Query: Gilded Wings

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hanna2494
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Query: Gilded Wings

Post by hanna2494 » April 1st, 2010, 8:32 am

I'm new to the forum. This is the first draft of my query. Feel free to speak your mind, offer your suggestions, and thank you in advance for you help. By the way, this is just the body of the query.

NEWEST QUERY AT THE END!
_____________

In the midst of a thunderstorm, seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers finds her boyfriend Tristan chained to her driveway, struggling to break free from the restrains. With the help of a hammer, she hopes to liberate him, but then she witnesses the impossible: Tristan sprouts white wings. Consumed by a raw impulse to protect his secret identity, Tristan nearly kills Nicola, the person he holds most dear.

With the help of her best friend, Tara, Nicola discovers that it was Tristan’s love that prevented him from ending her life the night of the storm, and comes to the conclusion that Tara is Tristan’s sister. Nicola is even more dazed to learn that Tristan is dying by staying human to save her life and prevent his kin from killing her for what she knows.

______________

Thank you,
Hanna
Last edited by hanna2494 on April 6th, 2010, 11:47 am, edited 22 times in total.

kenpochick
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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by kenpochick » April 1st, 2010, 8:54 am

Hanna,

There seems to be a disconnect between the two paragraphs. The first paragraph seems to be setting up a book about being torn in two directions by the divorce but then the mom shows up and you stop talking about that part. Then the angel comes out of no where. If the angel is the main plot I would start with that in your first paragraph. If her mom (or dad trying to keep her mom away) has something to do with the main plot then say how they do. You also mention a town by name as if it were important and then don't mention it again. Try to get the two plots to sound cohesive.

You'll also want to end with the title of the book, the word count and the genre.

Good luck!

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by theWallflower » April 1st, 2010, 10:24 am

Nicola has never been forced to choose between her parents, having to move across the country as a result of their divorce. She has never heard of the gloomy town of Delia, has never had to ride the yellow school bus of hell, and has never been attacked by an angel. All she knows is a miserable, isolated, old-fashioned life with her father.
-I don't understand. How could she not be forced to choose between her parents if their divorced. Did she go off and live on her own?
-I don't like this method. Saying what she has never done, implying that she's going to do it. Not effective.
-Why is the yellow school bus from hell?
-miserable, isolated, and old-fashioned are all telling. What makes it isolated? What makes it miserable? What makes it old-fashioned?
Despite her dad's efforts to get rid of his ex-wife once and for all, Nicola discovers that her talkative and newly-single mother moved only minutes away. But Nicola's uninteresting and complicated life takes a terrifying turn when Tristan, an angel, tries to kill her after she witnesses his divine transformation. Discovering that she is only alive because Tristan's love saved her, Nicola sets out to find him, discovering that he is dying to protect her secret—knowing about him—from his kin.
-He tried to get rid of her? In what way? Did he try to kill her?
-Talkative is telling, and newly-single is obvious
-Is newly-single hyphenated?
-uninteresting and complicated are mutually exclusive
-Transformation into what?
-He tried to kill her and he loves her?
-That last sentence is clumsy and awkward, probably because its trying to cram too much info in.

OVERALL:
-All these sentences are much too long. Cut sentences over 20 words.
-This plot makes no sense, but I distinctly smell Twilight ripoff. From what I can tell Nicola discovers an angel who tries to kill her, or loves her. And he's dying. And he's protecting a secret. He seems like the protagonist here. Nicola doesn't want anything, doesn't have a problem (besides not dying, which is implied in anything), and I don't know what she's going to do to solve this non-existent problem.
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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by JTB » April 1st, 2010, 10:34 am

This is blunt: it's really hard to see what his story is about. If I may...

The MC, Nicola, is the product of a divorce. She has never been forced to do anything until she witnesses an angel 'tranforming'. This angel it turns out saved Nicola from something and so she sets out to find him, even though she mustn't tell anyone because he's a secret.

Is this right?

