YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 4th rev.

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YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 4th rev.

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 15th, 2010, 9:49 pm

Hi! Here's a query that I'd like some opinions on. Thank you in advance :)

Edit: 3rd revision here on page 2. Thank you!
Edit: 4th revision here. Thanks for any feedback!

Dear Dream Agent X,

Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years and now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him. Ayla wasn't ready for him to leave permanently when she was five, and she's not now.

The goddess makes her a deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can have her dad back. Ayla seals the contract with a firm shake. The war is announced that evening. She spends two weeks in the city of mageians learning the roots of her heritage. She gets close to her training partner, Zalyn, against her dad’s better judgment. He’s strong, cute, and suggests they’ll be the last two standing. She can’t disagree with that.

When it comes time to compete, Ayla's resolution to win is stronger than ever--until she notices that her childhood crush, a therian named Loran, is competing against her. A two-thousand year old hatred runs deep between mageians like Ayla and therians like Loran. Her dad disappears and a quick trip with Loran and Zalyn to the underworld reveals the truth about what happened in the last war. And what happened is happening again.

Ayla didn't think it was possible, but she changes her mind. Loran and Ayla want to force a draw like their parents tried, but there is only one winner. Zalyn, like his father, wants to be that one. It’s a fight to the death.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
Last edited by D.S. Deshaw on October 29th, 2010, 6:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by Netti » October 15th, 2010, 10:58 pm

D.S. Deshaw wrote:Hi! Here's a query that I'd like some opinions on. Thank you in advance :)


Dear Dream Agent X,

Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years and now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him. Ayla wasn't ready for him to leave permanently when she was five, and she's not now. (Interesting; but now I'm wondering what happened when she was 5. Same thing? And if yes, why didn't he go then?)

The goddess makes her a deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can have her dad back (A bit more explanation about this war would be good since it's so important to the story.). Ayla seals the contract with a firm shake. The war is announced that evening. She spends two weeks in the city of mageians learning the roots of her heritage. She gets close to her training partner, Zalyn, against her dad’s better judgment (Why doesn't her dad want her to get close to him?). He’s strong, cute, and suggests they’ll be the last two standing (There's almost no hint to romance in the rest of the query so I'm wondering why you chose to call this guy "cute." Also, "suggests they'll be the last two standing" seems a bit awkward. I know what you're getting at, but at the same time can't help wanting more of an explanation.). She can’t disagree with that.

When it comes time to compete, Ayla's resolution to win is stronger than ever--until she notices that her childhood crush, a therian named Loran, is competing against her. A two-thousand year old hatred runs deep between mageians like Ayla and therians like Loran. Her dad disappears and a quick trip with Loran and Zalyn to the underworld reveals the truth about what happened in the last war. And what happened then is happening again. (The first part and second part of this paragraph seem to have little to do with each other. And what happened before?)

Ayla didn't think it was possible, but she changes her mind. Loran and Ayla want to force a draw like their parents tried, but there is only one winner (Now this is just plain confusing. You just jumped from the underworld back to the war.). Zalyn,like his father, wants to be that one (Awkward phrasing.).It’s a fight to the death. (We already know it's a fight to the death.)

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
Overall, I think it might be an interesting concept but it just left me confused, so I'm not sure. Good luck!
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by sbs_mjc1 » October 16th, 2010, 3:12 am

D.S. Deshaw wrote:
Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years and now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him. [Good opening sentence, though it might work better broken into two pieces, ie: "Ayla has lived alone with her father for sixteen years. Now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him"]. Ayla wasn't ready for him to leave permanently when she was five, and she's not now. [This sentence is confusing-- what happened when she was five? You might be able to get rid of it and move on to the major hook].

The goddess makes her a deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can have her dad back. [Good hook, but you'll need to explain some of this-- Alya has magic? What war?] Ayla seals the contract with a firm shake.The war is announced that evening. [WHAT WAR? Please explain this!] She spends two weeks in the city of mageians learning the roots of her heritage. She gets close to her training partner, Zalyn, against her dad’s better judgment [Why against her dad's better judgement?]. He’s strong, cute, and suggests they’ll be the last two standing. She can’t disagree with that.

When it comes time to compete [I thought there was a war on. There's some sort of contest now?], Ayla's resolution to win is stronger than ever--until she notices that her childhood crush, a therian named Loran, is competing against her. [Good twist]. A two-thousand year old hatred runs deep between mageians like Ayla and therians like Loran. Her dad disappears and a quick trip with Loran and Zalyn to the underworld reveals the truth about what happened in the last war [Again, if you explain the war and all that, the reader will better understand the stakes]. And what happened is happening again.

