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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » MAGE STORM Query--Again

   
Author Topic: MAGE STORM Query--Again
Meredith
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Here's a revision to the query for MAGE STORM. Any opinions?

quote:
Rell doesn't want magic. He doesn't dream of being a hero out of old legends or a mage. Certainly not a mage, after they all incinerated each other at the end of the Great Mage War. He'd just like not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change. Someone should have reminded him to be careful what he wished for.

A mage storm, composed of the ashes of the wizards killed in the War, strikes. The embers that fall like rain burn and destroy, threatening Rell's home and family. But Rell is struck by a strange blue cinder that infects him with magic. The magic allows him to shelter his family from the fury of the storm, but that's when the real trouble starts.

His older brother is jealous of Rell's new status. His da expects Rell to bring back the useful magic he remembers from before the war. But Rell's magic responds more to his emotions than his thoughts. He can't figure out how to make it do what he wants. Frustration and anger only bring out one of the most dangerous aspects of his magic: fire.

Convinced the magic makes him too dangerous to his family, Rell runs off to find someone who can help him understand and control it. In fact, it's even more dangerous than he knows. If he fails, he'll probably end up adding his ashes to the mage storms.

MAGE STORM is a 56,000-word middle grade fantasy and potentially the first of a series. I have enclosed a synopsis and the first five pages per the instructions on your website.

Thank you for your time.


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Corky
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I like it!

It sets things up nicely, and it makes the problem very clear.

Good job, Meredith!

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RyanRussellLunde
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Hi Meredith,

I like it. It's an interesting concept (especially the "mage storm fallout"). I like that you focus mostly on the internal battles (Rell's reluctance to be responsible for his new powers and inability to control them) and the emotional battles with his family.

The last paragraph seems a little vague though. It hints towards a bigger picture but doesn't give me enough detail. There is something more than his internal and family conflicts. I'd like to know a little bit more about that.

That might just make this query successful though as is. I want to read more just to find out what the bigger picture is; what's "even more dangerous than he knows". But that may not be enough for an agent. I think the bigger external conflict and the main protagonist should be made more clear, although like I said, I still like the focus on Rell's initial internal and family conflict.

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C@R3Y
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Job well done, Meredith! This is a very good query, I thought. I was going to point out what RyanRussellLunde did, but he got to it first.

I didn't check out the other versions, but I don't see how it matters. I liked this query.

Very interesting and makes me want to read the novel.
=]

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Denevius
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this is an interesting concept.

i'll admit off the bat that the first paragraph almost made me stop reading, which may or may not be a problem for others. for me, though, i felt there were too many cliches: the young man destined to be a hero even though he doesn't want to be; the younger brother in the older brother's shadow; and the last line of that paragraph, "be careful what you wish for"; besides the fact that any story featuring a young male wizard automatically brings to mind harry potter.

i think it's that next line that really piqued my interest, "A mage storm, composed of the ashes of the wizards killed in the War, strikes." that's pretty unique and attention-grabbing.

anyway, my 2 cents.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
this is an interesting concept.

i'll admit off the bat that the first paragraph almost made me stop reading, which may or may not be a problem for others. for me, though, i felt there were too many cliches: the young man destined to be a hero even though he doesn't want to be; the younger brother in the older brother's shadow; and the last line of that paragraph, "be careful what you wish for"; besides the fact that any story featuring a young male wizard automatically brings to mind harry potter.

i think it's that next line that really piqued my interest, "A mage storm, composed of the ashes of the wizards killed in the War, strikes." that's pretty unique and attention-grabbing.

anyway, my 2 cents.

Well, I don't know what to do about the boy mage thing. The story is actually more like the early RANGER'S APPRENTICE series than HARRY POTTER. Rell doesn't wear robes, carry a wand, or use spells. And, unlike Harry, Rell's magic actually has a cost. Not learning to deal with that properly could kill Rell.

Hmm. I think I need to strengthen that last paragraph a bit.

