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  1. #31
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hey kissmequick, thank you so much for the ongoing support. You guys are humbling me

    You make a lot of good points, and I guess I have in mind what I think are the strength of my novel and I have a hard time letting some of them go to make a shorter query.

    For example, my Beta readers unanimously tells me that Scuttle is their favorite character, and find extremely fascinating the idea of starting a religion to cover a spy operation, so I feel like I should mention them in the query. But maybe I'm jumping the gun, and I've to focus on the fact that the query's only job is to get the agent to ask me for sample chapters.

    Back to the grind, I'll try to post a new version in the next day or so.

    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all this feedback.

  2. #32
    bingley bingley beep kissmequick's Avatar
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    The query IS hard (only second to the synopsis afaiac)

    You just need to get what is needed.


    And it is hard for a purpose. This is where you showcase how good a writer you are. How you know exactly what your book is about. Not the peripheral 'tis is cool ' stuff, but the core of the story. THis is where you show why the agent should love you because even in so little words, you can excite. <-a skill right there.

    You want I should share my query? (I sent to 3 people, got two partial requests and an offer. Not epic fantasy - but it IS second world so I have to build that in the query - I could tell what went in, and what didn't. And LOTS didn't. Would that help at all?)

  3. #33
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kissmequick View Post
    You want I should share my query? (I sent to 3 people, got two partial requests and an offer. Not epic fantasy - but it IS second world so I have to build that in the query - I could tell what went in, and what didn't. And LOTS didn't. Would that help at all?)
    That would be fantastic!
    Either via PM or here, whatever you prefer.

    Thanks a lot

  4. #34
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Okay, this is not necessarily the query you should write, but it's an example of a possible way to go. It touches back on some of the things you were trying to do earlier -- you may not find it particularly different -- and goes for the cover copy style, but the idea is to give the information without it being confusing. I am still having to guess here about the key plot elements, but the form should work okay and I've done a bigger emphasis on the gods. So:

    Peace has never come easy among the nations of Pathran, a world where gods walk among mortal humans and interfere with their affairs. The Irkalian Empire under a new ruler is looking northward to reclaim the Sarathian Kingdom, at the same time that the nomadic Gheradi tribes, led by a former slave and a vengeful god, are massing for an invasion on the Empire's southern border. A greater army than all of them, however, waits on the other side of gates held shut by the forbidden magic of a forgotten race.

    Sarathian spymaster Poliad Seramin masquerades as the priest of a fictitious god while setting up a spy ring in the Empire's capital, aided by a street boy named Scuttle whose eidetic memory may be of more import than anyone expected. Counselor Jovani bargains for his emperor's success by making a deal with Mekhral, the God of Death. And war hero Cardan Stiller seeks relief from his gambling debts by agreeing to lead an expedition to a strange fortress of Belar, God of War.

    When the gates open, releasing an unstopping, bloodthirsty host from another realm, deities and humans must choose new alliances to keep Pathran from being overrun with slaughter, but one god's hidden plan may keep the doorways open forever.
    Does that seem in line at all? I think you definitely want to attach a longer plot synopsis if allowed so you can keep some more details like the Assassins goddess there. I'm not sure I've really got it, but at least it shows you how you can pack some of the info into sentences and still have some detail.

  5. #35
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hey KatG,
    This is pretty close to the plot, but most of all it gives something great to build on on this overview style.

    I think I'll try both approaches, and post them for feedback.

    Thanks again, and stay tuned for the next version(s).

    Taramoc

  6. #36
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taramoc View Post
    Either via PM or here, whatever you prefer.
    Here would be nice for us lurkers.

  7. #37
    bingley bingley beep kissmequick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    Here would be nice for us lurkers.
    I PMd it, because it does have mild spoilery bits in it. Don't want to ruin the surprise for when the book comes out As it's sold, I'm not sure how much I shoudl be putting out there, you know?

