Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 3

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HillaryJ
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Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 3

Post by HillaryJ » April 14th, 2010, 2:26 am

Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions. Third version is now on page 2. Please let me know your likes/dislikes.

I've strafed and bombed a bunch of you with critiques and edits, and now humbly submit a query for the same. This is just the description part of the query. The greeting and bio/credits will be personalized for each agent. Thanks in advance for taking the time to lend a critical eye.
- - -
The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and killers such as these. But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals and lacks tact.

Her current job, as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops paranormal policing agency, doesn’t give her a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice. The investigation reveals that the witches – sisters – left a body in their past and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace. When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines. As the deaths send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant. War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression feeds on others’ fear. Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt.

Hunting in the Dark is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
Last edited by HillaryJ on April 29th, 2010, 4:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by JTB » April 14th, 2010, 4:17 am

It's not clear to me why - if she's refused to kill once - Callista now, when the werewolf is killed, feels she need to put her training into play? Why is she done watching from the sidelines? She's not liscenced, and benched - so what gives her the right to get involved?

I get the impression frustration builds until she can stand no more - this needs to come out more, maybe

I like the idea of a witch without life and social skills!

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by Joel Q » April 14th, 2010, 2:36 pm

I like this story idea.
Some of you word choices are cliche, benched, sideline...sounds like a game.
Agree with JTB's comment about showing the frustration.
Overall a really good start.
JQ
HillaryJ wrote:The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and killers such as these. But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals and lacks tact.

Her current job, ("Current" does the mean she had to take a job because she got benched. Or is this a job she already had.... I'd take out "current" b/c of what it could mean and it doesn't add anything to the query) as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops paranormal policing agency, doesn’t give her a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice. The investigation reveals that the witches – sisters – left a body in their past and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace. (This is a sentence you could probably leave out, not sure how much it helps the query and not sure "what left a body in their past"... means.)When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines. As the deaths send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant. War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression feeds on others’ fear. (Not sure what this means... are physical things happening b/c of this or are people just scared?) Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt.

Hunting in the Dark is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by theWallflower » April 14th, 2010, 2:37 pm

The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and killers such as these. But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals and lacks tact.
-I think that first sentence takes a long time to get to the meat. Start with Seattle based witches
-What's brutal about stripping witches of magic?
-You say killers such as these. Who is "these"?
-You're throwing too much information at us in this first paragraph. Just keep it down to the plot's premise in this paragraph. You have none of that currently.
-That last sentence is telling.
Her current job, as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops paranormal policing agency, doesn’t give her a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice. The investigation reveals that the witches – sisters – left a body in their past and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace. When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines. As the deaths send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant. War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression feeds on others’ fear. Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt.
-Combine your first and second paragraphs and whittle them down to just the plot. Just what the reader needs to know to make sense of the plot.
-The sentences are just too long to run through. Too much information packed into them. Vary up the sentence lengths.
-You have been able to identify the protagonist, what the problem he/she faces (investigating the culprit behind the death of a werewolf), but not what she intends to do about it, beyond simply solving the mystery.
-You're mixing premise/exposition and plot line. You want to offer as little exposition as possible and as much plot as you can.
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by Emily J » April 14th, 2010, 7:10 pm

HillaryJ wrote:I've strafed and bombed a bunch of you with critiques and edits, and now humbly submit a query for the same. This is just the description part of the query. The greeting and bio/credits will be personalized for each agent. Thanks in advance for taking the time to lend a critical eye.
- - -
The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation,my problem with "war witch" is that it reminded me strongly of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, maybe thats just me was born to stand between gentle witches and killers such as these. "killers such as these" is a bit awkward, are there multiple killers in the story? It's unclear But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. "benched" from what exactly? I think we need more of an idea what her role was before she refused Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting serial comma here and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals serial comma and lacks tact.

Her current job, as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops paranormal policing agency, this is a long embedded clause, makes reading the sentence more difficult doesn’t give her a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice. The investigation her investigation? possibly? this makes it seem uncertain of who is investigating the crime reveals that the witches – sisters – do we need this interjection? left a body in their past what does this mean? they killed someone in their past? both of them? together? or failed to clean up after a corpse? and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace. When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines. As the deaths something seems out of place here, you mention a disappearance and an abduction then return to the murders send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant. War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression feeds on others’ fear. How does this sentence tie in? You are missing something, like "As a war witch Callista feeds of fear, and amidst this unrest her power is at its height" something like that, we need a reason for this or it seems like random exposition Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt. what does first hunt mean? I thought she had all sorts of hunting/killing experience?

Hunting in the Dark is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.Generally you should capitalize your title in a query
Not bad, but I think you could create more connection between the sentences.

