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Author Topic: Query: Echoes in the Fire (Fantasy Adventure) Revised  (Read 385 times)
Alrune
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« on: August 12, 2017, 10:46:29 PM »

This is my first time sharing a Query. I've changed it and rewritten it so many times. Don't hold back, please.

Hello (Agent),
(A few sentences about how I found them and why I'm approaching them.)

Echoes in the Fire  by [me] (Fantasy/Adventure)

Rain is a hybrid, a freak to most people. She tries to keep her head down, but often finds trouble because she’s fiercely loyal to her few friends and refuses to let herself feel helpless.

War comes to the gates of her home. A battle between the King of Dawnwatch and the fabled Yaserogal, a ruler of pirates who Rain thought only existed in old stories. Rain tries to save people, but is swept up and inadvertently inherits the King’s unique and powerful magic. It is forbidden for citizens to have magic, so Rain is offered a choice: Remove the magic, and likely die in the process, or spend a year in the service of the young and proud Prince Jaris, and prove herself worthy of bearing it.

But Rain doesn’t know if she likes or even trusts the Prince. He’s obsessed with avenging his father and even more brash than she is. Together, they uncover the plot of the Yaserogal and his shadow army meaning to conquer Dawnwatch, and Rain’s need to help her friends puts her on a collision course with forces more vicious than she’s prepared to face.



OLD VERSION
Ember, the second moon of the planet Ilo – a vibrant fantasy world with eight races of people so strikingly diverse, they are hard to distinguish as the same species. It is the home of Dawnwatch, a nation ruled by an immortal Queen for more than a thousand years.

Rain is a hybrid, a rarity in a society where race is almost everything. When a bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war, Rain watches with her only friend, Dez. Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city, and in a moment when she refuses to feel helpless, she plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic.

On Ember, what the people call magic is really a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand it’s nature and purpose, and even fewer are strong enough to control it. Rain becomes host to a unique and formidable kind of magic. Her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the Queen's heir, the young and proud Prince Jaris. They are joined by the Prince’s nearly mute, but zealous and capable bodyguard Sheval, and a charismatic exile and slightly mad inventor known as ‘The Engineer’.

Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the fabled King of Pirates, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within.

This is the beginning of Rain’s story – about a girl who thought she would never belong – and how she becomes one of the most feared and respected legends in the Records of Ember.


Echoes in the Fire is a complete epic in 185,000 words, but the first of a proposed trilogy called The War of the Forgotten Prince.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 05:44:36 PM by Alrune » Logged
gckatz
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 12:27:43 AM »

A 750-page debut. Yowza. Even GRR managed to restrict himself to 694.

As for the query, I always feel like a dick when I say this, but this is a do-over. All the world-building is unnecessary, there are too many characters (the usual limit is 3), and we're missing the key information a query needs: What Rain wants, what she needs to do in order to get it, and what will happen if she doesn't. Start at "Rain is a hybrid" and go from there.
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Alrune
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2017, 05:48:29 PM »

Thank you for the feedback!
The length is an issue. A lot of people are going to walk away just at a glance of the word count. There are possible ways I can break it up, but where it stands, this is what it is. I remind myself that it worked for Rothfuss, but he is an anomaly.

Here's a variation based on the notes.

Echoes in the Fire  by Liam Lund

Rain is a hybrid, a rarity in a society where race is almost everything. A bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war. Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city, and in a moment when she refuses to feel helpless, she plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic.

On Ember, what the people call magic is really a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand it’s nature and purpose, and even fewer are strong enough to control it. Rain becomes host to a unique and formidable kind of magic. Rain wants to find her way home, but her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the young and proud Prince Jaris, the son of the immortal Queen of Dawnwatch.

Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the fabled King of Pirates, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within.

Rain must decide: If she is destined to be an outcast, is home even worth fighting for?

This is the beginning of Rain’s story – about a girl who thought she would never belong – and how she becomes one of the most feared and respected legends in the records of her world.

