Fantasy Novel Query-- "3rd" draft

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sgf
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Fantasy Novel Query-- "3rd" draft

Post by sgf » September 15th, 2010, 8:59 pm

Hello and thanks for taking a look. I'd appreciate any feedback, good or bad. If you'd like me to critique your query, just let me know or send it to me in a message and I'd be happy to offer my thoughts.

Sept 29 update: My updated draft is at the end of the thread.

Oct 28 update: New draft at end of thread, here:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2252&p=28859#p28859


***

Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse.

Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land, Kellek goes on a quest for a cure. His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness. The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one. As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds.

Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek. They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight.

MADHAVAN is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 95,000 words. [personal notes, publications, etc, added here].

Thank you for your consideration.


sgf
Last edited by sgf on October 28th, 2010, 10:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by wilderness » September 15th, 2010, 10:15 pm

sgf wrote:Hello and thanks for taking a look. I'd appreciate any feedback, good or bad. If you'd like me to critique your query, just let me know or send it to me in a message and I'd be happy to offer my thoughts.

***

Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend. I'm not so sure about starting the sentence with Ravenel. She's not the MC. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. What was the ritual? How did he disrupt it? More importantly, why did he disrupt it? I can't picture this. Did he think they were fighting? The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse. I think you should give the legendary knight a name since he seems to be central to the plot and "the knight" is starting to feel repetitive.

Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land, Kellek goes on a quest for a cure. If Ravenel explained that he misinterpreted the ritual, wouldn't he look for a cure anyway? Not to mention that they were best friends? His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness. The dracodane is an interesting concept. But instead of saying "his journey takes him" how about you tell us why it takes him there? What clues led him to the woods and the dracodane? The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one. This sentence doesn't have any real information in it. As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds. The blue part seems redundant with balancing his desire and completing his quest.

Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek. Really? Wouldn't she try to help Kellek if her real goal is to cure her love? They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight. I think it would be better to end with a conflict on Kellek's part. Maybe the information about the mage should be mentioned before the dracodane. Presumably he was looking for Madhavan all along and then he met the dracodane.

MADHAVAN is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 95,000 words. [personal notes, publications, etc, added here].

Thank you for your consideration.

sgf
I think there are some cool ideas in there but the query could use more clarity. Good luck!

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by Jaligard » September 15th, 2010, 11:35 pm

sgf wrote:Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse.
I think you're starting off with the wrong focus. You've got Ravenel and a knight so important to the storyline that he doesn't even need a name. Start with Kellek and condense this somehow. It seems unnecessarily gruesome for a query letter. We should feel for your main character right off the bat. Start with Kellek and how he interrupts the ceremony and accidentally turns his friend into a walking corpse.
Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land, Kellek goes on a quest for a cure. His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness. The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one. As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds.
I like the conflict here. I would give the dracodane a name and focus on the dilemma: save his friend or his new-found love.
Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek. They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight.
This seems anti-climactic to me.

I suggest an opening paragraph about Kellek, his blunder, and the quest to solve it (what he must do). Then, in the second paragraph, complicate it with the dragon-lady. If you need a third paragraph to tie everything together, go for it. Unless Ravenel is integral to the plot, I'd leave her out of it.

My 2¢.

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by Quill » September 15th, 2010, 11:56 pm

sgf wrote:
Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse.
It is not clear why Kellek disrupts the ritual. The effect of his disruption seems far worse than the effect otherwise. Was it a mistake on Kellek's part? When you say "he disrupts it" it sounds like he does this on purpose. Instead of conveying that it is disrupted by dint of him wandering in. If I get your meaning; it isn't clear.

Why do we not know the name of the knight?
Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land,
Maybe its just me but I'm wondering how one knight can stop an army. All we know about him is that he's "legendary" and that's not much.
Kellek goes on a quest for a cure.
For Kellek's monstrous mistake? How's Kellek feeling about this? Any remorse?
His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness.
This is quite good.
The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one. As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds.
A bit wordy though I do appreciate the quantity of info contained here. I do kind of feel like I'm being taken off on a tangent from the main plot, but maybe this is integral to it. Feels that way, though, like it's a little too much on the romance and the lover's situation. Like we've strayed from the heartless knight and his woman and the poised army.
Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek. They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight.
Okay, here she is. This is good, except now we have two situations where someone is the only one who can do something (the knight stopping the army, and Mad undoing and restoring). Seems a touch of an overused device in the query.

