Query: Harbinger

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Fenris
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Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 5th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Newest draft near the bottom of page two. Thanks to all who've offered feedback so far!

Welp, still plugging away at revisions. Just thought I'd post this up for critique, since I'm generally hopeless at critting my own stuff. Tell me what you think. Bonus points for constructive brutality.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he suspects.

As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is charged with completing the god’s mission in his place—destroying the world of Asgard, where the Norse gods of old dwell. He would give anything to leave peacefully, and let Asgard live on, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside and let the other him do the dirty work, but then his counterpart attempts to kill him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself.

Harbinger is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

[insert possible bio section, though my writing credits are practically nil. Should I even include one, since that's the case?]

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]

***

Those of you who have read my synopsis will realize I left a LOT of stuff out of the story section. Do you think I should leave it as-is, or try and round it out a bit better? Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Fenris on December 7th, 2010, 8:28 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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maggie
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by maggie » December 5th, 2010, 5:54 pm

This sounds like an interesting story! I haven't read your previous versions of the query or your synopsis, and I'm going to not do so on purpose so as to be most like an agent reading this for the first time...
Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he suspects Is "expects" maybe a better word here?.

As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is charged with completing the god’s (I get this after reading the sentence a couple times, but the first time through I didn't realize it was referring to the deity himself. For some reason, on first read I thought it was talking about multiple gods and just got the punctuation wrong. Maybe because gods is used in a different way later in the sentence? Could you use another word in this first instance?) mission in his place—destroying (This seems not quite right to me somehow. Maybe "He is to destroy..."?) the world of Asgard, where the Norse gods of old dwell. He would give anything to leave peacefully, and let Asgard live on, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside and let the other him do the dirty work, but then his counterpart attempts to kill him. (I'd make this attempt to kill him a little more dramatic. I'm not quite sure how to do this, but it gets a little lost as the second half of this sentence) As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself. (I like this last sentence, but it almost makes it seem like he's going to die no matter what, and the question is just by whose hand.)

Harbinger (all caps) is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

[insert possible bio section, though my writing credits are practically nil. Should I even include one, since that's the case?]

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]
All these are relatively minor tweaks--just tightening, really. And I'm certainly no query expert, so feel free to take it or leave it. :) All in all, I feel like I get a pretty good idea of your story from this query, and it seems interesting!

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 5th, 2010, 6:14 pm

Thanks, Maggie.
maggie wrote:As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is charged with completing the god’s (I get this after reading the sentence a couple times, but the first time through I didn't realize it was referring to the deity himself. For some reason, on first read I thought it was talking about multiple gods and just got the punctuation wrong. Maybe because gods is used in a different way later in the sentence? Could you use another word in this first instance?)
Yeah, this bothered me too, but if I put "his" instead of "the god's" it might seem like I was referring to Micah. I'll see if I can tweak it, though.
maggie wrote:As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself. (I like this last sentence, but it almost makes it seem like he's going to die no matter what, and the question is just by whose hand.)
Good, that was the intent.
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 5th, 2010, 6:25 pm

Right, round two!

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects.

As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is the heir of not only the being’s soul, but his task as well. He is to destroy the world of Asgard, where the Norse gods of old dwell. He would give anything to leave peacefully, and let Asgard live on, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside and let the other him do the dirty work. Of course, he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

[insert possible bio section, though my writing credits are practically nil. Should I even include one, since that's the case?]

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]

***

Again, what's your opinion on the content? Should I add more to the story, or leave it as-is (or tighten it yet more)? Thanks in advance!
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Watcher55 » December 5th, 2010, 6:45 pm

Fenris wrote:Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different it's not the world than the one he suspects he expects.

As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is charged with completing the god’s mission; in his place—destroying the world ofAsgard, where the Norse gods of olddwell. He would give anything to leave Did you mean "live"? or is he actually in Asgard? if so, how'd he get there? peacefully, and let Asgard live on, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside and let the other him do the dirty work, but then his counterpart attempts to kill him. As histime the deadline to complete the task runs out approaches, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself.
Did you mean to imply that Asgard itself can kill Micah? If so you might want to bring that out a little. You might also consider putting "the Norse gods" and "Asgard" together
Harbinger is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

[insert possible bio section, though my writing credits are practically nil. Should I even include one, since that's the case?]

