Query - By the Sword (YA Fantasy) - 3rd Revision

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saraflower
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Query - By the Sword (YA Fantasy) - 3rd Revision

Post by saraflower » June 6th, 2011, 4:02 pm

My first novel. It is a high fantasy story with a female protagonist. I appreciate all feedback given. :)

Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. They are not supposed to dream visions or fall for their worst enemy.

Twenty-two year old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empire. She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice.

With the upcoming battle on her mind, Talya is shocked when a prophet from the woods tells her that God has called her to go on a mission to Hunter Forest. When the messenger of God confirms the graphic nightmares that Talya has been having, she agrees to go.

It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die.

By the Sword is a fantasy novel that is 81,000 words in length.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Last edited by saraflower on June 19th, 2011, 10:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 6th, 2011, 9:42 pm

Hmm...anyone?

kenpochick
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by kenpochick » June 6th, 2011, 11:29 pm

saraflower wrote:
Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. (Is that really what warrior are supposed to do? That seems more like assassin where a warrior may protect or defend.) They are not supposed to (have?) dream visions or fall (in love with )for their worst enemy.

Twenty-two year old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empire. She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice. (If she's a knight it makes sense that she would be fighting for her country but I don't understand why her mother's death would play a part in that.)

With the upcoming battle on her mind, Talya is shocked when a prophet from the woods tells her that God has called her to go on a mission to Hunter Forest. When the messenger of God confirms the graphic nightmares that Talya has been having, she agrees to go. (confirms??)

It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die. (It seems like if God is talking to you, this would be a no brainer and she'd die, so maybe further explanation.)

By the Sword is a fantasy novel that is 81,000 words in length.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

akila
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by akila » June 8th, 2011, 2:20 pm

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. They are not supposed to dream visions or fall for their worst enemy.
I agree with the previous commenter. Generally, assassins kill. Warriors protect and defend their kingdom/king/queen, etc. I also feel like these first three sentences are a bit clunky. I would consider deleting them altogether and jump to the part about Talya.
Twenty-two year old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empire. She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice.

With the upcoming battle on her mind, Talya is shocked when a prophet from the woods tells her that God has called her to go on a mission to Hunter Forest. When the messenger of God confirms the graphic nightmares that Talya has been having, she agrees to go.

It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die.
I'm having a bit of difficulty following all of the people and places. There's Talya, Sanctus, Malinorian, Jalarn, a prophet, Hunter Forest, and devil worship in these three paragraphs. At its core, this story seems to be about Talya versus Jalarn, right? So, I think you can break it down fairly simply and cut out some of the places/people, along the lines of: Talya, a Sanctus knight, has sworn to defend her country from the devil-worshipping Malinorians and Jalarn, their general. . . .

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 8th, 2011, 4:51 pm

Thank you for your feedback guys! You pointed things out that I didnt notice before.

Sleeping Beauty
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by Sleeping Beauty » June 9th, 2011, 5:57 am

I have to say, I'm having a little trouble reconciling the idea of a traditional God and Devil playing major roles in what you describe as high fantasy. Not that these worlds wouldn't have their own gods, but all I can think of is the Christian image.

Also, there's issue in how you tie the stakes back to the hook. The early hook - that Talya falls for her worst enemy - isn't backed up in the last paragraph.
"It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die."

This implies the opposite of falling love. It just sounds like Talya is knocked out, arrested and held prisoner to someone who she can't stand, especially because of his religious leanings. Also, if it's an accidental encounter, can it be a 'plan'?

I'm really interested in the idea of a young female knight, though. :)

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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by michelleimason » June 9th, 2011, 12:18 pm

Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. I agree with others about warriors defending/crusading rather than killing. They are not supposed to dream visions(Not sure about this phrasing with "dream visions." I think it would be better to drop dream and just "have visions.") or fall for their worst enemy. How soon in the story does this happen? I think you may be giving it away too soon.

Twenty-two year old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empire. She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice. I get a good sense of the war here, but does Jalarn have something to do with her mother's death? I agree with the earlier commenter that I'm not getting how her mother's death ties into everything else.

With the upcoming battle on her mind, Talya is shocked when a prophet from the woods tells her that God has called her to go on a mission to Hunter Forest. When the messenger of God confirms the graphic nightmares that Talya has been having, she agrees to go. Also agree on the God issue. It jolted me out of the story a bit to have a reference to "God" instead of some fantasy deity. I felt like I'd been in one world and was brought back to this one.

