QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

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clegler
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QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by clegler » June 8th, 2012, 3:20 pm

Hi everyone! This is my first (real) query letter for my first (real) novel, and I would really appreciate some good feedback! I appreciate all constructive criticism, and I won't take anything to heart. :) Thanks for your help in advance!



Dear (insert agent name),

The existence of the human race is at stake, and only the Vanguard possesses the means to preserve it.

In THE VANGUARD: UPRISING, the state of Melaud is the only state of five within the world of Gethaben that fosters human life. Nearly three hundred years ago, the humans’ way of life was threatened by the hostile inhabitants of the four remaining states outside of Melaud, who considered the human race to be arrogant and worthless. In order to find peace and security out of the hands of their dangerous enemies, the humans formed their own great state, dividing Melaud into two powerful empires.

Ten years prior to the beginning of THE VANGUARD: UPRISING, a civil war was launched between Melaud’s empires. This event became infamously known as the Cleansing, a genocide initiated to rid Melaud of human-hybrids, human beings who possess supernatural powers similar to those possessed by the beings living in the states outside of Melaud. Because Melaud's northern empire feared this power and its potential to threaten their peaceful existence, the only solution to protect the human race was the initiation of a world-wide known purge.

In present day, the Vanguard is a group of human and hybrid rebels living in Melaud who narrowly escaped and survived the Cleansing. While the Vanguard thought their worst dilemmas were behind them after losing their families, their wellbeing, and their sense of security during the Cleansing, they discover new dangers awakening in Melaud: the Emperor of Melaud’s northern Empire, Dovanni Berthold, seeks to release a legendary weapon called Erebus in order to obtain its terrible, destructive power and become the most powerful and feared entity in all of Gethaben. To prevent Dovanni from releasing Erebus and eradicating what remains of the human race, the Vanguard must offer an irrevocable sacrifice in order to destroy the weapon: the life of their friend and the last living being of the human-hybrid Gandel species, Arophald Semper.

THE VANGUARD: UPRISING is a work of high fantasy of approximately 192,000 words. Although this is my first novel, the world of writing is not new to me. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English at California State University, Fresno, and eventually plan to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing. I was also on the staff of my high school newspaper for three years, and I was an editor in my third year. I chose to submit to you because (insert personalized tidbit). I would also like to let you know that a few other agents are considering the manuscript simultaneously. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to the opportunity of sharing the complete manuscript with you.

Sincerely,
(My name)

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wilderness
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by wilderness » June 11th, 2012, 7:54 pm

Hi there. Sounds like an interesting world. However, your entire query is backstory and setup. I suggest starting with your main character and going from there. Try to sprinkle in details about your world without giving one long "infodump" (which you should avoid in your novel as well). I'd also suggest reading a lot of query shark: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ . The shark will tell you to cut all that backstory and where the real beginning of your query should be. Hope that helps!

clegler
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by clegler » June 12th, 2012, 4:41 pm

Thank you, that helps a lot! I was actually thinking of my query today and thought...dang, I feel like its a lot more like a synopsis than an actual query. How can I fix this?! My problem is that I don't know how to make it understandable to an outside reader who has no knowledge of the story's premise WITHOUT offering up all that information...bleh! Thank you for the advise and the link referral, though! It will help a lot! :)

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wilderness
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by wilderness » June 12th, 2012, 5:12 pm

Yeah, it's definitely not easy when you're trying to present a totally different world. Maybe you could try writing the query from the main character's POV assuming we already understand the world? Afterward you can go back and squeeze in the very minimal details to make the conflict understood? It might take a few drafts to get the right details in there but it's a start.

clegler
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by clegler » June 12th, 2012, 5:34 pm

Yeah, that's kind of what I started to do (I started working on it right away after reading your edit, lol). And that Query Shark website REALLY helps! Thanks for telling me about it. Maybe now I will be more confident when it's time to actually submit. Haha. :)

clegler
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by clegler » June 14th, 2012, 8:30 pm

Okay, here is my revision. How about it??

Dear (agent),

For several years, a group of impoverished rebels who call themselves the Vanguard have had no reason to live. After losing their families, their wellbeing, and their sense of security during a genocide ten years ago infamously known as the Cleansing, they live each day with only one focus: survival. That is, at least until they encounter a stranger named Arophald Semper, who brings warning of a powerful weapon called Erebus that is capable of destroying the entire world of Gethaben if released. Emperor Dovanni Berthold seeks to free Erebus in order to control it and quench his insatiable hunger for power, which will mean the destruction of the state of Melaud and the extinction of the human race.