  8. #38
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hi KatG and kissmequick,
    Just a brief update to make sure you don't think all your feedback was for none. I'm still working on it and I think I'm getting there, but kids have been sick all week and so my time has shrunk to nothing. I hope I'll have something to put up very soon,

    Taramoc

  9. #39
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hi there,
    So after a week spent battling with the flu, here's my latest.
    It's still on the longish side, but I find it really capture the essence of the book, and it has a certain cohesiveness.

    Unfortunately, Scuttle didn't make it, but I can live with it.

    As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciate.

    Thanks in advance,

    Taramoc

    Dear ____________

    As Steven Eriksonís agent, Iím hoping that I may also interest you in taking a look at my epic fantasy novel THE PARADOX OF DECEPTION.

    Three forces vow for supremacy in the war-torn continent of Pathran.

    Newly crowned Emperor Arthatus IV is looking at expansion to pull the central Irkalian Empire out of the tailspin of decadence his father has pushed it into.

    Amet, the original Emperor, betrayed two thousand years earlier just before ascending as First God, is back from the dead. Heís secretly possessing Tubal, a former slave, and reuniting the southern Gheradi tribes to invade the Empire and reclaim his throne, unbeknownst to his killers, the meddling Gods of Pathran.

    Behind the scene, Poliad Seramin, master spy of the northern Sarathian Kingdom, has created a new religion as a cover for a formidable network of double agents to exploit the conflict among the Empire and the Gheradi and seize control of the entire continent.

    But as armies cross borders and pawns are positioned for the final showdown, a new unimaginable threat arises.

    Portals appear, opening onto another world where an infinite army of mindless killers is pushing to invade Pathran and slaughter humanity. Holding them off is a dwindling fortress, built around the portals by the Tar Larhains, a forgotten race and the last challengers of mankind for Pathran. The fortress is powered by Fragmancy, the sorcery of the wards, banned centuries earlier by the Gods because it was deemed too dangerous.

    For mankind to survive, the three antagonists have to set their ambitions aside and work together, but will Arthatus risk giving the Empire the final push into oblivion by diverting his armies to face the new invaders and buy crucial time? And will Amet overcome his absolute thirst for revenge to work with his divine killers to bring Fragmancy back to Pathran? And will Poliad, whose cult has grown to the point that heís starting to believe in it himself, keep his sanity long enough to find the last living Tar Larhain?

    Or will they all keep pursuing their own goals, pushing mankind to the brink of annihilation and turning the fight against the infinite army into their own personal cosmic game of chicken?

    The Paradox of Deception is a sprawling fantasy novel of 210.000 words, and the first chapter of the Fragmancy Cycle, a five volume epic tale spanning centuries and several interconnected worlds. In the tradition of Steven Eriksonís Malazan Book of the Fallen and G.R.R. Martinís A song of Fire and Ice, the Fragmancy Cycle follows a diverse cast of characters from every walk of life to examine the resilience and inherent flaws of the human spirit when confronted with overwhelming odds.

    After more than forty published videogames as writer, designer and creative director, including Legacy Online, published by SEGA, and several multimillion selling titles, like KaGlom, THK3 and Phase 10, developed by mobile gaming pioneer Magmic Games, Iím now focusing my career on speculative fiction. I recently self-published a collection of short stories, and Iím now seeking representation for my first novel.

    Sincerely,

    Marco Cultrera

  10. #40
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Doesn't quite work, although the thrust seems better, now that I know more details of the story. (I feel really bad saying that after you've fought the flu -- if it's the one my sister just had, it's really nasty.) It's a bit too long, too many details and names.

    Agents read hundreds of query letters a week. Every SFF novel is infinitely complicated, with lots of names, imaginary places, made-up words, etc. They don't try to remember them. (Especially since names change all the time. Which is why I'm really good at remembering characters and plots and really bad at remembering titles, character and place names.) What they want in terms of names and places is only enough for them to follow the plot description and understand who the main characters are in their roles in the plot. That's why the names are needed in the query letter, but the names are not the important information. It is best if sentences are loaded with information, and when you have a lot of one line paragraphs like this, their attention is likely to wander because they're trying to find the key information as quickly as possible and you are making them hunt for it. So let's go over this, re revision:

    Quote Originally Posted by Taramoc View Post
    Hi there,
    As Steven Eriksonís agent, Iím hoping that I may also interest you in taking a look at my epic fantasy novel THE PARADOX OF DECEPTION.
    This is grammatically incorrect -- you are not Steven Erikson's agent.

    Three forces vow for supremacy in the war-torn continent of Pathran.
    Try: "three forces vie for supremacy in the war-torn continent of Pathran." Suggest adding: "a land where gods walk among humans and meddle in their affairs." That is the key premise of the world you've built, so it needs to come first to establish place. Then do not make a new paragraph.

    Newly crowned Emperor Arthatus IV is looking at expansion to pull the central Irkalian Empire out of the tailspin of decadence his father has pushed it into.
    Flip it. Give the name of the country first, then the emperor -- they'll remember it better: "The Irkalian Empire seeks to expand its borders and refill its coffers under newly crowned Emperor Arthatus IV." Drop the daddy stuff. All they are actually going to remember is that there's an empire with a newly crowned emperor. Got it, moving on. Do not make a new paragraph.

    Amet, the original Emperor, betrayed two thousand years earlier just before ascending as First God, is back from the dead. Heís secretly possessing Tubal, a former slave, and reuniting the southern Gheradi tribes to invade the Empire and reclaim his throne, unbeknownst to his killers, the meddling Gods of Pathran.
    Ooh, new info! Shorten this into one sentence. (You might possibly want to put Tubal first there.) Do not make a new paragraph.

    Behind the scene, Poliad Seramin, master spy of the northern Sarathian Kingdom, has created a new religion as a cover for a formidable network of double agents to exploit the conflict among the Empire and the Gheradi and seize control of the entire continent.
    Very nice. Now you can make a new paragraph.

    But as armies cross borders and pawns are positioned for the final showdown, a new unimaginable threat arises.
    Good, but as the first sentence of the second paragraph.

    Portals appear, opening onto another world where an infinite army of mindless killers is pushing to invade Pathran and slaughter humanity. Holding them off is a dwindling fortress, built around the portals by the Tar Larhains, a forgotten race and the last challengers of mankind for Pathran. The fortress is powered by Fragmancy, the sorcery of the wards, banned centuries earlier by the Gods because it was deemed too dangerous.
    Convoluted and confusing. Can you simplify it any further?

    For mankind to survive, the three antagonists have to set their ambitions aside and work together, but will Arthatus risk giving the Empire the final push into oblivion by diverting his armies to face the new invaders and buy crucial time? And will Amet overcome his absolute thirst for revenge to work with his divine killers to bring Fragmancy back to Pathran? And will Poliad, whose cult has grown to the point that heís starting to believe in it himself, keep his sanity long enough to find the last living Tar Larhain?
    This I actually like.

    Or will they all keep pursuing their own goals, pushing mankind to the brink of annihilation and turning the fight against the infinite army into their own personal cosmic game of chicken?
    One question too far, I think. Seems repetitious also. I suggest cutting this one and giving a hint of conclusion perhaps instead. You could get Scuttle in here and other characters -- fate rests on a young street boy, a retired war hero, etc. Or, since that will have to lack detail, just end it with the question about Poliad. Do not keep making each bit a separate paragraph.

    The Paradox of Deception is a sprawling fantasy novel of 210.000 words, and the first chapter of the Fragmancy Cycle, a five volume epic tale spanning centuries and several interconnected worlds. In the tradition of Steven Eriksonís Malazan Book of the Fallen and G.R.R. Martinís A song of Fire and Ice, the Fragmancy Cycle follows a diverse cast of characters from every walk of life to examine the resilience and inherent flaws of the human spirit when confronted with overwhelming odds.
    Okay.

