Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

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sirfrodo13
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Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by sirfrodo13 » June 24th, 2010, 11:03 am

Thanks to a wonderful critique partner I found through this forum, we've been exchanging ideas on each others MS and queries. This is what the old version has become. I'm looking for honesty please. Does it engage? I received a recent rejection to something similar to the last post that the plot "sounded too safe." Does this sound safe now, or are you hooked in?

* * *

Dear [agent],

When the Darkness returns to infect Villis-Idun, it seeks to consume the world in war and famine. Valence discovers he is connected to this force that has controlled his entire life.

After stealing the Pearls of Mithrus from his sister, Valence is opened to the Darkness and the secret to a cure. He is labeled a savior, but can barely save himself. With a life in shambles and the haunting memories of a murdered friend following him, Valence only seeks to survive.

However, Valence’s great fear is the cryptic voice awakening in his own body. It bonds with him and claims to be his guide, but for all he knows, it is the Darkness leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun.

I have been published in the Stockpot, an undergraduate literary journal and the Sentinel, a county-circulated newspaper.

BOND OF DARKNESS is an Epic Fantasy, complete at 115,000 words.

Thank you for considering my manuscript.

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Quill
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by Quill » June 24th, 2010, 11:18 am

sirfrodo13 wrote:Thanks to a wonderful critique partner I found through this forum, we've been exchanging ideas on each others MS and queries. This is what the old version has become. I'm looking for honesty please. Does it engage? I received a recent rejection to something similar to the last post that the plot "sounded too safe." Does this sound safe now, or are you hooked in?

* * *

Dear [agent],

When the Darkness returns to infect Villis-Idun, it seeks to consume the world in war and famine. Valence discovers he is connected to this force that has controlled his entire life.
What is the Darkness?
After stealing the Pearls of Mithrus from his sister, Valence is opened to the Darkness and the secret to a cure. He is labeled a savior,
Labeled by whom?
but can barely save himself. With a life in shambles and the haunting memories of a murdered friend following him, Valence only seeks to survive.
Survive what?
However, Valence’s great fear is the cryptic voice awakening in his own body. It bonds with him and claims to be his guide, but for all he knows, it is the Darkness leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun.
What do you mean by "leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun"? Is that like leading someone closer to the fall of Rome?

sirfrodo13
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by sirfrodo13 » June 24th, 2010, 11:54 am

When the Darkness returns to infect...so it is an infection.

Labeled by whom...not relevant to the central query statement. Fact is he is labeled.

Survive what...see everything else in the above passage being pitted against him. That is made clear.

Fall of Villis-Idun...um yes, that should also be made clear by your connection.

Emily J
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by Emily J » June 24th, 2010, 11:56 am

sirfrodo13 wrote:Thanks to a wonderful critique partner I found through this forum, we've been exchanging ideas on each others MS and queries. This is what the old version has become. I'm looking for honesty please. Does it engage? I received a recent rejection to something similar to the last post that the plot "sounded too safe." Does this sound safe now, or are you hooked in?

* * *

Dear [agent],

When the Darkness returns to infect Villis-Idun, what is Villis-Idun? a town? a country? a world? Upon first reading I thought it was a person... it seeks to consume the world in war and famine. Valence Valence being a girl/boy/man/woman/lemur? discovers he is connected to this force "this force" is indefinite, the Darkness? maybe? that has controlled his entire life.

After stealing the Pearls of Mithrus from his sister, Valence is opened to the Darkness and the secret to a cure. a cure to what? He is labeled a savior, agree with Quill, labeled by whom? but can barely save himself. With a life in shambles and the haunting memories of a murdered friend following him, Valence only seeks to survive. what murdered friend? what haunting memories?

However, why does this start with "However?" it doesn't logically contrast with the preceding Valence’s great fear is the cryptic voice awakening in his own body. It bonds with him and claims to be his guide, but for all he knows, it is the Darkness leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun.

I have been published in the Stockpot, an undergraduate literary journal and the Sentinel, a county-circulated newspaper.

