Monday, March 25, 2013

Become an Agent #6

Title: Dot Reaper
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 81,000

DOT REAPER is an 81,000 word YA fantasy that combines aspects of Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) and X-Men. It is set in Richmond, VA and a fictitious island in the Bermuda triangle. The complete manuscript and a short synopsis are available upon request.


Fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega became a god and a demon overnight. Prophesied to abolish magic by one faction of her people, and protect it by another, she’s cast into the middle of a campaign that’s ripping her world and her family apart. She doesn’t care much about the world, but family is all she has left.
Torn from her home in Virginia, Max treks across the sea to an island dominated by power and deception. As armies of magicians gather and take sides on the island, Max tries her hardest to shield her family from the chaos and violence of civil war. But she fails, and the seeds of discord poison the people she’s fighting for, pitting them against each other, and against her.
When a mentor burns the Dot Reaper into Max’s flesh—chaining her to magic’s creators and marking her as their successor—she gains the power to tip the scales of battle either way. Caught between her love for magic and the darkness woven into the very fabric of it, Max must ally herself with one side and fight against friends and siblings to survive.
DOT REAPER is a stand alone work with series potential. Currently, I am a finalist in the Win a Teen Beta Reader contest hosted by Thinking to Inking blogger Lauren Monahan. I was also a finalist in a local radio station’s writing contest that received over five hundred entries. Lastly, I am an honorable mention in Darci Cole’s 100 Flash Fiction contest.

18 comments:

  1. It's a bit wonky, I know. My luck has been trampled by a herd of wild chupacabras. Also, ignore the double pasted last paragraph...like I said, bad luck. Hope you enjoy. :)

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  2. I know this is a personal preference between agents, but I'd prefer to see the first paragraph moved to the bottom. Start with the story.

    I really like your premise, but I think the execution of the stakes is what's lacking here. Max initially wants nothing but to protect her family from war, but then at the very end of the query you say she has to fight against them. I know it has to do with the magic, but could you give us a little more specifics about the choice she has to make? How does the magic change her outlook, and why would her family be on the wrong side of it? Everything else is good, imho, except that last paragraph outlining her personal battle.

    Good luck! I want to vote yes, but because I don't have a clear idea of what she actually wants to accomplish, my vote is No.

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  3. Gosh, what is wrong with my formatting?!?! Let me try fix this. Gere. I'm so sorry!

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    1. That was a Grrr. Not a gere. My iPad likes autocorrecting my frustrations.

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    2. Are you sure it's not a Gere? Looks like a gere. Possibly it escaped its leash and ran away?! Ah well.
      *still laughing*

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  4. No, mainly because this sort of story is not really my thing. The first sentence, "Fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega became a god and a demon overnight," made me think that she ACTUALLY became a god and a demon (there is a lot of that in YA Fantasy lately), but I think she just is being treated like that because of the prophesy, right? I wonder is keeping her family safe is her primary motivation, or if any more selfish motives are there too, which might make her seem more human. The query is pretty good, just a little tweaking. I also like it when a query starts with the story.

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  5. Yes. Excellent first paragraph. One way to make this *really* pop is to give the reader one of Max’s personality traits. Is she frightened, bites her nails, loves french fries, hates dogs. Give the reader something to relate to.

    CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called
    And critiques at UnicornBell

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  6. No. This was very close for me, but I think what stopped me voting yes was the first paragraph. The god and demon part threw me off. I took it literally.

    Also the dot reaper part seemed to pop out of nowhere, and I wasn't sure of its significance. Can that be worked in to the first paragraph somehow? This is a strong query and only needs a little tinkering.

    I like that the thing she wants (saving her family/friends) is the thing that she ends up unable to keep from happening.

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  7. No. This was a tough one for me, but I was just more interested in two others. I was intrigued with the story, but I couldn't get over how the protagonist didn't care much for the world. If you want to demonstrate that family is all she has left, I would do it without stating she doesn't care if everyone else in the world dies, which is the idea I got.

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  8. I'm afraid this one's a no for me.

    When you mention the real world setting in the opening paragraph, you set up me up for a completely different type of story.

    The next point: After the mention of Virginia (real-world set-up) jumping right into the premise of gods and demons really threw me out. Why are gods and demons living in Virginia?

