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Author Topic: Brand new and need help **updated**...again  (Read 563 times)
raevan1111
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« on: July 17, 2017, 12:39:52 PM »

I have sent out this query to no success but now I have found this site and I see I have so much to learn. Here is what I have sent in the past. Any advice would be appreciated.

Dear (agent),

Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a 65,000 word YA fantasy novel that follows the adventures of sixteen-year old Cevan Tickle as he journeys through the mysterious world of Cy, confronting along the way deeply rooted discrimination, both overt and covert, with vast gray areas between. It is within these gray areas that secrets will be un-shadowed and a forgotten past will be discovered.
 
Discrimination?
 
Yes, because some have tails, and some do not.
 
Cy is a world of deep beauty. Four distinct seasons, orchestrated by the mysterious rhythms of Cy's suns, Orum and Crip, provide an endless cycle that anchors Cy to it's ancient past. Vast landscapes of gold and black ranges, light blue fields of grain, and purple flashberry patches, provide a vibrancy throughout this land that just offsets the dystopian reality of a world still connected to a time when death lurked in the soil itself. Just as vibrant are the people of Cy, the Cyteck and Cytesh. In antiquity they boasted brown, lean, muscular bodies, eyes of every color, all flecked with gold, and tails, magnificent, strong, hard-working tails. Then came Volta, a discovery that changed life in Cy forever. For all that was gained, so much was also lost.
 
Now, where this story begins, TailBears are the distinct minority and Cy is ruled by the tail-less Flatbacks. In the large cities of New Cy. TailBears, unkindly called Stubs, work only the bottom rung jobs, while in the countryside, they are slaves.
 
One such slave is our hero, sixteen-year old Cevan Tickle, and it is his journey we follow, from his backwater home in Ribb to the grand city of Tisco, into the taboo arms of a Flatback, to revolution, and, ultimately to the truth about his own golden tipped tail.
 
Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a story sure to be enjoyed by readers who want to be immersed in a new world filled with imagery and history. Rich in color and detail, Cy will come alive

« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 02:18:37 PM by raevan1111 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 01:27:00 PM »

OKay...

you have a couple things going on here that aren't adding up.   For me I've always been one that believes in starting with a Hook and leaving word counts and whatnot to the bottom of the query (you normally mention genre in your e-mail name anyways right?)  So I would have to say right away to move that to the bottom of the query

the question "Discrimination" followed up by the answer as it's presented here comes off as a bit gimmicky for me.   you could easily put this into the query with a single sentence about how people are judged on whether they have a tail or not and make it flow with the rest of the query.

And the rest of the query reads too much like a Synopsis for my tastes.

you have a really good premise underneath all this, but I'm afraid this query needs a lot of work.
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raevan1111
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 01:57:40 PM »

Thank you! I'm going to get to work!
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 02:43:23 PM »

For me it feels a little too world-building, with a lot of names that would confuse me and throw me off. I would think about boiling it down and simplifying it. Where your story starts is more or less where your query should start. All of the backstory can be left to the actual novel. I would jump right in with your MC (see, I've forgotten his name simply because there are so many odd names in your query) and his story. Cut the first few paragraphs and tell me about the conflict and stakes of your story.

Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 03:38:16 PM »

Your world sounds like a lot of fun. I'm a big advocate of more creative YA fantasy since so much of it is just "they're humans, but they have magic powers." But this query needs to be rearranged all over the place, I'm afraid. No matter how much world-building you do in the book, queries are all about plot. So you want to start with the protagonist--the second-to-last paragraph in this draft--and then follow what he needs to accomplish and what's at stake. The world-building generally fits in only to the extent that you need it to explain the plot.

(As someone who likes world-building a lot, I sympathize if this feels hella unfair. But ultimately, world-building exists to serve the story, not vice-versa.)

Dear (agent),

Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a 65,000 word YA fantasy novel that follows the adventures of sixteen-year old Cevan Tickle as he journeys through the mysterious world of Cy, confronting along the way deeply rooted discrimination, both overt and covert, with vast gray areas between. It is within these gray areas that secrets will be un-shadowed and a forgotten past will be discovered. This kind of language is too obtuse for a query. Either specify what's going to be discovered or don't say anything.
 
Discrimination?
 
Yes, because some have tails, and some do not. My first thought was "some what?"
 
Cy is a world of deep beauty. Four distinct seasons, What's so special about having four seasons? orchestrated by the mysterious rhythms of Cy's suns, Orum and Crip, provide an endless cycle that anchors Cy to it's ancient past. Vast landscapes of gold and black ranges, light blue fields of grain, and purple flashberry patches, provide a vibrancy throughout this land that just offsets the dystopian reality of a world still connected to a time when death lurked in the soil itself. All this is way more than we need. Save it for the book. And don't just say that the reality is dystopian. Just as vibrant are the people of Cy, the Cyteck and Cytesh. You introduce way too many terms that are never used again. In antiquity they boasted brown, lean, muscular bodies, eyes of every color, all flecked with gold, and tails, magnificent, strong, hard-working can a tail be hardworking? tails. Then came Volta, a discovery that changed life in Cy forever. For all that was gained, so much was also lost. Again, I have no idea what this means beyond "something happened."
 
