Sep 6, 2010

Query - Bond of Darkness (3rd Revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.
Click here to read what was once the supposed final revesion ;-)

Please disregard the previous version (2nd) saying "Final Revision." Despite my stance, I realized I could gain more for filling out the query to that 250 mark. Thanks to all!


Dear [agent],

[Personal introduction.]

Valence, a Lunata warrior, hears a not-so-avoidable voice in his head. It pokes around and guides him, but also haunts him to remember his greatest sin -- the day he killed a friend. He claims he was forced to murder, but by an unknown means. For fourteen years, he has lived among the diverse races of Villis-Idun, each of which fear the Lunata.

Valence has an equal fear that the people cannot sense. Evidence grows that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land. It claims its victims' hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures. Already, Valence is hunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent. Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idun and rediscover how the infection was first contained.

The fight for survival quickly becomes a war, and Valence is charged with saving those he has never met. He must shed his stigma and regain his honor. He must relearn to trust those who have wronged him, all while unifying a nation against an enemy they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be open to destroy all interracial civilization.

BOND OF DARKNESS is an epic fantasy, complete at 115,000 words. It tells the traditional hero’s quest while introducing an enemy far from demon lords and omnipotent gods. I have been published in the Stockpot, an undergraduate literary journal and the Sentinel, a county-circulated newspaper.

Thank you for your consideration.

7 comments:

Jodi said...

Let me say, the query is getting better and better as you work on it more. A couple of things though:

“Valence has equal fear that the people cannot see.” This line throws me. I get that you are characterizing the Darkness as an invisible force, which is important for us to know it isn’t some biological weapon or something like that, but maybe this isn’t the best way. I think it’s the ‘Valence has equal fear’ part that gets me. You might be able to save yourself a few words by combining this sentence with the next something like: Evidence that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land sparks fear in Valence. Also you can lose the characterization of its invisibility here because you say ‘they cannot see it’ in the next paragraph.

“It claims its victims’ hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures.” To me, this sounds as if ‘it’ is removing the hearts from the person’s body and transforming the hearts into murderous creatures and the impression I’ve gotten from the MS is that the Darkness is transforming the people into murderous creatures. This might be nitpicky but we’re going for clarity.


Already, Valence is haunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent. Stop the sentence at infection and drop the rest, the implication is repeated in the next paragraph in the line: charged with saving those he never met. (which illustrates the idea much better, IMHO.)

Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idunn and rediscover how the infection was first contained I feel like this line should be dropped down to the start of the next paragraph, with all the other ‘he must’ statements. And then alter the existing first sentence to something like: Their search quickly becomes a fight for survival.

So a few general comments on the two middle paragraphs:

Having read most of the MS, it feels like the “Already” line should be about the creatures and servants haunting the land, because Xinos attacks the king and then Valence and friends are charged with rediscovering how to contain it. If I remember correctly, Valence had been injured before the opening chapter, but he isn’t charged with doing anything until after he saves the king.

Also, I don’t think it’s super important to know he has a few friends who are traveling with him. Based on this query, with or without the mention of his few friends, I’d read the book. It sounds interesting enough with all the personal and public struggles you’ve set up here.

I think the chronology of the MS can be demonstrated more clearly and in fewer words with something like:

Valence is charged with saving those he’s never met and he must scour Villis-Indunn to rediscover how the infection was first contained. The search quickly becomes a fight for survival and he must shed his stigma, regain his honor and learn to trust those who have wronged him if he hopes to unify the nation against an evil they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be opened to destroy the interracial civilizations if Villis-Idnunn.

The last paragraph is great. I have noticed, on an agent or two’s blog that if you have sample pieces of your novel on your own blog/website you may want to mention your site in your –especially for those agents that don’t want sample material sent in the query.

All-in-all, good job.

Jodi said...