    After more than forty published videogames as writer, designer and creative director, including Legacy Online, published by SEGA, and several multimillion selling titles, like KaGlom, THK3 and Phase 10, developed by mobile gaming pioneer Magmic Games, Iím now focusing my career on speculative fiction. I recently self-published a collection of short stories, and Iím now seeking representation for my first novel.
    Try: "I have worked as a game writer, designer and creative director for video companies such as SEGA and mobile gaming pioneer Magmic Games, including on such games as Legacy Online, KaGlom, and Phase 10. I have also self-published a collection of short stories, [title]."

    I am uneasy about the axing of Scuttle and the retired soldier, as they are assets, but there are limits and if you have a plot synopsis attached, it may work okay.

  11. #41
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hey KatG,
    Don't worry, I hadn't even thought for a second that it was the final version. I'm just happy that we are down to fixing the parts, instead of the whole. I do agree that is a bit long, I'll work on the next iteration and see how much I can cut.

    I do agree that scuttle should be there, maybe I'll try to add that final phrase as you suggest, instead of the last question.

    Anyway, hopefully I'll have something in the next day or so...

    Thanks again for more excellent feedback.

    Taramoc
    Last edited by Taramoc; May 3rd, 2012 at 05:51 PM.

  12. #42
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Here we go, still a bit long but under my absolute limit of 500 words, including everything.

    I added the part at the end on Scuttle and the war hero, I just hope it doesn't add unnecessarily to the complexity of the query and cutting that paragraph is still an option.

    Taramoc

    Dear ____________,

    As Steven Eriksonís agent, you may be interested in taking a look at my epic fantasy novel THE PARADOX OF DECEPTION.

    Three forces vie for supremacy in the war-torn continent of Pathran, a land where Gods walk among humans and meddle in their affairs. The central Irkalian Empire seeks expansion to veer off its path of decadence under newly crowned Emperor Arthatus IV. Amet, the original Emperor, betrayed two thousand years earlier just before ascending as First God, is possessing Tubal, a former slave, to reunite the southern Gheradi tribes and reclaim his throne, unbeknownst to his killers, the current Gods of Pathran. Behind the scene, Poliad Seramin, master spy of the northern Sarathian Kingdom, has created a new religion as a cover for a formidable network of double agents to exploit the conflict among the Empire and the Gheradi and seize control of the entire continent.

    But as armies cross borders and pawns are positioned for the final showdown, a new unimaginable threat arises. Portals appear, opening onto another world where an infinite army of mindless killers is pushing to invade Pathran and slaughter humanity. A dwindling fortress, built around the portals by the Tar Larhains, a forgotten race and the last challengers of mankind for Pathran, is holding them off using the power of Fragmancy, the sorcery of the wards, banned centuries earlier by the Gods.

    The three antagonists have to set their ambitions aside and work together, but will Arthatus risk giving the Empire the final push into oblivion by diverting his armies to face the new invaders and buy crucial time? And will Amet overcome his absolute thirst for revenge to work with his divine killers to bring Fragmancy back to Pathran? And will Poliad, whose cult has grown to the point that heís starting to believe in it himself, keep his sanity long enough to find the last living Tar Larhain?

    The answers to these questions and the fate of mankind depends on a retired war hero, forced by Amet to coordinate the attack against Arthatus, a young street kid, with a staggering connection to Fragmancy, and Poliadís young lover, not ready to give up on him no matter the implications.

    The Paradox of Deception is a sprawling fantasy novel of 210.000 words, and the first chapter of the Fragmancy Cycle, a five volume epic tale spanning centuries and several interconnected worlds. In the tradition of Steven Eriksonís Malazan Book of the Fallen and G.R.R. Martinís A song of Fire and Ice, the Fragmancy Cycle follows a diverse cast of characters from every walk of life to examine the resilience and inherent flaws of the human spirit when confronted with overwhelming odds.