Echoes in the Fire is a complete epic in 185,000 words, but the first of a proposed trilogy called The War of the Forgotten Prince.


Thanks again.
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enveniya
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2017, 06:02:48 PM »

This is my first time sharing a Query. I've changed it and rewritten it so many times. Don't hold back, please.

Hello (Agent),
(A few sentences about how I found them and why I'm approaching them.)

Echoes in the Fire  by [me] (Fantasy/Adventure) The meta description in the last sentence of the query is stronger than this one. No need to repeat information.

Ember, the second moon of the planet Ilo – a vibrant fantasy world with eight races of people so strikingly diverse, they are hard to distinguish as the same species. It is the home of Dawnwatch, a nation ruled by an immortal Queen for more than a thousand years. This is backstory and unnecessary in the query. I agree with gckatz, start with what Rain is and what her goals are.

Rain is a hybrid, a rarity in a society where race is almost everything Does this make her special? Feared? Hated? Her hybrid nature doesn't seem to factor in the rest of the query.. When a bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war, Rain watches with her only friend, Dez . Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city, and in a moment when she refuses to feel helpless, she Rain plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic. "Rain watches" makes her sound passive. If she's not actively doing anything, it doesn't help advance the plot, which is why I cut it out. The sentence could be stronger with why Rain chooses to participate in the war.

On Ember, what the people call magic is really a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand it’s nature and purpose, and even fewer are strong enough to control it. Backstory. Rain becomes host to a unique and formidable kind of magic Because of her hybrid nature? How does she receive this magic?. Her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the Queen's heir, the young and proud Prince Jaris. They are joined by the Prince’s nearly mute, but zealous and capable bodyguard Sheval, and a charismatic exile and slightly mad inventor known as ‘The Engineer’.

Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the fabled King of Pirates, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within.


This entire bit has a bit of a structural issue. The sentence of her friends tagging along put a pause in the momentum of moving Rain's goals forward in the query. Save for Jaris, the additional characters don't reoccur again in the rest of the query. The second paragraph reads like Rain and friends journey from place to place, solving problems as they crop up, and don't have an overarching goal in mind. It felt like the plot that should have been sprinkled throughout the query got jam packed into two sentences at the end, giving me no information as to why Rain wants to solve all these problems.

I would recommend rewriting this bit to frame this: What does Rain want, what prevents her from getting it, and what are the stakes if she doesn't succeed.


This is the beginning of Rain’s story – about a girl who thought she would never belong This explanation of Rain not belonging should be introduced earlier. Is this linked to her being a hybrid?– and how she becomes one of the most feared and respected legends in the Records of Ember.

Echoes in the Fire is a complete epic fantasy novel in 185,000 words. It is the but the first of a proposed trilogy called The War of the Forgotten Prince but can also function as a standalone novel. 185k words and part of a trilogy is a bit of a difficult sell. If the book works as a standalone, mention it.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


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Tigerbunny
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The War in Serendipity


« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2017, 06:30:57 PM »

Hi and Karma!  GCKatz is correct and while I don't want to write this for you, think of it this way:

Rain's dilemma or goal: Rain is a rare hybrid (is she an outcast?) on a world where race is everything.  When confronted with the onset of war -- a war not of her own making she leaves the safety of her home to navigate through the poison forests and haunted deserts of Ember only to become host to a unique and formidable kind of "magic" -- a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand its purpose.  Her struggle for survival, though, leads her to become the sworn sister of the young and proud Prince Jaris, the son of the immortal Queen of Dawnwatch.

What does she need? Rain wants to find her way home, but first she must Huh??? (Does she need to escape them?)

Conflict if things don't go as planned:  Hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember she must uncover the truth behind the war and decide if home is even worth fighting for. 


Try to keep this at three simple paragraphs with only the basics in mind.  No world building, no extraneous information.  Just the facts.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 06:35:18 PM by Tigerbunny » Logged
Alrune
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2017, 12:41:42 AM »

It is really hard to get rid of the world-building. But, you're all probably right, it's not the important part to make someone care to turn the page.

enveniya, your notes were thoughtful and useful, but they were edits of the first version and not the one I tweaked. I think most of those are represented and would love to see your thoughts on the newer one.