Also, you mention vengeance and then only talk about a race. She pursues him (which sounds interesting) but they (merely) race. I would put more about this and less about the dracodane. Keep it simple and linear.

In general I like the language, though I wonder if it isn't a bit too flowery ("a mage long ago vanished"). Would this query serve as an acceptable book jacket blurb? Is the language similar to that of the book itself?

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by thewhipslip » September 16th, 2010, 1:32 pm

Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend I agree that you should not start this with Ravenel, since she's not the MC. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse. All of this can be condensed into one sentence. The conflict is that Kellek disrupts Ravenel's ritual and turns his friend into a zombie. Done.

Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land, Kellek goes on a quest for a cure I also agree here that Kellek would probably find a cure either way, so the incentive comes off wrong here. His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness This sounds really interesting. If I were an agent, I would look at your pages because this sounds very unique. The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one I would cut this. It doesn't add anything. As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds This is good.

Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek This is an odd change of view here. Keep in from Kellek's perspective. They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished This seemed random to me. You mention the conflict with the dracodane and this seems pegged on at the end, as if you forgot there was an additional conflict as well. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight But if restoring the knight means losing the dragon, how can he do both? This last sentence is more confusing than informative.

MADHAVAN is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 95,000 words. [personal notes, publications, etc, added here].

Thank you for your consideration.

sgf[/quote]

This is a great start, it just needs more focus.
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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by sgf » September 16th, 2010, 8:11 pm

Thanks to all who offered their their thoughts and suggestions. It helped me get out of the trees so I could better see the forest!

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by Prudence » September 19th, 2010, 3:40 pm

sgf wrote:Hello and thanks for taking a look. I'd appreciate any feedback, good or bad. If you'd like me to critique your query, just let me know or send it to me in a message and I'd be happy to offer my thoughts.

***

Few can appreciate the depths of Ravenel’s love for the legendary knight who steals her heart—certainly not Kellek, the knight’s closest friend. When Kellek discovers Ravenel in the midst of a bloody ritual with the knight, he disrupts it. The spell would have bound her with the knight for eternity, but instead leaves Ravenel holding her lover’s beating heart, and reduces the knight to a walking corpse. (((I like the sound of this. It sounds interesting and unique. Makes me think the story will be about Ravenel's love for the walking corpse knight and how she'll be able to bind him to her for eternity.)))

(((But then we get to this paragraph and the story seems to shift POVs. At first I believed it was about Walking Corpse Knight and Ravenel, but now it seems like it's about Kellek.))) Learning that only the knight can stop a monstrous army poised to invade their land, Kellek goes on a quest for a cure. (((My question is: Where's Ravenel in this? Why wouldn't she want to look for the cure? Doesn't she love the knight too?))) His journey with takes him beyond serpent-infested seas, through haunted woods, ((('serpent-infested seas, haunted woods' all sound cliched.))) and deep into a romance with a beautiful dracodane, a dragon cursed to human likeness. (((Interesting. I don't see that too often, so it'd be cool to read about.))) The wonders they share and the adventures they face strengthen their love, yet their path is a tenuous one. (((This sentence is very vague, and I don't feel like it adds anything to the query except more questions.))) As she must choose between breaking the curse to become a dragon and surrendering to her human emotions, he must balance his desire for the dracodane against his duty to complete his quest—the same quest that would take her from him if he succeeds. (((Why? Also, I see the query's focus has shifted once again.)))

Eager for vengeance and determined to save the knight herself, Ravenel pursues Kellek. (((Honestly, this seems to be coming out of nowhere.))) They race to be the first to find Madhavan— a mage long ago vanished. Only he can undo the dragon's curse and restore the knight.

MADHAVAN is a fantasy adventure novel complete at 95,000 words. [personal notes, publications, etc, added here].

My main issue with this query has to be: Lack of focus. It lacks focus where the characters are concerned and it lacks focus where the story is concerned. First of all, it reads like there are three stories in this query. The dracodane's, Ravenel's, and Kellek's. Who is this story mostly about? Even if it's split evenly amongst the three, you have to pick one to focus on because three stories in one query is a bit too much. And Kellek's journey seems to be all over the place. First he wants to save the knight, then he wants to save the dracodane, and then he's looking for a mage? A lot of things came out of nowhere, and I was left too confused and surprised--in a not so good way--to appreciate the originality that seems to be lurking here.