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]
Cool premise. I just don't get the sense that Micah is doing anything except graduating, avoiding himself and wishing his deadline would pass. Is he actually in Asgard? What's his divine master going to do if Micah doesn't do what he's told? How is he supposed to destroy Asgard? What motivates him - "Micah has to . . ."

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 5th, 2010, 7:31 pm

I don't think you saw my second draft, Watcher--but that's okay, it's my fault for not putting a notice up at the top. Don't worry, I'm still taking your input into account!
Watcher55 wrote:He would give anything to leave Did you mean "live"? or is he actually in Asgard? if so, how'd he get there?
Hmm, you're right. I assumed it would be implied that he was now on Asgard, but looking at it again I never actually confirm he starts out on Earth, so...I guess I'd better say how he's getting to Asgard.
Watcher55 wrote:As histime the deadline to complete the task runs out approaches
Technically, the time does run out before he's able to trigger Asgard's destruction.
Watcher55 wrote:Did you mean to imply that Asgard itself can kill Micah?
Yes. Very much so.
Watcher55 wrote:Cool premise. I just don't get the sense that Micah is doing anything except graduating, avoiding himself and wishing his deadline would pass. Is he actually in Asgard? What's his divine master going to do if Micah doesn't do what he's told? How is he supposed to destroy Asgard? What motivates him - "Micah has to . . ."
In order: Yes, but I need to establish that, you're right; it's never directly stated (though it comes out in the end); that's part of the challenge; and this one is tricky. If I put in a section for his motivation, it would cause a chain reaction, as said motivation pretty much springs from/spawns nearly every subplot. Basically, his motivation is that he has to destroy Asgard before he can follow up on his real quest (one he wants to do rather than is being made to do). I'll put a section in the next query draft, so we can see whether it actually works or not.

Thanks for your input!
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 5th, 2010, 7:42 pm

Round three! As always, all input is welcome but bonus points for constructive brutality.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects. As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is the heir of not only the being’s soul, but his task as well. He is to destroy the world of Asgard, where the Norse gods of old dwell.

After freeing the deity named Fenris, chained for a thousand years to prevent the task he was meant to carry out, Micah is assaulted by an angry Valkyrie intent upon returning Fenris’ spirit to its prison. Micah’s friend sacrifices herself to save him, and the surprised Valkyrie is overwhelmed by a grief-stricken Micah. Not long after, he learns that Kitty’s soul can still be recovered, and sets out to find it, traveling to Heaven with an old friend of Fenris’. But once there, he is waylaid by those keen to see his task fulfilled, and Micah eventually winds up on the very world he wished to avoid—and it’s a one-way ticket.

Once there, he would give anything to leave peacefully and spare Asgard, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside and let the other him do the dirty work while he sought out Kitty’s errant soul. Of course, he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Watcher55 » December 6th, 2010, 11:14 am

Not your fault. It was one of those situations when I wasn't payin' attention, and I clicked "Board Index" instead of "Submit" a second time because someone posted in front of me.
Fenris wrote:Round three! As always, all input is welcome but bonus points for constructive brutality.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects. As the vessel of an ancient deity, Micah is the heir of not only the being’s soul, but his task as well. He is to destroy the world ofAsgard, where the Norse gods of old dwell. Would you say the "world of Earth"?

After freeing the deity named Fenris, chained for a thousand years to prevent the task he he who? Micah, the deity or Fenris was meant to carry out, Micah is assaulted by an angry Valkyrie intent upon returning Fenris’ spirit to its prison. Micah’s friend sacrifices herself to save him, and the surprised Valkyrie is overwhelmed by a grief-stricken Micah. Not long after, he learns that Kitty’s I know this goes back to his friend but the placement is just confusing enough to make the reader stop and say who? soul can still be recovered, and sets out to find it May be it's just me, but I don't think souls lose their gender , travelling to Heaven with an old friend of Fenris. But oOnce there, he is waylaid by those keen to see his task fulfilled, and Micah eventually winds "eventually" is one of those words that slows down the action.up on the very world he wished to avoid—and it’s a one-way ticket.

