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Of Eye and Cloud #22

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#1 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 10:57 AM

New draft on post 111

 

 

As always, happy to return critiques and very grateful to all those who have stuck with me. Big thanks. 

 

 

 

 



#2 Springfield

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 11:38 AM

Would love some feedback. Thanks in advance.

 

This looks too long.

Dear Agent,

What is more important, integrity or peace?Peace. Autoreject. Don't do this. Why would you do this? Cyril Kol, of the Order of Eye and Cloud, chose integrity and the thousand year Peace of the Pillars You're half a sentence in and have three named things. Already way too much. came to ruin. But where orthodoxy is its own corruption, and Kol but it's revealer, blame wants a name. What?

And so history remembers So this is all backstory? Cyril Kol as the villain that brought the world down. And where, in better days, The Order of Eye and Cloud comprised one of the four Pillars of Peace, after Collapse it’s practitioners were feared as sorcerers and traitors and hunted for glory.

Fleeing beyond The Spine, Kol lost his wife and child to ambush. Ten years later, a fellow Eye found Kol and delivered a packet of letters from his wife who had managed to escape the attack.

More ramshackle himself now, Kol returns to a fractured world to seek his wife and child. Along the way Kol turns adversaries into allies as he attracts a motley cadre consisting of a reluctant highwayman, a girl-child disciple, a scholar of material history with a dangerous secret of his own, and a young warrior exiled for his mercy. Meanwhile, the god-like, golden-haired Colonel Byrn, darling of Foundation, and the yellow-toothed, bowler-capped murderer Josho Bun Lee make missions of Kol’s demise.

However destructive, their designs are the least of Kol’s worries. Because Eyes are trained to mystical levels of sensitivity by the Order, the pain of the world his revelation sparked frequently overwhelms Kol. The crippling guilt abates only under a steady stream of moonshine brewed in the back of his shingle-roofed schooner. And while Kol’s intention to find his family is clear, friendship, enmity, booze, and integrity draw their own roads.

 

This just reads like synopsis-like backstory. I don't know what his problem actually is. I don't know what the stakes are. It;'s just like he's whiny and wandering, or something.

Coming in at roughly 95,000 words, “Of Eye & Cloud” is the first of an intended epic fantasy series that explores a world whose technology is roughly equivalent to that of our own in the 1700’s, but is based on magnetism and glass rather than combustion and steel. The series seeks to explore the practice of mindfulness taken to nearly superhuman levels and treads on theological and philosophical ground through the adventures and near misses of Kol and his companions.

 

Plot. There needs to be an actual plot.

“The Darkness the Comes Before,” “Star Wars,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Buddhism Without Beliefs,” and “Seven Samurai,” went to a meetup and got a bit tipsy and come-hither. No one knows who the exact parents are, but the baby is a book and it’s name is, “Of Eye and Cloud.”  Jesus no. Most of these aren't even BOOKS.


Based on your etc., I believe we might enjoy working together.



#3 ella

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 01:17 PM

Hi -- I think this sounds interesting but there seems to be too much going on.  I have a similar problem with my book in that there are a lot of characters and some subplots. I would try to figure out what the most important conflict is in your novel and develop your query around that.  Don't worry about telling the entire story.  The goal is to entice, not to reveal the plot. If an agent's interest is piqued they will ask you for pages. I think the first sentence is good and it sounds like it is presenting a conflict I would want to see developed.  I think I know where you are going with the second sentence, but I it needs some editing for impact and clarity. 

 

What is more important, integrity or peace? Cyril Kol, of the Order of Eye and Cloud, chose integrity and the thousand year Peace of the Pillars came to ruin.

Kol revealed the corruption, but who is really to blame?  

 

Just giving you the above as an example of how it might be simplified. 

 

Hope these comments are helpful.

 

Sounds like a fun book.



#4 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 02:06 PM

Great stuff. Thanks. Would love to hear more before I revise. 



#5 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 02:12 PM

 

 

"Dear Agent,

What is more important, integrity or peace?Peace. Autoreject. Don't do this. Why would you do this?"

