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Author Topic: Query-FTCM new
shimiqua
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Any and all help is appreciated. When did this get so difficult?
256 words.

Falling in love in the middle of a gender war sucks. Larissa Alvarez, a second generation American and sixteenth generation Witch who lost her family as a casualty of a hidden mage war of the sexes, trusts the wrong people in order to save Joe Penrod, a hot mage who might just destroy the whole world, and worse-- he doesn’t even love her back.

FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC is a 60,000 word YA Urban Fantasy. As the only freaks in a school full of normals, Larissa finds a sense of belonging with Joe that she lost when her family died. Since Joe can walk through walls, it’s only natural that Larissa enlists him to help her steal back her mother’s notebook. And it made sense, the choices they made, to trust a few mages, to trust the witch who’s watched over Larissa, but the outcome of these choices leaves Larissa beaten, kidnapped, and as a spy on the boy she loves. As she tries to free herself and save Joe, she ignites the next battle in the war between mages and witches, and SPOILER ALERT - it doesn’t end well.

Sheena Boekweg is a staff member at Flash Fiction Online. She has completed three novels, and is an active member of Hatrack River Writer’s Workshop. Sheena received an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. Her work was accepted for publication by The New Era magazine. To read more about Sheena or her writing, check out theprosers.blogspot.com.

Thank you for your time.

Second Attempt (With help from Meredith and Roxy via email)273 words

Larissa Alvarez never paid too much attention to magic. It’s hard enough being one of the few Latin Americans in school, let alone a witch. She’s ignored her mom’s pleas to learn about her magical heritage and just tried to blend in.

But when her family dies, and the powerful book of spells Larissa was supposed to inherit goes missing, Larissa finds it’s hard to ignore the side of her life that’s trying to kill her.

Witches and Mages have always had an uneasy relationship as they vie for power, but the battle of the sexes is heating up toward all out war. Larissa is caught in the middle, left with only cosmetic spells (flat stomach, shiny hair – easy. Protect herself…not so much), and a suspicion that it was the witches, not the mages, who destroyed her family.

She thinks her luck has changed when she meets Joe. Sure, he’s supposed to be the enemy, a wildcard mage who can walk through walls. But he makes her feel something she hasn't in a long time – safe. Besides, with his unpredictable powers and temperament it’s just as likely the mages would eliminate him as keep him for an ally. With no one to trust on their own sides of the war, why shouldn’t they join forces to help each other out?

What could possibly go wrong?

FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC is a 60,000 word YA Urban Fantasy.

I'm a staff member at Flash Fiction Online and have received an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. My work was accepted for publication by The New Era magazine.

Thank you for your time.

[ July 03, 2012, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: shimiqua ]

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by shimiqua:
Any and all help is appreciated. When did this get so difficult?
256 words.

It was always this hard.

quote:
Falling in love in the middle of a gender war sucks. Larissa Alvarez, a second generation American and sixteenth generation Witch who lost her family as a casualty of a hidden mage war of the sexes, trusts the wrong people in order to save Joe Penrod, a hot mage who might just destroy the whole world, and worse-- he doesn’t even love her back.
I'm not a huge fan of starting out with a log line. Of course, that could be because I'm not very good at them. [Smile] In this case specifically, that's a real jawbreaker of a sentence and it doesn't flow smoothly into the rest of the query.

quote:
FUNNY TRAGIC, CRAZY MAGIC is a 60,000 word YA Urban Fantasy.
In my opinion, leave the housekeeping (title, genre, length) for the end.

quote:
As the only freaks in a school full of normals, Larissa finds a sense of belonging with Joe that she lost when her family died. Since Joe can walk through walls, it’s only natural that Larissa enlists him to help her steal back her mother’s notebook. And it made sense, the choices they made, to trust a few mages, to trust the witch who’s watched over Larissa, but the outcome of these choices leaves Larissa beaten, kidnapped, and as a spy on the boy she loves.
Whew! Another sentence that tries to do a whole lot. I'd simplify at least by removing that leading clause. Say, "Their choices made sense at the time, but . . ."