Ten years ago in Melaud, a civil war was launched by the northern Aqorath Empire against the southern Bayen’or Empire in order to cleanse Melaud of all human-hybrids, human beings who possess supernatural powers similar to those possessed by the creatures who are enemies to the human race. With the Bayen’or Empire in ruins, rumor holds that all hybrids were murdered, and few humans survived – until the Vanguard emerges.

While the Vanguard possesses the strongest of desires to avenge the fallen Bayen’or Empire, they lack the means to do so until they meet Arophald, who claims to be the last living being of the hybrid Gandel species, and Aydin Berthold, Emperor Dovanni’s younger brother who was banished from the Aqorath Empire for acts of conspiracy and treason that he did not commit. Arophald recounts the legend of Erebus, a supernatural Bayen’or weapon buried somewhere beneath Melaud.

While Erebus is harmless if it remains hidden in an underground stronghold, Aydin reveals that Dovanni seeks to release the weapon to obtain its terrible power. With Erebus freed from confinement, certain destruction of Melaud, the only safe haven in Gethaben for human beings, will follow. In order to stop Dovanni from releasing Erebus, Arophald must sacrifice his own life in exchange for the preservation of humanity, which brings both himself and the Vanguard to the face of conflict: does heroic sacrifice outweigh the value of self-preservation?

THE VANGUARD: UPRISING is a work of high fantasy of 192,000 words, and is my first novel. I hope to feature the Vanguard in a continuing series, and am currently working on the sequel. I would also like to let you know that a few other agents are considering the manuscript simultaneously. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to the opportunity of sharing the complete manuscript with you.

Sincerely,
(My name)

winterone
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by winterone » June 15th, 2012, 5:18 pm

I really would like to help you out with yours, as you've helped me with mine, but I am definitely not well-suited for it. One of the things that turns me off of a high-fantasy (and although this might not be high-fantasy, it reminds me of it) is when I'm reading the back of a book and am assaulted with made-up places and new terms. It gets overwhelming, even if it's done very well. So maybe just one thing to keep in mind - if the name isn't pertinent to your description/summary/query, maybe it doesn't need to be in there?

But I'm definitely no query pro!

clegler
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by clegler » June 15th, 2012, 5:30 pm

I feel the same way...if there is a plethora of terms that I don't recognize/are new to me, I don't really read it. I tried to be as minimal as possible with the terms/names in my query letter, not only to avoid boring the editor but to keep it on a more personal, easy-to-understand level.

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Beethovenfan
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by Beethovenfan » June 16th, 2012, 4:48 am

clegler wrote:Okay, here is my revision. How about it??

Dear (agent),

For several years, a group of impoverished rebels who call themselves the Vanguard have had no reason to live. After losing their families, their wellbeing, and their sense of security during a genocide ten years ago infamously known as the Cleansing, they live each day with only one focus: survival. That is, at least until they encounter a stranger named Arophald Semper, who brings warning of a powerful weapon called Erebus that is capable of destroying the entire world of Gethaben if released. Emperor Dovanni Berthold seeks to free Erebus in order to control it and quench his insatiable hunger for power, which will mean the destruction of the state of Melaud and the extinction of the human race.

Ten years ago in Melaud, a civil war was launched by the northern Aqorath Empire against the southern Bayen’or Empire in order to cleanse Melaud of all human-hybrids, human beings who possess supernatural powers similar to those possessed by the creatures who are enemies to the human race. With the Bayen’or Empire in ruins, rumor holds that all hybrids were murdered, and few humans survived – until the Vanguard emerges.

While the Vanguard possesses the strongest of desires to avenge the fallen Bayen’or Empire, they lack the means to do so until they meet Arophald, who claims to be the last living being of the hybrid Gandel species, and Aydin Berthold, Emperor Dovanni’s younger brother who was banished from the Aqorath Empire for acts of conspiracy and treason that he did not commit. Arophald recounts the legend of Erebus, a supernatural Bayen’or weapon buried somewhere beneath Melaud.

