REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy LAST POST

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AllieS
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Re: REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy EDITED 6/5

Post by AllieS » June 4th, 2011, 10:06 pm

Hey bighockeyhair. Thanks for the comments! I had each paragraph listed as first, second, etc... but I liked glj's suggestion on removing it, since the four separate paragraphs sort of show where each of the ideas are. I had a version where "a man" was a lot more specific, but that would've required a couple more lines of detail I didn't think was necessary in a query. The answers are important since, well, the ability to give an answer to any question in the world is kind of a big deal. Here's my newest draft; the last paragraph is killing me, so hopefully this time I've gotten it right!

Four things come to mind when eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan thinks about the Kedoas.

Her life would be a lot simpler if she hadn’t found Hugh Kedoa, the new boy at school, with a broken ankle in Ellery Wildlife Preserve. Then she wouldn’t have learned he’s a reddo, a human who possesses infinite knowledge and offers five answers to those who help him.

But Hugh couldn’t answer her most important question of whether or not she has a true love. Instead, she’s left with a strange connection to him, and stitches in her head from where Hugh’s malfunctioning powers blasted her into a tree. When a reddo’s powers break, they don’t break gently.

The Kedoas’ forbidden world is captivating—and dangerous. A man is hunting the Kedoas, one who’s powerful enough to have driven them into the sanctuary of the wildlife preserve. He wants answers Hugh’s father denied him, answers that would endanger the secrecy of the reddos’ world.

The Kedoas can’t stay hidden forever. When things take a dark turn for their safety, Sophie gets pulled deeper into their world than she ever imagined. Now she’s on the radar of the Kedoas’ biggest enemy, and Sophie’s lack of powers seems to only infuriate him. Without any other options, Sophie must abandon the Kedoas when they need her most, or throw herself headlong into the world she was never supposed to be a part of to save them--and herself.
Last edited by AllieS on June 7th, 2011, 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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wilderness
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Re: REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy EDITED 6/5

Post by wilderness » June 4th, 2011, 11:09 pm

Hi Allie,

I may seem a bit nit-picky below, but it's only because I like the premise and I think you are close. Hope my comments help and good luck!
AllieS wrote:
Four things come to mind when eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan thinks about the Kedoa family. "The Kedoas" doesn't immediately mean a family to me. It could have been a race of people like reddos. Also, rest of the query doesn't explain what the four thing are so this is a strange opening.

Her life would be a lot simpler if she hadn’t found Hugh Kedoa, the new boy at school, with a broken ankle in Ellery Wildlife Preserve. Then she wouldn’t have learned he’s a reddo, a human who possesses infinite knowledge and offers five answers to those who help him. I know you explained about the term reddo, but I have to chime in with the previous poster. I don't dislike the term per se, instead it just doesn't have any connotations for me. If you look at authors who have created their own mythos with special jargon, I think you'll find that they choose words that have an immediate resonance, something you can immediately get a feel for. Example: "muggle" from Harry Potter. That makes me think of someone who mucks things up, as ordinary folk surely do. Taking a latin word is fine if there is a root that people can extrapolate, like "wingardium leviosa" brings to mind wings and levitation.

But Hugh couldn’t answer her most important question of whether or not she has a true love. Instead, she’s left with a strange connection to him, and stitches in her head from where Hugh’s malfunctioning powers blasted her into a tree. When a reddo’s powers break, they don’t break gently. I like the idea that when she asked him this question, it kind of blew his mind and his powers, throwing her into a tree. However, I think this could be worded better. It feels a bit round-about, and it would be nice if you just explicitly (though briefly) described the scene .

The Kedoas’ forbidden world is captivating—and dangerous. I don't think that sentence is necessary; you show us it is dangerous when you introduce the the threat in the next sentence. A man is hunting the Kedoas, one who’s powerful enough to have driven them into the sanctuary of the wildlife preserve. He wants answers Hugh’s father denied him, answers that would endanger the secrecy of the reddos’ world.

