Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Query Hop Critique 7

It seems like I've known Heather Van Fleet forever. We were in the query trenches together. I'm so happy to have her offer a critique.
Keep in mind that feedback is subjective by nature. What does and does not catch the eye is going to vary by person. Each writer must weigh the comments they get against their own judgement and make the changes that resonate with them.

The Holiday Query hop is closed. Please make sure you get your 10 critiques done.  
The random number generator picks 25!
Dear Awesome Agent,
When sorceress and Australian crime-boss Morgause hit-men fails to take out Artie before he discovers he’s the new ‘once & future king,’ Morgause implements plan-B: kill Artie’s spirit.

There is a LOT going on in this one particular sentence and you’ve kind of lost me, mainly because it’s extremely wordy. Also, I’d like to know more of Morgause’s stakes and why she wants to ‘take out’ the future king so badly. In queries, the simpler the better is what I’ve always been told. So maybe something like this might work instead:

After a failed attempt to assassinate Artie, the future king of (insert location here maybe?), Sorceress and Australian crime-boss Morgause must implement a plan-B. This time she must try to kill Artie’s spirit, before he discovers the truth about who he is.

She tasks her son to seduce Artie’s best mate and then uses the witless love-struck human to spy on Artie. Then, Morgause soon discovers ing Artie’s Catholic Priest is struggling with his vows and the woman of his sexual fantasies just so happens to be Artie’s girlfriend, Gwen. fantasies is Artie’s girlfriend Gwen, Morgause ply’s (I’d think of a different word than ply’s here.) Gwen and the Priest with a powerful tonic The potion one that fevers lust while diluting a mortal’s reason and moral compass. Gwen and the Priest spend a wild night together, but with the clarity of morning, both regret their actions. Ashamed, they agree to tell no one; however, a secret video of their night together quickly goes viral on YouTube.
Again, there is a lot going on here, more so a play by play of the story rather than little teases of what happens. Not to mention the abundance of characters. Is this Morgause’s story? Arties? Gwen?
Feeling b Betrayed and struggling with the world either vilifying Gwen or laughing at him, Artie is broken. (I think broken is not quite a powerful enough word here. I’d find a synonym or state exactly what Artie does. EX: Does he go off the deep in? Loose control? I need something more visual here.) Now, Morgause can finally destroy the man and the legend, while and also have her seeking revenge on the first King Arthur and her nemesis, Merlin.
This is, so far, the best written paragraph in the query. Great stakes. I just suggest a word change, some word replacement, and something more visual as far as Artie goes.
But Luckily Artie isn’t alone… (This would be a great standalone sentence adding to the tension and leading in to the final paragraph.)
With the help from a few mythical beings, of an invisible dragon and the mythical Rainbow Serpent of Koori legend, Merlin casts magic bullets (where do these bullets go? Morgause’s home? In her? I’m confused.) which should vanquish Morgause. But in order for the magic to bond, a final ingredient is needed… forgiveness. If Artie has truly forgiven his best mate, priest, girlfriend, and even his parents for their lies, (Since you didn’t mention his parents in the query, I would leave them out.) then the magic will work. The final body-count will determine the power of Artie’s forgiveness by who survives.
My suggestion here would be to combine the last two sentences into a simple sentence, for example: But in order for the magic to bond, a final ingredient is needed: Artie’s forgiveness to all who have wronged him. If not, then…
The rest is up to you. That last sentence though HAS to be pretty memorable for an agent to really feel it. You’ve got great bones here, but a little more tightening and simplifying will make this very intriguing.
Told for in dual point of view between Morguase’ & Artie, ARTIE AND THE DODECAGON is an (estimated) 80,000-word erotic contemporary adult, sexually explicit (straight and gay), dark, Arthurian re-telling set in Scotland and Australia.
No need to use contemporary, adult, sexually explicit, straight and gay, and dark. Erotic covers them all and simplifies the paragraph.
I was born in Croatia, raised in Australia, and have lived in France. In 2013 I placed in a worldwide short story competition. In 2015 I’ll and have a short story published in an anthology with a US publisher. (Agents will want to know this publisher name, so be sure to add it in the query instead of just saying US publisher.) I’m also a painter, a slave to my Feline Overlords and active on social media.
That’s wonderful you have such a fabulous background and were able to live in all those places. (I’m very jealous) but this is the paragraph where you tell your publishing background. If you want to say you were raised in Australia (since the book takes place there part of the time) then that might be okay. Otherwise I’d leave the rest of the locations out.
Per submission guidelines …..
Young adult and new adult author Heather Van Fleet is an Illinois born native, raised in a town that borders both Iowa and Illinois. She’s a wife to her hubby (and high school sweet heart) Chris, as well as a mom to her three little girls. When she’s not obsessing over her fictional book characters, burning meals, or running around chasing her crazy kiddos, you can usually find her with her head stuck in her Kindle, or typing away on her laptop, sucking down White Chocolate Mochas like they were water. Heather is represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather,

    Nikola here.

    Thanks so much for commenting & I can see how your tweaks have strengthened the query. If you happen to read this, I'd appreciate your thoughts on a few points.
    This MS is still a WIP (about 1/2 way through) so I KNOW this will change the QL, however, there are some constants.
    (i) in my re-tell Artie doesn't become a "King" in the traditional sense but I can see from your notes that's the impression I've given. To explain what I mean would send my QL into synopsis mode, but not to may mislead the reader. Do you think it's important to know this in the QL?
    (ii) you took out the bits about the dragon & the Rainbow Serpent & I can see why, however, I was attempting to demonstrate the mix of cultures & mythologies, which is a massive part of the MS (sub-text we might all come from different places but really we are all the same)
    (iii) the first paragraph, would it be better if I leave out the entire 'once & future king' bit and concentrate on why Morgause wants to kill Artie (in the opening sentence)?

    Thanks again & Thanks Michelle for running this :)