Jan 31, 2012

Query: King's Mark

There is nothing Leti loves better than hunting along the river and practicing his stone carving. Until now, his clan’s protection has allowed him to do just that.

But when visiting traders discover the otter-print birthmarks on Leti’s hands, they kidnap and smuggle him into a hostile city where the King’s Mark is the sign of a traitor. And the Steward doesn’t tolerate traitors.

Instead of being executed, Leti is sold to a rebel leader, who plans to use Leti’s existence as a rallying point. Leti escapes, only to find his home destroyed and his clan scattered, killed, or sold into slavery. Instigating change suddenly becomes personal.

Aided by another Marked, a ruthless, charismatic guttersnipe-turned-revolutionary, Leti begins to work with the insurgency. Little does he know that the Steward is the least of his worries – another enemy hides in the shadows, and the rebellion is playing right into his hands.

KING’S MARK, complete at 90,000 words, is a fast-paced epic fantasy. Additional material is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration (and thank you Rick & blog commentators for your feedback!)


Anonymous Author said...

Thank you for saying thank you :).

Now having heard the exact same thing myself from various editors, I have a feeling that what agents or editors are going to think is that the main character is too passive.

Consider: His exceptionality is inborn. (And apparently passive: he has birthmarks.)

He gets kidnapped and smuggled into a hostile city-- not clear why.

He gets sold.

It's not until he escapes that he takes any action. Now you may argue (as I have, to no avail) that the decision to take action is a point of development that your character reaches rather late in the story. Today's editors aren't buying that.

Rewrite so that Leti kicks A and takes names, and if he refuses to, then rewrite from the POV of the ruthless, charismatic guttersnipe.

Steph said...

Thanks very much for your thoughts.

I hear you regarding Leti's passivity.

In your experience, would this be enough to prevent the agent/editor from reading pages?

Leti is the main character, but only by a small margin - I do have two other primary characters that are both extremely strong (in different ways). I could write the query to address them, but since they are secondary to Leti, and I didn't want to misrepresent what the story is about.

Also, the query really only covers the first couple chapters, after which Leti is less passive.

Thanks again :)

Anonymous Author said...

You're welcome :)

In my experience, yes, it would.

The business is extremely competitive right now. Nobody's getting their foot in the door these days unless they knock an agent's socks off.

It's clear from your query that you are at home with the written word, which puts you ahead of 90% of queriers. The trouble is you need to be ahead of 99.9% of queriers, and that last 9.9% are also at home with the written word.

So your manuscript needs to be perfect. If the MC is passive in the first two chapters, think how you can show (in the ms, not the query) that he's just waiting to bust loose. Or else think about cutting those two chapters.

Your query should focus on the story as a whole, not just the first two chapters. Don't think linearly about it-- find the center of your story and write your query about that.

Sum the story up in a single sentence, under 20 words in length, and build your query from there.

gj said...

Yes, a passive protagonist will definitely work against you.

Also, I didn't do a word count, but this query looked rather long.

Anyway, pick a protagonist, find where he/she has a problem that he/she is willing to take an active part in, and start the query there, even if the story perhaps started thirty pages earlier. (But if that's the case, think long and hard about whether youv'e started the story in the right place too, because readers aren't likely to keep reading through two chapters of a passive protagonist.) You can start where he's in the process of escaping from his kidnapping, and then cover his backstory briefly later, in both the manuscript and the query.