Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in the post below this one requests feedback on this revision:

Thank you for your critique and feedback. I've spent the last four hours reworking on the query. I've tried to include the missing information, removed the excess semicolons, and re written the story based on the manuscript. Your comments would be of immense value

Dear Evil Editor,

Manhattan royalty, Ian Sanders is a citizen of the world. He’s a visionary with a brilliant mind: unapologetic, ruthless, two heaps of sharpness mixed with one scoop of sugar. His testosterone-filled existence is no stranger to dazzling creatures, [When I suggested you write as if you're talking to a stranger on a bus, I should have added that the stranger is ten years old. He's rarely seen without a beautiful woman on his arm.] as long as they pack their bags and leave before breakfast is served. [If you're going to use cooking metaphors, mix sharpness with sweetness or tabasco with sugar. Although in this case I don't see where the sugar comes in. He's unapologetic, ruthless, and the women stupid enough to sleep with him don't even get breakfast. If he's done something sugar-like, what was it? To me he seems like two cups of lemon and zero scoops of sugar.] When Ian chances on a woman who threatens to reduce his intellectual abilities to alarming proportions, [Is that a good thing or a bad thing?] he’s willing to rewrite the rules, each one of them. [I'm so crazy about you, babe, I'm changing the rules: You can stay till after breakfast.]

Unlike other cooks with a rich vocabulary of swear words, or epic, post-weed tales to boast of, Ella Scott is a misfit in the culinary world. What she lacks in body ink, she makes up with an unadulterated passion for cooking. [This seems to suggest that those cooks who swear and have body ink lack her level of passion for cooking. I doubt there's any correlation.] Her sappy eyes are armed with quiet confidence, a thousand dreams, and ten thousand worries. [Most people with ten thousand worries don't have quiet confidence. Can't recall looking at someone's eyes and thinking they're sappy.]

Despite her reluctance, Ella goes from being a mere appearance to a beautiful presence in Ian’s life. But the pessimist inside Ella’s head never shuns from its daily duty of reminding her that all this will come to an end, eventually. When Ian fails to show up on the night they must board a flight to Vegas, Ella is convinced that her time is up. [Even this complete jerk would probably phone and give her some lame excuse for why he can't go. Does she phone him? Does she check to see if he's in the hospital or the morgue after being involved in a horrendous traffic accident on the way to the airport? Does she ever get an explanation?]

Three years later, when their paths collide again on a green, December evening at a Beverly Hills soiree, [I don't get "green" as an adjective describing an evening.] a lot has changed. Ella’s ditched her chef’s apron for a shimmering gown. [If you mean she's no longer a chef, what happened to her unadulterated passion for cooking? If you mean she didn't wear an apron to this party, I doubt any chef wears an apron when not working.] Ella’s tweaked her hair to a sandy blonde. [For all he knows, she's changed her hair color a dozen times in the past three years. That's not a big change.] Ella, has a ring on her finger. Can Ian Sanders forget the one person who crowds his head like the beast of insomnia? [It doesn't much matter if he can forget her if she's now married or engaged, especially since the reader has no reason to believe she would ever want anything to do with this horrible man if she were single and he were the last man on Earth. If Ella's three years away from Ian have been pure misery because she's so in love with him, you haven't done anything to convey this to us.]

At 84,000 words, Tossed, is the first, contemporary romance in a series of three. It is complete, and ready for your consideration.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Outside of the lack of semicolons, this isn't much different. You're still using flowery language you wouldn't normally use to describe a character (His testosterone-filled existence is no stranger to dazzling creatures; she crowds his head like the beast of insomnia...

You still haven't told us much of what happens. You have a paragraph telling us what Ian is like. You have a paragraph telling us about Ella. Then your plot, which is basically:

Ian and Ella see a lot of each other until Ian misses their flight to Vegas. Three years later they meet at a party, and Ella has a ring.

You've written 84,000 words, and that's all you can tell us about what happens?