The Kedoas can’t stay hidden forever. When things take a dark turn for their safety, Sophie gets pulled deeper into their world than she ever imagined. Vague and "deeper than she ever imagined" is an unnecessary cliche. Tell us more clearly how Sophie is endangered. Now she’s on the radar of the Kedoas’ biggest enemy, and Sophie’s lack of powers seems to only infuriate him. I don't understand why her lack of powers would infuriate him. Without any other options, Sophie must abandon the Kedoas when they need her most, or throw herself headlong into the world she was never supposed to be a part of to save them--and herself. This also seems a bit vague and cliched. It's unclear why she's even involved. Just because they owed her 5 answers doesn't mean that she would be entangled with the man who is hunting them. Nor is it clear how she can save them.

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bighockeyhair
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Re: REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy EDITED 6/5

Post by bighockeyhair » June 7th, 2011, 2:06 am

A writer's query letter, assuming it's even read, will literally buy you on average 5-10 seconds of an agent's time. If the first line doesn't 'hook' their interest then you're toast. If your first line is strange or confusing...you're a flaming piece of toast. So your last paragraph might be 'killing' you, as you said, but I think your opening is hurting you more. The first line of your query should sum up your MC's primary conflict or his objective (which are kinda related). All yours is doing now is saying "hey, I'm about to tell you four things about a race of beings you've never heard of. Get ready!" In my opinion, considering the sheer volume of query letters each and every agent receives, starting out on the wrong foot is suicide. I'm sounding dramatic, I know (it's 2am here and I'm seeing double), but what a shame to spend months working on a novel only to lose it all in the query. My vote? Change your opening. Or at least try something new and see what happens.

Here's an idea to get you started if I may.

Eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan should have let the Reddo die.

I'm not saying it's great, but at least you know something interesting is coming, other than a grocery list of 4 things.........

But that's just one newb's opinion.

Good Luck,
BHH
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AllieS
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Re: REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy EDITED 6/5

Post by AllieS » June 7th, 2011, 7:44 pm

Thanks for all of your help, guys! This thread is getting a little long again, so I'm going to take a break from posting my changes on here. bighockeyhair: i had a version on the first page with the sort of beginning you were talking about, but I decided to switch it up. What I post here will be my last query post, probably for a while, so here's what I'd love if you guys would do: skim through the different versions of my query I have on here, and tell me which you liked best. It doesn't need to be this newest version. You all have been great, and thanks for your invaluable help. I look forward to seeing the things you post!


FINAL DRAFT


Eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan always hoped she had a true love. She just never expected to meet someone who could tell her straight-out if she had one.

When Sophie finds Hugh Kedoa, the new boy at school, injured in Ellery Wildlife Preserve, she gets a lot more than thanks for helping him out. Hugh confesses he’s a reddo, a human who possesses infinite knowledge and offers five answers to those who help him.

But when Sophie asks if she has a true love or not, Hugh can’t answer. Instead, she’s left with a strange connection to him, and stitches in her head from where Hugh’s malfunctioning powers blast her into a tree. When a reddo’s powers break, they don’t break gently.

Sophie’s connection with Hugh brings her deeper into the reddos’ world—and she learns just how dangerous it can be. A man is hunting the Kedoas, one who’s powerful enough to have driven them into the sanctuary of the wildlife preserve. He wants answers Hugh’s father denied him, answers that would endanger the secrecy of the reddos’ world.

When the Kedoas’ enemy kidnaps Hugh, Sophie is desperate to help. But her plan to do so reveals a major secret the Kedoas kept from her. If Sophie exposes that secret to the enemy, she could save Hugh . . . but she’ll also be diving headlong into a deadly battle between beings she was never supposed to know about.

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Re: REDDO: New format for YA Urban Fantasy

Post by TomLysander » June 7th, 2011, 9:24 pm

I'm coming to this query letter late, but here's the version that I like best.
AllieS wrote:
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan always hoped she had a true love. Hugh Kedoa, the new boy at school, says he can tell her if she has one.

