May 24, 2009

Query - The Wolf Of The Sea

A Pictish princess and a prophet of the future, Loxa is apprenticed to the old seer of her tribe. The king, her uncle, decides she is to marry his son, an honour that she can't refuse, despite their mutual loathing. Locked into a loveless marriage that her husband cannot bring himself to consummate, she is hounded by the Christian priest who is fearful of her powers, while terror comes to the kingdom's shores, as Norse longships are seen sailing into the bay.

Almost captured by the fearsome Norseman, Jorund, she finds that she cannot stop thinking about him long after the invaders have left. Unhappy with her life, in a village where it is whispered she is barren, Loxa seeks hope in her ability to predict future events. But seeing that she is to follow her husband to live and rule in a neighbouring kingdom, she refuses to leave. After being drugged, she wakes to find that she has been transported while unconscious.

Away from her kin and misunderstood in her new home, Loxa is almost relieved when the Norsemen strike again. As she re-encounters Jorund, she knows that he means abduct her and does not lament being taken across the sea. The new world she enters is unlike any she has known, where her powers are respected and she is honoured as Jorund's woman.

The Norsemen continue to make raids across the water and Loxa is left distraught when Jorund does not return from a skirmish. As she plans to take her life and honourably join him in Valhalla, Loxa finds that she is pregnant and choses to live for Jorund's child. As attacks come from surrounding tribes, Loxa and her son escape with the remaining villagers over the sea, arriving back in the bay where she was raised.

Under pressure to return to her husband, Loxa fights that the marriage be annulled. The king disagrees as there is no evidence that Jorund is alive and that he is able to claim her and their son. Loxa's predictions allow her to see that Jorund will return the day after a ball of fire flies across the night sky, but these claims are not believed. The evening before the priest is take her back to the neighbouring lands, a comet is seen clearly moving across the horizon.

The villagers wait with Loxa the next day to witness the arrive of the Norseman, but it is not until sunset that a small skiff is seen entering into the bay.

THE WOLF OF THE SEA is a work of historical fiction, complete at 90,000 words.


Rick Daley said...

This reads like a synopsis, I think you should consider trimming it down and focusing on the primary story arc. Leave the detailed action for the manuscript.

The end of the query seems to me like it just hangs there...They wait all day and a small skiff enters the bay makes me think "And then what"?

Caroline said...

I like the story, but I agree that you need to cut this down. Just put the general gist of the plot and leave a hook at the end that makes the reader (agent) want more.

MitMoi said...

I've now (unsuccessfully) tried to pare it down your query(WHERE is Hope101??) so I totally sympathize with you on how difficult it is to choose the most essential pats.

Varying the length of your sentences is one of my suggestions.

Distill your novel down to "____ may lead to ____" and then expanding it to include what Loxa has to gain or loose by accepting/denying her vision.

Sorry I can't be more succinct. I agree though - the story sounds interesting.

MitMoi said...

I also cannot proofread or spell. "essential paRts" not pats. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

What does Loxa actually DO? Look at your verbs.

is apprenticed, told to marry the prince, locked in a marriage, hounded by a priest, almost captured, thinks, is drugged, is misunderstood, is almost relieved, is abducted, is respected, is left distraught, plans to commit suicide (first active verb, although the implication is less than active), decides not to commit suicide, escapes (but it's not clear it's from her own efforts), seeks to have her marriage annulled, sees the future, waits for the future.

Virtually none of those is active.

The protagonist needs to be active, to push the story forward, not just be the victim of outside forces.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everybody for your input. This has given me much to think about and work on. I am really grateful for you all taking the time to read this and post your responses.

Laura Martone said...

I agree with Rick - this query needs to be much shorter. Although the story seems interesting, tightening your synopsis will improve the "energy" of your query. Right now, it's too passive - as the other "Anonymous" blogger said, it would help to use more active verbs. Perhaps, then, your voice would shine through more - and the pacing would improve.

Also, the query seems to come to an abrupt halt. Perhaps you should end with something like: "Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to send you a partial or full manuscript upon request. I look forward to hearing from you soon."

One last piece of advice: Proofread, and then proofread again. There are several "little" mistakes that might swing an agent the wrong way, such as "he means abduct her" in the 3rd paragraph (instead of "to abduct her") and "choses to live" in the 4th paragraph (instead of "chooses") and "the priest is take her back" in the 5th (instead of "to take") and "the arrive of the Norseman" in the 6th (instead of "arrival").

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

As passive as Loxa is painted here, we're not told very much about Jorund either. At this point, I tend to think this guy's nothing special: either it's pure lust, or just desperation to escape an unpleasant life. It's okay if Jorund IS nothing special: but then Loxa has to be very proactive, to carry the dramatic power of the relationship by herself. You're going for a romance and not a war story, so a hero and heroine who are both passive won't carry the day, no matter how many battles are going on.

We need to know more about Loxa's motivations: she might be very selfish, consumed with desire to possess this Jorund guy, wanting maximum freedom and power for herself, and doesn't care who gets trampled along the way. Or, she could be strongly principled, but at this point I really have no idea. Either answer could work, and so could a combination of the two answers, but an agent is going to want to know that you've made that choice, or they won't be confident that the story is ready.

I agree with Caroline and MitMoi: you can allude to plot developments without listing them --- and in the space you save, tell us more about Loxa's thoughts, feelings, and most of all her actions. She's determined to do X, she schemes and fights for Y, she faces great danger for Z.

hope101 said...

You get only two paragraphs in a query to tell your story. :(

So, backstory (at most 2 sentences): Loxa, a Pictish princess and seer is forced into a loveless and sexless marriage by the king (who from the sounds of things is your antagonist)--don't use these words, of course, but this is the essence I see.

Inciting incident: the raid where she glimpses there could be more to life--self-respect, self-determination, and a husband worthy of this bigger version of herself.

Conflict: This is where you need to show us what she *does*. In good romances, the man isn't the source of the woman's happiness. the man is the reward the woman gets for pursuing the right path--in this case, wanting a different vision for herself than what society, as embodied in the king, pushes her to be.

We have to see her earn that HEA. Then, when we have seen her sacrifice and struggle for that vision, we'll watch the harbour with baited breath alongside her.