Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1343 would like your feedback regarding the revision below:


Dear Evil Editor,

18-year-old Marla’s life on Earth is a lie. She was captured on a mission for Somret, hidden city and sanctuary against Arrental, the draconian government of her home planet Ilah. She was forced into a mind prison, to live a faux life on Earth. Her body lies in an Arrenth lab, her brain decoded to glean the secrets of Somret. A year later her friends locate her and rescue her mind and body. [Arrenth is not a good adjective for Arrental. Nepal and Portugal go with Nepalese and Portuguese because changing the al to h would make the adjectives Neph and Portugh. Hannibal, Missouri sticks with Hannibal as the adjective. Choosing a random means of forming an adjective could lead to confusion. For instance: Marla was captured by cannibals and imprisoned in a cannabis barn. This could be very bad for Marla, or very good, depending on your interpretation of "cannabis."  I recommend either Arrentali or Arrentalese. Better yet, change the place to Arrenthia, and use Arrenthian as the adjective. ]

Marla has returned to Somret, but her memories of Ilah’s metal forests and lightning-fueled cities are gone. All she wants is to belong. However, she is held responsible for that failed mission. Accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by Arrental. Without her memories, she cannot refute these claims. [You said her friends rescued her mind and body. To say they rescued her mind when her memories are gone is like saying they rescued her body when her internal organs are missing.]

A strange autopsy file sets Marla on a search for the truth of that mission. Finding it is the only way to understand why the people of Somret hate and fear her. A botched supply run, a dying messenger, and a quest to the heart of Arrental lead her to the devastating truth.

There was never a mission.

A year ago, Marla was found to have the power to travel to other worlds and peer into minds. The Council of Somret locked her in a mind prison to harness her powers and hone her into a weapon. After a spy sold information to Arrental, she was snatched and brought to an Arrenth lab until retrieved on the Council’s orders.

Marla no longer knows who the enemy is: the government that imprisoned her, or the city she calls home. If she succumbs to the Council’s manipulations, her powers could save an ambassador’s life and prevent a war, at the cost of her freedom, the safety of her friends, and perhaps her life. A web of lies tightens around Marla. She cannot fight alone, but to trust is to be betrayed. [Or is it to risk betrayal? Is she guaranteed to be betrayed if she trusts anyone?]

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction. Complete at 117,000 words, it has series potential and will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warmest regards,


Notes

The first three paragraphs set up Marla's situation, which is important, but not worthy of more space than the main story, which begins when she discovers the truth. Something like this would be enough:

Rescued by her friends, 18-year-old Marla is returned to her home city of Somret after a failed mission during which she was captured and her memories stolen. She wants only to return to her life, but accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by the Arrenthians. Without her memories, she cannot defend herself. 

Then you can get into the story, beginning: A search for the details of her mission turns up a devastating truth: there was no mission.

I don't see why Earth needs to be in the query. Actually, I don't see why the whole book can't be set either on Ilah or on Earth. Even at the speed of light it takes forever to get to other worlds, so it seems more useful to hone Marla into a weapon that can be used against Arrental than against other worlds. Marla's people are just the hidden city of Somret. For them to be conducting experiments involving Earth is like the people of Teaneck, New Jersey secretly getting involved in the lives of people on Trappist-1d. Of course it would all make perfect sense if we knew Somret's ultimate objective.

6 comments:

Mister Furkles said...

You should start with the hook, paragraph 5:

“A year ago, 18-year-old Marla was found to have the power to travel to other worlds and peer into minds. ...”

Then follow that with EE’s paragraph:

“Rescued by her friends, 18-year-old Marla is returned to her home city of Somret after...”

Change the wording some and add more intriguing details.

khazar-khum said...

Why bother with Earth at all? If her mind only effects Ilah, shouldn't she be kept there?

Tiffany Liu said...

Author here :-)

Mister Furkles: Thanks for the suggestion. That is definitely an idea worth trying! Do you have any recommendations concerning wording?

At the moment I'm attempting a new approach: writing the query from another of the main characters. From his perspective and with his first chapter as sample pages, I can avoid mentioning Earth and thus avoid confusion on this part.

As for Arrental/Arrenth, it's definitely something I'll be thinking on.

Thanks to Evil Editor and Mister Furkes!

Tiffany Liu said...

Khazar-khum,

Here's the explanation for why her mind is sent to Earth, as posted on the original facelift 1343 :-)

"Marla ~believes~ she was used in a neural decoding experiment, a process that can glimpse into her every past thought and memory. Arrental (the ‘power-hungry government) did this in order to glean the secrets of Somret. The process required the mind to be vacated from the brain, therefore her mind was sent to Earth."

The ~real~ reason is that doing this hones her powers. Like originally she's a cannonball whose mind just shoots of to wherever the fuck it pleases. It needed a bit of a nudge to go in the right direction and become controllable.

As for why Earth is important. The reason non-related to the story itself, is that it presents the question of 'what if none of us are living real lives'. The reason related to the story is...complicated and actually isn't tied in with Somret at all. It's to do with Arrental and what its King plans.

Thanks for your comment!

Chelsea P. said...

I couldn't help thinking there was a way to combine the first three paragraphs, thus keeping the twist in the middle of the query (which I quite liked), so I took a stab at it. In addition to this, I cut out a line or two farther down, to shorten things up. My first paragraph is a little messy, but I managed to get things close to 250 words without losing the set-up. Your story sounds really interesting!

18-year-old Marla’s life on Earth is a lie. Captured on a mission for Somret, hidden city and sanctuary from the draconian Arrental government, she was forced into a mind prison, to live a faux life on Earth. Her body lies in an Arrenth lab, her brain decoded to glean the secrets of Somret. With the help of her friends, she’s able to escape to her home planet, but her memories of Ilah’s metal forests and lightning-fueled cities are gone. To make matters worse, she’s being accused of sabotaging her mission and murdering a teammate.

Without her memories, she cannot refute these claims.

Along with her friends, Marla embarks on a quest to the heart of Arrental, where she learns the devastating truth: there was never a mission. A year ago, the Council of Somret discovered her ability to travel to other worlds and peer into minds, and they locked her in a mind prison to harness her powers. After a spy sold information to Arrental, she was snatched and brought to an Arrenth lab until retrieved on the Council’s orders.

Marla no longer knows who the enemy is: the government that imprisoned her or the city she calls home. If she succumbs to the Council’s manipulations, her powers could save an ambassador’s life and prevent a war, at the cost of her freedom, the safety of her friends, and perhaps her life.

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction. Complete at 117,000 words, it has series potential and will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.

Tiffany Liu said...

Chelsea P.,

Thank you so much for your kind words and your help! At the moment I am working on another approach: writing the query from the perspective of another character, which will hopefully present a more straightforward story. But your revision of my query sounds good and I agree with both you and Evil Editor: I definitely need to shorten my introductory paragraph. If the approach I'm currently considering doesn't work out, I'll certainly be taking your suggestions into consideration :-)