Updated Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

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fersnerfer
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Updated Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » August 17th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Ok, here is my latest revision of my query.

Any and all feedback is appreciated.


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Dear [agent]

Skyla’s mother had always said it was a family curse, reading people’s shadows.

Everybody has one, the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. It can multiply when walking between streetlamps or when more than one candle is lit in a room. To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical.

She can see the silhouette that a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, one that reflects a person’s sins and fears. Skyla can’t help but make people see this part of themselves. The ability comes as naturally to her as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but against bullies, it has been good enough to buy her time to run away.

Now she is running again. This time from a witch hunter, hired by the theocratic government that seeks to either use her or destroy her.

Forced from her home of eleven years, Skyla must decide whether to spend her life running or learn the true limits of her abilities and face those who seek to control everything she is.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, a 128,000 word, [fantasy/dark fantasy/epic fantasy depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities.

I thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith


---

Any thoughts?
Last edited by fersnerfer on September 9th, 2010, 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

elfspirit
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by elfspirit » August 17th, 2010, 8:49 pm

fersnerfer wrote:Ok, here is my latest revision of my query.

Any and all feedback is appreciated.


------------


Dear [agent]

Skyla’s mother had always said it was a family curse, reading people’s shadows.

Consider this revision: Skyla's mother had always said their family was cursed by the ability to read people's shadows.

longer, I know, but the comma, made that all-important first sentence feel a little awkward. You can probably come up with something much better.


Everybody has one, the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. It can multiply when walking between streetlamps or when more than one candle is lit in a room. To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical.

She can see the silhouette that a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, one that reflects a person’s sins and fears. Skyla can’t help but make people see this part of themselves. The ability comes as naturally to her as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but against bullies, it has been good enough to buy her time to run away.

I saw that people questioned the technical description of a shadow before. I'm wondering if we can assume that people know what a physical shadow is and contrast that to the spiritual(?) shadow Skyla sees. I think the concept is fascinating, but I'd like to see it tightened up a little, so the agent can grasp it at a glance.


Now she is running again. This time from a witch hunter, hired by the theocratic government that seeks to either use her or destroy her.

I'd make the above one sentence to avoid a fragment.
Forced from her home of eleven years, Skyla must decide whether to spend her life running or learn the true limits of her abilities and face those who seek to control everything she is.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, a 128,000 word, [fantasy/dark fantasy/epic fantasy depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities.

I thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith

I really like this concept, and it's a book I'd want to read.
---

Any thoughts?

Joel Q
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by Joel Q » August 20th, 2010, 3:06 pm

fersnerfer wrote: Skyla’s mother had always said it was a family curse, reading people’s shadows.

Everybody has one, the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. It can multiply when walking between streetlamps or when more than one candle is lit in a room. To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical.

She can see the silhouette that a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, one that reflects a person’s sins and fears. Skyla can’t help but make people see this part of themselves. (i'm not entirely sure what this means. And because you have a lot of 'back story' about shadow, I'd cut it.) The ability comes as naturally to her as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but against bullies, it has been good enough to buy her time to run away.

Now she is running again. This time from a witch hunter, hired by the theocratic government that seeks to either use her or destroy her.

Forced (like she has to hide or they evicted her?) from her home of eleven years, (Are you trying to tell us she's 11? If so, i'd find a different way. If not, it's not important. Cut.) Skyla must decide whether to spend her life running or learn the true limits of her abilities and face those who seek to control everything she is.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, a 128,000 word, [fantasy/dark fantasy/epic fantasy depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities. I like the sentence, but it doesn't help the query. I don't know what airships are and if they are important to the story. They aren't to the query. Also, this could still be earth, so again it doesn't really give me a good idea of the setting.)

I thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith

I do like the voice of the query.
And the plot itself.
JQ


fersnerfer
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » August 20th, 2010, 3:12 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

I wasn't sure if I liked the age thing either. Glad to get another opinion on that.

I'll play with the last sentence a little and repost in a day or so.

Thanks again!
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Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

clara_w
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by clara_w » August 20th, 2010, 3:51 pm

If I were an agent, I'd ask for a full right after the second paragraph, because I always wondered what would those shadows be and you give a very creative explanation. Then I looked at the rest of your query and it was brilliant! Really well done!

fersnerfer
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » August 20th, 2010, 5:50 pm

Here is one last revision before the weekend. Thanks again for all the feedback.

-----

Dear [agent]

Skyla’s mother had always warned her that reading people’s shadows was a curse.

To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical, beyond the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk.
She can see the silhouette that a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, one that reflects a person’s sins and fears.

The ability comes as naturally to her as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but against bullies, it has been good enough to buy her time to run away.

Now she is running again from a witch hunter, hired by the theocratic government that seeks to either use her or destroy her.

Driven from her home, Skyla must decide whether to spend her life running or learn the true limits of her abilities and face those who seek to control everything she is.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, a 128,000 word, [fantasy/dark fantasy/epic fantasy depending on agent] novel, is set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities, where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away.

I thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith


---

I removed the age reference. I agree that it was awkward and unnecessary.

Thanks again for the great comments.
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

elfspirit
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by elfspirit » August 20th, 2010, 8:51 pm

I really like this version. It's much more smooth and reads very well. Good work.

CourtneyLeigh
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by CourtneyLeigh » August 21st, 2010, 2:37 am

I like this query for two reasons.
1) Your query has a voice. Thinking about Nathan's recent blog regarding queries and how your query is your proof to the agent that, "Hey! I can write," makes me think of queries as audition pieces. You are given a very short amount of time to impress whomever you are trying to impress. You need to stand out, and you need to be original. Your query (even the original unedited version) had voice. Yay! Well-done! Whizzo! I think for a lot of hopeful writers, we find it hard to infuse our creative voice into something so business-like in nature. We want to be published! We want to be successful! We want people to sing our praises! We don't want to have to do these things ourselves, right? (erm, maybe that's just me). Anyway, your voice is very strong, and I think you got the hardest part accomplished.
2) You have specifics. They arent' overwhelming, and they aren't underwhelming, either. A delicate balance, indeed. In the latest version, you give the agent a lovely description of Skyla's ability while also sketching out her predicament without getting bogged down in the details that the agent doesn't need to know at this point in time (AKA the querying stage).

And finally, as a little ego boost to you, I got really into this query and it has made me want to go work on mine. So now off I go! (oh goodness! Why am I on these forums at 2 o'clock in the morning? Somebody help me!)

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Quill
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by Quill » August 21st, 2010, 10:44 am

fersnerfer wrote:Here is one last revision before the weekend. Thanks again for all the feedback.
This version has good potential.

Skyla’s mother had always warned her that reading people’s shadows was a curse.

To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical, beyond the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk.
Good opening. But rather than two sentences in two separate paragraphs, consider combining them with a semi-colon, to have the second qualify (support) the first more closely. As it is it reads almost like two different opening lines.
She can see the silhouette that a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, one that reflects a person’s sins and fears.
Good. I'd omit the first "that" and the word "one".
The ability comes as naturally to her as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue.
Okay. I'd reverse wording : The ability comes to her as naturally...
It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but against bullies, it has been good enough to buy her time to run away.
Okay. I'd omit "her" from "good enough to buy her time."
Now she is running again from a witch hunter,
I'd omit "again".
hired by the theocratic government that seeks to either use her or destroy her.
Seems like the government could pretty easily put their hands on one little girl, but okay. Does she have any survival skills?
Driven from her home, Skyla must decide whether to spend her life running or learn the true limits of her abilities and face those who seek to control everything she is.
This is an ineffective wrap-up.

"Driven from her home" seems melodramatic. And after the fact, because you already said she's running again.

What does her mom say about this?

I don't think one can decide to spend one's life running, because it presupposes being able to elude the authorities indefinitely. What would give a schoolgirl such confidence?

Can you give us a clue as to how she might "face" the government (and win)? How does one face an government? In a court of law?

What do you mean, "learn the true limits of her abilities"? How would this help her?

Especially coming after a blurb that has been all set-up. I think we need a better sense of what this chase is about. Where are those 128K words being used? It's like there is a vast portion of your book we know nothing about. Is this a chase book while she tries to clear her name, like The Fugitive? Clue us in!
THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, a 128,000 word, [fantasy/dark fantasy/epic fantasy depending on agent] novel, is set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities, where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away.
I usually don't go for description after the word count, but this works for me, the laying on of the somewhat unusual setting. The word count, by the way, only accentuates my need for a bit more plot info. Again, it seems like you jump from a wordy, but rather well rendered set-up, straight into a somewhat muddled finish line, without really broaching the main section's action and conflict(s), it seems, of this weighty tome. A couple more sentences might fill us just enough.

fersnerfer
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » September 9th, 2010, 9:51 pm

Thanks again for all the help. Here is one more go at it. A little more information.


Dear [agent]

Skyla had always been warned not to read other people’s shadows.

To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical, beyond the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. She can see the silhouette a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, which reflects a person’s sins and fears.

The ability comes to her as naturally as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but it has been good enough to buy time to run away from bullies.

Now she is running from a preacher-turned-witch-hunter, hired by a theocratic government seeking to either control or destroy her. Skyla’s only hope is to uncover the truth of her origins before the reverend catches her, burning everything in his path.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, is a 128,000 word, [epic fantasy, science fiction, alternate history depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities, where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away.

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

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Quill
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by Quill » September 13th, 2010, 10:43 am

fersnerfer wrote:
Skyla had always been warned not to read other people’s shadows.
"had always been" seems weak (vague), and "always" sounds not quite logical (always/constantly warned?).

