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Author Topic: Under A Tree Called Hope: YA Fantasy  (Read 1768 times)
Thewriterscoop
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« on: March 31, 2017, 02:03:06 PM »

Hello again, I'm currently woking on a query for a second manuscript I have recently completed. Wanted to get some help while I worked on the second draft. Any suggestions would be helpful and hard questions are something I'm definitely looking forward to.

Dear (Agent’s name),

According to your agency’s website, you’re actively seeking young adult fiction. So I’m pleased to introduce my diverse novel, Under A Tree Called Hope that runs about 64,000 words.

Set in a college town on the Northern California coast, eighteen-year-old Lucca is just another face in the crowd. A stranger no one will remember. It has been that way for almost three-hundred years.

Cursed by a Native American tribe for accidently killing a chief’s son. He has been trapped in a world on endless repeat. Where once every century, the love of his life, Antonia returns only to die two weeks later.

Determined to break the curse once and for all. Adrius embarks upon a journey of a lifetime to save Antonia, only to discover she has kept a secret so profound that it threatens to keep them trapped in the curse forever.

Under a Tree Called Hope is a standalone YA fantasy (Insert more information about the plot and myself).

Thanks very much for your time. I have included the first ten pages and look forward to hearing from you.

Truly yours,

A.Y. Greyson



« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 03:17:43 PM by Thewriterscoop » Logged
Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2017, 02:48:42 PM »

Okay, thank you Gobbo. This is one version of the query I did. But here's another version I have, but it seemed too pedestrian. Hence why I didn't post it.

All eighteen-year-old Lucca ever wanted to be was normal.

Set in a college town in northern California. Normal is all Lucca is ever faced with. Year in and year out, he witnesses a slew of fresh-faced students overrunning his town. And deep down he wishes he could be like them. Grow up, move on, actually have a life. But that’s never going to happen. Because he’s trapped.

All because he and his brother had a bad run in with a Native American tribe three-hundred-years ago.

Cursed them both, left them like ghost to wander through these streets and to make matters worse, his dead girlfriend won’t leave him alone.

Determined this year to break the curse once and for all. He sets out on a journey to free himself, only to learn his dead girlfriend has been keeping secrets. A secret so profound that it threatens to lock them in the curse forever.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 03:03:38 PM by Thewriterscoop » Logged
Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 03:06:06 PM »

Ha! Interesting take.

I suppose I could dial back on the cliche's but I was trying to be as straightforward as possible without beating around the bush. I'll do another rewrite today, and hopefully, it won't come off as subpar.
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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2017, 08:31:22 PM »

Here's an update of my query. I feel like it might be a little scant. But I'm also trying to focus on it staying concise.


Most people only experience their eighteenth birthday once. Adrius however, has been living his for the past three-hundred- years.

Cursed by a Native American tribe for killing a chief’s son, Lucca is trapped in an endless repeat and once every century, the love of his life--- Antonia---returns only to die two weeks later.

Determined to break the curse, Lucca is driven into a world of shamans, sages, and witches. Only to discover Antonia has kept a secret so profound that it threatens to lock them both in the curse forever.

Under A Tree Called Hope is a 64,000-word YA fantasy.


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TigerAsh
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2017, 11:32:47 PM »

I agree that this version is too vague--it doesn't fully suggest what makes your story unique. I've added my comments to it below.




Most people only experience their eighteenth birthday once. Adrius [What's Adrius' last name?] , however, has been living his for the past three-hundred- years three hundred years. [This opening peaked my interest.]

Cursed by a Native American tribe for killing a chief’s son, [How old is Lucca?] Lucca [What is Lucca's last name?] is trapped in an endless repeat and once every century, the love of his life--- Antonia---returns only to die two weeks later. [I think you should explain more about the "endless repeat." What exactly does that mean? Does he restart life as an infant, or does he repeat a certain portion of his life? I think even just giving one example would help.]

Determined to break the curse, Lucca is driven into a world of shamans, sages, and witches. [How is he driven into this world? Does he enter a new world? Does he come across these creatures by accident or on purpose? I think you just need to specify what this means. You don't have to give everything away, but give the agent/editor an idea of what's going to happen (remember it's okay to give a bit of a spoiler if necessary).] Only to discover Antonia has kept a secret so profound that it threatens to lock them both in the curse forever. [This sentence is worded weirdly; it comes off as a fragment.]

Under A Tree Called Hope UNDER A TREE CALLED HOPE is a 64,000-word YA fantasy. [Add comp title(s) if you have any. And thank the agent/editor for their time and consideration.]




The one thing I'm still confused about is who Adrius is and who Lucca is. Are they different people, or the same guy? In the query, they seem to be the same person ... but it's not clear. So I would just clarify that.


Hope this helps. Good luck! Smiley
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 11:34:25 PM by TigerAsh » Logged
Rachael846
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2017, 04:18:20 AM »

I'm also confused about the protagonist's name. Is it Lucca or Adrius? I thought it was Lucca but then later there's someone named Adrius but I don't know who that is? I agree with Gobbo that your query is too vague. Get specific. Who's the protagonist? What do they want? What's stopping them from getting that? What are the stakes if they don't succeed?

