Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Query Critique - Dark One's Mistress


For those of you who don't know, I also post on the group blog unicornbell.blogspot.com, and last week I was critiquing queries and first pages. My posts runneth over, and so I'm continuing my last two posts here.

I'll start with a query critique for the adult fantasy, Dark One's Mistress. Here's how it works. I provide my feedback, then, you comment to share your feedback too.

Thanks for your help!

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Dear [Agent]

Seventeen-year-old Clara starts a battle for her freedom from the moment she is snatched off the streets of Everdark and given to the kingdom's newly-made Lord, Lucias.
This first sentence strikes me as a little clunky and more complex than need be. I believe you can also get rid of that "is". What about this? "Clara battles for her freedom from the moment soliders snatch her from the streets of Everdark and give her to the kingdom's newest Lord, Lucias." I also removed seventeen-year-old so there is no confusion that it's a YA novel. Trapped within his fortress, she soon discovers her worse fear is true: their Lord is in need of an heir, and its conception must be before the new moon.

Despite Lucias' charm, Clara is determined not to become his mistress, never mind his veiled ultimatum of coming to him willingly or being forced. And then there's the small matter of him stealing souls. To complicate things further,
Clara learns that Lenora of Ne'ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom, is sending plans to send her pet barbarian to slaughter Lucias, and to ensure there's no chance of an heir, Clara must die as well. I just removed the passive "is sending". Also I added "Clara learns that". It's a minor point, but, otherwise this event feels separate from Clara. We need to know that Clara knows death is imminent so the stakes make sense.

Escape will come at a price, for if Lucias does die without an heir, the soulless criminals enslaved in his army will be free to terrorise the land. Why? Clara is caught between regaining her freedom or losing it completely for the good of the kingdom. She doesn't have long to decide before death comes to take away everything the barbarian comes to slaughter her and escape is no longer an option.

DARK ONE’S MISTRESS, complete at 71,000 words, is a standalone Adult Fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

This is an excellent query. You've done a great job at explaining the primary conflict. The structure is perfect and there aren't too many extra words or details bogging it down. You've also demonstrated the courage and strength of the character.

My most important concern is that although you've described what the stakes are very cleanly, it's not clear as why Lucias not having an heir before the new moon will destroy the Kingdom. I think it's important to add another sentence or phrase to explain that more since it's a critical point. There needs to be a compelling reason why Lucias needs an heir, so we know why Clara is conflicted.

Well done!
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Okay friends, now it's your turn! Do you agree with my feedback? Disagree? Things you want to add?

Dear [Agent]

Seventeen-year-old Clara starts a battle for her freedom from the moment she is snatched off the streets of Everdark and given to the kingdom's newly-made Lord, Lucias. Trapped within his fortress, she soon discovers her worse fear is true: their Lord is in need of an heir, and its conception must be before the new moon.

Despite Lucias' charm, Clara is determined not to become his mistress, never mind his veiled ultimatum of coming to him willingly or being forced. And then there's the small matter of him stealing souls. To complicate things further, Lenora of Ne'ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom, is sending her pet barbarian to slaughter Lucias, and to ensure there's no chance of an heir, Clara must die as well.

Escape will come at a price, for if Lucias does die without an heir, the soulless criminals enslaved in his army will be free to terrorise the land. Clara is caught between regaining her freedom or losing it completely for the good of the kingdom. She doesn't have long to decide before death comes to take away everything and escape is no longer an option.


DARK ONE’S MISTRESS, complete at 71,000 words, is a standalone Adult Fantasy novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. It's only my fourth version, so I'm not surprised it needs some work. In my experience, it usally takes me until the 8th query to get near perfect.

    Let's see ... the reason why it's before the new moon is that, originally, Lucias believes he has that long before the barbarian arrives, so he gives her the full month to come around to his way of thinking. But it is, ultimately, his heirless death that'll destroy the kingdom because he controls the the soulless criminals that make up his army.

    Need to go give this some thought.

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  2. This sounds really interesting, Aldrea! I agree with the critiques. I did think it was YA since you stated that she was seventeen. I'd also leave it out.
    Could you explain whose souls he's capturing, and the risk of them getting out, when you first bring up the soul stealing? That might be smoother. Maybe. It's a thought anyway. :)
    Good luck with it!

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  3. Okay, been having some thinks here. I know a few things are probably off, but this is what I've got so far:

    Clara battles for her freedom from the moment soldiers snatch her from the streets of Everdark and give her to the kingdom's newest Lord, Lucias. Trapped within his fortress, she soon discovers her worse fear is true: their Lord is in need of an heir, and its conception must be before the new moon.

    Despite Lucias' charm, Clara is determined not to become his mistress, never mind his veiled ultimatum of coming to him willingly or being forced. And then there's the small matter of him stealing souls. To complicate things further, Clara learns that Lenora of Ne'ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom, has dispatched her pet barbarian to slaughter Lucias and, to ensure there's no chance of an heir, Clara must die as well.

    Escape comes with its own price, for if Lucias dies without a child to inherit the dark power controlling the soulless criminals enslaved in his army then they will be free to terrorise the land. Clara is caught between regaining her freedom or losing it completely for the good of the kingdom. She doesn't have long to decide before the barbarian arrives and escape is no longer an option.

    ReplyDelete