Thursday, May 25, 2017

Feedback Request

Revision of Face-Lift 1288: The Feast of Masks, previous revision posted 5/7/17.
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In legend, dragons could accomplish anything with their magic if they possessed the right treasure.

Mercenary Tali Adilrein no longer trains to use dragon magic. However, she still recognizes that Shimmer, a girl she rescues [rescued] from kidnappers, is a powerful "dragon treasure."

Tali hires on as Shimmer's bodyguard. She thinks she'll be defending [the girl] against a corrupt mage, the kind she once might have become.

She's wrong.

An ancient dragon is working through unwitting pawns to capture Shimmer. It influences the thoughts and actions of some. Others carry artifacts enchanted to serve its will.

To defeat the dragon and protect Shimmer, Tali will need more than her skills as a mercenary. She will need her own dragon magic and Shimmer's aid--even if it destroys them both.


Notes

It feels a bit sparse, but possibly only because of the short paragraphs. "She's wrong" would be okay as a separate paragraph if it were a momentous claim, but I already inferred she was wrong when you said "She thinks..." So I'd just tack "She's wrong" on the end of the previous paragraph.

You could also combine the first two paragraphs. Which then might sound better if it went ...no longer uses dragon magic, but she still...

If it's dragons that need dragon treasures to become all-powerful, why does Tali think she'll be defending Shimmer from a mage rather than a dragon?

"Her skills as a mercenary" is pretty vague. We already know she's a mercenary. What mercenary skills are we talking about? Fighting skills? Tracking skills? Camouflage?

Apparently you didn't like Ston3h3ng3's suggestion that you open with To fight (or defeat) a dragon, Tali will have to become a dragon. It would be a good 1-sentence paragraph to draw us in.

6 comments:

St0n3h3ng3 said...

"the kind she once might have become." This is the sort of thing you want to avoid. Complicated syntax in the query letter is not a good sign. It may be justified in the ms at some point, but generally clearer is better. Remember this is a business letter.

I can see why she would be afraid to become corrupted, but there is no proof she would have been. I don't see that it's worth giving up powerful dragon magic.

"If it's dragons that need dragon treasures to become all-powerful, why does Tali think she'll be defending Shimmer from a mage rather than a dragon?"
I'm wondering this too. In fact, I've wondered this before. There never seems to be an adequate explanation. Either you can explain this simply, or you have a logic problem in your ms. Try to explain it simply. If you can't, look at your story again.


Query writer said...

A few minor changes:

Although the last dragon on record was killed long ago, the magic they once used is sought after by many. After all, legends say it could accomplish anything if the wielder possessed the right treasure.

Mercenary Tali Adilrein no longer trains to use dragon magic. She still recognizes that Shimmer, a girl she rescued from kidnappers, is a powerful "dragon treasure." Tali hires on as Shimmer's bodyguard. She thinks she'll be defending the girl against a corrupt mage, the kind she once might have become. She's wrong.

An ancient dragon is working through unwitting pawns to capture Shimmer. It influences the thoughts and actions of some. Others carry artifacts enchanted to serve its will.

To defeat the dragon and protect Shimmer, Tali will need more than her skill with a sword or the enhanced strength and speed that linger from her magical training. Tali will need her own dragon magic and Shimmer's aid--even if it destroys them both.


Questions:
Do I need to explain where the dragon's been all this time?

I was holding out the "must become a dragon" line to use for agents/editors who haven't said they hate loglines. About half the ones I'm looking at have said that, so if possible I wanted something that would work without for them. Does the line work with this version? (I'm thinking probably not....)

And, of course, does this version work or should I pull out my heavy duty drafting board again?

Thank again (and in advance to any commenters)

Claudia_Witter said...

Although the last dragon on record was killed long ago, the magic they once used is sought after by many. After all, legends say it (I think the "it" here could be "they") could accomplish anything if the wielder possessed the right treasure.

I'm not sure if you need the "on record." I know it's a nitpick and it's probably meant to show that this dragon they're fighting wasn't on record so no one knew it was around, but it took me about three reads to think that. The first two times, I it just felt like it slowed the opening sentence down.

I also think you have enough room to explain some things a little more. Query's can be around 250 words, and you've only got 159, so you've got a little room.

I'm not sure if you need to explain where the dragon's been all this time, because I'm honestly not sure if you'll have room, but it might be something you could fit in. And though this query does seem to explain the story better, in all honesty, it felt pretty bland and distant. I couldn't get a sense of Tali's inner conflict or anything, so maybe try adding more "voice" into it--tell it in a way that makes readers want to find out what happens to her by showing more of how feels about everything that's happening, and maybe tell it in the "voice" you use to tell the actual story, so it seems less bland.

Of course, I could be wrong. That's just how I felt while I read it--that even though the story's plot seemed okay, the query just came off in a way that didn't make it sound exciting enough.

St0n3h3ng3 said...

I agree with Claudia, though I wasn't sure quite how to put it. It doesn't really make an impression. I'm sure if I had to read a lot of these in a row I wouldn't linger on this query.
That isn't too helpful, I know. I don't have time now, but this evening I'll try to get back to this and see if I can pinpoint anything more substantial.
I hate to give vague feedback and I don't want you to think I'm just "picking" on you, assuming you don't think that already.

Query writer said...

Thanks again for the comments. (No I don't feel picked on ;) )

It sounds like I have all the parts I need, I just need to figure out how to make them sound more interesting. Back to work.

Claudia_Witter said...

I believe you can do it. You've got most of the information you need; once you give us that information in a more compelling, detailed way (not overly detailed, but just a little more so we can have a clearer picture of what's going on), I think it would make this sound like a story I'd want to read. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.