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Really need help with my query
Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 10:57 AM
Joined: 6/15/2011
Posts: 10

I'm fairly new here, but it seems like the crowd on here might be able to really help me.

Writing a query is something I'm really not good at - but with my novel Edge of Reality now finished its something I really need to get better at.

I'm going to post two rough drafts I've done of a query for Edge of Reality and I'd love it if people could rip them apart, tell me what to keep, what to get rip of - or even if I need to start again from scratch!

First one:

Cara Page isn’t crazy. But considering she hears voices, there are those who would disagree. The truth is she only hears one voice. A voice that insists he is King Arthur, the Once and Future king.


Almost five years after her mother is committed to a mental hospital, diagnosed with extreme schizophrenia and unable to recognise her own daughter, Cara is convinced she is about to follow her there.


Until she meets Lance that is. Lance, along with his two hulking brothers, seems to understand Cara’s strange visions and voices better than she does.


When Lance offers Cara answers, she leaps at the chance, even if it means leaving her home and her father, the only family she has left.


As Lance reveals secrets that shatter Cara’s former life, she finds herself caught between two worlds, and saving one may mean sacrificing the other.


Caught in a web of myth and magic, Cara Page is about to discover that the line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist, at least, not for her.


Edge of Reality is a YA Contemporary Fantasy that combines the myths and legends of King Arthur with a modern romance.

Version two:

Chivalry isn’t dead, but Cara Page soon might be.


Cara has no way of knowing her mother’s mental illness isn’t natural, or there is anything more to her life than being the school freak show with a crazy mother.


But there is much more to Cara’s life – because Cara is the Last Pendragon. The last descendent of the legendary Once and Future King. Cara has a Destiny.


The barriers between the real world and the world of Avalon, home of the Fair Folk, are crumbling. And only someone with the blood of Arthur Pendragon, who can wield Excalibur, can stop it.


Cara won’t have to do it alone. The soul of the long dead King Arthur speaks to her, though that might just make her as crazy as her mother.


Then there’s Lance. Better known to most as Sir Lancelot, the ‘Perfect’ Knight. But Lance isn’t perfect. Far from it. He’s failed Arthur once, and there’s every chance he’ll do it again.


As Cara starts falling for the knight sent to protect her, she also must face the darkest, most dangerous things Avalon has kept hidden for thousands of years.


The problem is, Cara doesn’t want a destiny, she wants a normal life. But saving her normal world from the magic might mean sacrificing the one good thing to come out of it.


Lance seems happy to exchange his life for hers, but chivalry be damned, Cara is not about to play the role of damsel in distress.


Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:10 PM
Joined: 6/15/2011
Posts: 10

How do I get more people to see this to get more of a response?
Jay Greenstein
Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 1:44 AM
Like most new writers you're trying to provide a mini synopsis. But you can't, in the space allocated. The idea isn't to tell the story, it's to make the reader want to read the actual story, by literally hooking them. In this, though, you're explaining, not hooking.

Think in terms of the voice-over as a movie trailer begins. Think emotion, not facts. Tell who has the problem. Tell why it's a problem, and why that character must solve it. Tell what happens if they fail, and why they need to do it right now. Make me say, "Holy shit," and you have me hooked ;–)
Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 8:40 AM
Joined: 6/15/2011
Posts: 10

I kinda get what you mean. But that's what I tried with the first version and people told me that it was too vague. That it didn't give enough about the actual plot.

So I tried to give a little more about the plot - and I don't think that works either.

Really stuck with this one!
Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2011 10:26 AM
Joined: 6/15/2011
Posts: 10

Hmmm thanks for the help! I think I see what you're saying. I've done a new version that I wrote yesterday.

The barriers between worlds are crumbling, the old magic of Avalon leaks into the real world, and only seventeen-year-old Cara Page, the Last Pendragon, can stop it, but first she must discover who she really is.

Cara has no way of knowing her mother’s mental illness isn’t natural, or there is anything more to her life than being the school freak show who’s as crazy as her mother. All she knows is that her dreams come true, and she hears voices. When eighteen-year-old Lance Filwer arrives in town, he brings secrets with him that will shatter Cara’s world.

As the old magic returns to the world, so do many of the darkest creatures of Avalon. Hunted by Wraiths, Cara must place her trust in Lance, a boy she barely knows, and leave behind her home and her family. With the line between reality and magic vanishing, Cara stands on the very edge and she must find a way to close the barriers.

If she doesn’t she’ll find there are far worse things than wraiths lurking in Avalon, and it won’t be her, but Lance who pays the final sacrifice.

EDGE OF REALITY is a 71,000 word, YA Contemporary Fantasy novel that brings to life the magic and legends of King Arthur and Camelot.

Does that work better? or does it still have the same flaws?
Kevin Sullivan
Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 2:24 AM
Joined: 5/29/2011
Posts: 2

Hi Nicola,

Just figured I'd throw my two cents in since I laos have a book that parly deals with the Arthur legend and have drawn some interests from agents re: my own query.

First--yes, it's hard to do this. But you have to come up with a way to summarize your book in one sentence. And you have a lot going on, so it's really hard.

You've got a teenage girl traumatized by her mother's insanity and her own dreams--which makes her doubt her own insanity. Plus you have the fact that she's the school outcast who discovers that she is the heir to the Pendragon legacy. And the only hope in keeping a realm of nightmares from invading this world.

So yeah, I can see how it would be difficult. But you have pare it down to one core question--what does Cara want? What is motivatng her? Is it wanting her mother back and sane? Or is it her having to come to grips with her destiny? It sounds like you have almost two separate arcs/trials for your protagonist.

For me, I'd go with Cara wanting to risk everything (her life, her destiny, etc.) just to get her mother back.

Try this as a hook line for your query: Seventeen year old Cara is willing to risk everything to regain her mother's sanity--her life, her world and her newly-found destiny as the last Pendragon, heir to King Arthur.

Something like that would really hook me. It lets me know what this girl wants and what's at stake. So we have her personal crisis tied in with the larger, epic conflict. Then, in the following summary paragraph, you can go into Lancelot and all the other stuff. Because I agree with Visitor X, you include way too much info in your earlier queries. It should start wih a hook line, a BRIEF plot summary, and then the word count, genre, etc.

Think of the summaries you read on the back covers of paperbacks. Or--what helped me even more--go onto Amazon.com and read the intro summaries to some of your favorite books. That's the best way to see how it's done.

Let me know if this helps.

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