Feb 5, 2010

Query - Descent into Darkness

Dear Agent,

When Aiden’s ability to use the dangerous and forbidden art of Dark Magic manifests during an intense argument with his fiancée, his dream to marry and start a family is torn asunder. Betrayed by the woman he loves and embittered by a long imprisonment, he finds himself seeking salvation in the least likely of places: the Shadow.

But Aiden has to face more challenges than maintaining his sense of humanity under the influence of a magic which urges him to destroy while he fights to free the Shadow Lord from Hell. His fiancée joins the forces of the very Church he is fighting against, and a heated rivalry soon forms between Aiden and the ruthless commander of the Shadow himself, both for the power they both desire—and for love.

DESCENT INTO DARKNESS is a 129,500 word work of fantasy that retells the classic good vs. evil conflict from the perspective of evil. It is the first in a series of two books, the second of which is currently in progress. Thank you for your consideration.



David said...

You have a lot of good stuff here, but in my opinion would benefit by being more specific. I realize this is a challenge since your query letter is about the ideal length already.

All the sudden his dangerous dark powers manifest during a fight with his fiance? What happened? It sounds dramatic, and if its interesting it will catch an agents eye.

Is he betrayed because she decides not to marry him - or does she help get him arrested? If its just the former some of my sympathy is with her. If the latter, this will all make sense with a word or two about the laws of the Church, which will let us glimpse the outline of your world as well.

Is it really salvation he seeks - trying to free the Shadow Lord from hell? Or power and love as you say lower down? Either make us feel the former or change it to the latter.

I've heard 129,500 is a bit long for fantasy debuts, and your chances might be better if you could trim.

Piedmont Writer said...

I thought this was an interesting premise to a story but this query was just a little confusing. I agree with David, you need to be more specific.

I understand he's had an argument and now he's betrayed, and embittered-- but I don't understand the 'long imprisonment'.
Is it the engagement that imprisoned him, was he really in prison, is he imprisoned by the Dark Magic?

And is there any way you can tell us what "The Shadow" is? And I don't understand why he would seek salvation from this shadow, perhaps salvation isn't the right word. It's a good word, I just think it's not the right word.

The first sentence of the second paragraph is a little wordy. Can we break it into two? does the Shadow Lord from Hell have a name? See, the next sentence tells about his fiance (spelled with one e) joining the church, and I get the whole rivalry thing, but I had to read it like 5 times to understand the gist.

See, now I also thought the Shadow, was a place, not a power. I had no idea there was a commander of the Shadow. It's just a little confusing.

It's a good start but it just needs to be tightened up a little more. You've got good length just need to be more precise.

As for the last paragraph, an agent doesn't care this is a retelling between good and evil, if you write the query the right way, they should get that. And only pitch this book, they also don't care if you have another in the works. And I also tend to agree with David that 129K is a little too long.

However, it's a good start and sounds like a good book. Best of luck.

Sara P. said...

I also think you've got something interesting there, but it's confusing. The one thing that stood out to me was why he feels the rivalry regarding the woman he loves if he his embittered towards her and she, apparently, is no longer interested in him.

One more thing: I didn't really understand why he wants to free the Shadow Lord, if it is causing him to lose his humanity. Anger? Revenge? It just seems to me that if he truly wants to rule the Shadow, his loss of humanity wouldn't stop him. He wants to be a good bad guy? See what I mean?

I think your idea of telling the good vs. evil conflict from a different perspective is great. I think that if you could make it come through in the summary, it would work better in the query letter.

Good luck!

Natalie said...

Thanks so much for the helpful comments! And I know that it's a little long; I've trimmed it down from 148k words already though. If I could get it any shorter I totally would.

Piedmont Writer -- actually, it's one e in fiance if we're referring to the male partner (her fiance) and two e's if referring to the female partner (his fiancee). I had no idea until one of my critiquers pointed that out for me, but I thought it might be interesting to know :)

RCWriterGirl said...

Well, I don't have a whole lot to add to the previous comments, but I'll chime in.

I think the query tries to keep it simple by not going into too much detail, but it makes it confusing. It seems odd that his dreams to start a family could be torn asunder due to one argument. There are lots of other fish in the sea, so that seems a little much. I think specific would be better, too. Say what transpired in the argument. Say what the fiancee did (He pelted her with poisonous darts; she retaliated by telling him their relationship was over, stabbing him and having her best friend perform an emergency vasectomy while treating the stab wound :).

Also, you need to explain what Aiden wants from the Shadow Lord from Hell. You say he is driven to seek salvation from the Shadow...how? What is it, specifically, that Aiden thinks the Shadow Lord can do for him (make his fiancee forgive him? find true love for him?). Then, explain why Aiden suddenly turns on the Shadow Lord. One moment he's trying to gain the Lord's favor and free him, the next minute, they're rivals.

As to the last paragraph, 129,500 is long, as you know, but I don't think it's interminably long for fantasy. I have heard it is not a good idea to mention that you are working on a series in a query. Only after you've been offered representation.

Lastly, in the second paragraph, you mention Aiden's fiancee has joined the Church he is fighting against. Shouldn't that be ex-fiancee? If not, then you need to explain where this new fiancee came from.

That's it. Sounds interesting. Put some details in and it will really get your story across.

Emily said...

While reading this, I had some questions I felt needed to be answered:

How is Aiden betrayed by the woman he loves?

Why is he imprisoned?

What does he need salvation from? (Imprisonment possibly?)

What is the Shadow?

Why is he fighting to free the Shadow Lord from Hell? (that sounds like a bad idea...)

What Church does his fiancee join? (Catholic Church? Church of Scientology?) And Why?

Is the "commander of the Shadow" the same as the Shadow Lord?

Is the Shadow Lord into Aiden's fiancee? (the love they both are fighting for)

And generally, what is the setting? The time period?

I think you just need to give us more specifics to engross us in the story.