Mar 23, 2011

Query Joseph and the Magical Pathways

Its Joseph Wendt’s first day as a teenager and life just got infinitely more complicated. Joseph would like to think he is still that guy who doesn’t believe in magic, dragons, or wizards. He was that guy before a shadow figure attacked him, before a wizard saved him, and before he discovered a one thousand year old prophesy which points to him as the one destined to save a magical world Joseph has never even heard of.

If you ask Joseph, however, the prophesy has named the wrong man. Forget the fact that being brave is not one of Joseph’s characteristics, or that words have a funny way of fighting him; Joseph isn’t magical, never has been, not a day in his life. He is certainly not the type of boy you would expect to be chosen to save the world or save, well, anything. But all of that is about to change.

Joseph is thrust into a world where things are never what they seem. Wizards are the norm and fairies are evil. Luckily, Juliana, a wizard-in-training with a fierce competitive streak, is up for the challenge of getting one befuddled teenage boy ready for the fight of his life.

With a few lessons, and one very interesting game night where things only went mildly wrong (Joseph really hadn’t meant to levitate Juliana’s family, that was definitely his wand’s fault), Joseph almost believes, that maybe, just maybe...nah.

But doubt shuffling around Joseph’s rambling mind is the least of his worries. With magic, the line between the truth and a lie are quickly blurred and betrayal is an easily accomplished task. Joseph must face the facts. His new friends may not be what they seem. And time is running out.

Joseph and the Magical Pathways is a complete young adult fantasy novel at 65,000 words. Thank you for your time.


Anonymous Author said...

This looks really good.

A few comments. This is probably middle grade, not YA. I'm basing that on the character's age and the subject matter.

(Do not despair. My agent said to me the other day, "YA's getting overcrowded, but there's still room in middle grade.")

You spend too much of the query (two paragraphs) dealing with Joseph's disbelief. Of course, this always has to be dealt with when the MC encounters magic for the first time, but since the reader has already suspended disbelief, it can be frustrating if the characters spend too much time refusing to. Frustrating in a book, frustrating in a query.

The last sentence in the first paragraph is particularly unwieldy. I'd try to compress those first two graphs a lot... the stuff that comes after is more interesting.

Anonymous Author said...

Oh, also "things are never what they seem" is a bit of a cliche-- can you think of something more interesting to say about the world?

yankinfrance said...

I think this is a good start, but it's just that, a start. It's much too wordy -- I bet you could cut out half the words (especially following Anon Author's suggestions), and the query will be tighter and much more lively.

There's a problem with tenses here and there -- keep it all in the present tense. And it's "it's" not "its". You'd probably lose a good number of agents with the very first word!

Otherwise, the first sentence if pretty good.

Also beware of things like "would like to think he is still the guy who doesn't" instead of going at it more directly.

Instead of dealing first with his disbelief, try getting right to the action -- the attack by the shadow figure, the wizard saving him, the prophesy.

That way, you've set up the "If you ask Joseph, however" line.

I think you've got the bones of a good query in here, it just needs to hit the gym.

Caroline said...

Thank you both so much for the feedback! I am definitely excited about making changes and making this a stronger query. Your suggestions have been so helpful!

Mark said...

Looks like a good story here.

A few comments:

1- in 2nd paragraph the teenager refers to himself as "wrong man"- this sticks out because he is noted both as a teenager (I would assume 13) and a boy, elsewhere.

2- "time is running out" sounds like a cliche, unless you can tell us more about why this is an issue- the idea of time running out builds suspense, but for it not to be a a cliche, you should tie it to something particular, for example "His new friends may not be what they seem, and time is running out before...(he loses his magical power, a war lord attacks his family, etc, etc).

Hope some of this helps, good luck with your query and book!