Also, I'm a little worried about the Native American curse aspect. Obviously I don't know you at all and I haven't read the story, but hopefully you're staying away from negative stereotypes about NAs. A lot of agents are very concerned about representation of marginalized groups now, and having a NA curse in your book could be a big turn off for a lot of people. I'm not saying you haven't done it right, but just be careful about the novel itself and also about how you describe the novel in the query letter.
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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2017, 06:00:34 AM »

Thank you all for your input. The protagonist is a singular individual. I had just recently changed his name. But suppose I copied and pasted the wrong version. From your suggestions, I'm going to try and build from that. If not, I'll try writing a new query from scratch.
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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2017, 02:51:43 PM »

Sorry guys for the slew of posts. But I have rehashed my query's approach, hopefully I can get more feedback.


When eighteen-year-old Lucca makes his way across a party to talk to JoAnna aka 'Jo Chosovi'. She thinks it's love at first sight.

But what Jo doesn't know is that she's met Lucca before, multiple times, in a series of different lifetimes spanning back almost three hundred years.

Trapped in a curse for a crime Lucca committed back when outlaws and bandits used to roam the open plains. They have been fated to a life in which Lucca lives forever while she dies over and over again before she reaches her eighteenth birthday.

In a story of perseverance and a love that transcends time. Lucca is determined to break the curse once and for all. Only to learn that the love of his life has been keeping a secret so profound that it threatens to keep them cursed forever.
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TigerAsh
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2017, 04:25:52 PM »

Sorry guys for the slew of posts. But I have rehashed my query's approach, hopefully I can get more feedback.


When eighteen-year-old Lucca makes his way across a party to talk to JoAnna aka 'Jo Chosovi'. She thinks it's love at first sight.

But what Jo doesn't know is that she's met Lucca before, multiple times, in a series of different lifetimes spanning back almost three hundred years.

Trapped in a curse for a crime Lucca committed back when outlaws and bandits used to roam the open plains. They have been fated to a life in which Lucca lives forever while she dies over and over again before she reaches her eighteenth birthday.

In a story of perseverance and a love that transcends time. Lucca is determined to break the curse once and for all. Only to learn that the love of his life has been keeping a secret so profound that it threatens to keep them cursed forever.





I prefer the other approach to your query better. This version makes it sound like JoAnna is the protagonist (which is fine if she is), while your previous query letter attempts made it sound like Lucca was the protagonist. More specifically, in this version, the first three paragraphs make it sound like JoAnna’s story, while the last paragraph makes it sound more like Lucca’s story. So while they both seem to be important to the story, I would focus on one character’s POV.

Additionally, this query letter still doesn’t tell us the challenge(s) your main character will face to reach their end goal (and what will happen if they fail).

Lastly, I would double-check your punctuation. There are places where periods should be commas and sentences read as fragments.

Good luck!

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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2017, 08:41:56 PM »

Thanks, TigerAsh. Totally understand what you're saying. Innately I knew it was the wrong approach, but I tried it anyway. Here my second go at the query. Un'altra volta! Hopefully, it answers a lot more questions this time around.


Most people only experience their eighteenth birthday once. Lucca de Moretti, however, has been living his for the past three hundred years.

Cursed by an evil shaman---who declares that once every century Lucca's true love was to return to him only to die on his eighteenth birthday.

Lucca tries to prevent this by spending many years tracking down the old shaman's descendants in hopes of reversing the curse. Where he meets Jenny Reed, a spunky, no-nonsense teenage girl who goes against the norm of what a shaman's supposed to be.

Struggling to convince the sharp-witted Jenny to help him, she eventually concedes (in exchange for a hefty price). Only to learn that the love of his life has been holding on to a secret so profound that it stands to thwart all of his efforts and keep them both trapped in the curse forever.








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mgmystery
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2017, 01:44:27 PM »

I'm still thinking this query is a bit vague. It might be easier to revise if you throw in a lot of detail first.

Most people only experience their eighteenth birthday once. Lucca de Moretti, however, has been living his for the past three hundred years.

Cursed by an evil shaman---who ( I don't understand why you put the hyphens there.)declares that once every century Lucca's true love was to return to him only to die on his eighteenth birthday. (Tigerash gave you some very good advice above about expanding this.)

Lucca tries to prevent this (I honestly liked "desperate to break the curse" better. It might be a cliche, but this is too bland. Maybe you cold meet in the middle with something like "Lucca's final attempt to break the curse is a decades? centuries? long search for the shaman's descendants.) by spending many years (How long? Remember, we already know he's lived for at least 3 centuries, so make sure it seems long in that time frame.) tracking down the old shaman's descendants in hopes of reversing the curse. Where he meets Jenny Reed, a spunky, no-nonsense teenage girl who goes against the norm of what a shaman's supposed to be. (This sentence isn't formatted properly, and I think you lose another chance to give us detail. Is Jenny Reed one of the descendants? If so, doesn't this make his search a success?)

