QueryDice #11

The following is a query critique. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!

Dear Ms. Ruth,

Logan has been protecting the four children of prophecy for the last eighteen years—by staying as far away from them as possible. He has to. If the queen finds them, she’ll kill them. Or worse, she’ll use them.

Why would Logan going near the four children of prophecy cause the queen to find them? Why is the queen suddenly, after eighteen years, looking for the children of prophecy?

They are the only ones who can stop her, or do her bidding and wipe out Logan and his people for good.

Why? Do they have special powers?

He can’t let that happen. And, as the last remaining Protector, he alone can find their bread-crumb trail.

Why is he the only one who can find their bread-crumb trail?

Reluctantly, he agrees to search for them, but his mission has two stipulations. First, finding them is where it ends; someone else can take the name Protector.

Would there really need to be a protector if he was able to find the children? Also, he’s the last remaining Protector, so how can someone else simply take the name Protector?

Further, do we really need to know his stipulations? If they are a large part of the plot, you haven’t done a very good job showing that to us. If they’re not, leave them out and focus instead on the larger scope of your story.
Second, he’ll only look for three. He already knows where the fourth—his son—is. The queen is raising him thanks to the one person Logan trusted most, his wife.

This complicates things. First, is the queen unaware that Logan’s son is a child of prophecy? Why is she raising him and what does Logan’s wife have to do with that? I’m not sure you really need to divulge this information in your query. It’s an interesting part of the plot, but it would serve you better in a synopsis. I would suggest cutting this part and focusing more on building the world you’ve created into this query so we have a firm handle on what’s happening and what the events mean to the characters.

He’ll fight.  He’ll even die for his people. But he won’t face that betrayer again.

Except, it’s never that easy. As their Protector by calling, (I thought someone else could take the name Protector?) Logan is bound to the children—all four of them. And when he meets the first of them—Jaden, a young woman who wields daggers as well as her warrior mother did—she is a constant reminder of the promise Logan made to her father—a man who died so Logan could live—the promise to protect her, and the others.

I understand that the conflict here is that Logan needs to find these kids, but why? The stakes don’t seem high enough. Does the queen actually have a goal of finding and killing and/or using the kids? And what would this mean for Logan and his people? Is the queen not part of his people?

The biggest issue with this query is that there is a make-believe world I know nothing about. Details are not explained properly and so I’m left wondering, which is why I’ve asked so many questions, here. Because I worry that world-building will be a problem in the full manuscript, I would reject this query.

[redacted] is a 106,000 word fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

 

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Posted on September 22, 2011, in Advice, literary agency, manuscripts, publishing, queries, Query Dice, slush pile and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I agree with both Alex and Joy’s comments, in that the query-letter is very vague; were I in your shoes, Lauren, I’d definitely reject this… It lacks directions, and there just isn’t enough to make me want more of it.

    Still, I think that the plot/premise does have potential. If the author were to elaborate more, give us more than just a fuzzy picture of this world that s/he has created, I might be more inclined to care about the story & want to know what happens next. As I’ve said before, there are a zillion fantasy novels out there- what makes yours stand out, and why is it better than the others?

    Good luck, fellow would-be author!

  2. I’m on the same page as Alex and Lauren. If the questions are answered, the query would be just a little clearer and since I’m already drawn to the story, I want to know more! Also, this could be completely wrong/out of left field, but is the queen Logan’s wife? Not to say it reads that way necessarily, because it doesn’t, but something about the way you said it made me wonder. If I’m right, that’s very interesting!

  3. I agree, there are a lot of unanswered questions in this query. It feels a little scattered because of this.

    I think you should focus on the core plot of there being four children to save, who they are, what they mean, what their powers are, and what the stakes are.

    Answer all the questions, create the setting, and then at the end throw in the twist that the Queen is raising the fourth child who is the MC’s son do to a betrayal from his wife. That should all be told in one sentence.

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