Thursday, August 7, 2014

Become an Agent #7

Title: Artie of the Dodecagon
Genre: Adult GLBT dark-fantasy Re-tell
Word Count: 72,000


Told from multiple points of view, at 72,000-words and set in Scotland and Australia , this dark-fantasy is a modern re-tell of the King Arthur legend. At times violent, this contemporary take on an old tale would be best surmised as sex, drugs and magic-out-of-control. Cautionary warning, in the blink of an eye, you could be transported anywhere and to any time in history; dark-magic has no boundaries.

When 21st century Australian crime boss, and sorceress, Morgause discovers the child, Artie, she ordered to be murdered twenty-four years ago, was saved by Merlin, she instructs her son Medruit to seduce Artie’s best friend Col. If a human falls for a sorcerer, he/she will become a tool to command. Through Col , Morgause seizes the opportunity to permanently rid herself of Artie and Merlin.

Their only hope; Merlin, who now works for the Salvos, an invisible dragon named Zilant who’s not convinced this group of Knights is worth saving, and an old Australian Aboriginal Wiseman who possesses the power to call the Rainbow Serpent from its slumber. Together, this unlikely trio will either destroy Morgause and Medruit; or each other.


“It is not enough…” Morgause said to her son Medruit, “…to have done nothing truly wicked in your life.” She knelt beside the unconscious body and watched the woman’s breast heave slightly. “These corporeal's must also understand what truly wicked is, if only to betterrecognise…” she withdrew her dagger from its bejewelled casing, “…and avoid it.”

With her victim sedated by magic and mind-altering drugs, Morgause used her dagger to pop the buttons on the woman’s coat. “To be truly protected…” she said as her dagger’s blade next unfurled the knit-one, purl-two jumper, “…that is to say, for a corporeal to protect him or herself…” the blade of Morgause’ dagger cut through the flesh and ribcage as though gliding through water, “…they must know which nightmares to fear and which to forget.”

Steam from a collapsed lung and slashed arteries escaped into the frigid air. “Well! A poor excuse for a washer-woman she may have been, yet her heart is most impressive,” said Morgause as her sticky, blood-stained fingers passed the still throbbing muscle to Medruit. Having taken what she needed, Morgause left the woman’s twitching body to her death-hound to devour.

As the last spasms pulsed, Medruit quickly plunged his hand and the heart deep into the smouldering clumps of wood set atop the altar. The ritual required a still beating heart and the freeze of the night was working against them. He thrust the heart deeper, and then held it there until he felt it, one final throb.


  1. No.

    The query doesn't start off with a hook, and instead tells me about the book.

  2. I think you used surmised inaccurately. Surmised is "suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it." Perhaps you meant summed up as. The line that starts When 21st century... is so long and convoluted that I have a hard time following. The query quickly becomes character soup. There are too many names to keep straight. Even if your query is in multiple pov, you should focus on one main plot and one or two people that are the basis of the main story.
    For the 250, right off I'm confused. She's talking to her son, then she's there with a woman. It isn't until the next paragraph that it becomes clear she has a victim she's with and she's talking to her son. The son is left ungrounded here. She's talking to him but we have no sense of him. What is he doing? Standing? Kneeling beside her? Also, using two names wtih M, and both long, is confusing. I would stop reading at the second time you give dialogue because both times so far, you interrupted the dialogue in the middle of the sentence to give description. That's fine once in a while, but since it happened twice so close together, I would assume you would do this way too much for my tastes in the book.
    I think overall this would have too much purple prose for me. There is so much description of non-essential things interrupting the story to the point where I can't follow what is actually happening.

    No. (from #11)

  3. The line "When 21st century.." is so long that I had to read it multiple times to make sense of it. Also right after that we get character soup (so many names of characters we can't keep track of what's going on). I get that you have multiple views but I agree with #11 that you should focus on one or two people. Because their were so many names I had no idea what the true plot of your book was and as I kept trying to re-read it I just became more confused. We don't need to know every character in your book in the query. It just needs to make us want to read more.