 

 

Springfield, could you elaborate on why that is autoreject for you? The reason why I did that, in case your question was not rhetorical, is because I find the question interesting and it is the dilemma that sets the events of the story in motion. I thought a question might prove to be a lure. But for you it was a repellent. Would love to hear more. All your other feedback is clear to me.  



#6 Springfield

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 02:26 PM

Questions are not lures - they are traditionally known to be agent repellent. Especially do not open with a question; especially especially don't open with a question that allows for an answer like that: 'peace, go away."



#7 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 03:07 PM

All right. More concise. Make it bleed.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Ten years after fleeing beyond The Spine, Kol is stunned to learn his wife and child survive. Desperate to reunite with his family and see them safe, Kol risks a return to a world that believes he fractured it when, as a member of the esteemed Order of Eye and Cloud, he chose integrity over peace and brought the solace of a thousand years to ruin. Pursued by Barron’s, cut-throats, and his own demons, Kol discovers the only way to redeem himself and secure his family’s safety is to repair a dying world that wants him dead.

 

Coming in at roughly 95,000 words, “Of Eye & Cloud” is the first of an epic fantasy series set in a world whose technology is roughly equivalent to that of our own in the 1700’s, but is based on magnetism and glass rather than combustion and steel. The series seeks to explore the practice of mindfulness, taken to nearly superhuman levels by The Order of Eye and Cloud, through the adventures, sacrifices, and eventual redemption of Cyril Kol, his companions, and the world.

 

Based on your etc., I believe we might enjoy working together.



#8 TJ Robinson

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 03:54 PM

I'd suggest working on your hook. You skip straight to his surprise at his family's survival, yet we have no reason to know they should be dead. I'd start with a different opening. Maybe something like this -

 

Ten years ago Cyril Kol made a choice that saved the world. Now everyone wants him dead.

 

From there you could go into how he was forced to flee after his family was murdered only to later discover they were still alive and ....

 

Obviously this needs work, but I think it gives you a better starting point. Good luck :-)



#9 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 03:56 PM

nice!

 

I guess the question is which is more of a hook: the circumstances that sent him to exile or the circumstances of his return? The exile is backstory. What happens upon his return is the current story. 



#10 Grench

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 06:54 PM

I've read through both drafts and have no idea what your story is about. You need to give us a sense of plot. Who is the main character, what does he want most in the world, what's getting in his way. Xxx must do xxx or SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS. But he can't because OF THE BAD GUY. Then he finds SOMETHING that MIGHT BE THE ANSWER TO HIS QUANDARY. But this presents SOME NEW DELIMMA that REQUIRES A REALLY TOUGH CHOICE. If he can't SOMETHING REALLY REALLY BAD HAPPENS.

As for your hook, it's the inciting incident that propels the story forward and changes the main character's worldview. A decade after a man/warrior/whatever left his family for dead, he learns they are still alive. But to get them back, he must upset a delicate peace/whatever and repair a dying world/whatever.

Now explain using what I have in the first graph simply and concisely. BTW, your second version isn't a query, it's a paragraph synopsis full of word-building jargon. A query should give an agent a flavor for your book based your hero's journey...

#11 Phaust

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:34 PM

Grench, I'll work on making the plot more evident. But isn't that a synopsis? Seems some fine line that I am whiffing on. 

 

As to the final paragraph, I have read that for Sci-Fi/SpecFic/Fantasy it is a good idea to include a world building paragraph. That does not appear to be your experience or inclination. I'd love to hear more. 



#12 Springfield

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:52 PM

What is the plot of the Hunger Games? You can write a 500-word synopsis. You can write a three-page synopsis.

 

Katniss promises her sister she'll come back the one living winner from the annual Hunger Games battle - and has to figure out how to keep her vow, especially when fighting her friends. 

 

One sentence. 

 

Any book that works can be summed up in one sentence - one clear sentence that gives character, problem, stakes. Start there.


Also, worldbuilding goes in the *beginning*, not the end.



