Sep 27, 2011

QUERY EPIC FANTASY NOVEL

Dear X,

Set in a world far from our own, the legend of Aerimore’s flame had long since extinguished before Rune Greyhawk had ever heard of it or the prophecies surrounding the mythical sungod; but now, in an age where men have taken over the domain of gods and tamed the wildest of dragons, Rune has somehow become an unsuspecting participant in the thousand-old mystery, carrying the weight of a new world upon his shoulders.


Who would have known something so simple as mining for dragon eggs on the shore would change his life forever? Had he not been swayed by the potential, fifteen-year old Eyris Gildon would have never left his estranged father and his home in Sena to join New Athens’ army, never met the Crown Prince of Greyhawk who was destined to reset the world again. But the great battle of the East and West tied them together, the nations of New Athens and Edome deep in the throes of war, and just as Eyris was meant to become a warrior of men, Rune was meant to be an adversary of a greater power. Theirs is a tale of heroism and courage, a tale shared with many others who would one day become heroes of old. For this is the story of man’s final stand against man—his final stand against gods.


*TITLE* is a complete, epic fantasy novel at 157,000 words; a modern “bildungsroman” for a new generation, somewhere between the tone of Anne McCaffrey and Ursula Le Guin. A second book has been plotted but not yet written.


*credits and thank you's, etc*

12 comments:

yankinfrance said...

Why not start the query like this:

"Who would ever have thought gathering dragon eggs would change Rune Greyhawk's life forever?"

(I put gathering instead of mining because you say it's "on the shore" -- mining is usually underground).

It's a stronger opening, quite provocative and automatically tells the reader what kind of world we're going into -- no need for cliches like "in a world far from our own" and "in an age".

Watch the length of your sentences. They're extremely long. Break them up into shorter, easier to manage sentences. This will make it easier to introduce all the various plot elements.

And again, be careful of things like "Theirs is a tale of heroism and courage" "heroes of old" and "For..." : it's pretty hackneyed stuff.

By relying on cliches, you're telling, not showing, but what you're really showing is that your story might not be any different from any other epic fantasy. And I don't think that's what you want!

Matthew MacNish said...

I think you're missing a -year- between thousand and old.

Melanie Faith said...

thanks for the input! I'm going to keep working on it. :)

Rick Daley said...

Keep in mind that many blogging agents (most notably, but not only, Nathan Bransford) have advised against rhetorical questions in queries. The risk is an answer you don't want.

For example, if you start with "Who would ever have thought gathering dragon eggs would change Rune Greyhawk's life forever?" you don't want the reader to go "Not me" and stop reading.

I agree that the sentence structure should be broken up...don't try to show off your advanced prose-writing skills, instead focus on making the query succinct and the story understandable.

I don't read much in fantasy, so my opinion is not well-educated for this genre, but I get confused when too many fantastic elements of the world are added to a query. I think keeping it to the core story (protag / antag and the struggle) is the best way to go. Avoid the synopsis-like details and focus on what's really driving your novel.

Good luck!

Melanie Faith said...

Rick - good points. thanks!

I think the problem I'm really having is that there is more than one principal protagonist and I don't know how to reconcile all the information/characters/plot in a nice, tidy 150 word blurb. I really wish I had an impartial person to write it for me! I'm feeling kind of lost.

Rick Daley said...

Melanie- Take it one step further...try to boil it down to one sentence, then build up from there. This way you can get to the true heart of the story.

As tempting as it would be to hire out a query writer, it has to be in your voice.

yankinfrance said...

I believe this one works as an exception to the no-rhetorical questions rule: it immediately caught my attention (after slogging through that first paragraph). I like it that it's quirky and immediately provides a setting for the rest of the query/novel.

Also, this one isn't really a rhetorical question: since it's kind of impossible for the reader to answer (since we're not part of world where one can collect dragon eggs).

Even the dreaded Query Shark gives a pass to some rhetorical questions! (See her most recent blog post.)

As for the multiple characters: you still want to develop your query solely through the eyes of a single character. There are ways of mentioning that there are multiple perspectives, if that's the case.

Melanie Faith said...

*squeal* Thankful for all the great advice! All apologies for the sloshing...

Anonymous Author said...

Melanie, I'm gonna add a coda to Rick's one-sentence advice:

Try to boil the story down to one sentence, and if you can't do that, go back and revise the manuscript.

Melanie Faith said...

SO... is this getting closer or father away from effectiveness?
--------

Who would have known something so simple as digging for dragon eggs on the shore would change his life forever?


The legend of Aerimore’s flame had long since extinguished before Rune Greyhawk had ever heard of the prophecies surrounding the mythical sungod. Now, in a time where men have taken over the domain of gods and tamed the wildest of dragons, Rune has somehow become an unsuspecting participant in the thousand-year old mystery. He must carry the weight of destiny upon his shoulders before the nations of the East and West destroy each other and the rekindled flame, the world he knows.

Anonymous Author said...

Who would have known something so simple as digging for dragon eggs on the shore would change his life forever?

Okay except for the pronoun with no antecedent, and the rhetorical question. (There seem to be a lot more agents against 'em than for 'em, pace Yank In France.)

The legend of Aerimore’s flame had long since extinguished before before Rune Greyhawk had ever heard of the prophecies surrounding the mythical sungod.

Got a thesaurus? Extinguish it. Throw it in the trash. If that seems too harsh, donate it to the library book sale.

This sentence starts with a legend that's long since extinguished and ends with prophecies your protagonist hasn't heard of. It should be telling us what your protag does.

Now, in a time where men have taken over the domain of gods and tamed the wildest of dragons, Rune has somehow become an unsuspecting participant in the thousand-year old mystery.

When men say "men" to mean humans I figure they just don't know any better, but when women do it-- oy. That aside, you're still frontloading your sentence with backstory.

He must carry the weight of destiny upon his shoulders before the nations of the East and West destroy each other and the rekindled flame, the world he knows.

Yes, but what does he *do*? Be specific.

Tell us what problem your character faces and what he does to solve it, and why that makes things worse.

Melanie Faith said...

okay, all, I have submitted a second version and am awaiting it to be posted. let me know what you think...


thanks!!!!