Thursday, August 26, 2010

Katherine Camp's New Query

Katherine is going to share a re-written version of her query with us today, but first I have a couple of selfish announcements to make:

1) I'm going to be out of town this weekend and half of next week. I'm going to Minnesota to celebrate Kelly's Grandmother's 80th birthday. We're both huge Vikings fans so I'm a little upset that it will still be pre-season, but oh well. I really wish I could stay longer or that I wouldn't be so busy while I'm there because I have two writer blogger buds (you know who you are Falen and Palindrome) who I would really love to meet someday. There just won't be time this trip unfortunately.

2) I shared another of my flash fiction pieces with Bryan Russell (Ink) the other day and he liked it well enough that he is posting it on his blog today. Bryan is my writing mentor as well as being the moderator for the illustrious forums on Nathan Bransford's blog, so it is truly an honor to have my writing posted on his blog, The Alchemy of Writing. It never gets as much traffic as it deserves though, so please stop by, follow and comment. You can read my new piece: Babysat by the Man in the Moon, and for newer followers you should also please check out the older one: The Deafening Silence. If you have the time you can read all the short stories here. I suggest you do so.

3) Wow. Man, that's a lot of links.

4) Elana Johnson took the time to comment on my blog 7 times yesterday. That's how badly she wants to help other writers. Is there a more awesome being in the universe? No.

Now to Katherine's re-written query. Katherine has been very busy this week and she may not have time to come by to comment today, but she has been reading your comments and asked me to thank you all profusely on her behalf. She had plans last night and was unable to take part in the intensive rewrite session that I suggested, but she has changed her query to this current version based on our advice. This is not necessarily a final version as she has not had time to mull things over for very long as it stands.

So here it is:

Seventeen-year-old guttersnipe Briand Varryda can control dragons with her mind. She’s a dragon talker, an ancient role from a time before electricity, steamships, and airships. But Briand doesn’t exactly want this “gift,” because it brings her nothing but trouble. It’s the reason both the Tyrant Prince and his rival, the leader of the Monarchists, are hunting for her. It’s the reason a band of Monarchists kidnaps her. A war is coming, and the Monarchists know they cannot hope to defeat the Prince’s airships and technology without the help of old magic from the far north—dragons.

And for dragons, they need Briand.

She’s not even close to the blue-blood aristocrat the dragonsayer was supposed to be—not to mention she’s female. Her kidnappers don’t like her, and she doesn’t like them. She’d rather knife them all than help them. But the Monarchists weren’t exactly asking.

But when someone in their company betrays them during their journey to the find the dragons, Briand and the survivors must flee to a place called the Stronghold to avoid being captured by the Prince’s elite Seekers. With the Seekers gaining on the group, and a traitor in their midst, Briand has to learn how to handle her gift and call up a dragon before they’re all killed.

DRAGONSAYER is 70,000 word YA fantasy novel. It contains elements of historical fantasy as well as elements of steampunk, blending dragons, castles, and swords with guns, clocks, and airships.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Katherine Camp


This is so much better. You're so close with this Katherine. I don't think it's quite done, and I especially think you need a slightly more colorful hook, and a shorter first paragraph, but this is already a good improvement. Since you were getting some requests with your original query I'm guessing that this one is going to start working even better right away. As I've mentioned before I think the strength of your premise can almost sell itself.

What do you guys think? Better right? Is there anything that still glaringly needs to be changed? I don't think so. I think there are only subtle updates left at this point.

Please keep the comments here about Katherine's query. I really really really want you to read my flash fiction and comment and let me know what you think, but please do that at Bryan's blog. I promise I will be stalking it and reading every one of your thoughts.

Thank you so much everyone for all your help yesterday. That was an amazing example of what this community is all about.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Katherine's interview.

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Her query is more compact now.
And they're predicting the Vikings will have a great season this year.

Em-Musing said...

Go Vikings! And I predict a win for Katherine with the help of team Matthew and Elana.

Christina Lee said...

Wow yes much better--should I assume it's been "Elanafied"? ;--)

aspiring_x said...

much more concise now which is great!
is there a way she could shorten the hook, by combining the two sides of the battle.. like it's the reason she's thrown in the middle of a civil war or something and THEN mention the monarchists name in association with the kidnapping??? also, the dragons need her??? that's a little unclear, i feel. maybe "as for the dragons, if they want to survive they need her" or something to define why they need her so much. i'd think they'd just want to avoid the warmongering humans... it could let us know WHAT KIND of dragon we're dealing with here. but i could be wrong, and the addition would def need to be just a phrase long...
and
i miss bloodthirsty unicorns. :(

Hannah Kincade said...

It is State Fair and Ren Fest time...I'm just saying.

I agree this is much better. The first paragraph still needs some work though. It all seemed relevant and necessary but I think it should be shorter.


I still love this concept though. I will def pick up that book WHEN it's published.

Vicki Rocho said...

Matt - wave as you're flying over Iowa! Actually, hubs will be in Minneapolis this weekend, too. Don't wave at him, he'll get creeped out. hahaha

Katharine--what a HUGE difference! You're definitely on the right track here! Great job!

JKB said...

OK!

Well I read the one yesterday but was mostly away from the computer so I'm commenting today!

