QUERY: The Griffinborn

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Brendanjparedes
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QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Brendanjparedes » February 24th, 2010, 1:08 pm

For generations the Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret. For generations they have dreaded the world discovering it. When unthinkable happens and their sinister patron reminds them of their debt, they are forced to turn to their one time street rat and now most disreputable of lieutenants to retrieve it. To serve the Griffin Lords, Rory Balenford will have to travel a world far broader and more dangerous than the mountains of his birth. The one time rogue will have to put his trust in a thief far bolder than he ever dared dream who has no problem with using Rory and his friends as bait to settle his own scores in the process. Not that he’s complaining since if there’s one lesson he’s learned, the Griffinborn always repay their debts!

The Griffinborn is a 130,000 word heroic fantasy set in a sprawling epic world. The street born hero is awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man who is everything he could be and believes he isn’t.

I am currently working on editing the completed draft of a follow up to it, and laying out the sequel to The Griffinborn itself. I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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JustineDell
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by JustineDell » February 24th, 2010, 1:49 pm

Alrighty...here's my go. Remember, I'm not an expert - so take my advice with a grain of salt.
Brendanjparedes wrote:For generations the Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret. For generations (2 "for generations" back to back How about: Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret for generations; one they have dreaded the world discovering. they have dreaded the world discovering it. New paragraph here? This one is a little long as a whole. When unthinkable happens what's the unthinkable? and their sinister patron who? reminds them of their debt what debt?, they are forced to turn to their one time street rat and now most disreputable of lieutenants to retrieve it. Is Rory the one time street rat and lieutenant? If so, I would try to make it sound more like it.

Suggestion: Rory Balenford, a one time street-rat and now disreputable lieutenant is forced to serve the Griffin Lords to (insert what he forced to do here).


To serve the Griffin Lords, Rory Balenford will have to travel a world far broader and more dangerous than the mountains of his birth.<-To general The one time rogue will have to put his trust in a thief far bolder than he ever dared dream who has no problem with using Rory and his friends as bait to settle his own scores in the process. <--Whoa! Super long sentence here.

Suggestion: Rory has no choice but to put his trust in the only person who can help him: a thief. The thief has is own agenda to use Rory and his friends to settle his own scores with (insert name here...hopefully it is the Griffin Lords, so you don't have a million names flying around your query.)

Not that he’s complaining since if there’s one lesson he’s learned, the Griffinborn always repay their debts! Okay, so maybe the thief is a Griffin and owes someone else something? But Rory doesn't mind? I see a lack of conflict. I see too much generalzation and not enough story. And, what's the hook?

The Griffinborn is a 130,000 word heroic fantasy set in a sprawling epic world. The street born hero is awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man who is everything he could be and believes he isn’t. <-- Leave out the theme, agents should be able to figure this out from the body of query. Just say: THE GRIGGINBORN (yes, in all caps), a heroic fantasy novel, is complete at 130,000 words.

I am currently working on editing the completed draft of a follow up to it, and laying out the sequel to The Griffinborn itself. I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.<--- You can leave this part out. Most agents don't want to know about the sequels yet. If you chose to keep it, say: This novel can stand alone, but is meant to be part of a series. Thank you for you time and consideration. That's it. They know your MS is done because you say so above, so they will request it if need be, and the "deeply enjoy" sounds to "pick-me! pick-me!", and "I look forward to hearing from you sounds like your are expecting to hear from them, which you may not. So, if you want to leave it say: I hope to be hearing from you soon.
All and all I'd say you off to a good start, but I think you would benefit to adding more information to your query. If Rory is the MC, make him sound like it. I want to know about his conflict and what he plans to do about it. The hook.

Good Luck!

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jessicatudor
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by jessicatudor » February 24th, 2010, 4:12 pm

Hi Brendan! Distilling a big ole epic fantasy into a single query letter can be hard but you've done a good job here. Let's take a look at what could be a bit better, though.
Brendanjparedes wrote:For generations the Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret. For generations they have dreaded the world discovering it.

If people minded others discovering their secrets, they wouldn't keep them secret. What could be a killer opening is meh because it's obvious and general. Tell us the secret!

When unthinkable happens and their sinister patron reminds them of their debt, they are forced to turn to their one time street rat and now most disreputable of lieutenants to retrieve it.

What debt? How does this tie in to their secret? (And you dropped a word - When THE unthinkable happens.)

To serve the Griffin Lords, Rory Balenford will have to travel a world far broader and more dangerous than the mountains of his birth. The one time rogue will have to put his trust in a thief far bolder than he ever dared dream who has no problem with using Rory and his friends as bait to settle his own scores in the process. Not that he’s complaining since if there’s one lesson he’s learned, the Griffinborn always repay their debts!