  4. In your query, I think you mean 'summed up' or 'described', not 'surmised'. Also suggest trimming out the cliché 'blink of an eye'. The second paragraph opens with a run-on sentence and I suggest breaking this into more digestible bits. The final paragraph wasn't clear to me; I think re-punctuating will help, but too many names are thrown in that don't yet have meaning for the reader. I think if you review the punctuation and cut back the longer sentences, it will draw the reader in more.

    No - #9

  5. Whoa, that first sentence in the second paragraph is way too long. Chop that sucker off somewhere! Same thing goes for sentence one in paragraph three. Who's the MC? Or is there more than one? I think the query needs a lot of work.

    250: I'm not diggin' the names here. I mean they're good names and all, but they're almost the same length and both start with M. It's confusing the reader's eye, to opening with characters having similar looking names. I have to stop reading to make sure I know who's saying and doing what. If this were mine, I'd change one of those names. I also think this needs a good edit.

    Best of luck!

    No. (non-contestant)

  6. I like modern retellings, but this one didn't grab my interest. Why does Artie matter? Why does Morgause want him dead in this version of the story? For a retelling to be strong, you have to give it a fresh spin, so the old Arthur-Morgana/Morgause rivalries won't carry you (or your readers) through. The reasons are probably there, but they don't come through like they need to in the query. I like adding the Australian angle, and I like the idea of a retelling, but make sure you make the conflict and stakes really clear and unique. No for me.

  7. Hi, it's a no from this audience member. I'd cut the entire first paragraph of the query. You can add that it's a retelling of Arthur at the end. As for the 250, it needs to be cleaner and has too much flowery language for my taste. Also, as an FYI, you have a misplaced apostrophe in corporeal's and the ellipses are not being used correctly. You should insert commas in a lot of those places instead.

  8. To give you an idea of my own “agent” so you can understand why I am commenting the way I am:

    If it is YA, I am hoping that it is intelligent YA. One of the best series that falls in the category for me is Harry Potter. Twilight and Divergent, to me, are trite and treat the reader as less intelligent than they are. The concepts, ideas, and language can be more complex. That is what I am looking for in all areas. BTW 30% of YA books right now are read by women in their 30s. Just sayin’.

    NA? It better be intelligent and deal in some type of social commentary. Think of The Catcher in The Rye. This NA romance trend right now, to me, is appalling. Are scratching your head asking why The Catcher in The Rye? It still sells 50,000 copies per year, that’s why. The Lovely Bones fits in here for me as well, although it tracked well with females aged 13 - 20, which would make it more YA than NA.

    Adult, This better deal with complex issues regardless of the genre, and doesn’t need a happy ending. Authors here? Stephen King, John Grisham, etc.

    MG? I read To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, and The Hobbit in the middle grande range. That would be the level of work I am looking for here.

    Agent #12:


    I’m not a query expert, but it would read better for me if the first paragraph was the last paragraph in this case. I understand that is minor and some agents want to see that info upfront. There is also a large amour of characters mentioned and it throws me off a bit trying to tie all the connections together from a few brief paragraphs.

    The first 250 has a lot of telling and I’m not sure what is going on. I can see the tension that you are trying to build, I just don’t feel it yet.

    My 2 cents.

  9. Not sure how I managed to miss this one yesterday. Sorry, I thought I'd posted.

    The opening paragraph of the query doesn't work for me at all. It would be better at the end of the query, after you've told me what the book is about. But the last sentence still doesn't need to be there. Don't tell me how I'll feel reading the book - tell me about the book.

    In the second paragraph, you name five characters in one sentence. That's WAY too many. Five characters, honestly, is probably too much for the entire query. Cut it down to the people you can't tell the story without. Use titles instead of names in some places. Introduce them slowly. Why does a human falling for a sorcerer become a tool? And I don't understand the third paragraph at all. Give one paragraph clearly from Morgause's POV, and one clearly from someone else's. It would read a lot more smoothly.

