Thursday, July 21, 2016

Query Critique #17: WORKING TITLE

My thoughts are added in redEvery 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):

Amaleigh Santos (neat name!) is the president's daughter in an alternate New York City where the magical elite known as the Maginai are divided into two groups. Fire Wielders, those with the dragon's gift of fire and Fae Mages, those whose magical gifts come from the Fae. Amaleigh is torn as she wants to join the Guild of Engineers to make her city a better place from the ground up. 

This paragraph is struggling a little bit. The first sentence, which is supposed to be a hook, is more of an info dump and, unfortunately, the rest of the paragraph is as well. Consider something like: “In an alternate New York City where the magical elite, known as Maginai, are divided into two groups. Sixteen-year-old Amaleigh Santos, president’s daughter and humanitarian, longs to join the Guild of Engineers—to heal her prejudiced city, from the ground up.”

See what I mean? This is a hook. Make your own changes, but I wanted to give you a model of what I’m talking about, at least :)

 Whereas her father expects her to eventually follow in his footsteps and replace him as president
(This should go up in the first paragraph), According to a mysterious dragon knight sent by order of Queen Tiamat, queen of all dragons, to protect her, Amaleigh is to be trained as a skilled warrior in order to become leader of the queen's guard. 
 Just before her eighteenth birthday, when each member of the Maginai community is considered an adult. Amaleigh begins to have strangely prophetic dreams where she is visited by Merlin, the most powerful of all Fae Mages, who had long since disappeared after the fall of the fabled Camelot. He warns her that she must prepare for a war against the Fae where the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. 

This paragraph is pretty confusing. It’s cool that Amaleigh is visited by Merlin! But I didn’t know humans also existed in this alternate NYC. You might want to make that clear. Also, consider showing a little more the tension in NYC. Are the Fae and Fire fighting each other? Are humans caught in the crosshairs? What exactly is going on this cool city of yours?

  Merlin tells her warns that in order to survive the oncoming war she will need to awaken Arthur the young king who was beloved by dragons and Fae alike. Only then will she be able to stop the Fae queen from breaking the seal between the worlds, and invading the human realm and eradicating all dragons who dare stand in her way (You’ve lost me again. So the humans are in the real NYC? And the magic people are in another version?). Amaleigh's life is turned upside down (Cliché! Stay away from this phrase!) when she is declared the first ever human heir to the dragon's throne (Wait. I thought Amaleigh lived in the magic part of NYC?).

  The queen is dying, and has waited nearly a thousand years for a Fire Wielder worthy of the throne to be born. A Queen to unite all realms. It is unknown whether a human can even survive the ceremony to become queen. 
 Before that, Amaleigh will have to survive the attempts on her life by murderous, or perhaps well meaning Fae. For what the Fae queen has in store for her may be a fate worse than death. Can Amaleigh bear the weight of the crown of flames? (Ending in questions is strongly discouraged!)

Okay! First of all, from what I could understand, this is a really cool fantasy novel! At least, I think it’s fantasy. You didn’t have a closing paragraph giving the title OR the word count. Make sure you add that before subbing to agents.

One thing I’d suggest is going through your query letter and look at it from an outsider’s perspective. Does the world building make sense? How about Amaleigh’s motivations. As you can tell from my notes inline, the aspect of your NYC world really confused me. I’d advise firming up your explanation a little more.

On another note, your word count for this query was 359 words. The sweet spot is usually 250-300 words. There are definitely some things that you can cut and tighten to make your query letter sparkle.

Good luck with this! Feel free to send me the edited version, if you like!

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