    And as the story description progresses, I'm thinking this doesn't have to take place in the real world at all. It's better suited for a fictious one. But then, that's based off the query letter.

    The conflict isn't crystal clear. I do like the opening twist that one side prophesied one thing and the other side of her family prophesied the opposite. But the rest of the description melts into a puddle of generic-ness. Which side does she initially live with? Which side does she care about most? What's the inciting event that throws her into the middle of the turmoil? What exactly is that turmoil? What's at stake - for everyone else? She tries to shield her family. How? From which side? Did they go to the island with her? Why? Why are they in need of shielding?

    What is the Dot Reaper? It's the title of the story, too, so we need some explanation.

    Max's motivations aren't very straightforward in the query. What does she want? What are her goals? She doesn't sound very pro-active, except for the little bit about shielding her relatives.

    It needs some focus, thought, and rewriting. I'm sure you'll get there. =)

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  9. No, but it was almost a yes, I had to change it because I found another option that was a bit more clear, so perhaps you can tighten it up a little. But I like that it's laid out simply enough to understand, something that I think is very important when it comes to fantasy, and although this isn't a genre I'm typically interested in, I found myself intrigued by your storyline.

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  10. Yes.

    Let me dispense with the bad first. Do not start your query with "DOT REAPER is an 81,000 word YA fantasy..." That's the administrivia that belongs at the end. Move that, and the new opening sentence, "Fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega became a god and a demon overnight" is great.

    There are some confusing points that you should clear up to help solidify it. She leaves her home in Virginia (ostensibly where her family is) and journeys to the island, where she tries to shield her family. Wait...aren't they back at home?

    You probably want to explain what the Dot Reaper is. And, does her mentor force it on her? (I'd be pissed if someone burned something on my skin.) Or does she want it?

    Two last things:

    1. This may be one man's opinion, but blogger Chuck Sambuchino says YA should be no more than 70,000 words. Take it for what it's worth.
    2. While it's good to cite accolades, who is Darci Cole? If she's not as well known as J.K. Rowling, leave her out. Just kidding...sort of. Said another way, unless she's a known quantity, then the agent probably will assume she's your best friend. Or even your pseudonym.

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  11. Thanks for the advice and critiques everyone. My query is looking a lot better for it.

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  12. Fifteen-year-old Maxine Protega became a god and a demon overnight. Prophesied to abolish magic by one faction of her people, and protect it by another, she’s cast into the middle of a campaign that’s ripping her world and her family apart.

    Torn from her home in Virginia, Max treks across the sea to an island dominated by power and deception. As armies of magicians gather and take sides, Max tries her hardest to shield her family from the chaos and violence spilling over into the States. But she fails, and the seeds of discord poison the people she’s fighting for, pitting them against each other, and against her.

    When a mentor forces Max to accept the Dot Reaper—a brand that chains her to magic’s creators and marks her as their successor—she gains the power to tip the scales of battle either way. When a faction of her family marches against her, Max is caught between her love for magic and the darkness woven into the very fabric of it. Max must ally herself with one side and face the consequences: the extinction of her race, or a war that will decimate her family.

    DOT REAPER is an 81,000 word dark YA fantasy that combines aspects of Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices) and X-Men. It is set in Richmond, VA and a fictitious island in the Bermuda triangle. The complete manuscript and a short synopsis are available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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    Replies
    1. I like this. It sets out the stakes nicely and gives a good sense of conflict. My only confusion, and I'm not even entirely sure it NEEDS to be cleared up in a query, but when you refer to "her family" what are you referring to? Her parents? Brothers, sisters? An extended family of ancestors and stuff? Also the fact that she needs to shield them from the conflict makes me think they don't share her magical powers? I really like that second to last paragraph about the Dot Reaper - really cool concept and I want to know who the creators of magic are!!

      Mine is post #15 - added my rewrite there if you want to take a look :-)

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  13. The second query definitely flows better and is more clear. I guess I'm still wondering if she is a normal 15 year old with a normal family, but somehow gets wrapped up in a magical world? I love the battle between darkness and light going on. I think "a war that will decimate her family" could be a bit more clear, especially since the choice is the extinction of her race. I get the feeling that decimate could be exchanged for a word that would shed some light on that. Cool premise!

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