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by mrpluckey » April 1st, 2010, 10:57 am

Trying to break down a story you've been working and slaving over for months into two paragraphs is pure hell, I know. But you want to grab your reader. Figure out what makes your book stand out from the rest. Someone called this a twilight knock off. Show us it isn't. It sounds like there's a lot more to this angel you haven't shared with us yet. Tell us more. He is who we need to know about because the conflict revolves around him.
Hope I'm not being too harsh. I think you have a good idea here, it's just buried.

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by chomsnumnum » April 1st, 2010, 11:30 am

Love the name, but your query needs some help. Here's what I'd suggest. First go back to Nathan's blog, then look under Essentials and find the blog entry called "The Basic Query Letter Formula". Start by doing the "mad lib" thing. Then customize your query from there. I think this will make it much easier for you to get started.

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by Emily J » April 1st, 2010, 2:34 pm

hanna2494 wrote:I'm new to the forum. This is the first draft of my query. Feel free to speak your mind, and thank you in advance for you help. By the way, this is just the body of the query.
_____________

Seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers, the new girl in town, eh, aren't they always the new kid in town? It doesn't seem important, maybe just leave out discovers her classmate Tristan chained on her driveway in the midst of a thunderstorm. With the help of a hammer, she hopes to liberate him, realizing soon enough she would have rather not to. Huh? "she would have rather not to" what does that mean? Witnessing the impossible—Tristan sprouting wings from his back—Nicola apostrophe s here life takes a terrifying twist when Tristan tries to kill her. Enlisting the help of her friend Tara (to this point unknown to be Tristan’s sister), get rid of the parenthetical, it sounds weird and opens the door to a whole lot of backstory you don't delve into Nicola is stunned to discover that she is alive because Tristan loves her, how is that exactly? a nd sets off to find him in the abandoned hiking trails. Nicola is even more dazed to learn that Tristan is dying to save her life, her secret—knowing about him—from his kin. Not a fan of the dashes here, but more importantly how and why is he dying? and if he loves her, why did he try to kill her? Need a bit more explanation
______________

Thank you,
Hanna

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by kenpochick » April 1st, 2010, 4:12 pm

Hanna,

I see you've changed the query as I was looking back at the original post.

"Seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers, the newest resident of the gloomy town of Delia, discovers her classmate Tristan chained on her driveway in the midst of a thunderstorm. (Why would he be chained to her driveway? Who's out to get him and why? How does an angel get captured anyways?) With the help of a hammer, she hopes to liberate him, realizing soon enough that she should have left him chained how she found him. Witnessing the impossible—Tristan sprouting wings from his back—Nicola's life takes a terrifying twist when Tristan involuntarily tries to kill her. (I would think it would be terrifying to find your classmate chained to your driveway. Involuntarily trying to kill her seems to imply that he has no control over his actions. Whereas in Twilight this makes sense (Vampires eat people), angels are supposed to be good unless you're dealing with Prohpecy or Legion type angels.) Enlisting the help of her best-friend Tara, (help to do what?) Nicola is stunned to discover that she is alive because Tristan's love prevented him from killing her, (From your introduction it sounds like Tristan is just a classmate. How can he possibly love her? If they have a background you should explain it.)and sets off to find him in the abandoned hiking trails. (How does she know that's where he is?) Nicola is even more dazed to learn that Tristan is dying by staying human (It's your world so you can do what you want but I don't understand how he can turn himself human or why that would be killing him.) to save her life and guard her secret—knowing about him—from his kin."

Ok. I know you've been working hard on this but the more I learn about it the more I see a re-written Twilight. New girl in school, lives with the dad in a small town, mom is super talkative. Falls in love with a supernatural creature who has to fight not to kill her. She's in trouble because, to quote Edward "You don't belong in my world."

You have to show why your story is unique. Keep trying!