Once there, Again, it's just me but this is the second time "Once there" is used. It makes me feel like you're backing up. he would give anything to leave peacefully and spare Asgard, spare Asgard and leave peacefully but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. When a parallel version of himself appears, Micah wonders if he can simply stand aside Is Micah apathetic about what happens to Asgard? If so, that's fine but there must be a reason. The way it's written, Micah comes off as a sissy and let the other him do the dirty work while he sought seeks out Kitty’s errant "errant" implies that Kitty's sacrifice was capricious or just plain wrong. soul. Of course,; he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: the Norse gods, his parallel counterpart, or Asgard itself his parallel self, the Norse gods or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]
One of the most helpful comments I've gotten so far on my first attempt at a query is that I had "a cast of thousands". Describe the wall because a query shouldn't be long enough to describe so many bricks. As much as we hate to admit it, there just isn't room for the whole ensemble to speak to the agent at the same time. Strip your story down to the bare bones and show off your writing style.

Agents are busy people and they don't have time to unravel plot lines at this "audition" stage. Distill the story down to its spirit and sell yourself.

Nathan has a lot of helpful advice, and I have to admit I've been a bit recalcitrant about doing the "mad lib" but since this is a work day, I'm going to run my latest version through his model (second link) now.
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08 ... etter.html
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html

Just so you know where I'm coming from, before I started my first (terrible) draft I thought it would be the easiest part of the whole process. OK y'all, stop laughing, I know better now.

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 6th, 2010, 4:45 pm

Thanks to all who have commented so far. Watcher55: Well, it's like I said in my second draft. Adding Kitty to the mix complicates things. A lot. Distilling in process...

Round four.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects.

As the vessel of an ancient deity named Fenris, Micah is the heir of not only the being’s soul, but his task as well. He is to destroy Asgard, the world where the Norse gods of old dwell. An old friend of Fenris arrives and takes him from Earth to Heaven, and from there to Asgard itself. Once there, he would give anything to spare Asgard and leave peacefully, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. If Asgard is not destroyed, Micah's soul will be recycled, reborn in a new body with no memory of his former life. When a parallel version of himself appears, also bent on Asgard's destruction, Micah wonders if he's stumbled upon a loophole to escape his terrible duty. Of course, he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: his parallel self, the Norse gods, or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

[insert possible bio section, though my writing credits are practically nil. Should I even include one, since that's the case?]

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]

***

Do you think I need to put Kitty back? (For newcomers to the thread, this refers to the third draft above, where the addition of a subplot swelled the query overmuch.) I could try and distill it further, but this is about as bare as the bones are going to get.
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Jaligard » December 6th, 2010, 5:45 pm

I'm missing the motivation for Micah. I get to "he would give anything to spare Asgard and leave peacefully, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master," and I think, "So? He didn't know he had a divine master three minutes ago." But! You may cry, his soul will be recycled. I don't know what that means. Is it destroy Asgard or we'll kill you? I can't imagine destroying Asgard isn't going to risk his life just as much (if not more).

Without a strong attachment or motivation for Micah, this is just a list of events. I need a stronger attachment to Micah, a reason to root for him.
Fenris wrote:Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects.

As the vessel of an ancient deity named Fenris, Micah is the heir of not only the being’s soul, but his task as well. He is to destroy Asgard, the world where the Norse gods of old dwell. An old friend of Fenris arrives and takes him from Earth to Heaven, and from there to Asgard itself. Once there, he would give anything to spare Asgard and leave peacefully, but it would mean defying the orders of his divine master. If Asgard is not destroyed, Micah's soul will be recycled, reborn in a new body with no memory of his former life. When a parallel version of himself appears, also bent on Asgard's destruction, Micah wonders if he's stumbled upon a loophole to escape his terrible duty. Of course, he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: his parallel self, the Norse gods, or Asgard itself.

