May 30, 2009

Query Raising Kain: Diseased God

I would like to submit my short novel Raising Kain: Diseased God to the *** Literary agency for representation resulting in eventual publication. It is a novel that is exactly 44,560 words long, by the count of Microsoft Word.

I consider Raising Kain: Diseased God a combination of the Fantasy and Mythology genres. There are aspects about the novel that I would also consider Science Fiction because of the fact that a lot of the magic used by the powerful beings that exist in the story is more of a type of telepathy than actual magic. I would also say that there are some aspects of horror in the novel. The villain is an undead god of Disease named Pestilence after the biblical figure of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Raising Kain: Diseased God is the novel about a six year old boy named Apophis Kain. Kain is the child of Celita and Ouranus, the rulers of Atlantis and Gods in their own rights. The six year old protagonist is thrust into a Spartanesque training program headed by his aunt, the Aspect of the Earth Gaia. Gaia was told by Destiny himself that Kain would one day be her replacement as the Aspect of the Earth and, throughout the course of the novel (which covers the time in Kain's life from age six-nine) Gaia teaches the boy to fight and how the world around him works. Their training is interrupted, though, by a being named Pestilence. Pestilence is one of the three Dark Aspects, and is an undead disease ridden being. He is hell bent on getting revenge on Gaia, his former master before he was transformed into the Dark Aspect, by putting Kain through a veritable hell.

I would like to embark on a career as an author, and Raising Kain: Diseased God is my first completed novel. I have one prior publication credit in Concord Universitys literary magazine Reflexes. I intend on expanding Raising Kain into a trilogy relating the tail of Kains first trip into adulthood, with the possibility of another trilogy or two based on the outcome of the first. I am working on a second novel right now, but it is not the second book in the series.

I have the prologue and first chapter available on my blog:

More material is available upon request, and I do want to thank you for your consideration of my novel, Raising Kain: Diseased God, and I hope to hear good news from you soon.


Ryan M. Smith


Barb said...

Some suggestions - please disregard anything that is not useful to you.

In the actual query, you tell us the events but not the impact of them:
How does Kain change and grow due to the actions of Pestilence? What is at stake here? Does Kain need to destroy Pestilence? What will he lost if he doesn't? Is he conflicted here at all? Does he think there is some merit in Pestilence's anger at Gaia?

I don't think you need to name his parents, that they are gods is enough. Otherwise this just introduces names for people who are only mentioned once.

This isn't my genre so I may be wrong, but I would have thought it's a bit short of novel of any type.

Some contents of the first paragraph are maybe a bit self evident, such as the "eventual publication" and "Microsoft Word".

I wouldn't talk about the other books that you are working on but others here may disagree with that.

Also, just a small thing, but I would consider changing the name of the blog post if you are going to use a link in your actual letter. The blog title might be a bit much.

Anyway Ryan, hope there was something here that you can use. I really like the idea of this story, it sounds like it has a lot of potential.

Rick Daley said...

When you provide the word count, just round to the nearest denomination of 500, i.e. my 44,500 word novel.

Word count is an important aspect of your query. I don't mean the word count for your novel, but the word count for the query itself. You have a limited amount of words to use to fill a single page, so only say what is necessary and avoid redundancy at all costs.

You don't need to tell them the word count is from MS Word. I would eliminate "for eventual publication" because that's to be assumed, otherwise you wouldn't be querying.

The second paragraph is all telling, no showing. I think you can remove it entirely. You want to let the agent know what is unique about the story, but in a more active manner, i.e. tell them through the story description.

Stick to one genre. Fanatsy, Mythology, SciFi and Horror all blended together makes me think you haven't really decided what genre your work fits into. Go to a bookstore, find the genre you think you match, and read the jacket copy of four or five books. Does yours fit in? If not, look at another genre. Are you SciFi or Fantasy? Young Adult?

In the third paragraph, you state the protagonist's age twice, no need to be redundant.

You want to start the story description with a hook. Then provide a summary of the plot. The summary should be concise, and follow this basic formula. Protagonist is trying to X, but antagonist is trying to prevent him by Y.

I'm not an expert on word counts, but 44,500 seems very short.

"his Aunt, the Aspect of the Earth Gaia" should be either:

"his Aunt Gaia, the Aspect of the Earth." or "his Aunt, the Aspect of the Earth, Gaia."

"disease ridden" should be hyphenated.

"Concord Universitys literary" should be University's

"The tail of Kains first trip"
should be
"The tale of Kain's first trip"

Tale is a story, tail is an animal's rear appendage. This is also the second missed apostrophe.

Thank them for their time and consideration, but do not say anything about your hopes to hear from them soon, as it will most likely be a form rejection. I'm not saying anything regarding your query or story, those are simply the odds.

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for submitting your query for review - I find it educational to see others' words...

As to the critique, I agree with Barb and Rick on almost every point:

1. Trim any unnecessary words (such as "resuling in eventual publication" and "by the count of Microsoft Word") - the query is a bit too long as it stands, and info like that is fairly obvious.

2. The word count is too short for an adult novel.

3. Pick a genre or two - four is too many, makes it seem like the story has no real focus.

4. Streamline the description - use active verbs to engage the reader and make us see/feel the tale.

5. Eliminate redundancies (like the child's age) and clean up the typos.

6. Streamline the author info, too - eliminate "I would like to embark on a career as an author" - and while I think that most agents would like to know you're working on other projects (which says that you do want to have a writing career and you're not just a flash-in-the-pan), perhaps it only makes sense if this book is part of a series... mentioning the second book seems awkward here.

But those are just my thoughts! Use whatever makes sense to you, and good luck!

Ryan S. Kinsgrove said...

Just wanted to say thinks for the help, I got a little overzealous with the Query since this is the first actual novel/long novel that I've finished, and I have to admit that this really is the first draft of the query. Thank you for your help, and I will make those revisions and resubmit to see if I've improved it any.

Anonymous said...

1. I haven't read much fantasy, but I agree with the earlier posters that most of the time, you've just met the main character at the 44,000-word mark.

2. Kill, kill, kill all passive voice sentences. Don't say that their training was interrupted by Pestilence. Bring Pestilence crashing into their little world with active voice-- Pestilence shatters the calm, breaks their training, etc. You get the idea. Same thing with "was told by Destiny." Use: Destiny told...

3. Decide on a genre (at most two), stick it in the first paragraph and cut paragraph 2.

4. Kill the paragraph about your blog. They're not going to look at it, and every word is precious in the query.

5. In third paragraph -- Raising Kain Diseased God is about six-year-old Apophis Kain, the heir to throne of Atlantis (or something more streamlined).

Hope that helps. Story itself sounds intriguing.