No Hill Without Treasure - Query *NEW*

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dios4vida
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No Hill Without Treasure - Query *NEW*

Post by dios4vida » July 2nd, 2010, 4:11 pm

Please see the newest query, several posts down.


Hi all, any input you're willing to give would be greatly appreciated!

----

The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect the forbidden treasures of Evantar in order to set things right.

His mission grows more complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens the very core of his nature. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions Brinelle and Fi’ar to keep him sane.

And even more trouble is brewing on the horizon – another Mirrormage, trained in the art of Deceit, is following in their tracks.

Only one person can collect the treasures of Evantar and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure he’s the one to get them. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. Or he could surrender it to them and keep the power for himself.

No Hill Without Treasure is a fantasy adventure novel, complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book, but two sequels are in outline form should the first be successful.

Thank you for considering No Hill Without Treasure.
Last edited by dios4vida on July 29th, 2010, 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Brenda :)

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by LBender » July 2nd, 2010, 4:54 pm

Hi all, any input you're willing to give would be greatly appreciated!

----

The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Nice opening. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect the forbidden treasures of Evantar in order to set things right.

His mission grows more complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens the very core of his nature.

Uncertain about 'the very core of his nature'. Seems too much. Maybe just 'his very nature'.

Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions Brinelle and Fi’ar to keep him sane.

Too many odd names. You need the main character's name, but with all the other new words, you might want to drop his companions' names. They're unnecessary. Also, is he striving for sanity, or to keep the magic from taking him over? Confusing.

And even more trouble is brewing on the horizon – another Mirrormage, trained in the art of Deceit, is following in their tracks.

Lots of people are trained in deceit. If you're capitalizing it, it must be something special. You may want to give a hint as to what.

Only one person can collect the treasures of Evantar and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure he’s the one to get them. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. Or he could surrender it to them and keep the power for himself.

If he gives them the power and/or the magic, how can he keep it also?

No Hill Without Treasure is a fantasy adventure novel, complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book, but two sequels are in outline form should the first be successful.

Thank you for considering No Hill Without Treasure.

Don't mention the name again. Sounds redundant. Just do 'Thank you for your time and consideration.'

Good premise. Sounds interesting. Just clean it up some. Good luck.

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by Krista G. » July 2nd, 2010, 5:57 pm

dios4vida wrote:The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Although I like this sentence, I can't help but wonder why it's all his fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect the forbidden treasures of Evantar in order to set things right. Lots of proper nouns in this paragraph. You could probably lose the phrase "of Evantar" without losing any meaning.

His mission grows more complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. How does this happen? And does it literally simmer in his blood? This is an important plot point, so you might want to spend a little more time explaining it. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens the very core of his nature. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions Brinelle and Fi’ar to keep him sane. Again, you could easily eliminate the names Brinelle and Fi'ar, just so we don't have to keep track of quite so many new people and things.

And even more trouble is brewing on the horizon (If you find a way to say this without falling back on the cliche, I think this sentence would be stronger) – another Mirrormage, trained in the art of Deceit, is following in their tracks.

Only one person can collect the treasures of Evantar and control the power they hold. Here again, you could easily eliminate the phrase "of Evantar" without losing any meaning. Windrunner has to make sure he’s the one to get them. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. Or he could surrender it to them and keep the power for himself. Nice setup of the moral dilemma.

No Hill Without Treasure is a fantasy adventure novel, complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book, but two sequels are in outline form should the first be successful.

Thank you for considering No Hill Without Treasure.
Your writing is clear and straightforward, and that alone says more about your manuscript than a thousand more words of summary ever could. If you explain a few more details of your world, this query will be pretty solid.

Thank you for your kind comments on my query, by the way. They made my day:) And as for a bio paragraph, I think it's a good idea to include one. If you don't have any publishing credits (and let's be honest, most of us don't), you're right that you don't want to waste an inordinate amount of words on your background. But I still think you want to give the agent a sense of who you are.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by Emily J » July 2nd, 2010, 9:54 pm

Great comments by LBender and Krista G., I think they said everything I was going to say!

