Monday, April 16, 2018

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1370 requests feedback on the following version of the query:

Ilana will never forgive herself for what she did to Lucrezia. Though they were raised as sisters, they share no blood or last name - one is Pond, the other Skye. What they do share is a desire for family, and that’s what Pond and Skye were - until Ilana’s Celestian tore Lucrezia’s face apart and a monster was born. [What did Ilana do to Lucrezia?] [Usually when one character tears another character's face apart, we consider the one who did the tearing a monster. Apparently Lucrezia became a monster, and not because of how her face now looks. Was Ilana's Celestian at least charged with assault?]

Ilana and Lucrezia live in a world shared by two races: Humans, and Celestians - intelligent beings whose animal-like bodies [When you say "animal-like," I'm not sure whether to picture an elephant or a mouse. Is there a specific animal they most resemble?] are made of earth, air, water, and fire.  Once they lived in harmony, [I wouldn't call it living in harmony when members of one race periodically tear apart the faces of members of the other race.] but now war is brewing, and Ilana and Lucrezia fight for opposing sides. Ilana - a fierce and loyal warrior - stands with Humans who see Celestians as equals, worthy of respect. [While Lucrezia sees Celestians as creatures who will tear your face apart on a whim.] But many live in constant fear of Celestians, and Lucrezia, forever scarred by her experience, has stoked that fear into hate. [Do you mean her own fear has grown into hatred, or that she stokes others' fear into hatred, like if she had a Fox News show where she spewed out lies about Celestians? In any case, I feel some of the credit for stoking the fear into hate lies with Ilana's Celestian.]

When Lucrezia murders [assassinates] the ruler of their world, [Why?] it’s the final straw for Ilana. [I let it go when you moved out of our house, and even when you joined the Anti-Celestian party, but I simply cannot turn a blind eye to your murdering the ruler of our world.] She sets out with her Celestian (a quick-witted gryphon) to kill her sister...but and when they come face-to-face, Pond and Skye find they cannot hate each other. [Wait, is this Celestian Ilana has with her the same one that tore Lucrezia's face apart? Because if my Celestian tore my sister's face apart, I'd have it put down and look for a more docile one.] [Also, if I'm Lucrezia and my sister approaches, accompanied by the Celestian that tore my face apart, I'm shooting first and asking questions later.] Everything Ilana values is about to be tested, for to defend Celestians is to destroy the only family she’s ever known.

Pond and Skye is a fantasy story of loyalty, family, and discrimination. [The] Hunger Games meets His Dark Materials, it is complete at 70,000 words. [You don't mention the ages of your characters, but the books you're comparing the book to feature teens and children. If your book isn't YA, maybe find an adult fantasy it's similar to. If it is YA, say so. Also, it's not necessary to make comparisons unless requested, but if you do, you don't need to choose two of the bestselling books of all time.] It features LGBTQ+ characters and a protagonist of color in a world where skin color isn’t what sparks hatred - either you’re Human, or you aren’t.


Twice you refer to "Ilana's" Celestian. As if Celestians are pets or slaves or property. What makes this gryphon Ilana's? Is Ilana also considered the gryphon's human?

Are their last names significant in some way? I think the query would be better with just their first names. The problem with that being that you've used their last names as the title. Of course the title could be Ilana and Lucrezia. Or Skyler and Lucy.

I'm not sure we need the face-tearing. It seems to lead to a lot of questions you don't answer. It does give Lucrezia a motive for hating Celestians, but I got the impression you wanted to show that Celestians were hated by some Humans unjustly because they look different. Of course someone whose had her face torn apart by a Celestian is going to be somewhat biased.

That they find they cannot hate each other isn't much of a wrap-up. Do they have a shared goal they can work together to accomplish? What do they want to do, and what's standing in their way? For instance, now that Lucrezia's killed the ruler, it seems like their shared desire for family is out of the question, as Lucy will be dead, imprisoned, or on the run, but maybe they can steal other people's identities and open a mead shop.

 Irrelevant science: 99% of the Human body is made up of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. If we consider the oxygen and hydrogen water (55 -60% of the body) and the nitrogen (plus more oxygen) to be air, and the minerals to be earth, Humans are the same as Celestians, except we aren't on fire. How do they know Celestians are part fire? Is the fire visible?


khazarkhum said...

Why did Lucrezia kill the ruler? The way it's stated makes it sound like an 'oh, by the way...'

Anonymous said...

Using best sellers as comp titles is a bad idea because it implies you think your book will also be a best seller, aka you have unrealistic expectations. Most agents would rather pass on you than buy you a clue. If you do use best-seller comps, it needs to be obvious by the plot in the query as to why--this query doesn't accomplish that. I would suggest you either find different comps or make it more obvious why you're using these ones.

In this version you don't tie the last names to the characters. The problem is "celest-" means "sky/heaven" and Ilana is the ally to the celestians, so logically I would think it was her last name. From the previous version, I know this isn't the case.

People kill other people they don't hate all the time, so I don't see what P&S's lack of hate has to do with whether or not they're willing to kill each other (not stated, but implied). Not to mention, the celestian was the one who did the attacking before.... I also don't understand what Pond hopes to accomplish by killing Skye--what does she think the end result will be? If Skye is the charismatic leader of the anti-celestians, killing her would more likely turn her into a martyr and make the situation worse (which sounds like an interesting enough twist that it should be included in the query if it actually happens in the book).

If people are already fighting for opposing sides, war isn't brewing, it has already brewed, so to speak. Be careful: This is a first look at your writing and your entire book will be judged by it.

It might be more helpful to list some of the actions the opposing sides are taking.

You still haven't really said what abilities/resources P&S have that make them key players in your war. If they aren't key players for the global conflict and the war is the background for their personal conflict, that needs to be made clearer.

One other thing: A world is a very large place. One _king_ ruling the entire thing makes me worry about your grasp of political realities. The assassination of the king of a country might imply a better understanding of scope. For comparison, WWI was started by killing a guy why ranked below king--and that pulled in most countries of our world.

Good Luck

khazarkhum said...

Are Pond & Skye humans, celestials or something else? Why has all this responsibility fallen to them?

This is not a personal jab or attack: It's just that I'm sick of everything being Save The World. What happened to save the neighborhood, save the king, save the alliance of countries? Why has it got to be The World?

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

It's better than before I think, but my sympathy lies with Lucrezia and I'm sure that's not what you are going for. ( This was probably not helped by EE's humorous comments, but if EE hadn't have said them I would have thought them of my own volition. I think maybe answer the question: What does Ilana want more than anything? And what is she fighting for, stakes etc? At the moment it just sounds like she's a ...not very nice person to begin with to let her sisters face be ripped off and not understand where her sister is coming from. Why does she begin with more love and loyalty to her creature. Maybe point out that the ( mind blank, those Celestians? is it? ) are hard done by, suppressed creatures, so that we know her reasons for caring about them. Also What her sister did to deserve such hatred to begin with.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I think we need to know why the Celestian attacked Lucrezia. Was he defending Ilana? Were the sisters fighting and he stepped in to defend the one he loved? Explaining that the attack was done in self-defense (or based on a misunderstanding) might help the reader to understand why Ilana has stuck by her Celestian all this time.