I'm A Nobody, newest on page four

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WilliamMJones
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I'm A Nobody, newest on page four

Post by WilliamMJones » June 3rd, 2010, 1:51 am

Hi everyone. This is the query for my novel, I'm a Nobody. All comments are appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Dear (Agent name):

Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems. When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers, he decides to find out more about her, and follows her through a door to another world.

He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, and learns that his deceased father was one of them. The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks. War is certain, unless Dominic can find what his deceased father’s research calls the Source. On the way, he will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.

My young adult fantasy novel, I’m a Nobody, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on September 27th, 2010, 5:38 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Krista G.
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by Krista G. » June 3rd, 2010, 12:28 pm

I'm not going to go line-by-line with this one, because I actually think it's pretty tight (although the first paragraph leaves me wondering a little about the classmate, who's never mentioned again).

But even though there's nothing that stands out as bad, there's nothing that really stands out as good, either. That makes me sit up and say, "Ooh, I've got to find out more about that." I'm sure your manuscript has unique and/or inventive elements, but we don't get a sense of them here. And from what I understand (because I started querying a YA urban fantasy about this time last year), the market for YA fantasy is kind of tight, so the uniqueness needs to come across right away.

Best of luck.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by writeaskew » June 3rd, 2010, 12:41 pm

I completely agree, I'd like to see how this is unique. I'd also like to see a little more detail.

What happens to the classmate he follows? I have to ask, is it more common to be able to walk through secutiry systems than it appears to him? Is this a widespread talent? As for the magival world run by Fey, do you mean fairies? That's relatively common unless you've got a special race of fairies going. I'd be interested to see who they are in a ittle more detail.

Maybe I missed it, but why does this HEROS group attack? Is the safety of the Fey world or the human world at steak? I'm not sure about that either, and I'm not sure why the MC cares about this new world, really. He just got there, right?

The language, however tight, seems a little stilted in your query. Read it aloud and see how it feels in your ears. That might make a difference in the way you write it.

The only other thing that really bugs me is that there seems to be a lot of old concepts Fey, HEROS, The Solution - that have been done before. Simply changing what they are called, or maybe explaining hwo they are unique, is going to make me a lot more interested in reading this novel.

Best of luck!
writeaskew

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by Ghost in the Machine » June 3rd, 2010, 2:27 pm

Hi William,

I have to agree with the comments above. We need more information.

Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems. When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers, he decides to find out more about her, and follows her through a door to another world.

Comments: I like a short snappy intro, but this one has a problem. The hero in 99% of YA fantasy is an unpopular, different, outsider geek with glasses, braces, and pudgey tummy. Wait, that was me.

Anyhoo, start with what makes Dominic different. The ‘doors open at his touch’ and sliding by cameras and security systems is vague. What exactly is going on? Does he emit some strange force field? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tell us more about this mysterious classmate. Dominic has the hots for her, right? Right? I bet you anything she’s a blond hottie.

He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, and learns that his deceased father was one of them. The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks. War is certain, unless Dominic can find what his deceased father’s research calls the Source. On the way, he will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.

Comments: “He meets several Fey,” sounds awkward. I’m envisioning these Fey standing in ranks as Dominic enters their world. Then Dominic raises an arm saying, “I come in peace.” Please tell me their meeting was more dynamic than that.

The father detail is nice, but knowing more about the Fey would make it juicer. It’s not clear who or what HEROS attacks or why they’re attacking. FYI, “The Source” is the name of a jewelry store in my town. Maybe you should consider a less generic name.

I like the angry New Yorkers attacking. That’s good.

Ghost in the Machine

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Quill
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by Quill » June 4th, 2010, 11:25 am

WilliamMJones wrote:
Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems.
The first sentence is flat without the why. Different isn't enough. Why not link it to the second sentence with a colon or semi-colon. Otherwise, good.
When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers,
"these powers, too, he..."
decides to find out more about her, and
Omit.
follows her through a door to another world.

He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, and learns that his deceased father was one of them. The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks.
How about the gate locks? If it just closes, couldn't Dominic simply use his powers to go through it? Why couldn't he anyway? You said he could go anywhere...
War is certain, unless Dominic can find what his deceased father’s research calls the Source.
Okay, but not much explanation here. Why is war certain? Why does HEROS attack? It's all pretty sketchy.

