Author Topic: Query: THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT, Gaslamp Fantasy ~100K  (Read 109 times)

Offline mafiaking1936

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Query: THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT, Gaslamp Fantasy ~100K
« on: November 22, 2022, 05:29:26 PM »
Hi all, I'd love any crits and comments on my query draft. I have a couple books (small press) published and several short stories, but this would be my first novel length work in this subgenre. Thanks!

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University student Randyll Tephius used to dream of becoming a Master Artificer. He was never political, but when his senior thesis dares to question the energy monopoly held by the elite Alchemists, he's expelled in disgrace.

Desperate and penniless, he now wants only to earn enough to eat. At his lowest moment he’s rescued by an unlikely benefactor: aging, notorious gang boss Gouger Nebb. With no other prospects, Ran puts his engineering skills to work for Nebb, who soon reveals his true intent: to break into the fledgling rock-oil industry and retire a ‘legitimate businessman.’ Ran begins plans to drill and refine the newfound deposits, a feat that could restore his shattered career.

But the oil business threatens the elites’ stranglehold on energy, and Ran’s efforts are met with sabotage. A secret syndicate of Alchemists and their noble patrons, the same people who ruined his reputation in the first place, emerge from the shadows to recruit Ran into helping them seize total power. It’s a tempting offer that would mean betraying the very man who saved him.

THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT is a stand-alone gaslamp fantasy of about 100,000 words that will appeal to readers of We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley and Priest of Bones by Peter McLean. I am the author of The Heron Kings and The Heron Kings' Flight from Flame Tree Press as well as multiple works of short speculative fiction.

Offline susan-louise

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Re: Query: THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT, Gaslamp Fantasy ~100K
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2022, 03:48:56 AM »
Hello Mafiaking. This has the elements of an excellent, well written query.  Main areas of concern: the opening is yet to hook and you stray into telling when there is the potential  to convey menace and danger. Nor am I yet engaging with your MC.  At an admirably lean  c 237 words, you have some spare to develop a little further. Btw I love gas lamp fantasy and would certainly read/buy your novel, critique below not withstanding :) 



Hi all, I'd love any crits and comments on my query draft. I have a couple books (small press) published and several short stories,  but this would be my first novel length work in this subgenre. Thanks!

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Not sure the opening is drawing me in.
University student Randyll Tephius used to dream once dreamt  of becoming a Master Artificer. He was never political, but when his senior thesis dares to question (challenges?) the energy monopoly held by the elite Alchemists, he's expelled in disgrace.    This is all fine but not drawing me in.  Could you start the query with "Desperate and Penniless, R only wants enough to eat" or some such iteration, with some of the key details? Something that would immediately make me want to read more, learn why he is destitute and therefore willing to be involved with a criminal.  And  build the query from there.   Backstory should be just that, imo...
T
Desperate and penniless, he now wants only to earn enough to eat. At his lowest moment (missing an opportunity to show here.  What was this moment?  If it is a key moment, it's probably worthing giving us a hint, to pique our interest...) he’s rescued by an unlikely benefactor: aging, notorious gang boss Gouger Nebb. With no other prospects, Ran puts his engineering skills to work for Nebb, who soon reveals his true intent: wants to break into the fledgling rock-oil industry and retire a ‘legitimate businessman.’  (why is this in quotation marks?  And is 'retire' a euphemism for murder?  If so, it could appear in q ms for impact...)Ran begins plans to drill and refine the newfound deposits, a feat that could restore his shattered career.   (much of this paragraph is telling, reading like a synopsis.)

Wondering whether you are missing a trick with the next paragraph (also...best to avoid starting with "but")  You could swap the clauses...and convey the  peril and menace he is walking into... thus building the stakes.

But the oil business threatens the elites’ stranglehold on energy, and Ran’s efforts are met with sabotage. A secret syndicate of Alchemists and their noble patrons, the same people who ruined his reputation in the first place, emerge from the shadows to recruit Ran into helping them seize total power. It’s a tempting offer that would mean betraying the very man who saved him (from?? poverty??).  Final lines are so hard to write but this one is almost perfect. 

THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT is a stand-alone gaslamp fantasy of about 100,000 words that will appeal to readers of We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley and Priest of Bones by Peter McLean. I am the author of The Heron Kings and The Heron Kings' Flight from Flame Tree Press as well as multiple works of short speculative fiction.  (The publication pedigree is excellent)

Offline Talean

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Re: Query: THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT, Gaslamp Fantasy ~100K
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2022, 10:35:15 AM »
I quite like this, and would definitely read.
Edits in red, explanations and comments in blue.

University student Randyll (Ran) Should put his nickname in parenthesis here for clarity. Later on, I was a bit confused as to who was running, and didn't immediately realize Ran was short for Randyll. Tephius used to dream of becoming a Master Artificer. He was never political, but when his senior thesis dares to question the energy monopoly held by the elite Alchemists, he's expelled in disgrace. Maybe a quick blurb about why commenting on a monopoly is political? Is this a fascist state, where corporations have a lot of pull in society? Are the elite Alchemists themselves the government?

Desperate and penniless, he now wants only to earn enough to eat. At his lowest moment he’s rescued by an unlikely benefactor: aging, notorious gang boss Gouger Nebb. When the notorious old crime boss Gouger Nebb suddenly offers patronage, and with no other prospects, Ran puts his engineering skills to work for Nebb. whoBut soon, Nebb reveals his true intent: to break into the fledgling rock-oil industry and retire a ‘legitimate businessman.’ Ran begins plans to drill and refine the newfound deposits, a feat that could restore his shattered career. This is just how I would edit it, but really it's personal style. I think it flows a bit better and is more concise.

But the oil business threatens the elites’ stranglehold on energy, and Ran’s efforts are met with sabotage. A secret syndicate of Alchemists and their noble patrons, the same people who ruined his reputation in the first place, emerge from the shadows to recruit Ran into helping them seize total power. It’s a tempting offer that would mean betraying the very man who saved him. Overall I like this paragraph, but feel like you could add a little to show greater conflict in Ran's choice of loyalties. So far, we know Nebb is a gangster, but is also a positive force for Ran. If Ran finds him repulsive all the same, maybe throw something in that shows how he's chafed under his employment. If not, and he actually takes a shine to this unconventional entrepreneur, perhaps some lines about how he comes to admire or understand Nebb. Or, at the very least, finds loyalty in the fact that he's earning a steady paycheque.

THE ARTIFICER'S KNOT is a stand-alone gaslamp fantasy of about 100,000 words that will appeal to readers of We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley and Priest of Bones by Peter McLean. I am the author of The Heron Kings and The Heron Kings' Flight from Flame Tree Press as well as multiple works of short speculative fiction. Neat!
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