Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 26th, 2010, 9:48 pm

Thanks to all of you who contributed feedback before. This is the re-written letter, minus the personalized stuff to the agent, etc. BTW, the manuscript is about 95,000 words.
***
It’s winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. The advancing British army has orders to leave no survivors. In desperation, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe—magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. Their plea is answered, but the Scottish leader, the daring and popular Bonnie Prince Charlie, rashly promises the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain if they help his cause and bring the war to a close.
The sìdhe’s magical weapons give the Scots a temporary advantage, but when the English army flees south in terror, some of the sìdhe begin to turn on the Scots, feeding on their flesh, snatching away their children, and riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. The Scottish population, formerly united in their quest for independence, disintegrates into hostile factions as Britain spirals into chaos, and even talented propaganda writer Ina Bruce cannot smooth over the disaster.
With no way to return the sìdhe to their own world, and or defeat them in a head-on battle, Robert realizes the humans must negotiate with the sidhe or lose all control of Scotland. With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and live side-by-side in peace. But Marian finds that under beneath seeming friendly intentions, the sìdhe leadership has a sinister agenda: they want to end the war and secure their reward, no matter what the cost to their human allies.
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 26th, 2010, 10:30 pm

sbs_mjc1 wrote:Thanks to all of you who contributed feedback before. This is the re-written letter, minus the personalized stuff to the agent, etc. BTW, the manuscript is about 95,000 words.
***
It’s winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. The advancing British army has orders to leave no survivors. In desperation, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe—magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. Their plea is answered, but the Scottish leader, the daring and popular Bonnie Prince Charlie, rashly promises the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain if they help his cause and bring the war to a close.

The sìdhe’s magical weapons give the Scots a temporary advantage, but when the English army flees south in terror, some of the sìdhe begin to turn on the Scots, feeding on their flesh, snatching away their children, and riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. The Scottish population, formerly united in their quest for independence, disintegrates into hostile factions as Britain spirals into chaos, and even talented propaganda writer Ina Bruce cannot smooth over the disaster.

With no way to return the sìdhe to their own world, and or defeat them in a head-on battle, Robert realizes the humans must negotiate with the sidhe or lose all control of Scotland. With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and live side-by-side in peace. But Marian finds that one typo here -- either under or beneath, not both under beneath seeming friendly intentions, the sìdhe leadership has a sinister agenda: they want to end the war and secure their reward, no matter what the cost to their human allies.
Okay, take my comments with the classic pound of salt because I can't write queries.

I love this and in the real world would buy it in a bookstore. It's exciting and interesting. However, in Queryland, it seems really long for a plot description -- over 250 words and three hefty paragraphs. By the time you add your personalized info and contact info, how long is the query? It also doesn't seem to follow the query format of boiling the main story down to a sentence, plus trying to stick to 1-2 paragraphs for the plot.

Good luck!

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 27th, 2010, 8:04 am

I read this last night and thought it was really helpful:

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/bl ... osals.aspx

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
How to Trim Your Query to 250 Words (or Fewer): Advice from Agent Janet Reid
Posted by Chuck

Your ability to write a query that does your novel justice can make or break your chances of landing an agent. Reid recommends spending two months perfecting this 250-word marvel.

Your query encompasses three sections:
1. 100 words answering the question “What is the book about?”
2. A brief summary of your writing credits, if you have them.
3. Miscellaneous information on how you found the agent or why you chose him/her.

(the article continues with many details)


And here's another good one:

http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... -that.html

User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 27th, 2010, 6:34 pm

Thanks for the links, Holly!

Michael and I have had major issues getting our query pared down without losing critical info.
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 27th, 2010, 7:54 pm

sbs_mjc1 wrote:Thanks for the links, Holly!

Michael and I have had major issues getting our query pared down without losing critical info.
My two cents: the synopsis is the document that shows all the critical info, not the query.

You could use the piece you posted here, add the rest of the story, and turn it into a good synopsis.

It's important to step back from the emotions we all feel about our work -- that we have to cram everything into the query or the agent won't get the novel. The query has a particular format that professionals expect to see.

Good luck!

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Quill » December 27th, 2010, 8:03 pm

sbs_mjc1 wrote: It’s winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence.
Seems weak to start with a contraction, much less a contraction of "It is".

How about simply, "Winter, 1745, Scotland is losing..."
The advancing British army has orders to leave no survivors.
This sentence can probably be omitted without losing impact. Probably will improve the flow. For one thing, it represents a shift over to the British point of view: "the army has orders", which I'm not sure really works.
In desperation, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe—magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence.
Good info.
Their plea is answered, but the Scottish leader, the daring and popular Bonnie Prince Charlie, rashly promises the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain if they help his cause and bring the war to a close.
This is wordy.

