Friday, November 22, 2019

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1394 would like feedback on the following revision:

Dear Evil Editor,

When Saphrina Loresmeth wakes up on a morgue slab inside the cold body of her sixteen-year-old daughter, all she can think of is revenge. [It sounds like the morgue slab is inside her daughter's body, which we're smart enough to figure out isn't the case, but we don't need the morgue slab in the query. Waking in the daughter's body is enough.] Saphrina doesn’t know why she resurrected in such a strange fashion or who caused her children’s deaths. [You could just say "her daughter's death" so we don't wonder how she knows her other children are dead. Presumably they were killed before Saphrina?] Her number one suspect is her presidential candidate husband, who cheated on her, then burned her alive inside her car. [When your number one suspect burned you alive in your car, you probably don't need to concern yourself with your number two suspect.] Finding the full truth means unraveling a magical conspiracy stretching across the Infinite Isles.

She partners with Rael Choon, a slightly unhinged vengeance-seeking time-traveler much older than he looks. [We don't need to know he's older than he looks. We might want to know on whom he seeks vengeance, and why.] He’s watched her die, then turned back time to start over for a hundred loops. [Not clear what that means. He's watched her die a hundred times? Why, to find out who killed her? Shouldn't he have turned back time a few hours further, rather than just watch the part where she burns over and over?] Now his power has been used-up, making this their last shot. [At preventing her death? Her daughter's death? At killing her ex-husband?] Though Saphrina has political insider knowledge and Rael knows secrets of the future, powerful spells protect her ex-husband. [He was her husband in the previous paragraph.] The real trick is making sure he stays dead. [Apparently burning him alive won't do it.] To take him down, Saphrina might have to sacrifice the lives of innocents, her country, and even Rael. Saphrina believes she has nothing left to lose, but when her revenge endangers the last person left who she cares about, she must decide if murdering her old love is worth sacrificing her new one. [I'm not sure what sacrificing her country means, exactly, but it seems that would involve sacrificing innocents and even Rael. I'd probably leave out the country sacrifice. If she's more bothered by sacrificing Rael than her entire country, what does that say about her?]

WHO POURS OUT VENGEANCE is an 81,000 word young adult fantasy novel where the schemes of Six of Crows meet the vicious political intrigue of Best Served Cold.


Maybe you can leave out the innocents and the country, and just explain why killing her husband probably means sacrificing Rael.

It's suggested that the husband could resurrect; what about the children? Can they? If the husband killed the children in a manner that prevents their resurrections, why didn't he also kill Saphrina that way? Just asking, I'm sure there's an explanation in the book.

You've cleared up some problems, but the query should do something like this:

1. Who's the main character, and what does she want? (Saphina/revenge on her husband)

2. What's her plan to get it, and what goes wrong? (I don't know what the plan is, except that a time traveler helps, and it requires a sacrifice.)

3. What's at stake? What happens if she fails? (It sounds like she cares more about what will happen if she succeeds, namely Rael dies. I'm not sure if anything bad happens if she fails to kill her husband, except she'll be angry and depressed. Will he be elected and destroy the country?)


St0n3henge said...

"He’s watched her die, then turned back time to start over for a hundred loops. Now his power has been used-up, making this their last shot."

Okay, so what makes this time the charm? I mean, what makes him think he can succeed this time? Does he have new information now?
It isn't true that after a hundred he's "due one." If you flip a coin 99 times in a row and get tails each time you still only have a 50% chance of getting heads the 100th time.

I'm confused about the husband. Is he ex, late or living dead?

Chicory said...

I'm a bit confused as to the setting. Is this an Urban Fantasy taking place in the real world? Or are the Infinite Islands a fantasy country that happens to have things like morgues? Or is a sort of combination- a story that takes place in a made up part of the real world? I was picturing an Urban Fantasy setting until the last sentence in the first paragraph, which makes it sound more like the story takes place in a secondary world.

Anonymous said...

Query writer here. Thanks very much for taking another look at this! Very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Hola Anonymous! This feels a lot muddier – you never say what the conspiracy is or why Oren has to die – and you need a really good reason if killing him is going to cost the lives of innocents and destroy a country. In the first version it was clear Saphrina is obsessed with revenge – a personal, understandable reason. But in this version, it sounds like the reason is Rael’s. Focus more on Saphrina?

I was sorry you took out the car curse because I very much liked its specificity. It both teased something intriguing about the world (both cars and magic) and stood out as an intriguing premise.

Rael comes across incredibly creepy, obsessing with Saphrina. And whether the new lover is Rael or someone else, a 30- or 40-something woman having a love affair with her daughter’s 16-year-old body is really horrible.

I understand that the story is meant to be dark. But I still think you need your character to be likeable in order to attract an audience. To use one of your comps as an example, the main character in Six of Crows is a vicious murderer and torturer, but he is also loyal and ends up protecting innocents by taking down bad people. I think your query would be more effective in attracting agent interest if you can show whatever Saphrina’s likeable characteristics are. Not caring about saving the country until it gets personal is really cold.

Another thing that is unclear and may be an issue for agents is – what makes this story YA? All three characters you mention are middle-aged or ancient.