Let me say, the query is getting better and better as you work on it more. A couple of things though:

“Valence has equal fear that the people cannot see.” This line throws me. I get that you are characterizing the Darkness as an invisible force, which is important for us to know it isn’t some biological weapon or something like that, but maybe this isn’t the best way. I think it’s the ‘Valence has equal fear’ part that gets me. You might be able to save yourself a few words by combining this sentence with the next something like: Evidence that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land sparks fear in Valence. Also you can lose the characterization of its invisibility here because you say ‘they cannot see it’ in the next paragraph.

“It claims its victims’ hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures.” To me, this sounds as if ‘it’ is removing the hearts from the person’s body and transforming the hearts into murderous creatures and the impression I’ve gotten from the MS is that the Darkness is transforming the people into murderous creatures. This might be nitpicky but we’re going for clarity.


Already, Valence is haunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent. Stop the sentence at infection and drop the rest, the implication is repeated in the next paragraph in the line: charged with saving those he never met. (which illustrates the idea much better, IMHO.)

Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idunn and rediscover how the infection was first contained I feel like this line should be dropped down to the start of the next paragraph, with all the other ‘he must’ statements. And then alter the existing first sentence to something like: Their search quickly becomes a fight for survival.

So a few general comments on the two middle paragraphs:

Having read most of the MS, it feels like the “Already” line should be about the creatures and servants haunting the land, because Xinos attacks the king and then Valence and friends are charged with rediscovering how to contain it. If I remember correctly, Valence had been injured before the opening chapter, but he isn’t charged with doing anything until after he saves the king.

Also, I don’t think it’s super important to know he has a few friends who are traveling with him. Based on this query, with or without the mention of his few friends, I’d read the book. It sounds interesting enough with all the personal and public struggles you’ve set up here.

I think the chronology of the MS can be demonstrated more clearly and in fewer words with something like:

Valence is charged with saving those he’s never met and he must scour Villis-Indunn to rediscover how the infection was first contained. The search quickly becomes a fight for survival and he must shed his stigma, regain his honor and learn to trust those who have wronged him if he hopes to unify the nation against an evil they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be opened to destroy the interracial civilizations if Villis-Idnunn.

The last paragraph is great. I have noticed, on an agent or two’s blog that if you have sample pieces of your novel on your own blog/website you may want to mention your site in your –especially for those agents that don’t want sample material sent in the query.

All-in-all, good job.

Jodi said...

Let me say, the query is getting better and better as you work on it more. A couple of things though:

“Valence has equal fear that the people cannot see.” This line throws me. I get that you are characterizing the Darkness as an invisible force, which is important for us to know it isn’t some biological weapon or something like that, but maybe this isn’t the best way. I think it’s the ‘Valence has equal fear’ part that gets me. You might be able to save yourself a few words by combining this sentence with the next something like: Evidence that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land sparks fear in Valence. Also you can lose the characterization of its invisibility here because you say ‘they cannot see it’ in the next paragraph.

“It claims its victims’ hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures.” To me, this sounds as if ‘it’ is removing the hearts from the person’s body and transforming the hearts into murderous creatures and the impression I’ve gotten from the MS is that the Darkness is transforming the people into murderous creatures. This might be nitpicky but we’re going for clarity.


Already, Valence is haunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent. Stop the sentence at infection and drop the rest, the implication is repeated in the next paragraph in the line: charged with saving those he never met. (which illustrates the idea much better, IMHO.)

Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idunn and rediscover how the infection was first contained I feel like this line should be dropped down to the start of the next paragraph, with all the other ‘he must’ statements. And then alter the existing first sentence to something like: Their search quickly becomes a fight for survival.

So a few general comments on the two middle paragraphs:

Having read most of the MS, it feels like the “Already” line should be about the creatures and servants haunting the land, because Xinos attacks the king and then Valence and friends are charged with rediscovering how to contain it. If I remember correctly, Valence had been injured before the opening chapter, but he isn’t charged with doing anything until after he saves the king.