And no comma after certain.
On the way, he will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.
Why New Yorkers. Lots of teasers here, but little meat, hence little to care about. Make me care about the character and his situation. Please work a little more info into this query.
My young adult fantasy novel, I’m a Nobody, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)
I"M A NOBODY, your title, would be best capitalized.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by Steppe » June 5th, 2010, 6:15 pm

All above are excellent suggestions for the arcane art of query letters.

I would add a slight tweaking that torques up The Source.

"War is certain unless Dominic can find The Ultimate Source identified in his (murdered?) father’s research."




Not specifically that, but something of that nature; implying forcefully, a quest encounter of the first order of magnitude.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by wildheart » June 6th, 2010, 12:32 am

I agree with the other posters. I like your idea, but you need to add more of what makes this book special. I want to know a little more about WHY doors open at this kids touch, just saying they do is not enough.
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by Meredith » June 10th, 2010, 11:32 pm

This sounds interesting, and I think I remember seeing an excerpt before. In one of the contests?

I think it needs to be pared down more for a query. Some things can be saved for the synopsis. Not all questions need to be answered here. I've fallen into that trap one too many times myself.
WilliamMJones wrote:
Dear (Agent name):

Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems. When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers, he decides to find out more about her, and follows her through a door to another world.
Dominic Taylor knows he's different. Locked doors open at his touch and no security system has ever stopped him. He thinks he's the only one until he discovers someone else and follows her through a door into another world.

That's rough and not quite right, but hopefully you get the idea.
He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, and learns that his deceased father was one of them. The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks. War is certain, unless Dominic can find what his deceased father’s research calls the Source. On the way, he will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.
Everyone here has powers more than a match for his. Dominic finds himself trapped in a world on the verge of war, the world of his dead father. His only hope is to follow his father's research and find the Source, surviving attacks by . . . on the way.
My young adult fantasy novel, I’m a Nobody, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.
You shouldn't have to say that the novel is complete.

Hope this helps and good luck.
MeredithMansfield.WordPress.com

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by aswiebe » June 17th, 2010, 10:19 am

More details that show the protagonist's personality would be nice--need to know what will make him an engaging character.

Why is the Source going to prevent the war? How?

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by fivecats » June 17th, 2010, 3:00 pm

WilliamMJones wrote: Dominic Taylor knows he is different. Doors open at his touch and he is able to go anywhere, undetected by cameras and security systems.


Your opening paragraph is your best opportunity to get us engaged with your character, to give us a reason for caring what happens to him in the next few paragraphs. Your opening sentence is good, I feel you get sidetracked by his Powers -- that then lead right into Another World that leads right into War and Conflict and... who is your main character and why should I feel connected to him again?
WilliamMJones wrote:When he discovers that one of his classmates has these powers, he decides to find out more about her, and follows her through a door to another world.
"decides to find out more about her" is one thing. "follows her through a door" is another thing entirely. Either a bit more explanation needs to be added here to get the two to hold together better OR skip any mention of the classmate. (You don't mention her elsewhere in the query so she must not be very important) Otherwise, the sentence can simply read "When he discovers a strange door where there had not been a door before, he passes through into another world..." or whatever the circumstances of your story are.
WilliamMJones wrote:He meets several Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, and learns that his deceased father was one of them. [/quote

The name "Fey" is unnecessary here. I'd delete it.

"powerful inhabitants" -- what kind of power? Does Dominic feel more "at home" here because of the shared powers?

"learns that his father was one of them" -- does this mean this world is Dominic's Home world? And why is this important to the story?
WilliamMJones wrote:The gate back to Earth closes after HEROS, a human organization, attacks.
Earlier, you said he was able to go anywhere. What has changed?

Does this mean Dominic has to choose whether he's going to support the Humans or the Fey?

