Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Query Roundtable - Crystal's Magic

Rachel at You Are What You Write is having a Query Roundtable. Basically, we post our queries and visit everyone to give them helpful comments and feedback so our queries shine. Want to join in? The details are here.

Here's the pitch portion of Crystal's Magic, a paranormal YA novel, now revised based on comments:

God answers nearly all of fifteen-year-old Crystal's prayers. At least that's the way it seems since time slows down so she doesn't miss the bus and speeds up so she doesn't have to answer questions in class.

When she discovers her mother sought the help of witches to conceive her, Crystal’s faith becomes one giant question mark. She tracks down the witches and demands answers. They tell her she's the incarnation of magic--the only person whose magical potential is limitless. Basically, Crystal's been answering her own prayers.

Skeptical yet curious, Crystal attempts to master her power, but flying and playing with fireballs attract dangerous attention. A witch hunter captures her boyfriend, and shamans snatch her aunt. For someone with limitless magic, Crystal should easily be able to rescue them but every time her emotions run amuck, her magic goes haywire. If she can't learn to control herself, she'll never be able to save them.

Instead, Crystal just might start the Apocalypse and doom the entire world.

Any and all comments / feedback / suggestions welcome! Thanks!

13 comments:

Charity Bradford said...

Oo, now I can see where that first chapter was heading!

I love the first paragraph because it makes a statement and then shows how it might be true.

Paragraph two feels like it gets wordy a bit for a query. A bit of tightening will go a long way. Suggestion:
"But after she discovers a hidden note detailing how her mother sought the help of witches to conceive her, Crystal's faith becomes one giant question mark. (save that the mother is dead for the story since it doesn't come up again in the query) She tracks down the witches and demands answers. The witches tell her she's been answering her own prayers because she is the incarnation of magic--the only person with limitless magical potential.

Then do the same kind of tightening on paragraph three.

You've got great info in here, and lots to draw my interest.

Jenn said...

Hiya CP! I am in no way an expert at this whole query thing, but here are my thoughts...

I am intrigued by your concept, but I feel the query is bogged down with wordiness and unnecessary details. Can you make your sentences more concise? Especially weird/wordy is "now dead mother" (can you just say "dead mother" or "deceased mother"?) and the first sentence of your 3rd paragraph. That sentence for me was very confusing, as verb tenses don't agree (I think it should be "learn to fly and play with magical fire") and overall it's just wordy.

Also, I feel like you're giving us more of a synopsis then we need in the third paragraph. I would tighten it up so that you stick to the main plot points and not all the side adventures/details too.

Anyway, like I said, I liked it, but it needs a little tightening up.

Hope that helps! :)

Cherie Reich said...

I agree with Charity. The first paragraph is awesome, and the other two could use a little bit of tightening. I do think you give us a clear sense of what is at stake for Crystal and her world. :)

Rachel said...

I like your opening, it definitely brings a new perspective on the prayers shes getting answered. Gives me a Bruce Almighty feel. “She tracks down the witches and demands answers.” – this sentence seems to get in the way of your flow. Perhaps reword? The catchy line at the end of your first paragraph does well to keep the reader interested. In paragraph two, shouldn’t her being “magic” be “magical”? You could even start that para with the “Witch and Shamans” line as that’s an exciting new revelation. Separate your final line off for a dramatic ending and that’s pretty much all I could see to comment on. This is definitely a query story on its way!

Amanda said...

Hey there! I'm stopping by from the QueryRoundtable. These are just my thoughts so take/discard them as you see fit!


God answers nearly all of fifteen-year-old Crystal's prayers. At least that's the way it seems since time slows down so she doesn't miss the bus and speeds up so she doesn't have to answer questions in class. (Very interesting concept, but what makes her think it's God? Is it because she's religious and just thinks it's him?)

But after she discovers a note in a box hidden in her attic detailing how her now dead mother sought the help of witches to conceive her, Crystal’s faith becomes one giant question mark. (That was a very long sentence. It will amp up the tension if you break it down. First there's God, and now witches?) She tracks down the witches and demands answers. Supposedly (Not sure I like this word choice.), Crystal is the human incarnation of magic—the only person whose magical potential is limitless. The witches also claim she's been answering her own prayers.(The flow in this last sentence is off. And it seems tacked on.)

