Saturday, November 28, 2015

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1257 would like feedback on the following revision:

Thank you for all the suggestions. I have done my best to incorporate them in the revision. A point I would like to reiterate-Indy is not the main character. Eldritch and Indy occupy equal space in the novel, sort of an alternating point of view, as it were. Indy takes up more space in the query because Eldritch's plot is relatively straightforward. Indy, on the other hand has a more convoluted series of events in her story. So more query space. [One could argue that the query is not the best place to focus on the more convoluted parts of the book, but we'll see.]

Eldritch Ramsay is not going to let his grandson die.

He's going to give in and let the Empire, the purveyor of civilization as the world knows it, the greatest and most unselfish endeavour in the history of man, burn. [You could just say ...and let the Empire burn. I'm guessing most Empires have been considered great and unselfish purveyors and endeavors, at least until the wrong people took charge. I'm more interested in what you mean by "give in" than in descriptions of the Empire.] 

Let the heroes and patriots save it if they can.

On the other side stands Indy Ramsay, his twenty-year-old granddaughter. [Is the "other side" the side that is going to let Eldritch's grandson die?] The best of the aforementioned patriots, in heart if not in proven ability. She who was to have been the future of the Reverend Council-the elite corps that runs the Aet-El Empire, the Ever Empire. [We don't need two different names for the Empire in the query. You could name it above when you first mention it, in which case you could just call it the Empire here.] She who was inexplicably overlooked in favour of Eldritch. ["Inexplicably" meaning no explanation was given? Or she didn't find the explanation acceptable?]

And now, the Council is under siege by an unknown enemy. The parliament stands destroyed in an earthquake, the annual market has been burnt to cinders, and Indy is caught in the middle of it all. [This annual market seems out of place on your list. It's like saying: The U.S. Senate is under siege, the White House stands destroyed, and the Iowa State Fair has been burnt to cinders.] [For that matter, an earthquake isn't something the Empire can avoid, no matter which side Indy is on. Maybe we should just go with more about this siege by an unknown enemy.]

Targeted for death along with the Brothers, the Council enforcers, she will fight, and prove herself worthy of the Empire and the validation that was denied her.

But as secrets long buried are brought to light, Indy finds herself asking whether she is willing to sacrifice all, including Eldritch, including her family, to ensure the Empire's survival.

As for Eldritch, he has already made that choice.


How can they fight an enemy if they don't know who it is? (I assume the enemy is a group of traitors within their ranks, rather than an attacking army that they don't recognize.)

It's almost all setup, with little story. And it's pretty vague. Who is going to kill Eldritch's grandson if he doesn't give in, and what does he have to do (or not do) to prevent this?

Who has targeted Indy and the Brothers for death? The unknown enemy?

It seems like the fate of the Empire rests with Eldritch Ramsay and his two grandchildren, but why? Indy apparently has been denied a position of power. What positions do Eldritch and the grandson hold? Who are they?


Anonymous said...

This is very similar to the revision at Face-Lift 1286.

All this tells me about your story is there are two characters, one is the grandparent of the other, they are on opposite sides in some way, and there's an empire that's threatened somehow. It's all vague.

What you need:
Who your MC is <- You might want to try picking one and writing the query with just them, and then try the same exercise with the other one.

What your MC wants <- I'm guessing Eldritch wants to save his grandson from something you need to specify, and Indy wants some kind of political position that details about might help

What's standing in your MC's way <- no idea on Eldritch, Indy is apparently being overlooked by the the people who can give her what she wants.

What are they going to do about it <- Eldritch, again no idea. Indy, also no idea. We need to know what their plans are to get what they want.

Why isn't that going to work <- This needs to be specified.

What's plan B <- This also needs to be specified.

You have an empire that's threatened, but I have no real connection between it and your characters. Does it really need to be in the query?

InkAndPixelClub said...

You know how a loud noise, like a door slamming or a car alarm, becomes less startling if you hear it repeatedly? That's what's happening with your single sentence paragraphs. With three of them right at the beginning no a few more later in the query, they're losing impact. (Ignore this if your formatting has been messed up somewhere between you sending the query and EE posting it.)

Eldritch's plot may be straightforward in the novel, but it still has too many holes in the query. Here's what I understand: At some point prior to now, Eldritch was chosen to serve on the Reverend Council instead of his granddaughter, who should have been given the honor for some reason. Then some unknown people threaten to kill Eldritch's grandson. To save his grandson, Eldritch must do something that will lead to the downfall of the Empire. He's either about to do or or already has done it by the end of the query. That's a lot of unknowns (why Indy should have been picked for the Reverend Council, who's threatenng to kill the grandson, what Eldritch has to do, and whether or not he does it) for the simpler of the two main character plotlines. I'd try giving Eldritch a full first paragraph that answers a few of these questions.

Saying that Indy is one of the patriots who will be left to try and save the Empire right at the start of paragraph 2 would make a better connection to what came before it than "On the other side stands..."

There isn't a clear connection between the Council being besieged by an unknown enemy, the parliament being destroyed in an earthquake, and the annual market burning down. Are they all somehow the work of the unknown enemy? Is this the same unknown enemy who has threatened to kill Eldritch's grandson? Or is the Empire just having very bad luck? I suspect it's the former, but your reader won't know if you don't explain.

