Wednesday, July 29, 2009

10 Query Contest

Dear Jenny Rappaport,

Sivil is a videogame-loving, drift-through-life-type teenager on Galvanon, the twenty-second moon of the planet Valeria. However, his easygoing unglamorous lifestyle is given a serious rocking when Valdor, the son of the venerated deceased Valerian Emperor Xandorian, lands on the upcoming election scene for Galvanon Moon Vroc, the most prestigious political position of Galvanon. The only problem is, after being denied the Valerian throne by his father, particularly after a long line of family success, Valdor is out for fresh blood – no matter how deceitfully it is obtained. Not to mention he’s in possession of some other hefty personal problems to boot.

Unfortunately, the current Galvanon Moon Vroc is Grandyl, the father of Sivil’s close friend Myrdra. In order to defeat Grandyl in the election, Valdor plans on utilizing his family’s immense wealth and resources, the most notable of which include an outlawed book on hypnotic elixirs and Grandyl’s powerful secret shared with Xandorian in confidence, to dishonestly taint Grandyl’s reputation.

Upon discovering Valdor’s corrupt intent, Sivil and his friends, including Myrdra, take matters into their own hands and attempt to clear Grandyl’s name while revealing Valdor’s fraudulent nature to the public. All before the Galvanon Moon Vroc election. However, the means of doing so involves practicing some of their own corruption. How deceitful are they willing to be to battle deceitfulness, especially when their plan is by no means a failsafe and when it may put their own lives, as well as Grandyl’s, in grave jeopardy?

Battle for Galvanon is a young adult science fiction/fantasy novel (with more emphasis on fantasy), and is the first of a projected series called Valeria. It is complete at 114,000 words.

I have recently acquired a degree in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and won the individual award for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Writing.

Thank you for considering Battle for Galvanon and I hope to hear from you soon.



Dusk of an Empire

Valdor had a strong feeling it was his last chance to obtain the Valerian throne as he entered his dying father’s bedchamber. The large oak door slowly slid open to admit him, a creature with the chest and head of a man, and the body of a sleek and bony, yet slightly muscled black stallion. The upper body of the creature was adorned with a tight-fitting red vest with gold trimming. The gold glinted off the nearest chandelier that hung from the ceiling, each shard constructed of pure diamond, and nothing but the finest – doubtless from the notorious diamond mines of the moon Urkil. A trail of chandeliers overhung a velvet red carpet that tread along the floor before ascending to the emperor’s bed. To the side of the carpet a large old-fashioned fireplace licked cozily in the wall.
The creature, a long, thin, black twisty beard spiraling from his chin, strode along the velvet path before halting at the foot of the steps. The front legs of two sentries adorned in royal blue garments – also half-men, half-stallion creatures – buckled beneath them. They snagged their caps and pushed them against their chests.
“My Liege, Valdor Noxum,” one of them said. “I presume you have arrived to speak with your father, as well as check up on his current condition.”
Valdor’s lips puckered as if he had just tasted something sour, his yellow eyes slits in a privet fence. How he wished to utter a snide comment, a comment truly rank with repugnance. Of course, you fool! You retched, moronic, driveling fool! Why else should I be here? I, Valdor Noxum, son of the great Emperor Xandorian Noxum. I, Valdor, whose father now lies rigid upon his deathbed. Why else shall I be here – now – at my father’s weakest moment – his arms, legs, and body latched to the mattress, so desperately clinging to it as he does to life?


  1. The first paragraph confuses me. You start with Sivil, then end with Valdor...?

    I had to read the pitch way to closely to understand the plot. I think it might be tighter if it were simplified and condensed a bit. As it is, though, I am just not hooked.

  2. I got lost and gave up in your first paragraph. I think it may have been all the names. If you could condense them into more general terms then I could focus on the characters and what's actually going on.

  3. Uh-oh. Wrong Agent.... :P

    Query: No... not hooked. It seems confusing.