Tigerbunny, thank you. I'm working on incorporating some of your ideas.
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enveniya
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2017, 10:22:07 AM »

A few of my comments still stand. I'm sorry to say that this isn't a strong query and doesn't do service to the plot that you've written. I'd recommend rewriting this query from the ground up, like gckatz said, and reframe your query to what a few people have mentioned before: what does Rain want, what stands in her way and what are the stakes.

Thank you for the feedback!
The length is an issue. A lot of people are going to walk away just at a glance of the word count. There are possible ways I can break it up, but where it stands, this is what it is. I remind myself that it worked for Rothfuss, but he is an anomaly.

Rothfuss was already a pretty accomplished writer before he wrote Name of the Wind, which was why he was able to get away with what he did. IIRC he won a bunch of awards for some fantasy short stories before writing the novel.

Here's a variation based on the notes.

Echoes in the Fire  by Liam Lund


Rain is a hybrid, a rarity in a society where race is almost everything Is she an outcast or accepted in society?. A bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war who's starting this war?. Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city, and in a moment when she refuses to feel helpless, she plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic. This is vague. Why doesn't she want to feel helpless? Is it her nature to help people? Who is in danger, and why does she want to help them? Is Rain the one being dutiful in the "duty" bit? Is she obligated to protect her town? Why?

On Ember, what the people call magic is really a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand it’s nature and purpose, and even fewer are strong enough to control it. Rain becomes host to a unique and formidable kind of magic The magic bit doesn't factor in the rest of the query. How does this change Rain? Are there consequences to this magic?. Rain wants to find her way home she was in her small city in the previous paragraph. Now she's outside?, but her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the young and proud Prince Jaris, the son of the immortal Queen of Dawnwatch. There is too much focus on Rain befriending Jaris than her struggle for survival. Specifics on her struggle will be more alluring than who she makes friends with. Making friends don't lead to drama.

Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the fabled King of Pirates, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within. My previous comments still apply here.

Rain must decide: If she is destined to be an outcast, is home even worth fighting for? Rhetorical questions aren't advisable. Most agents don't like them. This decision should be clear in the previous paragraphs of the query and restated again with clear stakes - there is no indication that Rain is an outcast (I suspect it's because she's a hybrid but the query didn't make it clear) and why she feels so emotionally tied to her home even though they don't like her. If she doesn't save her home, what happens? It sounds like she can just run away.

This is the beginning of Rain’s story – about a girl who thought she would never belong – and how she becomes one of the most feared and respected legends in the records of her world.

Echoes in the Fire is a complete epic in 185,000 words, but the first of a proposed trilogy called The War of the Forgotten Prince.


Thanks again.

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gckatz
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2017, 12:40:41 PM »

As far as I can tell, Rain's motivation is trying to find her way home...but she left home of her own accord immediately in the previous paragraph, and there's no mention of any obstacle that would keep her from going home. Later there's the bit about her being an outcast and whether home is worth fighting for...but you never established that she was an outcast at home, or that anything has changed that would make her feel differently about her home than she did in the previous paragraph.

One of the reasons this query needs to be rewritten, not just trimmed, is that there's no real causality. Each sentence seems unrelated to the previous one. She's a hybrid. Then there's a war. Then she learns magic. Then Prince Jaris. What we want is a very sharp causality: The first sentence, therefore the second sentence, therefore the third sentence, each one following logically from the previous one.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2017, 01:30:34 PM »

Fantasy isn't one of my best genres, so forgive me if I make comments on things that are different for fantasy. Sorry for repeating it, but it would be worth your while to try to trim the word count. You don't want to scare agents away before they get a chance to fall in love with the story.

Rain is a hybrid, a rarity in a society where race is almost everything. When war comes too close to the gates of her small city, Rain A bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war. Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city, and in a moment when she refuses to feel helpless, (Period) she plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic. (Is the war about magic?)

