Jul 23, 2010

Query- Fledgling (Revised)

Click here to read the original query.

This is my revised version- I hope it reads better. Thank you for your feedback.

Fledgling, is a completed 90,000 word, young adult urban fantasy.

Eighteen-year-old Chance Morgan has a secret—but he’s not the only one.

Chance has everything he could want. With his Navajo grandfather as a guide, he successfully hides his growing ancestral powers as the concealed world of shapeshifting unfolds before him. He discovers his abilities are far more intoxicating than wasting time with small town friends, having no interest in complicating his life any further. But when Ana Hughes, the new girl at Clark Fork High, tries going undetected, he can’t help but notice her… even if he doesn’t want to.

Quiet and introspective, Ana’s sad green eyes pull Chance in, shattering his preconceived rules against love and friendship. The opaque scar rising up her sternum and an irregular heartbeat trigger his instinct to protect her and he knows she’s hiding something. But as their trust grows, Ana also becomes suspicious of his animal-like senses and miraculous healing ability. And he is forced to risk either losing her or revealing his astonishing secret life.

On graduation night his grandfather reluctantly exposes a gruesome family secret. Then a nameless cousin appears who unravels a world Chance thought he understood-- placing all of their lives in jeopardy.

As a mother of a child with heart defects, I have lived through the stress and fear associated with it and was inspired to create a character who could rise above her physical disabilities.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

6 comments:

Suzi McGowen said...

I'd move "Fledgling, is a completed 90,000 word young adult urban fantasy." to the end of the query. It interferes with your great hook.

Does Chance's grandfather have to be Navajo? I'm concerned that you'll have to spend a lot of your time explaining why Chance is a shapeshifter (skinwalker), but really isn't evil. (Navajo culture holds that skinwalkers are the worst kind of evil wizards.)

There are lots of other cultural issues that would arise if Chance's grandfather is Navajo (and teaching Chance).

gj said...

You're trying too hard to be "pretty" and ending up too vague. There's potential here, though, so I'm going to be a little harsh here to hammer home the point on vagueness versus specificity.

It's good that the characters have secrets, but a query is not the place to keep them hidden. Just say what the secret is, no beating around the bush.

Take a look at the initial paragraphs to see what I mean:

FIRST: Eighteen-year-old Chance Morgan has a secret—but he’s not the only one.

COMMENT: That doesn't tell us anything except that the protagonist is 18. Everyone has secrets. That's pretty much a truism in life, and even more so in fiction. If there weren't any secrets, we wouldn't keep turning the page to find answers. Cut this sentence completely.

NEXT PARAGRAPH, LINE BY LINE:
Chance has everything he could want. [Then there's no story. Story happens only when there's a problem. Also, it's too vague. For some people Ć«verything is a sleeping back and a mess kit. For others, it's a five-star hotel and a billion dollars in the bank. Be specific.] With his Navajo grandfather as a guide, he successfully hides his growing ancestral powers [what the heck are they? the ability to hunt buffalo? the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound? the ability to smoke hallucinogens and foretell the future? Until you tell the reader what those powers are, the phrase is meaningless ]as the concealed world of shapeshifting [aha -- his powers, presumably. But you don't even clearly say that. Could be that his powere is to identify and hunt down the evil shape shifters] unfolds before him. He discovers his abilities [what abilities?] are far more intoxicating [what does this really mean? he slurs his words, giggles a lot and then falls into a comatose state?] than wasting time with small town friends, having no interest in complicating his life any further. But when Ana Hughes, the new girl at Clark Fork High, tries going undetected [again -- that doesn't create any clear picture; what does a person do to try to go undectected? the very act of trying to be invisible is going to attract attention], he can’t help but notice her… even if he doesn’t want to.

Rework would look something like this, but in your voice:

On Chance's 18th birthday, his Navajo grandfather tells him a story of his ancestry, including their ability to shift into eagle form. Chance doesn't believe it until SOMETHING HAPPENS. From then on, he worries he'll shift at an inopportune moment, in front of his classmates, and be persecuted. His secret makes him more aware of how others hide their secrets. His new classmate, Anna, has one, and he's afraid it's that she's going to die before graduation. [That's the setup; add a DETAIL-laden paragraph about what they do, for the plot, and who's opposing them, i.e., the conflict.]

Or whatever the story is. But I don't know what it is yet, because you keep burying it in vagueness.

gj said...

You're trying too hard to be "pretty" and ending up too vague. There's potential here, though, so I'm going to be a little harsh here to hammer home the point on vagueness versus specificity.

It's good that the characters have secrets, but a query is not the place to keep them hidden. Just say what the secret is, no beating around the bush.

Take a look at the initial paragraphs to see what I mean:

FIRST: Eighteen-year-old Chance Morgan has a secret—but he’s not the only one.

