Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

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Bohemienne
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Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by Bohemienne » April 26th, 2010, 2:10 pm

All right. This is my first go at the query-writing business; I expect it will take a LOT of revising. Thank you in advance for all your brilliant advice!!


Young noblewoman Fierine Cheraville Calloun dreads following her father’s path to master the arcane—a path fraught with forbidden magic, dangerous alliances, and magical enforcers; a path that ultimately got him killed. But the rioting workers and protesting peasantry threaten her comfortable life in the kingdom’s capital. Staying means becoming a pawn in her mother’s schemes to profit from the current unrest and seize the throne for herself. So Fierine travels to Mierne to learn the arcane.

But Mierne is not untouched by the winds of change. The Emperor’s Justicars monitor the mages viciously to make sure none dip into the forbidden shadow weaves. The impoverished sub-mages are treated as human power sources, to be discarded when their weaves are exhausted. And the shadow elves in the Kirari Mountains lash out at Mierne under orders of their demon masters—demons who should have been sealed away five hundred years ago, demons the Emperor denies still exist.

As Fierine learns the truth of the arcane and its shadowy counterpart, she joins a small circle of mages dedicated to saving their kingdom from itself. But their cure may be worse than the disease.

UNDER A DEAD MOON is a 100,000-word dark fantasy novel.

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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by A.M.Kuska » April 26th, 2010, 6:37 pm

I don't think this query needs much work at all. I have trouble pronouncing your characters first name, and I had to look up "arcane" to be sure I understood your query.

This is what the dictionary said:
known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric: She knew a lot about sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.
I guess what confuses me is that you talk about it as a path. A secret path? I don't understand what is arcane. Other than that...well...I'd read pages. ^^ It sounds awesome.

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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by SteveShakespeare » April 26th, 2010, 7:14 pm

Bohemienne wrote:
Young noblewoman Fierine Cheraville Calloun dreads following her father’s path to master the arcane—a path fraught with forbidden magic, dangerous alliances, and magical enforcers, ; a path that ultimately got him killed. But the rioting workers and protesting peasantry threaten her comfortable life in the kingdom’s capital. Maybe add the name of the capital here to flesh out the world a bit more. Staying in -insert name here- means becoming a pawn in her mother’s schemes to profit from the current unrest and seize the throne for herself. So Fierine travels to Mierne maybe a few words, explaining what Mierne is known for. The next paragraph explains what's going on there, and I assume it is the place where people go to train their magic, but I think it would flow better if a few words of explanation were given with the name to learn the arcane.

But Mierne is not untouched by the winds of change. The Emperor’s Justicars monitor the mages viciously to make sure none dip into the forbidden shadow weaves. The impoverished sub-mages are treated as human power sources, to be discarded when their weaves are exhausted. And the shadow elves in the Kirari Mountains lash out at Mierne under orders of their demon masters—demons who should have been sealed away five hundred years ago, demons the Emperor denies still exist. Instead of repeating demons twice here, maybe make a short sentence following explaining why the Emperor would deny the existence of these demons, or why he thinks they're extinct.

As Fierine learns the truth of the arcane and its shadowy counterpart, she joins a small circle of mages dedicated to saving their kingdom from itself. But their cure may be worse than the disease.

UNDER A DEAD MOON is a 100,000-word dark fantasy novel.
I thought the same thing, it doesn't need much work at all. The query reads very well and the only changes I could suggest were nitpicky little things that probably don't add much anyway. The hook is excellent and everything is very clear and concise. Good work.
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HillaryJ
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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by HillaryJ » April 26th, 2010, 8:05 pm

Bohemienne wrote:
Young noblewoman Fierine Cheraville Calloun dreads following her father’s path to master the arcane—a path fraught with forbidden magic, dangerous alliances, and magical enforcers; a path that ultimately got him killed. But the rioting workers and protesting peasantry threaten her comfortable life in the kingdom’s capital. Staying means becoming a pawn in her mother’s schemes to profit from the current unrest and seize the throne for herself. So Fierine travels to Mierne to learn the arcane.

But Mierne is not untouched by the winds of change. *cliche...I assume you mean to say that things aren't peaceful in Mierne...so say that or - better yet - show it* The Emperor’s Justicars monitor the mages viciously to make sure none dip into the forbidden shadow weaves. The impoverished sub-mages are treated as human power sources, to be discarded when their weaves are exhausted. And the shadow elves in the Kirari Mountains lash out at Mierne under orders of their demon masters—demons who should have been sealed away five hundred years ago, demons the Emperor denies still exist.

As Fierine learns the truth of the arcane and its shadowy counterpart, she joins a small circle of mages dedicated to saving their kingdom from itself. But their cure may be worse than the disease.

