Monday, December 14, 2015

Feedback Request

Hello, I wrote to you a little while ago about the query for eradicated. I was wondering if the version below is better and if you like the ending or the alternate ending more. If you have time please take a look.

Warrior in training, Maya Richardson has a secret: she can time travel. It’s not as exciting as it sounds. In fact, it sucks. She can’t control it, she always returns to when and where she started, it’s proceeded [preceded] by debilitating vomiting and followed by a migraine from hell. To make matters worse, the commune she lives in believes that anyone with powers is Gliesian, a crime punishable by death. And Gliesians—the alien race that has conquered the earth—believe that a human with powers is a threat that must be eradicated.

To stay alive, Maya knows she must learn to control and hide her power. But before she can, her mother is abducted. Maya knows the answers to her mother’s disappearance lies within the glittering walls of the Gliesian city, Tajel, but the commune elders refuse to let Maya leave the compound to rescue her mom. [The answer lies or the answers lie, but not the answers lies. Although I don't think of a disappearance as something that has an answer. Why not just say her mother is abducted and taken to Tajel?] With the help of an unlikely ally, Maya escapes from the commune only to be taken hostage by the Gliesian government. Imprisoned with other humans, she discovers that her mom isn’t the only person to end up missing; humans have been disappearing in droves from cities all over the planet. The lucky ones are killed and the unlucky ones are used as human batteries to power the cities-- a fate worse than death. [If humans are needed to power the cities, why do the Gliesians kill the "lucky ones"?]

Maya has to control her powers to save her mom and herself. But she’s going to need help. Her only option is to travel back in time and convince the commune to fight the Gliesian government, but time traveling will land her back on commune grounds and expose her secret. If the commune elders know her secret, saving her mom will be the least of her worries. [When you say she's going to need help, I assume you mean help learning to control her powers. Instead you gloss over the fact that she can't control them and move on to getting help in the past from the commune.]

Alternate ending
To save her mom and herself, Maya is going to need help. She has to travel back in time and convince the commune elders that it’s time for what they’ve been preparing her for: war. But to do so Maya must use her powers, which have been temperamental at best. Will Maya master her powers in time to save her mom? And if she does can she convince the elders that it’s time to fight and she isn’t the enemy?


I'm not clear on this "always ends up when and where she started" aspect of time travel. If she time travels from her prison in Tajel, I would expect her to return to Tajel, not to the commune. It's not clear whether she always time travels to the commune or always ends up there after her time travel trip is over.

Is her plan to time travel back to a time before she was born, or a time when she is alive in the commune, in which case there would be two of her?

The Gliesians control cities all over the planet, and Maya needs to convince her puny commune to fight the Gliesian government? That's like the single town of Bedwas, Wales taking on the Axis powers in WWII. Maybe we should focus on saving mom and let someone else worry about the Gliesian threat.

I'm not sure why she needs to suck at controlling her powers in the book, but I don't see that as an important point to bring up in the query. It just makes me wonder, if she can't control the time and place she ends up when she time travels, how can she accomplish anything unless she gets lucky? If she needs to go back a year and instead goes back 2000 years, what's she gonna do? What exactly do you mean by she can't control her power? Can she control the date to which she travels? Can she control the place to which she travels? Can she control when she travels, or does it just happen randomly? You don't want me wondering all this, and you don't have room to answer it all, so maybe you should just let us think she can control her time travel.

I'm not thrilled with either ending. Perhaps:

To save her mom and herself, Maya will have to travel back in time and convince the commune elders that they must go to war . . . and that she isn’t the enemy.


InkAndPixelClub said...

I have a better sense of your story now, so this is an improvement over the previous draft.

I feel like there's too much crammed into paragraph one. Lots of information, nothing happening, and not a lot of context. How did Maya figure out that she could time travel? How long as she been able to do it? Does she do it at all willingly or does she try to avoid it? If she's been time traveling - willingly or not - how has she kept her abilities from being noticed on an insular commune?

Get rid of "warrior-in-training," as Maya's warrior training never comes up again.

I'm not sure about the list of drawbacks. Puking and migraines aren't fun, but I think most people would put up with them for a chance to travel in time. Always returning to where and when she started sounds like a good thing. If she really can't control her time traveling abilities and gets thrown to random places and times without warning, isn't it better to have a failsafe that puts her back where she started than to have no way of getting back except jumping to the right time and place by chance?

