Tags:
  1. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Query Letter YA Fantasy (looking for critique)

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by samira1111, Dec 5, 2021.

    Hi guys.
    I want to know if my query has a fluid writing and if the story sounds interesting.
    I would also like to know if the plot is clear and if the protagonist was introduced well.
    And, of course, you can correct my grammar or anything additional you want.
    Thank you in advance for your help :)

    QUERY:
    Dear [AGENT],

    SAVAGE HEIRESS is a YA FANTASY complete at 106000 words with Latin/Brazilian and Celtic folklores, which I like to think of as SIX CRIMSON CRANES meets THE CRUEL PRINCE.

    Erya Colten has a secret that threatens her crown and her head: By day, she is the human princess of Sciractar. By night, she is a lethal wolf.

    Subjected from childhood to torturous rituals, Erya realizes that nothing can make her purely human. She will always be the lineage's shameful secret: an animano — a “savage” and “demonic” creature —. Traumatized by what she has suffered, Erya uses her influence to protect other animanos. By fighting for them against prejudice, she tries to remove her scars. But, after an enemy empire discovers what she is, Erya watches its hunters murder animanos as a threat message to her crown. Facing this, the princess must catch the assassins.

    However, even if Erya succeeds, she knows that to avoid, once and for all, future threats from the enemy, she has to ally with the spoiled (yet handsome) prince Blaine. The problem is that he requires their kingdoms’ unification to strengthen her reign. And, since Blaine is human — and humans despise animanos —, this marriage isn’t her first choice. But, as Blaine’s scars sensitize Erya, she realizes that they can be more similar than she imagined.

    Now, thanks to the prince and the hunters, Erya must protect her reign and the savages without risking what is left of her shattered heart.
     
  2. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2021
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    428
    It might be useful to know if this is the OP's first novel and what the logline is.

    (If there hasn't been a logline done yet - i.e. a summary of the story in a single sentence that contains an irony - this is a good thing to do alongside the query letter)

    The first thing that struck me about this is the sensitivity point: Savage Heiress + Latin/Brazilian and Celtic. The cultural aspects aren't utilized by the rest of the letter and don't help sell it, so I'd suggest to just take it out and save implying any real-world cultures are savage.

    I felt the ideas in the summary started becoming more and more disjointed after the first paragraph, I'll try to illustrate:-

    ==========

    Erya Colten has a secret that threatens her crown and her head: By day, she is the human princess of Sciractar. By night, she is a lethal wolf.

    Subjected from childhood to torturous rituals, Erya realizes that nothing can make her purely human.
    > but what are the rituals for? are they aiming to make her human?

    She will always be the lineage's shameful secret: an animano — a “savage” and “demonic” creature —.
    > is the lineage the royal family of Sciractar?
    > is animano the same as the wolf? or is it e.g. the status of being a werewolf/shapeshifter

    Traumatized by what she has suffered, Erya uses her influence to protect other animanos.
    > is the trauma the rituals mentioned earlier?

    By fighting for them against prejudice, she tries to remove her scars.

    > Are the scars from the rituals mentioned earlier?

    But, after an enemy empire discovers what she is, Erya watches its hunters murder animanos as a threat message to her crown. Facing this, the princess must catch the assassins.

    > Is the secret threatening her crown, or the enemy empire?

    However, even if Erya succeeds, she knows that to avoid, once and for all, future threats from the enemy, she has to ally with the spoiled (yet handsome) prince Blaine.

    > how does this alliance avoid the threats? this isn't clear

    The problem is that he requires their kingdoms’ unification to strengthen her reign.

    > i.e. marriage? but why does he require this to strengthen her reign? and why is it a problem?

    And, since Blaine is human — and humans despise animanos —, this marriage isn’t her first choice.

    > but why not? he sounds nice. Is it that he despises animanos so she'll have to keep the secret from him as well? why's that a problem if she has hidden it from everyone else (except the enemy empire)? Do all humans despire animanos? Isn't there the option for them to make their own minds up?

