Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Queries, Queries Everywhere!

I recently finished the third and (fingers crossed) final revision of my current WIP, formerly referred to as THE DESCENT OF CHRIS CHAPPELL. But after a couple of contests and talking to my awesome CPs, I've come to the conclusion that my old query emphasized the wrong things. So I revised it--hopefully changing the emphasis, and now I would like, you my dear readers, to provide your awesome and invaluable feedback.

So what exactly about the old query didn't I like? Well the big ones were the entire second paragraph, which I thought put too much emphasis on Para School--which is actually only a small part of my novel, and the fact it didn't even mention Marilla, my secondary viewpoint character. The other thing is I felt my query needed to make it more clear earlier that this is not your average hero comes of age story. It's a villain origin story.

Recently a CP of mine suggested a new name, so I'm trying something new. Definitely let me know what you think of the new title as compared to the old and you know, if you have any title suggestions, feel free to suggest them. :)

New Query:

MIND TRICK, a contemporary fantasy complete at 81,000 words, is a villain origin story. It will appeal to fans of sympathetic villains like the Phantom of the Opera and Marvel’s Loki.

Chris Chappell is doomed to life as a Norm--a normal 17-year-old, that is--until his wizard father develops an amulet that grants even the most un-magical of people wizard powers. After years of being the family pariah and a second-class citizen in Para society, Chris has the power he always wanted and his father is finally proud of him.

But the amulet awakens a dark side in Chris—a desperate, ruthless need to keep his powers, no matter the consequences. When his best friend Jeremy discovers the illegal source of Chris’s abilities, Chris breaks Para Law and uses magic to alter Jeremy’s memory. No big deal… until the next time it happens. Before Chris knows it, he’s using mind control on not only Jeremy, but his siblings and even his own mother.

Chris’s girlfriend Marilla, a brilliant wizard who refuses to use her magical powers, stands as the only person between Chris and his darkest nature. Despite numerous warnings from multiples sources, she only sees the good in Chris. But when Jeremy has a magically-induced psychotic break, Marilla must break her own familial expectations and use magic to stop her boyfriend. But when fighting magic with magic, the strongest always wins. And Chris’s amulet makes him the most powerful wizard to ever live.

MIND TRICK is told from the viewpoints of Chris and Marilla. It is a standalone with series potential.

So...what do you guys think? Questions, comments, feelings or concerns?


  1. I really like this. I think you need a few tweaks in that last paragraph, b/c you've got double "but"s. I wonder if you could put a paragraph break right before the sentence about Jeremy's psychotic break. Then you can cut the but from the beginning of that sentence, and it will still highlight the transition from support to opposition.

    1. Ah yes, transitions. Never easy. I shall fix that!

  2. Well, I will say, it totally sounds like something I WANT TO READ. You hooked me with your comp titles, so nicely done there. The opening paragraph is good, strong and I don't think you need to work on it.

    The second paragraph is good, but maybe consider the timeline of the first two sentences. The first sentence had no grounding from the first paragraph. Also, if Jeremy is Chris' best friend, why is it a bad thing that he knows the secret? You may want to consider answering that question. I wouldn't expect my best friend, who presumably has accepted me as a norm, to rat me out for finding a way to join the para community.

    Also, Marilla comes out of no where for me as well, another grounding issue. Why is she the only thing standing in his way? For me, we're back to the best friend question. We don't know why she wont use her powers, so we don't know why she would stop Chris.

    You have to be careful bogging your query down, obviously, but these are the questions that came to my mind when reading. I think a little rearranging might fix some of these issues.

    It is a good query, but I think it would be stronger if some of these "Well, by why?" questions were answered.

    I hope that helps!


    2. I totally get the Marilla thing, but on the Jeremy thing, you don't think "illegal source" is enough? I don't know about you, but if I discover my best friend is doing something illegal, I'm going to try to stop them.

    3. You know... maybe, maybe not. I know, I'm a criminal, lol! I guess it depends on what my BBF was doing with the power. If he's just making his dad proud, not doing anything else terrible, I might not. Now, if he's using the powers to do something bad, yeah, I might step in.

      Something else for you to consider! :D

    4. That makes sense. Yeah, it's hard to explain in a query, but basically the very existence of the amulet is like dangerous. It has HUGE implications for the world they live in. Because Norm's are outside of Para Law and can basically do whatever they want...which is sort of what leads Chris to doing stuff outside of the law and becoming evil evil evil.

      But it's hard to make that clear in the query. Maybe I can change it to "dangerous source." Because you don't want your friends doing something dangerous, right?

    5. Yeah, definitely give me a reason why his best friend would take this away from him. But it should be a good reason.

  3. Here's my 2 cents:

    "But the amulet awakens a dark side in Chris—a desperate, ruthless need to keep his powers, no matter the consequences."

    I'd suggest taking out "-a desperate, ruthless need to keep his powers" since that's telling and you show us that in the next sentences.


    "Chris’s girlfriend Marilla, a brilliant wizard who refuses to use her magical powers, stands as the only person between Chris and his darkest nature. Despite numerous warnings from multiples sources, she only sees the good in Chris."

    My last suggestion would be just a little rearranging here so we don't have to mess with too many commas.

    Maybe something like:

    Chris’s girlfriend Marilla stands as the only person between Chris and his darkest nature. She's a brilliant wizard who refuses to use her magical powers and despite numerous warnings from multiples sources, she only sees the good in Chris.


    I love this story by the way! I'd TOTALLY pick this up and read it and read it and read it and... well, I think you get the picture. :)

  4. This is great, and I think it really works in this angle. I really loved the old angle though, but I can understand how rocky it could be: I, for one, really connected with the main character in the old query and almost WANTED him to become evil and keep his powers because I wanted him to keep his powers so much! But this is a new angle and I'll critique this one:

    Just some nitpicks:

    "breaks Para Law and uses magic to alter Jeremy’s memory" cut to "breaks Law to alter Jeremy’s memory" because it's more powerful, cut to the essentials, and doesn't leave us lost as to what the sentence means.

    I also don't know what this means: "But when Jeremy has a magically-induced psychotic break," and so I can't understand, truly, Marilla's motivations to change (also, I don't know what her "familial expectations" are).

    Frankly, I think this is an astounding new angle on your query! Either one (the one I originally saw) are great; whichever one works best in terms of audience reaction, use that one, because I don't know how you did it, but you make 2 awesome and different queries of the same book.

    I think the first paragraph (the genre part) can be put to the end but that's just my preference. I'd also put a little more on REALLY getting us into Chris's mind; make us FEEL how angsty and frustrated he is like you did in the first version. Make us LOVE his evilness!

    Great job :) This is fantastic.

  5. Hey Mandy, I just wanted to jump in here and give my thoughts.

    A villain origin story is a different concept for me to wrap my brain around, but I get that Chris desperately wants power to fit in and please his father.

    In the first paragraph, can you show Chris executing some action to go along with his receiving the gift of the powerful amulet? In the whole query, that's the main question I have. What does Chris do?

    Every step through any query I wonder certain things about the main character.

    What choices does Chris have? What does he do? What are the consequences?

    Paragraphs two and three really work for me, but really grab me by the throat in the first paragraph. That said, your story sounds exciting and engaging. Good luck!


  6. I found this blog post on queries quite insightful, and I appreciate the tips and advice you've shared here. It's a topic that can be a bit overwhelming, so your guidance is much appreciated!