I would only add, that it is usually best to capitalize your novel title in a query.

best of luck-

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by Ellie G » July 3rd, 2010, 9:43 am

You have a really great start in terms of clearly setting up the conflicts of the book, and that's very important. But right now, we're all awash in a sea of proper nouns that don't mean anything to us.

Here is what we need to know:
- who are the Shahadán? (vampires, gods, demonic My Little Ponies?)
- what are the treasures? (magic daggers, ancient rubies, five pieces of a broken sword?)
- why Windrunner has dark magic in his blood (is this a spell, or inherited?)
- why it's a bad thing that this other mage is following them (is he going to kill them? get the treasures first? he's just creeping them out?)
- why Windrunner would want to keep the power for himself (yes, everyone loves power, but I want to know what he wants to do with it--it's a completely different book if he's tempted to set wrongs right or if he's tempted to be an evil dictator)

Here is what we don't need to know right now:
- "of Evantar"
- that the dark mages are called Mirrormages (it doesn't convey anything that "dark mage" does, in the query at least, and it reduces the number of proper nouns)
- "the art of Deceit"
- his companions' names

Also, I'd rephrase the last three lines to say NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Good luck! It sounds like you have a clear handle on what your book is about. Looking forward to the next version of the query!

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by dios4vida » July 3rd, 2010, 10:47 am

Thanks everyone, that's some great input! It's amazing how after you've spent so much time with your characters and things that you don't realize how many proper nouns you're tossing around. I went back to read it again and holy cow!! I'll get fixing this up and post a new version later on. I appreciate all of your input!!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - 2nd draft

Post by dios4vida » July 8th, 2010, 5:31 pm

Thanks LBender and Emily J for your input!

Krista G. - I was hoping that people would wonder why it's Windrunner's fault, and that it would be enough intrigue to pull them into the story. I tried putting in a little more explanation, but then it gets really muddy and the opening doesn't have any impact. Does the mystery detract from the query's integrity?

Ellie G - I laughed so hard at "demonic My Little Ponies." Just had to say. Also, I think that using the name Mirrormages makes them stand out from just another dark mage. I took out almost all the other proper nouns, so hopefully it won't seem like an unnecessary name. Let me know if you still think it's superfluous.

Anyways, here's my new query:

-----

The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect four forbidden treasures in order to set things right.

The Shahadán, creatures with rotting flesh and a hunger for the spirits of the living, begin ravaging towns well before Windrunner can hope to stop them. Each death weighs on his heart, and he vows to avenge every life lost.

His mission grows complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens his very nature. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions to help him stay in control.

And soon, even more trouble appears – a Mirrormage is following in their tracks. Having tasted the same dark magic this Mirrormage has mastered, Windrunner is sure that the mage’s intentions put the treasures, and their lives, in mortal danger.

Only one person can collect the treasures and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure that person is him. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. But if a Mirrormage controls that magic – the one on their trail or the one inside of him – then much more than their lives will be lost.

NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your consideration.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - 2nd draft

Post by Krista G. » July 10th, 2010, 3:53 pm

dios4vida wrote:The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect four forbidden treasures in order to set things right.

The Shahadán, creatures with rotting flesh and a hunger for the spirits of the living, begin ravaging towns well before Windrunner can hope to stop them. Each death weighs on his heart, and he vows to avenge every life lost.

His mission grows complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens his very nature. Again, I wonder how this happened and whether the dark magic literally simmers in his blood. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions to help him stay in control.

And soon, even more trouble appears – a Mirrormage is following in their tracks. Having tasted the same dark magic this Mirrormage has mastered, Windrunner is sure that the mage’s intentions put the treasures, and their lives, in mortal danger.

Only one person can collect the treasures and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure that person is him. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. But if a Mirrormage controls that magic – the one on their trail or the one inside of him – then much more than their lives will be lost. This is all right, but I really liked the way you set up the internal conflict in your previous version, how Windrunner has to choose between destroying the Shahadan and trying to control them.

NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your consideration.
As for the first sentence, I think you're right - the question of why it's Windrunner's fault does propel the reader into the query. But I did wish we got a better sense of it later on.

