1. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    Improving an existing Query

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by HallowMan97, Jun 6, 2016.

    This is one I had worked with others on before until hanging it on the dust shelf for a while until I had time to work on it again. It is only for the plot summary, not the introduction to the agent and my credentials, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


    When his nation is invaded by occult shamans, sixteen-year-old Patrick Hallow, an impulsive schizophrenic, becomes obsessed with saving it.

    An order of mystics who advise world leaders believe Patrick's delusions signify he is the Runespeaker, a prophet sent by a god to stop the invaders from destroying the earth. While convinced, Patrick is disgusted to see the leaders of his country and others use him and the mystics' religion to bolster their control over their people. He will not lift a finger to help if this is the world the mystics want him to save.

    So he creates a plot to rescue the world from itself: Join the invading shamans, manipulate them into killing every last tyrant, and build a free world atop their cold carcasses. But with worsening hallucinations tempting him to abandon his struggle by using his "divinity" to escape to Heaven, Patrick's withering sanity could stop his uprising before it even begins...

    TEMPORAL INSANITY is an 97,000-word fantasy fiction.

    Thank you very much for your consideration,
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    If I pick at this I get the sense of a very intriguing story: an MC suffering from schizophrenia (interesting, and with lots of potential for conflict) who has to save the world.

    For me, the query doesn't deliver on that intriguing premise. I think it suffers from three common query mistakes:
    - Not enough detail in the right places.
    - I don't care about the MC.
    - I don't know what the stakes are.

    Specifically:

    I don't know what an "impulsive schizophrenic" is, so that's lost on me. All I get from this query about Patrick is that he's gullible, easily led, indecisive, and suffers from mental health problems. None of it endears me to him.

    Patrick's nation is run by bad, power hungry leaders, so why should I be willing Patrick to stop the invasion? In what ways will his life be worse under their leadership than the current leadership? Shaman as I know them are basically good people; healers and priests. I need to know what's at stake to care about the outcome.

    Your first and second paragraphs contradict each other. First he's obsessed with saving the world, then he decides actually he wants to see it crash and burn. Then in the third he's changed his mind AGAIN and is going to somehow manipulate powerful shaman (how? detail) to kill certain people and then presumably overpower the shaman (how?) to take all control for himself (and do what?)
     
  3. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    Hello again. Thanks for the feedback! I had gone through another draft of Temporal Insanity from the time I had written this particular query, and I needed a jumping off point to start again and change things that no longer apply. I think it might be best to go through this sentence by sentence rather than one whole thing at once. That way, it would hopefully be easier for both you and I to figure out what works and what doesn't. Let's start with the opening and the beginning of the next paragraph. We'll add or subtract as we go (Query will be in italics ((just in this forum, not the final product--People often think that's the case)); actual thoughts normal text).

    A demonic army has been set loose on the feudal Duchy of Sential, or so an order of mystics believe, and they need a prophet sent by their god to stop it. Instead, they find Patrick Hallow--Peasant laborer, troublemaker, and paranoid schizophrenic.

    Coming back to this was rather hard. To make the MC stand out, obviously his mental health condition is the hook that will hopefully intrigue the reader further. I thought it was clever to give two common fantasy hero tropes beforehand and then turn it on its head with the last one. Risky business, since readers I had tried a query with beforehand were quick to tell me show don't tell, or don't waste time with all these random facts. I think just for the hook, it works, but I will let you decide. Another thing: Sential is not the most happenin' place to live, as it does thrive on the impoverished backs of the peasantry. Is the term "feudal" good enough to convey that or should it be swapped out with something more overt, such as "oppressive?" Moving on.

    The mystics believe his delusions signify his divinity, and their grandiose nature convince both Patrick and Sential's leaders of the same. Everyone rallies behind the new prophet to save the Sential that was: a frozen bog ravaged by its own ducal clans and their Galoglas mercenaries. But they didn't count on two armies of monsters: The ones they face in the hills, and the ones inside Patrick's head.

    Probably even harder to pen after the opening. I played around with it a lot, hoping I gave enough detail for the unfavorable management Sential is under while setting up, "Ok, what does Patrick actually do?" in the last bit, which will be the focus of the next few sentences. For now, I would like to focus on this first bit and once I have it down, we can move on. Tell me what you think!
     
  4. Vernalire
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    Vernalire Member

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    I agree I don't wanna say it as blunt. I like that concept, but I feel more interested in the shamans Haha. Keep it though. It sounds unique. Never heard of nothing similar!
     
  5. HallowMan97
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    HallowMan97 Member

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    Glad you think so!
     
  6. Infel
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    Infel Senior Member

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    Hey there!

    After reading the original query and the follow up on the 6th, I think -- for me personally -- what's missing is a connection to the main character. I get the sense that this is a large and realized world, but epic conflict isn't what hooks an average reader like me. Small things do. I want to know what Patrick wants, not what the government is using him for. I want to know how he feels about being called a prophet, what he hopes to gain, or what he fears to lose.

    You mentioned in the first iteration that he's disgusted at the people using him, but that's the only real emotion we get. His mental health isn't a hook for me: its a descriptor. It helps me imagine what kind of character he might be, but it doesn't make me like or dislike him. If I'm going to spend hours sitting down following a person on their adventure, they have to endear themself to me in some way. I don't have to like them, but I have to want them to succeed. Tenderiser up there mentioned that same thing: we need to know what's at stake. If you can give us that, the concept itself sounds really unique and interesting.

    I'm not an agent by a long shot, but I hope an opinion helps a bit! Good luck.
     

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