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Public Critique: THE EDGE OF OBLIVION

Hey all!  I have another query eager for your feedback.  Perhaps this will become a regular feature?  I have one scheduled for next week as well.  If you have the time, please give it a read and offer any advice or constructive criticism you may have.  If you're interested in having a query, synopsis, or excerpt posted on Lit Rambles for critique, check out my contribute page.

THE EDGE OF OBLIVION
(query)
YA Fantasy
By Tim Fletcher

My 60,000 word Young Adult Fantasy, THE EDGE OF OBLIVION, is the first in a series of adventures that follow Paul, a reformed juvenile delinquent, on a mission to save a secret magical town.

On the run from his probation officer, Paul and his disabled friend Billy accept a strange invitation to escape to a magical paradise. For years, outcast children have been invited to Splendor by a clairvoyant raven named Livingston. Here in this secret town, unwanted kids discover the magic that has always lain dormant inside them. For any kid who has ever wanted a second chance, Splendor is a perfect refuge, a place where the very thing that made them outsiders, now makes them strangely powerful.

But Paul’s presence ignites a raging battle. Once a simple garden slug, the Duke has tapped into the magic of Splendor to conjure a horrific new form. As he consumes his enemies, he acquires their magic. Each day his power grows. Now, as commander of the mutant army of Oblivion, he tears apart the city in a search for the singular source of all magic, the essence that keeps Splendor and her citizens alive.

Paul’s allies? There’s a brainy kid who can calculate anything, such as the split second that lightning bolt will strike, or the precise path of a falling leaf. There’s a little girl whose laugher is not only contagious, but for those without the anecdote, fatal. And there’s a bully whose words can kill – literally. Paul’s mentor is Livingston, a one-winged, half-blind raven who sees the future, yet dies a little when he tries to warn others. Everyone in Splendor has a unique magical talent – everyone but Paul. Livingston assures Paul that he was recruited to Splendor for a reason, and that he alone can lead the others to save the city. But how? Paul has no magic – or does he?

Paul must discover the awesome power - and the terrible curse - of his own hidden magic, before leading a band of misfit kids into battle against an army of wonderfully weird and grotesque monsters.

My background is in the entertainment industry. I have edited horror films and produced cartoons for Hanna-Barbara, the studio famous for Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones. Today I write advertising copy and design marketing campaigns for Microsoft. Each of the three of the novels I have planned in the series explores themes of self-discovery and hope for those who don't feel they belong. I think you'll find that the flawed characters and universal themes in the story reflect my background in persuading people to believe in something greater than themselves, which very often is the true version of who they are.

I’m happy to send you any number of pages,

Tim Fletcher

8 comments:

  1. I too, am working on my query, so I'd like to say up front that by no means am I trying to come across as a query expert. ;)

    With that said, I am wondering if there is a way to shorten the fourth paragraph a little? I realize how easy it is to say that as I am not you (who knows exactly what is important to divulge in a query and what is not), but I'm thinking a shorter summary of the allies would make it tighter and actually grab the agent more.

    Good luck, sounds like an interesting premise!

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  2. I'm no expert, but have lots of experience writing queries.

    Here's my thoughts. First paragraph needs to be moved to the end. You want to capture the agent's attention with your story, not the factual details.

    Overall the query uses way too many words (think 250 max - including your bio). Don't worry about the background info in your query. All the agent wants to know is the basic story line. Who is the protaganist, what do they want, what stands in their way. Just enough to entice.

    After the 1st sentence in the 1st paragraph, I think you can get rid of all that. Something like this:

    On the run from his probation officer, Paul accepts an invitation to a magical paradise, Splendor, where unwanted kids discover the magic inside them.

    Paul is assured that he was recruited to Splendor for a reason, and that he alone can lead the others to save the city from the commander of the mutant army of Oblivion. But how? Paul has no magic – or does he?

    Paul must discover the awesome power - and the terrible curse - of his own hidden magic, before leading a band of misfit kids into battle against an army of wonderfully weird and grotesque monsters.

    Something like that - you know your story better than anyone. Keep it short and directed.

    Your last paragraph is interesting, and I hate to say this, but an agent might not care. It almost seems as if you're trying too hard. Let your work speak for itself. Move your 1st paragraph to the end and end with Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Good luck!

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  3. I have some comments but am super busy today. I'll post my comments tomorrow when I have more time. It sounds like an interesting story.

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  4. Hi, Tim. *waves*

    This sounds like a fun story. I think you're pushing the optimum word count, though, and running into rambling territory with your fourth paragraph. Honestly, I would cut the whole thing. That all seems to be extraneous information that is better left to be discovered while reading the ms itself.

    I like the brevity in paragraph 5, which makes the main conflict clear. But then the bio paragraph (#6) goes a little overboard. I would cut everything from "Each of the three..." to the end of that paragraph. Again, it's just a little too rambly for my taste.

    Best of luck with this! You've obviously worked hard on creating a fun piece for children.

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  5. Hi Tim,

    I think your story sounds interesting and fresh and stands a great chance with a good query.

    I'm no expert either, but I agree with everything that lodjohhnson suggested. It makes for a more concise, intriguing query. And remember, you don't want to give too much info at once because 1. Agents want you to get to the point and 2. You want to divulge just enough to get the agent to request more.

    Good Luck!

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  6. Tim, I think your story sounds really interesting. Having a juvenile delinquent main character and disabled friend are unique and it's good you start out with that. Perhaps add Paul's age. I see it in most queries.

    I agree with the others that this is too long. I'd recommend deleting the first paragraph and fourth paragraph like others have recommended. You can put the title and word count more at the end.

    (Age) Paul, a reformed juvenile delinquent, is on a mission to save a secret magical town.

    On the run from his probation officer, Paul and his disabled friend Billy accept a strange invitation to escape to a magical paradise where unwanted kids discover the very thing that made them outsiders, now makes them strangely powerful.

    Paul is assured that he was recruited to Splendor for a reason. He alone can lead the others to save the city from the commander of the mutant army of Oblivion who wants to destroy the source of Splendor's magic that keeps the city and her residents alive. But unlike everyone else, Paul has no magic – or does he?

    Paul must discover the awesome power - and the terrible curse - of his own hidden magic, to lead a band of misfit kids into battle against an army of wonderfully weird and grotesque monsters.

    I'd cut out most of the last paragraph except for the experience in the entertainment industry.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.

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  7. In the fourth paragraph you need the word 'a' before lightning bolt, and you mean 'antidote' (cure) not 'anecdote' (short story).

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is great, thanks everyone!

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