Author Topic: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy  (Read 95 times)

Offline Christopher G Brenning

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The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« on: November 16, 2020, 09:32:38 PM »
Since my first five pages and first chapter are on here, I might as well post the query! I appreciate any feedback. (I excluded my contact info, naturally.)

______________________________________________________

Dear [Agent],

After the devastating massacre of his people, Damien Dreadfire leads a patchwork army of unlikely allies against the treacherous Kingdom of Betanthia. The alliance, forged between the wildmen of the West and his more civilized kin from the North, teeters on the edge of a knife, as old rivalries threaten to tear it apart from the inside. With the help of his trusted friend, Einarr, and a strange mystic, Damien launches a bold offensive that will decide the future of the free lands, now and forever. Short on time, and even shorter on men, the fate of a once vibrant culture and its people lies solely in his hands.

Meanwhile, Betanthia's crown prince, Gareth Bethard, faces dangers of his own. With his family coming apart at the seams and a growing conspiracy afoot, he tries desperately to hold everything together. Even as Gareth grapples with inner demons, he must learn to take up his father's mantle as the protector of civilization. It's only the fate of a thousand-year dynasty resting on his shoulders, after all.

THE HELLBORN KING: a story of a kingdom at war, and a ruling family at war with itself. The events are viewed through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict. It's an adult epic fantasy novel at 205,000 words, with series potential. It will appeal to fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.

I've been writing in online freeform RPG communities for seventeen years and have built many worlds and casts of characters along the way. When I'm not creating new worlds, I enjoy traveling and doing anything outdoors and have a passion for action movies, and metal music.

Regards,

[redacted for privacy]
(writing as Christopher G. Brenning)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 09:44:43 PM by Christopher G Brenning »

Offline MKWrites_318

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2020, 07:55:27 AM »
Quote
After the devastating massacre known as the Bloodbath at Borjifa, vengeful warlord Damien Dreadfire leads a patchwork army of unlikely allies against the Kingdom of Betanthia. The alliance, forged between the wildmen of the West and the more civilized tribes of the North, teeters on the edge of a knife, as old rivalries threaten to tear it apart from the inside.

Betanthian Madelyn Everly senses that the war with the barbarians could spell the end of the world as she knows it. At the behest of her military order, she searches for answers at the far edge of the world— and to her dismay, she finds what she's looking for.

Meanwhile, Betanthia's crown prince, Gareth Bethard, suspects that he will never inherit the throne. With his family coming apart at the seams and a growing conspiracy afoot, he tries desperately to hold everything together. Even as Gareth grapples with inner demons, he must learn to take up his father's mantle as the protector of civilization. It's only the fate of a thousand-year dynasty resting on his shoulders, after all.

His sister Lucetta, however, has plans of her own.

I think your pitch is well-written, and I get a solid sense that this a medieval-inspired story, but I'm not getting any fantasy vibes from it. If there's magic, creatures, etc., you might want to mention that. I love multi-POV stories, but they're so hard to write queries for. There are conflicting opinions on showing more than one POV in a query. If you struggle with get anyone to bite, it might be because you've mentioned too many people and need to cut it to one or two. For me, and this is just my take, I feel like, because I'm seeing what everyone is going through, I don't have a strong sense of the overall stakes of your story. I, personally, would boil this down a bit and focus on the main plot to up the energy and pull the agent in a bit more.

That's the basis of my novel, THE HELLBORN KING: (no italics for your title) a story of a kingdom at war, and a ruling family at war with itself. The events are viewed through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict. It's an adult epic fantasy novel at 205,600 words, with series potential. The story focuses on family dynamics, difficult and conflicting emotions, and mental health, and will appeal to fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Would you be interested in taking a look? You don't need to say that.

I've been writing in online freeform RPG communities for seventeen years, and have built many worlds and casts of characters along the way. When I'm not doing that, I enjoy traveling and doing anything outdoors, and have a passion for movies and music.

Ok, so my big note is that your word count is very long, especially for a debut novel (assuming this is one, since you mentioned no other literary credits, but you did cut some identifying info out, so I apologize if I'm incorrect about this). The standard for an epic fantasy is 100-110k with a max of 115k (I've seen one person say 130k max, but that seems to be pushing it for everyone else). If you are not an established author with proven salability, the sad truth (that I had to learn the hard way) is a lot of agents are gonna instantly pass. You might have to do some major editing before anyone jumps at it, unfortunately, and should that happen, you would be far from the first person to find yourself in that position.

I wish you all the best luck in your querying!

Offline Christopher G Brenning

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2020, 08:21:27 AM »
Thank you for the feedback! When I started writing this book, I looked at the word counts for my favorite author's debuts, and they were all around the 200k range, so I made that my goal. Since there are multiple POV's, I'm not sure I can cut the length by 25% and not butcher the story.

I know my word count is probably why I've had so many rejections. I've made the story as lean as I possibly could (an established author could have easily made my story 250k plus), and I did my best to make every sentence count. If you'd like to take a look at the opening chapter, I posted it here. I've had great feedback on the first five pages. https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=24705.0

I'm ok with going the self published route if I have to. I really believe in my story. Hopefully there's at least one agent that's willing to take a chance!

Edit: On a side note, i will definitely take your suggestion and try another approach and focus on just the main-main character for the query. I'll post it up once I have it finished.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 08:37:29 AM by Christopher G Brenning »

Offline mindym

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2020, 02:27:54 PM »
Since my first five pages and first chapter are on here, I might as well post the query! I appreciate any feedback. (I excluded my contact info, naturally.)