UNDER A DEAD MOON is a 100,000-word dark fantasy novel.
You've obviously got a well thought-out world here, but I feel overwhelmed by that and underwhelmed by what happens with the story and what sets this character apart from others in the genre. One thing that I see dinged over and over in query letters is a main character with no character. Suggest chopping the first paragraph to a couple of sentences, and showing some of Fierine's character while relaying the plot. The last sentence is also a cliche. Can you say it in an original way, or show what they have to do, within the context of your world?

Good luck.
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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by ocelott » April 27th, 2010, 10:44 am

Agreed that this is a fairly solid hook as is. I notice you have a lot of very short sentences, and in such a short writing sample, it can sound a bit disjointed. Unless this is indicative of your writing in the story as well, I might consider limiting myself to only one very short sentence, where it can provide the most punch. (As always, your mileage may vary and management takes no responsibility for these crazy opinions.)

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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by Krista G. » April 28th, 2010, 1:23 am

Okay, I'm going to disagree with everyone a bit. I'm not going to go line-by-line, because I think the summary flows well and is easy to understand. (Thanks in part to your short, straightforward sentences, which I really like. The Query Shark, also known as Janet Reid, is very particular about that: Subject, verb, subordinate clause. Subject, verb, subordinate clause, all the way through to the end. You don't need to get fancy with your sentence structure in a query, because they're designed to be read quickly.)

My biggest problem with this query is how backstory-heavy it is. If you think about it, everything in pink is either world-building or telling us about something that happened in the past. Very little of it moves the main story forward.
Bohemienne wrote:Young noblewoman Fierine Cheraville Calloun dreads following her father’s path to master the arcane—a path fraught with forbidden magic, dangerous alliances, and magical enforcers; a path that ultimately got him killed. But the rioting workers and protesting peasantry threaten her comfortable life in the kingdom’s capital. Staying means becoming a pawn in her mother’s schemes to profit from the current unrest and seize the throne for herself. So Fierine travels to Mierne to learn the arcane.

But Mierne is not untouched by the winds of change. The Emperor’s Justicars monitor the mages viciously to make sure none dip into the forbidden shadow weaves. The impoverished sub-mages are treated as human power sources, to be discarded when their weaves are exhausted. And the shadow elves in the Kirari Mountains lash out at Mierne under orders of their demon masters—demons who should have been sealed away five hundred years ago, demons the Emperor denies still exist.

As Fierine learns the truth of the arcane and its shadowy counterpart, she joins a small circle of mages dedicated to saving their kingdom from itself. But their cure may be worse than the disease.

UNDER A DEAD MOON is a 100,000-word dark fantasy novel.
Fierine's story is squashed down to one tiny paragraph at the end of the query. But that's what we want to know about. So you might try expanding on that a little, and scaling back some of this other stuff.

I hope that helps. And good luck with this. It sounds like you've got an interesting idea - I just want to hear more about it:)
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wilderness
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Re: Fantasy Query: UNDER A DEAD MOON

Post by wilderness » April 28th, 2010, 4:57 pm

Bohemienne wrote:
Young noblewoman Fierine Cheraville Calloun dreads following her father’s path to master the arcane—a path fraught with forbidden magic, dangerous alliances, and magical enforcers; a path that ultimately got him killed. OK, but I'd rather have a straight-forward sentence describing what mastering the arcane means. The second paragraph implies it means becoming a mage who works for the Emperor, but I'd explain it up front. But the rioting workers and protesting peasantry threaten her comfortable life in the kingdom’s capital. Staying means becoming a pawn in her mother’s schemes to profit from the current unrest and seize the throne for herself. So Fierine travels to Mierne to learn the arcane.

But Mierne is not untouched by the winds of change. Not sure how the next sentence follows from this. What is changing? The Emperor’s Justicars monitor the mages viciously to make sure none dip into the forbidden shadow weaves. The impoverished sub-mages are treated as human power sources, to be discarded when their weaves are exhausted. And the shadow elves in the Kirari Mountains lash out at Mierne under orders of their demon masters—demons who should have been sealed away five hundred years ago, demons the Emperor denies still exist. Why do they lash out at Mierne in particular? Also this paragraph describes the world, but not specifically Mierne's experiences or difficulties.

As Fierine learns the truth of the arcane and its shadowy counterpart, she joins a small circle of mages dedicated to saving their kingdom from itself. But their cure may be worse than the disease. That sentence is generic, in my opinion. Instead, hone in on the main conflict and goal in this paragraph.

UNDER A DEAD MOON is a 100,000-word dark fantasy novel.
Overall, I agree with Krista: there is a lot about the world, but too little about the main character.

Hope that helps!

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