Ayla didn't think it was possible, but she changes her mind. Loran and Ayla want to force a draw like their parents tried, but there is only one winner. Zalyn, like his father, wants to be that one. It’s a fight to the death.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
I think you may have a good story going on, but your query is really vague. You need to let the reader in on the details and dynamics of this world, and some of the backstory, because without it, I'm absolutely lost.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 16th, 2010, 5:01 pm

Thank you Netti and sbs_mjc1 for your comments. I added a line about what the war is for clarification, and I tried to make what "happened then" more explicit. Hopefully this is more clear :)


Dear Dream Agent X,

Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years. Now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him.

The goddess offers her a deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can keep him. The 14th Akkadian War is announced that evening. Ayla becomes one of the twenty-one competitors in an age-old competition to determine a superior species for the next century. Her father won last time and the therians assassinated him for it.

When it comes time to compete, Ayla's resolution to win is stronger than ever--until she notices that her childhood crush, a therian named Loran, is competing against her. A two-thousand year old hatred runs deep between mageians like Ayla and therians like Loran. Her training partner Zalyn isn’t pleased by her sudden hesitation. She knows he wants them to be the last two standing, but she isn’t sure she wants to commit to that outcome just yet.

Then she realizes Loran and Zalyn made a deal with the goddess of the underworld like she did. What happened between their parents is happening to them. They were each offered a deal: win and get what they wanted. Now, Loran and Ayla decide they’ll try to force a draw like their fathers, even though there can only be one winner. Zalyn, like his father, wants to be the winner. Ayla doesn't want to lose her father, Loran, or Zalyn.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by Auralius » October 16th, 2010, 5:28 pm

D.S. Deshaw wrote: Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years. Now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him.

The goddess offers her a deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can keep him. The 14th Akkadian War is announced that evening. Ayla becomes one of the twenty-one competitors in an age-old competition to determine a superior species for the next century. Her father won last time and the therians assassinated him for it.
A couple points that may need clarification:

1. "Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years...Her father won last time and the therians assassinated him for it." When exactly does her father die? The timing seems a little confusing, at least to me. The latter sentence seems to imply a sequence of events that are in close chronology. Have the therians just been biding their time to strike for 16+ years? If so, maybe make that clearer?

2. "...age-old competition to determine a superior species for the next century." Is this competition held every one hundred years? That seems to be what's indicated by the description, but her father having won the last time indicates a shorter period between contests. Of course, it's fantasy and these characters may not have human lifespans, so the length of time may be moot and I'm just not realizing it.

Anyway, that's what jumped out at me. Otherwise, nice job and interesting premise.

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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by JMB » October 16th, 2010, 6:47 pm

Several points may benefit from clarification.

If Ayla's father was assassinated when he won the contest many years ago, how has she been living with him for the last 16 years?

You tell us A's father won but then you say the two father's agreed to a draw. Did one renig?

You need to be clearer on what happened in the past if you want us to draw the parallels to the children in the present.

And what is the difference in the two main groups? What makes them hate each other enough to let their young battle each other to the death?

What connection does the goddess of the underworld have to all this? Why does she care what happens to all these people? If they are all killing each other just to prove who is superior won't they all end up in hell without any effort on her part?

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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 17th, 2010, 6:49 pm

Hi!

Thank you for your questions. I guess the query may be a bit confusing because I don't have much room to explain the back story, but there's really no way for me to include it :( One because it'd take up another query or two length-wise, and another because queries are supposed to be what happens in the book. I was hoping I could transform the back story into another book, and how the goddess benefits from the magic into another one...

What I think I can explain better is how he's still alive although he was assassinated, so I've changed the query above like this:
Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years. Now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him. His deal with the goddess ten years ago allowed him to live on earth until now.

The goddess offers her a similar deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can keep him.
The rest is the same after. Does this add clarification? He was killed ten years ago and he made a deal with the goddess (lost his magic, stayed on earth to raise his daughter). Now she's come back because his time's up.

The competition is held about every century, like it says. This time it is happening a lot sooner than usual, and it's for a reason. I'm hoping that it's a detail that makes people wonder why it's happening sooner than it should, but maybe it just makes it extra confusing :(

Let me know if there's anything else I can do! Thank you JMB and Auralius for your help :)
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by katbrauer » October 19th, 2010, 1:59 am

Hey woman. =P
D.S. Deshaw wrote:Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years. Now the goddess of the underworld has come to collect him. His deal with the goddess ten years ago allowed him to live on earth until now.I dunno, I like what you said below this new addition. "Ten years ago, Ayla's father made a deal with the goddess of the underworld. She took his magic, and in return he was allowed to remain on Earth and raise his daughter despite technically being dead.

