1. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Query Letter The Divided Blood

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by mootz, Aug 17, 2014.

    New Version Below!




    Dear Person,

    I like your stuff, etc. I'm hoping to excite the market with my adult fantasy novel, THE DIVIDED BLOOD(123k).

    Remnants of the tide that wiped away the dead society and plunged mankind into the second dark age remain behind, poisoning natural resources and blistering the untamed surface of the world. Sparse new cities, kingdoms, democracies and empires struggling to conquer their own impossible surroundings Post-Event grow confident that they can take the lands of others, even as they muster to brave the perils of travel needed to make war. No one is spared death nor the fear of it. Beasts have overgrown, men overpowered and governments taint from greed and isolation distant enough to allow atrocities on their own people. Cruelly, it is a world of monsters.

    Yet even monsters have nightmares, and no soul travels alone....

    War breaks Tungsten Omel. The desire for revolution and the fire in his veins cool. Time mends wounds, but scars mar his heart. When his only companion dies at the hands of the friend's wife and daughter, Tungsten is broken anew. He knows he can't blame the girl. He doesn't know if he should kill her to protect humanity from her potential.

    Anish Hunt knows she isn't the witch her mother is. Anish is normal and powerless like her father, she's never channeled magick before. Servants attend her and she wants for not. She is made uncomfortable by one person and one time of day: her mother and her dreams. With the sudden, unexplained passing of Anish's father after his attempt to kidnap her, both problems begin to haunt her with power and knowledge she can't explain nor control.

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult/Adult epic fantasy with strong Sword and Sorcery vibes driven by character drama.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Norman Mayfield.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know your normal writing style, but this reads very choppy. I feel as if I walked into your head, and random pieces of info started to appear in front if me, but disjointed and disconnected, not making all that much sense, Also, didn't like 'magick' spelling or the italics underlined, in this context.

    I think you should read some of the blurbs on the backs of novels or even in the tv guide (or cable info for programs). See if you can pitch your story elements in such a way, clear and concise, hooking the reader and giving them that mental picture of what your story is about. Who is your protagonist? I can't tell from this.

    I like how you introduced your two characters, through events and relationships, but I feel like you told me something someone who already knows what's in your novel would understand. It's all very esoteric and it doesn't make much sense. It also doesn't clearly communicate the essentials - who are they, what are they doing, and why.

    I feel queries need to allow the agent to 'get' what the book is about. It should be written in plain, easily understandable language, it should flow. You are showing off your ability to clearly communicate to the reader, in this case the agent, about an issue, in this case your novel. The style should be non-fiction and matter-of-fact, quite different from what you have here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
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  3. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I agree with Jazzabel. It's too choppy. Also, it's long-winded and overly stylized when it needs to be succinct. Agents don't have much patience. They read thousands of these and all they're looking for from you is a hook that will make them money. You need to show them your style but you also need to make yourself very clear and not waste their time.
     
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  4. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Version two

    Dear Person,

    I'm hoping to excite the market with my adult fantasy novel, THE DIVIDED BLOOD(123k).

    Resources of power are everything when the world has ended once and looks to end again.

    War has broken Tungsten Omel. Slowly, the desire for revolution and the fire in his veins cool. Time mends wounds, but scars mar his heart. When his only companion dies at the hands of that friend's daughter, Tungsten is shattered anew. He knows he can't blame the girl. He doesn't know if he should kill her to protect humanity from her potential.

    Anish Hunt knows she isn't the witch her mother is. She is normal and powerless like her father. Servants attend her, guards protect, and she wants for not. Two things make her uncomfortable: her mother and her dreams. With the sudden, unexplained passing of Anish's father after his attempt to kidnap her, both problems begin to haunt her with power and knowledge she can't explain nor control.

    Tungsten weathers his past and the monster inside Anish while running from the young girl's mother. She is a resource of power—many will die trying to control her.

