Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baby Slushpile #17

TITLE: Sol of a Gladiator
GENRE: Epic Fantasy

Dear AGENT X,

I have recently completed an adult epic fantasy novel entitled SOL OF A GLADIATOR complete at 84,000 words and I would like you to please consider it for representation.

In the heart of tyrannical Astrolian Empire, deep in the bowels of the Coliseum, the orphan Sol is raised by a makeshift family of sympathetic guards and fellow slaves to become a legendary gladiator. With his partner K’nal, a yeti-like giant from the frozen south, Sol must battle cunning warriors and exotic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive.

When Korra, a captured member of the Resistance, is forced into Sol’s cell as a sex-prize, her words of rebellion compel Sol to question his long-accepted fate as a slave. Outside the Coliseum, an unknown bard’s tales transform Sol into a symbol of defiance and inspires an oppressed populace hungry for a hero. The streets fill with talk of revolution and the Empire decides the fighter must fall.

Lysik, Astrolia’s most ruthless assassin, is sent to quell the potential insurgence. Rather than martyr the slave, Lysik plots to turn the crowd against their hero, freeing the assassin to finish Sol as he sees fit. For the first time Sol must battle an opponent beyond the reach of his sword and the gladiator knows, whatever the outcome, his friends will share his fate. Sol must win over the crowd and best the assassin if he is to save his friends and do what no slave has ever done: escape the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to AGENCY X. I am seeking your representation because you said you are looking for high-concept fantasy that incorporates a unique twist on an existing history and I believe that’s what I have to offer.

I have included the first five pages of my manuscript below. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Me

35 comments:

  1. No. For me, the world building detracted from the actual story.

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  2. No from me. Your plot is intriguing, but the description of it is much longer than it needs to be. There are a lot of instances of broad, thematic claims that don't give much about what actually happens. Narrow down your summary to the key elements, and the query will read a lot stronger. Good luck!

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  3. YES. Strong story, comes across clearly. However, I agree with Loralie: there was more world-building here than was needed. Prune it a little, and I think this will be stronger.

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  4. Yes. But needs a hook and lots of cutting down on repetitive details.

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  5. No. There was so much going on that I lost track of the main conflict.

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  6. A hesitant yes, because the main plot sounds like it could be up my alley. But the lines about Korra almost turned me off, and I hope she is a character in her own right and not just a catalyst for Sol's development.

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  7. I'm on the fence for this one. I'm leaning toward no. The query was too long.

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  8. Hesitant yes. I really liked your second paragraph (a good, brief description of K'nal) but the rest was wordy.

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  9. Yes, but the query needs to be shortened and simplified.

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  10. On the fence, but probably no--I like gladiators, and the basic premise is close to catching my attention, but the query doesn't feel focused enough and I'm leery about the tropes I see evidenced.

    I'd read pages, however, and go from there.

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  11. Hesitant yes. Nix the world-building around becoming a gladiator and show us more of the conflict and stakes.

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  12. Yes. But agree that the other characters seem thrown in. It's probably best to focus on MC's path without getting bogged down in other characters' details.

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  13. Yes, but like others, I think the query would be strengthened by being pruned a bit. Remove any proper nouns you can so the reader doesn't get places and people confused.

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  14. No. I got bogged down in all the details and names.

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  15. No from me. Too many characters introduced and too much going on in this query.

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  16. Possibly (does that count?) It shows promise, but the query is cramped and crowded with minutiae. Stick to the the conflict of the MC and re-query me.

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  17. No - this reads like a synopsis.

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  18. Ack! I love the set-up, but your query isn't going to get me to request pages. Too many characters and too much like a synopsis. You can tighten this and make it pop.

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  19. A tentative yes from me. I like the world this story is set in, but the myriad plot details as presented in the query are confusing. I'd want to see the first few pages to see the strength of your story-telling.

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  20. No. From what I've read here it sounds too much like a re-do of 'Gladiator' and why does some unrelated bard just happen to pick him to make into a symbol? Agree with another commenter, is Korra actually a character or just a catalyst?

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  21. No. Interesting, but I'm just not hooked.

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  22. No. The query is too dense and finding what's important in it is too much work.

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  23. Yes. I liked the world you built and I felt quite drawn in.

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  24. Yes. With reservations. 84k is short for Epic Fantasy, and might hurt you. It was also very busy. Drop some of the names and details. Ex: "
    Lysik, Astrolia’s most ruthless assassin" could just be an assassin, no names needed.

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  25. This would be a no from me because it focuses more on character background than it does plot/story. A query is really about getting across the main character's GMC. What does Sol want? Why does he want it? What's in his way? This gives us the what, why, and why not...which is the basic foundation for any novel. Right now, because nothing is framed as Sol's original goal - the bard and Korra are the ones who want freedom at the beginning - I'm worried about the story's drive.

    I'd also worry at this story's similarities to both GLADIATOR and Starz's SPARTACUS. You may want to be sure you include some detail that makes your story really stand out from these.

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  26. Thank you for all of the comments. I definitely have some work in front of me and I'm sure your opinions will help me improve this query.

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  27. No for me. Intriguing premise, but a little too familiar. Also, I've read agent feedback on an entirely different query on an entirely different site that went something like 'I stop reading the second I hit an apostrophe in a fantasy name.' Unfair? Probably. But just fyi.

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  28. The writing is very good here, but I think the query is a little long. I'd take a look at the included 5 pages before I made a final decision.

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  29. No, unless the writing in the sample pages was completely different from that of the query. The query was too dry for me, like reading a synopsis.

    I'm also not a fan of the punny title. It doesn't mean anything to me, no matter how I look at it.

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  30. No. There wasn't enough focus on what what Sol wants or what his obstacles are. "Sex prize talks about freedom" just didn't seem enough of a catalyst to spur him toward rebellion, and most of what happens seems to be happening around him, rather than being formed by him.

    (I remember your first page, though, and have no doubt you can make this better.)

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  31. Maybe. What's holding me back? I swear I've read this before- and I don't mean the movie Gladiator. I think I've read something very similar in fantasy.

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  32. No, mostly because of the genre, but also because Sol seems very passive, pushed around by outside circumstances and not making a decision until nearly the end. In addition, the idea of the female character as a "sex-prize" was very off-putting.

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  33. No ... As others have said, too much world building. Also, Astrolia sounds a lot like Australia spoken with a heavy Aus accent!

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  34. No ... As others have said, too much world building. Also, Astrolia sounds a lot like Australia spoken with a heavy Aus accent!

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