Author Topic: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy  (Read 431 times)

Offline serenawinter

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The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« on: January 08, 2020, 08:43:34 PM »
A few months back, I posted my original query and received wonderful help on it! Here is the first version which include edits from this community:

Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who has been told three things all her life: never show emotions, never befriend other signs, and never fall in love. In a Zodiac-based world where Scorparians are the most-loathed tribe, she couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code—until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Forced to work together after a magical attack, Akira and the siblings break a law punishable by death. They flee their home into an unexplored land under the illusion that they will be safe.

During the journey, Akira is visited in her dreams by an enigmatic man who brings warning of a test. She and the group are forced into a series of five trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a dark magic that only seems to grow in strength. They must learn to mesh their magical talents and contrasting personalities together as each trial becomes more perilous—or die.

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is an 77,000-word young adult high fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. I am a writer and musician of jazz and concert styles. In my free time, I play the saxophone and have visited various venues around my city in a big-band jazz group.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

S.W. Winter

Here is the current version, revised to represent the book better and increase the sense of stakes. I would love any feedback to further improve the query letter to my best ability.

Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based kingdom, and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death which restricts her from forming bonds with other signs—until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land.

During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of five trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grow in strength. Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign—she is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic.

As each trial becomes more perilous, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it in order to resist the darkening forces. She realizes with her magic she can change the Code and stigma around her people—but only after risking her newfound friendships, and ultimately, her life.

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is an 77,000-word young adult high fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As a big-band jazz instrumentalist and writer, I hope you'll find my characters carry the same vibrancy and diversity of the notes and music they are inspired by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

S.W. Winter

Thank you for any and all help!

Offline Cobalt_Caster

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2020, 09:17:02 PM »
I think you focus too much on the plot and less on Akira. For YA queries agents are particularly keen on getting an idea of the protagonist's emotions and character development. I think you should definitely emphasize that more than the plot because the plot comes off as frankly a bit generic.

You might want to get into the signs a bit more than the magic, because you make it sound like the signs are more significant than simply being birthdates. Changing someone's sign in reality means forging a new birth certificate; the impact of what it means to change her sister's sign needs to be explained or it doesn't mean very much. And you might want to go into what being a Scorpio really means, since discriminating people just for being born late October through mid November comes off as a bit silly.

Offline serenawinter

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2020, 10:19:45 PM »
Thank you for your response, Cobalt_Caster! I appreciate the feedback.

It is a YA high fantasy about a world based off zodiac signs; signs are more significant than simply being birth dates. I tried to emphasize that when referencing that both changing a person's sign would change their fate and magic and that the world was based off zodiac signs. It is not contemporary YA and set in a different world than ours. I am a bit concerned that going more into what being a Scorpio means could cause the synopsis to derail and go into explaining world building instead of introducing the concept and protagonist.

Here's the query tweaked a little to try to make that more clear. I also tried to incorporate some personality while also explaining the stigma around her sign.


Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based kingdom, and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. In fact, heartless, emotionless, and cold are the last words she’d call herself. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death which restricts her from forming bonds with other signs—until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land.

During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of five trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grow in strength. To her dismay, Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign—she is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic.

As each trial becomes more perilous, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it in order to resist the darkening forces. She realizes with her magic she can change the Code and stigma around her people—but only after risking her newfound friendships, and ultimately, her life.

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is an 77,000-word young adult high fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As a big-band jazz instrumentalist and writer, I hope you'll find my characters carry the same vibrancy and diversity of the notes and music they are inspired by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

S.W. Winter
« Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 10:41:21 PM by serenawinter »

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 01:25:12 PM »

Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based kingdom world(?), and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. In fact, heartless, emotionless, and cold are the last words she’d call herself. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death which restricts her from forming bonds with other signs— [I think this could be worded better.] until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land. [I think you should briefly introduce the magic involved with being a Scoprio at the very least. Otherwise, this comes off more as a dystopian than a fantasy to me.]

During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of five trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grow in strength. To her dismay, Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign—she is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic. [Given what you have revealed about this world, it's not clear why Akira would be upset about this newfound power. Sure, it's "banished" magic, but they're already on the run anyway, so I struggle to see why she wouldn't be happy to have this ability to bring her people and her friends together.]

As each trial becomes more perilous, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it in order to resist the darkening forces. [I don't see the connection between the two. Why must she know why she possesses it? Why would she have to contain it? I don't understand its connection to "the darkening forces" (which is also a vague term).] She realizes with her magic she can change the Code and stigma around her people—but only after risking her newfound friendships, and ultimately, her life.[I'm confused at how/why she would have to risk her newfound friendships. I'm also confused at why she'd have to risk her life. I think you need to better explain the cost of magic that comes with being a Zodiac Turner.]

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is an 77,000-word young adult high fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As a big-band jazz instrumentalist and writer, I hope you'll find my characters carry the same vibrancy and diversity of the notes and music they are inspired by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

S.W. Winter


I know you don't want to get bogged down in too many details. But right now, your query letter is too vague in terms of how the magic system works, and it left me with more questions than answers. You don't need to share everything with us, but you need to make it clear enough to where we understand what's at stake for your main character.

Especially since you call this a "high fantasy" (I personally don't see the benefit of you labeling it that as opposed to a regular fantasy). Right now, I'm not getting enough of the fantastical aspects to fully believe it is solidly fantasy.