BOND OF DARKNESS is an Epic Fantasy, complete at 115,000 words. I would put this paragraph before the one above, makes more sense rather than to step back from the story then back into it

Thank you for considering my manuscript.
The writing isn't bad but this really begs far more questions than it answers. I don't know what the Darkness is, who Valence is, what Illis-Idun is what the Pearls of Mithrus are nor what they cure.

sirfrodo13
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by sirfrodo13 » June 24th, 2010, 12:15 pm

In the same sentence of Villis-Idun, it says "world." Saying "world of Villis-Idun" feels clunky, no?

Not quite sure how Valence's gender is in question when one word later it says "he."

I can see how cure can be vague, but in the first sentence, it says the "Darkness has returned to infect." I assume that it being an infection is made clear, but I can edit that in for clarity.

The name of the murdered friend is not detrimental to the query. All that is needed for the gist of the plot arc is that he is haunted by the memories of a murdered friend. It is also a standard rule to not overload a query with names other than protagonist and antagonist (if mentioned).

I think you are asking yourself more question, but not really reading into this. The answers are there. Not intentionally trying to argue here, but trying to justify what you are saying by what is written.

Emily J
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by Emily J » June 24th, 2010, 1:43 pm

sirfrodo13 wrote:In the same sentence of Villis-Idun, it says "world." Saying "world of Villis-Idun" feels clunky, no?

Not quite sure how Valence's gender is in question when one word later it says "he."

I can see how cure can be vague, but in the first sentence, it says the "Darkness has returned to infect." I assume that it being an infection is made clear, but I can edit that in for clarity.

The name of the murdered friend is not detrimental to the query. All that is needed for the gist of the plot arc is that he is haunted by the memories of a murdered friend. It is also a standard rule to not overload a query with names other than protagonist and antagonist (if mentioned).

I think you are asking yourself more question, but not really reading into this. The answers are there. Not intentionally trying to argue here, but trying to justify what you are saying by what is written.
You point about the cure/the infection is well taken.

However, I must admit I still feel Valence is given little to no characterization. In my defense, he could be a male lemur with a sister. And Villis-Idun is a world? I thought it was a country thus "the world" portion of the sentence. If it is a vastly different world than ours (epic fantasy) I feel we should have some idea of setting yes?

Mostly I think that the query has generalities when it needs specifics. Haunted by his past, endangered by "the Darkness," this is all very general. Also if the Pearls of Mithrus are a major plot point some idea of what they are (besides possibly a pretty necklace ) is needed. So basically, less generalities, more specific details.

But that is just my OPINION. You are certainly entitled to ignore me (my friends do that all the time) but it is probably not time effective to rebute every suggested edit. Certainly not all advice on this forum will be helpful (though I have found this forum EXTREMELY helpful) but it is your discretion to decide which suggestions are helpful and which are not. You do not need to defend yourself, that's not really the point.

sirfrodo13
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by sirfrodo13 » June 24th, 2010, 2:16 pm

Thank you, Emily. I apologize if i came off rude, but I appreciate you taking the time to clarify your opinion. I will definitely work on giving Valence more characterization from the query standpoint.

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Quill
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by Quill » June 24th, 2010, 10:27 pm

sirfrodo13: When the Darkness returns to infect Villis-Idun, it seeks to consume the world in war and famine. Valence discovers he is connected to this force that has controlled his entire life.

Quill: What is the Darkness?

sirfrodo13: When the Darkness returns to infect...so it is an infection.
It is not clear what type of infection -- some sort of biological infection that causes people to fight, or a secret society that programs the citizenry, or what.
sirfrodo13: After stealing the Pearls of Mithrus from his sister, Valence is opened to the Darkness and the secret to a cure. He is labeled a savior,

Quill: Labeled by whom?

sirfrodo13: Labeled by whom...not relevant to the central query statement. Fact is he is labeled.
It is relevant to me because you put it in your query and it raised a question in me.

Another question: what do you mean by "Valence is opened to the Darkness"?
sirfrodo13: but can barely save himself. With a life in shambles and the haunting memories of a murdered friend following him, Valence only seeks to survive.

Quill: Survive what?

sirfrodo13: Survive what...see everything else in the above passage being pitted against him. That is made clear.
I see nothing in particular "pitted against him", hence my question. If you mean war and famine, why not say so; as it is we have no indication that this type of disaster has begun; you say "returns to infect, it seeks to consume" but you do not say this is currently ensuing. I would like to know if it is.
sirfrodo13: However, Valence’s great fear is the cryptic voice awakening in his own body. It bonds with him and claims to be his guide, but for all he knows, it is the Darkness leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun.