______________________________________________________

Dear [Agent],

After the devastating massacre known as the Bloodbath at Borjifa, vengeful warlord Damien Dreadfire leads a patchwork army of unlikely allies against the Kingdom of Betanthiaso in this first sentence you have 3 proper nouns not known outside your book, which make it a little hard to read. Maybe end first phrase after "devastating massacre" to make it more reader-friendly. The alliance, forged between the wildmen of the West and the more civilized tribes of the Northsounded like it was forged by Damien since he's leading the army?, teeters on the edge of a knife, as old rivalries threaten to tear it apart from the inside.

Betanthian Madelyn Everly senses that the war with the barbarians could spell the end of the world as she knows ityes, wars often do this...?. At the behest of her military order, she searches for answers at the far edge of the world— and to her dismay, she finds what she's looking for.too vague. can you explain a bit more

Meanwhile, Betanthia's crown prince, Gareth Bethard, suspects that he will never inherit the throneyes, it sounds like he's going to die in this war.... With his family coming apart at the seams and a growing conspiracy afoot, he tries desperately to hold everything together. Even as Gareth grapples with inner demons, he must learn to take up his father's mantle as the protector of civilization. It's only the fate of a thousand-year dynasty resting on his shoulders, after all.

His sister Lucetta, however, has plans of her own.

That's the basis of my noveltake out this first part, THE HELLBORN KING: a story of a kingdom at war, and a ruling family at war with itself. The events are viewed through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict. It's an adult epic fantasy novel at 205,600 wordsI agree with the previous comments, waaaaaay too long, this is at least 2 books on its own. (IMO) No agent will take a chance on a debut author with a 200K word count. Self-pub might be best if you're not willing to cut down, with series potential. The story focuses on family dynamics, difficult and conflicting emotions, and mental health, and will appeal to fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Would you be interested in taking a look?

I've been writing in online freeform RPG communities for seventeen years, and have built many worlds and casts of characters along the way. When I'm not doing that, I enjoy traveling and doing anything outdoors, and have a passion for movies and music.

Regards,

[Redacted]
(writing as Christopher G. Brenning)

your story sounds very disjointed, and I'm not sure how all the parts interact. Consider maybe 3 books, one for each character's story. It might fit better.

Offline Christopher G Brenning

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2020, 05:53:51 PM »
I've pared down the query to make it less confusing and focus more on the central plot. As for the word count, it's as lean as I could possibly get it. I understand that getting an agent to bite with a high word count is going to be difficult, but it's not impossible. All of my favorite authors debuted around the 200,000 mark, which is why I set that goal for myself in the first place. If nothing else, I'll try the indies or go self published.

Offline rivergirl

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2020, 08:50:46 PM »
After a devastating massacre, vengeful warlord Damien Dreadfire leads a patchwork army of unlikely allies against the Kingdom of Betanthia. The alliance, forged between the wildmen of the West and his more civilized kin from the North, teeters on the edge of a knife, as old rivalries threaten to tear it apart from the inside. With the help of his trusted friend, Einarr, and a strange mystic, Damien launches a bold offensive that will decide the fate of the free lands, now and forever. This sounds like Damien could be the guy responsible for the devastating massacre, especially when his key description is vengeful and warlord. Consider softening him a tad so the reader will want to root for him. Also make it clear that Betanthia is the kingdom responsible for the massacre (of his people). I'm having to do some surmising here and its requiring some re-reading. What will happen if Damien fails? Why should the reader be concerned. I'm craving a bit more

Meanwhile, Betanthia's crown prince, Gareth Bethard, faces dangers of his own. With his family coming apart at the seams and a growing conspiracy afoot, he tries desperately to hold everything together. Even as Gareth grapples with inner demons, he must learn to take up his father's mantle as the protector of civilization. It's only the fate of a thousand-year dynasty resting on his shoulders, after all. Ok, I think I read somewhere that you have multiple MC's???

THE HELLBORN KING: a story of a kingdom at war, and a ruling family at war with itself. The events are viewed through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict. It's an adult epic fantasy novel at 205,000 words, with series potential. The story focuses on family dynamics, difficult and conflicting emotions (way too vague to be meaningful. YOu'll need to spell this out or edit. This is like saying, my story deals with difficult circumstances , and mental health, and will appeal to fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy.

I've been writing in online freeform RPG communities for seventeen years,(no comma since no subject here) and have built many worlds and casts of characters along the way. When I'm not doing that (pronouns suck. put something interesting here instead. When I'm not creating new worlds) , I enjoy traveling and doing anything outdoors, no comma and have a passion for movies and music. chick-flicks and rock-n-roll (or whatever is true. Somehow I don't think you watch chick flicks  ;D) specifics give more color and interest to your query

Offline Christopher G Brenning

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2020, 09:34:10 PM »
Thanks rivergirl, I made those changes. My book does have multiple MC's, but it was suggested by others to pare it down in the query because it was confusing.

Offline rivergirl

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2020, 05:40:00 AM »
Much clearer in that first para!

Offline Christopher G Brenning

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Re: The Hellborn King - Adult fantasy
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2020, 09:06:53 AM »
Much clearer in that first para!

Thank you. Writing the book was easy, but writing this query has been so stressful and frustrating. I appreciate your feedback. Hopefully it's in a better place now.