Query Critique #7

Today’s query is a fantasy novel. There are so many different subcategories of fantasy, that pinning down what you are writing is important when querying.  YASLA and Author & Pitch Wars mentor, Laura Pohl wrote some great informative pieces about figuring out which type of fantasy you are writing to consider. 

Dear Agent First Name & Last Name, This is a personal preference, but I usually only say their first name to make it feel less impersonal. 

In Eloi’s kingdom, an ancient dark magic scars (I think this sentence would have more impact if you picked ancient or dark, but not both) flesh for man’s every mistake, morphing criminals into scaled reptilian beasts. Is this something that happens immediately whenever someone makes a mistake? Routine execution awaits the most monstrous creatures, at the hand of the smooth-skinned nobility. You’ve got my attention! But are you implying that nobles never make mistakes or is there something helping them so they aren’t punished for it? 

When a band of scarred rebels spark civil war by killing the Queen and gravely injuring the King, Eloi is thrust to the throne. You should mention Eloi is a prince because I think this changes how we view him in the first paragraph. It changes the meaning of his kingdom for me from a place in which he lives to the place he’s in line to rule. His journey to take the crown is thwarted by an exiled faction of prophecy whisperers bent on convincing Eloi not all beasts are monsters.. Give us some detail about this journey he has to take. Details matter. Why isn’t he just crowned? If it’s a big deal, maybe lead with that… To take the crown means Eloi must embark on a quest requiring him to slay a dragon and rescue the damsel in distress, but that is thwarted by… And who are these prophecy whisperers? Who is the leader of this exiled faction? Does he end up staying with them as their prisoner or do they change his journey to something different? Give us a character’s name here that is important to this new journey if it’s relevant to help us connect with the plot. 

In his quest for truth, he unveils the secret to his family’s power. He is faced with the impossible choice: uphold his family’s legacy or fight for the enemy. This is good but feels a bit too generic. Again, if you can go into more details without giving away the plot, that would be better. Bring the magic back from the first paragraph into the stakes if possible. You had my attention in the beginning, but because you kept your information vague, I found myself wondering whatever happened to that magic and if Eloi has since be scarred by mistakes. 

I am querying you because in an interview with Amy Trueblood, you mentioned an interest in “fresh, strong voice characters with emotional forward momentum.” Great way to connect tot he agent you are querying, but don’t put it before the book details. Have it follow that information. I tend to put my personalization at the very end behind my details about myself. again, just personal preference on putting it that low, but I like to end my query with the agent knowing why I chose to send my novel to them. The Purist Desires, THE PURIST DESIRES is a 98,000-word <<category (Adult, YA, MG) and type of fantasy (high, epic, contemporary, historical, etc)>> fantasy novel told in multiple points of view.  in a medieval style with a dystopian twist— think GAME OF THRONES meets MINORITY REPORT <<I’d show this as a comp instead of presenting it the way you did. Maybe something like: Fans of Game of Thrones, who like the <<insert info here>> and the dystopic/science fiction/insert the correct phrase here world created in Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report will love THE PURIST DESIRES. It’s told from multiple point of views that occasionally interconnect. Okay, if this novel is told from multiple points of views, you need to show us this in the query because the only character I’m aware of is Eloi and this surprised me. I added an easy way for you to let the agent/editor know above, but by giving us an introduction to the characters who have POVs makes this less of a shock. 

I’ve completed writing courses from The University of Texas-Austin and have also been featured in Military Spouse Magazine. <<Here is where I include the I am querying you piece…

Sincerely,

Revise and resubmit if interested. I know I’m curious about this story!

One thought on “Query Critique #7

  1. Thanks Natasha! I’ll definktely revise and resubmit and I am thrilled you found my premise interesting!!

    So a few answers to the questions:

    -Eloi is the Kings nephew, not son. There are 3 nephews though so it isn’t clear he will be crowned until he is.

    -The smooth skinned nobility are perceived to be the most moral (bc of their very few scars). It’s important to the plot that I’m a little ambiguous about this point. And yes, every person scars immediately. So mid lie, your skin starts to ripple and crease.

    -His journey to the throne is both literal and figurative. The exiled faction physically interrupts his trip from school to head back to the castle (home). This is another surprising plot point so I’m not sure how much to give away here.

    -The leaders of the exiled faction are minor characters. (Though, one of their guards is a POV chapter.)

    Looking forward to revising! I’m very encouraged you found my premise intriguing!! Thanks for your time.

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