Aug 29, 2009

Query - Treandle (revision 1)

Click here to read the original query.

Cyrilla’s life on the farm has been sheltered because of the magic she’s kept hidden for eighteen harvest seasons. But there’s something about Muerek that she is willing to risk everything for.

The problem is, he’s a cavalry soldier in the Royal Army, and his lineage goes all the way back to a commander in the Nettoyage war, when those with magic were contained behind the walls of Treandle.

When her magic is exposed for saving his life, both their worlds are ripped apart. Cyrilla must endure the pain of loosing her family and Muerek, while struggling to perform the daunting tasks of High Speaker, a role of high power to those with magic.

Muerek has nowhere to go. Azthorn, his home city, only holds ridicule and shame for falling in love with a Verbannen (those locked away for having magic). Then, a vivid dream beckons him to investigate the means by which gifted children are taken to containment camps, and he discovers a deception that will forever change his beliefs about the Verbannen and Gekozen (mages assigned to keeping the Verbannen contained).

My 96,000 word YA fantasy, Treandle, brings the Verbannen from Treandle and the Goeden (those without magic) from Tearnoc back together after two hundred seasons of fear and persecution. But there is a price to pay, war against the Gekozen. The rest of the Goeden in the kingdom know nothing about what is happening to the gifted children, thereby siding with those they have been taught to believe.

Cyrilla is a shy and insecure girl (both her parents are alive) who must learn to deal with the pain of lost love, accept overwhelming responsibilities, and grow into something she never thought possible.

Muerek’s always been confident and had everything he ever wanted in life, except love. Now he must learn to trust his own instincts and decide for himself what is right and wrong.

The stage will be set for a war fought to free those with magic which will come in future novel(s).


Dominique said...

As someone who read this without reading the original query, I felt completely lost. I felt like I was expected to have information that there was no way I could have gained. You need to ground your reader.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I read the original when it was posted, and the problem is still that you are trying to tell too much detail about history, backstory, who everybody is and what they do. This is not a synopsis, it is a pitch to get attention. Stick to the main two characters and what is at stake for them. Cut all the names of other stuff and just get to the heart of the story. Have you ever tried to write that main storyline in one to three sentences? You need to be able to do that. AFter you can do that, you can flesh that out into three tight paragraphs for a query.

RCWriterGirl said...

I read the original query and this one is still confusing.

Agree with Tricia. You're trying to tell too much of the story. As hard as it is, you've got to cut this story down to its most basic elements. What you'd tell your three-year-old niece about the story.

This is essentially Romeo/Juliet. Boy falls in love with girl from wrong side of the tracks. Girl is sent away. Boy tries to find her, discovers shocking secret. He must do the right thing to save himself, find his love an rescue his kingdom.

This is your story (I think). Condense it down to that, and get rid of all this stuff about the Azthorn, the Nettoyage war, the Verbannen and Tearnoc. It's too confusing for a query.

Just think of it this way. Your book is 96,000 words. In 96,000 words, you have time to explain all this. Your query shoul be no more than 400 words. You don't have time to explain all this in 400 words or less.

Final notes on the particulars of this query:
(1) If you've written four paragraphs of the query already and then say, "My 96,000 word YA Fantasy .....," you ought to be summing up/finalizing. I expect that to be the final statement about your novel. You've got three more paragraphs of story/character exposition after that. It's bad form. I expect any paragraphs after that to be about you or your writing experience, not about the novel.

(2)it's losing, not loosing (3rd paragraph, second sentence)

Since you're writing epic fantasy, maybe you should go look at some book jackets of fantasy novels and see what they put on them. They don't give this level of detail on a first book in a series (maybe, they'll drop a few names more inlater books). Check out the summary blurbs (online on Amazon, B&N, or the publisher's site)for books you've read to get a sense of what information they take out to give you a summary. Then, try to emulate that.

It's hard to do. I know. I have a very complicated book, an it took me a long time to distill it for a query. But, if you don't put in the work and get it done, the query won't work.

Good luck

Donna Hole said...

This is an excellent summary, and with a little tweaking, would make a good synopsis.

But as a query, TMI. RC stated my thoughts exactly. Cut it down to bare basic, and definitely don't write any more after you give the word count.

Good Luck.


Anica Lewis said...

Woo! YA fantasy! :)

I can definitely see the tension here. I'm curious as to how seemingly powerful mages can be herded together and locked up, but I'm sure the book explores that.

I like the basic idea. The main thing that makes the query a little confusing is how many of your original terms you use and have to then explain. The fourth paragraph, for example, is made kind of awkward by the parenthetical statements. I'd suggest just using terms that are understandable in the first place - ideally, you could even use this to illustrate, say, why Muerek is being shamed. What is it that everyone's been taught about mages? Is it, . . . shame for falling in love with one of Treandle's "pet mages" or . . . falling in love with a dangerous magical criminal, or what? I know that eliminating the terms Verbannen, Goeden, and Gekozen could mean using the words "mage" and "magic" more than you might like, but you can probably work something out. If you wanted to keep just one in the query, I'd stick with Gekozen, because it's vaguely intimidating-sounding and I think it would be really effective if you could end the fifth paragraph with, But there is a price to pay - war against the Gekozen.

We don't know anything about Tearnoc when it's first mentioned in the fifth paragraph, and the name of Muerek's home city is unimportant to the query. I'd suggest cutting both.

I'd also suggest removing the two "character bio" paragraphs at the end and working in any necessary information earlier. Perhaps the query could start, Shy, insecure Cyrilla has kept her magic hidden for eighteen harvest seasons, living in safety on her parents' farm. Then maybe a sentence on why she kept her magic hidden before giving Muerek his paragraph.

I'd also like to know, if you can include it briefly, how it was that Cyrilla saved Muerek's life. We get no idea from this query what her magic does!

Seems like a good basic story. Hope you find the right agent for it!