Friday, January 19, 2018

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1367 would like feedback on the following version:

Dear Mr. E. Editor,

The gods have always chosen Rilia's next ruler from among the last ruler's children. When King Richard the Sensible died, they tried to choose Princess Five, who was soon crushed under a falling balcony. Then Princess Two drowned. Prince Four choked. And some fatherless youth got trampled by a horse. [If this youth was being considered as the next ruler, King Richard the Sensible was his father, according to the first sentence. How can he be fatherless?]

'Muriel Snick' doesn't know i fit's [if it's] a full-or half-sibling killing for the throne. [How do they know these deaths weren't accidents?] Running seems smarter than going on the murder [victim] list. As the family disgrace, she's never been happy as nobility, [Royalty?] and jumps on the chance [decides] to reinvent herself as a commoner. In the lower classes, her skills as a cook will give her a life, a chance, and happiness she could never get at home... but if she doesn't get out of the country, Snick could still become the next murdered queen-to-be.

A commoner group calling themselves the Truth Seekers may have the answer. Their goals are to take care of the country until someone takes the throne, and find and protect missing nobility--including Snick, if anyone recognizes her. But they've also kept one of the borders open, and are going to send a few hundred scared Rilians to a neighboring country to work in exchange for assistance. They need one more skilled cook, a leader who can work even with bad ingredients and little help. [Preferably a Chopped champion.] If Snick can stay unrecognized, she has a chance to prove she's that cook.

But thrlee [three] things happen while Snick cooks for everyone from farmers to flood victims: she makes friends who don't care about her station. She sees the problems that royalty's long ignored. And she realizes someone could, should, change things. But if she stays, sooner or later, she'll end up dead.

TRUTH SEEKERS is a YA Fantasy, complete at 90,000 words. The somewhat unreliable narrator never acknowledges her real name. [Is it Princess 6?] While this book stands alone, it is the proposed first in a trilogy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The first two paragraphs are an improvement. The third bothers me. Why do royalty or nobility need to be found and protected by a group of commoners? They should have people whose jobs it is to protect them. Armies or bodyguards. Also, if protecting the royals is their goal, they suck at it. The top royals are being murdered right and left. 

What are these hundreds of Rilian farmers and flood victims being sent to a neighboring country afraid of? 

Why does Snick have to stay unrecognized if she's with a group whose goal is to protect royalty? She's royalty. Can't she just say, I'm Princess 6; can I act as your cook under an assumed name because someone wants to kill me?

This stuff about the border crossing and cooking with bad ingredients isn't needed. Just tell us Muriel signs on as a cook with a group of patriotic commoners, and then go to the three things that happen that convince her she can do more good as queen. What's being done to expose the murderer?

Not sure what the point of never acknowledging her name is, but it's not worth mentioning in the query. Do Princess 5 and Princess 2 and Prince 4 have names?

Surely you have spell-check? Turn it on.


Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I enjoyed the first paragraph, except for the last sentence. Made no sense to not have the last royal named, assuming the fatherless youth was a royal sibling. IF not, maybe don't mention him as it confuses things. Like, if he's just some random that got killed, it only makes sense to reference that he is a random among other randoms getting killed and that's just too much hard work for you probably, given the short word count.

I don't think you need to specify the possibility of 'full' OR 'half' sibling as that feels extraneous, and raises questions that won't be answered, and hinders flow in the process. I'd just say 'Snick doesn't know if it's one of her own siblings killing for the throne.' And yeah, like EE said, explain why she believes it is a sibling.

How did she get cooking skills being a princess? I guess it doesn't matter that much, just wondering.

I'd change this 'Running seems smarter than going on the murder [victim] list.'
To 'Running seems smarter than staying on the victim list' as she is already on it really. And you could say 'hit list', or if phrases don't offend agents, ( which they probably do ) 'remaining a sitting duck' comes to mind.

With 'But if she stays, sooner or later, she'll end up dead.' I'm wondering why she would end up dead when it seemed likely ( from this query ) that her sibling was killing the royals? The threat is vague to me, because I thought she was safe over there, in ...whereveritis.

All up it made a lot more sense than the last one, and you maintained that signature congenial voice that I enjoyed the first time round.

St0n3henge said...

"They need one more skilled cook, a leader who can work even with bad ingredients and little help."
I'm having a hard time suspending disbelief, here. Even if she was considered eccentric and allowed to hang around the kitchen and learn to cook, the ingredients in the kitchen would have been top notch. All the best meats, fruits pastries and such for royalty. Where would she even find inferior ingredients to experiment with? I just don't think I buy it.

Also, your world must be a pretty mild version of reality. Becoming a commoner on a journey to another country means being exposed to the elements, cholera, pneumonia, influeza, bad water, and many other things. People just pooped wherever, for one thing. Royalty didn't generally "defect" because of this. You'd be risking a hell of a lot.

I also wonder, where were all the bodyguards and food tasters? Were they all being paid off?

It's a better version than the last one. Unfortunately, it brings up questions for me.

khazarkhum said...

Princesses often learned to sew and cook, as they were expected to run the household. Even if that was actually done by a steward, in theory it was the job of a queen. So Muriel learning basic cookery would not be amiss. And if she's far enough down the line of succession, she could spend a lot of time on it and no one would care.

Why isn't some form of primogeniture in place? Otherwise you get all sorts of mayhem. Or is that part of it?

St0n3henge said...

"So Muriel learning basic cookery would not be amiss."

Sure, but thre's a big difference between cooking with what's available in a royal kitchen vs. what you can forage while travelling.
It's sort of like someone going from Gordon Ramsay's kitchen to a survivalist camp. The skills may or may not translate.
Anyway, that's just my opinion. Not everyone will see it that way.

khazarkhum said...

Cooking skills should translate reasonably well. But that's just part of it.

No clear line of succession = murder & mayhem. There's no way to tell is Muriel is 8th in line or 127th. Throw in a capricious god who apparently strikes at random, and you get chaos. Which is not good for children or other living things.

Is Muriel trying to cut a clear swath through the insanity? Or running away because she can't take it anymore?

Alaina said...

All right, it looks like I've at least improved. I'm kicking myself for the spelling problems, though; e-mail was having issues with copy-paste this time, so I retyped it out, and it seems I didn't pay as much attention as I should have.

Thanks, everyone. I don't want to defend or justify or explain anything I've put down. You're all fresh eyes, as opposed to my normal critique partners who know the story and characters backwards by this point. Explaining or justifying defeats the purpose of fresh eyes. And that's really useful.

Look for draft 3 (or 21, counting the ones too terrible to be shown to EE) by the end of the month.

Mister Furkles said...

"...if she stays, sooner or later, she'll end up dead."

And so it is with all living things. Don't you mean a murder victim?

Anonymous said...

Also, if protecting the royals is their goal, they suck at it. The top royals are being murdered right and left.

Honestly, I'm wondering if it's a commoner more than her family. That'd be far more interesting a good direction to take the story. What if the common people are sick of her family and are trying to change the social order? Then she hides among them (without revealing herself) and eventually gains the public's trust to ascend to the throne? That's when the big-bad comes out and tries to kill her only for someone (a commoner or her family member?) comes to save her.

*shrug* I know you're saying she doesn't know if it's a family member but I feel a commoner-struggling-killer would fit her making friends and seeing the problems with her society better than a cliché family member doing it for personal reasons.

Just my opinion based on the summary.

St0n3henge said...

Mister Furkles: Like those articles that tell you what you'd better not do because it will increase your chance of death.
Say what, now?