Since you've dropped the human/alien interbreeding from the query, it's not clear why the community would think Maya is a Gliesian. Even if that detail were still in the query, it's not clear that Gliesians or human-Gliesian hybrids have powers.

How does Maya know what Gliesians do to humans with powers? If she doesn't, dump this line and stick to what Maya knows when your story starts.

Consider putting Maya having to learn to control and hide her powers in paragraph one and starting paragraph two with Mom's disappearance.

Do people normally get to leave the compound? Was Maya's mom outside of the compound when she was abducted?

How does Maya know Tajel is the place to find out what happened to Mom?

I feel like I had a better sense of the structure of the world in the previous draft. In that one, Gliesians seemed to be a peaceful, friendly species coexisting with a welcoming humankind, but something sinister was likely going on behind the scenes. Here there's no contrast. The Gliesians have already conquered the world, so why are they apparently being secretive about their human harvesting operations?

Is the commune fighting the Gliesians now and Maya has to go back in time to convince them to start fighting earlier? If so, why will this change things? If the commune isn't currently fighting the Gliesians, why not?

One issue I have with Maya's difficulty with mastering her time traveling ability is that I don't know what Maya learning how to time travel properly will look like. Is she going to be jumping around in time until she gets the hang of targeting and controlling her power, doing mental exercises to help her focus, taking a Pepto Bismol, or something else? It also seems pretty obvious that she will master time travel to the point where she can at least go back to the commune in the year she wants and try to convince the humans not to sit out the alien invasion, so all the focus on whether she can master time travel seems pointless. If the issue is that she could be sent back to her own time at any moment, giving her an unknown amount of time to convince the commune elders to act and no guarantee that she'll be able to successfully go back to that point in time again, then you might have something.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have more details about what she can and can't do with her powers than know that they make her puke and give her migraines, unless you show me that vomit and headaches make a difference to the course of the story. Does anyone know about her powers or has she been excessively lucky in developing them at an age and in a place when she could realize the implications and keep them secret?

Some of the phrasing is odd. EE pointed out pairing 'answers' with 'abduction'. You also say she's taken hostage, which implies her captors want someone else to do something if they want to keep her safe, which doesn't sound like what's actually happening.

Do the elders not care that one of the members of their commune has gone missing? Is there evidence mom has been abducted or is she just missing?

If Maya's in prison, how does she know what's been happening? Rumors spread by the other prisoners? If so, state that. If she's got proof, tell us how she got it.

Between this and the other query, I'm now confused as to what earth society looks like. What's the ratio of humans to Gliesians? Are most people content to have alien overlords or is there constant fighting? You don't need to give a history of the world in the query, but we do need some context as to what parts of history Maya is trying to alter, aka what she's up against. Knowing she's going to try to convince her commune's elders to fight the aliens helps, but I don't know if we're looking at them fighting an established government or trying to drum up anti-alien support to friendly-seeming visitors from another world.

alaskaRavenclaw said...

Your first sentence should not have a comma in it.

Mister Furkles said...


1. You must trim your query and then include other major plot point. This is a simplistic trimming to show how much can be trimmed:

Maya can time-travel and keeps that a secret. In her commune, anyone with powers is considered Gliesian, which is punishable by death. And Gliesians—aliens who conquered Earth—kill any humans with powers.

Maya's mom is abducted by the aliens and taken to Tajel. Maya beseeches the elders to let her go there and they refuse. Though expressly forbidden, she goes only to be imprisoned by the Gliesians. In prison, she learns that many humans are enslaved by the aliens.

She uses her powers to escape. Then to rescue her mom, she goes back to when humans were powerful enough to oppose the Gleisians. But if the elders learn her secret, they will execute her instead.

The above is about half as many words as in your last query. If you do something like it you will have space for more of the story.

2. There seems to be a larger problem. The main conflict is not clear. Is the main plot Maya rescuing her mother. Or is that setup to the beginning of a world war? You need to show what happens after Maya goes back in time and up to the climax of this this first novel. If it is about the beginning of the war between humans and Gleisians, don't include much about her mother's abduction and rescue.

AA said...

I agree that the main conflict isn't clear.

I don't like the fact that Maya goes back in time to the commune when the commune might find out she has magical powers and execute her. Who are the good guys here? Just Maya and her mom? I'm still not convinced the commune can actually do anything. I'm feeling it would be in her best interest to get ahold of some sort of government authority figure.