COMMENT: That doesn't tell us anything except that the protagonist is 18. Everyone has secrets. That's pretty much a truism in life, and even more so in fiction. If there weren't any secrets, we wouldn't keep turning the page to find answers. Cut this sentence completely.

NEXT PARAGRAPH, LINE BY LINE:
Chance has everything he could want. [Then there's no story. Story happens only when there's a problem. Also, it's too vague. For some people Ć«verything is a sleeping back and a mess kit. For others, it's a five-star hotel and a billion dollars in the bank. Be specific.] With his Navajo grandfather as a guide, he successfully hides his growing ancestral powers [what the heck are they? the ability to hunt buffalo? the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound? the ability to smoke hallucinogens and foretell the future? Until you tell the reader what those powers are, the phrase is meaningless ]as the concealed world of shapeshifting [aha -- his powers, presumably. But you don't even clearly say that. Could be that his powere is to identify and hunt down the evil shape shifters] unfolds before him. He discovers his abilities [what abilities?] are far more intoxicating [what does this really mean? he slurs his words, giggles a lot and then falls into a comatose state?] than wasting time with small town friends, having no interest in complicating his life any further. But when Ana Hughes, the new girl at Clark Fork High, tries going undetected [again -- that doesn't create any clear picture; what does a person do to try to go undectected? the very act of trying to be invisible is going to attract attention], he can’t help but notice her… even if he doesn’t want to.

Rework would look something like this, but in your voice:

On Chance's 18th birthday, his Navajo grandfather tells him a story of his ancestry, including their ability to shift into eagle form. Chance doesn't believe it until SOMETHING HAPPENS. From then on, he worries he'll shift at an inopportune moment, in front of his classmates, and be persecuted. His secret makes him more aware of how others hide their secrets. His new classmate, Anna, has one, and he's afraid it's that she's going to die before graduation. [That's the setup; add a DETAIL-laden paragraph about what they do, for the plot, and who's opposing them, i.e., the conflict.]

Or whatever the story is. But I don't know what it is yet, because you keep burying it in vagueness.

Maderin said...

I am so, so truly sorry but I have to point out a couple things.

- Highschool in a small town with the name "Fork" in it.
- "New girl" who needs "protecting"
Reserved, magical/mythical boy who is determined not to fall in love but is won over by the helpless/adorable nature of the new girl.
- Also new girl is "suspicious of his animal-like senses" and he has to risk exposing his secret life

I'm not going to be a jerk and go comparing you to everyone's favourite vamp books, but just be aware how it sounds. I'm sure your story is vasty different, however I just wanted to point out that it caught my eye. Like immediately.

I think you should focus less on how they are drawn together and describing their effect on eachother and just talk action. It will be obvious that it's a love story I think, because that's almost to be expected. Action is what will set it apart from other YA fantasy.

Rick Daley said...

This is huge improvement over the original version, but you still have some room to grow.

I agree that you should move the title, word count, and genre statement to the end. Also, capitalize the title FLEDGLING. Open the query with your hook. Which brings me to:

Your hook.

You want to start with a gripping hook. The first line is still too vague, as gj pointed out. It should hint at the actual conflict in the story. I'd give a suggestion, but I can't because I still don't know what the conflict in the story is.

Try this as an exercise: tell us your story, but do it in just one sentence. Chance needs to X, but he can't because of Y, and if he fails, Z will happen.

The story description goes into better detail, but it's just for the characters and you still only hint at the actual conflict in the plot.

What's at stake if Ana finds out about his abilities? It can't be losing her, because that's the alternative to her finding out (he risks losing her OR revealing his secret, not he risks losing her BY revealing his secret).

The grandfather's secret and the cousin seem to be the heart of the conflict, but they are almost a footnote. Cut back on the paragraphs about Chance and Ana and add some detail to the conflict in the story. I think you should structure it like this:

- HOOK
- PARAGRAPH ABOUT PROTAGONIST
- PARAGRAPH ABOUT ANTAGONIST AND WHAT'S AT STAKE
- BIO
- TITLE, WORD COUNT, GENRE

I still don't think you need to include the detail in your bio about your daughter's condition, especially because it seems out of place in regard to the story...there's nothing here that shows Ana as a character who rises above her physical disabilities, and Chance is the primary protagonist.

I've heard many agents relate novels to a meal...they don't care how it was prepared, they care how it tastes.

To put this in another light, it does not show you as a writer who can continue to create new and special characters and worlds; it limits you. An agent (and publisher) should see you as someone who can create many wonderful novels and a variety of intriguing characters.

Keep at it, I think you're almost there.

Anonymous Author said...

Everyone's raised some very good points. I just want to add one thing.

"Quiet and introspective, Ana’s sad green eyes..."

Do you see how the adjectival phrase modifies "eyes" rather than "Ana"? In a best case scenario, everyone's eyes are quiet. (Though I suppose only Little Orphan Annie's are introspective.)

I bring this up just because a minor error like this in a query can make an agent fear the worst about your manuscript.