It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned (Too vague. How does it not go as planned?) . When she awakens within (change "within" to "in") a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die. Find this decision surprising considering the lead-in. Why does the decision become one of faith when up to now it's been about defending her country and vengeance?

By the Sword is a fantasy novel that is 81,000 words in length.

Thank you for your time and consideration.[/quote]

Overall, I think you have a great start here and just tie up a few ambiguities. Good luck!

Krista G.
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by Krista G. » June 9th, 2011, 4:30 pm

saraflower wrote:Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. They are not supposed to dream visions or fall for their worst enemy. I'm not sure this opening is doing a lot for you. The crux of the story centers around Talya's faith, so I might find a way to lead with that.

Twenty-two-year-old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empire. Proper noun proliferation can be a problem in fantasy queries. It isn't a huge problem here, but you could probably ditch "Sanctus" and just stick with "her country." She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice. This could just be me, but I'm not sure you need the "has murdered" or "has killed." Since this is something that happened in the past and you're writing in present tense, you can go with straight-up past tense here (i.e., "Not only did Jalarn murder her king, he almost killed Talya twice").

With the upcoming battle on her mind, Talya is shocked when a prophet from the woods tells her that God has called her to go on a mission to Hunter Forest. When the messenger of God confirms the graphic nightmares that Talya has been having, she agrees to go.

It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. I want some details here. How does her plan go awry? Most plans in novels don't work out, so this is almost cliche. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die. Why isn't escape an option?

By the Sword is a fantasy novel that is 81,000 words in length. Several other people probably already mentioned this, but the industry convention is to put the title in all caps.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
You summed the plot up pretty well, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of your main character. What I wanted to know more about was the religious elements of this world. Talya's choice is tied up in religion, and it's also the most unique aspect of the plot, so we need to know a lot more about it than we do. For instance, why does Talya automatically equate Jalarn's religion with devil worship? And as several others have pointed out, do they really call them God and the devil like we do? If you made religion a more prominent element of this query, it would go a long way, methinks.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 12th, 2011, 9:21 am

Sleeping Beauty wrote:I have to say, I'm having a little trouble reconciling the idea of a traditional God and Devil playing major roles in what you describe as high fantasy. Not that these worlds wouldn't have their own gods, but all I can think of is the Christian image.

Also, there's issue in how you tie the stakes back to the hook. The early hook - that Talya falls for her worst enemy - isn't backed up in the last paragraph.
"It is in Hunter Forest that Talya finds Jalarn. Her plan to slay him doesn`t exactly go as planned. When she awakens within a Malinorian prison, she needs to make a decision to follow Jalarn and his devil worshipping ways in order to live, or stay true to her faith and die."

This implies the opposite of falling love. It just sounds like Talya is knocked out, arrested and held prisoner to someone who she can't stand, especially because of his religious leanings. Also, if it's an accidental encounter, can it be a 'plan'?

I'm really interested in the idea of a young female knight, though. :)
Yeah my query is pretty confusing. I am going to take some time and make the hook more intense and also make sure that premise makes sense. :) I am glad you are interested at the idea of a female knight though.

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 12th, 2011, 9:23 am

michelleimason wrote:Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. I agree with others about warriors defending/crusading rather than killing. They are not supposed to dream visions(Not sure about this phrasing with "dream visions." I think it would be better to drop dream and just "have visions.") or fall for their worst enemy. How soon in the story does this happen? I think you may be giving it away too soon.

[/color]
kenpochick wrote:
saraflower wrote:
Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. (Is that really what warrior are supposed to do? That seems more like assassin where a warrior may protect or defend.) They are not supposed to (have?) dream visions or fall (in love with )for their worst enemy.
akila wrote:
Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. They are not supposed to dream visions or fall for their worst enemy.
I agree with the previous commenter. Generally, assassins kill. Warriors protect and defend their kingdom/king/queen, etc. I also feel like these first three sentences are a bit clunky. I would consider deleting them altogether and jump to the part about Talya.


Yes, I think I could hint at the falling in love part later on in the query. I will get rid of the first paragraph all together. I cringe now at the opening paragraph. It sounds so cliche and cheesy.

