Monday, July 18, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest

As part of Deana Bernhart's Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, I am posting my query letter for my MG fantasy novel. It was originally written as YA, but I received a bunch of feedback from other authors and agents that I'm working on making it MG instead. I've also changed the FMC's name several times now. Originally she was Alexia but the MMC is Artex so two A names plus two X's probably weren't a good idea. After toying around with a few others, I think (hope!) I'm settled on Elena. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

Eleven-year-old aspiring novelist Elena loves the colorful pen the mysterious Artex gives her, especially when she realizes that whatever she writes with it comes true. But she questions the pen and its magic when it writes of its own accord about a fantasy world. The magical All-Knowers have only ever known peace until demons invade their Land of Imagining, intent on enslaving and killing them.

Elena is tied to this Land by more than just the pen - she is an All-Knower, as is Artex and her mother. She is able to control the All-Knowers with her pen, but the power comes at a cost – each time she writes with it, an All-Knower becomes a demon. After a demon kidnaps her family, Elena must go to the Land of Imagining. She will do anything, even if it means giving up her power, to save her family and her people.


Cherie Reich said...

Ooo...I really like the change to Elena for your MC's name. And no, I haven't forgotten I plan to critique the first 50 pages. I promise to do it soon. Do you have a current draft?

Saumya said...

I also enjoy the name change. I love that first sentence; it's a great hook. I did get a little confused at the last sentence in the first paragraph (about the All Knowers) but it was clarified when I read the second paragraph. Is there a way to take it out or place it somewhere else? This looks great!

Janet Johnson said...

Very nice! Elena works for me.

I agree with Saumya about that last sentence in the first paragraph. Just wondering if there isn't a way to move things around. And when you say "Artex and her mom" it sounds like Artex is a girl. Maybe swap the two? As are her mom and Artex.

ANyway, best of luck with it!

mooderino said...

The pen seems like a very powerful item, i wondered what she used it for.A demonstration of it's power would be a better way for the reader to get the idea rather than a general 'whatever she wants' kind of statement, I think.

Does the pen affect people here too? Or just in the Land of Imagining?

I think the idea of a pen (or more usually a book) where whatever you write comes true is a familiar one, but it's what you do with that power that makes the story work or not, and I'm not sure what she does with it. The options are so vast coming up with good ones isn't that easy, so if you can mention one or two that can impress or surprise the reader I think that could hook them into the rest of the story.

My query is at: Moody Writing

Christine Rains said...

Very nice! It definitely peaked my interest. I like the consequences that come with the use of Elena's power. The only question I have as someone reading that synopsis for the first time is who is Artex to Elena? I don't know if I should think of Artex as a school age friend or another adult.

LisaAnn said...

Hi Nicole! I love stories about magical books and fairy tales, so your novel has definitely grabbed my attention. Elena sounds like the kind of girl many could identify with, and your story sounds ripe with tension and purpose. Excellent job! I have just a few points--and please keep in mind that these are just personal opinions, and I'm sure many would disagree with me.

The third line in your first paragraph is a bit hard for me to follow. Is the fantasy world the Land of Imagining? And did the demons really invade it, or is the pen just writing a story?

And if Elena is already an All-Knower, why does she NEED to control the All-Knowers with her pen? And how exactly are they controlled? And if these demons supposedly live in a fantasy world, how did they kidnap her family?

Sorry I have so many questions. Perhaps my mind is just fried and I'm reading this wrong, but it seems like a lot is going on, and I'm having a little trouble following it.

Alleged Author said...

You've received quite a bit of great feedback, so I don't want to repeat any of it too much. The only thing that REALLY stuck out for me is Artex (needed a tiny bit of explanation such as... When eleven-year-old aspiring novelist Elena ____ receives a colorful pen from the a mysterious person named ___ on the playground, she ____) or something like that. Obviously you can do much better. :)

Angie Cothran said...

This sounds like a very cool idea—reminds me a little of Inkheart, but more elaborate. I would pick it up for my kids :)

I got lost in all the details here, and I didn’t get a concrete idea of what the plot really was. What is the inciting incident of the story? What does the MC want? What stands in her way? What is the conflict? What will happen if the conflict isn’t resolved?

Anything else—while interesting in a story—bogs down a query. It sounds like you have a lot of great ideas, and because you know the story it’s hard to say what goes. Things like Artex and her mother being All-Knowers doesn’t add anything to your query—cut things like that.

Make it plot focused. Good luck.

Laura Barnes said...

You've gotten good feedback so I won't add much to the chaos except to say, yay, I love MG and except for you telling us beforehand, I didn't know Artex was a boy.

And thanks for agreeing to guest blog. I kinda went on vacation and came home to sick kids so I've not got a schedule or method organized yet, but I have you on my to do list!

Anonymous said...

I love the premise of your story & can def see my 11-yr-old daughter reading it. Was a little put off by the mentioning of the All-Knowers 3x. Best of luck to you:)

Sophia Richardson said...

In the second paragraph as is should be as are since the phrase 'Artex and her mother' is plural, and as Janet mentions the phrasing makes it seem like it's Artex's mother rather than Elena's so I'd flip those.

I hadn't initially thought about it, but like Christine I'd like to know more about who Artex is; I naturally assumed he was her age, but there's no reason that should be true and considering you mention him twice he must be important to the story, right?

I also want to know more about the power she's willing to give up since it seems like the pen has a power seperate from hers. Does the pen only work for All-Knowers, because from the way the pen writes by itself I assumed it had an innate power? And considering you mention the All-Knowers three times, I still don't have a sense what it entails?

Just my $0.02. Good call on changing the MC's name.

alexia said...

What a cool sounding story!! Of course, I'm sad you changed the MC's name :)

I think the query is good! The last sentence seemed like it could have a little more sizzle, something that raises the stakes more than just her potentially losing her power. That's my only critique!

Nice job and good luck!