A romance needs a hero and a heroine who belong together, and who eventually find their "happily ever after." From what I can tell, your heroine has found happiness, but without your hero. Which is good, because your hero's an ass.

I'm not sure why it should matter that Ella is a misfit in the culinary world. Ian isn't the type of guy who regularly dates chefs anyway, so it's not Ella's contrast with other chefs that attracts him.

It's likely that the problems with the query exist in the book as well. A perfect query will not sell a flawed book.


Unknown said...

Wow, that was a blow! Right then, I'll rework on a new query and implement your points. I'll let it sit for a week and rethink it before sending it in again (If, I can send it in again that is?). P.S- How much of the plot do I reveal in a query? The book is meant to be a series, hence the ending, which solves itself further as the story moves forward.

Anonymous said...

So Ella's big transformation after three years is wearing a shiny gown, dying her hair blonde, and putting a ring on it? That sounds like great character development- for the 1950s. It also goes great with her attraction to emotionally unavailable assholes.

There must be something new and modern in your story, so stress that, not the elements that make your character sound like Betty Draper.

I've known many chefs, and I don't get the connection with swearing, marijuana and tattoos... honestly the majority of them fit more into the "Type A" uptight category.

Write your query so that we don't automatically root for your two love interests to die in a tragic kitchen explosion.

Chelsea P. said...

I might start with this:

Manhattan playboy Ian Sanders is no stranger to dazzling creatures-- as long as they pack their bags and leave before breakfast is served.

After that, I'd cut all the adjectives, all the metaphors, and anything vague. You can weave a few back in later, but right now, I'd love to see a version that's very action specific. Even Ian and Ella's first meeting is unknown, at this point. Does he dine at her restaurant, and get a bowl of soup tossed in his lap when he insults her? Why is she interested in him (based on something he does for her or others, not based on character description)? Why doesn't he make their Vegas date? And is the gown/blond hair/ring supposed to imply she's given up who she really is, and Ian has to save her? That's kind of the impression I got (though I could be way off) and if so, it seems to undercut the individuality he likes about her in the first place. Then again, didn't she wear gowns on some of their exciting dates?

I'm falling down a rabbit hole here, but the point is, specifics are your friend in a query. Also, you don't need "It is complete and ready for your consideration" since both are already implied.

Looking forward to the revision! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chelsea P. and E.E.

I do have a story to tell. I guess, I just need to do a damn good job at wording it in a query. Hoping to get a better version of the query in my next attempt:)

Anonymous said...

EE, disappearing mid romance is not that uncommon.

I do agree that unless this Casanova was in a comma, in a dungeon, turned into a turnip, or all of the above, I would cheer for the new boy on the block. Unless he is just like the mc.

How about a girl on girl twist? She was 'not that into him' after all...

St0n3henge said...

"The book is meant to be a series..." There's no reason a book this light on plot should be a series. What you've described here is a standalone novel. If it isn't, I suspect it's because you've clogged it with tons and tons of descriptive words.

I suggest you go through the ms, remove half the words, and rewrite this as the single novel it obviously is. There just isn't enough here for anything longer. I'm hard pressed to find enough for a book alone.

Anonymous said...

Not really, that's where I'm stuck with the query...(the book could be heavy on language and adjectives, I agree. Already begun working on that. I'm guessing, romances need to be easy on the language)

Ella's a pessimist when it comes to risking a heartbreak (linear, ailing father, wants to achieve her dreams, wants a man who's in it for the long haul). She's so sure that her time with Ian will come to an end (after all, she's just an ordinary girl), but she's ready to go with the flow and deal with heartbreak, whenever that comes. (P.S- i study psychology, and pessimism, I've found out, is a dangerous thing)

Ian, on the other hand finds himself drawn towards her. He can't put a name to his feelings, yet, but he finds ways to spend every free minute with her. (he's a jerk with a heart, alpha male, protective of her, a charmer)

There's sexual tension, sexy liaisons, respect, unsaid emotions...When Ian asks her to join his friends on a trip to Vegas, she's excited and nervous, all at once.

