Mar 16, 2010

Query- Joshua and the Fantastic Forest (Revision 1)

Click here to read the original query.

Revision to Joshua and the Fantastic Forest - thank you!

Dear Public Query Slushpile,

Twelve-year old Joshua Cooper is about to find out how a walk in the woods can magically change his life – or end it.

As the new kid in town he is desperate for adventure. He soon finds it in the mountain forest above his home, but not with kids or even humans, when he befriends talking animals. They share the story of their accidental transformation into animals of amazing strength and reason that roamed the earth millions of years ago, whose existence was blasted away by a meteorite siege that left no trace behind...well, almost none.

When a bumbling, old Mr. Bimble’s walking stick (carved from wood he dug up as a boy that held the DNA of these ancient animals giving him their powers) is struck by lightning in the forest and explodes into shimmering dust, it changes every creature it touches into the animals of long ago.

Bound with their new powers, these animals also carry the memories of their ancestors and know not all were decent and wise. They know some carried dark urges to plunder and conquer their own. Could there be others like that now? All of this is forgotten in the idyllic days that follow as Joshua spends them soaring over the forest on a magnificent bald eagle, playing tag in the meadow with deer, racing through the woods hanging onto the scruff of a mighty bear and sharing fireside tales with his best friend, a beaver.

Joshua soon realizes he can’t keep the secret of the animals to himself when he encounters Mr. Bimble looking for his lost walking stick and Matt, a school bully heading up the mountain to shoot off fireworks in the woods. He must decide to rescue them from a forest sinkhole, with the help of his generous new friends, and risk sharing their secret. The unlikely trio becomes friends and vows to protect the secret of the animals no matter what the consequence.

Joshua discovers Mr. Bimble is dying from cancer and encourages his friends to create a special magic DNA brew in the hopes to cure him. They have no idea one of their own is creating his own DNA concoction, only not to cure – to create and conquer.

When a power-hungry fox carrying the dark seed of his ancestors secretly recreates thousands of his own fantastic animals into an army of soldiers to rule the forest, and possibly the world, Joshua must find a way to save his forest friends. He leads his comrades to raise their own army and build an arsenal of weapons to defend themselves against the evil animal hoard in the battle of their lives.

I am seeking your representation for my manuscript, JOSHUA AND THE FANTASTIC FOREST, a 52,000 word contemporary middle grade adventure fantasy that appeals to boys. I am a freelance writer with a background in reporting and marketing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

6 comments:

Rick Daley said...

As with the original query, I see potential in the premise, but the query doesn't sell it the right way.

The main issue with this version is that it's too much of a synopsis. Here's what I recommend you do to fix it:

Boil down your story into a single sentence.

Once you have that sentence, carefully expand it to 250 words. Be concise; if anyting you write in those 250 words requires greater explanation, find a different way to write it.

Your focus should be on two characters: the protagonist (Joshua) and the antagonist (the fox?). It should also focus on the heart of their conflict, not the back-story or inciting incident that brought it about.

It's not as easy as it sounds, but that's why this site is here ;-)

While I'm at it, here are a few things I found in your writing that you should pay attention to:

He soon finds it in the mountain forest above his home, but not with kids or even humans, when he befriends talking animals.
The syntax for this sentence is very awkward. I guess your intent with the clause in the middle is to build suspense, but the query is not the place for that. Here you want to be succinct. Don't tell the agent what isn't, show what is.

a meteorite siege that left no trace behind...well, almost none.
Don't contradict yourself. Again, it looks like you want to build suspense, but I advise against doing this way, it makes the reader distrust the narrator.

52,000 word contemporary middle grade adventure fantasy that appeals to boys
Hyphen between 52,000 and word (52,000-word). Middle Grade is probably good enough. Maybe Middle-Grade Adventure. Contemporary middle grade adventure fantasy is overkill.

The Starving Writer said...

This query seems to have moved in the wrong direction. It reads more like a synopsis than a query letter.

Way way too much unnecessary stuff. The rule of thumb for query letters is 250 words, you're clocking almost twice that.

I thought the first query is better than this. In adding so much detail, you've lost the flavor of the novel.

My suggestion, utilize the links on this site about writing a query letter.

I apologise if my words sound harsh, I am not a tactful writer.

ZAKARIYA MIKAL SHERMAN said...

I would start with: Twelve-year old Joshua Cooper is desperate for adventure. As the new kid in town, he finds it in the mountain forest above his home when he befriends talking animals. And then go from there. Zakariya.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ALL...I so appreciate your time , patience and valuable advice to a first time query-er.

Yes - I am slightly confused and torn as I have seen many queries that loooked like synopsis so I headed in that direction...thinking I needed more.

Less is more...I agree...and I will chop my way there - incorporating your comments.

query shark would say "what a hopeless mess! form rejection!"

thanks again - I hope someday I can help someone else along this road...

Anonymous said...

Joshua and the Fantastic Forest (Revision 2)Thanks to all the commenters for improving this!

Dear Public Query Slushpile,

Twelve-year old Joshua Cooper is about to find out how a walk in the woods can change his life – or end it.

As the new kid in town he is desperate for adventure. He finds it in the mountain forest above his home when he befriends talking animals created from the DNA of super powered creatures that roamed the earth long ago. He shares his magical world with two unlikely friends he rescues, a bully and an old man, and they vow to protect the secret of their forest friends.

When a power-hungry fox secretly recreates thousands of his own animals to conquer and rule the forest Joshua must find a way to save his friends, and himself. He leads his comrades to raise their own army and craft an arsenal of weapons to defend themselves against the evil hoard in the battle of their lives.

I am seeking your representation for my manuscript, JOSHUA AND THE FANTASTIC FOREST, a 52,000-word middle grade adventure that appeals to boys. I am a freelance writer with a background in reporting and marketing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Emily said...

I really like the revision you posted in the comments section. I think this works better than the others. I think you are almost there!

Of course I wouldn't be the anal-retentive chef if I didn't nick pick a little. So-

In paragraph 1 you need a hyphen after "year" as it is part of the compound attributive adjective. Hyphens are tricksy little things aren't they? (I forget them all the time btw)

In paragraph 2 you need a comma after the word "town."

In paragraph 3 you need a comma after "forest" in the first sentence. Also it should be "super-powered" those tricksy hyphens again.

In paragraph 4 you need a comma after "word."

The only other suggestion I had was to be careful that you do not start to many sentences with the pronoun "he." Be sure to vary your sentence structure enough to keep things interesting.

Otherwise it is a much better query than the original. You have made some vast improvements. Good job!