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by brandi_fey » April 1st, 2010, 4:13 pm

hanna2494 wrote:I'm new to the forum. This is the first draft of my query. Feel free to speak your mind, and thank you in advance for you help. By the way, this is just the body of the query.
_____________

Seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers, the newest resident of the gloomy town of Delia, (this sort of detracts from the power of this sentence) discovers her classmate Tristan chained on her driveway in the midst of a thunderstorm. With the help of a hammer, she hopes to liberate him, realizing soon enough that she should have left him chained how she found him. (this doesn't do anything for the reader, SHOW us why she regrets it) But then she witnesses the impossible: Tristan sprouts wings. from his back—Nicola's life takes a terrifying twist when Tristan involuntarily tries to kill her because... (insert reason here, e.g. no human is supposed to live through seeing an angel).
(new paragraph)
Enlisting With the help of her best-friend, Tara, Nicola is stunned to discovers that she is alive because Tristan's love prevented him from killing her, (how does she discover this? and why is she looking for him in abandoned hiking trails? the part about the trails could be cut, in my opinion) and sets off to find him in the abandoned hiking trails. Nicola is even more dazed to learn that Tristan is dying by staying human to save her life and prevent his kin from killing Nicola for what she knows guard her secret—knowing about him—from his kin.
______________

Thank you,
Hanna
This is all very vague to me. You started off strong, but then you lose the reader. Tristan is all the sudden an angel-like being, and then he's trying to kill her and then he's in love with her and then he's dying. WHY? HOW COME? That's what the agent/editor needs to know in order to be interested in your story. You don't have to give them every plot twist, but they need to know where these things in order to understand the potential of the story.

I wish you the best of luck on this. Happy writing!

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by maybegenius » April 1st, 2010, 7:49 pm

Just a friendly tip here, Hannah: It's usually helpful to keep each new revision of your query posted in the thread so that the commenters can follow what's going on. It looks like you've edited this query several times, since each commenter seems to be quoting a different version. This can be very confusing to someone (like me) coming in to read the thread for the first time.

Most posters either keep old versions of their query in the first post and post the new version at the top, or they post a brand new post with their revised query and edit the first post to say "Revised query on second page" or whatever. Just so you're aware :)

As for the query itself, I'm finding the current version you have posted jarring. Tristan is so intent on keeping his secret identity a secret that he almost kills his girlfriend, but why was he involved with her in the first place if it was so important to keep the secret? Why is he chained to HER driveway? What is he, anyway? An angel? A winged god? A gargoyle?

We don't really know much about the story. All we have here is that she finds her boyfriend chained, he sprouts wings and tries to kill her, and she finds out he's not human and he didn't kill her because he loves her. Okay. That's one or two scenes. What's the overall arc of the story? What's the big stake here? Staying alive? Getting her boyfriend back? Stopping a murderous race of winged people from killing all humanity?
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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by BlancheKing » April 1st, 2010, 8:55 pm

Love the plot; I'd definitely read it.

Some quick pointers. Your query format is generic and might make people think the story is another cheesy teenage romance. Bring out a good line or two, you're favorites, and see if you can't work them into the query. A glimpse into a good part of the novel is worth more than the plot in the long run.

As a side note: I've noticed a lot of females leads named "Nico-something" (Nicole, Nicola, Nicky) and many male leads named Tristan. I'm curious as to what's so appealing about these names?

Best of luck,

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by Mary-Catharine » April 1st, 2010, 11:02 pm

This idea can either fly or sink. The idea is great. The only thing that can make it work is you. Ask yourself if your the person to write this novel. Even though this idea does sound unique, you could go totally cliche on this. Find your style and make sure you're not modeling yourself after anyone else. You took an interesting twist in the second paragraph that being human is killing him. Be careful about making it to over the top. People love Twilight because even though it tip-toes around fantasy, it has a way of making things realistic. So keep it real, whoadee! I think your idea is very interesting.

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by kenpochick » April 2nd, 2010, 11:05 am

"In the midst of a thunderstorm, seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers finds her boyfriend Tristan chained to her driveway, struggling to break free from the restrains. With the help of a hammer, she hopes to liberate him, but then she witnesses the impossible: Tristan sprouts white wings. Consumed by a raw impulse to protect his secret identity, Tristan nearly kills Nicola, the person he holds most dear. (The writing here is stronger but here's my problem: if he loves her and knows that he can't expose his identity then why does he sprout the wings? Again, who is chaining him to the driveway. To me that part is way more of the story than that he loves her.)