How about "Skyla was warned not to read other people's shadows"?
To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical, beyond the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. She can see the silhouette a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, which reflects a person’s sins and fears.
This is good.

Omit comma after "Skyla" to improve flow.
The ability comes to her as naturally as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue.
Odd comparisons, since most people cannot cross their eyes or roll their tongue. I guess you are saying it comes naturally to those to whom it comes naturally. Maybe omit this.
It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but it has been good enough to buy time to run away from bullies.
Why would it have anything to do with popularity?

"Good enough to buy time" could be sharpened. "Good" seems imprecise and "to buy time" is a cliche. "Good" and "buy" are two words that don't seem to fit the tone of this query.
Now she is running from a preacher-turned-witch-hunter, hired by a theocratic government seeking to either control or destroy her.
Good, but how about omitting "either" as self-evident by "control OR destroy."

Skyla’s only hope is to uncover the truth of her origins before the reverend catches her, burning everything in his path.
"burning everything in his path" as he catches her, is what you are saying. This doesn't seem possible.

Also, why would he burn everything in his path? He's burning the roads and cars and buildings he comes across while chasing her. Is he a pyromaniac or something? What's with all the incineration?
THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, is a 128,000 word, [epic fantasy, science fiction, alternate history depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities, where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away.

Thank you for your consideration.
Good.

fersnerfer
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Re: Updated Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » September 13th, 2010, 12:33 pm

Excellent feedback as always. Thanks Quill.

in fairness, yes, the witch hunter does do his share of burning things throughout the book. Point taken, though. :)

Do you think it makes more sense to make the opening hook:

Skyla had been warned by her mother not to read other people’s shadows.

I was concerned in the past that too much diversion from the main character in the beginning might come across as confusing.

Here is a possible rework of the middle paragraph:

While other children are good at crossing their eyes or rolling their tongue, Skyla reads people’s soul like a book. It hasn’t helped her make any friends at school, but it has been a helpful distraction when she needed to run away from bullies.

I get your point about the ability coming naturally and about her popularity at school. I think I wanted to make a point that her ability of "forced self-reflection" didn't make her any friends. i.e. people don't like to hear the truth about themselves on a regular basis.

I reworded it to see how it feels. Curious to know what you think.


I will post a full revision in a few days once I let this collect feedback a little longer.

Thanks again!
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

Michael Clutton
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Re: Updated Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by Michael Clutton » September 13th, 2010, 1:45 pm

I'd pre-order that book. Nice job... and with just a few tweaks it went from good to great.

Best of luck with it. Remember the rest of us when you're famous.

thewhipslip
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Re: Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by thewhipslip » September 13th, 2010, 7:29 pm

Quill, as always, manages to leave little for the rest of us to say with such brilliant comments, but my own are below nonetheless:

Dear [agent]

Skyla had always been warned not to read other people’s shadows. I just don't think past tense is ever a good idea in a query. I started my first versions out with the same, but when switched to present it makes you want to read the book. You feel like you're already in it. I liked Quill's version, something akin to: Skyla was warned not to read other people's shadows.

To Skyla, there is an additional shadow within the physical, beyond the silhouette we see when our bodies subtract the light from a wall or a sidewalk. She can see the silhouette a person’s soul leaves against the fabric of the universe, which reflects a person’s sins and fears The second part of the last sentence reads awkwardly to me. How about a more direct statement: ...leaves against the fabric of the universe, a reflection of their sins and fears.

The ability comes to her as naturally as crossing one’s eyes or rolling one’s tongue I agree with Quill here that most people cannot cross their eyes or roll their tongues, so this is not as effective. Do you need it? We know she can do it, do we need to know that it comes naturally to her?. It has done nothing to make her popular at school, but it has been good enough to buy time to run away from bullies. The past tense is ruining the "oompf" of this again, in my opinion. Be direct: It's done nothing for her popularity, but at least it buys her time to escape from bullies.

Now she is running from a preacher-turned-witch-hunter, hired by a theocratic government seeking to either control or destroy her. Skyla’s only hope is to uncover the truth of her origins before the reverend catches her, burning everything in his path.

THE BETWEEN PEOPLE, is a 128,000 word, [epic fantasy, science fiction, alternate history depending on agent] novel, set in a world where airships rule the sky, and religion rules the cities, where the American Revolution never happened and the Dark Ages are only a memory away. Really creepy, effective last sentence. I love it.

Thank you for your consideration.

Overall, this is awesome. I think an agent would read pages with what you posted already, so feel free to ignore my nit and picks.


Sincerely,
Marlan K. Smith[/quote]
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

fersnerfer
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Re: Updated Query: The Between people Take 2... or maybe 3

Post by fersnerfer » September 13th, 2010, 8:33 pm

Your nit picks are noted and welcome.

Thanks for the feedback. Will update in a few days with more fodder. :)

-Marlan
-------------------------------------
http://marlanesque.wordpress.com/
Spoiler:
It turns out he really IS the killer!

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