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 12th, 2011, 9:28 am

Lots of ambiguities to tie up. Thanks so much everyone for breaking down everything and offering your feedback. :)

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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by ReginaZ » June 12th, 2011, 11:22 am

[quote="saraflower"]My first novel. It is a high fantasy story with a female protagonist. I appreciate all feedback given. :)

Dear Agent,

Kill. That is what warriors are supposed to do. They are not supposed to dream visions or fall for their worst enemy.

Twenty-two year old Talya is a knight who lives and breathes to fight. The need to avenge her mother`s death fuels her as Sanctus, her country, prepares for war against the expanding Malinorian Empirer led by She hates the Malinorians, especially their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered her king, he`s almost killed Talya twice.

A prophet's word sends her to Hunter forest where she meets Jalarin. Her plan to slay him fails and she ends up jail. You need to tell more about the story here. Her plan to escape, counter attack, etc and end the query with a strong conflict to lure the readers.

Hope this helps.

-Regina.

saraflower
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by saraflower » June 12th, 2011, 10:58 pm

First revision. :) I posted it in the correct place this time.

Dear Agent,

Eighteen year old Talya is a knight who lives to kill soldiers of the Malinorian Empire. She especially hates their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered Talya`s king, he almost killed her. Twice.

A prophet`s word sends Talya to Hunter Forest, where she meets Jalarn. They fight and she wins. When Talya removes Jalarn`s battle mask to slit his throat, memories of a haunting vision tug at her conscience. She spares his life and flees, but Jalarn`s men catch her.

When Talya awakens in a Malinorian prison, she is faced with the decision to follow Malinor in the upcoming war, or die. Things become more complicated as Talya and Jalarn begin to develop feelings for one another.

By the Sword is a young adult Christian fantasy novel that is 66,000 words in length.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy)

Post by wilderness » June 12th, 2011, 11:35 pm

saraflower wrote: Dear Agent,

Eighteen-year-old Talya is a knight who lives to kill soldiers of the Malinorian Empire. She especially hates their new young general, Jalarn. Not only has Jalarn murdered Talya's king, he almost killed her. Twice. I'm not sure "hate" is the right word to use for your enemy. It sounds a little childish (though I suppose she is only 18). Isn't it more about duty and revenge? Also, it seems like you're using the backtick character instead of proper single quote (').

A prophet's word sends Talya to Hunter Forest, where she meets Jalarn. They fight and she wins. This reads a little dry -- how about some details about the fight? When Talya removes Jalarn`s battle mask to slit his throat, memories of a haunting vision tug at her conscience. She spares his life and flees, but Jalarn`s men catch her. What is the vision? Why does it cause her to spare his life?

When Talya awakens in a Malinorian prison, she is faced with the decision to follow Malinor in the upcoming war, or die. Things become more complicated as Talya and Jalarn begin to develop feelings for one another. If she's in prison, why is she in a position to fall in love with Jalorn? Why are those her only two decisions? What makes her and Jalorn develop an interest in each other? Also, always end with a conflict to entice us to read your book. What is the crux of the conflict?

By the Sword is a young adult Christian fantasy novel that is 66,000 words in length. Your first version hints at the Christian part more, but this version might leave the agent confused about how Christianity plays into the story.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Nice start, but I think you could flesh out some of the plot more. Make sure to spice it up with good details!
Last edited by wilderness on June 13th, 2011, 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sleeping Beauty
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Re: Query - By the Sword (Fantasy) - 1st Revision

Post by Sleeping Beauty » June 13th, 2011, 5:30 am

Congrats, it's looking MUCH better! But now you've changed your genre listing from 'high fantasy' to 'young adult Christian fantasy' (and good job there, too, the latter genre's much more in line with your plot as described), the religious element is becoming problemic again.

Correct me if I'm wrong, as I know practically nothing of the genre, but Christian fiction tends to deal with issues of faith, as well as the traditional God and the Devil, and practically always in a modern setting?

As wilderness pointed out, you've removed these elements entirely from your query. Visions and prophets - while prevalent in Biblical times, if I'm remembering my Catholic school classes correctly - are these days associated with witchcraft, New Ageism and general fantasy.

Are you positive this is Christian fiction? A novel can have religious elements without being pigeon-holed - especially as it's fantasy. You've invented the whole world, so you're at perfect liberty to invent your own religion. ;)

I'd also really like to know why she spares Jalarn's life.

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