    But, as Blaine’s scars sensitize Erya, she realizes that they can be more similar than she imagined.
    > Sensitize might not be the right word. Does Blaine have scars as well as Erya? Did he go through rituals as well? Why didn't she imagine they could be similar? I thought it was that humans despised animanos but not the other way round?

    Now, thanks to the prince and the hunters, Erya must protect her reign and the savages without risking what is left of her shattered heart.

    > why is her heart shattered if she didn't like him? for that matter, why must she protect her reign and the savages? can't she just say "phew - this is too much! I'm pawning this crown and buying a recently-modernized farmstead on the edge of Sciractar and leaving everyone to it.

    ==========

    From this summary I'd worry that it's Romeo & Juliet with a werewolf - so why does it need 106k words.

    Also I worry there might be an element of 'royalty is convenient' at play - the enemy empire, the handsome prince, and the MC's royal status might be plot devices and reduce the character focus. Is this a strong female character or is she hysterical ? (I mean in a technical literary sense: where female sexuality used to be written as a medical problem that required to be fixed by a male character.) Her crown and her love interest and her werewolfism all seem like shackles placed on her - what does she make happen in this story? If she was writing the query letter - proudly and in a way that bigs herself up and emphasizes the right decisions she makes to improve the world - what would she say she did? ('Saving the world' from a problem the author created for it doesn't count for this - what does she want positively, and how does she achieve it in spite of the problems the author challenges her with?)
     
  3. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    .
     
  4. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
     
  5. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2021
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    428
    Now, to predict the enemy’s movements, Erya has to think as wickedly as them. And, to preserve her reign, she has to trust the last person she would choose.

    What she "has to" do isn't her shaping the story, though.

    Sometimes the MC being royalty can railroad them into the plot - writers give them royal obligations in place of choices, and evil empires to contend with in place of character conflicts. I'd suggest the query letter should head this objection off, but also to be ready to revise the work if the fantasy elements are railroading the characters from their choices.
     
  6. SapereAude

    SapereAude Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2021
    Messages:
    960
    Likes Received:
    662
    Don't know where to start, so I'll start here:

    Celtic folklore I understand -- I have Celtic ancestry. But "Latin/Brazilian" I don't understand. Not one iota.

    "Latin" to me says "something from ancient Rome." Ancient Rome has no folklore in common with Brazil. That leaves me wondering if you perhaps mean "Latino" (or "Latinx," if you're super woke), but I wouldn't accept that, either. My late wife was a Latina -- we met and married in her native country in South America. Her country engaged in commerce with Brazil, but there was little love lost between the two countries, and if they share any folklore in common I've never heard of it.
     
  7. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    But… Brazil is a latin country, it’s in Latin America. Same as Colombia, Argentina, etc.
     
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2021
    Messages:
    756
    Likes Received:
    509
    This seems like a nonstandard use of an em dash. Periods or commas shouldn't follow an em dash. In fact, an em dash sort of replaces a comma. If this is correct, your nonstandard use may be a red flag.

    I'd maybe use 'persecution' instead of 'prejudice' but I don't know the world building to say which is more accurate. As mentioned, scars will probably be interpreted as literal scars, you probably want to say 'emotional scar' or a suitable alternative.

    I like saying "After enemy scouts discover what she is" (or maybe "discover her true nature").

    "threat message to her crown." doesn't seem right to me, maybe replace the whole thing with "veiled threat" or similar phrase.

    It might be more intriguing if at first she doesn't know the enemy behind the murdered animanos and must catch the hunters to identify the source of the threat, but I guess that doesn't fit the plot.

    Instead of saying "isn't her first choice" I'd say something like "the marriage is doomed to fail" or something similar.

    Instead of saying "as Blaine's scars sensitize Erya" I'd say something like "As Blaine grows closer to Elya, he reveals his vulnerability" or something like that.
     
  9. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yees this is exactly what happens in the story, but I simplified since I found too hard to simplify in the query

    Thank you so much for your feedback. Your examples really helped me
     
  10. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2021
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    428
    Latin continued as a major spoken language for much of Western Europe well into the 14th Century. It shaped the development of all the romance languages, but Portuguese in particular is a direct continuation of Latin. Just as much as Ecclesiastical Latin is, or modern Italian.