When Sophie finds Hugh injured far off the paths of Ellery Wildlife Preserve, he reveals that he’s a reddo: a human who possesses infinite knowledge and a quick quibble: does he really possess infinite knowledge, or is it simply that he can answer any question put to him in the right circumstances? because if his powers blast her into a tree, I think the focus should be on answering questions or tapping into infinite knowledge -- HAVING infinite knowledge sounds like an impossible character trait to pull off, tbh, and it'd dissuade me from taking the concept of a reddo seriously offers five answers to those who help him. Sophie’s known her dearest question for years, and jumps at the offer: does she have a true love?

But Hugh can’t answer her question. Instead, an intangible connection forms between Sophie and Hugh, leaving her to wonder why she’s the exception to a supposedly foolproof rule. Reddos are supposed to have the answers to everything.

As Sophie accepts that finding her answer won't be so simple, she gets pulled deeper into the Kedoas’ forbidden world—and learns the dangerous secrets they’ve been keeping. A man is hunting the Kedoas, one who’s powerful enough to have driven them into the sanctuary of the wildlife preserve. He wants answers Hugh’s father denied him, answers that would endanger everyone.

When Hugh is attacked, Sophie realizes the balance she’s created between both worlds is about to break. Now she’ll have to make a choice that could reveal her involvement in the reddos’ world to the most dangerous person of all . . . or lose the only people who can help her find her first answer.
I like a few things about this query draft: it keeps us with Sophie and Hugh, the people who interest me (and possibly other readers) instead of focusing on that awkward Reddo/Kedoa plural possessive stuff that happens in later drafts. It offers that spark of teenage personality with simple clarity -- who doesn't want a true love? (although my question growing up would have been "WHO is the true love?") Having said that, in your later drafts, I think your final paragraphs are a little more urgent, a little more clear.

But I do agree with the above poster -- if you want an even stronger (but maybe misfitting) hook, start with the decision about whether to let Hugh live or not. A lot of fairy tales begin that way: the tales of mermaids, genies, and other wish-granting creatures, as it were. (a resonance you shouldn't ignore in your novel or in your query)

Depending on the strength of your sample pages, you might get some bites with each of these query drafts, I think -- so don't obsess *too much.* (just enough) Keep at revision, but you should also probably set yourself a deadline where you start sending it out on a rolling basis, once you feel ready. Good luck! Kudos, Tom

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Re: REDDO, YA Urban Fantasy LAST POST

Post by akila » June 8th, 2011, 2:10 pm

AllieS, I really like this version in comparison to the others. What I love is the first three paragraphs and the simple relationship between them. The last two paragraphs however become almost too complicated. Anyway, thoughts are below:
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Rowan always hoped she had a true love. She just never expected to meet someone who could tell her straight-out if she had one.
I would delete "just" in the second sentence.
When Sophie finds Hugh Kedoa, the new boy at school, injured in Ellery Wildlife Preserve, she gets a lot more than thanks for helping him out. Hugh confesses he’s a reddo, a human who possesses infinite knowledge and offers five answers to those who help him.
I would delete the Ellery Wildlife Preserve. It's an unnecessary detail that detracts from the plot. This paragraph and the next one both start with "when" so I would consider deleting one of those.
But when Sophie asks if she has a true love or not, Hugh can’t answer. Instead, she’s left with a strange connection to him, and stitches in her head from where Hugh’s malfunctioning powers blast her into a tree. When a reddo’s powers break, they don’t break gently.
I would change the first sentence to, "But, Hugh refuses to answer the question Sophie most wants answered: whether or not she has a true love. I love that last sentence.
Sophie’s connection with Hugh brings her deeper into the reddos’ world—and she learns just how dangerous it can be. A man is hunting the Kedoas, one who’s powerful enough to have driven them into the sanctuary of the wildlife preserve. He wants answers Hugh’s father denied him, answers that would endanger the secrecy of the reddos’ world.

When the Kedoas’ enemy kidnaps Hugh, Sophie is desperate to help. But her plan to do so reveals a major secret the Kedoas kept from her. If Sophie exposes that secret to the enemy, she could save Hugh . . . but she’ll also be diving headlong into a deadly battle between beings she was never supposed to know about.
I don't know about these last two paragraphs. I kind of like the earlier versions where you didn't include as much detail about the other threats. Either way, I really think you're getting there. The plot sounds very interesting!

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