Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1262 would like feedback on the version posted below:

Dear EE,

Allie shouldn’t have watched the strange man sneaking around in the woods—because now, he’s watching her.

Thirteen-year-old Allie is the queen of imaginary adventures, so even her best friend, Brandon, doubts her latest story of seeing a killer dumping a body in the woods. But when Allie and Brandon explore the woods the next day, they discover a body at the bottom of a cliff. Before they can find a way down to investigate it, the body disappears.

But Allie can’t go to the police. No body means no crime. Since no one has reported a missing person in her small town—and with her history of crazy stories—no one would believe her. [How do the police know about her history of crazy stories? Does she regularly go to the police with false reports of crimes?] [Even if they do know, I doubt the police would refuse to investigate a report of a corpse in the woods. They've got something better to do in this small town?] Then Allie finds out her brother has been lying about not going into that area of the woods. 

[Allie: Was that you I saw dumping a corpse in the woods?

Brother: No.

Allie: I happen to know you're lying.]

Now Allie is determined to solve the mystery of the missing body, and hopefully prove her brother isn’t involved. [Has anyone suggested that he's involved? She saw the killer dump the body, right? She should know if it was her brother.] 

Her adventure takes a dangerous turn when Allie sees a mysterious figure in the bushes outside her window and when someone breaks into her room while she's gone. She suspects the killer saw her spying on him in the woods that night and he has hunted her down. Now Allie must figure out what happened to the body and who the killer really is—before he makes her disappear. [Why does she have to figure out what happened to the body?]

SILHOUETTE is my upper middle grade mystery complete at 34,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


She's still worried that there's a killer trying to make her disappear, and she's still telling no one. This seems pretty similar to the original version. Not that we expected you to rewrite the book, but being the queen of imaginary adventures isn't enough to keep her quiet with her life on the line. The fact that no one believed her previous five stories didn't keep her from telling a sixth, so why should it keep her from telling the truth?


Dottie D said...

Thanks, EE. I see I still have a way to go to try to explain all the reasons she's not going to her parents or the police. It's more than just that no one will believe her but I'll try to work on how to fit it all in. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If your reasoning/excuses as to why she's not getting adult help are overly long and complicated, that may be an indication you need to rethink them. It also needs to be more no one does believe her than no one will believe her. Otherwise, we're back in TSTL territory.

The 'because now he's watching her' line only makes sense if she's certain the snooper in the bushes is him. But you say she only suspects, so it seems off. It might be better to just start with the second paragraph.

Why does she suspect her brother might be involved. If he was in the right place at possibly the right time, why isn't she grilling him to find out if he saw something useful?

The phrase "Her adventure takes a dangerous turn when" doesn't seem to add anything, and it slows down your pace. Try leaving it off.

Hope this helps.

Mister Furkles said...

You told us how it starts and the risks she has but you told us nothing about what she does. Okay, she told her friend. That's not going to carry a story. What does she do to solve the mystery? The real story is about what the MC does not how it starts.

You may as well remove the brother from the query because (1) he does nothing and (2) nothing happens to him.

It is okay to reveal the villain in the query even though he might not be revealed until the end of the book.

(Hey, EE, what if a robot does want to participate?)

InkAndPixelClub said...

Dump the first sentence. Most editors and agents I've seen commenting online dislike log lines, so unless you're specifically querying one who says otherwise, it's not helping you.

Sentence one of paragraph two is running long. I'd start with Allie seeing the body being dumped and explain why no one believes her in th second sentence.

I'm not sure best buddy Brandon needs to be in the query, since he disappears after paragraph two.

I'd clarify that the kids go away to find a rope or a ladder and come back to find the body gone. (Or that just Allie leaves and comes back to find the body gone, if you dump Brandon.) As you describe it, it sounds like they're looking around for a safe path down the cliff when the body vanishes before their eyes.

End paragraph three with something like "Then Allie finds out her brother has been sneaking around in the woods and lying about it." What you have is kind of awkwardly phrased.

I'm not sure the "she has to prove her brother isn't the killer" angle is working. Allie is the only person (aside from mysteriously absent Brandon) who even knows a crime has been committed. If she doesn't think her brother is a killer, then there's no need to prove he isn't one. If there was a murder investigation where he was the prime suspect, then Allie would have ample reason to want to prove he's innocent. As it stands, Allie has enough on her hands trying to prove that a crime was even committed.

As with the previous draft, it's not clear why Allie keeps silent when she presumably has physical proof that someone broke into her room. It's also not clear what skills Allie has that will hopefully enable her to solve the mystery and stay alive. She's currently just a kid who happens to stumble onto a crime in progress. What makes her capable of possibly outwitting a killer?

Anonymous said...

Author, what if Allie told the police about the body and they did a perfunctory investigation that turned up no results? Would it work in your story? How about if Allie was so mad about the non-results of the police investigation that she decided she wouldn't trust any more grownups and decided to nail the killer herself?

SB said...

Just a thought, but instead of trying to come up with a complex reason why she doesn't inform adults, why don't you just have her inform adults and see where the story can go from there? If I'm reading a book and the MC doesn't do something totally obvious that they should do and the author puts forth some complex reason why they don't, I'm probably still not going to buy it and will not only think the character is TSTL but I'd think poorly of the author for trying to fob off an excuse on us when they just needed to make a different story choice.