With the help of her best friend, Tara, Nicola discovers that it was Tristan’s love that prevented him from ending her life the night of the storm, and comes to the conclusion that Tara is Tristan’s sister. (#1, how does she not know that he loves her? She shouldn't need her friend to tell her. #2, how would you come to that conclusion. Tara would know and tell her, why would you hide it. Again I caution the Twilight similarities. You're turning Tara into Alice.) Nicola is even more dazed to learn that Tristan is dying by staying human to save her life and prevent his kin from killing her for what she knows." (Still don't know why he's dying.)

From reading the previous versions of the query I get that Tristan is an angel so here are the question you need to answer.
#1. Why is an angel going to school?
#2. Who is after the angels?
#3. How does an angel have a sister? Why is she going to school etc.
#4. Why is he dying?

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by hanna2494 » April 3rd, 2010, 10:07 am

Feel free to offer your thoughts and advice, and I'll try to fix those on my query. Thank you.
________________

For seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers, finding her boyfriend Tristan chained to her driveway was not part of the plan. Struggling to break free from his restraints, he rejects Nicola’s help, knowing the rain is underway. With a hammer, a determine Nicola tries to liberate him, but when a curtain of rain arrives and hits his skin, she witnesses the impossible: out of thin air, Tristan sprouts wings. Consumed by an animalistic instinct to protect his identity, Tristan attacks the person he holds most dear, and nearly ends her life.

After the encounter with her winged-boyfriend-of-a-monster, Nicola’s not sure who to trust with the information—who would ever believe her? She can’t decide whether to pack her bags and move to her mother's or to take a leap of faith and find him. When she tries to seek some answers with the help of her best friend, Tara, Nicola finds herself near a truth that is way more terrifying and heartbreaking that anything she had imagined. First, her friend Tara reveals to her that she is Tristan’s sister. Second, Nicola uncovers that she is only alive because Tristan, involuntarily, had chosen her as his soul mate. And third, he’s dying. Tristan elected staying in his human form to prevent his kin from seeing his memories, and killing Nicola for what she knows. But how is Nicola supposed to save him, when he is dying to save her?
Last edited by hanna2494 on April 4th, 2010, 4:44 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: QUERY: FEATHERS (YA -Fantasy-Romance)

Post by lachrymal » April 3rd, 2010, 10:33 am

In the midst of a raging thunderstorm, seventeen-year-old Nicola Summers finds her classmate Tristan chained to her driveway, struggling to break free from the restrains [I believe you mean "restraints". Restrains is a verb.] before the rain comes [the first question that arises is--how could it not be raining "in the midst of a raging thunderstorm"? You're going to have to change your wording to clarify.]. With a hammer [Do I need to know that she uses a hammer? I think not, and it would shorten this sentence and keep it from starting with a clause], Nicola tries to free him, but the moment the rain hits his skin, she witnesses the impossible: out of thin air, Tristan sprouts white [do I need to know they're white? Does it matter?] wings. Consumed by a raw, involuntary impulse to protect his identity, Tristan attacks the person he holds most dear, and nearly kills Nicola [because you describe him as "her classmate" in this one, it's weird when you say she's the person he holds most dear].

With the help of her best friend, Tara, Nicola sets out to find Tristan, but in her quest to find him [you've just said she's set out to find him, so telling us she's on a quest to find him is redundant. Delete the second "to find him"], she discovers much more than his secret hiding place. First, Tara is Tristan’s sister. Second, Nicola is only alive because Tristan had by an involuntary response found his soul mate [you've already said it was an involuntary response, so you need to find some different way to say this. Also, I have no idea how him trying to kill her helped him discover she was his soul mate.]—her. And third, he is [queries are in present tense, not past tense] dying, staying in his human costume to prevent his kin from seeing his memories and killing Nicola for what she knows. [this final phrase is quite long and convoluted. I know you're trying to explain this in response to previous feedback, and it is important. But it needs to be rewritten.]

Generally, this query gives me little sense of the story. A lot of others have compared it to Twilight, but have you read Hush, Hush? It's an angel book. A pretty popular one. I have read that angels are the current thing and there are already a lot of these books out there, so you're going to have to find a way to set yours apart. Your query needs more voice, a sense of what Nicola's like, and some clarification of the primary conflicts/issues in the story. Best of luck!

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