Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #29

“Dear Competition Agent,

My name is Alek Warrick, and it is in my hands to save the realm against Rastaban’s plans to burn it down. His followers are growing, as is his reward for catching me. If I am found before my purpose is fulfilled, the realm will have no hope left.

I have been chosen to lead my allies to Avechrea (yes, this lost land is more than just a myth) to form a plan of retaliation, and to find three objects along the way. In Rastaban’s hands, these objects will make him invincible. In my hands, they can destroy him. I am telling you this so you know, despite the rumors, there is still hope.

You have chosen to remain neutral in this war. You have chosen wrong. Pick a side, good or evil, but do not avoid committing because the temptation of peace is greater than the burden of responsibility.

I realize following me isn’t an easy decision, especially since I’m only fourteen years old. I didn’t even know what to think or believe in the beginning, but that was before I watched Rastaban walk through the forest. The path rots beneath his feet, and the trees singe at the very sight of him. He will destroy your land, taking the magic of your ancestors with him. This is not a threat. It is a reality. If you don’t fight, if you don’t help to bring him down, you will lose everything.

When I find Avechrea, I’ll send word for you to join us. I hope by then, you will have re-examined your loyalties. Until I contact you, be on your guard and don’t trust anyone.

--Alek Warrick”

I am seeking representation for my novel, Saving Nyliadore, an 85,000-word fantasy geared towards teens and young adults. It is the first in a series of four. If you would like to read sample chapters, a synopsis, or look over the manuscript in its entirety, please, just let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Alek’s hair flickered blue, as it always did when he was nervous, and Maia’s terrified face wasn’t helping him control it. Maia was a mute, but her trembling pen moved across the paper almost as fast as any talker. He tried to read over her shoulder as she wrote, but her arm was blocking the words.

“Move your arm,” Alek said.

Maia looked over her shoulder, her head darting back and forth, her black eyes searching the lightly-wooded forest of Hillsborne. Her straight, black hair was tucked behind her ears, with a couple of lifeless strands falling in front of her face. The thing about her not being able to talk was it took her a lot longer, especially when she was frantic, to tell him what she needed to tell him. And the longer it took in situations like this, the more anxious Alek became. She could just use her hands to tell him, but she refused to learn any type of sign language because she didn’t want people to know she was different.

Maia was still writing when her father rounded the corner of the path, on the other side of Radnor Creek. Maia stiffened and her pale face whitened even more. Her fingers clawed into Alek’s arm, her nails digging into his flesh. Before Bergert could see the paper, Alek crumpled it into a small ball and clenched it in his hand.


Casey said...

Writing a letter from your MC's POV was a risky thing to do in a query letter, but seems to have worked out well as it got my attention- whether that's because it's really good or because it's different from the others, I'm not positively sure. I like how we don't learn he's fourteen until a little later in the query- this is a good, surprising twist.

As for the pages, I like how you dive into a tense situation from the get-go. You capture my attention and you ended the entry in a spot where I wanted to read more.

I'm not an agent, so I have no clue if they would ignore this or enjoy this since it's outside of the norm but for what it's worth, I enjoyed it! Good luck!

Suzanne Warr said...

I like the query from the character's pov--but found my eyes glazing as I tried to read it. His language is very formal, and not very engaging. Official, for lack of a better term. Also a bit didactic. While it may be true to the character to speak like that, unless he can deliver the query in an engaging way that keeps me reading, I'd choose a different medium. How would he describe his plight or ask for the help of a friend? That might go over better.

The sample pages were stronger. I like how you started us right in the scene, and also gave us immediate clues that this was going to be an other-worldly fantasy (the blue hair) and fast-paced. Nice job!

The Agent said...

I would advise against a direct-address letter, as you're gambling on the agent going through and reading it. Especially in this case where there are huge blocks of solid text and unfamiliar terms. I would suggest switching to a traditional query with a sharp, succinct summary.

The opening paragraphs have a nice balance of tension and character, but a few small things pulled me out. For one thing, is it realistic that a mute girl wouldn't want to use sign language so as not to be different? She really wouldn't rather people understood her? Such a contradiction pulls me out of the story a bit and makes me question other character assumptions.

Mandy P.S. said...

I agree that its really risky to right in the perspective of the character, and it confused me when I got to the page and it wasn't in first person. I was expecting to see Alek's voice in the page, and it wasn't there. So if you're trying to get me to read your book with a first person pitch, I expect a first person story. Sort of like in "The Name of the Wind". Most blurbs I've read for the book are Kvothe's own description of his story, ending with the incredibly cocky "You may have heard of me." But it works because that's the voice I'm supposed to follow for the rest of the story. So reading that sample, that blurb, and getting hooked by his voice and words, really is a pull in for the story.

I was also confused by the last paragraph in your page. Is Bergert Maia's father? And if Maia is holding the page so that Alek can't even see it and he's standing behind her, how can he "crumple it into a small ball". He would have to reach over her shoulder and grab it and this just seems a little awkward. And since you didn't describe it, I'm having a hard time seeing what's happening.

That being said, I love the idea of a war between good and evil where you have to choose sides. I'm concerned that your MC is only fourteen and you're aiming at teens and young adults. Maybe this is more of a middle grade book?

And I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I would keep reading at this point. But keep at it, because I think you have a very compelling idea and the opening tension is great.

K.A. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the feedback! This is invaluable. I am going to incorporate what you have said (starting with a NEW query). You are all wonderful.