Wednesday, July 29, 2009

21 Query Contest

Dear Ms. Meadows:

Nikolas never cared much for birthdays viewing them as just heartless reminders of the mother he never knew. A simple life was all he wanted free from his fears of abandonment and death - a tall order for the only son of a military man. Ten years old with his whole life before him, Nikolas has no idea how hard his struggle is about to become.

Nikolas is changing in ways he never imagined - wounds healing before his eyes, causing objects to disappear only to reappear at his command, forcing others to submit to his will, and this is just the beginning. Determined to unlock the secrets behind his abilities, Nikolas tests the limits of his powers. But Nikolas best beware, such powers never go unnoticed.

Watching from afar, Chaos has been waiting for this moment long before the boy was ever born. Believing Nikolas’s existence to be a coincidence, fearing it to be destiny, Chaos can only watch as the supposed savior of his race dabbles in powers he has yet to understand. Ancient and powerful, living beyond the world of man, Chaos knows the dangers the boy faces, that every discovery he makes draws him closer to the one being who will stop at nothing to destroy him. But there is something else Chaos knows; the secret to the boy’s survival lies not only in conquering his fears, but in discovering the one thing he never expected…Nikolas isn’t human.

Hoping to carry you away to another world, I’d like to submit for your review, Road’s End, a 106,400-word Y/A epic fantasy set against an ancient Aegean backdrop.

Thank you in advance for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Chapter 1

Banking sharply, it cut across the sky and alighted gently upon the open ground crowning the slope. No sooner had it folded its wings it disappeared in a brilliant flash leaving behind a figure cloaked in black. Turning around, the figure gazed down over Road’s End. The villa stood in a clearing nestled high upon the bluff with the sea sparkling behind in the morning sun – little had changed.

His crystalline eyes shone like fire as he searched the grounds below, haunted by a warning from the distant past.

Words…just words…nothing more.

He continued to scan the area. Though all seemed quiet, he could not shake the gnawing anticipation, challenging all he held to be true.

It is not possible…it cannot be done.

Closing his eyes, he renewed his convictions, shunning the thought from his mind. Then it happened. It passed over his body, a subtle change in pressure, an increase charge to the air, leaving behind a hollow feeling of shattered faith. Wary, he opened his eyes, scanning the area once again…still nothing. Unable to make sense of it, it was impossible to deny the presence he now felt. Determined to find the answer, he blinked; his blazing eyes reappeared, sheathed in silver. The yellows, blues, reds, and all the colors in between vanished, replaced by ghostly images, gossamer outlines alive in ever-changing color. He found what he had secretly dreaded. Cutting across the clearing, a figure of light came to a stop, appearing to turn in his direction.


  1. I like the query--a boy-based MG fantasy is a good thing--but the paragraph from Chaos's POV threw me off, and I think you could condense it more. If none of the story is from his POV, then perhaps you should refocus that paragraph.

    Your word count is pretty high, and you call this a YA, but with Nikolas being 10 years old, that indicates more MG than YA. Also, you say that this is an ancient Aegean setting, but honestly, I hadn't gotten that before. I'd been assuming this was contemporary until reading that.

    I was all ready to read more, but that high word count and the MG/YA confusion worries me.Still, I suspect this could be something good, given the success of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, so, on to the pages...

    ...but the pages don't hook me. I don't know who or what this creature is, and I have no connection to it beyond curiosity. In my own personal reading, I find that I'm much more likely to read on if I can find some relatable trait to the main character in the first few pages.

  2. Query: 10 y/o would actually be MG instead of YA... right? Also for either genre, 106,400 words seems kinda long.

  3. I'm not hooked. I think that the first paragraph was too much background information. Maybe start with the changes and the conflict. I'm really confused about Chaos - is he bad? Is he good? Is he indifferent?

    I'm not interested enough to read further.

  4. The first paragraph of the query doesn't hook me. It's all background until the last sentence when the hook finally appears. I thought the second paragraph was interesting. The third paragraph lost me. Why is there so much of an emphasis on Chaos? I didn't understand Chaos' views about Nikolas. If Choas wants to help Nikolas then there isn't any discernable source of conflict in the query.

    I read the sample just to see if the story got any clearer. It didn't. There were way too many pronouns for my taste. Who or what is the first page about? The sample is too vague.

  5. Okay, I got so confused I gave up on my second attempt. Why is this YA when the mc is only 10? I didn't like the name Chaos because I couldn't visualize the character as anything but a concept.

    While there are long MG books like Harry Potter and the Ink Heart Triology, 106,000 words is generally too long.

    Now I must admit the first paragraph of the query hooked me (I didn't read the sample), but this really isn't my kind of story. I prefer YA set in reality or reality-based fantasy.

  6. The only trouble I saw was the change of POV in the third paragraph.

    I guess I have a different take on relying on age as a determing factor of genre. Just because the character is 10 doesn't dictate it's MG. It didn't in Bartimeaus, or Harry Potter. So I wouldn't concern yourself on that.

    I'm curious as to why Chaos can't help. Perhaps something is missing in the query?

    I did read on.

    Not sure how I feel on the 250 words. I am curious as to what is going on and would probably read on to see what happens.

    To me, it seems not much can be determined from 250 words in terms of story for any of the entrants 'cept for things like flow and would I turn the page.

    On this, I'd turn the page.

  7. The Query: The initial couple of sentences could use a comma or two. Also, though it is indicated that the story is set against an ancient Aegean backdrop, I don't get a feel for the setting in the main paragraphs of the query.

    The premise is interesting and I think the MC has a lot of potential as a hero, but the query just didn't keep me curious enough to read on. I was not hooked.

  8. Agree that you need some commas added. Also, I think the paragraph on Chaos is irrelevant. Chaos seems to know a lot, but you say in the query he/she is unable to do anything but watch, so it sounds like Chaos is just an observer. I'd rather hear about the one who has the power to destroy Nikolas. I'd rewrite the Chaos paragraph to focus on this being instead.

  9. I thought this was contemporary fantasy until you said Aegean backdrop at the end.

    Ten years old is pretty young for YA; most YA readers (unless they actually are adults who just like the genre) don't want to read about kids that much younger than them. The wordcount is long, regardless.

    I suspect a lot of that count could actually just be trimmed from the prose. The sample pages reveal wordiness and a lack of clarity. There's a lot of "it" without being told what *it* is, which is frustrating. And whose POV are we in? I can't see a reason to hide important information from the reader.

    So in spite of some neat ideas -- Nikolas not being human was unexpected! -- I'm not hooked.

  10. These are helpful comments. How does one post one's query and writing for criticism? Thank you.