Thursday, September 19, 2019

Feedback Request

The author of the query most recently featured here would like feedback on the following version, (which is only the plot summary). 

Dear EE,

Mercenary Tali Adilrein foils a kidnapping, but the surviving kidnappers escape with the help of a hidden mage.  So, Tali accepts a job as bodyguard to the girl she rescued.  Her new client, Shimmer, is a "dragon treasure."  She can provide otherwise unobtainable power to those who wield dragon magic--the rare type of magic that aided the kidnappers. [So it's the mage who needs Shimmer, and he hired the kidnappers?]

Further kidnapping attempts, which Tali thwarts, worry officials.  They convince Shimmer she'll be safer at the governor's palace while they search for the kidnappers. [Shouldn't this mage be using his dragon magic to assist the kidnappers in achieving their goal? If he is, does Tali have any magical powers that help her thwart the mage?]

The enemy mage sends out independently acting flames that seek Shimmer [uses a spell to locate Shimmer].  More covert spells exert a subtle form of mind control on people likely to approach her.  [Shimmer's friends (or whoever) would be better than "people likely to approach her."] Those people's unintended machinations result in Shimmer being arrested 
 [Unintended machinations is vague. Either tell us what they do or just say she gets arrested.] [I would expect the mage's spells to result in his capturing Shimmer, not in her being arrested.] and Tali getting fired. [I'm wondering if we need the kidnappers in the query. They screw up every attempt at kidnapping Shimmer, and they don't need Shimmer anyway, as they don't have dragon magic. The mage is the villain.] [Although he doesn't seem that competent either; if the flames located Shimmer, he should just go get her instead of inducing her friends to machinate her into jail.] 

Tali is determined to protect Shimmer, job or no.  She hunts through the city for the mage [She's hunting the mage and the mage is hunting her?] until a local troublemaker warns her there's a price on her head.  [Never believe anything a local troublemaker tells you.] She needs to either leave town or, in effect, submit to arrest herself.  [In effect?] She then discovers Shimmer is missing.

[That's it? You need a better wrap-up than that.]

Your 1st paragraph could be:

Mercenary Tali Adilrein accepts a job as bodyguard to a girl named Shimmer. Shimmer, a "dragon treasure," can provide otherwise unobtainable power to those who wield dragon magic, a rare type of magic that [what does dragon magic do?]

Then you introduce the mage who will do whatever it takes to capture Shimmer so she can enhance his power, allowing him to [What's his goal?]

Finally, Tali gets fired, Shimmer disappears, and Tali vows to find the mage and get Shimmer back. What's her plan? What will happen if she fails?


Mister Furkles said...

I get no feel for Tali here. There's plot and, if following EE advice, is fine as far as it goes. But is Tali conflicted or is it just a story about a bodyguard? You may need something beyond a simple straight-line plot.

St0n3henge said...

Okay, let's see.

"Those people's unintended machinations result in Shimmer being arrested..." I'm not sure machinations can be unintended. It's like saying a plot or a scheme can be uninintended.

"She needs to either leave town or, in effect, submit to arrest herself." You'd think being arrested would be the last thing she wants? I don't see how it's clear that this is a good option. She wouldn't necessarily be anywhere near Shimmer if she was arreasted. It would be stupid to incarcerate them in the same place.

I also agree that the mage is the villain. You're complicating the plot by focusing on incompetent kidnappers.

Try not to make your novel sound like an "and" plot. This happens, and then this happens.
I'm failing to see the cause and effect in most of this.

Here's what you need:
The protag: Who she is and why she does what she does.
The villain: Who he is, why he does what he does.
The MacGuffin.
Why the villain wants the McGuffin and why the protag has to stop him from getting it.

You don't have this. We don't know why the mage wants Shimmer, we don't know why Tali is dead set on protecting her to her own detriment. We don't know why it's literally more important than Tali's life that she save Shimmer.

query writer said...

Thank you for the critiques