"the daring and popular" can probably be eliminated, as it clogs the sentence and seems unneeded (his daring and popularity do not weigh further in the query; indeed the character himself is gone after this reference).

"help his cause" and "bring the war to a close" seem redundant to each other, and neither phrase is particularly stellar. Any way to eliminate one of the two, and punch up the other (making it perhaps more specific)?
The sìdhe’s magical weapons give the Scots a temporary advantage, but when the English army flees south in terror, some of the sìdhe begin to turn on the Scots, feeding on their flesh, snatching away their children, and riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions.
Creepy indeed, but not sure that it is clear that the sidhe kept their end of the bargain (due in part to the non-specificity of the Prince's terms as described above.) Unclear how the magic of it worked: was the return from exile truly predicated on the successful outcome of the war? Or was this just a verbal agreement without any true binding nature to it. Any way to spell out the terms and the conditions within your world, of this seemingly supernatural event? Does the Bonnie Prince really have the power to reverse the exile? If so, how come it is common soldiers who initiate the exchange of aid?

I realize that to answer these questions would require more words, and yet they seem the crux of the story, on which the believability and ultimately saleability rests.
The Scottish population, formerly united in their quest for independence, disintegrates into hostile factions as Britain spirals into chaos,
It seems "as Britain spirals into chaos" can be omitted as largely redundant to "disintegrates into hostile factions".
and even talented propaganda writer Ina Bruce cannot smooth over the disaster.
Now, I know from your previous query versions that this fellow is somewhat prominent character in your story. However, this sentence seems entirely gratuitous to the query, and could easily be excised without losing one iota of the drama.
With no way to return the sìdhe to their own world, and or defeat them in a head-on battle,
"Head-on" can be deleted as redundant to "battle".
Robert realizes the humans must negotiate with the sidhe or lose all control of Scotland.
Why Robert and not the Bonnie Prince? We have not been told why this fellow Robert is in such a prominent position.
With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and live side-by-side in peace. But Marian finds that under beneath seeming friendly intentions, the sìdhe leadership has a sinister agenda: they want to end the war and secure their reward, no matter what the cost to their human allies.
This is the first we hear of friendly intentions. Up to now it has been all reign of terror and (as far as I can see) broken promises. Why would the sidhe leadership even agree to talk, seeing as you've made it clear they have the upper hand. Why would the Scottish leadership attempt to live side-by-side in peace when their kids are being eaten and whisked to other dimensions. What would that attempt look like, other than maybe an urgent plea to establish quotas on abductions and murders? The crux is unclear. What strengths do the Scots deal from? What weakness would cause the sidhe to negotiate?

lmjackson
Posts: 40
Joined: January 12th, 2010, 10:06 pm
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by lmjackson » December 27th, 2010, 8:30 pm

It’s winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a the war for independence. The advancing British army has orders to leave no survivors. In desperation Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe—magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. Their plea is answered, but the Scottish leader, but the daring and popular Bonnie Prince Charlie rashly promises the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain if they help his cause and bring the war to a close.

The sìdhe’s magical weapons give the Scots a temporary advantage over the English, but when the English army flees south in terror some of the sìdhe begin to turn on the Scots, feeding on their flesh, snatching away their children, and riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. The Scottish population, formerly united in their quest for independence, disintegrates into hostile factions as Britain spirals into chaos, and even talented propaganda writer Ina Bruce cannot smooth over the disaster (is this relevant?).

With no way to return the sìdhe to their own world, and or defeat them in a head-on battle, Robert realizes the humans must negotiate with the sidhe or lose all control of Scotland. With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and live side-by-side in peace. But Marian finds that under beneath the guise of seeming friendly intentions, the sìdhe leadership has a sinister agenda: they want to end the war and secure their reward, no matter what the cost to their human allies.
It's still 230 words as I didn't feel comfortable enough with the plot to try to make major cuts/adjustments (it's your plot not mine!). The query as a whole I think is very good, and divulges a good amount of information. The first paragraph is the best. A lot of the sentences are complex and longer, and I hear for queries simple sentences are best and more dynamic.

Good luck!
Junior student studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Loves reading, writing, photography, dance, and long walks on the beach :P

User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 27th, 2010, 10:43 pm

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! Here is the revised version.
Also, I have done academic work on this time period (including analysis of the propaganda that inspired this novel) which is currently stuck in review purgatory. Should I mention this?
***
Dear Agent,

It’s winter, 1745, and Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe take interest in Robert’s appeal, and ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unwilling and unable to stop the chaos.