Quill: What do you mean by "leading him closer to the fall of Villis-Idun"? Is that like leading someone closer to the fall of Rome?

sirfrodo13: Fall of Villis-Idun...um yes, that should also be made clear by your connection.
Okay, it is clear, but I'm not sure it makes sense. At the least it is grammatically awkward, the darkness (an infection of some sort) is leading someone closer to the fall of (a world)?

It appears you believe you are being clear in this query. I think you could let us in on a bit more of what's going on. And you've got room to do so; your query is short. Just a few extra phrases, a sentence here or there, and we could get the gist so much better. And it sounds like an interesting story and it seems your writing is quite dramatic, almost poetic.

sirfrodo13
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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by sirfrodo13 » June 25th, 2010, 9:15 am

Quill wrote:It is not clear what type of infection -- some sort of biological infection that causes people to fight, or a secret society that programs the citizenry, or what.
I suppose I can make this more clear as it is very unique in how it was created. It is not biological, but something a result of mixing foreign magics from different nations. Do you have a suggestion how to tightly weave such a description into the query?
Quill wrote:It is relevant to me because you put it in your query and it raised a question in me.

Another question: what do you mean by "Valence is opened to the Darkness"?
I still disagree about the name of the murdered friend because a query is supposed to entice first, and then if a synopsis is read hereafter, that is where it becomes relevant. Valence is the only one that matters in the query.

"Valence is opened to the Darkness" means he is exposed. Not infected, but his eyes are opened to what devastation it can cause. My beta reader and I worked on this new query version for a good 45 minutes, but questions are still raised. Again, a tight suggestion?
Quill wrote:I see nothing in particular "pitted against him", hence my question. If you mean war and famine, why not say so; as it is we have no indication that this type of disaster has begun; you say "returns to infect, it seeks to consume" but you do not say this is currently ensuing. I would like to know if it is.
The war is not made known until in the very late chapters, but hinted. Other events that hint towards it consuming the world are made known from Chapter 4 on.
Quill wrote:And it sounds like an interesting story and it seems your writing is quite dramatic, almost poetic.
I don't think I've ever had someone say this, so thank you truly.

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Re: Bond of Darkness (Revisited and Overhauled)

Post by Quill » June 25th, 2010, 11:17 am

sirfrodo13 wrote:
Quill wrote:It is not clear what type of infection -- some sort of biological infection that causes people to fight, or a secret society that programs the citizenry, or what.
I suppose I can make this more clear as it is very unique in how it was created. It is not biological, but something a result of mixing foreign magics from different nations. Do you have a suggestion how to tightly weave such a description into the query?
No, I don't, but your description makes me believe even more strongly that it should be there, as it will create the context in the reader's mind for the entire query. Not only say what it is (a brew of magics) but who or what is behind it. There's got to be one sentence or even a phrase that could convey this succinctly.
Quill wrote:It is relevant to me because you put it in your query and it raised a question in me.

Another question: what do you mean by "Valence is opened to the Darkness"?
I still disagree about the name of the murdered friend because a query is supposed to entice first, and then if a synopsis is read hereafter, that is where it becomes relevant. Valence is the only one that matters in the query.

"Valence is opened to the Darkness" means he is exposed. Not infected, but his eyes are opened to what devastation it can cause. My beta reader and I worked on this new query version for a good 45 minutes, but questions are still raised. Again, a tight suggestion?
Regarding the labeling, I had no idea this is about his murdered friend. Does it? You say he is labeled a savior. That is a passive statement (and begs a question). Couldn't you just say "_________ labels him a savior" and possibly say "of the world" or whatever he is being labeled a savior of? Just to let us readers flow through that without being caught on it?

Regarding "opened to the Darkness", possibly "Valence's eyes are opened to the Darkness, he sees what devastation it can cause." Other words that come to mind are "mind" "seeing" "vision""psychic". I mean, that seems a pretty big thing (seeing this) and I would hate to see you gloss over it.

Your writing in this query is very succinct, possibly too succinct for sufficient clarity. And you do have the room to expand some. I'd like to see you paint a little fuller picture, not give the whole plot or create a synopsis, believe me. But you do have 115,000 words there and I'd like to hear a bit more about them in the query, to entice me more.

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