Dec 6, 2011

Query - CHILDREN OF THE RED SAND

Sometimes, Anthe wakes up covered in blood, wandering the desert alone. But no one from her tribe worries about the scout. It’s all the work of demons and outside their interest. They have something more important to worry about.
They are the watchers for the land, bound since before history to keep watch on the massive sandstorm that surrounds the desert land. It’s known only as the Wall. Legends say that it has moved before cleansing the land of any life. And it is set to move again. The first sign has been seen.
As part of the two person scouting team who discovers the discoloring of the Wall, Anthe is sent to warn Center and the leaders of the land so that they have enough time to gather everyone and get ready to move on the next Passage. But it has been so long that legend has become myth and tales to frighten children. Even Anthe has trouble accepting what she saw.
But she accepts, only wanting to get it over with and return to her quiet desert life of sand and demons. Dnoces, her scouting partner, relishes the chance to claim his own place in history.
Now they need a way to convince the populace of the land and save everyone’s lives, as well as help Anthe control her demons before they control her…

CHILDREN OF THE RED SAND is a 126,000 word Sci-Fi manuscript.

5 comments:

Anonymous Author said...

Reading this query makes me think that your 126k manuscript can probably be cut to 75k.

Here's an example:

They are the watchers for the land, bound since before history to keep watch on the massive sandstorm that surrounds the desert land. It’s known only as the Wall. Legends say that it has moved before cleansing the land of any life. And it is set to move again. The first sign has been seen.

What's really essential in that paragraph, AFAICT, is that there's a big permanent sandstorm out there and it's about to start moving toward them. You can say that in one sentence.

Now, your query also raises several questions it doesn't answer:

1. Why does Anthe wake up covered in blood?

2. Who are the watchers?

3. If the people of this country have made sure there's a regular guard 24/7 watching the sandstorm, why do they not believe the sandstorm can be dangerous?

On the rewrite, try to stay focused on one character-- Anthe, if she's the protagonist. Don't get hung up on the watchers. What challenge does your protagonist face and what's she going to do about it?

Spell out "science fiction" and put it in lower case.

Rick Daley said...

The premise is cool, but Anon is right, there are many threads opened up but not resolved.

Your opening (being covered in blood) should flow into the rest of the query. This is a little bait-and-switch, but it goes from something cool (I did like the first line) to something meh.

Here's why:
There is action in the first sentence. Waking up, covered in blood, wandering the desert. It's activity that tells us something about the character and the setting, and gives a cool hint toward the story.

But then it stalls:
But no one from her tribe worries about the scout.

This is describing inaction, i.e. no one is worrying; we have no idea what they are doing.

It is better to describe action, like when you say They have something more important to worry about which introduces a sense of gravity to the situation and it is action...they are worrying.

You have limited word count, so make every thing you say matter. If it isn't critical to the very core of the story...the protagonist's struggle against the antagonist...then consider leaving it out.

Sub-plots, no matter how clever in your longer manuscript, do little other than clutter a query with open threads. They can be very distracting to the main story when it's all presented in 350 or fewer words.

Wait and see if you get more feedback and ponder it all before rushing into a revision. Try to write the plot out in a single sentence, then you will find the real heart of your novel. Query based off that.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling there's an interesting novel buried in this query, but the presentation of it is still too unfocused in the writer's mind.

As always, start with the action. In this case, it seems to be when Anthe discovers the discoloring of the wall, signaling the start of the next passage. The conflict is convincing the others that the myth is reality.

There's a lot of fluff here that's unneccessary in a query: "watchers for the land bound before history", "the first sign has been seen," and "so long that legend has become myth." This is novel writing, or purple prose if nothing else, not appropriate for a business letter. (Cut the elipsis too.)

Unknown said...

The first three sentences seem disjointed -- I don't know what they have to do with each other. What does a scout have to do with Anthe? Is she the scout? What is "it" in "it's all the work of demons". It would seem like any demon work should be of interest to anyone. That's why they're demons -- they're a threat.

For this sentence: "Legends say that it has moved..." Again, what is "it"?

"As part of the..." - this is where your query should begin -- where the story starts. Also, I'm not a fan of including jargon in your query. I don't know what Center is or a Passage because I have no context. Just write out what they are in real life.

April Martin said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. I've gone back and I'm editing the manuscript again. While working on the query, I found some ideas that needed to be strengthened or even removed.

Here is my latest version of my query: As part of the two person scouting team who discovers the discoloring of the Wall, a permanent sandstorm that surrounds the realm, Anthe is sent to warn the leaders of her desert land. The mark on the Wall foretells its potential movement and razing purification of the land.
It has been generations since last it moved. Even growing up with legends, Anthe has trouble accepting what she saw. But she accepts, only wanting to get it over with and return to her quiet desert life of sand and demons. With only Dnoces, her scouting partner at her side and his Celestial Hawk at their back, they venture to save the land.
And they are laughed at. But it is the duty of their tribe to keep watch and warn everyone. They have been doing it for thousands of years. She will not let them down. Hearing of an army gathering in the west who believes in the old legends, she accepts their help. If she has to use force to save the lives of those who laughed at her, so be it.