Ask Daphne! About My Query LXIII

July 9th, 2010 • Kate

winterhonemoon_salvatoreferragamo_boots_450x360Thanks for putting up with my late post today (and all this week)! The hazards of having family in town while still trying to get work done, I suppose. Anyway, all that’s behind us now, and we can concentrate on today’s About My Query post, and the fabulous winter boots that go with it! Here goes:

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

Twelve-year-old Jess is a terrible pickpocket, and she knows it will be the death of her. Ever since her parents abandoned her on the streets five years earlier, pick pocketing has been her only means of survival. She barely stays a step ahead of the city’s gendarmerie and the Thief-King’s wrath. With winter closing in, Jess fears she will lose even that small lead.

When a mysterious young man offers to take her away from her life of crime, Jess is naturally suspicious. She knows no one is trustworthy. A fellow pickpocket would stab her in the back if it meant his survival. On the other hand, anything has to be better than the Thief-King’s court, so Jess finds herself in the home of the nineteen-year-old boy.

He seems genuine, this Mage, though Jess knows that no one is who they seem. Like Jess, he was once a pickpocket, and he claims to understand her struggles. But she knows he can’t. No one can understand the dirtiness she feels even after she has bathed. No one can understand the self-loathing that fills her when she looks in the mirror.

Jess knows she’s not normal. She has strange, mystical powers that, according to the priesthood, are caused by demons and evil spirits. She is impure and soiled. She is godless and inferior.

Mage offers Jess an education, teaching her to read and write, attempting to teach her to like herself. However, Jess’s education comes to abrupt halt when Mage is falsely arrested for treason against the crown.

Jess finds herself at a crossroads. She can overcome her fear of her powers and rescue Mage, or she can continue to believe her powers are evil and abandon the man who rescued her from certain death on the wintry streets.

Spirit Riddled is a middle grade fantasy novel, complete at 52,000 words. Thank you for your time and your consideration of my work.

Sincerely,
Mandy

Thanks for sharing, Mandy! I think this has promise, but it reads as pretty long to me. Not to be lazy, but I’m going to throw the bulk of the work on today’s query to my readers. I want you guys to help Mandy finesse her query down a few paragraphs.

A couple of extra points to ponder: does the phrase “pick pocketing has been her only means of survival” work for you? Did you get confused and wonder what connection the Thief-King has to the crown that arrested Mage for treason? Does “Mage” seem more like a title than a name, especially in connection with the MC’s name Jess?

Have at it in the comments!

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: About My Query, Ask Daphne!

Tags: , ,


6 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXIII”

  1. Red Boot Pearl Says:

    It totally sounds interesting…but the query doesn't necessarily grab like it should.

    The first thing I thought was 'wow, she's been doing this for five years and she still stinks at it?' After five years of anything she'd start to get the hang of things…or she would have been caught.

    Also when you said 'this Mage' I wasn't sure if that was his name or Title…

    As far as the actual letter it would be better to start at the crossroads, the real conflict going on–saving Mage or herself.

    Then fill in the detail about the characters, but we don't need to know all the extra stuff about her education, etc. That you can share in a synopsis, get to the heart of the matter.

    Focus on the powers and saving the guy, the pickpocketing seems to just be part of the story not the main plot…so keep it brief.

    Also why is Mage helping her? I get the whole 'I've been there before' scenario, but does it have anything to do with her powers? Or something more intriguing…?

    Knowing what her powers are–especially if it's something unique, and how she would use them to save Mage could help set the query apart.

    One last thought is that if she is so powerful and can help someone else escape, why was she worried about being caught in the first place?

    I realize I just gave a bunch of suggestions that might not fit into a 250 word letter… so pick the strongest thing from your novel and keep playing with it. It'll get there!

  2. Karen Says:

    I do like this concept, but I am getting caught up on some of the points in the letter. Mainly, I feel like the bit about her powers just came out of nowhere. I almost feel like it should be the focus or it should be removed all together. Only you can decide if this story is really about her powers or her living on the street and learning from Mage. As it stands now, I’m not really sure which plot I should be focusing on. I also don’t understand how Jess overcoming her fear of her powers will help her rescue Mage. I think if this is going to be the cliffhanger, of sorts, for your query then you should make this letter more about her powers and less about her living on the streets. I think her being a bad pick-pocket is an interesting and fun addition, but I don’t think it needs to be so much of the focus.

    As for Daphne’s points…I think I’d like the phrase better if it read, “Picking pockets has been her…” Granted, that could be wrong too, but it just sounds better to me. And I did want to know more about the Thief-King, because if he’s the protagonist then I think we need to know more about him.

    Hope that helps. Good luck with it! 🙂

  3. Cyndy Aleo Says:

    Quick attempt (at nearly 5 AM):

    Twelve-year-old Jess is a terrible pickpocket, and she knows it will be the death of her. She barely stays a step ahead of the city’s gendarmerie and the Thief-King’s wrath. She also knows she’s not normal. She has strange, mystical powers that, according to the priesthood, are caused by demons and evil spirits.

    When a mysterious young man offers to take her away from her life of crime, Jess is naturally suspicious. Still, anything has to be better than the Thief-King’s court, and he seems genuine, this Mage, though Jess knows that no one is who they seem. Like Jess, he was once a pickpocket, and he claims to understand her struggles. But she knows he can’t. She is impure and soiled. She is godless and inferior.

    Mage offers Jess an education, which comes to abrupt halt when Mage is falsely arrested for treason against the crown. Jess has to choose: overcome her fear of her powers and rescue Mage, or she continue to believe her powers are evil and abandon the man who rescued her from certain death on the wintry streets.

  4. Olivia Says:

    Where do we send our queries to be reviewed by you?

  5. Rissa Watkins Says:

    Ohhh, great job Cyndy! I wondered if Mage was a title, too.

    I would like to know the significance of the Thief-King. As it stands now, his threat is gone once she gets off the streets, so why mention him? I want to know more about her powers as well. What are they exactly- or if she doesn't know for sure- how do they work?

    The story sounds interesting, just need more info to get the query right.

  6. Cyndy Aleo Says:

    Reading it fully conscious, I realize I left an extra "she" in there. 😉