And how are the humans gaining access to the world of the Fey? Are Dominic's powers not that special after all? Or is there more you're not telling us?
WilliamMJones wrote:War is certain, unless Dominic can find what his deceased father’s research calls the Source.
I'm not getting why this is Dominic's fight. What is his investment in the Fey's world? And why would the Fey want his help?
WilliamMJones wrote:On the way, he will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against his father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.
This promises action (I agree with Quill -- why New Yorkers?) but it's action without meaning for me because I'm not engaged enough with your main character.
WilliamMJones wrote:My young adult fantasy novel, I’m a Nobody, is complete
You don't query on incomplete work. You should delete it. Also, ALL CAPS your title.
WilliamMJones wrote:at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.
So, on the one hand you've told us too much. On the other hand, you haven't told us enough. Fill in some of the missing pieces, tell us why we should care about Dominic, why he's trying to stop an impending war between humans and the Fey, and I think you'll be well on your way.
______________________________________
Tom M Franklin
Franklin, Ink: Writing about Writing & Reading
http://tommfranklin.blogspot.com/

WilliamMJones
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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy

Post by WilliamMJones » July 9th, 2010, 7:24 pm

Newest draft is two posts down.

Okay, second draft. Thanks for all of the advice on my last version. One thing I did keep was the "is complete" line. In a blog post, Nathan made a comment about showing that the MS is complete.


Dear (Agent name):

Dominic Taylor is able to do strange things, like opening locked doors and passing by security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to explain his powers. When he discovers that one of his classmates, Jennifer, has these powers too, he follows her through a door to another world.

The Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, are at war with humans. When HEROS, a human organization against magic, uses new technology to attack the Fey, the gates between worlds are locked, trapping Dominic in enemy territory.

As he searches for a way home, Dominic learns that his deceased father was one of the Fey, and that he had been a traitor working for HEROS. His father had researched the Source of Magic, which could be used to wipe out the Fey in a single strike. To find the Source and prevent the death of an entire world, Dominic and Jennifer have to team up with a hyperactive Fey princess, a short tempered Royal Guard, and a pair of questionable HEROS scientists. They will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against Dominic’s father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers.

My young adult fantasy novel, I’M A NOBODY, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on July 9th, 2010, 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy (2nd draft on page 2)

Post by GeeGee55 » July 9th, 2010, 9:16 pm

This reads quite well to me. I'm no expert so take what you feel is helpful and disregard the rest.


Dear (Agent name):
Dominic Taylor is able to do strange things, like such as, like is not correct grammar opening locked doors and passing by security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to explain his powers. When he discovers that one of his classmates, Jennifer, has these powers too, he follows her through a door to another - a bit cliche, could you think of another word? world.

The Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, are at war with humans. When HEROS, a human organization against magic, uses new technology to attack the Fey, the gates between worlds are locked, trapping Dominic in enemy territory. - good

As he searches for a way home, Dominic learns that his deceased father was one of the Fey, and that consider instead - and that he was a traitor. Working for HEROS, his father researched.... he had been a traitor working for HEROS. His father had researched the Source of Magic, which could be used to wipe out the Fey in a single strike. To find the Source and prevent the death of an entire world, Dominic and Jennifer have to team up with a hyperactive Fey princess, a short tempered Royal Guard, and a pair of questionable HEROS scientists. They will have to survive attacks from homicidal Fey captains, soldiers with grudges against Dominic’s father, wild beasts, and angry New Yorkers. - this last sentence doesn't really work for me. Doesn't end in the right place, doesn't leave me hanging. I think it might be better to end with to find the Source and prevent the death of an entire world - that's what needs building up in my view.

My young adult fantasy novel, I’M A NOBODY, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel.[/quote] - you use the word novel three times in a very short space, might want to consider using another term

It sounds like an interesting story. Good luck with the querying.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy (2nd draft on page 2)

Post by WilliamMJones » July 9th, 2010, 9:29 pm

Newest version is six posts down.

Some great points GeeGee55. Thanks for the advice. Newest draft.


Dear (Agent name):

Dominic Taylor is able to do strange things, such as opening locked doors and passing by security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to explain his powers. When he discovers that one of his classmates, Jennifer, has these powers too, he follows her through a door to a new world.

The Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, are at war with humans. When HEROS, a human organization against magic, uses new technology to attack the Fey, the gates between worlds are locked, trapping Dominic in enemy territory.

As he searches for a way home, Dominic learns that his deceased father was one of the Fey, and that he was a traitor. Working for HEROS, his father researched the Source of Magic, which could be used to wipe out the Fey in a single strike. To find the Source, Dominic and Jennifer have to team up with a hyperactive Fey princess, a short tempered Royal Guard, and a pair of questionable HEROS scientists. If they fail, it will be the death of an entire world.