    I know a lot of agents shy away from gore in the opening. I find all of the ellipses more problematic. Try to break up her speech with the action some other way. Line breaks would actually work better for me. But you may also want to add a paragraph at the beginning to set the scene and tell the reader a little more about what's going on. We're thrust into the middle of their human sacrifice without any information about who these people are or what they're doing or why.

    I'm sorry, but this is a no.

  10. I'm not fond of the length of the first paragraph of the query. After that, I really like the query. I saw that someone suggested you move it to the end, but maybe you should just trim it down to Multiple POV, dark retelling of the Arthur legend.

    In fact, I liked the query so much, that I was really ready to get into the story. And then the first 250 weren't what I was hoping for. I think this is one of those cases where the query prepped me for one story, but by starting with such a dark scene--ostensibly a murder where the sorceress is talking magic mumbo jumbo, and I read a ton of fantasy so I know what it is when you've just thrown us to the wolves without any introductions. So, from the first 250, I can expect that you are going to throw your magic and world building at me without any explanation, a sink or swim situation, and I've read oodles of fantasy books that did that.

    Some worked.

    Some made dents in my wall, and I'm worried I'd feel the same way about yours. So I'm hesitant.

    I recommend that you start somewhere else, in a different POV. Lots of agents don't like to have a body on the first page of their fiction. I put this out there because I know I'm not the only person with the "oh, look, it's dark fantasy starting with a blood ritual on page one" reaction. It's what Miss Snark's First Victim (Authoress) refers to as the car crash.

    Why is it hard to be there? First, the antag is generally not a happy place to be. She's talking about the wilful torment and torture of people. I'm a person, and I like being at the top of the food chain. I get that the bad guy is bad, but do you really want that to be the very first glimpse of your world ? I understand if you want to start with really high stakes so you can raise them even higher, but my personal preference (that's all any of this is!) is to not start in the bad guy's head. It makes me want to take a shower. That would mean putting down your book to go shower.

    This is a no, but I think you have some really great concepts to work with here. I also think you can really make this work with some revising. Good luck! (#20)

  11. Surmise is an inaccurate word for what it is being used for. Surmise is more like "maybe possibly kind of sort of". Definite over-use of ellipses, which is off-putting and distracting.

    The query is confusing, and the first 250 words are convoluted, with a very young voice for an adult story. This reads more like flowery middle-grade third person voice. Really - I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I'm sorry, it just does read like that to me, like a third person POV middle grade high fantasy that got mislabeled. It may be just that both query and MS need more polishing.

    I'm sort of oddly disturbed by the use of "knit-one, purl-two jumper". This detail strangely stands out for me, as if I can feel the authorial voice right behind my shoulder, rather than in my own head. It's distracting, partly because everything seems to be going for florid high fantasy, and then suddenly we have something that sounds like a kid made their own dress in arts and crafts. Medieval textiles weren't THAT loosely put together. Then I have to remind myself that this is supposed to be 21st century - but the first 250 words seem to have nothing to do with the 21st century.

    There is in fact nothing that tells me why this story has to take place in the 21st century. And then there's a dragon. There is SO much information being thrown at me, and yet I'm still not seeing why I should be caring about the Hero/MC, and I can't even tell who the MC is supposed to be.

    The paragraphs are also almost exactly the same size, and yeah a lot of times visual differences can count in writing too. I really highly recommend breaking the dialogue out of their containment fields of the paragraphs, and varying the sizes of the paragraphs as much as you can.

    I can't tell what the story actually is. It says 21st century, but the style of the writing is going (like I said) for florid high fantasy. So overall it is very confusing, and I'm not sure what the story is trying to be, or who I should be caring about, or why I should care about them.

    I think a king arthur retelling for modern times could be interesting, but overall it is too confusing as to what I am supposed to be reading (sorry!).

    No. (#5)