Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Feedback Request



Dear Evilness,

You may remember a previous draft of this query, which appeared on this blog many moons ago in a more embryonic form. It's grown up more since then, and now needs its zits and strange lumps looked at with a savage editorial eye.


Wayward Collins knows the way to survive in Victorian London’s cutthroat world of ghosts and werebeasts is to stick to the shadows and not give a damn about anyone.

Wayward has no innate magic, which ranks him as a third-rate citizen in the eyes of the magickals. He lives a nomadic existence, staying neutral, and trying to teach himself magic. It’s not much, but if he can avoid trouble, Wayward will be happy. Until one night his attempts at magic backfire, killing an innocent girl. Haunted by her death and hunted by the police, Wayward becomes dogsbody to the arrogant and ruthless wizard Lord Cadogan in exchange for his protection. However, serving Cadogan involves more than folding handkerchiefs and brewing nightshade. When one of his footmen is brutally killed, Cadogan decides to solve the murder himself and drags Wayward along with him.

Instead of passing the time by spitting in Cadogan’s tea and snooping through his grimoires, Wayward becomes a reluctant accomplice in a murder investigation that stirs up nothing but trouble. The police inspector in charge badgers Wayward at every turn, certain he knows more than he’s letting on. Even if Wayward’s past crime remains a secret, he could end up accused of a murder he didn’t commit. And there are whispers of strange new magic brewing in the city, which is somehow connected to the murder—and maybe to Wayward himself.

Wayward must find a way to escape Cadogan, the police, and the magical forces at work, either by making a wild break for it and becoming a fugitive, or by staying put and seeing if he can twist his servitude to his advantage. Maybe the road to a quiet life doesn’t lead away from danger but straight towards it.

CHALK CIRCLES is a historical fantasy of 83,000 words with series potential, and will appeal to fans of Jim Butcher, Catherine Webb, and Benedict Jacka. [personalised agent blurb]. I am the Consultant Editor at Creative Authors Ltd, as well as a freelance ghostwriter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

6 comments:

Evil Editor said...

This sounds better. I would make a few minor adjustments:

Wayward Collins wants a quiet life. He knows the way to survive in Victorian London’s cutthroat world of ghosts and werebeasts is to stick to the shadows and not give a damn about anyone. He lives a nomadic existence, staying neutral, and trying to teach himself magic.

One night Wayward's attempts at magic backfire, killing an innocent girl. Haunted by her death and hunted by the police, he becomes dogsbody to the arrogant and ruthless wizard Lord Cadogan in exchange for his protection. However, serving Cadogan involves more than folding handkerchiefs and brewing nightshade. When one of his footmen is brutally killed, Cadogan decides to hunt down the murderer, and drags Wayward along with him.

The police inspector investigating the footman's murder badgers Wayward at every turn, certain he knows more than he’s letting on. Even if Wayward’s own crime remains a secret, he could end up accused of a murder he didn’t commit. And there are whispers of strange new magic brewing in the city, which is somehow connected to the murder—and maybe to Wayward himself.

Wayward must escape Cadogan, the police, and the magical forces at work, either by becoming a fugitive, or by staying put and twisting his servitude to his advantage. Is it possible the road to a quiet life leads not away from danger, but straight towards it?

CHALK CIRCLES is a historical fantasy of 83,000 words with series potential, and will appeal to fans of Jim Butcher, Catherine Webb, and Benedict Jacka. [personalised agent blurb]. I am the Consultant Editor at Creative Authors Ltd, as well as a freelance ghostwriter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Is there a reason the inspector thinks Wayward knows something about the footman's murder?

AA said...

It is better.

I seem to be having the same problem I had earlier. I need a reason to root for the protagonist. The idea that he could discover the murderer of the footman isn't enough. Nor is the fact that he could be attached to some vague "new" form of magic, especially since I have no idea what kind of magic they would consider old.

I still find it odd that the wizard would want this man in his service. It seems contrived. If they were related and the wizard was just trying to keep his non-magical relative out of trouble by keeping a very close eye on him, at least that would make some sort of sense.

InkAndPixelClub said...

If it's true or it wouldn't break your story to add it in, maybe you could add something about the horrible treatment a non-magickal might receive in the courts or prison, completely out of proportion to an accidental killing. That could make Wayward's decision to run from the law more sympathetic. The way you have it, it's more "I feel terrible about what happened, but not bad enough to feel like I should suffer any consequences."

Anonymous said...

A line that jarred me a bit was "trying to teach himself magic," since I got the impression that either you're a magickal or you're not in his world. But it looks very lively and appealing to me.

SB said...

This looks a lot better to me, but two things stuck out. One: Jim Butcher and Benedict Jacka write urban fantasy, or at least that's what they're best known for, not historical. Saying this as a Butcher fan, maybe you could add a bit of how your book is like theirs? (I'm no expert on how to use comp titles, though. That's just my thought because I like those two authors but I don't think historical fantasy when I think of them.)

Also, this sentence: "Maybe the road to a quiet life doesn’t lead away from danger but straight towards it." How does the road lead to both a quiet life and danger? It seems like you're saying the road leads to two opposite places. It's a metaphor that confuses me and makes me start thinking about how that would logically work and diverts me from thinking about the plot of your book, which doesn't seem like the strongest note to end on.

And I agree with Ink's comment above.

AS Olivier said...

Author here - thanks for your comments everyone!
-Wayward is prickly and rather nasty, so it's hard making him sound sympathetic in just a few words, lol!
-Other people have expressed confusion over the bit about strange new magic, so I shall adjust that.
-SB: I'm using Jim Butcher as a comp because of the "magic people running around a city and finding stuff out" similarities, but also because a lot of the other comments I've had on this letter and the first 250 words have said how it reminds them of the Dresden Files. As I understand it, comp titles don't have to be direct matches in genre but can be similar in tone as well - but am I wrong on that?