Jan 31, 2012


Click here to read the original query.


...or any other evil apocalyptic sounding name...

Dear "****",

Cara, a rebellious and stubborn fifteen year old, has recently decided that there is no Creator. Her beliefs, if discovered, are considered high treason and grounds for exile in her village. Desperate to protect his daughter, the High Priest confronts Cara about her beliefs, but she refuses to conform and runs away. She finds shelter with an old man in the hills, another non-believer who was exiled from the village years ago. By the time her father finds her she has become close friends with the heretic.

When Cara is dragged away from her new friend and forced to return home, an apprentice priest, Leolin, is assigned to babysit Cara and help recover her faith. He follows her to school and watches closely as she completes her chores, all while extolling the virtues of the Creator. Needless to say, Cara isn’t pleased. But her anger is quickly forgotten when foretold signs of a coming apocalypse, the Durstorung, begin to appear. The village animals are slaughtered. Lightning from clear blue skies burn down multiple houses. Cara is frightened by the events and is relieved when the old man arrives in the village, looking for shelter after his cottage was burned down. But before she can confide in her friend, the Durstorung arrives.

The villagers flee from the devastation and shelter in nearby caves, praying for redemption. The Durstorung is a blur – no one can remember what happened or how, but they all believe the Creator has decided to end the world and there is nothing they can do to save it. The food supplies in the cave won’t last till the end of the week. Cara, however, realizes something is amiss. Why do people have claw marks on their arms? And why were the animals slaughtered like prey? She tells everyone that the Durstorung might be a magical beast and tries to organize a scouting party, but only the old man believes her. Leolin refuses to let her out of his sight, and Cara is furious. With time running out, Cara must find a way to defeat the Durstorung on her own to save her village from certain annihilation.

COMING OF THE DURSTORUNG is a completed 53,000 word fantasy for young adult readers. I have one published short story in Byline Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




Anonymous Author said...

Dear ********, you're working and working on this, and it's still not coming together, and I'm starting to wonder if the problem is in the manuscript.

Here are a couple sentences that I wish you had caught on your first or second read-through:

He follows her to school and watches closely as she completes her chores, all while extolling the virtues of the Creator.

Either of them could be doing the extolling.

Lightning from clear blue skies burn down multiple houses.

You can see the error there, right?

Many of the other sentences shift direction midway.

The plot is still fairly unclear and Cara's atheism still seems like an extraneous detail.

Ordinarily, I'd say try to reduce this story to a single sentence, under 20 words in length, and build the query from there. But here I'm going to add-- simple, simple sentences! And make sure your manuscript is error-free and ready to go, because the best query in the world won't do you a lick of good if it isn't.

Anonymous said...

You haven't read through the Query Shark's archives, have you? Shame on you. You'd save yourself a heap of time.

Anyway, you're too close to the novel and that's interfering with writing the query.

Start with the action: "The Dungstirring has come. Animals are being slaughtered. Lightning strikes are destroying the villager's homes. The long-prophesied apocalyse, subject of myth and legend, has at last arrived to exact the Creator's due. And only fifteen-year-old Cara might hold the key to stop the destruction.

"Because Cara believes there is no Creator. Convinced that there are other - magical - forces at work, Cara attempts to rally the fleeing villagers to fight back. When they refuse, Cara has no choice: find a way to defeat the Dungstirring or see her world destroyed."

See? Most of your query was backstory -- some of that information can be worked in later, but the query needs to start with and focus on the central conflict and character.

I'm going to assume the high priest/father character plays a role in the action? And Leolin -- does he try to prevent Cara from fighting back? Or is the 'heretic' her ally and companion in the fight?

Meanwhile, I would have stopped reading because of the third sentence -- you suddenly jump from 'her' to an unknown 'him' ('his daughter'). And establishing the high priest as Cara's father is handled quite clumsily (not to mention this character subsequently disappears).

Read the novel again. It's possible these problems are in there too.

Anonymous said...



(Great comments, too.)