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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Query Pitch for MAGIC AND POWER

   
Author Topic: Query Pitch for MAGIC AND POWER
Meredith
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Here's the query pitch. A little long. All comments welcome. Rip, tear, shred. [Smile]

Third Attempt:
quote:
Keep your head down. Don't draw attention. Don't make waves. Be invisible as much as possible. Above all, don't make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa has lived by for as long as she can remember. She's used to that. It just goes with being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living next to his more-than-slightly paranoid replacement.

With very few friends and no prospects of marriage, Ailsa focuses her energy on her chance to study at the Institute of Magical Arts. Her great hope is that she'll prove to have a kind of magic that will enable her to--quietly--save her homeland from the new king's restrictive policies toward mages. But nothing is every that simple for Ailsa. A completely unexpected proposal--from Crown Prince Savyon, no less--threatens to derail all her plans.

Political intrigue, powerful magic, and a study partner with a maddening taste for placing them both at the center of attention force Ailsa to rethink her view of the world. She begins to think that the answer isn't to shrink until she fits in somebody's pre-arranged slot, after all. Maybe, with powerful enough magic, she can make her own place--and change the world for the better in the process.

The only question remaining is which of the young men who claim to love her is willing to help her in that battle.

GREEN MAGIC is a 96,000-word young adult fantasy romance and potentially the first of a series. I have included the first ten pages below.

Thank you for your time.

Second attempt:
quote:
Keep your head down. Don't draw attention. Don't make waves. Be invisible as much as possible. Above all, don't make herself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa has lived by for as long as she can remember. She's used to that.

Ailsa has more trouble with the isolation of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king. With very few friends and no prospects of marriage, she focuses her energy on what is possible. If she proves to have the right kind of magic, and enough talent, then she'll be able to--quietly--counteract the damage caused by the new king's restrictive policies toward mages. After all, she can hardly be more of an outcast than she already is. And she'd at least be able to do some real good that way.

Then Ailsa receives a proposal from the most unexpected quarter--Crown Prince Savyon. Sure, Sav's one of her very few friends, but it's a long step from friendship to marriage. And Sav only gives her a few days to decide before she's due to leave for the Institute of Magical Arts. She refuses to be stampeded into a decision and promises an answer when she returns from her first year of study. When, at least, she'll have some idea what she's capable of.

Between political intrigue, powerful magic, and a study partner who aggravatingly actually seeks to be the center of attention, Ailsa's view of the world expands. Now, instead of accepting the limitations forced on her, she's ready to try to change the world. The only question remaining is which of the young men who claim to love her is willing to help her in that battle.

GREEN MAGIC is a 96,000-word young adult fantasy romance and potentially the first of a series. I have included the first ten pages below.

Thank you for your time.

First try:
quote:
Being the daughter of an ex-king is no bed of roses. Especially when the ex-king is still alive and living right next door to the more-than-slightly paranoid new king.

Keep your head down. Don't draw attention. Don't make waves. Be invisible as much as possible. Above all, don't make herself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa has lived by for as long as she can remember. She's used to that.

The isolation is harder to deal with. Almost everyone finds it much too politically dangerous to be her friend or even be seen much in her company. So Ailsa focuses her energy on what is possible. If she proves to have the right kind of magic, and enough talent, then she'll be able to--quietly--counteract the damage caused by the new king's restrictive policies toward mages. After all, she can hardly be more of an outcast than she already is. And she'd at least be able to do some real good that way.

Just before she's set to leave for the Institute of Magical Arts, Ailsa receives a proposal from the most unexpected quarter--Crown Prince Savyon. Sure, Sav's one of her very few friends, but Ailsa never expected this. She decides she just can't decide without at least finding out what kind of magic she has and promises to give Sav her answer after her first year of study at the Institute.

Between political intrigue, powerful magic, and a study partner who aggravatingly actually seeks to be the center of attention, Ailsa's view of the world grows wide enough to prepare her to fight to change it. The only question remaining, is which of the young men who claim to love her will help her in that battle.

MAGIC AND POWER is a 96,000-word young adult fantasy romance and potentially the first of a series. I have included the first ten pages below.

Thank you for your time.



[ February 25, 2014, 06:24 PM: Message edited by: Meredith ]

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extrinsic
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Hi, Meredith,

Part of the second paragraph stands out to me as potent, strong voice, artful and appealing expression for a query. A few viewpoint and grammar glitches later in the paragraph spoil the potency for me.

A present participle verb starting a pitch and query for me immediately puts me on notice the writing to follow will be problematic. I want to read a query to see if the novel will interest me as a story. I don't want to be evaulating for style shortcomings that recommend the query and the novel for easy rejection. More than a few grammar issues in the pitch and query keep me from appreciating the pitch, query, and their novel. Though minor individually, those issues accumulate.

I'm on a grammar kick now. I'm not on a mission to promote grammar skills for general education purposes. I am on a grammar mission to promote writers' skills development and career development and success. Mine too, of course.

For me, circling back around to grammar studies has been inspirational. Why do publishers reject ninety-nine-hundredths and more of submitted manuscripts? I looked into craft shortcomings, voice shortcomings, appeal shortcomings. I analyzed many, many published works and contrasted and compared them to many, many unpublished works in those terms. I circled back around to grammar. Voilà! There in front of my nose, spited by my face, was an unchallengeable answer. Because of the grammar.

I think if you would circle back around to grammar studies, find a comprehensive grammar handbook and study it, that your writing would transcend your struggles and difficulties getting published. The story is there, its potential appeals; the style is problematic. I feel your career success depends on your grammar skills.

[ February 25, 2014, 02:47 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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Thanks, extrinsic.

