Nov 17, 2009

Query - Tremorgan's Gift

I am writing to you because your house has published fantasy novels such as the Ranger's Apprentice series. I think my book would be enjoyed by readers of John Flannagan and Christopher Paolini.

TREMORGAN'S GIFT is a fast paced YA fantasy novel, complete at 70,000 words, and the first in a series.

With his dying breath the King of Agoria gives his daughter TREMORGAN (protagonist) the Stone of Remembrance, urging her to guard it with her life. Their father brutally murdered and their mother missing, Tremorgan and her brother ALLARD flee for their lives, desperate to reach the sanctuary of the Temple of El-Osm. But when their rescuer is killed and Allard is kidnapped by bounty hunters keen to claim the monetary reward their father's murder has placed on his head, Tremorgan is determined to save him. Aided by a Palatine bodyguard and an eclectic host of mythical creatures, Tremorgan sets out to rescue her brother and unravel the mysterious magic of the Stone.

(note: in NZ we can approach publishers directly, hence my first paragraph)


Lori Folkman said...

All caps on characters names is just for the synopsis and not needed in the query. Also, you shouldn't write protagonist in quotes behind the name: we need to see that she's the protagonist through your description.

I'm not into fantasy, so I won't critique your query. But I will say that it felt a little short. Maybe you could add a few more plot points.

Good luck. I liked the names in the novel.

RC Writer Girl said...

I've only read about querying agents, not publishers directly. For agent queries, your order is backwards. You should start with what you have as the last paragragh, then move into the second paragraph, and end with the last paragraph. It should go: summary of story, novel length, why I picked you.

As to the actual synopsis in the query (the third paragraph), it's very confusing. I think you should start with what journalists call a nutgraf (it's the heart of your story. Think of it as a summary sentence). Right now you have a series of events, but I don't have any idea what the book is really about.

The query would be stronger if you gave a summary sentence here. (Something like: If TREMORGAN is to stay alive, she must save her brother and reclaim her father's stolen kingdom) The summary needs to show what's at stake for the main character.

While it's nice you mention the mysterious magic of the stone, I don't know what it is, nor am I given any inkling of that. As such, I really don't care. If you want us to care about the stone, you need to give more info about what it can do, or what will happen if Tremorgan can't protect it.

Essentially, your query is missing what's at stake for the characters. I think if you can provide that, it will be more effective.

GG said...

I'm horrid at writing query letters, so I can't give you help there. However, I do want to say that for some reason, the title grabbed me, and now I really want to read this book. Best of luck (so I can read it) =)

Pen said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

folsinmt: thanks for the tip. I'm sure I read somewhere that a title should all be in caps. It might seem short 'cause it is actually only half the letter (see below).

RC: Thanks for the tip on nutgrafs. I'll tinker with this paragraph.

From what I have read of how you should write a query letter paragraph 1) say why you are aproaching them, the genre and length of book so they know where you are going with it, 2) paragraph of the story in a nutshell, 3) give your credentials 3) ideas for marketing the book.

I left out paragraphs 3) and 4). I didn't think I need to share them.

Is this format flawed?

I also have a longer (one page) synopsis that will be included with the letter.

AmyB said...

As a fantasy reader and writer, the problem I'm having with this query is that I don't think it's showing off the uniqueness of the novel. We have a magical artifact and a sister who needs to rescue her brother and figure out how the artifact works. But those are all standard fantasy tropes. What makes your novel stand out from the crowd? Some more details might help. Does the stone have an intriguing power? How about the eclectic host of mythical creatures? I'm kind of curious what those are. Also, Palatine bodyguard? I don't know what "Palatine" means. If it's something cool, then that detail might spice up the query.

The second sentence feels awkward after the first. For one, you open with an introductory participial phrase ("Their father brutally murdered and their mother missing"), which is a naturally weak construction. Also, "their father brutally murdered" is confusing because the subject of the last sentence was the King, so I don't know who "their" refers to, until I get to "Tremorgan and her brother." At first I thought "their" referred to the King and Tremorgan (the two people mentioned in the first sentence), and even that momentary blip of confusion is something that can throw me out of a story, or out of a query pitch.

Have a look at style in general--you're using lots of participial phrases, resulting in uniformly long and complex sentences. I think it's inhibiting your narrative voice.

I don't know if this matters, but Ranger's Apprentice (which is awesome btw :) is a middle-grade series rather than YA. I have no idea whether an agent/publisher will find it awkward to have a YA book compared to a middle-grade one, or whether they'll just think, "sure, like Ranger's Apprentice but aimed at older kids."