On Ember, what the people call magic is really a technology so ancient and advanced, few remain who understand it’s (no apostrophe)nature and purpose, and even fewer are strong enough to control it. Rain becomes host to a unique and formidable kind of magic. Rain wants to find her way home, but her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the young and proud Prince Jaris, the son of the immortal Queen of Dawnwatch.

Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the fabled King of Pirates, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within. (I think this is the meat of your story. Here's where we need detail. Did the king's death begin the adventure? If he's a prince, shouldn't there be servants or some type of army to do this? Did they have to sneak away?)

Rain must decide: If she is destined to be an outcast, is home even worth fighting for? (This doesn't seem to fit. if there's a reason for her to want to return home, we need to know it. If not, the stakes lie in her surviving in this new life she's created.)

This is the beginning of Rain’s story – about a girl who thought she would never belong – and how she becomes one of the most feared and respected legends in the records of her world.
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Alrune
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2017, 09:47:42 PM »

Alright. Thank you everyone for the notes. I'm moving some things around to see how they feel, while restructuring it to faze out all the world-building to focus on Rain and clarify her conflict. I hope I'm moving closer, but you'll be the judge.
Revision:

Rain is a hybrid, a freak in a society where race is crucial. The citizens of her small city consider her a troublemaker, because she refuses to feel helpless. When a bright light appears in the morning sky, signaling the coming of war, Rain doesn’t know the war will come to the gates of her small city. With a single rash decision, Rain plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic.

On the battlefield, Rain is swept up between the King of Dawnwatch and the fabled Yaserogal, a ruler of pirates who Rain thought only existed in old stories. Rain inherits the King’s power, a unique and formidable kind of magic.

Her struggle for survival leads her to becoming the sworn sister of the young and proud Prince Jaris. Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas. They must learn to trust each other as they are hunted by mercenaries, assassins, and the terrifying creatures that own the wilds of Ember – all to uncover the plot of the Pirate King, the murderer of Jaris’ father, and the leader of a shadow army that means to conquer Dawnwatch from within.

Rain seeks a way to rid herself of the magic, clinging to her hopes of one day having something resembling a normal life, but every step takes her further from home. Every choice brings her closer to becoming one of the most feared and respected legends in the records of her world.

Echoes in the Fire is a fantasy novel in 185,000 words. The story stands on its own, but is also the first of a proposed trilogy called The War of the Forgotten Prince.
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samcantcook
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 09:40:27 AM »

Alrune,

I must also advise to rewrite this. But AFTER you browse the successful queries thread here and look at Query Shark. Queries are just so different from novels that you have to submerge yourself in other, good queries to get the right mindset. Right now, any revision, reshaping, rearranging of this will still be, in essence, a summary query, which just doesn't work. A good query is almost always about the central character and the conflict. Currently, your query is too focused on world building and the broad strokes that tell us nothing.

It lacks specificity. So focus on the conflict, how it affects your central character, and the action your hero must take. Develop your query around that. Proactive protagonist = good. Reactive protagonist = meh.

Examples of broad, telling sentences that do not contribute to the query:

Quote
Rain plunges herself into a world of danger, duty, and forbidden magic.

Too broad. Tells us nothing. What makes the world dangerous as it applies to your protagonist alone?

Quote
Her struggle for survival.

We don't really understand what she's surviving from. You just told us she inherited power...and now she's struggling for survival. That's not a logical progression, as Gckatz has pointed out. The causality of events reads completely random to us who do not know the story.

Quote
Their adventure takes them through poison forests, the streets of a burning city, across haunted deserts, and over the treacherous seas.

This line is useless because it's just checking off landscapes that we will see in the book. It doesn't build conflict, advance the plot, or tell us anything about Rain. It simply tells us this will be an adventure story.

Try focusing on a singular event in which your protagonist's life changes. Flesh out that singular instance. Leave out the broad brush strokes. My three cents and a nickle.
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Alrune
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2017, 01:26:41 AM »

Thank you, samcantcook, and everybody. Here is a different direction:

"Rain is a hybrid, a freak to most people. She tries to keep her head down, but often finds trouble because she’s fiercely loyal to her few friends and refuses to let herself feel helpless.