See my comments below. :-D

---

Seventeen-year-old guttersnipe Briand Varryda can control dragons with her mind. She’s a dragon talker, an ancient role from a time before electricity, steamships, and airships.
>> OK, cool. This is giving me a sort of steampunky vibe. Is that planned?
But Briand doesn’t exactly want this “gift,” because it brings her nothing but trouble. It’s the reason both the Tyrant Prince and his rival, the leader of the Monarchists, are hunting for her. It’s the reason a band of Monarchists kidnaps her. A war is coming, and the Monarchists know they cannot hope to defeat the Prince’s airships and technology without the help of old magic from the far north—dragons.
>>This, IMO, is where the actual part of the worldbuilding/problem comes into play for this protag. Can you switch it up to be a bit more in 'voice' and start off with this?
And for dragons, they need Briand.
>> OK, interesting....
She’s not even close to the blue-blood aristocrat the dragonsayer was supposed to be—not to mention she’s female.
>> Wait. Who kidnapped her? This is big. If the dragons did, you better say it!
Her kidnappers don’t like her, and she doesn’t like them. She’d rather knife them all than help them. But the Monarchists weren’t exactly asking.
>> OK, see, here I was confused. So the Monarchists got her instead?
But when someone in their company betrays them during their journey to the find the dragons, Briand and the survivors must flee to a place called the Stronghold to avoid being captured by the Prince’s elite Seekers.
>> Now you didn't say a word really, about them going to find the dragons. This also seems like a big plot point/point of contention.
With the Seekers gaining on the group, and a traitor in their midst, Briand has to learn how to handle her gift and call up a dragon before they’re all killed.
>> This part is interesting and say the context well.

So here's what I'd say::

Seventeen-year-old guttersnipe Briand Varryda can control dragons - but she doesn't want the ability. It’s the reason both the Tyrant Prince and his rival are hunting for her, the reason a band of rebels kidnap her, and the reason the dragons want her.

A war is coming, and the Monarchists know they cannot defeat the Prince’s airships and technology without the help of dragons. And that's where Briand comes in. When one of the kidnappers betrays the others during their journey to find the dragons, Briand and the survivors must flee to a place called the Stronghold to avoid being captured by the Prince’s elite Seekers << Because why, exactly?

With the Seekers gaining on the group, and a traitor in their midst, Briand has to learn how to handle her gift and call up a dragon before they’re all killed.

I don't know the entire story but I do think it's possible to get this query down into a couple paragraphs and make it VERY interesting. The above was only another idea.

Good luck!

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Jen said...

Elana rocks!!! Just an FYI I've been lurking around your blog, I've been super busy (no excuse but I'm using it)!

Go Elana for helping out, and for you posting! This was so great! Awesome team work!

Simon C. Larter said...

Much better!

I'd say you don't need the 3rd paragraph at all, though. It doesn't add anything important, to my mind.

ALSO! What do the dragons need Briand for? That sentence stands out as less of a teaser and more of a tease. I'm attached to "But the dragons have their own plans for Briand," or some such variant. Gives the dragons agency, as opposed to being tools for manipulation or deus ex machinas (deuses ex machina? dei ex machina? WTH is the plural of that?).'

Like I said yesterday, though, this premise is gold. A revised query'll pay dividends, good lady!

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome! Much improved :)

I agree Katherine can probably tighten up a bit, but this would definitely catch my interest! Well done :)

Bish Denham said...

MUCH better! Yes, it could use a little tightening here and there, but what caused me to stumble in reading it was a tense switch here:

She’s not even close to the blue-blood aristocrat the dragonsayer WAS (is) supposed to be—not to mention she’s female. Her kidnappers don’t like her, and she doesn’t like them. She’d rather knife them all than help them. But the Monarchists WEREN'T (aren't) exactly asking.

Other than that...very good!

Lenny said...

i hope you have a fun time in minnesota. i got a cousin that lives in cannon falls in minnesota. im already a follower for that alchemy site and im gonna go read your babysat story.

LTM said...

the help you give here is so great. Excellent work!

Have a super time in Minn... now I've got another link(s) to follow~ ;p

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I'm the worst query writer, to be sure.

But I think the premise alone is really intriguing.

P.S. Elana is awesome! Happy travels to you!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

It's nice and compact and looking good.

Talli Roland said...

I just read yesterday's and then today's and the difference is amazing! Good luck Katherine!

DEZMOND said...

Hope you'll have a great time over in Minnesota, Matt! ;)

Katherine C said...

Author here!

Before anybody else gets confused let me clarify something! I'M SORRY IT WAS CONFUSING ... The sentence "But for dragons, they need Briand" is referring to the Monarchists ... the dragons are not particularly sentient in my universe, and believe me they have NO interest in a dragonsayer. They wanna stay the heck away from her because she can control them. What I meant was essentially: "And if the Monarchists want dragons, then they need Briand to get them." Sorry for the confusion! The dragons are more like the creatures in Avatar, I think, they can be tamed like pets and they have some intelligence, but they don't talk or anything. "Dragon talker" is just a colloquialism in the story.

Also, sorry about having to axe the bloodthirsty unicorns. I liked them too, but there seemed to be no room for them in the query. :-(

Renae said...

Oh my gosh, that is so much better! And yes Elana Rocks!
The premise for this book is so amazing! Good luck to Katherine!

Enjoy your little get-away Matt!

arlee bird said...

This version reads much better than the original, but I agree that condensing it just a little more might be an improvement.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Stephen Tremp said...

Okay, I just went to Elana's blog and placed Paranormalcy n my TBR list. I have a couple books I need to finish and should get to it mid-Septemeber or so.

Stephen Tremp

Falen (Sarah) said...

Hanging out would be awesome.

And yes, this version is much better.
I want bloodthirsty unicorns RIGHT NOW