Apr 6, 2010

Query - FORGOTTEN WINGS, Fantasy YA

Dear Awesome Agent,

Eleanora doesn't shapeshift on purpose. After sixteen years of friends scaring the owl wings out of her, she'd die for a better knee-jerk reaction. But that's the problem; if word ever got out that the human princess actually descended from a skrĂ­msli, or shapechanger, the draconic lawmakers would rip her to shreds. No children born outside of marriage, no exceptions.

Fortunately, her kennari can erase the memories of witnesses. It's truly a no-brainer why her mother sent her to the middle of nowhere to study Artistries with him.

Oopsies get tricky though when Eleanora's assigned as a noble representative to a military fortress along a crucial trade route. She's torn from the safety of her kennari and thrown into a whole new crowd of faces to befriend and deceive, including green-eyed Melidor and mysterious Ben. She can't figure out what about the new locale disconcerts her more: the looming threat of dragons; the cloaked figures in the night; or the two knights vying for her heart.

No use making a decision when she has to answer to all of them.

FORGOTTEN WINGS is a 110,000-word fantasy young adult novel. It's designed as the first of a series but is capable of standing alone. It has the same high-paced fantasy appeal of Kristin Cashore's GRACELING. It is my first novel.

[Insert why I chose this agent.]

I am a Californian copywriter that homes both my copy samples and FORGOTTEN WING's first chapter at www.kourtnie.net.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Kourtnie
[Insert contact info - didn't delete this from the first comment, whoops! :)]

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kourtnie,
I just went through the query process and appreciated really constructive query feedback -- hope you don't mind my comments. Yours really struck me, and that's why I wanted to help you make it better! (see my suggested revisions/questions below)
Angie

Dear Awesome Agent,

Eleanora doesn't shapeshift on purpose. After sixteen years of friends scaring the owl wings out of her, she'd die for a better knee-jerk reaction. [I liked this opening!] But that's the problem -- if word ever got out that the human princess [is she really a princess? What kind of a world does she live in – are they not all human? Might want to expand just a little] actually descended from a shapechanger, the draconian lawmakers would rip her to shreds [what would they actually do to her? Imprison her? Kill her? Maybe replace “rip her to shreds”, which sounds a bit clichĂ©, to what would actually happen]. Children are not permitted outside of marriage, no exceptions.

Fortunately, her kennari [rather than use this made up word, for purposes of this query, can you use a term that would be more descriptive? For purposes of the query, the agent won’t care about the name you’ve come up with for them] can erase the memories of witnesses[can you describe briefly how they are able to erase memories?]. It's truly a no-brainer why her mother sent her to the middle of nowhere to study Artistries with him. [I thought this sentence was a little too kitschy, and I don’t know what it means – can you replace with a sentence or two that’s a little more descriptive/to-the-point?]

Oopsies get tricky though [okay, this opening really confused me – I don't know what it means]when Eleanora's assigned as a noble representative to a military fortress along a crucial trade route [why does she get this assignment? Is it because she’s a princess?]. She's torn from the safety of her kennari and thrown into a whole new crowd of faces to befriend and deceive, including green-eyed Melidor and mysterious Ben [are both these guys? Are they human? Why are these two characters significant?]. She can't figure out what about the new locale [is this really the word you mean? Is it the physical location that disconcerts her, or the situation?] disconcerts her more: the looming threat of dragons; the cloaked figures in the night; or the two knights vying for her heart [okay, I guess the two guys must be knights – why are they vying for her heart? Simply because she’s a princess? What is different about them that might cause conflict/raise the stakes?].

No use making a decision when she has to answer to all of them. [I don’t understand what this means – can you be a bit less oblique?]
[now that we are the end, I’m not sure what significance the owl’s wings have to Eleanora’s life. And what is the significance of the fact that she’s part shapeshifter, other than that she would be in trouble with the law? I know that agents like us to keep our queries short, but I think yours might be too short – I don’t know what the key conflicts are. Maybe try expanding, even if it gets kind of long, and then perhaps we can offer suggestions on how to cull it down or make it more concise. Just my two cents!:))

FORGOTTEN WINGS is a young adult fantasy and is complete at 110,000 words. It's designed as the first of a series but is capable of standing alone. It has the same high-paced fantasy appeal of Kristin Cashore's Graceling [I believe that you do all caps for the title of your novel, and italics for the titles of other comp novels].

I am a Californian copywriter that homes [homes??] both my copy samples and FORGOTTEN WING's first chapter at www.kourtnie.net. [I think most agents don’t want to be referred to your web-site, at least not in the initial query. I would say this instead: “I am a copywriter of/for ____________ [any other credentials? Writing credits? Attendance at conferences, etc.? if so, list here.]. My manuscript, as well as a detailed synopsis [if you have one], are available at your request.]

folksinmt said...

I think your query is top-notch. I'm not into fantasy, so some things were confusing, but it might just be my ignorance! If all the terminology (kennari, oopsies,) makes sense to others, then I guess it's my problem. So is she the human princess? That was a little unclear.

That last tag line about her not making a decision was also a little confusing.

No need to say that this is your first novel. And then there is a typo or something ? in your bio line.

Other than those clarifications, I think you will get some nibbles off this query. It is structured perfectly and you can tell that you have done your homework. Nice job!

Amy said...

I'm a fantasy reader, and while there was a lot about this query I liked, parts of it were confusing.

"The draconic lawmakers would rip her to shreds."

If this were not a fantasy query, I would assume this is metaphorical. But in the fantasy genre, I can't tell! Are they truly dragons or dragon hybrids? Do you mean literally rip her to shreds? Or figuratively?

I don't know what a "kennari" is, and I don't think it's a good idea to use a made-up word in a query unless its meaning is either obvious from context or you define it. "skrimsli" is fine because you tell us it means shapeshifter. I think you need to tell us what a kennari is as well, or use another description.

I don't know what "oopsies get tricky" means.

The query does a good job of telling me about the character and setting. What it doesn't tell me about is the conflict. The setup in the first two paragraphs suggests the conflict is about her having to hide her illegal shapeshifting ability. But then the second two paragraphs talk about other things (cloaked figures, dragons, making a decision (?)). Can you tie it all together in some way?

The paragraph "No use making a decision when she has to answer to all of them." didn't make sense to me. What decision? Answer to all of whom? Dragons, cloaked figures, and knights?

"...that homes both my copy samples and..." was confusing. The phrasing is odd. Also, "that" should be "who," because you're talking about a person. A nit, but agents may notice such things!

Good luck with this! It sounds like a fun story.

Kourtnie McKenzie said...

Thank you so much for all the kind comments! I actually got a partial request one day after sending out a revised version of this query, so it really helped. :)

As a note, dragons eat people that break the law, so it wasn't far from the literal meaning. XD But it definitely sounds cliche after everyone's comments gave me a second look at it.