My young adult fantasy novel, I’M A NOBODY, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit it for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on July 23rd, 2010, 3:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy (2nd draft on page 2)

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 11th, 2010, 6:08 pm

William, this query is looking really great after your revisions. I definitely want to know more! Just a few suggestions:
WilliamMJones wrote:

Dear (Agent name):

Dominic Taylor is able to do strange things, such as opening locked doors and passing by security cameras undetected. But he's never been able to explain his powers. So when he discovers that one of his classmates, Jennifer, has these powers too, [I feel like you're missing a transition here. Just because she has the same powers doesn't necessarily mean he'll follow her. Maybe something like, "curiosity grabs him and"] he follows her through a door [a locked door? is there something special about this door?] to a new world.

The Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, are at war with humans. When HEROS, a human organization against magic, uses new technology to attack the Fey, the gates [are the "gates" and the "doors" the same? I'm not saying you should change it, since you probably don't want to use the word "door" that many times in your query, but I found myself wondering] between worlds are locked, trapping Dominic in enemy territory.

As he searches for a way home, Dominic learns that his deceased father was one of the Fey, and that he was a traitor. His father worked for HEROS and researched the Source of Magic, a technology/weapon/discovery (clarify?) which could be used to wipe out the Fey in a single strike. [I think one of the other commenters asked why Dominic cares, since he just arrived in this new world. Could you add a single sentence that explains why this is a war that needs to end with the annihilation of the Fey (not some kind of truce or other resolution), and why Dominic cares (other than getting home)? I think the answer is that the world will end, but I feel like a bridge is missing between the previous sentence and that conclusion.] To find the Source, Dominic and Jennifer have to team up with a hyperactive Fey princess, a short tempered Royal Guard, and a pair of questionable HEROS scientists. [This is great.] If they fail, it will be the death of an entire world. [Nice, punchy last line. But which world? The human world, I presume, not the Fey world?]

My young adult fantasy novel, I’M A NOBODY, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit it for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

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Re: I'm A Nobody, YA Fantasy (2nd draft on page 2)

Post by katbrauer » July 12th, 2010, 5:27 am

WilliamMJones wrote: Dominic Taylor is able to do strange things, such as opening locked doors and passing by security cameras undetected. He’s never been able to explain his powers. When he discovers that one of his classmates, Jennifer, has these powers too, he follows her through a door to a new world. I really liked this opening. I thought it was clear and concise. The first sentence especially. However, reading through it again, I think it's a tad repetitive in word choice, and I also think you should describe "door." Is it normal-looking? Magical? Still, if you feel those changes would weaken the paragraph, don't worry about it, because it caught me fine.

The Fey, the powerful inhabitants of this world, are at war with humans. This is where I get confused. I thought this was a new world? Perhaps "at war with the humans of Earth." I think you could also throw in a single-sentence motivator--what do they hate so much about us, hey? I think we're pretty likeable. When HEROS, a human organization against magic, uses new technology to attack the Fey, the gates between worlds are locked, trapping Dominic in enemy territory. I found the transition between this sentence and the last poor.

As he searches for a way home, Dominic learns that his deceased father was one of the Fey, and that he was a traitor. While working for HEROS, his father researched the Source of Magic, which could be used to wipe out the Fey in a single strike. Yeah, I'm gonna need more of the motivation for the war here, because right now this sounds like a jolly case of "Wahoo, genocide!"... Make me hate the Fey! Make me hate them bad! To find the Source, Dominic and Jennifer have to team up with a hyperactive Fey princess, a short tempered Royal Guard, and a pair of questionable Hmmm, not sure I'm feeling this adjective--maybe suspicious? HEROS scientists. If they fail, it will be the death of an entire world. Yeah, but also if they succeed, as they'll destroy the Fey. Specify that it'll be the death of all humans

My young adult fantasy novel, I’M A NOBODY sweet title, is complete at 60,000 words. I chose to submit it for your consideration because (Insert personalized reason)

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.
This is pretty good, but I really think you need to clarify the stakes and the motivation here. I'm not so involved in any character besides Dominic (what happened to Jennifer?), and it's also not clear to me why I should be rooting for humans over the Fey, aside from the fact that I'm human. I mean, obviously there can be good Fey, since that hyperactive Fey princess is a good guy, and Dominic's dad apparently had enough good morals to go turncoat.

Otherwise, the writing is good and (mostly) concise. More than mine, at least. :D I also really like the HEROS acronym.

:) Kat
:) Kat
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