Good luck.


Thank you for your consideration.

sgf
Last edited by Prudence on September 21st, 2010, 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by sgf » September 20th, 2010, 8:21 pm

Hi Prudence,

Thanks for taking the time to critique my query. For the sake of focus, I agree that I should stick to just one character. A part of me was determined to somehow get both MCs in the query, but I'm beginning to realize that you (and others) are right. Thanks again!

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query

Post by clara_w » September 21st, 2010, 4:28 am

I like this premise, a lot!

I agree with others, we dont need the backstory on Ravenel and the knight.
You could start by Kellek and the dracodane (which is probably one of the coolest things I've ever read! A dragon in the human form, brilliant =)
And then you say: only the Knight can stop a monstrous army, but Ravenel, his former lover is filled with vengeance, for Kellek is responsible for her not being together with her love (obviously, you will write something far better then what I just did)!

Good luck!

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by sgf » September 29th, 2010, 8:45 pm

Hello,

First, thanks to everyone who provided comments on my first query draft-- i really appreciated all the input I got. Below is an updated version. Can anything be removed? Any awkward prose? Is it any better?


Kellek belongs to a sect of mystics that can see into the future, but he couldn’t foresee his closest friend, a legendary knight, having his heart stolen by a love-struck witch, reducing him to a mindless zombie. When his masters warn that the knight is destined to stop a monstrous army poised to invade the land of Neyria, Kellek goes on a quest for the cure.

Only Madhavan, a mage who had vanished long ago, can mend the zombie knight. On his journey to find the mage, Kellek meets Delmara, a beautiful dracodane—a dragon cursed to human likeness. Believing that Madhavan can also break her curse, she proposes that they seek out other dracodanes. Kellek agrees, realizing that perhaps his masters meant that the journey to cure the knight would thwart their enemies. After all, a half-dozen dragons could stop any army in its tracks.

Their road takes them across haunted swamps, through the Farouzan Forest—where the trees reach the clouds and the crows are as large as a warhorse, and into a city besieged by the same fiendish army that would threaten to invade Neyria. Through the dangers Kellek and Delmara face, their companionship deepens into romance. Delmara struggles between breaking the dracodane’s curse and surrendering to her human emotions, while Kellek must balance his desire for Delmara against his duty to complete his quest. As they get closer to finding Madhavan, they must come to terms that their success could mean losing the love they share.

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 30th, 2010, 2:29 am

Hi :)

While the query is good and is quite intruiging, I don't really have a good sense for Kellek. Is he going on this journey because his friend will stop an army, or because the knight is his friend first and foremost? At the end, you also have Kellek struggling between his duty to complete his quest and his feelings for Delmara--why not his duty to save his own friend? His motivations seem mixed up here, and I think it's not representing him well as a character, because I'm sure he's great :)
Believing that Madhavan can also break her curse, she proposes that they seek out other dracodanes. Kellek agrees, realizing that perhaps his masters meant that the journey to cure the knight would thwart their enemies. After all, a half-dozen dragons could stop any army in its tracks.
I'm not sure this is needed in your query. It seems that curing her curse may be a subplot, and telling us what the message might mean doesn't help the intrigue of the message :) It would be great to go from him meeting the dracodane and then the journeying.

You did a good job summarizing there and just giving us what need to know. I'm not sure we need to know how tall trees are in the forest. While an interesting detail, it's better placed in the story itself :)

I think the basis of your query is very good. You have an eye for detail, but leave that out of the query. Instead, integrate Kellek's voice into it. How would he describe this quest? How does he feel about it? Is he in a hurry? Let us see into the mind, motivations, and heart of Kellek in your query so we are compelled by him as a character, and so we care about him and his quest.

Last, I'd like to make one small comment on your stakes. It seems that it's about Delmara and his closest friend. If he does not cure his friend, not only will he lose his friend, an army will destroy them. It doesn't seem like any person would choose the woman in this instance. Kellek is our hero, and we expect him to save his friend/his country. OR is it about this cure: it can only save ONE of them, but not both? But even in this instance, the obvious choice would be his friend. I previously mentioned that it seems curing the dracodanes is a subplot, but only because I think the main plot is saving his FRIEND. There needs to be something that stands in the way of that... that isn't his feelings for a girl. I'm sure your conflict is a lot more complex than this, so let it shine!

