Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Ms. Gref:

The young king of Orkeia will stop at nothing to exterminate all magic holders from his kingdom. Seventeen-year-old Kenna, a white witch, will stop at nothing to avenge her family’s lives.

When she’s captured, taken to the city, and thrown into a dark, damp dungeon, it seems her quest is over. That is, until she’s rescued--by the king himself. Kenna finds herself a welcome guest in the castle, perfectly situated to take her revenge.

But how can she avenge her clan when she’s falling in love with their murderer?

OPEN EYES is a YA fantasy complete at 98,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Ahead of me, the stone shelter was caved in on itself. I ran past bodies of vicious knights scattered on the ground. No visible movement came from inside the shelter, and my heartbeat quickened at the stillness. I prayed silently to God as the scene grew steadily closer, pleading that my clan was all right. Stumbling through the door, I froze.

They were all dead.

A sob escaped my throat and I collapsed to the ground. No, no, no…

The woman who’d raised me as her daughter lay a few feet away, her eyes staring blankly into the stars through the fallen ceiling. I crawled over the bodies separating us and took her in my shaking arms.

Not Elizabeth…

A seal barked on the beach, but my own wails drowned the noise. Though Elizabeth’s dress was stained red, my skirt remained free of blood. It was dry--she’d been dead at least a day. And I hadn’t been here.

I took a deep breath and glanced around the room. Everything was gone. Our cauldrons, candles, talismans, even our cooking pots. What was once a home was now a burial chamber, four thick, crumbling stone walls surrounding this massacre, a product of the king’s “Great War”--the Slaughters. Their deaths wouldn’t be remembered, forgotten, or even noticed. All we’d had was each other.

Now I was alone.


Unknown said...

Wow, what a gripping query and opening page! I'm intrigued, and I would definitely pick this up if I saw it on the shelf. In your query, I'd love just a bit more detail about why the king wants magic holders dead and why he spares her in spite of that. You have the room and I think it would make it even stronger.

Also, in the first page, for some reason "was" in the first sentence feels off to me. I keep reading it "had." Not exactly a criticism, just an observation. :)

I love this. Great job!

Heather said...

This sounds like it could be really interesting, but I think the query needs to be fleshed out a bit more. I want to know more about Kenna and get a better feel for her.
The first 250 are great, but since I don't know Kenna or the people who were slaughtered, I really don't have much feeling for them. Maybe you could start at a different point, showing Kenna so we care about her, or at least know her somewhat, before you get to this really heart-wrenching scene.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hello, T.G. Alright, right off the bat, I have to respect the absolute economy of your query. 90 words. 90. I checked, lol. In 90 words you did what I struggled to do in 212.

And you deftly answer all three of the query questions with succinct grace. Who's the protagonist? Kenna, a white witch. What does she want? To avenge her family. Who's stopping her? Why, the king of Orkeia, who just so happens to be on a magic holder killing spree...and who rescues Kenna...and whom she actually starts liking once she meets him. Oh man. Central conflict and stakes set up in a single question at the end.

I keep trying to poke some kind of hole in the query, but, so far as I can tell, it's bulletproof. Everything you NEED to know is right in there, and what you don't know only wants to make you read further. Why'd the king let Kenna out? Why, specifically, is falling for him? Is the king gonna stick to his guns in the end and carry on with exterminating all the magic users, Kenna included? Will Kenna herself stick to her guns and take revenge for her family on the king?

Well, guess what. The only way we're all gonna find that stuff out is if this gets published. Great job.

The first 250 definitely set up Kenna's goal of avenging her family, but I'm wondering if this could start a little earlier. You might have some flashbacks or something later on in the story showing Kenna's relationship with Elizabeth, but I think a chapter or two depicting that before Elizabeth is killed would be a better starting point. Give us a glimpse into the life Kenna used to have with Elizabeth so we can appreciate what's lost. This scene would have a tremendous impact if the reader could grow to like Elizabeth as Kenna does, and then BAM she's gone. Obviously, this is up to you if want to start the story a little earlier, but I'd encourage it. Sure, readers of the query (and back cover one day) will probably be able to guess that Elizabeth isn't long for this world, but you can still make them sorry to see her go.

Also, I like the personal nature of this story. Fantasy is often a genre of epic wars, The Quest for whatever, and such. This seems squarely centered on Kenna's ordeal, and I like that.

That's my take. Good luck to you!

MeriAnn said...

I want to read this! It sounds so great. The only thing I can see missing is more about you as an author, but maybe there isn't more that you would want to share.

posse said...

TG, this writing is very clear and concise. Nice work! I love that your main character is a strong female seeking revenge. Those are the kind of girls I like to read about!

That being said, I would like to know a bit more about Kenna. What makes her different from other seventeen-year-old white witches? I wonder what she was like before the incident with her parents?

Also, I wondered why your query started with the young king? I assume he's the murderer who Kenna falls in love with (a great twist!) but because this is Kenna's story, I wanted the query to start with her.

All in all, really solid writing. Best of luck to you, TG!

Unknown said...

Wow. That is one of the most efficient queries I've ever seen. Very effective. I just had one question; if the King is seeking to exterminate all those with magic, why wasn't Kenna just killed like her family instead of being imprisoned. Maybe include some clue in the query as to why her fate is different, and why those with magic are being exterminated in the first place.

Sounds like a great story. I would love to read it!

Emily Gref said...

Hi T.G.,

These kinds of star-crossed lovers stories are perennial, so you have a solid concept here. I'd like to see the query a *little* bit more fleshed out - if he's killed her entire family, why on earth is the king treating Kenna as an honored guest? Why is she allowing herself to be treated this way? A taste of that explanation would go a long way in capturing my attention, instead of just making me confused and curious.

Your opening scene should be a real gut-puncher, but while you have the correct visuals I simply don't care enough about Kenna or her clan to feel their deaths or her grief. We need a little more build up first to really get to know her - a good example is in Holly Black's COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN if you want to check that out. :)

Hope that helps!

Best of luck,