Friday, April 16, 2021

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1415 would like feedback on the following version: 

The Counterfeit Girl is a 93K suspense novel, in which a woman who shouldn’t be alive finds the secrets of a town that shouldn’t exist are more than even its creators expected. [More . . . numerous? Mysterious? Dangerous? What did the creators of the town expect its secrets to be? Maybe it should be . . . a woman who shouldn’t be alive finds the secrets of her hometown are more sinister than she could have imagined.] 

Thirteen years ago, five-year-old twins were kidnapped from Castor, Oregon just before it was destroyed by a mysterious explosion killing all the inhabitants. [An explosion that wipes out an entire town won't be mysterious for long. It'll be newsworthy and investigated. More mysterious would be if everyone in town suddenly disappeared.] Now, one of the twins, eighteen-year-old Trina Radu, has discovered she’s grown up in a copy of a town that no longer exists. 

Trina’s counterfeit town is hidden by impregnable forest and maze-like trails. Her parents have been replaced by actors, [her] friends [have apparently moved away] and family dead and gone, any mention of the outside world carefully edited. All that’s left is her sister, seductively whispering through Trina’s dreams. Find me. Save me. And rescue the whole damn world. Only, their kidnappers believe the twins hold the secret of Castor’s destruction and their reunion will result in a global holocaust. [Do they want a global holocaust? If not, they could have left the twins in Castor to die with everyone else. Why did they kidnap them?] 

Trina will do anything to rescue the only family left in her life. A quest that will either save a world Trina has never known—or burn it to the ground. 

The Counterfeit Girl’s inspiration reaches back to Twin Peaks and The X-files and could be thought of as Jean Grey trapped inside The Truman Show. It would appeal to fans of Blake Crouch, Peter Clines and Patrick Lee. [Seven comps isn't nearly enough. You forgot to include the songs "Trapped" and "We Gotta Get Out of this Place" and that surreal dream you had four years ago.] 


"their kidnappers believe the twins hold the secret of Castor's destruction" makes it sound like the kidnappers had nothing to do with Castor's destruction. But they had to be in on the plot, since they presumably took Trina to fake Castor. 

 Perhaps you should explain why the kidnappers believe the twins' reunion will result in a global holocaust. How can that make sense to even the nuttiest conspiracy theorist? 

 I can't say I find this version any more intriguing. It's good that you focus on the plot rather than the set-up, but maybe you should stick with what Trina knows. She doesn't know what the kidnappers believe. Is a global holocaust a real possibility?


Anonymous said...

"a 93K suspense novel" still bothers me. It's a 93K-word suspense novel.

Your first sentence's subject and verb work out to "secrets are more than creators expected." As EE asks, More what?

In your third paragraph, "their kidnappers believe their reunion will result in a global holocaust." Put me on the side of the kidnappers! Keep those girls apart!

Maybe the kidnappers are wrong about the holocaust, but you haven't given any evidence of that. Wait! Are they different from the people who blew up the town?

I get that this is part Truman Show, but why? Why did someone hide one twin and build a whole fake town around the other? I'm baffled rather than intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Hi author, welcome back

This version of your query takes focus off your MC, and I don't think the explanation is helping. I'm still not sure why anyone would build an entire fake town. In terms of budget/personnel/likelihood to succeed, it seems there would be far easier/cheaper ways to set about accomplishing whatever the captor(s)' goals are. Telling us what those goals are might help.

If the world is what's at stake and the MC is going to save it in this book, it would help to say what the threat to the world is, what her plan to deal with that threat is, and what the obstacles to her accomplishing that plan are. Taking another look, both versions of your query are missing a plan to deal with any situations mentioned. Your MC needs to do more than react, even in the query. The closest you come is a single attempt to leave town, which apparently has no consequences.

Also, somebody's doing a lousy job of editing info about the outside world if she's discovered that not only is the town fake but that it's a copy of a town that blew up. And why is she even considering going to college? What did her captors think would happen if she reached the age and that was an option she knew about?

Saving the world sound more like thriller than suspense, heading in an SFF or superhero fiction direction if we're dealing with people blowing things up without explosives.

Good Luck

Mandakinz said...

Hi Author,

Kudos to you for taking another crack at it!

I appreciated that you eliminated the details of how Trina discovers the town is fake.

In your new version, the information you provide may be a bit too vague.

I liked EE's suggestion that your query letter stick to Trina's point of view. Maybe try focusing on the scope of the plot (like you did this time) but only with the information Trina would know or finds out. You can still gloss over how she finds out, but tell us more about what she's doing later in the book.

I took a stab at it below (loosely) using the information from the first and second drafts. I get stuck after paragraph 2 though because there wasn't enough info in either draft to tell me what happens after Trina discovers the town is fake.

Obviously my version is not very good (and wrong) but maybe it will give you some ideas on how to organize the information in the letter.

18 year old Trina is having conversations with her twin sister Sally in her dreams. Sally died 13 years ago, but Trina is convinced she's alive and determined to find her.

Trina's family and friends try to persuade her to focus on preparing for college. But the more she questions the circumstances of Sally's death, the more hostile and evasive the townspeople of become. Her boyfriend Mike is the only one willing to help her. Together they discover that a company called Nutri-Corp funds and controls their town. They decide to visit Nutri-Corp HQ, but when Mike he is killed the night they try to leave Nutri-ville Trina realizes with terror that she's stepped into something sinister.

All her life, Trina has been cared for and surrounded by loving family and friends. She's won the Nutri-Corp scholarship for a full ride to Nutri-U. Should she really throw all that away and risk her life on the faint hope that her sister is still alive? And even if she is, how could Trina find her?

But the more Trina questions and begins to think for herself, the stronger the connection to her sister becomes. No longer relegated to dreams, Sally is able to guide Trina through her thoughts. And deep down, Trina senses the stirrings of a power within her. Something she forced herself to forget about 13 years ago.

***P.S EE, why is this post formatted weird? Shouldn't there be a little Help Wanted picture alongside this new entry?

Evil Editor said...

Stuff comes to me in numerous fonts, sizes, colors. Usually it's easy to give them the standard EE look. Sometimes it's not, or I forget to check and see if it all worked.

Mandakinz said...

Much better now! Thank you!