Hi everyone. I am a new member of the Query Critique group and I would love some feedback on the query for my novel, THE FALLEN PRINCESS. The novel is completed and ready to submit to agents, but I am still troubled by the query. Thanks a lot!
Since childhood, Princess Delfina has been allowed a rare privilege -- the chance to train as a painter of illuminated manuscripts in the royal workshop. But now that she is sixteen, her uncle, the ruling Khan of Karavai, has decreed she must be married by arrangement. Delfina has no desire to wed a stranger, not if it means giving up her art or her budding romance with her childhood friend, Merciano.
To prolong her freedom, Delfina agrees to serve her uncle as a spy in a foreign ruler's court. When she meets Emperor Darclor there, she is torn between her powerful attraction to him and her feelings for Merciano.
But when the Khan promises Delfina's hand to Darclor, as part of an alliance, she chooses to run away with Merciano, placing her country in jeopardy. Once Darclor captures her, she faces imprisonment, unless she can charm him into freeing her before their ship reaches Karavai. Yet, as the journey progresses, their feelings for each other slowly turn from animosity to passion. But even if Delfina can conquer Darclor's heart, will she be able to escape the Khan's vengeance, once she is back in her homeland?
THE FALLEN PRINCESS is a 120,000 word novel that blends fantasy and romance in an exotic world reminiscent of medieval Asia and the Middle East. The inspiration for this setting came from my years of travel and research, as both an archaeologist and a student of Islamic art history.
[The next para would be customized for each agent]. Thank you for your consideration.
I like this query. But it does feel a bit like a teeter-totter with Delfina going back and forth between her two love interests. While you have plenty of time for that in a 120,000 word novel, it gets a little dizzying in the short space of a query.
Is it important that we know she feels attracted to Darclor (2nd paragraph), or could it be enough to know that once her uncle tries to arrange a marriage to him, she chooses to run away with Merciano? If so you could combine like this:
To prolong her freedom, Delfina agrees to serve her uncle as a spy in a foreign ruler's court. When the Khan double crosses Delfina and promises her hand to the foreign ruler Darclor she chooses to run away with Merciano, placing her country in jeopardy.
She faces imprisonment when she is captured by Darclor, unless she can charm him into freeing her before their ship reaches Karavai. As the journey progresses, their feelings for each other slowly turn from animosity to passion. But even if Delfina can conquer Darclor's heart, escaping the Khan's vengeance may prove to be impossible.
The last sentence I changed from a question to a statement. I've seen the suggestion numerous times in this group (and on other query guide websites) not to leave the query with a question.
Best of luck.
I like the last paragraph - you are right about not having it end with a question.
Originally, I just had the first two paragaphs for the story-telling, leaving out the middle one, where she goes to the foreign ruler's court. Would it be better if I just left the middle one out? Maybe it is too confusing, especially since the foreign ruler's court is NOT Darclor's court (she meets him there at a banquet). But then I'm afraid if I leave the middle section out, the reader wont' know that she liked Darclor at first. It's kind of a complicated love story, which works fine when you have 120,00 words to tell it, but not if you have 250! I want to make it as easy to understand as possible.
Wow, I like the query and the story. I don't think there is any confusion between Merciano and Darclor, didn't get a problem with the back and forth.
I am a little confused about Merciano's location. Now he is a childhood friend which I assume (could be wrong) is in Karavai. She leaves home to be a spy in a foreign ruler' court. Now this court is so far away that she has time to try to charm Darclor into freeing her, their feelings slowly turn from animoisty to passion on the trip home. I gather it took the same amount of time for her to get to the foreign court. How did she run away with Merciano? Did he travel with her to the foreign court? And then Darclor captures her. Again where is Merciano? Did he get captured too, is he hiding behind a tree when she is captured?
This is just a question that came to mind, you sort of leave him hanging out there. Maybe a quick hint of his location, but be careful this query has a nice flow to it and I would hate for you to ruin it trying to answer the ? of Merciano.
If I were you, I would "Save As" with a new title: synopsis. This is good work, but it's too long. A query needs to set the scene and demonstrate one desire each for the protagonist and antagonist. I would keep the first 'graf, then use the beginning of the second. Then cliffhanger the idea that Darclor may open her up to a whole set of new ideas.
As you do that, are there any small details you could add which show us Delfina's personality? Or provide a taste of what life is like among the parchment scrolls and art?
If so, you can eliminate the telling in your bio graf: "exotic world...medieval...Middle East" because you would have already shown it instead. But keep the part about years of travel and research, arch. and Islamic art history!
I, too, felt it read a little like a synopsis, but it did keep my interest.
By including Delfina's wish to conquer Darclor's heart, it makes the reader wonder what happened to her feelings for Merciano. So maybe leaving it more as a cliffhanger like Sara suggests, is a good idea.
I never heard the advice of having one desire for the protagonist and one for the antagonist. I'll have to remember that!
Your story sounds enticing! Be careful with the extra wordage when describing genre. It's totally up to you, but I'd say romantic fantasy or just fantasy. Some agents don't like the bartendar-like mixtures! Although, some may...it's your call.
You can mention the medieval Asia and Middle East part to your travel and research sentence somehow to show your credibility of knowledge.
Overall, you're off to a terrific start! Look forward to see what you do with the other's tips!