Although skeptical about being magic (This threw me. What about "Although she's skeptic about being the incarnation of magic"), Crystal's curious and struggles to learn how to fly and plays with magical fire. But it's not all fun and games. Witches and shamans have been fighting for centuries, and now, both sides want to use her power for their own gain. Then a witch hunter captures her boyfriend, and several shamans snatch her aunt. For someone with limitless magic, Crystal should be easily able to rescue them but every time her emotions run amuck, her magic goes haywire. If she can't learn to control herself, she'll never be able to save them or end the war. Instead, Crystal just might start the Apocalypse and doom the entire world.(Agents see a last line like this allll the time. It's getting almost cliche.)

I feel like your query is like "So there's this. And then there's this. And this happens. Oh and don't forget about this." I feel like it throws a lot of information at us in a non succinct way. I'm sure if you really hone in on only what is necessary that we know, it'll be a great query.

Christine Rains said...

Wow. What an interesting premise. I'm in agreement with the others. The first paragraph is great, but the others need more focus and to be shortened.

Darci Cole said...

I'm just gonna say ditto to everything that's been said :-)

I really like the premise. I'm a huge fantasy fan, so the magic stuff resonates with me. Just do a bit of tightening. Go through word by word/sentence by sentence and ask yourself what REALLY needs to be there. Focus on character/conflict/stakes, and you'll be good :-)

Great job! <3

jamieayres said...

Love the premise of your story, always have:) It does seems a bit wordy so there are things you can eliminate based on the suggestions already on here. But maybe add a line about why they're kidnapping the boyfriend & aunt. Good luck!

alexia said...

Oooh, I love the premise of this! I think this is very close, and the others provided some good suggestions. Good luck!

Jo Michaels said...

I think a bit of re-wording will help smooth it out as well as nixing some of the erroneous words. I'd like to see skeptic changed to skeptical but that's the only big change for me, personally. Magic is good!

SueJay said...

I ditto a lot of what's been said. I know for me sometimes it's hard to focus on what really matters in my query after reading it and rewriting it sixhundred times. So I did a little tinkering with yours. I don't know if any of it will be helpful.

God answers nearly all of fifteen-year-old Crystal's prayers. At least that's the way it seems since time slows down so she doesn't miss the bus and speeds up so she doesn't have to answer questions in class.

When she discovers her mother sought the help of witches to conceive her Crystal’s faith becomes one giant question mark. She tracks down the witches and demands answers. They tell her she is the human incarnation of magic—the only person whose magical potential is limitless. So in a way, Crystal’s been answering her own prayers.

Crystal struggles between skepticism and curiosity as she stretches the boundaries of her newly discovered power. But flying in broad daylight, (one other magicky thing), and playing with magical fire all attract some unwanted attention.

A witch hunter captures her boyfriend, and shamans snatch her aunt. For someone with limitless magic, Crystal should easily be able to rescue them but every time her emotions run amuck, her magic goes haywire. If she can't learn to control herself, she'll never be able to save them.

Danielle Nau said...

Hi Nicole,
I really like the first sentence in your query. I think the second sentence could be shortened a little. You mention that her aunt is captured, but I was wondering what happened with her mother. Maybe this is something you don’t want to give away yet, but as I was reading this I was wondering how the aunt was connected since the mother seems to be the connection to Crystal’s powers. I would also like to read about some examples of how her magic goes haywire. Does this put people in danger, or does it just push her farther behind in her journey?

Otherwise, I think this sounds like a great story. I love magical type stories, and this is definitely one I would pick up and read. I also want to thank you for stopping by and commenting on my query. I am new to querying, so I really appreciate the suggestions. Also, since I am new to querying, I hope you take my suggestions with a grain of salt. These were just things that popped into my head as I was reading it.

Veronica Bartles said...

I loved your opening! The rest seemed a bit passive for the intensity of the conflict you're trying to convey. Kind of a "ho hum, it might be the end of the world, but we're used to this kind of thing" vibe. Punch it up with stronger language (meaning more active, not profane) and a sense of urgency to match the events described. Good luck! :)