    Iíve worked as writer, designer and creative director, with companies like SEGA and mobile gaming pioneer Magmic Games, on such games as KaGlom, Legacy Online and Phase 10. I also self-published a collection of short stories, [title].

    Sincerely,

    Marco Cultrera

  13. #43
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Dear ____________,

    As Steven Eriksonís agent, you may be interested in taking a look at my epic fantasy novel THE PARADOX OF DECEPTION. -- You might just want to cut this whole sentence. It keeps sounding kind of obnoxious, though I suspect Erikson's agent is used to it.

    Three forces vie for supremacy in the war-torn continent of Pathran, a land where Gods walk among humans and meddle in their affairs. The central Irkalian Empire seeks expansion [to veer off its path of decadence] -- suggest cut -- under newly crowned Emperor Arthatus IV. Amet, the God who founded the Empire and ruled until he was betrayed two thousand years ago, has possessed Tubal, a slave, to reunite the southern Gheradi tribes and reclaim his throne, unbeknownst to his killers, the current Gods of Pathran. Behind the scenes, Poliad Seramin, master spy of the northern Sarathian Kingdom, has created a new religion as a cover for a formidable network of double agents to exploit the conflict between the Empire and the Gheradi and seize control of the entire continent.

    But as armies cross borders and pawns are positioned for the final showdown, a new, unimaginable threat arises. Portals appear, opening onto another world where an infinite army of mindless killers is pushing to invade Pathran and slaughter humanity. A dwindling fortress, built around the portals by the Tar Larhains, a forgotten race and the last challengers of mankind for Pathran, is holding them off using the power of Fragmancy, a sorcery banned centuries earlier by the Gods.

    The three antagonists have to set their ambitions aside and work together, but will Arthatus risk giving the Empire the final push into oblivion by diverting his armies to face the new invaders and buy crucial time? And will Amet overcome his absolute thirst for revenge to work with his divine killers to bring Fragmancy back to Pathran? Will Poliad, whose cult has grown to the point that heís starting to believe in it himself, keep his sanity long enough to find the last living Tar Larhain?

    The answers to these questions and the fate of mankind depends on a retired war hero, forced by Amet to coordinate the attack against Arthatus, a young street kid with a staggering connection to Fragmancy, and Poliadís young lover, not ready to give up on him no matter the implications.

    The Paradox of Deception is a sprawling fantasy novel of 210.000 words, and the first chapter of the Fragmancy Cycle, a five volume epic tale spanning centuries and several interconnected worlds. In the tradition of Steven Eriksonís Malazan Book of the Fallen and G.R.R. Martinís A Song of Fire and Ice, the Fragmancy Cycle follows a diverse cast of characters from every walk of life to examine the resilience and inherent flaws of the human spirit when confronted with overwhelming odds.

    Iíve worked as writer, designer and creative director with companies like SEGA and mobile gaming pioneer Magmic Games, on such games as KaGlom, Legacy Online and Phase 10. I also self-published a collection of short stories, [title].
    [/QUOTE]

    It reads pretty good now, I think. How are you feeling about it?

  14. #44
    Author and Game Designer Taramoc's Avatar
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    Hey KatG,
    I feel pretty good about it, still a bit on the long side, but I'm not sure I can't shorten it even more and still make it justice.

    I'd like to keep the first phrase, as it shows that I did my research on who the agent is already representing and it gives a sort of intro, instead on jumping on the synopsis right away, but I know what you mean about obnoxious. I'll try to come up with an equivalent a little less annoying.

    Also, I want to keep the bit about the decadence of the Empire as it's referred to in the first question later in the query, but it is a bit awkward as it is. I'll try to smooth it.

    Rest of suggestions look good, thanks

    I guess I'll fire it off to a few agents and see how it does. If I don't get any traction (i.e. requests for partials) I'll have to rework it, but hopefully it won't get to that point.

    I'll keep you posted and thanks again.

  15. #45
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    I've been following along, and wanted to thank you all for letting us peak in on this process. I've learned a ton.

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