Thursday, April 10, 2014

Face-Lift 1199

Guess the Plot

Alpha of the Lost Clan

1. Alpha is sooo tired of chicks banging her door down. Really. Just because erotica is all the rage and every Joan, Eve and Sally thinks she needs an Alpha to get her rocks off doesn't mean a gal should have have to keep her number unpublished. Sheesh!

2. If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal.
I can call you Betty,and Betty when you call me.
You can call me Al-pha of the lost clan-pets.
Well the first thing you know ol' Jed's a millionaire,
His kinfolk said, Jed, move away from there,
Said Californy is the place you oughtta be.
So, they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. Hills that is...

3. What happens when you're the alpha of your werewolf clan, but you're also the only member of your clan still alive? Who do you bully? You can either give up, or take your shot at becoming king of all the werewolves.

Original Version

Dear agent,

I’d like to tell you about my Urban Fantasy novel, ALPHA OF THE BLOOD CLAN (85,900 words). [What makes you think I'm interested in urban fantasy?] In my research and pursuit of an agent I’ve found that you are interested in that Genre. [I knew I shoulda put "memoirs of Saharan skiers" on that AgentQuery questionnaire.]

When Fudo Nagato, an Ex-Soldier and Alpha Werewolf,
[He became an ex-soldier when the other soldiers found out he was a werewolf. Don't ask don't tell policy wasn't keeping guys from having their throats ripped out.] returns to St. Louis after a relentless [Fruitless?] quest searching for more of his kind, ["His kind" meaning alpha werewolves, werewolves, or werewolves of his clan?] he is suddenly thrown into a war that could lead to the extinction of his race.

Hidden from the humans of St Louis is a secret civilization of Werewolves, [How come "Werewolves" is capitalized and "humans" isn't? For that matter, how come "Ex-Soldier," "Urban Fantasy" and "Genre" are all capitalized?] [You gotta feel pretty stupid to go on a quest for werewolves only to come home and find an entire civilization of them living in the place where you started.] engaged in a struggle to thwart a malevolent entity known as the Darkness, by the supernatural world, which is dedicated to destroying humanity. [I can't tell if it's the Darkness or the supernatural world that's dedicated to destroying humanity.] [I'd get rid of "by the supernatural world." I assume it modifies "known," but that's not totally clear, and dumping it may solve the previous problem.] Fudo is approached by a delegation of Alphas from the Council of the High Wolf nation and is informed not only is he the Alpha of the Blood Clan, which was thought to be extinct, [Being the alpha isn't such a big deal if you're the only one left.] but heir to the Kingship of his race. [The race of all werewolves?] [When you return home from a long quest and a bunch of strangers declare you their king, you can bet what they're really after is someone to fight their battle against some evil entity dedicated to destroying humanity.] Their vicious adversary stretches out its evil power and its most ruthless minion, the No-Name-Nomad [No ruthless minion would call himself the No-Name-Nomad. He needs a name that will strike fear into the hearts of humans. I suggest Korlach. Lord of the Dark Realm.] is able to touch our plane of existence to work his dark will. [Whose dark will? The Darkness's or Korlach, Lord of the Dark Realm's?] The Utopia Agency, a secret government group, who are aware of the Werewolves, tries to capture Fudo for experimentation purposes, leaving him no course but to fight back. Fudo, realizing the odds are growing increasingly against him, gathers his strength knowing the battle for the leadership of the High Wolf Nation is at hand. [What battle? The High Wolf Nation declared him heir to the kingship. Now he has to battle for the position? Does he even want the position?]

Can he prove to the disbelievers of his race that the Thirteen Clan has indeed arisen from the ashes? [I thought it was the Blood Clan. What's the Thirteen Clan?] Can he find courage and overcome his constant doubts about his Werewolf’s animalistic instincts to lead his people in the ongoing war before he and all he cares about is destroyed? [Is that the ongoing war for the leadership or against the Utopia Agency or against the Darkness?]

ALPHA OF THE LOST CLAN is a first novel [So now it's the Lost Clan? Either distinguish between Blood, Lost and Thirteen, or stick with one of them in the query. And especially in the title. I'd go with "Lost" as it tells us a little something.] and has twenty two chapters. [Chapters don't matter. Words do.] I’d be happy to send you a partial or complete copy of the manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,



When the plot description begins, Fudo is suddenly thrown into a war that could lead to the extinction of his race. But later the enemy is said to be out to destroy humanity. Is Fudo's race humanity or werewolves?

Hard to believe no one knew who was heir to the kingship until Fudo happened along.

Is Fudo an ex-soldier in the US Army or the High Wolf Nation?

This is stuff you want us to keep straight while also following your plot:

Nations                               Races                        Clans             Organizations

USA                                     Humans                         Blood              Utopia Agency
High Wolf                           werewolves                  Thirteen           High Wolf Council
Supernatural World        malevolent entities        Lost                 Chapter 22

We can't be bothered.

