Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pitchwars Query Critique - THE KEY OF F


Here is another query critique for our pitchwars hopefuls. I’ve pasted the entire query and first page, then again with my comments. Thank you so much to Jennifer Haskin for sharing with us!

 

Dear Mentor:

 

I read on your bio that you have an interest in young adult fantasy literature. As such, I thought you might enjoy THE KEY OF F, the first novel in my fantasy/romance trilogy; a 75,000- word young adult (16+) novel.

 

After receiving visions of future events, Fale Argodian- an eighteen year old orphan trained as a samurai- learns she was the Princess of Mages in a past life and must go into hiding under the care of a coterie of mages.

 

On an Earth-like planet, in a country named Algea, Fale lives in the Industrial District. It is also home to a dastardly wizard who is using the industrial plant to turn people into machines. When Fale discovers that those metal people are sadistic guards having turned her subjects into slaves in a parallel dimension, she resolves to do anything in her power to rescue them. But to fight the evil, she must enlist the help of a biomechanical man, as well as her two best friends, to find a dimension- opening machine to which only she
has the key.

 

Fale and her three friends have a single goal; find the machine before the head wizard, who will use it to send his metal guard army to conquer new dimensions, stealing their magic and gaining power. What was a race against time becomes a battle when evil henchmen attempt to abduct Fale and her key. The head wizard’s men begin appearing, as do Fale’s powers and the situation complicates for all. Now Fale must fight the wizards, learn her history with the mages, remain hidden, practice her new powers, and find the machine, all while becoming more than friends with her handsome biomechanical roommate. THE KEY OF F will appeal to fans of Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS or S.J. West’s VANKARA and DRAGON
ALLIANCE.

 

Jennifer lives in Olathe, Kansas and is writing full time. She is a published poet for Lodestar, Inklings and Read magazine. You can learn more about her personally on her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/Jenni.Willis.Haskin She is happy to send her complete manuscript for your review.

 

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


 

 

The Key of F
Freedom Fight Trilogy #1
By Jennifer Haskin



Chapter 1

 

      It wasn’t the twin moons of Thera, or their six month eclipse that drove Fale inside; it wasn’t even the spring chill. She had dreamt of a war; one that she had never been in, and yet she had led the army. Today she wanted to be around people she knew and trusted. She thought her city was safe. Still, tingles ran the length of her arms, warning her that something sinister was inevitable. She shook her limbs to ward off the tremors of edgy nerves and pushed through the glass door. Immediately she felt the thump of a low and steady bass guitar, as a musical lament rang through the smoky antechamber. A torrid blast of heat hit Fale in the face as she entered the pub during its lunchtime press. This place is like a sauna, she thought as she scanned the room looking for her party. Her friends were hard to find in the boisterous crowd. She sidled down the bar to the back booths and found them, waving and calling her name over the noise.
     “Fale!” yelled her best friend, a beautiful young woman with chocolate eyes and copper skin. “Hurry up, lunch is almost over.” Fale smiled brightly as their friend, Keron, stepped out of the booth for her to slide in. The seats, once a vibrant red leather, were now dull and cracked with wear.
     “Sorry, Izzy.” They hugged briefly. “How were your morning classes?” she shouted above the noise of the deafening full table next to them.

 

And now with my comments!

 

Dear Mentor: For Pitchwars, this is fine and you probably already know this, but make sure the agents name is here…and correct! J

 

I read on your bio that you have an interest in young adult fantasy literature. As such, I thought you might enjoy THE KEY OF F, the first novel in my fantasy/romance trilogy; a 75,000- word young adult (16+) usually YAs are 12 and up or 14 and up…you’re really limiting yourself with 16+ because kids usually read up…even the more graphic novels that deal with sex and violence and have course language are usually 14+ novel.

 

I would move this whole sentence to the end. You also want to make sure that this novel can stand alone in case an agent/publisher doesn’t want to take on a trilogy. Usually you would add to the end, with series potential. If an agent is interested, then you can share your trilogy ideas and they will discuss with you what they think about pitching it as a series.

 

After receiving visions of future events, Fale Argodian- an eighteen year old orphan trained as a samurai- learns she was the Princess of Mages in a past life and must go into hiding under the care of a coterie of mages. This sentence tells a lot and gets the plot out there, which is excellent, but you want to do it in a more dynamic hooky way! What are the visions? Usually you wouldn’t think of an eighteen year old as an orphan…since they’re basically a grown up…is there a reason the MC isn’t seventeen or sixteen to ground it more firmly in YA?

 

On an Earth-like planet, If this is fantasy, you don’t have to specify…this makes it sound more sci-fi in a country named Algea, Fale lives in the Industrial District. It is also home to a dastardly wizard who is using the industrial plant to turn people into machines. When Fale discovers that those metal people are sadistic guards having turned her subjects into slaves in a parallel dimension, she resolves to do anything in her power to rescue them. Confusing…the metal people are sadistic? Who is she trying to save? Why does she care about this other dimension? But to fight the evil, she must enlist the help of a biomechanical man, as well as her two best friends, to find a dimension- opening machine to which only she has the key. This second paragraph seem like another first paragraph! Is this the same story as above? J Blend all this info together.