Good luck and I hope I helped a bit :)
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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by trirae » September 30th, 2010, 8:18 am

Hi there,

I am very new, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I think the concept and the conflict are very interesting. The revision is much clearer than the original. I would still like a big more of a hook on the first line. For some reason it's tripping me up rather than inviting me forward. It could just be me.

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by bgannon » September 30th, 2010, 3:19 pm

Thsi is much better than the first draft!
Kellek belongs to a sect of mystics that can see into the future, but he couldn’t foresee his closest friend, a legendary knight, having his heart stolen by a love-struck witch, reducing him to a mindless zombie.
I think there's one caluse too many in this sentence. More importantly, my first impression was that "mindless zombie" was used here as a figure of speech. It sounds like he's fallen in love and is moping around. I think you need to trim this line and add a sentence that makes it clear that the knight was enchanted by a malignant sorceress, without getting into too much detail regarding the secondary characters.
When his masters warn that the knight is destined to stop a monstrous army poised to invade the land of Neyria, Kellek goes on a quest for the cure.
I thought "cure" was an odd word choice, but that might be because it isn't clear what's ahppened to the knight. A cure for unrequited love? And maybe a more active verb here. "goes on a quest" is kind of passive and vague; "sets out to find" or something would be stronger.
Only Madhavan, a mage who had vanished long ago, can mend the zombie knight. On his journey to find the mage, Kellek meets Delmara, a beautiful dracodane—a dragon cursed to human likeness.
Right around here I stopped an reread the first paragraph because I was losing track of the names/non-English words. I think you could do without the mage's name and that would be one less thing to keep track of.
Believing that Madhavan can also break her curse, she proposes that they seek out other dracodanes. Kellek agrees, realizing that perhaps his masters meant that the journey to cure the knight would thwart their enemies. After all, a half-dozen dragons could stop any army in its tracks.
I don't follow the logic in this paragraph. First, if Delmara thinks that the mage can cure her, why didn't she gather some of her homegirls together before making this trip--why is she just now suggesting they make a detour? On the other hand, why bother with the other dracodanes at all? Delmara may be a warm, philanthropic character, but since all I know at this point is that she's a dragon in human form I'm going to assume certain dragon stereotypes: possibly evil, definitely fierce and independent, likely to make regaining her own body top priority. And lastly, I would think that if his friend is destined to stop this invading army than a half dozen dragons couldn't stop them--that's what destiny means, right?
Their road takes them across haunted swamps, through the Farouzan Forest—where the trees reach the clouds and the crows are as large as a warhorse,
I like the haunted swamps and the crow description, but I agree that the tree business can go. A little more color than we need.
and into a city besieged by the same fiendish army that would threaten to invade Neyria.
We know they're going to invade, right, the seers saw it? I'd cut "threaten" to make it a little more compelling.
Through the dangers Kellek and Delmara face, their companionship deepens into romance. Delmara struggles between breaking the dracodane’s curse and surrendering to her human emotions,
OK, I think I get where this is going but it could be clearer. It isn't so much a choice to "give in to emotions" (vague) but to give up on regaining her true body. If you frame it this way we see what's at stake. That's a big deal!
while Kellek must balance his desire for Delmara against his duty to complete his quest.
I can see how Delmara would be distracting, but how is she interfering with the quest? The previous paragrapg made it sound like they were going in the same direction. Is it because they're off looking for other dracdanes? Come to think of it, how does the search for dracodanes fit in to the journey described above?
As they get closer to finding Madhavan, they must come to terms
with the fact
that their success could mean losing the love they share.
Nice! Much more succinct, and focused on Kellek, which is where you want to be. I think some of the plot points need to be clarified a bit, but you want to keep the text lean and tight.

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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by androidblues » September 30th, 2010, 6:59 pm

I'd probably read it, but I agree with bgannon. Focus on what they said an you'll have a killer query.
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Re: Fantasy Novel Query-- "2nd" draft

Post by sgf » October 1st, 2010, 6:53 pm

D.S., trirae, bgannon, and android--

Thank you all for your feedback!

More clarification, less details, and stronger voice.. will do!

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