Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Current Query Part III

Here is the most current version:

15 Year old Lee Ruccio is a reluctant juvenile delinquent. The last thing he expected to find at reform school in the bitter wilderness of northern Idaho was magic. But after the death of his mother, and estrangement from his useless, high-society, drunk-whenever-he's-home father, Lee's guardians ship him off to Rocky Mountain Academy and that's exactly what he discovers.

Despite having to earn the right to attend classes after months of hard labor and being placed on restriction after getting caught alone in the woods with a female student, Rocky Mountain Academy redeems itself when Lee finally learns of the mysterious curriculum. The classes have names like "The Way of Unifying With Life Energy" and "The Eight Principles of Yong." In them Lee and his new friends (and enemies) study everything from East Asian Calligraphy and Meditation to Aikido and Kenjutsu.

Permission to kick ass is pretty awesome when you're fifteen and convinced it's you against the world.

Through these disciplines Lee and his fellow students learn to manipulate their Chi for things like healing, telekinesis and imbuing their weapons with rockin' powers. And it's a good thing Lee mostly stayed awake during class because the Master of the School is sending a team of students on a mission to investigate an abandoned silver mine. While underground, they are attacked by Earth Elementals, creatures of mud and rock with brute strength and cunning logic equal to a raging hippopatamus, and their new-found friendship and magical talents are put to the test.

Actually kicking ass is pretty critical when your life's in danger and it truly is you (and your friends) against the world.

Before reform school, Lee never in a million years thought he'd be battling subterranean monsters using Eastern mysticism. Then again, he never thought he'd make an actual friend, earn the praise of a teacher, or fall in love either.

As you can see the changes are subtle. I like to think of my query as a WIP. I don't know that it will ever be finished, at least not until I'm offered representation, because I'll have to tailor it to each agent anyway. So that being said I'm VERY open to questions and suggestions. If you have any please share them in the comments.

The one thing I wonder about is the comparison of the Earth Elementals to a hippo. D&D people know exactly what an Elemental is but others won't. The hippo comparison is supposed to be a joke because of course they ARE strong, but NOT really all that cunning, just like these creatures in my story. Do you think people will get it? Did YOU get it? Right now it's the biggest question I have.

I know this query in its current form is the best I've (with LiLa's help) ever written, but I also know it's still not the best I ever could.


Ted Cross said...

Wording the academy as 'redeems itself' doesn't quite work to me. It's more like it appears better in his eyes, though I can't think of good wording right now. Too tired, sorry!

Ted Cross said...

Again just me, but I can't wrap my mind around the hippo comparison, as I never thought of hippos as having logic at all. Others might think it is great, though.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Yeah, the hippo didn't quite work with me, as it wasn't clear if the cunning part was supposed to be part of the comparison or not.

Three ways to read it:

1. The cunning part is in there accidentally (which doesn't look too good)

2. It's their intentionally, but the metaphor is a poor one, as raging hippos don't have cunning logic (also not a good result for an agent to come up with)

3. it's yheir intentionally, and making a joke -- clever! (a good result)

The problem is only one of these is good. Not so happy if the agent comes up with one of the other two... or, like me, is simply uncertain at first: which one?

I'm also not sure about the three italicized words. Do they need italics?

Other than that it seemed sharp. Strong voice, and it seems to paint an ineresting picture of a story - Harry Potter meets Bruce Lee... for juvies! Rockin'.

Christina Lee said...

This is really starting to come together! I got the hippos reference! And Matt, you've got a realy intresting premise on your hands!!! I think you're going to kick butt with it!

Piedmont Writer said...

1) What is the reason they are investigating the silver mine -- because it's there or because there are strange noises coming from it at night? I think we need the reason.

2) I agree with the others about the hippos. The way the sentence reads now, to me it is the hippos who are testing their new found friendship and magical talents.
Not that I know what Earth Elementals are but I think you don't need the hippo reference.

3) You need something for the very last line. There's nothing there.
He's a juvenile, he gets sent to reform school, he kicks ass, he finds a girlfriend but what is looking for? What is he searching for? To find himself, to find love, to find a redeeming quality in himself that everyone else wrote off? Is he trying to impress his father? I'm not seeing the BAM.

It's a great query, don't get me wrong, I totes love this voice, it's really good, I just feel it needs something at the end to really nail it. And I wish I could tell you what it was, but I don't have a clue. I'd only know it if I saw it.

I know you've worked hard on this Matthew and it's driving you crazy but you are almost there. Just a few more tweaks.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Well, whether your query is finished or not, it definitely caught my attention. I'm not an agent, but hey. :) Fantastic job - but the hippo reference is a bit odd. I can get why it's there, but the sentence - and paragraph - seems stronger without it. That's just my opinion though, it's a rocking query just the way it is.

Jess said...

I agree with Bryan--right now it reads like you think the hippos are, in fact, cunning. I think it would still be "clever" if you substited a different word that means what you mean. "brute strength and faulty logic of a raging hippo" or something like that. Maybe "saggy logic" or "flabby logic" to read as an opposite to "brute strength"

Great job on this--looks like a really cool story!

Robert Guthrie said...

Would "the brute strength of a cunning hippopotamus" work?

I'm learning that my query is too short, but this seemed a little long.

Bish Denham said...

I get the satire, using the hippos. I just think the sentence is awkward. May I suggest something like this:

While underground THEIR NEW-FOUND FRIENDSHIP AND MAGICAL TALENTS ARE PUT TO THE TEST when they are attacked by Earth Elementals, creatures of mud and rock with THE brute strength and cunning logic OF raging hippopatamusES.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As a D&D geek, I understand the reference!

Falen (Sarah) said...

ooh this is the best version i've seen!
and i feel the same way about my query, still a WIP

I don't think i fully understood the hippo inside joke, but i certainly followed the leap from earth elemental to hippo

also after reading the comments, i agree with piedmont, i think it could still use more of a bam, regarding his conflict. I see some of it now, but i want the conflict to be more, in my face

DEZMOND said...

that's quite a crazy story!

Lydia Kang said...

Queries really are WIPs!

Okay, I get the hippo thing. They are the responsible for so many deaths and maimings in Africa, but I guess the non-animal-geek-Discovery-Channel-watcher may not know that.
I liked it. But the masses are probably right!

Lenny said...

hi mr matthew! lots of people didnt get that hippo thingy and me neither. maybe a agent wont get it and is gonna stop reading and scratch his head and say huh? ha kick ass line is cool cause its like a big power punch but for me it lost out on its punch when you said it again in that other line. its cool how you ask for what people think on your stuff. im getting better at it with help from my brothers. my brother sebi told me how that punch line could lose its punch and for me it did.
...smiles from lenny

aspiring_x said...

wow! you've got alot of great input from everyone. but i'll just say as someone who had to think hard about what D&D is- i didn't really get the hippo thing until you explained it... then it was funny...
and i must agree with mister lenny about the kick ass line being amazing the first time but losing its punch the second... wish i could help more- but really i come to this blog to learn querying wisdom from you... you're WAY ahead of me.

Mesmerix said...

Matthew: I just saw that you won WriteOn's Query contest. Congratulations! I am so excited for you and your novel. After all the work you've put into your query and all you've done for your fellow query-ers on this blog, you truly deserve this.

I will think good thoughts for you!