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by Quill » April 14th, 2010, 7:54 pm

HillaryJ wrote: - - -
The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and killers such as these. But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals and lacks tact.
A pretty solid paragraph. I'd replace "benched" with "censured" or something less sporty, but otherwise, I'm intrigued.
Her current job, as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops paranormal policing agency,
White-collar-meets-black-ops?
doesn’t give her
Maybe "doesn't come with"...
a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice.
I'm liking it so far.
The investigation reveals that the witches – sisters –
"that the two witches"? (To remind us of the killing in first sentence of the query since you've mentioned witches and killing several times since)
left a body in their past
Hmm. I wish "left" was a more evocative word, or the whole phrase?
and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace.
Starting to get wordy. How about omit "without a trace"?
When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines.
Agree that "watching from the sidelines" is a bit cliche. And too sporty for witchy types, methinks.
As the deaths send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant.
How about omiting "As" and then "panic runs rampant." Tremors works, and is diminished by rampant.
War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression feeds on others’ fear.
This is good.
Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt.
"Compulsion" is a bit weak. How about "obsession"? How about just "in a prison cell" instead of "on the wrong side of..." Otherwise, nice ending.

I think the second paragraph, in general, needs to be both streamlined and punched up. Good luck!

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by HillaryJ » April 15th, 2010, 3:18 am

Sports cliches...is it obvious that I'm about to go watch the Red Sox-Twins game at their new stadium?

Thanks for the input everybody. Much appreciated.
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by theWallflower » April 15th, 2010, 10:35 am

Go Twins!
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy

Post by wilderness » April 15th, 2010, 5:11 pm

HillaryJ wrote: The days leading up to a full moon are usually wild, but Seattle has never seen brutality like two witches viciously stripped of their magic and murdered. Callista Shea, the only female war witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and hunt down killers such as these to protect gentler witches. [The witches who were murdered are killers? Also I think "stand between" is too vague. Maybe you could say she was meant to hunt down killers?] But a one-time refusal to kill at the Witch Counsel’s orders has resulted in her being benched indefinitely. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to civilian rituals and lacks tact. I like that, but how does it affect her goals? Is there a particular civilian that she must interact with?

Her current job, as an advisor to the white-collar meets black ops [I can't picture what white-collar meets black ops means] paranormal policing agency, doesn’t give her a license to hunt, or to kill. All she can do is report what she sees and senses of magical crimes, and hope that the normals running the agency can bring the witches’ killers to justice. The investigation reveals that the witches – sisters – left a body in their past [not sure what body in their past means] and have a non-magical sister who has disappeared without a trace. When a young werewolf is kidnapped and Callista finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the crime scene, she’s done with watching from the sidelines. As the deaths send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, panic runs rampant. War witches protect their kind, and their power and aggression [whose power and agression] feeds on others’ fear. Callista’s compulsion to catch the killer may land her on the wrong side of a jail cell, if she survives her first hunt.

Hunting in the Dark is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
Maybe it's just me being dense, but I had to reread your query several times to get the gist. I'm still confused about who certain pronouns refer to. I agree with wallflower -- you're packing in a ton of info into your sentences and it's hard for a reader unfamiliar with your world to understand. So I would try simplifying your sentences, so that the very dense can get it one read.

Also you hint at your character's personality, but I'd like to know how that affects anything. Like it would be cool if she has a romantic interest but her lack of tact makes it hard for her to talk to him.

That said, it sounds like a fun world you've created. And good conflict :)

Hope that helps!

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 2

Post by HillaryJ » April 19th, 2010, 3:01 am

Version 2. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your time.

Callista Shea, the only female War Witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and those who would do them harm. But a refusal to kill an unarmed opponent at the Council’s orders has left her shunned and relegated to living among normals. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting, and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to the tropes of city life and has the dating acumen of a caveman. None of which bode well with an upcoming first date and dysfunctional coven meeting.

Her plans for blending with normals – or at least normal witches – are interrupted by the brutal slaying of two witches. As an advisor to the paranormal policing agency, Callista doesn’t have a license to hunt or to kill. All she can do is report what she senses at the crime scenes and hope that the Agents can bring the killer to justice. The murders send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, kindling panic. War Witches protect their kind, and Callista’s power and aggression flare when inundated by her coven’s fear. When a werewolf pup is kidnapped and she finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the scene, Callista can no longer sit and watch. Her obsession with catching the killer may land her in her employer’s prisons, if she survives her first hunt.

HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 2

Post by Joel Q » April 19th, 2010, 4:28 pm

Nice Revision.
HillaryJ wrote: When a werewolf pup is kidnapped and she finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the scene, Callista can no longer sit and watch. Her obsession with catching the killer may land her in her employer’s prisons, if she survives her first hunt.

I have a couple of questions about the last sentence.
Employer's -- is this the police or the council?
First hunt-- is this really her first time out? Because her introduction in the first paragarph makes her sound experienced. If this really is her first time, I'd suggest adding something about being a novice in the 1st para.

