Aug 26, 2010

Query- The End Begins (2nd Revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Dear __________,

The End Begins is a 120,000 word epic sci-fi/fantasy story that follows Rai, an outcast seeking her lost parents while she copes as the only sorceress among a human population during a time of war. To private special interests, she offers herself as a mercenary to gain knowledge of her past and of the world around her.

For her latest assignment she must protect the Source of Sentient Free Will. Though to the common man it appears to be an apple, it remains unclaimed by the invading forces of the C.U.T., the Collation of United Territories. They close in on all sides, taking control of any ‘alien’ technology that has come into this world.

But as the population of anomalies like Rai grows, it forces the C.U.T. to go after the coveted fruit and take down anyone in their path. Against an army, aided by pockets of residential resistance, she must navigate the dangerous territory while racing against the C.U.T. to stop them from their ultimate conquest.

Sample chapters are available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.


Shelley Sly said...

Hey there. I've read your first two versions, and this one is definitely the best. :)

I do think that the first paragraph can be rearranged a little. After reading the whole query, I think the story seems fascinating, but I didn't get that impression until the second paragraph. Maybe instead of starting with the title and word count, start the query with a hook. I'd work with Rai's two struggles: being the only sorceress left, and trying to find her lost parents.

I also found paragraph three confusing. But as the population of anomalies like Rai grows, it forces the C.U.T... That "it" threw me off. Does the growing population actually force the C.U.T. to go after the fruit, or does it motivate them? I was under the impression that the other anomalies were on Rai's side. Maybe I'm wrong.

Awesome premise you've got here -- definitely a story I'd read. Best of luck with this!

Justin W. Parente said...

Hey there,

So I haven't gotten to comment on the previous versions, but I can tell this may have some promise just because of how much thinner it looks on first glance.

Now onto tiny things. The first is a big rule breaker, but an easy fix. Just how agents don't like seeing a mash-up comparison of what the book is, ie: "It's Catcher in the Rye meets Ender's Game, with a Stephen King twist." I think you might know what I'm talking about. The same rule applies for labeling your genre. Technically, epic sci-fi/fantasy doesn't exist. I'm sure it can, but be curt with how you're labeling your query. You don't want the agent to be bombarded with too many genre shift elements that makes their head spin. The genre is either epic fantasy, sci-fi, fantasy, or the proper term I believe you need to use is "science fantasy." That's a legitimate term for the sci-fi/fantasy cross-genre.

2) First sentence, as it is now (running in with the book info and word count) is long. Try trimming it down and separating the manuscript specificity with the actual story telling.

3) For the query, again to make it tight (and give it punch to your bad guy name), you might consider just calling your faction the C.U.T., without explaining the acronym. It sounds devious enough. Just a suggestion, but you could probably do without the full name in the query.

4) End of 2nd paragraph: what is "this" world? Our world? Alien world? Go generic so I don't ask questions, with "the" world.

5) Can first sentence of 3rd paragraph read as: "As Rai's anomaly population grows..."

6) My last and final comment is try to stay away from the "fruit of the labor" idea in the query. The Source can certainly be an apple, but it sounds like it's been borrowed from something. Like the Apple of Eden, or such comparisons. Again, maybe go more generic for the query and save the detail for the synopsis. Only a suggestion. Use what works.

Hope this helps! See you around.

Mesmerix said...

Hey hey, this is much better! You keep improving each time and it's such a delight to read the changes. Now that you've got the barebones hammered down (character & conflict) you can dive in to add voice and distinction, most of which you already have in spades. Really, this is good. Your hook is great and the premise is unique. I am excited about it, and that doesn't happen often!

On with the critcism:

1) Genre. Justin is right. Epic SF/F isn't really a genre. Science Fantasy is, and from your query that looks like where you should fall. An agent/pub will help you make the final genre decision after they read your MS.

2) Rai. I really think the focus should be on Rai as a mercenary/sorceress, as that is what is most unique. Being an orphan of some type is a trope in SF/F, and shouldn't be your focus. I'd cut it entirely and do something like, "that follows Rai, an outcast sorceress offering herself as a mercenary during the war." Then go on to talk about WHY she does that, for knowledge and such. Entice me to Rai as a character.

3) Apple. I actually like the symbolism of the apple. So I have to disagree with Justin there. Matter of opinion I think.

4) Antagonist. Right now your antagonist is this omnipotent, unknown organization named CUT (which you don't have to spell out, and you don't need to place "the" in front of; we don't say "the FBI" all the time, we just say FBI). My issue is that CUT as a baddy isn't all that interesting. They're just doing their job. Is there a human element to the antagonist? Is there one particular person, a team leader or something, that Rai faces? You don't have to go into depth, but I need to have some more attachment to CUT other than "mighty corporation of bad guys who do bad things." Does that make sense?

That's really all I got. I think what you've got is fantastic. Keep trimming off the fat and go back and add in distinction. I've mentioned it before in other comments, but I like the 5-point query method: 1)character, 2)conflict, 3)setting, 4)action, 5)distinction.

Oh, and when you've got ARCs someday, I want to read and review this book. I mean that.

Scribbler to Scribe

Jeff said...

Thanks guys! this group has been amazing with the feedback and I'm really excited.

Mesmerix, my biggest obstacle is defining the C.U.T. more as an invading country than a corporation, but they do come off that way. Giving a group a singular human element, (greed, lust, etc.) is kinda strange. For the query though I'll try to attach a human element next round.

Mesmerix said...

Jeff: Somehow, you have to define CUT clearly, precisely, with voice, distinction, while making me interested, drooling to read... and do it all in 1-2 sentences max.

Queries are hard. Heck, I'm still working on my own query. It's a lot easier for me to sit back and say, "You should do this" than to actually write it.

So, keep at it and best of luck!

Justin W. Parente said...

I'm sure you'll be able to pull it off, Jeff. The premise is well-rounded. Like Mesmerix said, it's tweaks here and revisions there just to get it right for one's own taste, but who's to say you don't have something an agent will gobble up. I say when you feel confident in really getting CUT to stand-out, just save the query, sit back, and use it as your first 1/10 submission batch. If you come back with 10 rejections, then you know you can change it some more. Use that time to gather more ideas on how to clearly define them each time.

Dominique said...

Because I haven't read the previous versions, I don't know anything abut the plot or if this is an improvement.

I can tell you that you've certainly got concision on your side with this query.

That said, there are parts of don't make sense to me. the sentence "Though to the common man it appears to be an apple, it remains unclaimed by the invading forces of the C.U.T., the Collation of United Territories," doesn't actually make logical sense. I understand what you're trying to say, but it's not what you're actually saying. Your sentence sounds like you're saying, "although it looks like an apple, they still haven't been able to find it." The apple bit seems to be more of a hindrance than a help to the enemy, so what you mean is probably more like, "because it looks like in apple, it hasn't been captured."

You have to remember that a stranger reading this query will only know what the query they see makes apparent.

Jeff said...

Justine, thanks for the kind words. I tend to be a perfectionist sometimes, but I think you've convinced me, once the final tweaks are done that I'll be ready to send it out.

Dominique, very good. I never noticed that sentience was saying that before. Once you brought it to my attention I was stunned. I'll have to decide what to do with it. Thanks!