Also, I noticed that you used "begin" or "begins" twice in the first two paragraphs. You might try rewriting those sentences to eliminate the "begins," just to make the verb a little stronger (and eliminate a few more needless words).

On the whole, I still think this is a pretty strong query. You may want to add a few details that show what makes your manuscript, though, just to make it even stronger. (In fact, there's another query near the top of this forum about a man who comes into possession of an artifact that he must protect at all costs, even as dark magic is trying to take him over - it's mfrievald's CONFESSIONS OF AN ELDER).
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by dios4vida » July 11th, 2010, 11:57 am

Thanks, Krista G. I completely forgot the part about the magic in his blood...oops! And I'm a little torn about the last sentence as well. I like the first one, but this second one better represents the conflict of the book. It's a bit more accurate, though less enticing. I'll have to think about it.

Many thanks for your helpful comments, as always. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by dios4vida » July 29th, 2010, 1:25 pm

Here's the latest query version:

The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect four forbidden treasures in order to set things right.

It has been centuries since the Shahadán, creatures with rotting flesh and a hunger for the living, have roamed free. Only when they’d been locked behind a magical boundary had the world been safe – and it was this boundary that Windrunner accidentally tore. He blames himself for each death the Shahadán causes and vows to avenge every life lost.

His mission grows complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens his very nature. Before this journey began he’d known nothing of magic, and he has no idea why he possesses this power or how to manage it. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions to help him stay in control.

And soon, even more trouble appears – a Mirrormage is following in their tracks. Having tasted the same dark magic this Mirrormage has mastered, Windrunner is sure that the mage’s intentions put the treasures, and their lives, in mortal danger.

Only one person can collect the treasures and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure that person is him. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. But if a Mirrormage controls that magic – the one on their trail or the one inside of him – much more than their lives will be lost.

NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your consideration.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by Emily J » July 29th, 2010, 2:09 pm

dios4vida wrote:Here's the latest query version:

The deadly Shahadán have been released into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect four forbidden treasures in order to set things right. i think this is too vague, i have no idea what the Shahadan are, what prophecy Tsenian must defy, or how four forbidden treasures can set things right, i understand you explain below, but the first sentence in a query really needs an attention-grabbing hook, right now this isn't working for me, i understand the idea, behind it, but i think it needs to be rephrased

It has been centuries since the Shahadán, creatures with rotting flesh and a hunger for the living, have roamed free. Only when they’d been locked behind a magical boundary had the world been safe – and it was this boundary that Windrunner accidentally tore. He blames himself for each death the Shahadán causes and vows to avenge every life lost. this paragraph would be a much better starting place actually, how did he accidentally tear the boundary? his fledgling mirrormage magic?

His mission i believe his mission is to seal away the Shahadan again, but it isn't overtly stated grows complicated when the dark magic of a Mirrormage and what is a Mirrormage? begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens his very nature. how? and what is his nature? Before this journey began he’d known nothing of magic, and he has no idea why he possesses this power or how to manage it. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions to help him stay in control. perhaps best to leave out his companions since we get no information on them

And soon, even more trouble appears – a Mirrormage is following in their tracks. Having tasted the same dark magic this Mirrormage has mastered, Windrunner is sure that the mage’s intentions put the treasures, and their lives, in mortal danger. again these treasures are mentioned without much explanation, and can treasures be placed in mortal danger? only mortals can methinks

Only one person can collect the treasures and control the power they hold. and that power is what now? Windrunner has to make sure that person is him. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. But if a Mirrormage controls that magic – the one on their trail or the one inside of him – much more than their lives will be lost. what will be lost??

NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your consideration.
You give us the general plot but I think that is the problem right now, it's all too general. Some sort of forbidden treasures, some kind of magic that may or may not involve mirrors, some possibly zombie enemies? I think you need to be more specific and also be careful of begging questions that you don't answer. And right now this query is definitely lacking a hook.

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query *NEW*

Post by adamg73 » July 29th, 2010, 7:03 pm

dios4vida wrote:Now he must defy a prophecy
You mention a prophecy in the first line so I start the letter thinking that it's important. Then it's not mentioned again. It leaves me wondering and not in a good way.