Opinion-wise, I wish the last two sentences were a bit stronger, but I don't know what is missing or what to suggest to change though.

Other than that I think you've done well.
JQ

PS GO CUBS!


HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.

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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 2

Post by HillaryJ » April 20th, 2010, 6:29 pm

Thanks Joel. I'm tabling this for the week so that I can put off writing for other reasons, and then will write a perfect, final revision over the weekend. Mhmm.
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 2

Post by Regan Leigh » April 27th, 2010, 10:15 pm

New to this, so take with grain of salt... :)

HillaryJ wrote:Version 2. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your time.

Callista Shea, the only female War Witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and those who would do them harm. < I read this first sentence more than once and it still seemed confusing, but the third time I got it. ;) But a refusal to kill an unarmed opponent at the Council’s orders has left her shunned and relegated to living among normals. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting, and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to the tropes of city life and has the dating acumen of a caveman. None of which bode well with an upcoming first date and dysfunctional coven meeting. Bwahaha.. okay, I liked having the image of this ruthless person trying to figure out cell phones or something. :)

Her plans for blending with normals – or at least normal witches – are interrupted by the brutal slaying of two witches. As an advisor to the paranormal policing agency, Callista doesn’t have a license to hunt or to kill. All she can do is report what she senses at the crime scenes and hope that the Agents can bring the killer to justice. <Good way to point out tension in the book. The murders send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, kindling panic. unneeded, assumed War Witches protect their kind, and Callista’s power and aggression flare when inundated by her coven’s fear. <Like this, but think it could be said better. Good tension in the idea of her trying to suppress her urges and feeling powerless despite all her power. When a werewolf pup is kidnapped and she finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the scene, Callista can no longer sit and watch. Her obsession with catching the killer may land her in her employer’s prisons, if she survives her first hunt.

HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
Overall, I like it. :) I think you're halfway there to a great query. IMO, it's not ready, but you have many of the needed elements. I'd say amp up the tension and conflict even more, more emphasis on what the stakes are/consequences, and maybe give us a little more of her personality. I understand her challenges, but don't connect with her outside those points.

Good luck!
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Re: Query - Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 2

Post by ceiser » April 28th, 2010, 10:55 am

Hi. I'm exceedingly new at this, so feel free to ignore me.

I like the idea and I this 2nd version is definitely an improvement, but it feels to me that there's still too much detail.

With a bit more pruning I think it'll really stand out.
HillaryJ wrote:Version 2. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your time.

Callista Shea, the only female War Witch of her generation, was born to stand between gentle witches and those who would do them harm. But a refusal to kill an unarmed opponent at the Council’s orders has left her shunned and relegated to living among normals. Her training in ruthless hunting, dirty fighting, and lethal magic has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to the tropes of city life and has the dating acumen of a caveman. None of which bode well with an upcoming first date and dysfunctional coven meeting.

Her plans for blending with normals – or at least normal witches – are interrupted by the brutal slaying of two witches. As an advisor to the paranormal policing agency, Callista doesn’t have a license to hunt or to kill. All she can do is report what she senses at the crime scenes and hope that the Agents can bring the killer to justice. The murders send tremors through Seattle’s magic population, kindling panic. War Witches protect their kind, and Callista’s power and aggression flare when inundated by her coven’s fear. When a werewolf pup is kidnapped and she finds traces of the dead witches’ magic at the scene, Callista can no longer sit and watch. Her obsession with catching the killer may land her in her employer’s prisons, if she survives her first hunt.

HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.

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Re: Hunting in the Dark - Urban Fantasy TAKE 3

Post by HillaryJ » April 29th, 2010, 4:23 pm

Following is Version Three of this query. I'm working on my second revision of the complete story now and plan to query soon, so any feedback (particularly likes/dislikes) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time, folks.

QUERY V3

War Witch Callista Shea was born to stand between gentle witches and those who would harm them. But a refusal to kill an unarmed opponent at the Council’s orders has left her shunned and relegated to living among normals. Now an advisor to the FBI’s paranormal sub-agency in Seattle, she examines crime scenes for illegal uses of magic. Her training has provided her with few life skills. She’s bad with technology, unused to the tropes of city life and has the dating acumen of a cavewoman.

Her plan for blending with normals is interrupted by the brutal slaying of two witches. War Witches protect their kind, and Callista’s power and aggression grow when fueled by her coven’s fear. As an advisor, she’s supposed to remain on the sidelines, but her frustration grows as the normal Agents fail to find a suspect. When Callista discovers the killer is collecting power by sacrificing paranormals, she is compelled to act. But the killer is protected by dark magic illusions and reanimated soldiers, and Callista’s first solo hunt becomes a fight for survival.

HUNTING IN THE DARK is an urban fantasy, complete at 85,000 words.
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