While Erebus is harmless if it remains hidden in an underground stronghold, Aydin reveals that Dovanni seeks to release the weapon to obtain its terrible power. With Erebus freed from confinement, certain destruction of Melaud, the only safe haven in Gethaben for human beings, will follow. In order to stop Dovanni from releasing Erebus, Arophald must sacrifice his own life in exchange for the preservation of humanity, which brings both himself and the Vanguard to the face of conflict: does heroic sacrifice outweigh the value of self-preservation?

THE VANGUARD: UPRISING is a work of high fantasy of 192,000 words, and is my first novel. I hope to feature the Vanguard in a continuing series, and am currently working on the sequel. I would also like to let you know that a few other agents are considering the manuscript simultaneously. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to the opportunity of sharing the complete manuscript with you.

Sincerely,
(My name)
Hi! Your story sounds very intriguing, and there's a lot going on. How the heck do you get all that into a query letter, right? I know how you feel. One thing I'm coming to learn is that you don't really have to tell the entire story in just a few paragraphs. Instead, show the agent what your characters' peronalities are like. Give just enough info. to make them want more.

Most of what you have given in this query is still back story. It's coming closer, but it's still simply telling about your world, instead of laying out the problem, and what the stakes are. One important thing that REALLY needs to be brought out is who the protagonist is. I've read both versions of your query and I'm still not sure. I think if you begin from that person's perspective, you will be more able to show what the stakes are for him/her, what the problem is he/she must overcome, and why the reader would care (and we want the reader to care so they will want to read more!).

I hope that doesn't sound too harsh. I think you have a great story on your hands, and you need a great query to go with it. I second the suggestion that you visit the Query Shark (Janet Reid). She's fantastic at laying out all the components of a great query.
Good luck!
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

BettyMiller
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by BettyMiller » June 17th, 2012, 11:30 pm

You've got some great material, but remember to keep it simple. Every sentence needs to draw me in and raise the stakes. I've written a once paragraph summary of your query letter that I think still captures the soul of your novel

The existence of the human race is at stake, and only the Vanguard possesses the means to preserve it.

In (the country? planet?) Gethaben, there are Five States, three races, and only one human Kingdom: Melaud, which now stands divided by Civil War. Driven into a state of paranoia and desperation by the constant threat of outsiders attacking, the Emperor of Melaud’s Northern Empire, Dovanni Berthold, has launched a genocide against the half human Hybrid race which quickly became known as The Cleansing.

The lucky few who escaped the King's wrath call themselves the Vanguard, and consist of both human and hybrid rebels.
But as if the trauma of losing their families and home weren't enough, the Vanguard discover new dangers awakening in Melaud. Dovanni Berthold now seeks to revive a legendary weapon called Erebus, which, in the wrong hands, has the power to eradicating what remains of the human race. The Vanguard take it upon themselves to prevent the Emperor from getting his hands on Erebus, but will this goal come at too high a cost?

I hope this didn't read too brutal, but I really liked this idea and I want it to succeed! You've got some incredible potential for social commentary and character development in this gritty world

SMB
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by SMB » June 19th, 2012, 11:50 pm

I agree with the advice so far that there was to much backstory, but I liked the first line of your 1st QL. You need something that brings the reader in immediately. Jump right into the action/conflict. You want the reader to WANT more…a tease…enough that they want to know more about this world and these characters.

The existence of the human race is at stake, and only the Vanguard possesses the means to preserve it.

Cricket27
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by Cricket27 » June 20th, 2012, 1:38 am

Try this. I got it off of Nathan's site and it helped me keep my AQL on track.

You know those "mad lib" games you'd play as a kid, where you start off by writing down a list of verbs, places and adjectives, and inevitably the words "snot" and "farted" were involved, which made any story HILARIOUS?

Well, we're going to play query letter mad lib today. Here's how it works.
First I'm going to need these things:
[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist's quest], [protagonist's goal], [author's credits (optional)], [your name]

Now, look how your query turns out:
Dear [Agent name],
I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].
[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].
[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]

SMB
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Re: QUERY - The Vanguard: Uprising

Post by SMB » June 20th, 2012, 1:31 pm

Now, look how your query turns out:
Dear [Agent name],
I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].
[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].
[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]

How funny and sad that after the hours and hours I put into my QL this might be a better formula! Love it!

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