Sunday, May 07, 2017

Feedback Request


Revision of Face-Lift 1288: The Feast of Masks, previous revision posted 4/23/17.


In legend, dragons could accomplish anything with their magic if they obtained the right treasure.

Mercenary Tali Adilrein, who once wielded dragon magic, finds one such powerful "dragon treasure" in Shimmer, a girl she rescues from kidnappers. Suspecting a rogue mage wants the girl, one who doesn't care that using her to fuel his magic will eventually damage her, Tali hires on as Shimmer's bodyguard.

What Tali doesn't realize is an ancient dragon has roused from a millennium of slumbering captivity. Cautious at first but growing more bold, the dragon sends out [Sends out? Explain.] bespelled traps to kill those who defeated its unwitting minions (the kidnappers) and recapture Shimmer: arrows it can guide to strike specific targets, a necklace that will control the wearer's mind and body, flames that move and act as if alive. [That sentence is easy to get lost in. It's Tali alone who defeated the dragon's minions, right? So all the "traps" are targeting her? So you could replace "those who defeated its unwitting minions (the kidnappers)" with "Kali." Specificity is good, but I'm not sure we need the list of traps (two of which sound more like deadly weapons than traps).] 

To counter the dragon's spells, Tali will need to once again wield dragon magic. To protect Shimmer, she will need to risk accepting the girl's aid as treasure.

To fight the dragon, Tali will need to become a dragon.


Notes

Which comes first? The dragon waking up or Tali rescuing Shimmer from kidnappers? It's easy to assume things happen in the order you tell us about them, but hard to imagine the dragon has minions doing its bidding if it hasn't yet awakened from a millennium of sleep.

Maybe we don't need to know the dragon's been asleep. What Tali doesn't realize is that the kidnappers are the unwitting minions of an ancient dragon now set on recapturing Shimmer.

Those three closing sentences, all in the To ________, she will have to ________. format aren't grabbing me.  Maybe something like:

To defeat the dragon, Tali will need to wield dragon magic. And for that . . .  She will need to become a dragon.

Or: To defeat the dragon and protect Shimmer, Tali will need her dragon magic along with the girl's aid . . . even if it kills them both. 

6 comments:

St0n3h3ng3 said...

It's wordy.

For instance, this phrase: "ONE who doesn't care that using HER to fuel HIS magic will eventually damage HER"...Clumsy. This could definitely be written more simply.
I'm not crazy about "rogue mage" either. Say it ten times fast.

When so many of your words are multisyllabic and consonant heavy, English begins to sound like a foreign language. For instance, "millennium of slumbering captivity." Say it out loud.
Don't write tongue-twisters. They're no more "writerly" than other, perfectly good words.

Take a page from Hemingway. "If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written."



Mister Furkles said...

Author, you mention a mage and then drop him. "Suspecting a rogue mage ..., Tali hires on as Shimmer's bodyguard." Maybe it's better to drop this sentence from the query or shorten it to "Shimmer hires Tali as her bodyguard."

That would simplify the query to Tali vs dragon. You can cram only so much complexity into 250 words.

Claudia_Wiiter said...

Not the best edits, but here's a slightly revised version of this that might help:

In the legends, dragons could accomplish anything if they obtained the right treasure.

Tali Adilrein, a mercenary who once wielded dragon magic, finds a powerful "dragon treasure" in Shimmer. Since she rescued the girl from kidnappers, Tali suspects someone wants the use Shimmer—someone who doesn't care that using her to fuel their magic will eventually damage her.

Tali hires on as Shimmer's bodyguard. But she doesn't realize that the kidnappers were the unwitting minions of an ancient dragon. The dragon uses magic to send bespelled weapons to kill Tali and recapture Shimmer.

To defeat the dragon and protect Shimmer, Tali will need to wield dragon magic.

She will need to become a dragon.

Tried removing some words and rearranging some sentences. It's not great, but I thought maybe it would help give you some ideas to help with revisions.

St0n3h3ng3 said...

Hmmm...Claudia. Your edit is highlighting something I didn't notice before.

The language is coming across as passive. And I'm not necessarily talking about passive voice, though that's part of it.

“In legend, dragons could accomplish anything with their magic if they obtained the right treasure.” So, theoretically they COULD accomplish something IF they had something to accomplish it with.
Not a strong opening.

“Mercenary Tali Adilrein, who once wielded dragon magic...” but does no more. So, something needs to happen or be done.

“finds one such powerful "dragon treasure" in Shimmer, a girl she rescues from kidnappers...”
She rescues someone, good, but first you say she “finds” her. Like I'm walking along and find a quarter. Not the best word.

“Suspecting a rogue mage wants the girl...” Suspecting. That doesn't even require moving.

“one who doesn't care that using her to fuel his magic will eventually damage her...”
Someone doesn't care that using someone (in an unspecified way) will eventually, in the long run, damage that person. See, I've already lost interest.

I realize it's frustrating to see your work picked apart, but just looking at your word usage is helpful to determine why this isn't working.
You need people being decisive and acting on those decisions. When they are indecisive, the choices should be clear cut and have important consequences.

So when you say, “To protect Shimmer, she will need to risk accepting the girl's aid as treasure,” no one knows what this means, so the stakes are unclear and therefore not of consequence.

I would actually start with “To fight a dragon, Tali will need to become a dragon.” Not everyone likes “hook” sentences, but it is the most intriguing line in your query. It loses its power at the end because we know what it means. Then start at the beginning but put a lot more punch into it. Not a little, a LOT.

Claudia_Witter said...

Oh, I agree! Putting that as the starting line would really "hook" a reader more.

Query writer said...

Thank you EE! I think that last line is very close to what I need to say at the end. Now to reconfigure the rest so it fits.

Thanks to other commenters as well.

Back to drafting.