Thursday, March 22, 2012

Christine Hardy's Current Query

Do you guys know Christine? She blogs at The Writer's Hole, so go visit her, and follow along. For any new followers, when I critique query letters, I like to make it a two day process. For one thing, it means I have to write less posts, which leaves room for more real writing. But the real reason is that I like to let you see the query, on it's own, with out all my redline, so that you can form your own opinion.

What that means is, please save your feedback for tomorrow.

The query:

Dear [Agent],

Sometimes the aftermath of peace is war.

Ten years after a civil war nearly destroyed the kingdom of Belhanor, rebellion is lifting its bloody head again. A Restorationist movement seeks to restore the pre-war order of lands that were apportioned away from the rebel lords as punishment, resulting in nighttime raids on disputed lands and the threat of open war.

Captain Faldur Relszen of the King’s Rangers wants to stay well out of the affairs of the magically-gifted nobles, but when the shadowy leader of the Restorationists enters his territory, he is forced to investigate. Faldur is heartbroken to learn it is none other than his friend, Prince Raynor, the king’s younger son. Raynor is planning to kidnap his older brother Melbrinor’s bride-to-be and use her as bait to lure the crown prince to his death. Faldur promises Melbrinor that he will bring her safely to the capital.

Along the way they are attacked by Restorationists. The bride’s cousin Marenya, whom Faldur secretly loves, allows herself to be captured in the bride’s place so the injured captain and the future queen can escape. Faldur is forced to leave her behind for the moment in order to fulfill his duty. Meanwhile, Marenya discovers that Raynor is under magical thrall to his great-uncle (the instigator of the previous rebellion) but desperately seeking a way to break his control. Faldur and Melbrinor pursue the errant prince into the heart of the great-uncle’s mountain stronghold, while Marenya searches for a way to free Raynor and stop another war.

THE GOLDEN GRYPHON is a heroic fantasy complete in 100,000 words.

I am a statistical analyst who has contributed to numerous statistical reports and medical journal articles, an activity that has trained me to write carefully and concisely. I have written devotionals for our local Mothers of Preschoolers newsletter, published how-to articles for an online dollhouse magazine, and I blog about writing at thewritershole.blogspot.com.

I am sending this because to you because [personal details] I would be happy to provide further material for your consideration. You may reach me at hanorja@yahoo.com or REDACTED.

Sincerely,

Christine Hardy

That's it.

Please thanks Christine for her courage in the comments, and then we'll all save our feedback for tomorrow.

34 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love reading an epic fantasy story. Thanks for sharing this Christine.

Miranda Hardy said...

Interesting sounding story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey, Christine!

farawayeyes said...

Hi Christine. Thanks for sharing.

Suzie F. said...

Hello Christine! Your novel sounds like one I'd love to read. Can't wait for Matt's critique. And I'm a new follower of your blog :)

Abby Minard said...

Thanks for sharing your query! Epic fantasy is up my ally- can't wait to see what Matt has to say tomorrow. Nice to meet you!

Christine Hardy said...

Thanks guys! *waves to Alex*

I've been off the grid for a wjile so I'm sorry I don't know as many of you as I'd like to. This book has been in process for a long time, but I'm finally ramping up to start submitting. I also met an agent at a conference this weekend who wants a full manuscript so I'm revising away.

All input greatly appreciated, though I may be popping M&M's all day tomorrow.

Mary Ann Domanska said...

So excited for you! I can't wait to see it in print. Eyes on the prize, right?

DonnaGalanti said...

Hi Christine, this story sounds epic and action packed! Really, but I think your query could be so much stronger to get an agent really excited. (even though I'm excited!)

The query sounds more like a list of plot points, like a summary not a query. I think your lead should be in the hook. Also, stick to the lead character and perhaps one other character name in the query.

There are too characters many named here for this purpose, I got lost in them. This query would be good to use as a foundation for your synopsis. Think of your query with the 3 points James Scott Bell showed us in his workshop. I think if you use that technique it could help you greatly. Would love to see a revision that would woo agents to request a full MS!

See Nathan Bransford's blog and go to Publishing Essentials on left sidebar for great queries and help! His basic formula.
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/query-letter-mad-lib.html

Look where else you can shorten. You have 4 paras on the story, this should be one or two at the most, then your info at the end.

You have a good sentence here in 3rd para to work with by adding in brief bits from the 1st and 2nd para, but look at ways to weed out unnecessary words that fill up your query and dont add to it like "wants to stay well out of the way". Could just say shuns or avoids ie. "Capt shuns the affairs of..". Think of shorter, stronger words to make this more impactful.
Good para to use as a frame with bits from 2nd and 3rd para incoporated:
Captain Faldur Relszen of the King’s Rangers wants to stay well out of the affairs of the magically-gifted nobles, but when the shadowy leader of the Restorationists enters his territory, he is forced to investigate.

"Along the way" is too soft and can be cut. The entire 4th para could be summed up in one sentence.

GOOD LUCK!

Christine Hardy said...

Thanks, Donna!

I have read Nathan's advice on queries, as well as many others, and even participated in his Be An Agent For A Day contest in which we read fifty queries in one day, but am stumped how to get the essential info in and have it a) make sense and b) sound different from every other fantasy story about a lost prince ever written.

So I'm looking forward to everyone's comments tomorrow.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Per the rules, no comment on the query, but it sounds like a fun story! I love a good heroic fantasy tale. Cheers to another author brave enough to post their query!

Joshua said...

Interesting and interestingier. (I guess that doesn't work as a play on curious does it?) I'll be back with a note or two tomorrow.

Nancy Thompson said...

Hi Christine! Matt will do wonders with your query. I'll be back tomorrow to see & comment

Michael G-G said...

Nice to meet you, Christine. I'll be back tomorrow. With thoughts. Or what passes for thoughts.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun story. I'll be back tomorrow.

Bryan Russell said...

Very intriguing. Very very.

Marenya said...

Why is this letter about Faldur? The story is about me.

I don't mean to gripe, truly. But the story started about me and everyone else keeps taking over.

Raynor said...

Actually, it's about me. You heard The Author.

I'm the lost prince.

Marenya said...

You don't even have a point of view.

Faldur said...

He doesn't need a point of view. The cursed fool won't stop talking.

Look, I am in the letter because I'm in the first scene. It is no slight against you.

Nighfala said...

I am in the first scene. I am not in the letter.

Rabbit!

(runs off)

Raynor said...

(laughs)

Come, Nighfala, I will feed you at home.

Marenya said...

(throws up her hands)

Faldur said...

Come outside with me. I need a smoke.

(puts his arm around her)

It's about you. You saved my ass. I won't forget it.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I went and checked out her blog. This query hints at great world-building. I can't wait to see what Mathew points out in his Friday analysis.

Christine Hardy said...

Sorry, everyone. I forgot to mention that my characters have Internet access. They've been intruding online for years.

Christine Hardy said...

Thank you so much, everyone!

Now, back to my day job. Sigh.

Christine Danek said...

Sounds like a great story. I will be back to see Matt's critique.
Good luck.

Christina Lee said...

YAY, Christine!

Sarah Pearson said...

*Waves at Christine*
Looking forward to seeing what magic Matt works with the red pen :-)

Rusty Webb said...

I am intrigued. I love these critiques.

Slamdunk said...

Looking forward to it Matthew and Christine. Don't think I visited her blog--one the way over now...

Slamdunk said...

Looking forward to it Matthew and Christine. Don't think I visited her blog--one the way over now...

Donna Hole said...

Oh my, I will have to be back for this one for sure. I'm a long time fan of Faldur and Maryena.

Well, and Christine, of course . .

.......dhole