Ask Daphne! About My Query XX

September 23rd, 2009 • Kate

WitchDoing my best to get caught up here — I’ve heard from some of the query-writers being posted this week that they’ve already got representation and/or book deals! So let’s steam right along, shall we? Fabulous witchy shoes for CC (alas, they’re only miniatures, not full-size), who writes:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

A sixteen-year-old Dark Mage who wants to be good needs to be bad for her world to survive.

Lusa’s life already has issues when her mother’s gone missing, there’s a temple full of dead mages, and her malicious powers want to turn her into a monster. Worst of all . . . she’s fallen for the wrong boy. In constant battle with her magic’s bloodlust, only Kaden has the ability to help keep her in check. But, there’s a bounty out for mages and he’s a bounty hunter most likely in it for the reward and not for her.

When a malicious sorcerer starts a campaign to wipe out the society of Mage—bent on hoarding all the power to fill his long awaited vendetta against the empire—the magical balance of the world is threatened to the point of destruction. Lusa is the only mage left to stand against him. To defeat him she must embrace her inner evil. Thing is, if she can’t learn to master her powers instead of them continuously pulling the puppet strings, her soul and Kaden’s life will be the price she ends up paying.

I’m an active member of the SCBWI and DFW Writers’ Workshop, who hosts the annual DFW Writers Conference in Dallas, Texas. The full manuscript of THE LAST MAGE, complete at 90,000 words, is immediately available for review at your request. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Thanks as always,
CC

First of all, great hook line. You’ve immediately got my attention with the idea that she needs to be bad to get through whatever befalls her — which is a nice change from other magical paranormals. It raises the question of whether or not magic itself is inherently good or evil, rather than the people who wage it. That aside, I have a couple of minor points to ponder: you say Lusa’s powers want to turn her into a monster. What kind? Is this a literal transformation a la the Wolfman or Mr. Hyde? If she does, in fact, transform, I want to know more about it!

I’m also less sold on “starts a campaign” — this seems almost political, rather than the bloodbath I imagine would leave Lusa as the Last Mage Standing. “The society of Mage” is also a little confusing. I get that the “Mage” refers both to magic-users and the setting, but it just feels a little awkward to someone not yet immersed in the world.

I like the bounty hunter, and the idea that he’s hunting her — and yet is the only one that can help her. Intriguing! Why is his life at risk from the malicious sorcerer, though? Does he have some kind of power, too?

Otherwise, on the minor end of things, I think you want to say “DFW Writers’ Workshop, which hosts the annual DFW Writers Conference” rather than “who hosts”.

So, minor things, and imminently fixable, I think! What do you guys think of this?

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4 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XX”

  1. Tim White Says:

    I agree on cool hook and concept!

    "Lusa’s life already has issues when her mother’s gone missing"

    That sentence bothers me…'when' makes me think 'gone' should be 'goes'. Maybe something like:

    "Lusa's life is already drowning in issues, and her mother's disappearance, a temple full of dead mages, and the dark whispers of her own power threaten to pull her under…permanently".

    Or: "Lusa life is already full of issues, when her mother goes missing, she stumbles across a temple full of dead mages, and the dark whispers of her own power threaten to lead her into xxxx".

    Where 'xxxx' is a better definition of where her darkness is leading her. Something we'd love to see her fend off…or succumb to. Ideally, something that would be interesting either way. 😀 Like vigilantism, or becoming a full-time dominatrix.

    To address 'campaign': (which I actually thought was fine)

    "When a malicious sorcerer's plot to wipe out the society of Mage becomes all out war…"

    …"Only Kaden has the ability to keep her powers in check". I wasn't 100% clear until re-reading that Kaden was the BF. Maybe:

    "The boy in question is a bounty hunter…who specializes in hunting Dark Mages like Lusa. He's the only one that has been able to keep her powers in check, but the huge bounty on her head has Lusa sleeping with one eye open."

  2. Jamie Says:

    I think this query needs minor tweaking in the wording, but is otherwise kind of great.

    Based on this, I would definitely read the story!

  3. ChristaCarol Says:

    Thank you guys very much, I'll take those suggestions and work them into the query. Daphne, you rock, thanks for giving us the opportunity!

  4. Jenny Says:

    Agreed, very nice hook. I am a little confused about the relationship between Lusa and her magic though. I would love to hear more about this dark magic and why it is controlling her instead of the other way around; as it stands it's a bit vague. I think the personification of Lusa's magic tripped me up as well. It made me stop reading to ask "wait, who, what is controlling her? Her own magic, or a person, or what?" I do love the concept of the anti-hero and I'm intrigued about why Kaden is able to rein Lusa in; why is he so special? Does he possess supernatural powers too, or is he a regular person who is just trying to overcome this magic … ? What kind of inner evil are we talking about here? I know space is limited, but it might strengthen the query to give a brief example that is indicative of her powers. I would suggest saving a little space by removing the part about the sorcerer having a vendetta against the empire, because we don't get any additional info about the empire itself. Maybe just say he has a vendetta and leave it at that. Overall nice job!