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Query: The Inquisitor's Mage
RebeccaStevenson
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 6:01 PM
Joined: 4/6/2011
Posts: 31


(I've been shopping this query around for a bit, with no real response. I am leaning toward a belief that the story itself is the problem, but I'm interested to see how the query strikes people. I've currently got this version out with a dozen agents who haven't said no... yet )

Dear AgentNameSpelledCorrectly,

Assassination is not as simple as it looks.

Kevan has a career as a burglar-for-hire. His work lets him use magic with no one the wiser, and gives him revenge against those whose laws he breaks merely by existing, since magic is treason as well as heresy. A single wrong step lands Kevan in the cells of the Inquisition, where he receives an astonishing offer:  His life, in exchange for service in the Church. The Inquisition has a use for the demons Kevan can summon; they make perfect assassins, and Crown Prince Michael wants to kill his father.

Kevan has no choice but to aid the conspiracy against the king, but all he wants is to keep his sanity while he looks for a way out. He finds an ally in another of the conspirators, Michael's younger brother, Brandon. Though he loves the kingdom, years of bitter arguments over the Inquisition have left Brandon with nothing but hatred for his father. He is willing to see one man die to save those who would otherwise fall victim to the king's irrational judgments.

The simple goal of speeding up the royal succession tangles as hints appear that Michael is willing to start a civil war to solidify his power. He also thinks he can control the Church, but the Inquisition's leader has his own plans--and his own magic to wield.

Reluctance turns to rebellion, but for Kevan and Prince Brandon, getting out of the conspiracy with their lives and souls intact seems impossible. To stop what has been set in motion, to preserve the hope of peace, they must join forces to save the life of a man they both have reason to hate.

THE INQUISITOR'S MAGE (86,000 words) is fantasy in shades of gray. It is intended as the first of a trilogy.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

(my contact information)

Michael R Underwood
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 3:10 PM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 74


Rebecca,

This story looks interesting, but I think your query may be too busy and too long. The query clocks in at 304 words, and most all of the advice I've seen says to shoot for 250 words or less.

I'd vote for a full re-assessment of your approach in the query, as this is fairly convoluted for me, and the query as written isn't pulling me through and asking for more.

To be more specific, I think that the first paragraph needs to be pared down and made more clear.

An sample re-write would go something like this:

"Pronounced a heretic for his magical abilities, Kevan takes vengeance on the system and pads his own pockets by working as a burglar-for-hire. After being caught on a job, the inquisition offers him the choice of service or death.

Kevan uses his burglar's skills and magical talents to become a reluctant assassin, all the while looking for a way out. Kevin gets embroiled in an succession conflict and civil war that pits the Crown Prince against the Inquisition and the King himself..."

If Michael is a main character as well, I'd say you might be well-advised to give him his own set-up paragraph, then using the third paragraph to talk about how their stories intersect.

The place where I get shaky is the transition from 'Kevan hates the establishment that labels him a heretic.' to 'Kevan teams up with Michael to save the King because they need peace.' I'd focus on indicating the emotional process or actions that lead to Kevan changing his mind, because right now I can't follow that progression.

I hope some of that was useful, and best of luck with the querying!
RebeccaStevenson
Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011 12:23 PM
Joined: 4/6/2011
Posts: 31


Thanks for the feedback, Michael! I'll give those ideas a whirl when I do my next version.
Elizabeth Sogard
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 10:16 PM
Joined: 5/3/2011
Posts: 15


I think what you did, is what I did my first time writing a query. You are combining two documents: a query and a synopsis.

I think that this is closer to a synopsis than a query. From what I have read, a query has the following things: A hook, an introduction to the main character, a clear idea of the conflict and what your main character must do to in order to resolve the conflict.

This query has a lot of great idea but I agree that there is too much. Don't give away too much. Think of your query as a potato chip. It is a small bite that will leave your agents wanting more.

It really does sound like an interesting story. I hope it finds a home so I can read it.
RebeccaStevenson
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:53 AM
Joined: 4/6/2011
Posts: 31


Thank you, Elizabeth! When I do the next version I'll try to pare it down a bit.