Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Aureole. This is a world where love exists – where magic flows in human blood, and Gods walk the earth.

I'm sorry but when I see Aureole, I think areola. This is not the effect you're going for (I hope). When you are world building and naming things, please remember that your audience speaks and reads this work in English. Try not to name things in a way that evokes words that mean something entirely different unless you intend us to think that.

Rain, Huldah, Grishild and Amaya were born into this world, each with a different path to walk.

Well ok, but is anyone born any other way? Don't state the obvious. Get to the substance of the story. What happens?

Rain, a secluded priestess, unwittingly kills a man after chaneling a dream bred by communion with the Gods.

What? If I can't understand what you mean, it's a form rejection. If you'd sent this to me, I'd have stopped reading right here.

Although she is destined for a tragic end, her brief life sets in motion a string of events which may ultimately lead to the destruction of her world.

This is too general to be of much use in figuring out What Happens?
Also, the first clause does not have a connection to the sentence that follows.

Huldah, a deprived child prodigy, and Grishild, a disabled girl loved by a lesser-God, live their lives worlds apart, yet both are intimately connected to the deceased priestess. While their lives unfold, the end of Aureole draws nearer. Brought together late in life by Amaya, a young woman who bears a striking resemblance to Rain, Grishild and Huldah struggle to save her from the Gods before time runs out. But does Amaya represent repetition, or revolution?

I'm sorry, but this literally makes no sense to me. It will really help if you use short declarative sentences and focus on one character or two. You have four. You also have all four mentioned in one sentence with a pronoun. That means I have NO idea to whom the pronoun refers. I can guess I suppose, but a query letter isn't supposed to be me guessing at the plot.

Aureole is a generational work of speculative fiction which stands complete at 85,000 words, and draws heavily from mythology and gender theory. It is my first complete work of fiction, though I did write a well-received play for a local theater festival. Thank you for your consideration.

What is a generational work? I've never heard the term.
If this draws heavily from mythology, why don't I recognize any of the story?

I don't care how literary your work is. A query letter needs to tell me WHO the book is about; WHAT happens to them; the CHOICES they have to make; and, the CONSEQUENCES of the decision.


This is a form rejection.


Peter Cooper said...

"Gods" isn't a proper-noun, it should be "gods" (ie no capital).

Anonymous said...

I was forcibly reminded of "areola" as well. It basically destroyed the tone. Made me giggle like a school boy.

You tend to use a lot of general descriptions without revealing anything specific about the story. It obscures the plot. It's also harder for us to relate to the characters on a personal level since we don;t find out anything specific about them.

I have never heard of the term "generational" either. This sounds like a fantasy novel. Call it what it is. If you want to be snooty and highbrow you can say it's "magical realism". woooh.

none said...

I did however recognise the reference to Mark Medoff's play, "Children of a Lesser God" (later filmed). It might be better to be original.

As for aureole--ditto what Janet said.

Unknown said...

Aureole is a real word actually. It's that gold around a saint's head that represents God's power or something. Alternately, it's that weird halo thing the sun has when you see it through fog.

Not that I'm disagreeing with you. I thought areola, too.

K said...

Thanks so much, this is mine. Yeah, I agree with everything you said. I'll work on revisions.

I was using generational to denote a novel that takes places over generations (like The Stone Diaries, only not as good because I am not Carol Shields).

I will also change the name of the world. Much as I love nipples, they really have no place here. I've never heard of Mark Medoff, or his play, either.

Again, thank you very much for posting this. It's exactly what I needed.

Anonymous said...

The award for evocative typo: "unwittingly kills a man after chaneling a dream".

This conjures up images of death by Chanel fashions.

Matt said...

It sounds interesting to me. It's harder to write a 250 word query than a 100,000 word novel so I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt. Just focus on the main character, like the shark said, and I'm sure you'll have an interesting query.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

"Saga" is the word usually used for the generational tag you're meaning. Or you could just say "Spanning X generations ..."

"Speculative fiction" as the genre should be fine as I assume you'll be querying agents who handle sf/f.

As for the rest, well, it sounds like you've got the idea for where to start with the revision. I bet it will be much closer to the mark!

talpianna said...

I think we need to know more about the world--although not necessarily in the query letter. If it is full of love and magic, why are most of the protagonists miserable? It might be better not to start out by establishing the world as sounding like a paradise.

Incidentally, I DID'T think areola; but Aureole did make me think "heavenly."

WV: bantsoc--British dieting group

Amy Kinzer said...

Aureole. - I thought the same thing, glad I'm not the only one.

Kira - you're a good sport. Best of luck with your novel.

Lumpy Dog said...

I'm just glad I wasn't the only one who read the first sentence and thought "Nipple Planet!"

Of course, after my nightly whiskey, that sounds like something I'd want to read.

 Patrick Lee said...

The sequel is set on the hidden world of Celitoris...

I kid, I kid... and I'm an ass...

Best of luck!