    But of course it wouldn't
    Rome wasn't ancient anymore when Portugal founded its colonies
    By the 16th Century even Rome didn't have any folklore in common with Ancient Rome

    As well as Brazil's official language coming from Rome, there is also its largest religion: the Catholic Church (65%), and for most people some ancestral descent from the Romans.

    There might be a sensitivity issue if the slash in the OP's "Latin/Brazilian" is read as "Latin, in other words Brazilian" but I took it to be "Latin, specifically Brazilian." The former might treat Latin America's cultures as monolithic/homogenous after having been Europeanized.

    And I suppose there might be a question of appropriation if the term Latin is used to encompass indigenous folklore - but I don't think that's a question that should be or can be raised from standpoints outside Brazil itself. From outside I feel the assumption should be inclusivity: so that the indigenous cultures own the term Latin and all Brazilian people own all the folklore. That view I hope credits indigenous cultures as co-agents in defining the meaning of "Latin."

    Some of the folklore the OP mentions might come from indigenous cultures, but it's difficult to distinguish:-

    Curupira - wikipedia says this is shared Tupi/Iberian (but cf. José de Anchieta - recorded it as a Tupi belief)
    Cuca - is Portuguese (cf. Alphonsus. Lib III)
    Gorjala - I couldn't find a good reference for these - they resemble European Cyclopes
    Besta-fera - I couldn't find a good reference for these - they resemble European Werewolves

    All four of these are from a context of cultures co-joining, and the first written versions are Latin or Portuguese.

    I don't see any of this to be problematic other than the word "savage" being mentioned so close-by, but I'd again suggest for the OP to take out any references to real cultures. The story's fantasy world is complete now and has to stand on its own feet: where the inspirations came from doesn't matter to the reader or sell the story to an agent. Show-not-tell applies: the coinage 'animano' sounds Latin. Sciractar I couldn't place - I guess some Arabic influence? In Gibraltar and Cutar the -tar ending is from Arabic words (but two different ones).
     
  11. samira1111

    samira1111 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2021
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    I want to clarify something, since you are trying to figure out what I mean with “latin” lol.
    Even though you’re kinda right (I’m even impressed with your knowledge about history, it’s so satisfying to see), I used the term LATIN as a reference to Latin America Folklore, but more specifically from Brazil :)
    You’re right that Portuguese comes from Latin. But brazilian Portuguese is also influenced by Tupi-Guarani (an indigenous language) and it’s different from European Portuguese

    Noo, I don’t see as homogenous. Here, in Brazil, we don’t relate often the term Latin to the language itself, but to the culture.
    The junction of African, Indigenous and Portuguese influences form, in Brazil, a mixed and very rich country.
    I want to make clear again that I use the term "Latin" to refer to ethnicity/location, and not to the European language.

    Latin culture, in Brazil, naturally includes all the folks that once created the idea of Brazil. Because Latin is referring to our South American territory, and not the language itself.

    Yeeesssssss, exactly!
    I’m so glad you researched this. I felt... I don't know... special lol. Thank you for your attention to research before stating something that isn’t from your culture. Some things you didn't quite understand (which is natural since it's not your culture), but you seem to have a more general knowledge than most North Americans I've met.
    Just an observation: the besta-fera looks like a centaur :D

    The term savage doesn’t refer to any Brazilian culture or folkloric figure. The animanos (or savages) were creatures I invented myself. So I don't see why ‘savage’ would be problematic.
    Actually, the creation of the name animano isn’t that smart .
    I’t’s just the junction of the portuguese words ANIMAL (animal) + HUMANO (human), and there it is: animano.
    (I know, it’s not that creative)
    Sciractar has no Arabic influence, although it seems to have.
    And about the names of the kingdoms:
    I write something I’ve never seen and "original", and sometimes VERY weird names come out. But I just feel if they’re the right ones and put in the story.
     
    evild4ve likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice