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The Dorian Stone Query...all guests welcomeimg
Elizabeth OConnor
Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 6:26 AM
Joined: 5/11/2011
Posts: 22


Hello fellow writers,

I am just starting the querying process, having sent out three queries so far and having received one rejection with two possibly pending. I figured that I would ask your advice before continuing to submit a poorly written query. There are some wonderful insights out there and I am hoping I can get some of you to help me clean up my letter.

Thanks in advance to all!

 

Dear _____,

 

I am the author of The Dorian Stone, a 131,000 word Urban Fantasy novel that is the first of an intended three part series.

For three thousand years Athena has longed for death, her incessant heart beating with only one other desire – to fulfill her promise of vengeance on someone who, like her, is incapable of dying.

Athena’s world has become much simpler these days – she merely exists. Wrapped in a growing shroud of detachment, her adopted human son, Michael, is the only salve for her slipping sanity. When a haunting face from her past checks in to her world-renowned hotel, the visage rips her numbness away, forcing an enduring vow of revenge to the forefront of her mind. As hotel guests begin to turn up dead or missing and her son becomes tormented with violent images, Athena must find a way to stop an ancient enemy before she once again loses the only thing she holds dear, her family. From Macedonia, 1262 BCE to the present, we follow Athena as she strives to save those she loves, while revealing the true origins of vampires.

This is a novel with two story arcs, one in present day Chicago and one creatively using actual historical events beginning in Ancient Greece. The present’s main protagonist, Michael, gives us a viewpoint into the vampire world as a human standing on its fringes. The story in Ancient Greece follows a still human Athena, our protagonist and only point of view character as she stumbles across a dangerous power hidden in the woods bordering her citadel. These seemingly separate stories converge at the climax, the past section explaining the actions and motivations of the characters in the present.

(personal details and accomplishments)

 

Again, thank you. All critiques, critisisms welcome


Elizabeth Sogard
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 3:03 AM
Joined: 5/3/2011
Posts: 15


None has been willing to take a stab at this query. The reason is because I don't think anyone knows quite where to start.

[I am the author of] CUT EVERYTHING INSIDE THE BRACKETS. The Dorian Stone, a 131,000 word Urban Fantasy novel [that is the first of an intended three part series.] CUT EVERYTHING IN THE BRACKETS. (When you tell a publisher that it is a series you are telling them that you aren’t really there to sell them one book. You are asking for them to buy all three. That’s a little intimidating right off the bat.)
[For three thousand years Athena has longed for death, her incessant heart beating with only one other desire – to fulfill her promise of vengeance on someone who, like her, is incapable of dying. ] This is wordy and grammatically incorrect even though word doesn’t catch it. After longing for death I believe there would be a semi-colon at best. Say your sentence out loud. Where do your words catch?
[Athena’s world has become much simpler these days – she merely exists.] That screams boring to me. Who wants to hang out with a ho-hum (sp?) character?
[Wrapped in a growing shroud of detachment, her adopted human son, Michael, is the only salve for her slipping sanity.] Too much information in one sentence. This is a red flag to would be agent. It tells them… this guy is wordy. I am hoping this is only a problem with your query because you are trying to get too much information at once. If not you might want to get a good beta/ pre-reader to go through your manuscript and help you learn to tighten your sentences.
[When a [haunting] WATCH FOR ING WORDS. I HAVE LEARNED THAT THEY ARE TEMPING BUT NOT ALWAYS HELPFUL. HAUNTING IS CLICHÉ. YOU CAN DO BETTER! face from her past checks in to her world-renowned hotel, the visage rips her numbness away, forcing an enduring vow of revenge to the forefront of her mind.] This is another really long sentence. It also makes your character sound weak. The only reason she remembered her vow is the fact some bad-arse from the pass needed a place to hang his (what I’m sure would be a really cool) hat for the night? Give her strength. Give purpose.
As hotel guests begin to turn up dead or missing and her son becomes tormented with violent images, Athena must find a way to stop an ancient enemy before she once again loses the only thing she holds dear [, her family. From Macedonia, 1262 BCE to the present, we follow Athena as she strives to save those she loves, while revealing the true origins of vampires.] Cut everything in brackets. It isn’t helpful and it isn’t going to temp anyone into buying your book or representing you (I will hover admit I am intrigued but only because I am a geek for lore and where it comes from)
[This is a novel with two story arcs, one in present day Chicago and one creatively using actual historical events beginning in Ancient Greece. The present’s main protagonist, Michael, gives us a viewpoint into the vampire world as a human standing on its fringes. The story in Ancient Greece follows a still human Athena, our protagonist and only point of view character as she stumbles across a dangerous power hidden in the woods bordering her citadel. These seemingly separate stories converge at the climax, the past section explaining the actions and motivations of the characters in the present. ] I would consider chopping this all out to it doesn’t “sell” me anything. Especially when you write Athena the view point character: that too is implied if you are only explaining her plot line.
(personal details and accomplishments)

Okay. That was a lot to throw at you. I am going to try and summarize for you.
There are a ton of things that can be cut, saving your query word count and making room for the juicy details that will get your agent excited.
Mind your clichés and most importantly get to the heart of your story.
A query is not meant to summaraize. It is meant to entice. I’m stealing a phrase I have heard a ton of others use: Think of the back cover of the book. Think movie trailer. Think action.
Every query should include:
A good idea of what motivates your MC – from what I gather a 3,000 year long depression is put on hold while she fights an ancient enemy
What’s at stake: I gather that your bad guy will endanger your MC’s family… probably more specifically her adopted son.
What’s stopping her: Okay. I think that is obvious but WHAT must she do to overcome her enemy. Suck seven virgins dry. Kill the unkillable? Think action!
If you try again keeping at least those three things in mind, while tightening your sentences I promise you it will be better.


Elizabeth Sogard
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 3:04 AM
Joined: 5/3/2011
Posts: 15


darn formatting! Sorry about that!
Elizabeth OConnor
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 1:23 PM
Joined: 5/11/2011
Posts: 22


Thank you for your input. I have already reworked a little of what you said, knowing I need to add more punch into it. Let me ask you, how would you pitch a story with two timelines? Or should I just focus on one?

After reading through queries on queryshark, I see what you mean about wordiness. I will be posting an updated query in a few days.

Thanks for the advice!
Elizabeth Sogard
Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 6:03 PM
Joined: 5/3/2011
Posts: 15


It depends on how important the two time lines are.... It's really hard to say. If the one time line is back story it may not need to be in the query. If it is a time travel novel, you would obviously have to put it in.

Just work on the bones and layer in.

Who is your MC
What dillema do they face.
What is at stake.
What will said MC have to overcome to accomplish their goal.

Believe it or not that's all there is!

Query shark is excelent for lead in Dear Agent type stuff and they are also good at lead outs. Don't waste your time reinventing the wheel.


When DANGEROUS BAD GUY from YOUR MAIN Character's past checks into her FABULOUS HOTEL, a three thousand year old vow of vengeance to the forefront of her mind.

In order to defeat the BAD ASS she must do BLANK before he DOES SOMETHING AWFUL to BLANK.

That of course is over simplified but your last query showed me that you were making it more difficult than it had to be. Take a breath. Realize what's important and get it down on paper. Then go and fill it in with all the tantalizing words I am certain made it into your book.
Elizabeth OConnor
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 6:04 PM
Joined: 5/11/2011
Posts: 22


Sorry this has taken so long, hopefully you are still willing to help

The two timelines are equally important, one explains the actions and motivations of the characters in the present. I have chosen, however, to focus only on the present story for now.

Dear Agent,

Athena’s heart has longed for only one thing – revenge. Yet, how is she to fulfill this vow when her oldest enemy is incapable of dying?

Vengeance. The need for it has burned through her ever since the night she lost everything, including her mortality. Living amongst the humans while keeping her vampire side secret, Athena has found that only her adopted human son, Michael, is helping to heal the void left in her soul. Yet, lately he has become inexplicably struck with violent images of his past. This seems like an unfortunate coincidence until guests of her world-renowned hotel begin to turn up dead or missing on its opening night.

It is not until Athena sees the long dead face of her daughter that she realizes something far more sinister is waiting in the shadows of her city. Now, Athena has no choice but to find a way to kill this ancient enemy before she once again loses everything she holds dear.

Bloodstone is an urban/historical fantasy novel with 131,00 words, and is the first of an intended three part series.

Blah, blah for this part.

Any input would be awesome, thanks!

 

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