Hatrack River
Home † | † About Orson Scott Card † | † News & Reviews † | † OSC Library † | † Forums † | † Contact † | † Links
Research Area † | † Writing Lessons † | † Writers Workshops † | † OSC at SVU † | † Calendar † | † Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » New Query for FIRE AND EARTH

   
Author Topic: New Query for FIRE AND EARTH
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
How's this? Better?\
Version 6c: I'm still struggling with explaining Tiaran's motives. They're too complex to fit into a sentence or two, especially if I'm expunging the prayers. I did get rid of that one line. You know, that's been in this query from the very first version.

quote:

When her country is invaded, seventeen-year-old Casora loses her battle against her berserker curse. Being a berserker turns her into a ferocious warrior, but that's no help to her family when she must be exiled as a danger to everyone around her. She turns mercenary while searching for a way to tame the berserker so she can return home. Being sent to rescue Prince Tiaran gives her hope.

No matter how hard he tries, Tiaran will never be the kind of warrior his brothers are, but he still feels compelled to fight to defend his homeland. When the raiders attack, he's trapped on the wrong side of the city walls. Rescued by Casora from his first disastrous battle, he learns from her that there's more than one way to be a warrior.

Tiaran has something to teach Casora, too. He's the only one who's ever been able to calm the berserker rage. The only one who has ever called her curse a blessing. Together, they may be able to shake off the expectations of others and find a future neither of them ever dared dream of. First, though, they have to stop the marauders from destroying everything in their path or there won't be any place for that future to unfold.

FIRE AND EARTH is a 77,000-word young adult fantasy. Readers who liked Kristin Cashore's GRACELING will enjoy FIRE AND EARTH. I have included [whatever the agent wants].

Thank you for your time.

Version 6b: (Because I never can cut enough the first time through.)

quote:
When her country is invaded, seventeen-year-old Casora loses her battle against her berserker curse. Being a berserker turns her into a ferocious warrior, but that's no help to her family when she must be exiled as a danger to everyone around her. She turns mercenary while searching for a way to tame the berserker so she can return home.

No matter how hard he tries, Tiaran will never be the kind of warrior his two older brothers are, but he still feels a need to fight to defend his homeland. When the raiders attack, he's trapped on the wrong side of the city walls. Rescued by Casora from his first disastrous battle, he learns from her that there's more than one way to be a warrior.

Tiaran has something to teach Casora, too. He's the only one who's ever been able to calm the berserker rage. It's just possible that Tiaran and Casora may be the answer to each others' prayers. But only if, between them, they can find a way to stop the marauders intent on destroying their world.

FIRE AND EARTH is a 77,000-word young adult fantasy. Readers who liked Kristin Cashore's GRACELING will enjoy FIRE AND EARTH. I have included [whatever the agent wants].

Thank you for your time.
[quote]

Version 6:

[QUOTE]When her country is invaded, seventeen-year-old Casora loses her battle against her berserker curse. It makes her a ferocious warrior, but that's no help to her family when she must be exiled as a danger to everyone around her. She turns mercenary while searching for a way to tame the berserker so she can return home. Desperate, she prays to the earth goddess for a solution and gets an answer: help the youngest prince to find the solution to her problem. Her hopes soar when she's sent to rescue Prince Tiaran.

Tiaran will never be the kind of warrior his two older brothers are, but he still feels a need to fight to defend his homeland. He prays for his own answer to this dilemma. When the raiders attack, he's trapped on the wrong side of the city walls. Rescued by Casora from his first disastrous battle, he learns from her that there's more than one way to be a warrior. He also begins to grasp his own deep connection to the earth.

Tiaran has something to teach Casora, too--a discipline and philosophy that could help to control the berserker curse. It's just possible that Tiaran and Casora may be the answer to each others' prayers. But only if, between them, they can find a way to stop the marauders intent on sweeping through their world.

FIRE AND EARTH is a 77,000-word young adult fantasy. Readers who liked Kristin Cashore's GRACELING will enjoy FIRE AND EARTH. I have included [whatever the agent wants].

Thank you for your time.

Version 5:

quote:
Exiled for carrying the berserker curse, seventeen-year-old Casora turns mercenary, seeking revenge on the invaders who ravaged her homeland. All the while, she prays for some way to tame the berserker so she can return home. She gets a mystifying answer: help the youngest prince to find what she needs. Casora has high hopes that her prayers may be answered when she's sent to rescue Prince Tiaran.

Tiaran is considered more a scholar than a warrior, unlike his two older brothers, but he's nevertheless determined to fight for his home. When the raiders attack, he's trapped on the wrong side of the city walls. Rescued from his first disastrous battle by Casora, he gets a chance to learn warfare from a master.

But Tiaran has something to teach her, too--a discipline and philosophy that could help to control the berserker curse. It's just possible that Tiaran and Casora may be the answer to each others' prayers. But only if, between them, they can find a way to stop the marauders intent on sweeping through their world.