quote:
As she tries to free herself and save Joe, she ignites the next battle in the war between mages and witches, and SPOILER ALERT - it doesn’t end well.
This may be going too far into the story. You need to indicate what they risk by their choices, but not necessarily what happens. The query only really needs to go as far as the inciting incident.

quote:
Sheena Boekweg is a staff member at Flash Fiction Online. She has completed three novels, and is an active member of Hatrack River Writer’s Workshop. Sheena received an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. Her work was accepted for publication by The New Era magazine. To read more about Sheena or her writing, check out theprosers.blogspot.com.
Why are you talking about yourself in the third person? "I" is perfectly acceptable, here. I'm not sure I'd mention the two other novels, here, or the HM. FFO and the publication credit are good. The blog addresss belongs in the signature block, not here.

quote:
Thank you for your time.
Apart from that, this query lacks that great voice you have in the ms. That's the absolutely hardest thing to do in a query (at least for me), but it's what will make your query stand out in the pile.

Good luck with this one.

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Meredith
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Something that I just remembered. This is a suggestion I once heard from an author who had a first-person ms and was trying to get the voice into the query.

She wrote the query in first person, just like it was part of the ms. and then recast it into third person. Worth a try?

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shimiqua
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Thanks Meredith. New version up.
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Meredith
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Much, much better.
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LDWriter2
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I think it's better too.

I didn't say anything when it first appeared because I wasn't sure what but I knew there were problems.

But this one flows better and makes sense.

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MattLeo
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Hmm, hmm, hmm.

I agree the second version is better, but you've lost the hook ("Falling in love in the middle of a gender war sucks") from the original.

The second version has a little less hard sell ("hot mage"), but perhaps it doesn't sell quite enough; you've got to establish why we want to read on as soon as possible. Stories run on the problems the protagonist faces, so the most informative bit is where you state this. A hook doesn't have to be clever, like your first attempt; simply stating what drives the story can do, as you do in your second paragraph:

quote:
...the powerful book of spells Larissa was supposed to inherit goes missing, ... it’s hard to ignore the side of her life that’s trying to kill her.
Of course it's not entirely clear why she should try to ignore that side of her life, but combining enough of the first paragraph with this puts the story into focus:

quote:
It’s hard enough being one of the few Latin Americans in school, let alone a witch... [but when] the powerful book of spells Larissa was supposed to inherit goes missing ... it’s hard to ignore the side of her life that’s trying to kill her.
In other words pack just the most interesting bits of the characterization (Larissa is a Latina in an Anglo school and this alienation parallels her magical heritage) that also happen to feed into her basic problem (circumstances force her to confront what makes her different). This fits the basic criteria of launching any story: showing enough of the distinctiveness of the character to make her understandable and interesting, and giving her an understandable problem to work upon. In this case these two things rest against each other like two halves of an arch. Hunting for a spellbook is something an unrepentant magic geek would naturally do, but the conflict is purely external (who took the thing). Because Larissa is conflicted about her identity,

The reason this is so hard is no mystery; we all know it is much more engaging to show, not tell, but query letters are pure telling.

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Eliza C
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Second version is much better! To be honest, I wasn't really able to get into the first version as most of the first paragraph was all one sentence that was difficult to unravel.

But when her family dies - dies or was killed? If they were killed it would be stronger to say that. The rest of the sentence is vague, it might be better to be specific.

Larissa is caught in the middle, left with [only cosmetic spells (flat stomach, shiny hair – easy. Protect herself…not so much), and] a suspicion that it was the witches, not the mages, who destroyed her family. -- I suggest cutting [this part]. The light bit detracts from the tension you're building and I think it confuses what you're trying to get across.

The rest I like. Well done.

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