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Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXIV

book_shoeVery bookish shoes (thanks to Sara Raasch!) for Kathleen, who contributed today’s About My Query post. All the usual rules apply: be nice, be helpful, be constructive! Ready, go!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

To escape a loveless marriage, Nicholas and Aaryanna, two characters in an unfinished romance novel, give their author writer’s block. They enter a realm of Fiction, coincidentally nicknamed “Writer’s Block” where the characters live while their authors are unable to write. Aaryanna pursues an inter-book relationship with a warrior prince from another novel. Nicholas learns it is possible to enter Reality and either permanently Block his author, or become Real, like the great King Arthur.

Nicholas’ time to achieve Reality is limited. At any moment Anne could begin writing again, which would instantly send him back to the book. Also, he is not the only fictional character in Reality. Fictional characters have roamed Reality for centuries, seeking their authors in order to become Real. Real people call them “supernatural” and they are drawn to Nicholas.

Nicholas decides that the best way to distract Anne is to date her. When she plays a game of “He loves me, he loves me not”, he has no choice but to fall in love with her. Before he can tell her that he loves her, (and potentially ruin their relationship: Real people don’t fall in love in three days), the fictional villain, Baron Farent, enters Reality. He kidnaps Anne in order to lure Nicholas back to Writer’s Block, where he hopes to imprison him in the Beastlands. Nicholas must return to the Block to rescue Anne, before the Baron realizes he’s kidnapped his author and can control the rest of the book.

Unfortunately Nicholas has become Real and is no longer a Fictional match for the Baron.

Writer’s Block is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Kathleen

Wow. There is a LOT going on here. This kind of detailed alternate reality story is hard to tell in a brief query, and I fear leads to some confusion. There’s ways to simplify though — first of all, the idea of Nicholas and Aaryanna giving their author writer’s block and then moving to a place called “Writer’s Block” seems unnecessarily punny. The fact that Nicholas’ author is named Anne, and this erstwhile leading lady is also a type of “Anna” makes me ponder if the author is trying to write herself into her story, which adds yet another level of confusion.

You also trip me up, personally, with the throwaway line that King Arthur is a character that became Real. Maybe another agent would think that’s neat, but I have a senior thesis in Arthurian literature that would argue this point ad infinitum.

Anyway, moving one, I think you might want to consider dropping Aaryanna from the query entirely. (And, as a side note, I’m already getting annoyed typing out that name. I’ve never seen it spelled that way.) Let your query concentrate on Nicholas, and his adventures in and out of Reality. Which raises another confusing point — you use the word “Reality” both to describe the real world, and Nicholas’ dream of becoming — like Pinocchio — a real boy. This makes sentences like “Nicholas’ time to achieve Reality is limited. At any moment Anne could begin writing again, which would instantly send him back to the book. Also, he is not the only fictional character in Reality” extra confusing, because Nicholas is IN Reality, but has not ACHIEVED Reality.

Your phrasing in the next paragraph also makes me wonder if you’re being as clear as you could be. “When she plays a game of “He loves me, he loves me not”, he has no choice but to fall in love with her. Before he can tell her that he loves her, (and potentially ruin their relationship: Real people don’t fall in love in three days)” Does Nicholas have no choice to fall in love with Anne because she’s his creator? Is he forced into it because she’s thinking he does?

I think this query raises more questions than it asnwers, but ultimately not the kind that would have me immediately digging into the pages to learn more. But maybe my readers have some other great thoughts on how to fix it. The comments are open!

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