May 13, 2009

QUERY --- RAINGUN (second revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.
Click here to read the third revision.

Rick Rivoire wonders: is he slipping into permanent bitterness, or perhaps beyond, into evil?

Rick fights back with his magic when his coastal hometown is attacked. But even while defending neighbors from a ruthless Admiral's musketeers and gangs of bloodthirsty pirates, he feels his apparent heroism undermined by ulterior resentments. Haunted by his memory from earlier that same day, of callously humiliating an innocent girl, he considers the abuse, neglect and loss that marred his childhood.

Determined not to disappoint the valiant swordswoman who rescued him from torture at age nine, Rick resolves to remake his life. His first step is joining a new cavalry regiment. One just for mages. They attack with magic, astride spectral mounts they conjure themselves. These "Rainguns" shine when bad weather disables muskets and cannon.

Of course, an army makes many demands of its cavalry. Rick is tasked to defend his nation from evil forces, but also to enforce the will of the powerful Governors-General. Will joining the mysterious ranks of the Rainguns further Rick's plans to become better than he is? Or thwart them?

RAINGUN is an adult fantasy novel of 84,000 words. Thank you for your valuable time!


hope101 said...

You are *so* going to hate me by the end of this process. Please keep in mind this advice is subjective--and since I'm unpublished myself, it's only one reader's perspective at that--but I'm still missing some important logic.

Standard queries follow this format:

1. Dude has a problem: in your case, he commits a brutish act that makes him think he's slipping into evil. (You'll need to detail something of significance here; just speaking sharply to someone isn't going to cut it as a motivation for a whole book.)

2. To fix the problem, dude does ___: in your case, joins the cavalry. Now your army sounds rather cool, so help me understand how he thinks this will help him become a better person. Did he sign up, expecting his job to be so difficult that he'll either die or emerge purified by selfless acts? Was he so consumed with self-loathing that he signed up for a suicide mission? Was he just running away? (Note, that some of these goals make him sound passive and less than heroic.) Regardless, we need to see how he believes that this action will help him complete his original goal.

3. Hero's original action only makes things worse: So what does he have to do that's loathesome to him and counter to his original goal? Rather than finish the query with questions which force us to exercise *our* imagination, this is where we want to see some specifics.

And as if that weren't enough,once you've got the structure intact, then infuse it with your voice.

(Yes, I'm ducking now.)

Anonymous said...

It won't be easy to get all that in under 250 words ... but hey, I signed up for this when I decided to make the story this complex.

What do you think about how I shifted the "evil" question to the first sentence? Does that help to sort of sharpen the focus?

hope101 said...

Yes, I think it's a good hook and it definitely lets us know the story question. That's often lost in fantasy queries because of the authors' affection for their dragons and magic. :)

You might even try to slip in a little context as you deliver it. It'll cut down on your word count and orient us quickly to the genre, setting.

eg. Even as he's defending his coastal town from musketeers and pirates, mage Rick Rivoire wonders if he's slipping past permanent bitterness, and right into evil.