Slush Lord’s Query Critique — 9/27/13

This is a revised version of last week’s query:

Dear Slush Lord, 

Anya’s magic lets her manipulate the inanimate like no one else. Sweet-talking ancient manors into giving up their masters’ secrets and charming locks open without lifting a finger are all in a day’s work for her. She is Faceless, the greatest criminal in the city-state of Dhest. It beats the other options: popping out a brood of brats or working at the School, the city’s supreme religious authority that taught Anya magic and lifted her out of poverty but deems women inferior.

When a mysterious employer offers Anya her weight in gold to assassinate the nobleman Jhoran, she can’t resist. It’s merely a tough job until Anya uncovers his horrific heritage, a race of ancient soul manipulators. He seeks to plunge the city of Dhest into a devastating civil war, all to destroy the School and descendents of those who wiped out his people.

The hunter becomes the prey after Anya botches the assassination of Jhoran, but he isn’t the only predator. Scrambling to save herself and the job, Anya uncovers the School’s dark past and darker history with Jhoran’s race. They turn on her, and she’s left with two choices: Abandon her home and those who betrayed her, or fight against a monstrous enemy she’s not certain she can beat.

Ensoulment is a 103,000 word hard fantasy with series potential. Benjamin Lubet is an amateur martial artist and part-time student who’s changed majors too many times.

 

The Critique

Anya’s magic lets her manipulate the inanimate like no one else. Sweet-talking ancient manors into giving up their masters’ secrets and charming locks open without lifting a finger are all in a day’s work for her. She is Faceless, the greatest criminal in the city-state of Dhest. It beats the other options: popping out a brood of brats or working at the School, the city’s supreme religious authority that taught Anya magic and lifted her out of poverty but deems women inferior.

 

This is an excellent opening! My only quibble is with the last four words of the last sentence. “But deems women inferior” feels like it could spread out through the paragraph. It seems tacked on.

 

When a mysterious employer offers Anya her weight in gold to assassinate the nobleman Jhoran, she can’t resist. It’s merely a tough job until Anya uncovers his horrific heritage, a race of ancient soul manipulators. He seeks to plunge the city of Dhest into a devastating civil war, all to destroy the School and descendents of those who wiped out his people.

 

(Bolding mine)

This paragraph has greatly improved since last week. We now see why Jhoran wants to destroy the school, which was a major point of confusion in the first draft. We also learn more about Jhoran’s race, which orients us to both the story and the man himself. I have to say this paragraph is almost perfect, except for the misspelling of descendants

 

The hunter becomes the prey after Anya botches the assassination of Jhoran, but he isn’t the only predator. Scrambling to save herself and the job, Anya uncovers the School’s dark past and darker history with Jhoran’s race. They turn on her, and she’s left with two choices: Abandon her home and those who betrayed her, or fight against a monstrous enemy she’s not certain she can beat.

 

Greatly improved over last week! Action words “scrambling” and “botches” in the proper present tense immediately pull us into the action while painting great imagery. The last sentence no longer feels like a rhetorical question. Last week her choice was to “Abandon her home and those she loves…” which I think most people wouldn’t do, but with the replacement of “…loves” with “…those who betrayed her” we have a clear choice, both answers offering up danger. If she flees, her betrayers aren’t just going to let her go, so either way, she’s in for the fight of her life!

 

Ensoulment is a 103,000 word hard fantasy with series potential. Benjamin Lubet is an amateur martial artist and part-time student who’s changed majors too many times.

 

Last week we didn’t have bio, but despite its size, we have something. Not having any publishing credentials isn’t a strike against you, but it’s important to note something, anything about you. And with what we have here, it’s entertaining. When I read it I kind of chuckled and thought, “Yeah, me too!”

 

In the end, this is a query that would earn a partial request from me. Great job, and thanks for letting us critique the revision!

— Slush Lord

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