You use 'one-time' twice. We get the idea. A thief 'far bolder than he ever dared dream' - what does this mean? what does this add? the thief does his stealing in a cat suit and bunny slippers? He robs the king in front of the entire capital city? What? Frankly, anybody who doesn't complain about being used, even for a good cause, is daft-headed to me. If the Griffinborn always repay their debts, how come it took some unscrupulous patron to remind them?

The Griffinborn is a 130,000 word heroic fantasy set in a sprawling epic world. The street born hero is awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man who is everything he could be and believes he isn’t.

I certainly hope the world is sprawling and epic, but please, let me judge for myself. Cut that.

I know you know that a street-born hero turned kingdom saviour is an old fantasy trope and must be handled carefully, so here is my suggestion. Tell us the Griffin Lords' secret. Tell us *exactly* what Rory must do for them, and why, and who doesn't want him to succeed, how, and why. Make us care about him. Also, I don't know how someone is awakened to something 'through the eyes' of someone else. Someone else can show you your potential, or some such, but the literal meaning of the words 'awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man' is empty. All sizzle, no steak in that description.


I am currently working on editing the completed draft of a follow up to it, and laying out the sequel to The Griffinborn itself. I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

I don't think you need to be quite so technical about what you're up to. "I am working on other books set in the same world." would probably suffice. Also, "I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript' is purple prose and, along with some of the other wording in the query, makes me wonder if you couldn't shave at *least* another five thousand words off your manuscript by cutting back the hyperbole.
I can definitely tell there's a story in here, and it seems like a decent one, but you need to focus on it a wee bit more tightly.
'The world is but canvas to our imaginations.' - Thoreau

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theWallflower
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by theWallflower » February 25th, 2010, 3:08 pm

For generations the Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret. For generations they have dreaded the world discovering it. When unthinkable happens and their sinister patron reminds them of their debt, they are forced to turn to their one time street rat and now most disreputable of lieutenants to retrieve it. To serve the Griffin Lords, Rory Balenford will have to travel a world far broader and more dangerous than the mountains of his birth. The one time rogue will have to put his trust in a thief far bolder than he ever dared dream who has no problem with using Rory and his friends as bait to settle his own scores in the process. Not that he’s complaining since if there’s one lesson he’s learned, the Griffinborn always repay their debts!
-How can you be a "one time street rat"? It's kind of a long term gig.
-When _the_ unthinkable happens
-debt? secret? retrieve "it"? Why are you being so cryptic?
-Kill the fourth sentence -- too generic
-Sentence after is far too long. No more than 20 words/sentence
-I think you should start with the protagonist and his mission. What is he going to do, specifically? What is his goal? What problem does he face? Then explain how he is going to do it.
-Several key characters are not named.
The Griffinborn is a 130,000 word heroic fantasy set in a sprawling epic world. The street born hero is awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man who is everything he could be and believes he isn’t.
-Second sentence sucks. Take it out.
I am currently working on editing the completed draft of a follow up to it, and laying out the sequel to The Griffinborn itself. I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
-You are NOT DONE. If you are not done, they agent will throw it out without a second thought. They only want COMPLETED manuscripts.
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jessicatudor
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by jessicatudor » February 25th, 2010, 4:48 pm

Wallflower, the companion book isn't done; this one is. And saying flat-out something sucks is just rude. We all want to help each other, not discourage. Doesn't this forum have a play-nice rule? It should.
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Brendanjparedes
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Brendanjparedes » February 25th, 2010, 8:28 pm

It's ok, Jessica. I don't judge critiques unless they are way beyond the pale, and Wallflower might have a point, might not. Bring them in, look at them, thinking about them, see what is common to all and then figure my questions if I have any, and then rewrite. Besides, i'm notoriously blunt myself.

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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by jessicatudor » February 25th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Bluntness does not require rudeness or being impolite. You can say a sentence should be reworded without insulting its author. I'm glad you weren't offended; maybe I'm naive to think that Wallflower was being perhaps a bit rough; I don't know. I was always taught to point out things someone does right along with the things that need improvement; not everyone here feels that need, apparently. It's not that I don't have a thick skin - as writers of course we need to be able to take all criticism, nicely worded or not, but I figured since this is a forum and we're all in the same boat, niceness would be a given.
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Yoshima » February 25th, 2010, 9:09 pm

More feedback. Hope it helps. :)

For generations the Griffin Lords of Galenburg have guarded a secret. For generations (agree with Justine; back-to-back "for generations" disrupts the flow)they have dreaded the world discovering it. When unthinkable happens and their sinister patron (I know this is epic fantasy and you don't have room to explain everything, but I'm wondering who their patron is. They're lords, so I'm assuming they have money...is their patron not interested in money? These are just my thoughts. Am I on the right track at all? If not, maybe a bit more explaination might help clear it up a bit.) reminds them of their debt, they are forced to turn to their one time (hyphenate) street rat and now most disreputable of lieutenants to retrieve it. To serve the Griffin Lords, Rory Balenford will have to travel a world far broader and more dangerous than the mountains of his birth. The one time (hyphenate) rogue will have to put his trust in a thief far bolder than he ever dared dream who has no problem with using Rory and his friends as bait to settle his own scores in the process (lots of clauses right in a row. After about two I start to skim. Maybe choose the most important two and run with those?). Not that he’s complaining since if there’s one lesson he’s learned, the Griffinborn always repay their debts! (exclaimation point seems a little like you're shouting. I think a period would be better. Also, I'm still not sure what the main conflict is...)

