling in love with a cool lady, he's getting bombarded by the media drumming up this war, by protesters, by his ex -- all these things that play on his doubts. Plus Alê sees the world like it's in a magical realism novel, whereas Jaime has the sort of bog standard American view of reality. Even though he wants to be with Alê, a lot of other people are telling him it's a bad idea. He knows her beliefs are important to her, but even after he experiences some of that magic, he's not sure he can accept it.

Part of the climax is him having a bit of an epiphany, which leads him to deciding to stop believing what others tell him to believe. That spurs him into action, and he resolves to pull off something magical of his own -- tied into the parallel plots of the real world and the pirate action game -- so he can get back Alê after almost losing her.

Maybe that's too complicated an element to bring up in a query, but I want to capture its essence somehow.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by CoachMT » February 22nd, 2010, 7:29 pm

Maybe: "Jaime has to believe in himself if he's going to…" Dunno, just a thought.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by ryanznock » March 25th, 2010, 10:56 pm

After getting feedback and making some revisions on the novel, here's the query I think I'm going to go with as a baseline:


Pirates versus time-traveling Nazis. That’s the wildly popular gimmick of the latest Ages: High Seas expansion, and it’s the reason Jaime Adricks quits playing his favorite online video game. Even though he has thousands following the brilliantly daring exploits of his pirate character Captain Jonathan Bluff, Jaime thinks time travel is cheesy.

He won’t be able to stay away long, though. His suicidal ex-girlfriend calls for help from Brazil, which in the run up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics seethes with civil discontent as an international crisis brews off its coast. To navigate the volatile country and bring his old lover home, Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra “Alê” Rocha, a beautiful Brazilian gamer whose World War II superspy character just recently smuggled her way into Captain Bluff’s Caribbean seas aboard a time-traveling U-Boat.

Between dodging anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and tech-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for this woman who claims to possess faerie powers and who wants his help to sink a fleet of internet Nazis. But with the media stoking the fires of war and an apparition of his missing ex-girlfriend blaming him for her death, Jaime has to learn some heroism from his alter ego if he’s going to win Alê’s heart and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.

MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 113,000-word modern fantasy novel. The role-playing game website www.enworld.org is publishing my WAR OF THE BURNING SKY fantasy novel as a monthly column. I have written two dozen game products that have been published (some in print, most online) by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Meeting of the Waters - query request

Post by Quill » March 26th, 2010, 1:24 am

I don't know what it's about, because I'm not a gamer, but I think your story sounds wild.

That is a pretty exciting and well-written blurb. Very hip and full of interesting ideas. Good going.

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