Long story short, Ian's extremely close to his sister (the one person who replaced his emotionally unavailable parents, introduced in the book on more than one occasion), who he loses the night of the trip. He doesn't turn up to pick her up. By the time they reconnect a few days later, Ian's dealing with the loss in his own way (emotionally unavailable, gone back into his old shell). Ella hates herself for letting her guard down and not listening to her roommate. (snappy roommate who'd warned her about the rich playboy from the start)

3 years later...when he sees her with the ring on her finger, he's devastated!!

Hop in, Book 2

Set in Hollywood, reveals the real reason behind the ring on her finger, brings back two important characters from book 1, Ian's determined to win his girl back...and there's way he's going to fuck up this time...

E.E.- Help!!!!

Evil Editor said...

Although this comment isn't intended as a query letter, it has more specific information than the query letters. It tells us some things that happen in your book. Something like this might be a start:

Ella Scott wants a man who's in it for the long haul, and she's sure playboy Ian Sanders isn't that man. But he's charming and fun to be with, so she's willing to go with the flow and deal with heartbreak whenever that comes.

Ian can't put a name to his feelings yet, but he finds ways to spend every free minute with Ella. When he asks her to join his friends on a trip to Vegas, she's both excited and nervous . . . until he doesn't show up or call. Looks like her roommate was right to warn her off the rich playboy.

Turns out Ian lost his beloved sister the day of the trip. He's dealing with the loss in his own way. He's become emotionally unavailable. Ella tries to get through his shell, but eventually she has to move on.

Flash forward three years. Ella and Ian run into each other at a Hollywood party. He's thrilled to see the one woman he's ever loved. Then he sees the ring on her finger.

The query can end when he sees her ring, but the book can't. The problem is, your first book doesn't stand alone, at least not as a romance novel. You have to carry it forward to the point where Ella and Ian are together, assuming that's what they both want. I don't know if that happens in chapter 1 of the second book or chapter 30, but ending the first book with a cliffhanger won't cut it. You can't expect anyone to agree to publish three books.

Mister Furkles said...

The romance novel is a genre I don't read and I wouldn't know a great one from a mediocre one. Having said that, author, I suspect you would benefit from a good critique group. See if you can find one that is devoted to romance novels.

Anonymous said...

Thank you E.E.
I guess that solves my biggest query:)

I'll rework the last half of the book and work towards a HEA.

Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

So the plot is, boy meets girl, boy looses sister, boy doesn't show up for a date, boy finds the girl 3 years later and she is unavailable.

Where was he all this time? He is devastated, even though he did not reach out to her in three years?

You want to show why the reader should care for either of the characters. What makes their story worth reading?

Ian is your classic 'disappearing guy', you can find many real life takes about his kind. What makes him likable? What does he do for a living, that makes him a 'visionary'? What you described so far, is a tale of a self absorbed entitled reach guy and a chef with a low self esteem.

Descriptions are good if they serve a purpose. Yours seem to just... be there. EE hit it on the nail with 'sappy eyes', etc.

Also, I would suggest proof reading and searching for repetitive words. You got the word 'consideration' twice in a row in your query, you want to avoid unnecessary repetition.

Good luck author.

Anonymous said...

I'll rework the last half of the book and work towards a HEA.

You don't necessarily need a "Happily Ever After." You just need to justify why they should fall in love (and spoiler if your book is a bad-end right now: they fall out of love) without those 83,000 words doing nothing to help that.

khazar-khum said...

How and why does she end up in Hollywood? Is she a celebrity's chef? Or has she herself become a celebrity chef, with her own reality show?

In most romance novels, finding out his sister died would drive her to comfort him more, whether he can handle it or not.

Jayce said...

Hi there,

I'm a pretty avid romance reader and writer and I'm getting lost in this plot too. Especially if English isn't your first language, I second the recommendation for a critique group. It's hard to make a single romance span three books, which is why a lot of series focus on different characters each book. That said, look up an online critique group like Yahoo!'s Romance Critters group, where you can find a wide range of romance authors and sub-genres. Good luck!