Also, I don’t think it’s super important to know he has a few friends who are traveling with him. Based on this query, with or without the mention of his few friends, I’d read the book. It sounds interesting enough with all the personal and public struggles you’ve set up here.

I think the chronology of the MS can be demonstrated more clearly and in fewer words with something like:

Valence is charged with saving those he’s never met and he must scour Villis-Indunn to rediscover how the infection was first contained. The search quickly becomes a fight for survival and he must shed his stigma, regain his honor and learn to trust those who have wronged him if he hopes to unify the nation against an evil they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be opened to destroy the interracial civilizations if Villis-Idnunn.

The last paragraph is great. I have noticed, on an agent or two’s blog that if you have sample pieces of your novel on your own blog/website you may want to mention your site in your –especially for those agents that don’t want sample material sent in the query.

All-in-all, good job.

Jodi said...

Let me say, the query is getting better and better as you work on it more. A couple of things though:

“Valence has equal fear that the people cannot see.” This line throws me. I get that you are characterizing the Darkness as an invisible force, which is important for us to know it isn’t some biological weapon or something like that, but maybe this isn’t the best way. I think it’s the ‘Valence has equal fear’ part that gets me. You might be able to save yourself a few words by combining this sentence with the next something like: Evidence that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land sparks fear in Valence. Also you can lose the characterization of its invisibility here because you say ‘they cannot see it’ in the next paragraph.

“It claims its victims’ hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures.” To me, this sounds as if ‘it’ is removing the hearts from the person’s body and transforming the hearts into murderous creatures and the impression I’ve gotten from the MS is that the Darkness is transforming the people into murderous creatures. This might be nitpicky but we’re going for clarity.


Already, Valence is haunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent. Stop the sentence at infection and drop the rest, the implication is repeated in the next paragraph in the line: charged with saving those he never met. (which illustrates the idea much better, IMHO.)

Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idunn and rediscover how the infection was first contained I feel like this line should be dropped down to the start of the next paragraph, with all the other ‘he must’ statements. And then alter the existing first sentence to something like: Their search quickly becomes a fight for survival.

So a few general comments on the two middle paragraphs:

Having read most of the MS, it feels like the “Already” line should be about the creatures and servants haunting the land, because Xinos attacks the king and then Valence and friends are charged with rediscovering how to contain it. If I remember correctly, Valence had been injured before the opening chapter, but he isn’t charged with doing anything until after he saves the king.

Also, I don’t think it’s super important to know he has a few friends who are traveling with him. Based on this query, with or without the mention of his few friends, I’d read the book. It sounds interesting enough with all the personal and public struggles you’ve set up here.

I think the chronology of the MS can be demonstrated more clearly and in fewer words with something like:

Valence is charged with saving those he’s never met and he must scour Villis-Indunn to rediscover how the infection was first contained. The search quickly becomes a fight for survival and he must shed his stigma, regain his honor and learn to trust those who have wronged him if he hopes to unify the nation against an evil they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be opened to destroy the interracial civilizations if Villis-Idnunn.

The last paragraph is great. I have noticed, on an agent or two’s blog that if you have sample pieces of your novel on your own blog/website you may want to mention your site in your –especially for those agents that don’t want sample material sent in the query.

All-in-all, good job.

Zee Lemke said...

Wow, this is much better. It feels epic! P2S3 does a lot better at showing what the Darkness does than I've seen before. The last sentence of P2 also gives us a good idea of what the quest is like. Lunata is clearly a racial identifier and not an ethnic group. Yes. So on to the things that still need tweaking.

We're in close 3rd with Valence here, so why is he CLAIMING he was forced to murder? Doesn't he know? How can he have been forced to do something and not know what it was? "Unknown means" is unknown TO VALENCE unless you specify otherwise, and you can't use it to mean "unknown to the reader."