Now, where this story begins, where the story begins is where the story should start TailBears are the distinct minority and Cy is ruled by the tail-less Flatbacks. We didn't really need any of that setup in the query. All we need is "the people with tails are a minority oppressed by the people without tails. In the large cities of New Cy. fragment TailBears, unkindly called Stubs, work only the bottom rung jobs, while in the countryside, they are slaves.
 
One such slave is our hero, sixteen-year old Cevan Tickle, and it is his journey we follow, from his backwater home in Ribb to the grand city of Tisco, I don't know these places, so mentioning them means nothing to me into the taboo arms of a Flatback, to revolution, and, ultimately to the truth about his own golden tipped tail. This last half-sentence rushes through what should be the meat of the story. I know Cevan is a slave, but I don't know what he wants or what he's trying to accomplish. Give us a narrative that shows a causal progression that demonstrates where the story is going.
 
Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a story sure to be enjoyed by readers who want to be immersed in a new world filled with imagery and history. Rich in color and detail, Cy will come alive You seem to be missing the end of the sentence, but more to the point, you can't say stuff like this in a query. Of course everyone thinks their story is rich and immersive and sure to be enjoyed. You've got to leave it up to the agent to draw that conclusion themselves.


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raevan1111
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 04:16:23 PM »

Thank you everyone! This all so helpful and appreciated. Here is my first revision based on your feedback.

Dear (agent),

Cevan Tickle hates Hermyer Ross with the seething hate only an angst ridden sixteen-year-old can possess. Hates him because he is his owner, his lord. Hates him even more because of the rumors, the rumors that Hermyer is in love with Cevan’s own mother.

As deep seeded as the loathing is, however, it is not enough for Cevan to refuse Hermyer’s offer of an apprenticeship in a ‘new’ city. The opportunity is too large, for few Stub slaves in the back country of Old Cy ever get to journey to the cities of New Cy. So, with hopes of buying himself and his mother free from their Flatback lord, Cevan accepts the offer.

What Cevan does not know is that he is entering a world where friction between a boy and his lord is but the tip of the iceberg in a world filled with those who have tails, and those who do not. The ancient wounds that harken back to Old Cy have festered for centuries, and, as revolution heads to the boil, it will be up to Cevan to makes amends within his own hate-filled heart and learn the truth about his own golden tipped tail in order to save Cy from the darkness that threatens to tear it apart. With the help of a Flatback he unexpectedly falls in love with, and a witch who shows them that Cy’s secrets are hidden inside the very fairy tales they grew up with, Cevan will need to stop a machine of destruction that was in motion before he ever even dreamed of leaving home. Stop it or watch all he has ever known and loved disappear forever.

Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a 65,000 word YA Fantasy sure to be enjoyed by readers who love entering new worlds rich in history.       
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 06:36:29 PM »

HUGE improvement! Great job! I'll give you some specific comments sometime when it's not a bajillion degrees out. *searches for a "sweat" emoji*
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raevan1111
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 06:48:40 PM »

Thank you! I'll look forward to that!
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mgmystery
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 07:41:42 AM »

Nice rewrite! I have some suggestions:

Cevan Tickle hates Hermyer Ross with the seething hate only an angst ridden sixteen-year-old can possess. (I like the hook! Teens are very much like this and it follows with good reasons instead of teen-type drama.) Hates him because he is his owner, his lord. Hates him even more because of the rumors, the rumors that Hermyer is in love with Cevan’s own mother.

As deep seeded as the loathing is, however, it is not enough for Cevan to refuse Hermyer’s offer of an apprenticeship in a ‘new’ city. The opportunity is too large, for few Stub slaves in the back country of Old Cy ever get to journey to the cities of New Cy. (This sentence seemed too wordy. I want to say Few Stub slaves ever get to journey to the new cities of Cy, but I'm not sure if there's an important reason for your "Old cities,
 new cities" phrasing.)
So, with hopes of buying himself and his mother free from their Flatback lord, Cevan accepts the offer.

What Cevan does not know is that he is entering a world where friction between a boy and his lord is but the tip of the iceberg in a world filled with those who have tails, and those who do not. The ancient wounds that harken back to Old Cy have festered for centuries, and, as revolution heads to the boil, it will be up to Cevan to makes amends within his own hate-filled heart and learn the truth about his own golden tipped tail in order to save Cy from the darkness that threatens to tear it apart. With the help of a Flatback he unexpectedly falls in love with, and a witch who shows them that Cy’s secrets are hidden inside the very fairy tales they grew up with, Cevan will need to stop a machine of destruction that was in motion before he ever even dreamed of leaving home. Stop it or watch all he has ever known and loved disappear forever. (This paragraph falls into a generic telling summary. You need to show what happens to Cevan when he enters the new city and be specific. I underlined some phrases that need to be clarified. Making those things more specific will help agents see what's unique about your story.)