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult/Adult epic fantasy with strong Sword and Sorcery vibes driven by character drama.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Norman Mayfield.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is good; clear and concise, plus it hooks me to read further.
    This name is unusual enough to be jarring. I would prefer if you said something like "Tungsten Omel, ________(brief description such as 'a freedom fighter' or whatever describes him ate the begining of the story), etc.
    This is the kind of thing I was referring to before, info you will understand because you know the story. For me, this obliquely hints at war trauma, but it tells me nothing about how is this different from any other war account, what the character did in the war, and it sounds wishy-washy.
    What companion? You just mentioned him (?her) and they are already dead. The hero's been shattered twice and I have no idea why, or why should I care. That friend? What friend?
    More of the same, inexplicable, contradictory, doesn't make much sense at all. I gather she killed her father accidentally? Powers? It's all so non- specific and non-descript.
    Missing comma, and then there's the amateurish underlined italics again.
    Needlessly archaic, choppy, almost purple in style. I would definitely re-write this to read better.
    If her father kidnapped her and this is why she killed him, you should've said so above. All this is just too oblique. It might be clear in your book, but here, you told me nothing to explain the rationale, and at this point, I feel you might have thrown random conflicts into your story just to up the stakes.
    Who is the resource of power, Anish or her mother? Are Anish and Tungsten running away together? Is he running from her as well? What's their relationship?
    If you say so, but I am thoroughly confused about the plot.

    I think you need a complete overhaul, this is insignificantly different from the first version, imo.
     
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  6. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Version Three. I tried to be more specific with details so that I don't sound too vague, while also using simpler sentence structure. I have no idea if I am moving in the right direction with this version.


    Dear Person,

    I'm hoping to excite the market with my adult fantasy novel, THE DIVIDED BLOOD(123k).

    Assassinations usually fail. Kidnappings never end as planned.

    The disgraced, former king, Mal, Tungsten's only friend, dies trying to liberate the princess from her witch-queen mother. Already a broken man from war, strife, and his failed attempt at utopia, Tungsten is faced with picking up the pieces and trying to carry out the king's plans of removing the potentially powerful princess from her mother. To succeed, he must reawaken his forgotten inhuman ways to become whole again.

    Anish Hunt knows she isn't a mage, because she is normal and powerless like her father. Being the princess of the peninsula means she has few worries and only two things make her life uncomfortable: her mother and her dreams. With the sudden, unexplained passing of her father, both things gradually shift her view of the world. Unexplained knowledge and power seep below her surface, threatening what peace she knows on the run with her 'uncle Tung.'

    She doesn't know that it was her power that took her father's life. [I'm thinking cut this sentence]

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult/Adult fantasy story of connection and character drama set in a fantastical world. It is a story of people connecting to each other in time of need by first uncovering their inner selves and facing the horrors hidden within humanity's flaws.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
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  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is much better! I finally know what your book is about :) I re-wrote it slightly, for what I thought would be a better flow, but I like how you presented the story, and I finally understand what this is about.
    Just one question, do Anish and Tungsten get together? If so, then 'Uncle Tung' sounds a bit pervy (sounds even like Uncle Tongue, ewww).

    To get technical aspects right, make sure you check out Query Shark, you can even submit your query to her for review, and she is a pro at this. Best of luck with your novel!

     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  8. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use the following however you want, and note that it is deliberately incomplete because I do not have enough information to work with:

    Dear Person,

    Mal, the disgraced former king, dies trying to free his daughter Anish from the tower in which her witch-queen mother locked her [or whatever situation she needs to be "liberated" from]. Mal was the only friend of Tungsten, a man broken by war and by a failed attempt at utopia. Liberating princess Anish is now Tungsten's responsibility. To succeed, he must break his vow never to perform necromancy again [or whatever his "forgotten inhuman ways" are].

    Anish begins to question why her father died so suddenly and without explanation. She is not satisfied by her mother's answers. Her quiet life as the princess of the peninsula is disturbed by nightmares of murdering her father with magical spells [or whatever she dreams about] and by her mother's unsettling behavior [or whatever her mother does that is worrisome].

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a 123,000 word New Adult fantasy novel.

    Thank you for your time.

    Reasons for the changes I made:
    • Learning that assassinations usually fail or that kidnappings never end as planned does not help me appreciate the plot.
    • "witch-queen mother" may sound menacing to you, but not to me. What is so dangerous about her?
    • "forgotten inhuman ways" does not help me appreciate the gravity of what Tungsten must do.
    • I do not automatically assume that a character is a mage, so "Anish Hunt knows she isn't a mage" is not saying much. Instead of presenting it as: "Anish knows she isn't a mage, but weird things are happening that challenge that assumption", present it as: "Anish has nightmares about being a murderous mage" (use her subconscious to hint at what is going on) or "Anish has uncontrollable fits in which she does things she cannot explain."
    • It is unnecessary to state explicitly that Anish [intentionally or unintentionally] killed her father with her magical power when you can hint at it, and if she has nightmares of doing the deed, then that is certainly a hint.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  9. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    Thanks for all the help, peeps.