With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But Marian finds the sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister agenda: to end the war and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

Forgotten Gods, a historical fantasy novel, is complete at 96,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

SB Stewart-Laing and Michael Chernicoff
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 28th, 2010, 1:39 am

sbs_mjc1 wrote:Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! Here is the revised version.
Also, I have done academic work on this time period (including analysis of the propaganda that inspired this novel) which is currently stuck in review purgatory. Should I mention this?
***
Dear Agent,

It’s winter, 1745, and Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, just italicize the first occurrence per THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, pg. 292, 7-55 "Italics at first occurrence: if a foreign word not listed in an English dictonary is used repeatedly throughout a work, it need be italicized only on its first occurrence..." magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe take interest in Robert’s appeal, and ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unwilling and unable to stop the chaos.

With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But Marian finds the sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister agenda: to end the war and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

Forgotten Gods, FORGOTTEN GODS, a historical fantasy novel, is complete at 96,000 words. Thank you for your consideration. Put book titles in all caps -- this is standard.

SB Stewart-Laing and Michael Chernicoff

Much better, but I would still try to get the plot description down to two paragraphs. You're aiming for something that has the feel of the blurb on the back of a book jacket.

You also need a bio paragraph and an agent paragraph. I'm no query expert and could be wrong, but I would mention the academic research that ties into the novel.

Good luck. Again, I love the idea for your novel and hope to see it on the bookshelves.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 28th, 2010, 6:13 am

It’s winter, 1745, and Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe take interest in Robert’s appeal, and ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.


A few more thoughts:
We don't have to know that's it's winter.
Scottish and magical don't have to be repeated.
You could trim some adjectives.
"take interest" and "ask to negotiate" convey the same idea.
"for the duration of the war" is not essential.
"desperate" tells us they're losing the war, so you don't have to repeat that idea.

I like the cadence of your start and love the rich detail, but you only have one page and need room for agent info and your bio. I would also work on a one sentence opening hook (I don't know Maxwell's military title).

This could be polished, but it cuts about 30 words:

In 1745, Lord Robert Maxwell makes a desperate decision: he begs for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe with Scotland's war for independence. The sidhe, magical inhabitants exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence, negotiate with the Scottish leadership, who rashly promise a return to Britain in exchange for their help.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Quill » December 28th, 2010, 10:30 am

sbs_mjc1 wrote:Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! Here is the revised version.
Also, I have done academic work on this time period (including analysis of the propaganda that inspired this novel) which is currently stuck in review purgatory. Should I mention this?
***
Dear Agent,

It’s winter, 1745, and Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe take interest in Robert’s appeal, and ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unwilling and unable to stop the chaos.

With the help of Marian Cameron, a young woman with rare psychic abilities, the Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But Marian finds the sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister agenda: to end the war and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

Forgotten Gods, a historical fantasy novel, is complete at 96,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

SB Stewart-Laing and Michael Chernicoff
This is much improved!

A bit odd that we shift to Marian at the end. Any way to have the Scots or Scot leadership find (rather than Marian, even though it is through her) that the sidhe are not as disorganized, etc? Such as by saying, "But they learn that the sidhe..."

Also, still think it is weak to begin with "It's".

User avatar
sbs_mjc1
Posts: 155
Joined: June 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland/Boston, USA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » December 28th, 2010, 11:18 am

Once again...
(Also, Holly: your advice has been great, but I'm retaining some of the details given that they're significant to placing the story in its historical context.)
***
Dear Agent,

Because of [personalized stuff], I would like to submit FORGOTTEN GODS, a a 96,000 word historical fantasy novel, for your consideration.

Winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unwilling and unable to stop the chaos.

The Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But they find sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister agenda: to end the war and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

I have published academic work on 18th-century Scottish history and am a Scottish Gaelic speaker. Currently, I am working on a postgraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, where I have continued my work in Celtic Studies.

Sincerely,

SB Stewart-Laing
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Watcher55 » December 28th, 2010, 11:37 am

I been lurkin'. This one makes me want to read the book.

I know this might be trifilin' but:
sbs_mjc1 wrote:I have published academic work on 18th-century Scottish history and am a Scottish Gaelic speaker. Currently, I am working on a postgraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, where I have continued my work in Celtic Studies.
"have continued" is, as one of Watcher's rules of thumb says, too past tense. If you are now at UofG perhaps, "where I currently (presently...)", would work. If you are no longer there then you can simply say, "where I continued (finished...).

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Holly » December 28th, 2010, 12:47 pm

The query really looks good. Best of luck!

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Again)

Post by Quill » December 28th, 2010, 3:35 pm

Could nitpick in a few spots, but it's excellent. Good job!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest