Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Query Critique #6: ILLUSION

My thoughts are added in red. Every comment is my own opinion. Readers, feel free to leave your own comments below and help a fellow writer out!

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Original Version (with comments):

Sixteen-year-old Kate Stillwell has her summer organized into a tidy list of bullet points and subheaders (I don’t think you need the details. By “tidy list” I can assume the bullet points and subheaders. Also, kudos, you let me know a bit about your character in the first line. Always hard to do!)—until she’s abducted by Idina, her closest (Maybe substitute “best”? Just an idea. “Best” friend gives me a closer feeling than “closest”) friend.

Kate is taken to the headquarters of the Celestian Guard, an organization of magicians from another world (Before we get into this part, could you explain why Kate’s friend kidnapped her?). While at the Guard, Kate learns that she is the daughter of a Celestian and a human (Consider a rewording like this: There, Kate learns she is a half-breed—a daughter of a human and a Celestian—which gifts her…), which gifts her with a rare form of magic: her words can become reality (Has she ever had problems with this before, prior to her arrival at the Celestial Guard?).

She also discovers that the magicians were commissioned to protect the delicate balance between humanity’s magic—creativity—and real magic, a task the magicians fulfilled effectively until an enemy band of magicians called Berserkers severed the pathway to Celestus (Lots of world building here—cool world building—and world building is always hard to do in a query letter! You leave me a little confused about the “pathway to Celestus” and what the band of magicians’ motives are. Why did they break away from the “good guys”? Also, love the name Berserkers. Very cool!).

Now the Berserkers are hunting for a lost sword that could be used to free their leader from his prison in the center of the earth (Why was he imprisoned?). Intent on protecting creativity, Kate volunteers to join a hunt to find and destroy the sword—but if they can’t, then creativity will fall (This can probably be assumed. Could you brainstorm a punchier ending? What’s so bad about creativity falling? The world will be bleak and dark—which really would be terrible).

ILLUSION (Lovely title!) is a YA contemporary fantasy complete at 54,000 words (Hmm. It’s a little short for a YA fantasy. Might give agents pause, just to warn you in advance. But everyone is so iffy about YA word counts, so if your story is strong, don’t worry!) that could be pitched as National Treasure meets The Kane Chronicles. ILLUSION does have series potential, but can stand on its own.

I am a member of the Florida Writers Association (Cool! I wish I had a writers’ association. There’s a lot of mixed opinion here, about giving information. A lot of people say to only say things that relate to your book, like experience. Or to only put in if you’ve been published before. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide!). ILLUSION is currently a finalist for their Royal Palm Literary Award (winners to be announced in October) (Congratulations!!!).

Closing Thoughts:

Wow! This sounds like such a cool fantasy! I’ve never read anything like it before. Love how creativity is a stake. I can’t imagine that this would have a hard time selling! I think the main thing you need to focus on with your letter is the world building. There are parts that are a little confusing. Since your query in total comes to 219 words, and the sweet spot is 250-300, you could stand to add a little more information. Other than that, I didn’t notice much else. Good luck! This is a story I would love to read.

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