    @jazzabel Anish and Tung definitely don't get together. She is ten. I don't explicitly mention that, but I don't think I hint at them hooking up, either. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    I'm getting help from another forum source as well. I'm getting contradicting advice, as one might expect. If you see something that you don't like still here, its because someone(s) telling me otherwise.

    The biggest complaint from the other forum is that I should only talk about Tungsten and not provide the Anish POV in a query. Thoughts on that? The story moves through Tungsten more, but the story is almost entirely about Anish. I'm very conflicted.


    New Version.

    Assassinations usually fail. Kidnappings never end as planned.

    The disgraced king and Tungsten's only friend, dies trying to free princess Anish from her witch mother. Broken from war, strife, and his failed attempt at utopia, Tungsten is faced with picking up the pieces. Liberating the princess becomes his goal. To succeed, he must find the balance between his reformed and docile present and his savage, warrior past.

    Princess Anish expects few worries in her life, but something troubles her. She remembers her father acting strangely, then nothing. The next thing she knows she is running with her 'uncle' Tung in the desert north of her mother's kingdom, her father speaking to her from ashes in a bottle she carries. She can not accept people calling her mother a witch, yet Anish's nightmares slowly reveals truth she can't face, including the revelation that her budding magick may have killed her father.

    Hidden knowledge and ancient power seep below the surface, threatening what little peace Tungsten and Anish know on the run.

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult/Adult fantasy story of connection and character drama set in a fantastical world.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
  10. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    Here's my ideas on the latest draft.

    Assassinations usually fail. Kidnappings never end as planned.

    I think these two sentences are not only unnecessary, but untrue. Sometimes kidnappings do end as planned. Loads of assassinations are successful. I'd just cut it out. Also, you should be starting with the broader facts instead of leaving them 'til the last paragraph. Rather than getting rid of all of those setting details you had in the first draft, keep a sentence or two in this first paragraph. You should definitely start with what genre it is, where it's set and how long it is.

    The disgraced king and Tungsten's only friend, dies trying to free princess Anish from her witch mother. Broken from war, strife, and his failed attempt at utopia, Tungsten is faced with picking up the pieces. Liberating the princess becomes his goal. To succeed, he must find the balance between his reformed and docile present and his savage, warrior past.

    I like this paragraph, except for the 'failed attempt at utopia' part. It doesn't make much sense to me. You can't attempt utopia. You can attempt to establish utopia or something like that, but 'failed attempt at utopia' is like 'failed attempt at world peace'.

    Princess Anish expects few worries in her life, but something troubles her. She remembers her father acting strangely, then nothing. The next thing she knows she is running with her 'uncle' Tung in the desert north of her mother's kingdom, her father speaking to her from ashes in a bottle she carries. She can not accept people calling her mother a witch, yet Anish's nightmares slowly reveals truth she can't face, including the revelation that her budding magick may have killed her father.

    I don't think many kids 'expect' worries at ten. I'd change the sentence to something like 'The young princess Anish is troubled by the strange happenings that have taken place since her father's death.' Then maybe follow it up with, 'Suddenly, she is on the run with her 'uncle' Tung in the desert (North of the kingdom is an unnecessary detail I think) and is beset by rumours of her mother being a witch, etc.

    Hidden knowledge and ancient power seep below the surface, threatening what little peace Tungsten and Anish know on the run.

    ' ... know on the run' is a weak end to your final sentence. I'd make it more forceful. 'Dormant knowledge and ancient power stir within the innocent heart of the princess, threatening to [whatever is the worst outcome for your characters/what is their strongest motivation, eg. threatening to tear her from Tungsten's arms and deliver her into an evil reign of black magick, or whatever].

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult/Adult fantasy story of connection and character drama set in a fantastical world.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
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  11. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    New Version.

    Assassinations usually fail. Kidnappings never end as planned.
    -Really? Are either of these sentences really true? NOTE: and after reading the query, what do either of these things have to do with anything?

    The disgraced king and Tungsten's only friend, dies trying to free princess Anish from her witch mother. Broken from war, strife, and his failed attempt at utopia, Tungsten is faced with picking up the pieces. Liberating the princess becomes his goal. To succeed, he must find the balance between his reformed and docile present and his savage, warrior past.
    -This is backstory and cluttered, also not really needed as "Uncle Tung" is mentioned in the paragraph below. This feels disjointed.

    Princess Anish expects few worries in her life, but something troubles her. She remembers her father acting strangely, then nothing. The next thing she knows she is running with her 'uncle' Tung in the desert north of her mother's kingdom, her father speaking to her from ashes in a bottle she carries. She can not accept people calling her mother a witch, yet Anish's nightmares slowly reveals truth she can't face, including the revelation that her budding magick may have killed her father.
    -This is a great paragraph with good voice and an interesting concept. Start here, and lead into Tungsten's character.

    Hidden knowledge and ancient power seep below the surface, threatening what little peace Tungsten and Anish know on the run.
    -This is too general to be interesting. You lay down an interesting concept of a princess running with her "uncle" from her evil witch mother and carrying the talking ashes of her dead father, but you are missing part 2 and 3 of a query! What are the stakes? What choices do the characters face? What happens if they fail?

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD is a New Adult (never heard of New Adult. And how can it be both New and regular adult?)/Adult fantasy story of connection (What the hell is a "fantasy story of connection"?!) and character drama (One can only hope) set in a fantastical world (duh).
    -Everything you say here is rhetorical or makes no sense.
    -Stick to Children/Middle Grade/Young Adult/Adult and the basic genres. Also you need word count here. If you want to, you can also compare it to other works (hopefully ones the agent in question represented) in order to strengthen why they should be interested in it.


    Thank you for your time and consideration.[/QUOTE]

    The main paragraph that you have in there is actually very good and enticing. But it is too little. You set up your characters and your concept well enough, but you are missing a whole second half of a query. Get into the stakes and ramifications for when (or if) things go wrong.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
  12. mootz
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    Dear Person,

    Here is my adult fantasy novel, THE DIVIDED BLOOD.

    Ten years ago, Tungsten was broken by his friends betrayal and the subsequent birth of a child, Anish, that wasn't his. A decade later and the inhuman warrior is carrying the unconscious daughter of his now-dead friend, running from an army of mage assassins who want the girl and his head.

    The escape begins with countless miles of untamed wilds and barbarians standing between the pair and the next semblance of civilization. Each hour provides new obstacles Tungsten must maneuver, from Anish's insistence that she speaks to her dead father, to the cautious inclusion of new travel companions with goals of their own. Tungsten weighs his wavering fidelity to a dead man against his fear for Anish's budding power, while contending with a world eager to destroy him. Tungsten's task is not made easier by his deserved infamy, nor are his past relationship's with Anish's mother and father of any help.

    Tungsten discovers Anish's life and his redemption depend on his reconciliation of his former mistakes. To succeed, Tungsten must find the balance between his docile present and his savage past while coming to grips with the fact that Anish increasingly resembles him the more he observes her.

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD(123k) is a Adult fantasy story.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @mootz : I'm so sorry, I've been too busy to review the new version and I just saw your comment. Ok, cool, no, you don't actually hint at it, but since there's often romance between male and female protagonists, I just assumed/wasn't sure :)

    I don't know about both character being presented vs only one. If both are getting similar 'on stage' time then you have to mention them both.
     
  14. mootz
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    Dear Person,

    Here is my Adult Fantasy novel, THE DIVIDED BLOOD 123k.

    Ten years ago, an inhuman warrior, Tungsten, was broken by revolutionary war, a friend's betrayal, and the subsequent birth of a girl, Anish, who wasn't his. A decade later, Tungsten is carrying the unconscious daughter of his now-dead friend, running from an army of mage assassins sent by the girl's mother.

    Tungsten faces a world eager to destroy him for what he was—an infamous war criminal. With the next semblance of civilization miles away, he maneuvers wilderness while dealing with Anish's inane insistence that she speaks to her dead father through his ashes. Strangely, she doesn't seem to recall burning her father alive. As an inhuman, Tungsten can't feel or use magick, and Anish's growing power needs controlling and guidance he can't offer. She is a time bomb, fueled by anger, and unburdened by conscious thought when she loses control. He believes Anish didn't try to kill her father, and he knows she fears turning into her mother. However, Tungsten dreads she may grow to be far worse.

    He decides he will kill her if she continues to lose control.

    The pair are in a race to reach and disappear into the next nation before the assassins can track them down to return Anish to her mother. To survive, Tungsten must find the balance between his docile present and his savage past, while coming to grips with the fact that Anish resembles him the more her power grows.

    THE DIVIDED BLOOD(123k) is an Adult Fantasy story

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     

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