Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Agent's Inbox #5

Dear Ms. Testerman,

Whether Eri’s link to the creatures is a gift or a curse remains undecided. Either way, it will kill her.

Driven by a physical and emotional connection to the beasts plaguing the planet, Eri finds herself running without fear toward oncoming death. Knowing that whatever beckons from the darkness craves her flesh is not enough to stop her. The calling is too powerful. A Protector emerges from the shroud of night and beheads the oncoming beast a sword’s length away from Eri’s demise--the secret guardians exist.

After another episode of the calling draws her into the forbidden, Eri finds that she is not the only one with the link; a boy her age, Finnley, seeks the beasts too. Their secret bond forges an unexpected friendship giving Eri a way to handle the building emotional turmoil. Over time, Eri and Finnley realize they hold the innate qualifications to become one of the mysterious Protectors watching over their village, but since Eri has the unfortunate turn of luck being born a girl, she is stuck with the ability to save her people without permission to do so. Only men can be Protectors.

Eri must hide the inner chaos and follow a path she does not want while the path that has chosen her repeatedly threatens her life.

Finnley receives the opportunity Eri desires--that of becoming a Protector. He vows to teach Eri everything he learns, eventually bringing veteran Protector Grayson into the mix. Grayson’s involvement throws Eri’s life more out of whack when she develops another uncontrollable emotional pull in a direction she should not explore.

Because you’ve represented XVI and Evermore, I think you might be interested in my novel, MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING, a 67,000 word YA manuscript.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
H.R.


MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING

Going to the river alone is forbidden: especially at this hour. Knowing this clear-cut rule of our people did not stop me from stepping off the gravel path and walking deep into the vacant field. I no longer controlled my body.

Anger thrummed inside me as I drifted closer to the water. If it was even anger that forced me on this perilous course. I had never felt anger in my fingers. Whatever this was, it spiked across my synapses, pricked my nerve endings, and riveted my senses. Summoning and magnetic, I was pulled toward the unknown.

I didn’t belong here. I knew better. I should run in the opposite direction, back to our village. I could not turn away. With each step into the darkness, the foreign emotion intensified, guiding me forward. I surrendered to the aggression. I had no choice.

I heard the warning bell like everyone else. My people fled for safety into the closest shelter possible. Not me.

A few more steps and I would see the river through the trees if the waning light consented. The coursing water rushed along mirroring my heightened flow of adrenaline. The sensory overload amplified, the calling grew louder, becoming hypnotic. Driving me like a machine, steering me down a path I would not otherwise take.

I should not be here.

The bell clanged again, this time with faster frequency. I froze. Not because I knew better or because I needed to sprint home like everyone else.

7 comments:

Cassie Mae said...

I thought your premise sounded really intriguing, and after reading your first page, I wanted to keep going. But I did notice one of your sentences that sounded awkward to me... 'If it was even anger that forced me on this perilous course.' I like what you were trying to convey, but maybe it could be worded differently?

As for your query, it was good, but it seemed a bit long. It came off more like a synopsis to me, but I'm no expert...I may be completely wrong about that. :)

Sounds like you have something really good here. I like your descriptions a lot! :)

Kelley said...

I love the first sentence hook. I personally use that in my queries and I think the one you picked totally works.

I'd have to agree with Cassie Mae. It was a little too long, a little too wordy. While you want to get voice across, there's a little too much description.

The sentence 'Eri has the unfortunate turn of luck being born a girl...permission to do so' confuses me. It seems to me that not needing permission is a good thing, but I get the feeling you want it to be a bad thing.

I thought the first 250 words were very well written. I would turn the page.

Karen Akins said...

Nice hook line in the query, although I found the synopsis a little hard to follow. I'd cut it substantially and distill it to the core conflict.

As far as your first page, I really enjoyed it. I'd keep reading.

Ninja Girl said...

This concept is great. The writing had an edge to it that I really liked and an urgency. I felt like I was being pulled along with the MC, dragged by some other force. Great scene to start things off with. There were a few phrases I'd take out to make it even more immediate. In the 2nd sentence, I'd take out the phrase, "clear-cut rule of our people." I just think it reads smoother and quicker with "Knowing this didn't stop me from stepping off the gravel path and walking deep into the vacant field." Also, in the 3rd to last para, I'd take out "if the waning light consented." Again, I just think "A few more steps and I would see the river through the trees." has more immediacy. I'd also put that "Not me." as a paragraph by itself, but that's a personal preference. Whenever I read UF or paranormal, I like to see those little one liners :).

Anyway, the query I think could use a little work. Like others have said, it could be shorter/snappier, really keep the attention on the core conflict. This sentence stood out to me "Over time, Eri and Finnley realize they hold the innate qualifications to become one of the mysterious Protectors watching over their village, but since Eri has the unfortunate turn of luck being born a girl, she is stuck with the ability to save her people without permission to do so." I'd probably combine it with the next and just say, "Over time, Eri and Finnely realize they hold the innate qualifications to become one of the mysterious Protectors watching over the village. There's just one problem: Only men can be Protectors." Then just cut the next short paragraph and skip down to "Finnely receives the opportunity..." Just some suggestions, but I love the voice in the writing. If you can infuse your query with that immediacy, you'll be golden. Good job, would definitely read on.
Ninja Girl

Krista V. said...

There were a few things in the query that I didn't quite get. Most of them had to do with the world. What creatures/beasts are plaguing the planet, and is that planet Earth? What is the calling, and what does it make Eri do? You said Eri was "running without fear toward oncoming death," but I couldn't tell if this was figurative or literal. If it's figurative, you might want to define it. If literal, then what exactly is she running toward?

Also, I think you could probably shorten this. When I'm writing a query for a commercial novel, I try to sum up the plot until I hit the story's turning point. The manuscript's moving along, and then usually about a third of the way through, something happens that sends the plot veering off in an entirely new direction. That's what I call the turning point. So what's the turning point of MY PROTECTOR: THE CALLING?

(That's not a hard and fast rule for writing queries, by the way. It's just something you might try as you're tinkering with things.)

I thought the first page was stronger, more grounded, than the query, but it could probably still use a little tweaking. (Then again, aren't all first pages like that? :) ) For instance, the second paragraph felt a little overwritten to me. You could probably cut "perilous," and I wasn't sure what "spiked across my synapses" meant. Also, the last sentence in that paragraph might work better if it were active instead of passive (i.e., "Summoning and magnetic, something [you probably have a better word than "something" you could stick here] pulled me toward the unknown").

Good luck with this, H.R. We're all rooting for you!

Kali said...

There's a lot of background and not a whole lot of plot for such a long query. The important bits boil down to: 'Girl has a strange link to dangerous beasts. Finds out secret guardians exist and that she's not alone in having a link. The boy gets to be guardian, but not her.'

It makes it seem as if there's too little plot to keep 67,000 words interesting. If it were a smaller, tighter query, it would work out better.

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

Great first sentence, I agree. However, it sets up a situation where I actually want you to kill off your main character -- I want that death you promised.

Beyond that, I'm afraid this query also feels very vague to me. You talk about "creatures", and "beasts", and "Protectors", but don't ever give me a real image of any of them.

I didn't even get to the sample pages - I made my decision on the query alone.