Now Ayla is a competitor in the 14th Akkadian war, the same competition that killed her father. The goddess offers her a similar deal: if Ayla wins the next war and gives up her magic, she can keep him her father's debt is postponed again. The 14th Akkadian War is announced that evening. Ayla becomes one of the twenty-one competitors in an age-old competition to determine a superior species for the next century. Her father won last time and the therians assassinated him for it.

When it comes time to compete,Ayla's determined to winresolution to win is stronger than ever--until she notices that her childhood crush, a therian named Loran, is competing, too against her. A two-thousand year old hatred runs deep between mageians like Ayla and therians like Loran. Her sudden hesitation isn't what anyone--her training partner, her father, the goddess, nor her--had bet on. But even though she's supposed to hate him, a world without Loran is just as unnacceptable as a world without her father. Her training partner Zalyn isn’t pleased by her sudden hesitation. She knows he wants them to be the last two standing, but she isn’t sure she wants to commit to that outcome just yet.(Two-thousand year-old hatred, okay, cool. Though how did she have a crush on him before, then? I think you should make a bigger deal over choosing Loran over her father, and then you can make the stakes even bigger by being all, BAM! They have to fight the friggin goddess of the underworld who's been absorbing powers for 14 centuries! Snap!

Then she realizes Loran and Zalyn made a deal with the goddess of the underworld like she did. What happened between their parents is happening to them. They were each offered a deal: win and get what they wanted.Now, Loran and Ayla decide they’ll try to force a draw like their fathers, even though there can only be one winner (This REALLY echoes the Hunger Games, so I would reword "can be only one winner."). Zalyn, like his father, wants to be the winner. Ayla doesn't want to lose her father, Loran, or Zalyn. Oh, is the conflict not with the goddess of the underworld? That woulda been awesome. But if not, then I think you shouldn't mention them making the deal, too, and make it more of a "choose between her father and the dude she luuuurves!"

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 19th, 2010, 2:17 am

katbrauer wrote:Hey woman. =P
Ripped apart, OW.

Perfect :D

I'm going back to the drawing board for awhile. I have an idea of how to tackle this, hopefully, by thinking of the whole father/history repeating itself/made the same deal as subplots (AKA they don't go in the query). We'll see how it comes out after that! I'm going to try channeling some of your awesome voice-skills, too. We'll see what happens! Thank you~
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by androidblues » October 19th, 2010, 8:06 pm

katbrauer gave some great advice. When she ripped it apart I totally got the plot. I'd love to see a Hunger Games like novel done in a way that didn't make me mad.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 25th, 2010, 5:14 am

Thanks for the feedback, androidblues :) Hopefully this version is better?



Ayla lived alone with her father for sixteen years. He was assassinated ten years ago by therians, but made a deal with the goddess of the underworld: if he gave up his magic, he could remain on earth with her.

She is raised away from the bad blood between mageians like her and therians, a species able to transform into any form they choose, including human. On her sixteenth birthday, Ayla becomes one of the twenty-one competitors in an age-old competition to determine a superior species for the next century. Ayla wasn't expecting Loran, her childhood crush, long-time friend, and therian, to be on the other side. She didn’t expect to develop feelings for her training partner, Zalyn. She didn't think she'd have to actually lose anyone in this competition--but she does. There is no way to win without killing everyone else.

Ayla makes it through the first two rounds, avoiding bloodshed but noticing none of the losers return to their rooms. The only thing that drives her to win is a deal she made with the goddess of the underworld, who promised if Ayla won and gave her magic up, her father could remain with her. Ayla doesn't want to lose her father, Loran, or Zalyn—but that means she can’t win, either. The final round will leave only one of them alive.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.


Edit: New one below :)
Last edited by D.S. Deshaw on October 29th, 2010, 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 3rd rev.

Post by D.S. Deshaw » October 29th, 2010, 6:02 pm

I figured the last version must not be very good, either, so here's another try :) Hopefully it's better?



Ayla didn't care that she was created to compete in the fourteenth Akkadian war until she’s requested by the gods on her sixteenth birthday. The age-old competition between mageians and therians serves two purposes: 1) to stabilize the delicate relationship between the first seven gods and their powerful predecessor, and 2) to nourish the four-thousand-year-old hatred between mageians and therians.

Bad blood between the species forces them to live in separate underground cities. Ayla grew up in a city spurred by a rebellion to promote peace and spent her childhood crushing on her best friend Loran—until she meets her training partner, Zalyn. His obvious advances are a far cry from Loran’s big-brother persona and she throws away her unrequited childhood crush.