FIRE AND EARTH is a 77,000-word young adult fantasy. Readers who liked Kristin Cashore's GRACELING will enjoy FIRE AND EARTH. I have included [whatever the agent wants].

Thank you for your time.



[ June 19, 2012, 06:58 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rabirch
Member
Member # 9832

 - posted      Profile for rabirch   Email rabirch         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've only got one thing that bothered me in this. "Help the youngest prince to find what she needs" read to me like a typo that should have read "to find what he needs." I don't think that's what you meant. More along the lines of "Help the youngest prince, in order to find what she needs"?

Otherwise, it looks good.

Posts: 208 | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hmm. I still think you're burying your lead here. You can start with Casora as your protagonist of course.

quote:
Exiled for carrying the berserker curse, seventeen-year-old Casora turns mercenary, seeking revenge on the invaders who ravaged her homeland. All the while, she prays for some way to tame the berserker so she can return home. She gets a mystifying answer: help the youngest prince to find what she needs. Casora has high hopes that her prayers may be answered when she's sent to rescue Prince Tiaran.
OK, let's run down what we learn here, which I'll number for convenience.

(1) Casora is cursed to be a beserker.

(2) She is exiled on account of it.

(3) She has become a mercenary.

(4) Invaders have ravaged the land. [A]

(5) Casora is seeking revenge on the raiders.[B]

(6) She is praying for a way to control her beserker nature.

(7) If she can tame her beserker nature she can go home.

(8) She receives a mystifying answer. [B]

(9) If she helps the youngest prince she can go home. [B]

(10) Casora is sent to rescue Prince Tiaran.

(11) Casora hopes this shows the answer she has been given is true. [c]

That's a lot of information to squeeze into a paragraph. It feels cluttered to me and over-dense with information that either I don't need or which raises unnecessary questions.

What is the minimum you'd need to explain Casora's problem and the incident that incites her toward solving it? I think the following: 1, 2, 3, 6, 10. That's a 50% reduction in propositions.

The other stuff either is backstory ([A]), makes me want clarification of specifics ([B]) while not adding much in the way of motivation or action, or is redundant with other information in the query ([C]).

For example who is providing this mystifying answer to her problem? Raising this point naturally makes us want an answer, but that answer doesn't really matter in the context of the query.

quote:
But only if, between them, they can find a way to stop the marauders intent on sweeping through their world.
This brings up an interesting point. I think you're trying to book-end the query with the marauders, but it's not immediately clear how the marauders are tied up with Casora's condition. I think you might want to go with this:

(1) Casora's world is being torn apart by marauding invaders.

(2) Casora has a beserker curse that she might have kept under control were it not for the marauders.

(3) Exiled because she can't control the curse, she becomes a mercenary.

(4) She is ordered to rescue Prince Tiaran.

This seems to me to be the minimum needed to describe how Casora is set in motion and tie the conclusion back to that.

Posts: 1301 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow. Thanks. I'll give it another shot.
Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One of the things I learned refining the query for *The Keystone* is how much of the information vital for the operation of the story doesn't belong in the query.

Take a look at the original version of my query (http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=26;t=001163;p=0&r=nfx) and what I ended up after responding to the comments of you and others here (http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=26;t=001175;p=0&r=nfx).

A query doesn't have to give you a plot synopsis. It doesn't have to give you a history of the story world. It doesn't have to give you a psychological profile of the characters.

What it has to do is convey what is appealing about the story.

You'll note that in my query I actually threw accuracy to the winds in order to do this. The query has the nasty surprise of Archie being engaged again coming *after* he moves onto her ship. That of course isn't the way it happens in the story. It it's not even *logical*. It's compact and gets the essential point across.

Posts: 1301 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bump for newer version.
Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, *I* like the new version a great deal more. Pared down to essentials, the story sounds a lot more exciting.

I have a few small nits to pick.

The first is a voice issue. The opening paragraph is much improved, but on first reading its rhythm struck me as a bit repetitive. After repeated readings, I think I've put my finger on my problem. You're describing an exciting story, but there's a certain redundancy in your telling. Casora is a cursed beserker, we can take it for granted she's a danger to people around her. If she's a danger to people around her, we can take it for granted she's a danger to her family. In any case the danger to her family is no doubt a far greater personal concern to her. She prays to the goddess to tame her curse, and the answer she received is "the solution to her problem", which is the only thing she's likely to be praying for.

If you could squeeze the word count just a tiny bit more, conveying the same information in sixty words instead of ninety-five, I think this paragraph would "pop".

At the risk of re-writing, here's an example of the kind of condensation I'd consider:

quote:
When her country is invaded, seventeen-year-old Casora loses her battle against her berserker curse and is exiled as a danger to her family. Seeking a cure, she prays to the earth goddess and learns that to return home she must help the youngest prince. Casora's hopes soar when she's sent to rescue Prince Tiaran.
Terser equals more exciting, all things being equal. If you could get your opening paragraph into this word count range it would be even stronger.

quote:
Tiaran will never be the kind of warrior his two older brothers are, but he still feels a need to fight to defend his homeland.
He "feels the need" to fight? This strikes me as a bit wishy-washy in comparison to Casora's motivation: she's *compelled* because she's literally *cursed*. I "feel the need" to tidy up my garage; if my children were attacked I'd "feel the need" to defend them, but it'd be an entirely different thing.

