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Query Workshop B-7: DARKLING

Thursday, 23 August 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Before we start I have winners for the three entries into the query workshop from Beyond The Hourglass Bridge Blog. All three critiques will be up on my blog on Saturday. Winners please email me your queries stat at brendadrakecontests@gmail.com. If you don’t wish to participate, please let  me know and I’ll choose another winner. And the winners from Random.org are…

Aimee Salter
E. Arroyo
Emily Cushing 

It’s day four of the query workshop with me and three of my blogging friends. Two queries on four blogs for ten days. It’s going to be awesome. And here’s my next critique…

            
Dear Awesome Agent,
Seventeen-year-old Taela does what she has to survive, but she doesn’t think of herself as a murderer. When the sister she idolizes is executed for treason, Taela vows to avenge her death–even if it means killing the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. Some believe renegade leader Hawke is destined to save their land from an ancient evil. To Taela, the drunken ass who charmed her sister and left her to die is no hero.
With the element of surprise on her side, Taela sets out after the seasoned warrior, determined to thrust her dagger into his heart. The road to revenge leads her to the mysterious Darkling Forest where, lost among shape-shifting trees, Taela has disturbing prophetic visions. When a soldier with no soul attacks, she learns innocent men are being turned into drone soldiers for the king’s army. She puts her vendetta aside to make a truce with Hawke. Their fragile alliance will be put to the test when Taela discovers the truth about her sister’s death, and it forever ties Taela’s destiny to the very man she wants to destroy.
DARKLING is a YA Fantasy novel, with series potential, complete at 72,000words. It will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore or Leigh Bardugo.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
B’s critique …

Dear Awesome Agent,
Seventeen-year-old Taela does what she has to do to survive (or you can use–> does what she must to survive), but she doesn’t think of herself as a murderer.(Nice hook!) When the sister she idolizes is executed for treason, Taela vows to avenge her death–even if it means killing the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. Some believe renegade leader, Hawke, is destined to save their land from an ancient evil. To Taela, the drunken ass who charmed her sister and left her to die is no hero. (I’m sold.)
With the element of surprise on her side, Taela sets out after the seasoned warrior (Confused here – if it’s Hawke, just say so. You already set him up above.) , determined to thrust her dagger into his heart. (Cool – I love daggers!) The road to revenge leads her to the mysterious (Is there a better descriptor for this forest? Mysterious is falling flat. What is it about this forest that makes it mysterious?)  Darkling Forest where, lost among shape-shifting trees, Taela has disturbing prophetic visions. When a soldier with no soul (How does she know he hasn’t a soul? Is he zombie like? I’d clarify this.) attacks her, she learns innocent men are being turned (How does she learn they’re being turned?) into drone soldiers for the king’s army. She puts her vendetta aside to make a truce with Hawke. Their fragile alliance will be put to the test when Taela discovers the truth about her sister’s death, and it forever ties Taela’s destiny to the very man she wants to destroy. (Squee!!)
DARKLING is a YA fantasy novel, with series potential,(Let’s not talk about series yet. We’re trying to get a first date here. Save the series potential for the synopsis.) complete at 72,000words. It will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore or Leigh Bardugo. (Cool that!)
Thank you for your time and consideration.

I’m just nitpicking here, I absolutely love this query and premise. If I didn’t have a full list of CPs, revisions, new shiny projects, workshops, contest, and, oh, family, I’d be begging to read this. This is what I mean about hinting at a relationship for YA. I can already envision what’s going to go down with Taela and Hawke! Great job!

I hope this helps. If you decide to revise and would like me to read it again, just post it in the comments of this post.

Okay, everyone, what do you think? 

And don’t forget to stop by the other blogs and read their query critiques. For each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry into the drawing to win one of three first chapter critiques from me.

Becca C.
Becca (Becks) Coffindaffer
 Marieke Nijkamp

Sarah Nicolas
 Sarah Nicolas
14 Comments
  • Andrew says:

    Yes, awesome query and great premise! Would love to read this. 😀 It’s only weakness is it’s 2nd paragraph and even then, not much. Brenda makes great points.

    A little tweaking and this will be super awesome. Good job. 😀

  • Susan Taitel says:

    I’m in full agreement with Brenda. This is so close, just fix what she suggests and it’ll be there.

  • E. Arroyo says:

    Yay! I won. I’ll send it over. =) Thank you!

  • I agree. This isn’t usually my genre, but I’d want to take a look at this if I read this as a blurb.

  • Marieke says:

    Okay, so I’ve been salivating at this behind the scenes for a WEEK. Please tell me you could use a beta for this manuscript, pleeeaaaaaaaase 😀 (No, seriously, I want this like woah.)

  • Jeannette says:

    I saw this on another website somewhere (maybe WriteOnCon?) and thought it was awesome. Good luck getting this in print, and get us all copies when you do. 🙂

  • My only suggestion is to give new perspective to mythology and fantasy. Your sentence “Darkling Forest where, lost among shape-shifting trees, Taela has disturbing prophetic visions” is an exact description of the forest in Snow White, and makes me feel that your imagination is lacking (although it’s not! But this is what people may think). So, put your own spin on it. What makes your forest different than one someone else created? This will help the story feel fresh and new! Good luck!

  • I agree with Brenda’s suggestions and praise. You have a strong opening, great premise and voice. Good luck! I’m sure you’ll find the write home for this story.

  • Kel Heinen says:

    This is very well written! You imparted a lot of information but at no time did I feel lost of bogged down. It’s also an interesting idea and while it’s certainly been done before (haven’t all our stories?) I can already tell yours is different. Well done!!

  • LOVE this query, and I really want to read the pages! you captured the plot perfectly, without giving a superfluous amount of detail.

    I think you could do without, “With the element of surprise on her side.”

    Also, I think it might help to break the two big paragraphs up into three. Maybe make this a separate paragraph: “She puts her vendetta aside to make a truce with Hawke. Their fragile alliance will be put to the test when Taela discovers the truth about her sister’s death, and it forever ties Taela’s destiny to the very man she wants to destroy.”

    Great job!

  • Awesome query!

    I agree with Brenda’s suggestions, and just wonder if you could beef up the sentence about her putting her vendetta aside. It seems a little like it loses the natural flow of the query.

    But, honestly, you make the query look simple! I’m jealous.. and awesome job! 🙂

  • K.L. Layton says:

    Nice job. Sounds like a great read!

  • Mary Holm says:

    Thank you, everyone for your wonderful comments. I appreciate all your support and encouragement.

    And, wow, eager readers! Every writer’s dream. Thank you.

    Yep, Jeanette, this was up on the WriteOnCon.com forum earlier this month.

    It’s such a challenge to write a query for a multi-layered story without including too many details and getting lost in the weeds. I’ll work on your suggestions.

    Thank you, Brenda for posting this. Your blog is an awesome resource.

  • sbibb says:

    I’m really interested in the idea of a character willing to avenge death by killing the kingdom’s only hope for salvation. I like the ending line of the first paragraph as well. The reason is because it shows Taela’s voice as well as giving insight into the kingdom’s “salvation.”

    Side note, when you mention a character named “Hawke” saving land from evil, my first thought is Dragon Age 2. Might be completely different, but thought I’d let you know what it made me think of.

    I like that we know exactly what she wants in the beginning of the second paragraph, and I think that sets up for the complication. However, I’m not sure that complication really shows up well. Perhaps some clarification on the lines could help. (though I am intrigued by the drone soldiers idea)/

    Oooo… I like the last line. Punchy. 🙂

    Gotta admit, I’d want to start looking at the first pages if I was in a bookstore.

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