 

Fale Just pointing out that Fale sounds like Fail…you might want to think about that and her three friends have a single goal; find the machine before the head wizard, who will use it to send his metal guard army to conquer new dimensions, stealing their magic and gaining power. What was a race against time becomes a battle with? when evil henchmen attempt to abduct Fale and her key. The head wizard’s men begin appearing, as do Fale’s powers and the situation complicates for all. Now Fale must fight the wizards, learn her history with the mages, remain hidden, practice her new powers, and find the machine, all while becoming more than friends bit bland…spruce it up! with her handsome biomechanical roommate. THE KEY OF F will appeal to fans of Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS or S.J. West’s VANKARA and DRAGON
ALLIANCE. Great comp titles!

 

This whole summary is a bit…garbled. You have info in there, but it doesn’t all seem to be the right info? Even seasoned authors have trouble writing short summaries, it’s difficult to decide what to put in and what not to. It’s also hard to walk the line between hooking the reader and getting all the info needed. Think about the back of books (or the jacket) and try to write one for your story…then flesh it out with pertinent info and you have your query summary!

 

Jennifer lives in Olathe, Kansas and is writing full time. She is a published poet for Lodestar, Inklings and Read magazine. You can learn more about her personally on her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/Jenni.Willis.Haskin She is happy to send her complete manuscript for your review. In a query this should be in first person…where you live is totally not important and I’ve never seen anyone put their fb page in a query. Add in the book info from the first para and cut the unnecessary info from this one.

 

Thank you for your time. It’s always good to be polite!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Haskin
www.facebook.com/FreedomFightTrilogy Oh, this is interesting you already have a fb fan page. By saying trilogy instead of series or book, you’re limiting yourself. I mentioned and agent/publisher might want a standalone, but they also might want more than three books.

 

 

The Key of F
Freedom Fight Trilogy #1
By Jennifer Haskin



Chapter 1

 

      It wasn’t the twin moons of Thera, or their six month eclipse that drove Fale inside; why would this drive her inside at all? The darkness? it wasn’t even the spring chill. She had dreamt of a war;When? Last night or a vision? one that she had never been in, and yet she had led the army. / Today she wanted to be around people she knew and trusted. She thought her city was safe. Still, tingles ran the length of her arms, warning her that something sinister was inevitable. Awkward sentence She shook her limbs to ward off the tremors of edgy nerves and pushed through the glass door.into the tavern or pub or whatever / Immediately she felt the thump of a low and steady bass guitar, as a musical lament rang through the smoky antechamber. A torrid blast of heat hit Fale in the face as she entered the pub during its lunchtime press. This place is like a sauna, she thought as she scanned the room looking for her party. Her friends were hard to find in the boisterous crowd. She sidled down the bar to the back booths and found them, waving and calling her name over the noise. This is the LONGEST first paragraph ever! Put / where I thought you could break it up.
     “Fale!” yelled her best friend, a beautiful young woman with chocolate eyes and copper skin.Would Fale think these things…what about her is “beautiful?” “Hurry up, lunch is almost over.” Fale smiled brightly as their friend, Keron, stepped out of the booth for her to slide in. The seats, once a vibrant red leather, were now dull and cracked with wear.
     “Sorry, Izzy.”Sorry for what? They hugged briefly. “How were your morning classes?” she shouted above the noise of the deafening full table next to them.

So this beginning isn’t very dynamic…why not start with Fale’s dream/vision. A war scene!? Yes please. What did she see? Why did it freak her out more so than any other nightmare? Then you can ease the reader into Fale’s life/friends.

Thanks again to Jennifer Haskin for sharing her work with us!

For the next query visit Kate on her blog on 9/29 at katekaryusquinn.blogspot.com and I’ll have another critique right here next Tuesday!

7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much! I have already changed page one, starting with a clip from her dream: Blood dripped from Fale’s sword onto the metal decoration of her boots. She watched it join the puddle she stood in. Heaving a great breath, she squinted into the morning fog, trying to catch a glimpse of a flag in crimson and gold. Her colors; if she had won, the castle would be flying her colors. A man in battered armor ran toward her and instinctively she raised her weapon. He was covered in mud and gore. Where were his colors? She couldn’t tell which side he was on, but he was nearly to her, if he had a hidden weapon… Without hesitation, she drove her blade through the gap in armor at his waist.
    “Milady,” he gasped, eyes bright with tears. She noticed how young his freckled face appeared as he opened and closed his mouth, like a fish lying in a boat. “I came to tell you,” he whispered and swallowed before closing his eyes. “We won.” His body fell to the ground.

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    Replies
    1. YES! This is so interesting and a much better opener...it's exciting and I LOVE the "twist" and the horror of her killing her own soldier.

      Okay, so for this I would just suggest slowing it down a tad, her surveying the battle scene, taking in the gore, her confusion and maybe a bit of panic? Also maybe add a few more descriptions and a bit of world building (not overdoing it, literally just a few sentences to set the world for the reader.) Maybe where she is in relationship to the castle, a bit of the landscape, and a feeling of how many soldiers are involved. Maybe also the man can call her a title that denotes her place in the battle, is she a general, or just another warrior? Just a few suggestions that might flesh this out.

      Great job! Editing skills are so important to authors, so it's fantastic you have the chops!

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  2. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words!!

    ♡jenn

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  3. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words!!

    ♡jenn

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  4. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words!!

    ♡jenn

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for considering people to make additions to your writings. This is actually really helpful and enable the writer to identify mistakes and create something exciting.

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