Why are werewolves taking responsibility for defeating an entity set on destroying humanity? Why isn't humanity chipping in? They have better weapons.

Focus on Fudo and his goal. If you had to tell us his main goal, would it be finding others like him or defeating the Darkness? I can't tell if the Darkness is one obstacle blocking his path to finding others of his kind, or if fighting the Darkness is the main storyline.

Possible organization:

1. Setup: Who is the main character, what's the situation, what does MC want?
2. Plot: What's MC's plan? What keeps him from succeeding?
3. Wrapup: What happens if MC fails? Is there a Plan B? What's the new threat?


Unknown said...

Eep! Werewolves and Darkness and Korlach, oh my!

Author, help me help you. In a query there is meant to be a logical progression of ideas that build upon one another, creating, in essence, the story highlights. Right now I'm so entirely confused, I can't figure out where to begin.

Where I suggest YOU begin is with the CENTRAL conflict. What is most important to Fido? What will Fido do in order to obtain/protect that important thing? What will happen if Fido fails/succeeds?

And, yes, I think Fido is a better name for your werewolf. Fudo sounds like the next weird character to be introduced on Yo Gabba Gabba....IMHO.

Good luck.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah... never rename anything in a query. As EE said, we can't be bothered. Bear in mind that the agent is flipping through a stack of 100 queries, one of which is yours, and you quite literally have one minute to tell her about your story.

In one minute, she's not going to have time to suss out what you mean. She's going to be skimming. So do yourself and her a favor.

Tell us what challeng Fujo faces.

Tell us what he needs to do to overcome it.

Tell us what's at stake if he fails.

Keep it simple.

Mister Furkles said...

Two things:

Fudo sounds too much like Fido. A werewolf should have a scary name. Not Fido, Rover, or Snookums.

"experimentation purposes" 'Experimentation' is a noun. 'Experimental' is an adjective. Scrutinize every word in your query. If an agent sees this error she is likely to stop reading and go to the next query.

Anonymous said...

Hello there,
I am the one who wrote the query letter before yours. Obviously, I am in no position to give you tips to make your query better.
Yet, I feel compelled to say that you need to back off on all of the names. I did not know who belonged to which faction and what side they were on. I am qualified to recognize this now because I did the same damn thing.
I noticed that this is a query for your first novel (as is mine).
The point of this site is to be ruthlessly honest, but I really just wanted to insert a little empathy and good will. I feel your pain, and I hope your hard work pays off!

Anonymous said...

I will agree with EE, I was utterly confused. Fudo is the last of his tribe, but clearly not the last Werewolf, and is trying to save the humans and werewolves from triple N and the Darkness? The first paragraph made me think he was the last werewolf, and then there is a council of Alpha's, so he can't have thought he was the last. I would simplify things, and cut out the ex-soldier thing. Also the name threw me. I saw Fudo Nagato and thought oh cool, a book set in Japan, and then you say St. Louis and my initial enthusiasm for a non-american based werewolf story dies. Which is fine, but maybe if you leave the full name out to start with people won't jump to these conclusions.

Good luck, for now you need to keep with one train of throught.

Tk said...

Hi author, suggest you start by trimming out all that wordiness and switch out all those passive constructions for active verbs. The plot sounds high-paced and thrilling; query should reflect that if you can. For example:

I’d like to tell you about my Urban Fantasy, ALPHA OF THE BLOOD CLAN (85,900 words).

When ex-soldier Fudo Nagato discovers a secret civilization of werewolves in St. Louis, he is suddenly thrown into a supernatural war.

The werewolves of St Louis are struggling to thwart a malevolent entity from another plane known as the Darkness. A delegation of Alphas from the Council of the High Wolf nation tell Fudo that not only is he the Alpha of the Blood Clan, which was thought to be extinct, but heir to the Kingship of his race. ...and their battle leader against the Darkness. Fudo is skeptical about his leadership abilities, and so are half the pack.

The Utopia Agency, a secret government group, captures Fudo and tosses him in their experimental lab just as the werewolves' vicious adversary breaks through to our plane. Fudo must escape and prove himself to the disbelievers of his race before he and all he cares about are destroyed.

Thank you for your time,

Ink and Pixel Club said...


I'm concerned that I've learned almost nothing about Fudo in this query and that the only concrete thing he does is arrive in St. Louis. The rest of the query is all setup and exposition for anywhere from one to three major confrontations. This suggests a character who isn't a compelling personality or someone who does interesting things, but someone who stuff happens to, which is probably not what you want for a hero who's presumably going to be fighting for the fate of the world.

If Fudo takes action beyond coming to St Louis, that needs to be in the query. He starts off looking for others of his kind, presumably other werewolves from his clan though it's not 100% clear, then he kind of disappears. How does he feel about everything he's learning at what does he do about it?