‘Tis definitely the season of the query polish, I tell you what.
First Golden Dawn got a mega-hammering over at Unicorn Bell.
Then Dragon went through the ringer in GUTGAA. It’s still going through it’s paces there (got through the second round, it did), so do pop over and have a look.
And you know what I’ve learnt? My original queries all sucked. That’s okay though. I’ve long accepted that the first draft is not the draft. Learning the reasons behind why the queries didn’t work was eye-opening to say the least.
But now it’s time for another month-long query polishing with The Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest. ^_^
Okay, here’s the deal with this one: For the first week, minions (writers who have query-ready manuscripts) will post their queries for the other minions and super villains (writers published or pre-published by CQ) to critique.
And because I’m still in a happy spot with my last two queries, I’m using this as an opportunity to polish my query for The Rogue King, my science fantasy of epic proportions. Alrighty then!
Dear Super Villain,
As a boy, all Koral ever wanted from life was a chance to fall in love and have a family. It is at the whim of Lorric, the God of Lust, that this simple wish is crushed and the life of one young man is altered beyond redemption.
Genetically created by humans and raised with technological knowledge centuries ahead of common folk, Koral is already an anomaly of his world. Growing up having never needed to fight or kill to survive, he struggles to accept the reality of living in a less-than-forgiving land when he flees his human guardians. It sets him down the path that strips him of his innocence and condemns his soul, and brings rise to the legend of the greatest Rogue to ever have lived.
Sacrificed to and possessed by Lorric, Koral is forced into the mould of Veng where, as the god uses Koral’s body to rape and murder, his idealistic outlook on life is shattered. He struggles to keep his old ideals while carving out a new life amongst the men he’s been made the ruler of in the hope of evading Lorric’s notice. This life is enriched when Koral unexpectedly falls for Lasil, the young woman he once saved as a little girl.
But the gods are not finished with him. Koral was meant to be king, but not of the Rogues. To make it right, the powerful All Mother has his soul taken to hide him from Lorric. In retaliation, the god has Lasil taken. Years pass before Koral learns the reality of her kidnapping and, risking the last portion of his self along with his life, sets out to free her from the god’s clutches before she is bent to Lorric’s will.
THE ROGUE KING is a science fantasy told through the points of view of Vengeance, Lasil and Kael. At 199,000 words, and written to stand on its own, it is the first in a proposed duo.
Thank you for your time.
8 thoughts on “The Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest”
Hmm, I found this query a bit vague. What is Koral, if he was brought to life by humans and raised in their fashion? Why is the land less than forgiving? What path is he set down? Who is the deranged god?
There's just not enough detail here to engage the reader of the query. To make someone request your manuscript, you need to include character, conflict, and stakes. Who is Koral? What conflict does he have? What does he lose if he fails?
Queries are hard, no doubt about it. I must have written 10-12 versions of mine before I was successful.
Query city is not a fun vacation, is it? I know it's not for me and if I had my choice, I'd skip it all together. Unfortunately, it's part of the publishing journey that can't be avoided, right?
I love the idea behind your story. A man's quest for love! The romantic element is alluring:)
I'm interested in knowing what Koral “is.” A clone? a robot?
How did he become a king?
What is his real destiny and how is his life different than what he wanted? All he wanted was to marry and have a family. It seems like that happened, of course until the kidnapping.
This sounds like another great story you've written. I can't wait to read it!
Yes, it is vague. I always seem to start with vague. But this comes from a fifteen year involvement with one bunch of characters.
'What is Koral?' I could write a book on that. Wait-a-minute … Okay, short and not-so-accurate answer: He's a genetically engineered lizardman.
Deranged god and the path he's set down … Okay, this is where it gets a little edgy. The god is the God of Lust and he … he turns men into raping, thieving, murdering versions of themselves, called Rogues. The land he's in is full of them and those who would kill them.
Conflict … what conflict doesn't he have? Fight off a god who wants to turn him into the greatest Rogue; struggle to keep those he loves alive in a land where everyone is out to get you; all after struggling to accept that you don't have to become what everyone believes you to be.
'What does he lose?' Let me see … he's lost his soul, his shadow, his innocence … how about his life, if not the last piece of his heart.
Query city. I like that. But why must I start in downtown suckville when the traffic is backed up and the trains aren't running. -_-
Like I said above. He's a genetically altered lizardman. A longer explanation would be too long.
How did he become king? Well, having been fed a mind-numbing drug, he strode up to the main Rogue population, declared himself as king and killed a handful of men who opposed him. (Seriously)
His real destiny … tricksy to say here as it's the main wtf for him. Things transpire during his quest for his beloved. He learns what he isn't and what he is. Thrones are involved.
Yeah, he got what he wanted … for a few months, at least. After thirty years, then once she's taken, suffering through another nine years after that time of being without any of it.
You wanna read. You're more than happy to critique it. ^_^
First of all THANK YOU (for joining my Inklings and for reminding me that I was in this clinic/contest – blame October, crazy for this kind of stuff, and for me personally). Yes, vagueness combined with some really wordy sentences create confusion. Also you have some sentences that have errors (probably from hacking at your query and pasting bits back, as I do). Example: “Having never needed to fight or kill to survive, he struggles to accept the reality of living in a less-than-forgiving land when he flees his guardians and.” Also “To make it right, the powerful All Mother has his soul is taken to hide him from Lorric.”
Your reply to Dianne is actually the basis for a great query. You've stripped things down to the bare essentials, making it all much clearer and way more compelling. Now just polish the language a little, (but don't overembellish), and I think you might have a winner! Good luck! Now come back for a visit and throttle my query, or gnaw at it with your sharp little teeth 😉
'Probably from hacking at your query and pasting bits back …'
Glad to see I'm not the only one there. Part of it would've been due to trying to concentrate with a whining puppy (after his 'big-boy' op) and a six-year-old on holiday who was sadly not made with a mute button.
It isn't as bad as all that. I think you want to get your summary down from four to two paragraphs. Jam info into dense sentences, but make them sound like you are telling a story. “Heir to the throne of the Lizardmen, the half human…” Set the stage with a character and conflict, but make it sound like a story all its own. All you need to do is get the editor to look at the first page. Do that by only showing them what is unique to your work.
That would be “Heir to the throne of alien lizardmen Koral thought were extinct centuries ago and had no idea he was of that species and has he spent the last 40 years believing himself to be of a different alien lizardmen.” Oh, and does it matter he's part lizard/camel domesticated animal that makes is bones dense? Or that he's lost his soul and shadow in the process of living with the false rep of a murdering, raping bastard?
See how complicated simplicity gets? ^_^ I'm only describing a quarter of the story as it is (completely glossing over Kael's part and reducing Lasil to a few lines, though they both make up half the story). I fear that crushing it further would bring up way too many questions.
And there are four humans total in this sucker, all dead by chapter five. That they created him them out of native blood and the sole woman gave birth to him is only major thing they have going for them. There is not one bit of human in his DNA.
I once had an editor look at the whole book, love it and, after a lot of back and forth, ultimately not decide to publish it (I've since added 5k to it and changed the ending some). So yeah … I know how that goes. Have I given up on it? Obviously not. Do have I much hope of this getting published? Maybe after I've gotten others out there. I'm realistic on that.
After fifteen years of learning, rewriting and polishing, I've discovered I've endless patience for this one.