This sounds like a good story, kind of similar to Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series. Did it influence you?

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query *NEW*

Post by dios4vida » July 29th, 2010, 7:38 pm

adamg73 wrote:This sounds like a good story, kind of similar to Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series. Did it influence you?
Terry Goodkind and R.A. Salvatore are two of my most beloved authors, so I'll have to say yes.

Thanks for the input, Emily J and adamg73!! I have a lot of thinking to do now.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query

Post by djf881 » July 31st, 2010, 6:40 am

This sounds like it's a cool idea, but there are a lot of problems with this letter and that may be why you're not getting positive responses. I don't want to be harsh, but you have to do better.

There are some logic issues with the way you relay the story; you don't fully establish the causes and effects that lead us from one event to another. How does Tsenian break the barrier? Why are the treasures the key to stopping the monsters? Also, you mention a prophecy and companions, but you never explain how they fit into the story. Why is Tsenian the one who must gather the treasures if he's becoming an evil wizard?

You also have problems with sentence-level prose. You use a lot of passive voice and you have repeated instances of awkward construction. You need to use more forceful, active verbs. A lot of established sci-fi/fantasy writers get away with using tons of adverbs, splitting infinitives and writing ugly phrases. You should try to be better than they are, though. It can't hurt your chances.

Also, think about your hook. It's not the monsters; they're just a ticking-clock device. So, they should not be the lede. The story seems like it's about Tsenian and his internal conflict; he might be the hero of this story, or he might wind up being the villain. Do you want him to be a steadfast hero, saddled with a curse he must defy? Or should he be somebody who is kind of tempted to go with the evil-wizard gig?

Also, think about voice as a way to set this apart from other, competing manuscripts. Dopey, earnest farm-boys with square jaws and great destinies are a dime a dozen. Your hero is a dark-magic adept, and a key source of your narrative tension is the possibility that he might decide to keep the treasures for himself and let somebody else try to stop the zombies. See if you can make this sound sort of sharp and witty, and a little bit dark. This character could be a lot of fun, and fun is better than the standard issue dark-and-sinister-tidings fantasy.
dios4vida wrote:Here's the latest query version:

The deadly Shahadán have been releasedPASSIVE into the world, and it’s all Tsenian Windrunner’s fault. Now he must defy a prophecy and collect four forbidden treasures in order to set things right.

It has been centuries since the Shahadán, creatures with rotting flesh and a hunger for the living, have roamed free. Only when they’d been lockedPASSIVE behind a magical boundary had the world been safeAWKWARD – and it was this boundary that Windrunner accidentally tore. He blames himself for each death the Shahadán causes and vows to avenge every life lost.

His mission grows complicatedAWKWARD when the dark magic of a Mirrormage begins simmering in his blood. It craves power, relishes death, and threatens his very nature. Before this journey began he’d known nothing of magic, and he has no idea why he possesses this power or how to manage it. Faced with the fight against evil from without and within, he relies on his companions to help him stay in control.

And soon, even more trouble appearsAWKWARD – a Mirrormage is following in their tracks. Having tasted the same dark magic this Mirrormage has masteredAWKWARD, Windrunner is sure that the mage’s intentions put the treasures, and their lives, in mortal danger.

Only one person can collect the treasures and control the power they hold. Windrunner has to make sure that person is him. With that much magic at his command, he could save the entire world from the Shahadán. But if a Mirrormage controls that magic – the one on their trail or the one inside of him – much more than their lives will be lost.

NO HILL WITHOUT TREASURE is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 75,000 words. It is a stand-alone book with series potential. Thank you for your consideration.
If you like my posts, please check out my writing blog; http://somethingpersuasive.blogspot.com.

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Re: No Hill Without Treasure - Query *NEW*

Post by mfreivald » July 31st, 2010, 11:16 pm

I can't add much to what's been said, but I would mention that there doesn't seem to be a focused threat. There are multiple threats, and that prevents us from getting to really key in on something of concern. I don't think you have to give us each one. I'd focus on the nature of the primary threat and raise the tension around that one thing to give it some dramatic punch.

Best wishes,
Mark

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