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Denevius
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for what it's worth, my suggestion would be to try an experimental query that doesn't use the words 'mage/magic'. and i only say this because i'm guessing in a slushpile of queries to the type of publishers you're sending this to, there's probably a lot of young boy or girl mages/wizards stories whose destiny it is to one day be heroic, and i think all those queries will immediately make publishers think Harry Potter (which may or may not be a good thing). maybe even change the title for now to something like "Blue Cinder".
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GreatNovus
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I somewhat agree with Den, but i must admit the query was good enough to where I'd buy it!
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by GreatNovus:
I somewhat agree with Den, but i must admit the query was good enough to where I'd buy it!

Thanks. I like to hear that.

Hmm. Since learning to properly use dangerous magic in a world where all (or almost all [Wink] ) of the practioners are dead is the central conflict of this story, I really don't think I can phrase the query without any reference to magic.

Honestly, the story has more in common with Flanagan's THE RANGER'S APPRENTICE than it does with HARRY POTTER. While I hate to do it, I wonder if this might not be an occasion to use a comparison like that.

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GreatNovus
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Perhaps a direct comparison wouldn't be the best, but maybe an indirect one would. What do you think about making a comparison between the books audiences? That way it sounds like your book isn't a rewrite of someone elses, still gets the comparison you want across, and shows that you know a bit about the market as opposed to someone who is just writing for their own pleasure? If anything else fits you could also list another example that is quite different from the first example, this would probably further help them realise your books in't a clone of something else.

But what do I know. [Smile]

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by GreatNovus:
Perhaps a direct comparison wouldn't be the best, but maybe an indirect one would. What do you think about making a comparison between the books audiences? That way it sounds like your book isn't a rewrite of someone elses, still gets the comparison you want across, and shows that you know a bit about the market as opposed to someone who is just writing for their own pleasure? If anything else fits you could also list another example that is quite different from the first example, this would probably further help them realise your books in't a clone of something else.

But what do I know. [Smile]

Yeah, it would be a "Readers of" . . . "would enjoy" . . . sort of comparison.

Or possibly a more direct comparison to the reason why I think they're similar--it's the type of central conflict, not the plot. That was suggested by one of the readers of MAGE STORM when I asked, but she hasn't read RANGER'S APPRENTICE.

She also agreed with me that the only thing MAGE STORM has in common with HP is the age of the intended readers.

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RLKnight
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Personally, using the careful what you wish for cliche doesnt seem to hurt the query at all, as some people suggested. There are many stories written that use that cliche... Sorceror's Apprentice, Alice in Wonderland, for just two examples. In this case, using the cliche in the query actually hints towards the dangers and conflicts ahead.
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RLKnight
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There are ways to get away from the cliche "mage" term while still keeping with what you are trying to convey. Simply come up with a term for practicioners of magic that isnt the normal mage, wizard, witch, sorcerer ect. Sort of what they did for the Technomancer series. By using a different name for something that is common in fantasy fiction, you also get the reader asking... what is this thing called X
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LeetahWest
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I don't think of HP when I hear the word Mage. I think of HP when I hear the word Wizard. And having grown up mostly on fantasy novels, there is a huge difference (at least to me). When reading about a fantastical world I expect for their to be Mages. I wouldn't let that worry or distract you with the query at all.

"Certainly not a mage, after they all incinerated each other at the end of the Great Mage War." The part in this sentence that gets me mixed up is "after they all". This might be due to the fact that "after all" is a word combination that I use frequently so the first few times I read over it, I had to slow down to catch what I was misreading to make sense of the rest of the sentence. If you want to keep this in your voice then maybe something more than a comma to identify that you are explaining why he wouldn't want to be a mage.

"He'd just like not to be in his big brother's shadow for a change." this line I stumble over a bit when reading. I understand what you are saying, but the flow makes me trip. Try replacing the word "like". Maybe going for "He'd just appreciate not being in his big brother's shadow for a change." To my ears and reading eyes that seems to flow a little better.

I really have no expertise here so feel free to ignore this as well. [Smile]

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