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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Xander query summary

   
Author Topic: Xander query summary
RyanRussellLunde
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2nd Revision: 250 words

Xander is content with the life of a crop farmer's son. He wants nothing more than to continue living in peace, helping his father tend fields, and supplementing the dinner table with his hunting kills, but his contentment relies on ignorance.

Mazrael, a power-hungry soulmancer, exiled from the Order of Protectors, seeks revenge. He unleashes an army of demon possessed warriors on the land he once vowed to protect, but a prophetic dream reveals that Xander may cause his destruction. His efforts turn to finding and murdering him.

While Xander is hunting, his village is annihilated by Mazrael's demon horde and all its inhabitants disappear. From leagues away, Xander sees the smoldering ruins of the only life he ever knew.

Accompanied by a mysterious stranger with a dark past, Xander embarks on a quest to reunite his family, and finds that his role in the Demon War is more than his personal quest. Much of what Xander thought to be truth about himself, the ones he loves and his entire world is a facade built to keep everyone from living in fear.

Xander is destined to become a member of the Order of Protectors; he has the Gift that marks all who are recruited. Unconvinced that he is the Prophesied One, Xander weighs the odds of following the path he is lead on by those who believe him to be or following his own path to reunite his family. Choosing the wrong quest could lead to the failure of both.


1st revision:

Xander is content with the life of a crop farmer's son. He wants nothing more than to continue living in peace, helping his father tend fields, and supplementing the dinner table with his weekly hunting kills, but his contentment relies on ignorance.

Mazrael, a power-hungry soulmancer, exiled from the Order of Protectors, seeks revenge by unleashing an army of demon possessed warriors on the land he once vowed to protect, but a prophetic dream reveals that a boy may foil his plan.. His efforts turn to finding and murdering Xander.

While Xander is hunting in the surrounding forest-covered mountains, his village is annihilated by Mazrael's demon horde and all its inhabitants disappear. Leagues away, Xander sees the smoldering ashes of the only life he ever knew.

Accompanied by a mysterious stranger with a dark past, Xander embarks on a journey to reunite his family, and finds that his role in the Demon War is more than his personal quest.
Much of what Xander thought to be truth about himself, the ones he loves and his entire world is a facade built to keep everyone from living in fear. The truth about his world makes Xander question himself. The truth about himself makes him question his Creator.

Xander is destined to become a member of the Order of Protectors which he never knew existed. He has the Gift that marks all who are recruited. He weighs the odds of following the path he is lead on by those who believe him to be the One that will stop Mazrael or following his own path to reunite his family. Choosing the wrong quest could lead to the failure of both.

Original:

Xander is content living the humble life of a crop farmer's son. No stranger to "roughing it", Xander spends many of his days hunting in the forest covered mountains surrounding the secluded village of Petras and many nights sleeping in the cave that is his hunting shelter. He wants nothing more than to continue living his life in peace, helping his father tend fields, and supplementing the dinner table with his weekly hunting kills.
When a power-hungry soulmancer learns through prophecy that Xander may be the key to his destruction a manhunt ensues. While Xander is away on a hunting excursion Petras is annihilated by Mazrael's demon horde and all its inhabitants disappear.
Accompanied by a mysterious stranger with a dark past, Xander embarks on a journey to reunite his family, and finds that his role in the Demon War is more than his personal quest. What he learns about his world makes him question himself, what he learns about himself makes him question his Creator.

[This message has been edited by RyanRussellLunde (edited October 16, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by RyanRussellLunde (edited October 16, 2011).]


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Meredith
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Decent start. My first impression is that you've got a little too much back story, which tends to drag the query down a bit. Also, somewhat lacking the toughest of all things to master in a query (at least for me) voice.

Two ways of looking at the query that might help:

It only has to go as far as the inciting incident (usually roughly the first 50 pages). The idea is to make the agent or the reader want to read more.

Also, it should include three basic elements:

  • Who is the main character and why should we care about him? (I don't quite have enough about Xander to really care. Just how he lives won't do it. What does he really care about or who really cares about him? What makes him special?)
  • What problem/choice does he face? (I think you've probably covered this, but it could use a few specifics.)
  • What are the consequences of his choice? (Here, I think you've given too much of a generality.)

A few well-chosen details can really make the query stand out. Right now, this feels a bit generic because it doesn't have any details.

If you haven't already, start checking out the Query Shark.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited October 15, 2011).]


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RyanRussellLunde
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Thanks Meredith, I appreciate the input and will check out that link. I'll post a revised summary based on your tips and any others I might get.
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RyanRussellLunde
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I have posted a revision based on your comments and what I gleaned from hours of browsing Query Shark. Thanks for that lead Meredith.

The biggest problem I faced in this revision is the complexity of my story. Everything is well within the first 50 pages (except some of what is implied that he learns after he embarks on the quest)

I tried to expand on the three basic elements that you listed, but in doing so I created even more back story (which you said I had too much of in the first place.) I had gone into detail about a lot of things during the first revision but edited a lot of it out, (It was about 350 words. I chiseled away at that until I got it down to 278 words.) leaving clues that explain some of the story but leave much left unsaid, hopefully enough information to give the reader the gist of the story and at the same time entice them to want to read more. Like why was Mazrael exiled from the Order? What is the Order? and what is the Gift? You don't need to know the answers yet but "Mazrael exiled" gives motive to the Antagonist, "the Order" are people that care about Xander, "the Gift" is why Xander is special.

I hope I didn't make it worse


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