Similar difficulty in P2S1. Which people? The diverse races? Also, when I see "fear that," I assume the following phrase is going to be whatever is feared. I really don't think you need Valence being afraid here at all. Nor should evidence "grow" on its own; give us Valence uncovering it or something. If he has a sixth sense for Darkness infestations, now's a good time to mention it. It sets up why he's the one who has to save the world.

Don't call this a "traditional hero's quest," and don't mention the enemy (heck, Mithrus isn't even IN this version). Were those publications paid? If not, cut that whole paragraph. All you need is "BOND OF DARKNESS is a 115,000-word epic fantasy."

Jodi said...

Hey, this just keeps getting better and better every time you post a new one. I have a couple of thoughts though:

Valence has an equal fear that the people cannot sense.

This line throws me. I get that you are characterizing the Darkness as an invisible force, which is important for us to know it isn’t some biological weapon or something like that, but maybe this isn’t the best way. I think it’s the ‘Valence has equal fear’ part that gets me. You might be able to save yourself a few words by combining this sentence with the next something like: Evidence that the Darkness, a destructive infection, has returned to their land sparks fear in Valence. Maybe you can lose the characterization of its invisibility here because you say ‘they cannot see it’ in the next paragraph.

“It claims its victims’ hearts and transforms them into murderous creatures.”

To me, this sounds as if ‘it’ is removing the hearts from the person’s body and transforming the hearts into murderous creatures and the impression I’ve gotten from the MS is that the Darkness is transforming the people into murderous creatures, not their hearts. This might be nitpicky but we’re going for clarity.

Already, Valence is haunted by creatures and servants of the infection, but he seeks salvation for himself and the innocent.

Stop the sentence at infection and drop the rest, the implication is repeated in the next paragraph in the line: charged with saving those he never met. (which illustrates the idea much better, IMHO.)

Along with a few strong-willed friends, he must scour Villis-Idunn and rediscover how the infection was first contained

First off: is it important to the query that he is traveling with 'a few strong-willed friends'? Personally, I don't think so.

Secondly: I feel like this line should be dropped down to the start of the next paragraph, with all the other ‘he must’ statements. And then alter the existing first sentence to something like: Their search quickly becomes a fight for survival.

So a few general comments on the two middle paragraphs:

Having read most of the MS, it feels like the “Already” from line from above should be about the creatures and servants haunting the land, because Xinos (sorry probably spelled his name wrong)attacks the king and then Valence and friends are charged with rediscovering how to contain it. If I remember correctly, Valence had been injured before the opening chapter, but he isn’t charged with doing anything until after he saves the king.

I think the chronology of the MS can be demonstrated more clearly and in fewer words with something like:

Valence is charged with saving those he’s never met and he must scour Villis-Indunn to rediscover how the infection was first contained. The search quickly becomes a fight for survival and he must shed his stigma, regain his honor and learn to trust those who have wronged him if he hopes to unify the nation against an evil they cannot see. If they cannot suppress the infection, the Darkness’ path will be opened to destroy the interracial civilizations if Villis-Idnunn.

The last paragraph is great. I have noticed, on an agent or two’s blog that if you have sample pieces of your novel on your own blog/website (which you have from blogfest entries) you may want to mention your site in your query–especially for those agents that don’t want sample material sent in with the query.

All-in-all, good job.

Mesmerix said...

Can I just say "I agree with Z"?

I mean, this is the best query I've read from you to date. I only have a few nit-picky things.

P1S1 sounds out of style. "not-so-avoidable voice" reads odd to me, not like how you write, but like someone else. You want something with more punch for an opener, so I'd go straight to, "Valence, a Lunata warrior, hears a voice that pokes around in his head, guiding him, but also reminding him of his greatest sin-- the day he killed his friend." Maybe cut some words for excess...

P1S3 needs PoV work as Zee mentioned.

P2S1 reads odd to me. Try to make the sentence more simple, "Valance is also afraid of something." Just an example.

Again, this is the best I've seen. I wish I could be of more help.