War comes to the gates of her home. A battle between the King of Dawnwatch and the fabled Yaserogal, a ruler of pirates who Rain thought only existed in old stories. Rain tries to save people, but is swept up and inadvertently inherits the King’s unique and powerful magic. It is forbidden for citizens to have magic, so Rain is offered a choice: Remove the magic, and likely die in the process, or spend a year in the service of the young and proud Prince Jaris, and prove herself worthy of bearing it.

But Rain doesn’t know if she likes or even trusts the Prince. He’s obsessed with avenging his father and even more brash than she is. Together, they uncover the plot of the Yaserogal and his shadow army meaning to conquer Dawnwatch, and Rain’s need to help her friends puts her on a collision course with forces more vicious than she’s prepared to face."

I'm loving the honesty. Bring it on.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 08:23:29 AM »

I think you're really going in the right direction here! I'd like to see more specifics across the whole query. It will show agents what's unique about your story.

1. Explain hybrid- half human, half something else?
2. What does Rain do to save people?
3. How does she get the magic?
4. What kind of powers does she have now?
5. Can you tell us what the vicious forces are without giving away too much?

I'm not asking you to change the query, just tuck this information into what you already have.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 11:19:03 AM »

I think you may want to consider how you transition from who the opening- who Rain is- to there being a war, it seems like a leep as is.

Rain is a freak to most people, but to her few friends she is fiercely loyal. She tries to keep her head down, but ..... then transition to the war, how its a set back for her, but her loyalty won't let her not fight.

This would give the reader some context and deepen the conflict, if I'm reading it correctly she would rather not be involved in a war but her loyalty drives her to that, and leaves her in a position to make a life or death decision.

One more note- her conflict leaves her with the choice of dying or spending a year in the service of this prince. Those are choices which seem to affect only her, but we open with her being positioned as a person who fights to save others. Is there anyway to tie to her conflict to others being harmed? It seems as a selfless person that would motivate her.
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enveniya
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« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 04:27:03 PM »

I think this is much better and on the right track.

Thank you, samcantcook, and everybody. Here is a different direction:

"Rain is a hybrid, a freak to most people. She tries to keep her head down, but often finds trouble because she’s fiercely loyal to her few friends and refuses to let herself feel helpless. I don't like the "refuses to let herself feel helpless" sentence. Her loyalty getting her into trouble already shows her self sacrificing nature. "Letting herself" removes me from being in Rain's head.

War comes to the gates of her home. A battle between the King of Dawnwatch and the fabled Yaserogal, a ruler of pirates who Rain thought only existed in old stories. Rain tries to save people her friends, but is swept up and inadvertently inherits the King’s unique and powerful magic. It is forbidden for citizens to have magic, so Rain is offered a choice: Remove the magic, and likely die in the process, or spend a year in the service of the young and proud Prince Jaris, and prove herself worthy of bearing it. Is there a way to bring her hybrid nature back into this? Does Jaris discriminate against her, which sows more distrust between them? Her hybrid nature is mentioned once but doesn't surface as a problem again in the rest of the query.

But Rain doesn’t know if she likes or even trusts the Prince. He’s obsessed with avenging his father and even more brash than she is. Together, they uncover the plot of the Yaserogal and his shadow army meaning to conquer Dawnwatch, This doesn't seem like a big twist, since you already mentioned the pirates already attacking Dawnwatch in your second paragraph. Does Rain uncover something darker or deeper in the pirates' need to conquer Dawnwatch? and Rain’s need to help her friends puts her on a collision course with forces more vicious than she’s prepared to face." You've illustrated her selflessness here well, but the "forces" bit are too vague to establish any proper stakes. If she doesn't help her friends, then what happens? Will Dawnwatch fall without her help?



I'm loving the honesty. Bring it on.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 04:29:21 PM by enveniya » Logged
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