  4. You lost me on "Valerian Emperor Xandorian" and as I glanced down I just kept seeing blocks of weird names and text.

    I think the query would be interesting if I could get down into it. I don't think we need to know about a "Galvanon Moon Vroc" yet - consider changing it to "leader" or "president" or an easier term to reflect what it is.

    I also hesitate when I see "first of a series". Is this a standalone novel as well? I would pitch that and then mention the series.

  5. I was really confused. I think there is way too much going on in the query. Not hooked, sorry.

  6. Not keen on the query. I found it painfully overloaded with adjectives. Every noun was stacked with descriptors: Sivil is videogame-loving and drift-through-life, his lifestyle is easygoing and unglamorous, the rocking is serious, the venerated deceased Valerian Emperor Xandorian is a gigantic mouthful of a phrase, etc.

    Problem is, the query being wordy (and unfocused: the protagonist barely gets a look-in as an independent, decisive character) made me look at the wordcount, and as indicated, the novel is also extremely long. 114k is running at a good 33% over budget for YA. If the query truly reflects the manuscript, then both could do with a serious trimming.

    I skimmed your first 250 words enough to have my suspicions confirmed: those are also seriously overwritten for my taste.

  7. The Query: Personalization missed the mark.

    The premise seems fast paced and complex with a lot of interesting players. Unfortunately, I was lost rather than hooked due to the complexity in the query itself. The supporting players to the main character could have been introduced in one or two sentences, keeping the focus on the main character and what drives him through the story.

  8. Unfortunately I was pulled out by too many unusual names and words. There are six to eight in the first sentence alone, making it hard to translate. I get the sense it could be good but am not hooked because I don't have the patience to figure decipher the language. Perhaps pare that down a bit so the story shines through. Do we need to know the name of the planet now or that it's the 22nd moon instead of a moon? Do we need to know the emperor's name in the first paragraph or just that he's the emperor? Telling us there is an election without using Moon Vroc would help too. We'll find out the names soon enough but for me, I need to be eased in.

  9. Wow. There's a serious danger of information overload here. Lots of names and details to keep track of in just a few paragraphs. It's fine to introduce them bit by bit throughout the actual novel, but all at once like this is too much.

    You need your main character's name, and you need to describe the threats that he faces and the nature of the stakes. Often names aren't necessary to explain threats/antagonists or stakes, as long as we have a solid idea of how they relate to the main character.

    From what I can tell, it's an intriguing, well-developed concept. But it's an unfortunate truth that if it takes too much concentrating just to get the basic gist of a query, the agent will have to pass on it. They simply have too many queries to read. ;) Good luck!

  10. I think there's too many nouns in the query. I was getting bogged down. 'Son of the venerated deceased Valerian Emperor Xandorian' could be changed to 'son of the deceased Emperor' and 'Galvanon Moon Vroc' could be changed to 'leader of Galvanon'. The second sentence in the second paragraph is far too long. In fact you could probably cut this paragraph. We know from the first paragraph that Valdor is going to use deceit to win, and this would lead into the third paragraph where Sivil and co discover Valdor's corrupt intent.

    I'm afraid the sample didn't hook me either. There's a lot of description and too much telling, even in the dialogue. The "I presume' line smacks of 'As you know..', where a character is talking purely for the benefit of the reader rather than the other characters. Instead of one of the servants asking him if he's here to check up on his father's current condition, why not have him walk over to the bed and stare down at his ailing father?

    I think the plot of the story sounds interesting, but the writing needs to be pared a bit for people to be able to get into it easily.

  11. Not hooked, couldn't even make it through to the end of the query. Way too confusing

  12. My mind blew up while reading this. Simplify and focus on the main aspects of your story.

  13. Right off, I'm cross-eyed with names. Is all this information necessary? I'm actually having trouble keeping up with this because of all the names and places. This query really needs to be focused. Get it down to one or two people. Write about their problems and conflicts. Leave everyone else out of this.

    It looks like there's a lot of worldbuilding put into this, but so much is shoved into the query I just can't keep track. I wouldn't request because I'm just lost. I'm sorry.