Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Guess the Plot
1. The Addams family versus the Beverly Hillbillies, using every sort of weapon imaginable. Also, goats.
2. Fat girls versus guys with acne, using hand signals and cell phone texts. Also, basketball benchwarmers.
3. North Korea versus Iran, using bombs that emit millions of crazy-talk pamphlets. Also, radioactive dust.
4. Nashaarians versus Ashai using magic and weapons of average destruction. Also, a dead woman who is alive but not a zombie.
5. The studious loners versus the 98-pound weaklings using hardback editions of obscure Greek philosophy. Also, an outdated atlas.
6. The Geeks versus the Goths for control of the high school, using Blackberries and black mascara. Also, a teacher who wears a kilt.
Dear [Insert Agent Name Here]
David is a young man living [in] the northern part of the Nashaarian Empire. He aspires to attend the local university and become a scholar, but all of this is derailed when his best friend Cora is chosen to suffer a special and terrible fate at the hands of Valdrick, a man who works at the university and whom David considered a friend. [It's not clear to me why David's aspirations are derailed. Postponed maybe. Is the whole university corrupt?] [You'd have to be incredibly naive to think any good could come from a friendship with a guy named Valdrick. I'd sooner be friends with a guy named Borgo the Disemboweler than Valdrick.] As he plans to help Cora escape, David learns that Valdrick is actually a member of a race of magic users called the Ashai, who are hated and persecuted for past misdeeds against mortals. [I don't need all of the info in this paragraph. I don't need to know which part of the empire David lives in, I don't need both "attend the university" and 'become a scholar." Instead of telling us Valdrick works at the university and David considered him a friend, you might just cut to the part about him being an Ashai magic user.]
When he fails to get Cora away, David is forced to watch as Valdrick uses her body for possession by his dead Ashai lover. After a narrow escape, he is horrified to discover that he, too, is one of the hated Ashai and that because of this he can never go back to his old life or aspirations; finding a way to save Cora from her fate is all he has left. [If he's Ashai, are his parents also Ashai? Why can't he go back to them?]
So David follows Valdrick back to the heart of the war-torn Nashaarian Empire. Along the way he discovers the persecution of the Ashai is not really as justified as he once thought while he struggles with his own identity. As he learns that Valdrick's plan is to destroy the empire through civil war and make a better world for the Ashai, [The empire is already war-torn. Is Valdrick's civil war underway, or is there another war that's going on or that just ended?] David finds he must choose between helping a man he hates change the world, and supporting a group of mortals striving to restore the heir to the Nashaarian throne in order to save the empire and restore Nashaar to its former greatness. [It was stated that all David had left was saving Cora. Yet she doesn't seem to figure into this choice at all.]
/Outcast War/ is a 91,158 word fantasy novel and the first part of an (already completed) duology, which is itself the beginning of a [trilogy which could be expanded into a] possible series [which could be adapted into a major motion picture which I could write a novelization of].
I have included a short synopsis along with the first five pages of my manuscript. I will happily send more sample chapters or the complete manuscript along if you are interested. Thank you so much for taking the time to consider me.
[Author's end note, not part of the query letter: I just wanted to throw this out there – I don't like my title much at all. In fact I am struggling to come up with a really good, eye-catching title and so far I've been unable to do so. Suggestions welcome, of course. And thanks for all the feedback!]
David was an Ashai before he knew he was an Ashai, so why can't he go back to his aspirations now that he has discovered the truth? It's okay to aspire to be a scholar if you don't know you're Ashai, but not okay if you do know? It's okay for Valdrick, who is Ashai, to work for the university, but not okay for David to attend?
Does David have any idea how to use magic? Does magic ability make one Ashai? Or is it that anyone can use magic, but the Ashai actually do, while others have agreed not to?
Why are some people referred to as mortals? Are the Ashai immortal?
David does a lot of learning and discovering. He learns that Valdrick is a villain, that Valdrick is Ashai, that he is Ashai, that Val plans to destroy the empire. All we see him do is follow Valdrick to the heart of the empire. If we shorten the setup we'll have room to include what David's plan is, and how he goes about it.