I'm also not sure how Indy is "caught in the middle of it all." Is she in physical proximity to all of these events or is she somehow more involved in them than the average citizen of the Empire?

I have no clue why Indy is being targeted for death. Eldritch seems like a more likely candidate, since leaving him alive after he does whatever he does to betray the Empire could put the bad guys at risk of being unmasked. I don't know that you need the Brothers if they're not showing up until near the end of the query.

The biggest question you'll need to answer is the last one EE brings up: why does the entire fate of the Empire seem to depend on Eldritch and Indy? Eldritch I can understand, and will probably understand better once you explain what the bad guys need him to do for them. But why is it up to Indy to save the Empire? You given her something to prove, but nothing else that makes me think she's the right or only person for the job.

AA said...

I agree with InkandPixel and anonymous that this is pretty vague.

The writing is awkward. It reads clunky.
You are trying to make this sound epic without enough specifics to back it up.

"She who was to have been the future of the Reverend Council-the elite corps that runs the Aet-El Empire, the Ever Empire." This doesn't tell us anything because we don't know what these councils and empires are. And "She who was to have been" is needlessly complicated.

"The best of the aforementioned patriots, in heart if not in proven ability," almost reads like parody. Are you writing footnotes for nineteenth century literature?

All this stuff about endeavors and empires, heroes and patriots, elite corps and long buried secrets sounds good, but there's no meat in it.

Query_Writer said...


"Why does the entire fate of the Empire seem to depend on Eldritch?"
Because he's in a position of power, somewhat. But elaborating on "what do the bad guys need him to do" would need a lot of They need him to look the other way while they loot the treasury of all the fluffy kitten statues. It's the giving up part, that the character has had the will sapped out of him, that I wanted to emphasize. Now, I realize that you're all asking for the specific thing that he has to do and I need to think of a way to put that across without sacrificing the hook.

"I have no clue why Indy is being targeted for death." Neither does she. Events are happening to her and she still has to figure out why.

"But why is it up to Indy to save the Empire? but nothing else that makes me think she's the right or only person for the job"
Does she have to be the right or the only person for the job? Isn't it intriguing enough that she is compelled to fight her heart out for the Empire because she's a patriot. And then by the mechanics of the story she finds herself in a position where she has to make the decision whether to support Empire or Eldritch.

I guess since I know the story, I'm making connections in my head while reading my own query which are completely lost on the reader.

I'll start again.

Thanks for listening.

InkAndPixelClub said...

Hi Query Writer,

Before I say anything else, I realize that writing a query and getting it critiqued by Internet strangers Is not necessarily a ton of fun, so good on you for keeping at it.

I'm not getting the drained of his will aspect of Eldritch that you're talking about. Saying that he's going to give in hints at it a little, but the first sentence makes him seem extremely decisive, even if he's being forced to choose one of two bad options. Is his inner strength sapped because he loves his grandson and can't bear the thought of anything happening to him? Or have the bad guys been trying a variety of tactics to get him to do what they need him to do and the threat to his grandson is the straw that breaks the camel's back?

Indy doesn't have to start out as the best person to save the Empire or the only person who can save the Empire. We could be here for weeks if we tried to list all the books that feature heroes who are given tasks that they are really not qualified to take on at first. But we do need to know why Indy is in a position to save the Empire. What skills does she have that other people don't? What information does she have access to that others are missing? I think clarifying what Indy is going to be doing once bad things start happening to the Empire will help. All I know now is that she's going to fight and try to prove herself worthy of the Empire. But I'm not sure if she'll be looking for clues to who's behind the attacks on the Empire or engaging in combat with the bad guys or something else. I'm not even sure if she already knows that Eldritch has betrayed or is going to betray the Empire.

If the big question of the story is whether Indy will sacrifice her family to save the Empire or let the Empire fall to protect her family, then that needs to be a bigger part of the query. You'll probably need to at least suggest what kind of secrets are being uncovered (and by who) and the potential consequences of either choice. As is, the majority of the query is focused on whether the Empire will be saved from the bad guys or not, which is likely why you're getting so many questions about how Indy and Eldritch figure into this plot. If it's more about whether the Empire should be saved and what the price for doing that might be, you need more about that.

Anonymous said...

"she's the right or only person for the job"
I believe what this is saying is that we have no idea why Indy needs to be a main character and not Susie, the girl next door.
The agent needs to see the logic of the story. The reason(s) the MC(s) is/are the MC(s) is part of that. They need to know there's a real, valid reason Indy is being targeted for death, even if Indy doesn't know, and even if you wouldn't want to put it on the cover blurb.

"by the mechanics of the story she finds herself in a position where she has to make the decision whether to support Empire or Eldritch"
this is a partial answer, but it doesn't say how/why her support makes a difference.

At this point, I'd suggest not worrying about your hook. Worry about conveying what your story is about. When you've got that down, you can go back and figure out if that's really the hook you want, or if you can find a better one that more conveys epic fantasy and not literary/commercial/modern day fiction.

I look forward to a revision.