Oct 28, 2010


Click here to read the original query.

Thirteen-year-old Nathan Dagger must transform himself from a chubby video gaming geek, into a strong and fearless warrior.

OPAL, the omni- psychic assassin league, believes Nathan has a powerful remote viewing gift. Locking onto their ruthless enemy Zafaar, and challenging him to a psychic battle is the mission assigned to him. The problem is, there is no getting out of this fight to the death.

An elaborate plan of deception is set in place to test and train Nathan. He is tried physically and mentally for ten agonizing weeks, using military drills and psychological tactics, designed to push him to his breaking point, and test his morals. Throughout his trials, and radical metamorphosis from a weakling into a fierce soldier, Nathan must discover the awesome power and the terrible curse of his hidden gifts. Only then can he enter the mysterious world of OPAL, where advanced technology is merged with psychic abilities to fight evil.

Deep underground in OPAL’s command center, Nathan is told the shocking news about Zafaar. He was an agent of OPAL, but turned traitor when he got denied leadership of the mind control program. Now he commands a radical organization with a dark ideology. His goal, purify the earth of anyone weak or unwilling to serve him. Cloaking his mind from OPAL, is the key to Zafaar’s success. Underestimating Nathan as a lethal enemy, is the biggest mistake he can make.  

DAGGER is an 86,000 word paranormal young adult novel. Thank you for your consideration.


Draconium said...

There is a problem of flow, and some logistical issues i have too.

First of all, if OPAL is a "assassin league" than why should Nathan trust them? He seems like a pawn in a struggle that has nothing to do with him. This isn't good, we want characters to have agency in their own lives. We want their lives to be there own. Strength is nothing when the character is fighting someone-else's battle.

What's at stake for Nathan personally?

How does Nathan get involved with OPAL?

why does he choose to fight on their side?

Also, it's not clear to me what "a powerful remote viewing gift" actually means, and why this is a worthy tool in battle.

On the other hand, the third paragraph struck me as overly explicit, especially when so much else which begs explanation goes unsaid. The second sentence especially made me feel very uneasy, "He is tried physically and mentally for ten agonizing weeks, using military drills and psychological tactics, designed to push him to his breaking point, and test his morals."

I have to say that line did nothing to fortify my faith in OPAL's moral integrity as an institution. It reminded me in fact of this one Radiolab episode entitled "Oops" Which talks in part about a psychological military experiment done, (in search of a way to make soldiers impervious to torture and "brainwashing") a study conducted at Harvard, one of the young subjects being a 16 year old Ted Kaczynski. It's pretty freaked-out stuff.

So either this story is much darker than you're tone suggests and it really is about loss of personal agency and identity, where the character is a pawn fighting in a war were both sides are the same, Eurasia/Eastasia whatever.

Or, as i suspect, this is a story of one character's triumph as he finds his personal strength and true identity. If so, than you have to focus more on the character and change where you put you're emphasis. What's at stake for Nathan? What big decision does he face? Why should we be on his side? That's all we need to know. Make sure all of those questions are fully accounted for and answered, leave out the rest.

Best of luck to you!

Shannon said...

I agree with Draconium that as I read I felt both that I was told too much about certain things and not enough about others. I also didn't get a sense of why Nathan was selected or why he decides to go along with it. Nathan seems like a passive MC with things happening to him instead of him causing things to happen or making choices.

One additional thing I noticed is in the last paragraph the query switches to focus on Zafaar's point of view. Since the rest of the query is about Nathan it should remain in his POV - his stakes, his choices etc.

Keep at it and best of luck to you!

siebendach said...

Oh, I think Nathan definitely shouldn't trust his superiors --- no assassin should! That's half the fun of assassin protagonists; they're in danger even when they're kicking major butt, because unseen considerations could suddenly make their superiors turn on them any second.

One extra sentence somewhere, about why Nathan does or doesn't trust OPAL, might reassure the reader of your query that you've got this covered.

And as per Shannon, definitely, definitely stay out of Zafaar's PoV. I'd also leave out the part of Zafaar possibly making the mistake of underestimating Nathan --- it makes Zafaar seem a lot less mysterious and dangerous. Emphasize what a deadly challenge Zafaar will pose for Nathan.