Revision above. (Still needs more work.)

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jerich100
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In the fifth sentence, "herself" should be replaced with "yourself" to be consistent with the other sentences.

The sixth sentence (about Ailsa) is a bit "tellish" vs. "showish". I realize you've written a pitch here, not an epic novel, so the word count has to be small.

If Ailsa is good at "being invisible" and so on, then I wouldn't picture Ailsa's first problem as feeling isolated. Perhaps conceited or eclectic?

Is Sav for or against magic? If I were Ailsa that's the first thing I'd ask.

What does "aggravatingly" mean? Oh...in an aggravated manner. I would delete the word "actually" after that word.

Your pitch is written clearly enough. If I were a potential publisher, wouldn't I want to know what is unique about your story? For instance, does she have some problem no one else has, such as get lightheaded when she does magic, or does she attract demons? Does her good magic cause something bad to happen somewhere else? (I saw that in an "I Dream of Genie" episode about 46 years ago.)

What about your story will I as a reader get from any other story? I'm sure there are many wonderful things. Those should be included in your pitch.

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jerich100
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Sorry, I meant in my last paragraph, "What about your story will I as a reader NOT get from any other story?"
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extrinsic
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I didn't mean the first paragraph is unnecessary. I meant it is confused and cluttered by faulty grammar.

Removing wordy, faulty, cluttered, and confused grammar for illustration:

//Daughter of an ex-king living next door to the paranoid new king is no bed or roses.//

Though I'm generally put off by weak negation statements, and clichés like "bed of roses," the negation and cliché strongly signal a litotes, a special type of irony. Irony for the opening pitch line of a query is powerful writing. It's emotionally expressive and though narrator-like voice, even writer voice, irony like that expresses character emotional attitude and estranges narrator or even writer in favor of character voice--viewpoint. That's a magical transcendence of third-person writing.

Then that above example or similar sentence could be the opening line for the following paragraph. Close up the line break, run the following paragraph into a line recast similar to the above example, for example.

jerich100 caught a grammatical person switch fault in that second paragraph: "herself." Some other wordiness and arrangement issues, though, that I see.

//Keep your head down. Don't make waves. Be invisible. Don't draw attention. Do not make yourself a target. Since she can remember, seventeen-year-old Ailsa lived by those rules.//

That arrangement is stronger from alternating between the imperatives' negation and positive commands, creating emotional emphasis through repetition, substitution, and amplification, and emphasis added from breaking out the last contraction into its two words, punctuating them all: Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Bam. An extended litotes in all, too, irony in keeping with the first sentence example above. And made clearer as well as stronger by cutting clutter and confusion. Until the last sentence of the example, character voice predominates.

The next paragraph is a little unsettled about whether it's character or narrator voice. Applying a few grammar principles to declutter and clarify the paragraph will settle the voice into character voice. Same with the next paragraph, and so on.

The paragraphs after the imperatives one give away the plot. Introduce the magic and magic school complications and love interest complication in the query, I think. Okay. But one refreshing feature stands out from the whole for me; that is, Ailsa is the daughter of an ex-king, imperiled by that, and seriously complicated by it. That's the most appealing and potentially most original and strongest complication for me, one that places Ailsa in greatest peril. The magic and love interest complications tied into that complication but not telegraphing the plot would work for me.

[ February 26, 2014, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Meredith
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Thanks. Third version above.

@extrinsic: I didn't think you meant that the first paragraph had to go. But the second was a much stronger place to start, IMO.

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extrinsic
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I agree the third start is stronger. On the other hand, my sense of a query pitch section is a brief, memorable sentence first up front becomes the elevator pitch agents, screening readers, editors, publishers, reviewers, and advertisers remember and exchange as they ride an elevator to or away from meetings and for jacket blurb copy, phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and social media twittering.

[ February 25, 2014, 08:34 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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I'm guessing just reading the third attempt is sufficient. Overall, I thought it was intriguing, though I did have a number of concerns.

quote:
more-than-slightly paranoid replacement
Agree with me or not that the pitch has to be accurate to the novel, but I think attempts like this are trying to tell too much about what *actually* happened in the narrative. But the wording waters down the sentence and makes it unnecessarily awkward to read.

Basically, what's meant by 'more-than-slightly paranoid'? I as the reader don't know if he's paranoid or not, don't have any examples, am unsure if Alisa believes him paranoid but in reality he isn't.

I think it would work to just say he's paranoid. I just don't see how the additional three words help.

quote:
nothing is every
ever

I also think you overdo the dash/em dash in this pitch. There's an awful lot of them.

quote:
pre-arranged slot, after all
I would drop 'after all', which slows down the rhythm of the sentence and pulls me out of the exposition.

quote:
The only question remaining is which of the young men who claim to love her is willing to help her in that battle
The pitch only mentions one guy, Crown Prince Savyon. And you know, just from what I know of the genre, usually the Prince isn't a good guy, or he's morally ambivalent. I could be wrong, but either way, besides him and a study partner, who we aren't told is male, this last statement seemed to come out of nowhere.

I do think you're going in the right direction, however.

Oh, and is the disgraced ex-king living next to the paranoid replacement, or is Ailsa living next to the paranoid replacement? Or are they both living next to the replacement? Either way, maybe that sentence can be split in two.

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shimiqua
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I think the first five sentences all say the same thing, so you might want to choose two or three, just for word length. I'd suggest keeping the first two, and "Above all..."

I'd also suggest naming the study partner. And ditching "She begins to think" for "Perhaps".

But all in all, this sounds like a book I'd love to read. Feel free to send it to me. I owe you one...or two.
[Smile]

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