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Ask Daphne! About My Query 12

AboutMyQueryIt’s time for another round of About My Query!

Dear Ms. Megibow,
Like most twenty-somethings, Camilla Tordis thinks she has her life figured out. She is on the cusp of her graduation from college and finally being free of her domineering aunt when a sudden rainstorm and a broken shoe lead her to a place she never knew existed. Once she is there, she is presented with a job interview that she had not been expecting: three mysterious sisters want to talk to her about an art curation position – one that they already know she will accept.

The three sisters – the Norns – are the Fates of Norse mythology, and they present her with incredible evidence: she is a Norse demi-goddess and her family is more extensive than she thought. She also learns that she has big choice to make when she reaches her 25th birthday; she has to choose whether or not she wants to become an immortal goddess or stay mortal. With the help of her best friend Minna, the Norns and the goddess Frigg, she learns surprising truths about her family and considers her new future. What will she choose? And does she actually have a choice?

Ørlog Tower is complete at 73,500 words and is a contemporary fantasy fiction. It has been a fun write, especially depicting the friendship between Cami and the shameless Minna. I discovered you and the kt Literary through Twitter and have been following you (I will never get over how creepy that sounds!) and have found the About My Query blog posts extremely helpful and informative. I am currently a stay-at-home mom and Army wife, and am participating in next month’s NaNoWriMo. This is the second novel I have completed.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Thanks for sending along this query – there’s a lot to talk about in this one so let’s dive in…

Fantasy queries can be hard to write – I know because they can be hard for me to write when submitting to editors. The temptation is to include too much description of the world and/or backstory. This query would be stronger if it focused on the inciting incident and plot rather than the backstory. The first two paragraphs focus almost entirely on how Camilla gets to the world of the Norns and the fact that she’s then presented with a choice about her mortality. My suggestion would be to trim those two paragraphs way back to something more like this:

“The Fates of Norse mythology have chosen Camilla Tordis for a job and she doesn’t really have a choice about it.”

From there I’d like to see more about the plot – what is Camilla’s task once she leaves our earth and finds herself with the Norns? The reader gets that this is a portal fantasy (falling from our world to the Norse world) and that Camilla doesn’t know of her fate (she’s a demi-goddess). The reader also gets that Camilla will be a reluctant heroine (she can choose to be mortal or immortal but really, will she even be given a choice or is it fate?). All those details can be delivered in one or two sentences and then the query should move immediately to plot. Do the Norns need Camilla to solve something in order for the fate of the world to be at peace? What happens if she chooses immortality over mortality?

One more quick note about genre – the query says “contemporary fantasy fiction” but I would simply pitch this as “fantasy.”

Also, the bio is strong – it’s short and clear. In terms of accept or reject the bio is irrelevant to me but I left it in here as a good example of one that is well done.

Overall on this query my suggestion would be to remove as much as possible of the backstory and world building and replace it with a clear and compelling description of plot. We know Camilla has to decide between immortality and mortality but that’s her conflict – not the plot. What does she have to do in this book? What’s the story? Bring out those details and trim back on the setup.

I hope that helps!
– Sara

If any of our readers want to submit a query for critique and review on the blog, please send it to AboutMyQuery@ktliterary.com, and we’ll let you know if and when we can use it!