I think you need to amplify Tiaran's motivation. Is he ashamed that other men risk their lives so he can study and feast? Does he feel he doesn't measure up to his older brothers? Is he burning with patriotic zeal to defend his people? His problem needn't be on the same level as Casora's, in fact it probably shouldn't. But at least it shouldn't seem inconsequential when set next to Casora's motivation.

Finally:

quote:
It's just possible that Tiaran and Casora may be the answer to each others' prayers. But only if, between them, they can find a way to stop the marauders intent on sweeping through their world.
I'm not sure about "answers to each others' prayers," because that strikes me as cliche, but you seem to be committed to that so we'll have to agree to disagree.

I think this could be punched up though; it still strikes me as redundant (it's obvious that they *do* have the solution to each other's problems), and you're still missing something important: conflict. The point is this: if they can help each other they can save the world, but first they must X. What is X?

As a satirist, I'd think X must be something ironic. Each has what the other needs, but to get it he must teach the other what he has. In order to do that, he's got to learn to value what he's got.

[ June 19, 2012, 10:54 AM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

Posts: 1301 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks MattLeo. I actually just posted a somewhat reduced version, cutting slightly different things. I've actually had some experiences that suggest not all agents can be assumed to know that much about berserkers. [Roll Eyes]

I'll take a look at Tiaran's paragraph next.

And I'll see if I can make myself cut that "answer to each others' prayers" line. It fits the story, but that doesn't automatically mean it belongs in the query. Darn it.

Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like the new opening paragraph, the only thing is that I do miss the pivot to Tiaran at the end, although perhaps that will start the new Tiaran paragraph. 6b sounds almost like you're starting a second query.
Posts: 1301 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay. One more try. Hopefully getting close. [Smile]
Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Okay. One more try. Hopefully getting close.
In my never so humble opinion you are close. In fact I thought about leaving a warning about doing it too many times. Remember even though there are basics some of this is subjective to the certain editor. In other words one editor may not give it a second glance while another will say Finally someone did it right.

So get the basics right but don't obsess over it too many times. I know that is easy to do but it's usually not good.

[ June 22, 2012, 11:54 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]

Posts: 4847 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Query fatigue has set in. This'll have to do for now.

Thanks LDWriter2 for saying pretty much what I was feeling. [Smile]

Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I suppose this means the new version of the query is better:

quote:
Dear Meredith,

Thanks for your query letter.

Your manuscript sounds quite compelling. Unfortunately, Iím not really looking for new clients at this time, as Iím very focused on my current client list. For that reason, Iím going to have to pass.

Thanks again for thinking of me. I wish you the very best in finding a good home for your writing.

Kind regards,

*Trying to see the upside.* "The glass is half full . . . the glass is half full . . . the glass is half full . . ."
Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, definitely half-full. Did you check with the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents as to whether this agent was looking for new clients?
Posts: 1301 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey half-filled congrats.


Sound positive at least not at all like a Snoopy rejection. [Smile]


But this is only one, how many agents are there out there????

I know it's hard to see rejections and time consuming but that's why you send out five at once.

So Go girl Go Go Go.... You will do it.

Posts: 4847 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
Oh, definitely half-full. Did you check with the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents as to whether this agent was looking for new clients?

Not that specific rererence, no.

I did check the agency website and AgentQuery. The website said nothing. AgentQuery specifically DID say he was accepting queries.

No reference is ever completely up to date, IME.

Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, no fair Matt posted that while I was typing. [Smile]

Didn't even see it 'till now.

Thought about saying this "No reference is ever completely up to date" but you beat me to it, which means you know it already.

Even though I hate to say it that could be just an excuse he placed on his form rejection. Even though that "compelling" part sounds good.

Posts: 4847 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Hey, no fair Matt posted that while I was typing. [Smile]

Didn't even see it 'till now.

Thought about saying this "No reference is ever completely up to date" but you beat me to it, which means you know it already.

Even though I hate to say it that could be just an excuse he placed on his form rejection. Even though that "compelling" part sounds good.

No. I've had a form rejection from him before. It's the standard "not for me" type.

Actually, the form letter reads:

quote:
After careful consideration, I'm sorry to say that I don't think your project is right for my list, so I've decided to pass. . .
It goes on to apologize for the form letter, so you know that's what you got.

Same agent, different project.

I keep these things. I'm thinking of starting a scrapbook. (Not really.)

[ June 29, 2012, 10:23 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

Posts: 3900 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
shimiqua
Member
Member # 7760

 - posted      Profile for shimiqua   Email shimiqua         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think 6c is sexy. It works for me. I'd want to find out more.

Best of luck Meredith. You inspire me!

Posts: 1184 | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Codeô is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2