When the mageian and therian competitors meet for the first time on the first day of the war, Loran stands on the therian side. Although she always knew he’d been created to compete as well, seeing him on the other side makes her feel like she’s watching her parents die again. Between her growing feelings for Zalyn’s infectious passion, her forgotten crush for Loran rekindles within his desire to protect her.

Ayla doesn’t want to play in this game if she has to lose everyone she loves to win. When the final battle comes, Ayla, Loran, and Zalyn stand alone in the arena. In this death match, only one of them can stay alive: the winner.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 3rd rev.

Post by Sanwrites » November 16th, 2010, 6:11 pm

Hi D.S.
This is a first read for me, so if some of my comments are redundant, please ignore.
Your story sounds interesting, and with a little tweaking, your query will be a winner. The main thing I noticed was that this reads like a synopsis without much personality of Ayla coming through. You might tone down the world building for a bit more of her response to what's happening to her, and how she overcomes her trials.
The other thing is, your sentences are all long and jammed with info. Teens use jargon, but I don't see any here. This reads more like regular fantasy. Hope some of this helps!


D.S. Deshaw wrote:I figured the last version must not be very good, either, so here's another try :) Hopefully it's better?


Ayla didn't DOESN'T care that she was created to compete in the fourteenth Akkadian war until she’s requested by the gods on her sixteenth birthday. The age-old competition between mageians and therians serves two purposes: 1)to stabilizeD the delicate relationship between thefirst seven gods and their powerful predecessor, and 2) tonourishING the A four-thousand-year-old hatred between mageians and therians. SHOW US HOW SHE FEELS AND WHAT SHE WANTS WHEN SHE FINDS OUT.

Bad blood between the species forces them to live in separate underground cities. Ayla, A THERIAN grew up in a city spurred by a rebellion to promote peaceand spentSPENDS her childhood crushing on her best friend Loran—until she meets her training partner, Zalyn. His obvious advances are a far cry from Loran’s big-brother persona and she FORGETSthrows away her unrequited childhood crush.

When the mageian and therian competitors meet for the first time on TELL WHERE the first day of the war, Loran stands on the therian side. Although she always knew he’d been created to compete as well, seeing him on the other side makes her feel like {she’s watching her parents die again}. I'd leave this out because it's a subplot that confuses, rather than adds to the story.

Between her growing feelings for Zalyn’s infectious passion, her forgotten crush for Loran rekindles within his desire to protect her. REWRITE FOR CLARITY.

Ayla doesn’t want to play in this game if she has to lose everyone she loves to win. When the final battle comes, Ayla, Loran, and Zalyn stand alone in the arena. In this death match, only one of them can stay alive: the winner.

GLORY OR DEATH is a 90,000-word young adult fantasy novel.
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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 4th rev.

Post by D.Bond » November 16th, 2010, 6:38 pm

Sanwrites wrote:
D.S. Deshaw wrote:Ayla, A THERIAN
Just a notice, but I don't think Ayla's a therian. Notice that she put:
D.S.Deshaw wrote:When the mageian and therian competitors meet for the first time on the first day of the war, Loran stands on the therian side.
Just wanted to point that out, that's all. :)

Ayla didn't care that she was created to compete in the fourteenth Akkadian war until she was requested by the gods on her sixteenth birthday. The age-old competition between mageians and therians serves two purposes: 1) to stabilize the delicate relationship between the first seven gods and their powerful predecessor, and 2) to nourish the four-thousand-year-old hatred between mageians and therians.

Bad blood between the species forces them to live in separate underground cities. Ayla grew up in a city spurred by a rebellion to promote peace and spent her childhood crushing on her best friend Loran—that is, until she meets her training partner, Zalyn. His obvious advances are a far cry from Loran’s big-brother persona and she throws away her unrequited childhood crush.

When the mageian and therian competitors meet for the first time, on the first day of the war, Loran stands on the therian side. Although sShe always knew he’d been created to compete as well, but seeing him on the other side makes her feel like she’s watching her parents die again. BetweenDespite her growing feelings for Zalyn’s infectious passion, her forgotten crush for Loran rekindles within his desire to protect her.

Ayla doesn’t want to play in this game if she has to lose everyone she loves to win. When the final battle comes, Ayla, Loran, and Zalyn stand alone in the arena. In this death match, only one of them can stay alive: the winner.

I just added a few words or changed them as I read it in my head. These are just suggestions of course, take them into consideration as you'd like :) Happy writing.

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Re: YA Fantasy Query -- Glory or Death, 4th rev.

Post by Sanwrites » November 16th, 2010, 10:45 pm

OOPS. I should've put Mageian.
Thanks D.Bond.
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