Cevan Tickle and His Golden Tipped Tail is a 65,000 word YA Fantasy sure to be enjoyed by readers who love entering new worlds rich in history (This doesn't really tell us anything. Do you have any comp titles or authors that might be similar?).
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raevan1111
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 01:50:45 PM »

Wow, you are all so awesome.
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raevan1111
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2017, 02:18:05 PM »

Ok, more revisions based on feedback.

Cevan Tickle hates Hermyer Ross with the seething hate only an angst ridden sixteen-year-old can possess. Hates him because he is his owner, his lord. Hates him even more because of the rumors that Hermyer is in love with Cevan’s own mother.

As deep seeded as the loathing is, however, it is not enough for Cevan to refuse Hermyer’s offer of an apprenticeship in a new city. Few Stub slaves in the back country of Old Cy ever get to journey to the cities of New Cy. So, with hopes of buying himself and his mother free from their Flatback lord, Cevan accepts the offer.

What Cevan does not know is that he is entering a place where friction between a boy and his lord is but the tip of the iceberg in a world filled with those who have tails, and those who do not.  Oppression and loss has festered for centuries, and as a secret militant uprising of the oppressed threaten to bring a full on revolt, it will be up to Cevan to learn the truth about his own golden tipped tail in order to save Cy from being ripped apart by revolution. With the help of a Flatback he unexpectedly falls in love with, and a witch who shows them that Cy’s secrets are hidden inside the very fairy tales they grew up with, Cevan will need to stop the looming war, or watch Cy burn to ashes.

CEVAN TICKLE AND HIS GOLDEN TIPPED TAIL is a 65,000 word ya fantasy.

« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 03:55:58 PM by raevan1111 » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2017, 04:17:44 PM »

Hi Raevan,

Here are some thoughts. I meant everything with love, so that being said, here's an internet hug.  Hug Good luck!


Ok, more revisions based on feedback.

Cevan Tickle hates Hermyer Ross with the seething hate only an angst ridden sixteen-year-old can possess. I agree with Gobbo here. Not too crazy about this hook. "with the seething hate only an angst ridden..." is awkward to me. And I'd rather have this showed in the pages. Hates him because he is his owner, his lord. Hates him even more because of the rumors that Hermyer is in love with Cevan’s own mother.

I am not sure the query needs to start here. I would start the query with your MC and what your MC wants. Not who he hates. (This is only IMHO, so feel free to disgard if it doesn't match up with your vision for the novel).

As deep seeded as the loathing is, however, Echoing Gobbo here. it is not enough for Cevan to refuse Hermyer’s offer of an apprenticeship in a new city.What does the apprenticeship entitle? How badly does your MC want this apprenticeship? He does if he accepts it. Perhaps make this a little stronger. Few Stub slaves in the back country of Old Cy ever get to journey to the cities of New Cy. So, with hopes of buying himself and his mother free from their Flatback lord, Cevan accepts the offer.

What Cevan does not know is that he is entering a place where friction between a boy and his lord is but the tip of the iceberg in a world filled with those who have tails, and those who do not. This was a very long, awkward phrase. I'm a bit confused. It's also a hunk of telling, followed by another hunk of telling. Oppression and loss has festered for centuries, and as a secret militant uprising of the oppressed threaten to bring a full on revolt it, will be up to Cevan to learn the truth about his own golden tipped tail in order to save Cy from being ripped apart by revolution. With the help of a Flatback he unexpectedly falls in love with, and a witch who shows them that Cy’s secrets are hidden inside the very fairy tales they grew up with, Cevan will need to stop the looming war, or watch Cy burn to ashes. I am extremely confused. I did not follow this at all.

CEVAN TICKLE AND HIS GOLDEN TIPPED TAIL is a 65,000 word ya fantasy.



Okay, so I tossed in some line tweaks and edits, but I really couldn't critique in-depth because I wasn't sure what was going on. You have a lot of telling--a lot of backstory, a lot of things that didn't flow. You have interesting elements in this query, but it's loaded down with unnecessary detail. Fleshing those important bits out will make for a well-rounded, concise query. In all honestly, I would scrap and rewrite a big ol' chunk of it. If you decide to do this, I'd bet we'd be happy to help.

So let's look at the big picture, and start at the beginning. Start the query off with your protagonist.

Who is the main character?
What does he want?
What is keeping him from getting what he wants?
What must he sacrifice to get what he wants?

Start with those, and flesh out some of the interesting bits from your query.

« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 05:18:41 PM by Dani Donegan (Cradle) » Logged



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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2017, 04:37:14 PM »

deep-seated
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2017, 07:27:05 AM »

Yep! We'll be happy to help with a fresh query  Smiley
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