I can tell you're dedicated to this story; I remember reading your original query in the past. But I think right now, your query letter isn't doing your story justice.

Hope my comments helps! Good luck! :)

Offline serenawinter

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2020, 05:44:46 PM »
Thank you so much for your feedback, Tigerash! :) I hope you're doing well! Here's some changes I've made based on your suggestions - added some more information about the world's magic and stakes with Akira's magic. Now that I think of it, it definitely could be labeled as dystopian fantasy more than high fantasy.


Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based world, and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. In fact, heartless, emotionless, and cold are the last words she’d call herself. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death restricting her from forming bonds with other signs—until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land.

During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grow in strength. To her dismay, Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign—she is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic. In a world where each person has a magic, Zodiac Turning is loathed and feared by all of the land. With her lack of control and knowledge over the magic, she could accidentally change the identity of anyone around her, for good.

As each trial makes it easier for her magic to slip, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it before she destroys a friend’s identity in the midst of peril. She realizes she can change the Code and stigma around her people with the reveal of her magic—but only after returning to her kingdom, and ultimately, risking her newfound friendships and life.

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is a 77,000-word young adult fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As a big-band jazz instrumentalist and writer, I hope you'll find my characters carry the same vibrancy and diversity of the notes and music they are inspired by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

S.W. Winter

Offline night

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 01:55:10 AM »
Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based kingdom, and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death which restricts her from forming bonds with other signs—until the day she meets three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land.

How has she broken the code? Does she become friends with the 3 sibblings? Did she help them in some way? Did people accidentally mistaken she's friends with them?

You also suddenly throw in her sister into the pargraph from out now nowhere. Did she break the code too, or is she merely following her sister because she wants to help her?



During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of five trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grow in strength.

Why are they suddenly thrown into a five trials? What are the trials? Who is trying to thart them? I assume this is where the antagonist or enemy comes in. "Fueled by a mysterious dark magic that only seems to grown in strength" doesn't tell me anything. Needs to be more specific.


Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign—she is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic.

This sentence is a bit too long and doesn't flow well imo. perhaps have a peroid after 'sign.' then reword the next sentence



As each trial becomes more perilous, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it in order to resist the darkening forces.

Again with the darkening forces. Need to be more specific. Who is the antagonist? or Who is the enemy? Or who is trying to thart her? What does the enemy want?

She realizes with her magic she can change the Code and stigma around her people—but only after risking her newfound friendships, and ultimately, her life.

I see death is the stakes here, but your query doesn't lead me to believe her life is in danger. I don't feel the sense of danger in your story.


On another note, your magic system sounds original. Also, I like the twist in power you mentioned that the protagonist has. It makes her stand out, and I don't think it would necessarily make her overpowered as long as there are some limitations. I have seen a story where a person can use zodiac signs/constellations as powers, but that was just one character and her power. Concentrating a whole book on a zodiac magic system/theme would totally be something I would want to read (as long as it doesn't have a love triangle, or brainlessly trying to pair characters up with each other for the sake or pairing them up with each other. I prefer to read a novel with the plot concentrating on the magic, culture, fantasy, and lore of the world in the novel).



« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 10:43:14 AM by night »

Offline serenawinter

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Re: The Zodiac Turner: Age of Scorpius (Revision 2) - YA Fantasy
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2020, 10:33:08 AM »
Thank you for your feedback, Night! Tweaked just a couple of words and phrases to make things clearer based on your questions. Thank you for the compliments - I'm not a fan of love triangles myself, either, haha. Here's the updated query. Hopefully the query isn't getting too long, which was a concern of mine before, but it's still under a page.

Dear [Agent’s Name],

Akira Spring is a sixteen-year-old Scorpio who lives in a Zodiac-based world, and she is very tired of the stigma around her sign. In fact, heartless, emotionless, and cold are the last words she’d call herself. She couldn’t fathom breaking the Scorpio Code, a law punishable by death restricting her from forming bonds with other signs—until the day she befriends three siblings, all of different signs. Knowing she has broken the Code, she, her sister, and the siblings flee the kingdom into an unexplored land.

During the journey, Akira and the group are forced into a series of trials they cannot resist nor predict, fueled by a mysterious dark curse upon the land that only seems to grow in strength. To her dismay, Akira discovers she wields an ancient and banished magic after accidentally changing her sister’s sign. She is a Zodiac Turner, enabling her to shift a person’s fate and magic. In a world where each person has a magic, Zodiac Turning is loathed and feared by all of the land. With her lack of control and knowledge over the magic, she could accidently change the identity of anyone around her—for good.

As each trial becomes increasingly dangerous and makes it easier for her magic to slip, Akira must discover why she possesses the ancient magic and how to contain it before she destroys a friend’s identity in the midst of peril. She realizes she can change the Code and stigma around her people with the reveal of her magic—but only after returning to her kingdom, and ultimately, risking her newfound friendships and life.

THE ZODIAC TURNER: AGE OF SCORPIUS is a 77,000-word young adult high fantasy with series potential. It will appeal to fans of Furyborn by Claire Legrand and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As a big-band jazz instrumentalist and writer, I hope you'll find my characters carry the same vibrancy and diversity of the notes and music they are inspired by.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

S.W. Winter
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 10:35:07 AM by serenawinter »