This seemed really dense. I'm guessing you wanted to keep it short. The thing is, epic fantasies aren't short. I think you've got more wiggle room than the rest of us. Why not use it? :)

The Griffinborn is a 130,000 word heroic fantasy set in a sprawling epic world (I think "epic fantasy" sounds more professional.). The street born hero is awakened to his own potential through the eyes of a man who is everything he could be and believes he isn’t. (If this is the main conflict/theme, it should be featured in the query.)

I am currently working on editing the completed draft of a follow up to it, and laying out the sequel to The Griffinborn itself. I would deeply enjoy the opportunity to send you the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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theWallflower
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by theWallflower » February 26th, 2010, 10:24 am

I misread that last sentence. I thought it implied that your manuscript was incomplete. I apologize for that (although take it as a hint that other agents may make the same mistake). However, you should never mention any follow-up works you're working on. They don't care and it makes you sound pretentious. Work on selling THIS book. Work on the others when this one has sold. Mostly because, if it doesn't sell, you've wasted your time.

But I maintain my bluntness. If you can't take criticism, snarky or not, then you have no business showing your work to others. And believe me, agents are thinking the exact same thing that I'm saying.
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » February 26th, 2010, 10:52 am

Wallflower,

Because it's good for writers to be tough and have thick skin doesn't mean you should test the toughness of that skin. Tact goes a long way, particularly when it comes to critique. You can be blunt and honest without being harsh or insulting. You have some good points. And you're a writer... how hard would it be to couch these points in an honest but diplomatic way?
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Ryan
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Ryan » February 26th, 2010, 11:05 am

Every Forum needs a Wallflowery-person to keep it real, but using the word "suck" sort of...sucks.
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theWallflower
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by theWallflower » February 26th, 2010, 5:14 pm

Ink wrote:Wallflower,

Because it's good for writers to be tough and have thick skin doesn't mean you should test the toughness of that skin. Tact goes a long way, particularly when it comes to critique. You can be blunt and honest without being harsh or insulting. You have some good points. And you're a writer... how hard would it be to couch these points in an honest but diplomatic way?
Because it's a 98% rejection rate on a good day. The writing world is a harsh realm. Anyone who wants tact and politics can hire someone to look over their work. But this is free advice, and one should not bite the hand that feeds. I don't have time to think how I can phrase things politely and start every sentence with "I think" or "It seems". I don't really care if you take my advice or not, I'm taking my own time out of my day to provide this service, because I think I can help others.

Think about this: If one does, by some miracle, make it into that 2%, what are you going to say to all the nasty fanmail, negative reviewers, and poor Amazon reviews?

I'm not insulting for the sake of being insulting--everything said is about the work, not about the person. I don't dish out anything I can't take. I fully expect people to be this harsh with me in their critiques (and you can do so now in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=945 )
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Ryan
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Ryan » February 26th, 2010, 6:11 pm

I'm not insulting for the sake of being insulting--everything said is about the work, not about the person.
Cool...I can respect that. Now when we see your name on a post, we know to put on our bullet proof vests before reading. Just make sure you have your info right before you fire away.

Who knows? After awhile maybe we'll be comfortable enough to "Wallflower" each other every now and then!


Cheers
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » February 27th, 2010, 9:22 am

Wallflower,

If you're being harsh and insulting you're not helping the writer. You're hurting them. And more often than not they'll miss the good point you made, buried as it is beneath an insult. And that is simply bad critique, in my opinion. And if you can't be bothered to try and communicate properly, what's the point in being here? We're writers. That's the job.

I think you have a lot of great points to make, but I don't think a bit of common courtesy is too much to ask for. Just because the publishing world can be harsh does not mean we should contribute to that harshness. Quite the opposite, really.
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Re: QUERY: The Griffinborn

Post by Brendanjparedes » March 3rd, 2010, 10:44 am

jessicatudor wrote:Bluntness does not require rudeness or being impolite. You can say a sentence should be reworded without insulting its author. I'm glad you weren't offended; maybe I'm naive to think that Wallflower was being perhaps a bit rough; I don't know. I was always taught to point out things someone does right along with the things that need improvement; not everyone here feels that need, apparently. It's not that I don't have a thick skin - as writers of course we need to be able to take all criticism, nicely worded or not, but I figured since this is a forum and we're all in the same boat, niceness would be a given.
Well, I do appreciate it, Jessica. And your approach is far more helpful.

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