Friday, May 05, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1351 would like your opinion of the following revision:

Dear Evil Editor,

After murdering his abusive parents, Victor’s taken to a manor for mentally ill and paranormally infected teens. If you meet the requirements—crazy, not human, and dangerous—attendance is mandatory. Along with three others, Victor must train to join the rumor detectives, a police force charged with keeping the world’s weird creatures in line. [If you mean attendance is mandatory at rumor police training classes you should mention the rumor police before mentioning attendance (basically, by switching sentences 2 and 3). If you mean attendance is mandatory in the manor, we pretty much assume that from the fact he was taken there after committing murder.] He wants to be a good rumor detective. But sometimes Victor thinks he’s more villain than hero. [Based on the requirements, I feel like everyone in this place is more villain than hero. Why are people who are crazy and dangerous chosen to train as rumor police?]

When Victor discovers that he and his friends have a strange Tarot card disease, it’s more proof his life is rife with oddness. Brands appear on their bodies, marking [each of] them as one of the Major Arcana—which card depends on their personalities and pasts. Victor is branded the Tower, the card of disaster and revelation. Though he gains the ability to create thunderstorms and hear lies, the magic is draining and difficult to control.

The White Man, a murderer branded the Devil, calls them the End of the World. [Is the White Man already a rumor detective? If not, is he training? Does he live in the manor?] Whether the world is destroyed or its reality altered for the better depends on if they can defeat him, but the biggest threat isn’t always who it seems.

Victor believes Hugo, whose card gives him the ability to bend reality to his will, plays a large part in the White Man’s plans. As a rumor detective, he knows he should eliminate Hugo before he becomes a pawn in their enemy’s games. [Wouldn't it be better to eliminate their enemy than his pawn?] But his feelings for the boy cloud his judgement—just like the memories of killing his parents.

A YA urban fantasy, THE ALL MADS takes place in Prague. It is complete at 120,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


When you say Victor and his friends have been branded, and later say the White Man is branded, I'm not sure it's clear that the White Man isn't a member of Victor's team. This can be avoided either by naming Victor's friends (instead of "along with three others" say "along with his friends Hugo, Sebastian and Caroline." and/or by mentioning somewhere that Victor's team call themselves the All-Mads, so that you can later say the White Man calls the All Mads the End of the World, instead of he calls "them" the End of the World.

It's an improvement, but I still feel we spend too much time on the situation, and too little on what happens. Perhaps opening with something like this: 

Seventeen-year-old Victor Jones and his friends Caroline, Sebastian and Hugo make up a police squad charged with keeping weird creatures in line. It's a job they were born for, as all of them have unique paranormal talents. When brands appear on their bodies, marking each of them with one of the Major Arcana of a Tarot card pack, they aren't sure whether it's a disease or an omen.

. . . and following with a paragraph about the White Man--who is he, what has he done that convinced them he was their enemy, what's his goal, what happens if he succeeds?

Finally, a paragraph telling us how the All Mads plan to stop the White Man, what goes wrong, what decision they must get right to succeed.

You should be able to squeeze some specifics about the Tarot cards into those paragraphs.

This eliminates the awkward situation of having to explain why dangerous crazy teens are given such authority. 


Claudia_Witter said...

Thanks again, EE.

The reason those four train is because one of the high-ranking rumor detectives decided to spare them. She was supposed to kill them, but decided to take them in and make them her apprentices instead, since they were all young and wouldn't have been that way if not for their living in bad places before.

Of course, I figured trying to explain that would only make things worse, so I left it out. (X

I'll work on it again.

Evil Editor said...

So: A high-ranking officer spares four condemned teenage criminals on condition that they team up and use their paranormal powers to thwart a megalomaniac out to destroy the world.

Anonymous said...

We only need to know enough about the setup to understand the main plot.

For the setup, knowing Victor is a rumor detective and knowing what a rumor detective is are both useful bits since (I assume) that has something to do with (dealing with?) the Tarot Card disease. Knowing Victor murdered his parents doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Tarot card disease, so you can probably leave it out.

Does having "proof his life is rife with oddness" contribute anything towards what the Tarot card disease is or does? If not, you don't need that phrase.

etc, etc, etc

"Whether the world is destroyed or its reality altered for the better depends on if they can defeat him, but the biggest threat isn’t always who it seems." <--this is very vague. How is the world going to be destroyed, or in what way altered? If the secondary threat is worth mentioning, it's worth mentioning who/what. Be specific.

Chicory said...

This is just a quibble, but toward the end of the query when you say "Victor believes Hugo..." I started thinking about the French novelist.

Claudia_Witter said...

Good point. I'll try to make the first paragraph have enough to understand the main plot, then focus more on what actually happens.

I'll remove the "rife with oddness" line and "the threat isn't always who it seems" one as well. I'll also go into detail about how the world is going to be destroyed.

Thanks for your help!

Claudia_Witter said...

Ah, I've gotten that before. Victor and Hugo are just two of my favorite names. (X

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Great going EE. As always, I wish I had your talent for straightening things out for us out in the nether/ever/neverland of fiction.