Struggling to convince the sharp-witted Jenny to help him, she eventually concedes (in exchange for a hefty price). (This one doesn't work either. You don't technically have a subject. Maybe you could begin this paragraph with something more like Lucca's finally found the descendant he's been looking for, but she's not interested in helping. She eventually concedes for a hefty price... Only to learn that the love of his life has been holding on to a secret so profound that it stands to thwart all of his efforts and keep them both trapped in the curse forever.

I agree with the others about the premise here. Sometimes, writing the query gets so technical that we forget the details pulling everything together. I hope my comments help!


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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 02:38:05 PM »

After a few more revisions, this is what I've come up with. Any help will be appreciated. Not sure about opening with second person and switching to third.


For eighteen-year-old Lucca de Moretti, being sold out by your people sucks, but what’s worse is when you’re sold out to a fate worse than death.

Three hundred years ago he killed a Shaman’s son during a surprise raid attack from a local war party. Claiming self-defense, the war party demanded his village hand over the person responsible for killing the shaman’s son or they would return the following evening and burn the rest of their village to the ground.

It didn’t take much of a debate, Lucca was handed over without a second thought. He only wished the war party would have killed him that day, ended his suffering then. But obviously, the Shaman had set aside craftier plans for his punishment. A curse that would bind him forever to this world while the love of his life died over and over again, so as a way to make Lucca feel the loss he had caused the Shaman. Retribution made physical

So every century Lucca’s love returns to him with a new name, a new family, and a new life. Completely unaware of the curse they’re trapped in. Joanna aka ‘Jo Choate’, his true loves latest incarnation thinks he’s just another teenage boy with a chip on his shoulder who has a bad habit of following her around.

She has no clue that the clock is ticking, that all her dreams are memories, and that the more she remembers the closer to death she becomes. That her memories are working like a disease. A virus meant to destroy her system from the inward out. She always dies three days shy of her eighteenth birthday when she finally remembers everything, all of the lives she’s ever lived and all the people she’s ever been.

But Lucca’s had enough. He no longer cares about breaking the curse or even saving himself. All he cares about is stealing away her memories and making the pain stop. However, Jo’s been keeping secrets. Secrets he’s been unaware of for over three centuries. Secrets that threatened to ruin his plan of saving Jo’s life entirely, and how is he supposed to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

Under a Tree Called Hope is a diverse 64,000-word YA fantasy...
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mgmystery
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2017, 08:10:00 AM »

I really like this premise! This version gives a much better description of your plot. My big worry (and I'm not exactly sure if this is a real problem) -- Is your first 3 paragraphs completely backstory? I've added some suggestions below to help you get to the present part of the story faster. Hopefully someone else will weigh in about the backstory issue. I can't really figure out a better way to word this query. I like it, though! Especially the ending  Smiley

For eighteen-year-old Lucca de Moretti, being sold out by your people sucks, but what’s worse is when you’re sold out to a and his fate is worse than death.

Three hundred years ago Lucca he killed a Shaman’s son during a surprise raid attack from a local war party. Claiming self-defense, the war party demanded his village hand over the person responsible for killing the shaman’s son or they would return the following evening and burn the rest of their village to the ground.

It didn’t take much of a debate, Lucca was handed over without a second thought. He only wished the war party would have killed him that day, ended his suffering then. But obviously, the Shaman crafted had set aside craftier plans for his punishment. A curse that would bind Lucca him forever to this world (comma)while the love of his life died over and over again, so as a way to make Lucca feel the loss he had caused the Shaman. Retribution made physical

So every century Lucca’s love returns to him with a new name, a new family, and a new life. Completely unaware of the curse they’re trapped in. Joanna aka ‘Jo Choate’, his true loves latest incarnation (comma) thinks he’s just another teenage boy with a chip on his shoulder who has a bad habit of following her around.

She has no clue that the clock is ticking, that all her dreams are memories, and that the more she remembers the closer to death she becomes. That her memories are working like a disease. A virus meant to destroy her system from the inward out. She always dies three days shy of her eighteenth birthday when she finally remembers everything, all of the lives she’s ever lived and all the people she’s ever been.

But Lucca’s had enough. He no longer cares about breaking the curse or even saving himself. All he cares about is stealing away her memories and making the pain stop. However, Jo’s been keeping secrets. Secrets he’s been unaware of for over three centuries. Secrets that threatened to ruin his plan of saving Jo’s life entirely, and how is he supposed to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?
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Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2017, 10:40:12 AM »

Thank you so much! Smiley

I've been really on the fence about the backstory being too much, but I also feel like its partially necessary to understanding how Lucca presently ended up in a curse, and why he's doing what he's doing. But your suggestions do help a lot. Thanks again.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 11:38:43 AM by Thewriterscoop » Logged
Thewriterscoop
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2017, 02:19:19 AM »

Oh wow, thanks Gobo for all the help.  Joanna is supposed to be Lakota, but I'm not quite sure how to get this across, especially since the query has been shortened exponentially.

Also, thanks for the heads up. I'm going to contemplate how or if I can move "Every century, Lucca’s love returns to him with a new name, a new family, and a new life," to the beginning and work my way backward.

Thanks again.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 02:23:32 AM by Thewriterscoop » Logged
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