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Watcher55 » December 6th, 2010, 5:52 pm

What Jaligard said.

I think you have a fair summary now you gotta sell. It's time to flesh it out with your own style and make the agent care about Micah. What catastophic stakes hang in the balance?

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 6th, 2010, 6:03 pm

*sigh* Jaligard makes an excellent point, as did Watcher before him. Well...let's see if I can trim the issue of Kitty down a bit.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects. When he inadvertently frees an ancient deity named Fenris, he becomes heir to both the being's soul and his task: He is to destroy Asgard, homeworld of the Norse gods of old.

Fenris' newfound freedom attracts the ire of his jailor, who hunts Micah down in an attempt to recapture Fenris. Micah’s friend Kitty sacrifices herself to save him, and Micah travels to Heaven with an old friend of Fenris to try and find her soul. Once there, he is waylaid by those keen to see his true task fulfilled, and Micah is forced onto the very world he wished to avoid—and it’s a one-way ticket.

When a parallel version of himself appears, also bent on Asgard's destruction, Micah wonders if he will be allowed to seek out Kitty's soul, since the other him is determined to do their task without him. Of course, he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: his parallel self, the Norse gods, or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]

***

Better, I hope? Thanks to all who have given feedback, and thanks in advance to those who will. :)
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Watcher55 » December 6th, 2010, 6:49 pm

Fenris wrote:*sigh* Jaligard makes an excellent point, as did Watcher before him. Well...let's see if I can trim the issue of Kitty down a bit.

***

Dear [Agent],

Micah is nearly out of high school, ready to make his way in the world. Unfortunately for him, it will be a much different world than the one he expects. When he inadvertently frees an ancient deity named Fenris, he becomes heir to both the being's soul and his task: He is to destroy Asgard, homeworld of the Norse gods of old.

Fenris' newfound freedom attracts the ire of his jailor, who hunts Micah down in an attempt to recapture Fenris. Micah’s friend Kitty sacrifices herself to save him, and Micah travels to Heaven with an old friend of Fenris to try and find her soul. Once there, he is waylaid by those keen to see his true task fulfilled, and Micah is forced onto the very world he wished to avoid—and it’s a one-way ticket.

When a parallel version of himself appears, also bent on Asgard's destruction, Micah wonders if he will be allowed to seek out Kitty's soul, since the other him is determined to do their task without him. Of course,he didn’t expect his counterpart to try and assassinate him. As his time to complete the task runs out, Micah begins to wonder who will kill him first: his parallel self, the Norse gods, or Asgard itself.

HARBINGER is a work of fantasy, complete at 98,500 words. It is my first novel.

I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

[Fenris]

***

Better, I hope? Thanks to all who have given feedback, and thanks in advance to those who will. :)
The teacher in me is going to have an aneurism. You can try to do something THEN do it, but you can't try AND do at the same time On a more constructive note you might say: "he doesn't expect that his counterpart will try to asassinate him" or "he's shocked (surprised, puzzled, scared s'less) when his counterpart tries to asassinate him" (watch the changes in tense).

I think it's taking shape. Think of some people you know who are smarter than you and have nothing to do with the industry and show it to them. Live with it and tweak it. Beyond that, I'm really not sure how to make it better.

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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Fenris » December 6th, 2010, 7:24 pm

Watcher55 wrote:The teacher in me is going to have an aneurism. You can try to do something THEN do it, but you can't try AND do at the same time
Well, technically if you're trying something you're doing it, but I can see what you meant. You're right, "try TO" does generally make more sense. Thanks for sticking with me this whole time, Watcher! I think I will show it to some non-writers--I'm surprised I didn't think of that already.

Thanks to all who commented!
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Re: Query: Harbinger

Post by Watcher55 » December 6th, 2010, 7:40 pm

Sure thing. Good luck buddy.

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