#13 KitKatKungFu

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 11:24 AM

This is a little lengthy and hard to read through due to how complicated it is. There seem to be a lot of names and characters running around. I think everyone else has covered the main problems (like don't open a query with a question), what you have to do now is sit down and really get down to the bare bones of what your story is about. Writing a hook might help you do that because you'll need to compress it in a single sentence. Don't complicate the letter with lengthy explanations as to what your book seeks to explore. Simplify, simplify, simplify. And remember, you want to hook an agent from the start. Fewer words that pack a bigger punch.

 

Hope this helps. :smile: Good luck!   



#14 Phaust

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Posted 30 June 2016 - 12:35 PM

Writing the query has brought up some things that need to be addressed in the MS. I shall attend to that then return with a cleaner query. Thanks to all. 



#15 Phaust

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 06:01 PM

Been away for a bit, working out edits from beta readers.

 

Would love your feedback on this latest query. I feel it is a bit long. But I am not sure how to shrink it. I've just included the meat. No word count etc. That will be included of course. 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Specific Agent,

 

Because personalized etc. 

 

 

The warrior monk Cyril Kol has been searching for his wife and child ever since he caused The Collapse of civilization ten years ago. Only knowing that they reside in a Star Room - the sacred chamber of Oracles - his search is made more difficult yet by price on his head and the criminalization of his order and occupation. Wracked by guilt, his primary way of coping is making kites and drinking the moonshine he’s brewed in the aft of his massive schooner.

 

One day while searching for his family he beguiles a pair of highwaymen and rescues an orphaned courtesan-in-training runaway named Veepa. The girl awakens his sense of fatherhood.  Kol promises to keep Veepa safe by teaching her the Insights and Masteries of The Order of Eye and Cloud.

 

Meanwhile, swearing revenge, the murderous highwayman Josho Bun Lee pursues Kol. Josho’s quest for vengeance is both dismayed when he is taken as a conscript by The Silence, a battalion famous for wanton slaughter. However, when Josho learns the golden-boy leader of The Silence, Colonel Havaren Byrn, is bent on pursuing the man who ended civilization, a diabolical partnership is formed.

 

By the time Kol finds a Star Room with an Oracle, he has attracted a motley cadre of loveable allies. Together, they await the new moon, the time during which all Star Chambers are able to commune with one another. However, on the precipice of discovering where his wife and child are located, Josho, Byrn, and The Silence track Kol down.

 

If Kol waits for the new moon to learn the whereabouts of his missing family, he will endanger the family he has accumulated. He must chose between his lost child and his beloved student. With no way to win, Kol will once again bear responsibility for the decimation of all that he has come to love. But it is a decimation that will thrust Kol into a peace and power that his enemies can not touch.

 

Of Eye and Cloud is a speculative fiction/fantasy set in a world whose technology is based on magnetics and glass. It will appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss and R. Scott Bakker. More info about me and a polite sign off.

 

 

 

 

And now the part I hate. Let me get my feedback pads on.... okay. Have at it.



#16 npstanford

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:38 PM

 

The warrior monk Cyril Kol has been searching for his wife and child ever since he caused The Collapse of civilization ten years ago. // I like that the first things you are introducing is your MC's search for his family and that he caused the collapse of civillization. I think you could rephrase this. Maybe: "Ten years ago the warrior monk Kol caused the collapse of civilization." then followed by a new paragraph. 

 

"Since then, he has wandered the [what's your world like, is it a waste?] in search of his wife and child, avoiding <all the nasty people> after him. 

 

 

Only knowing that they reside in a Star Room - the sacred chamber of Oracles - his search is made more difficult yet by price on his head and the criminalization of his order and occupation. Wracked by guilt, his primary way of coping is making kites and drinking the moonshine he’s brewed in the aft of his massive schooner. // these are interesting character details, but not sure they belong in the query

 

One day while searching for his family he beguiles a pair of highwaymen and rescues an orphaned courtesan-in-training runaway named Veepa. The girl awakens his sense of fatherhood.  Kol promises to keep Veepa safe by teaching her the Insights and Masteries of The Order of Eye and Cloud//this can be shortened to just "But when he rescues a young girl, and takes her as a student, it is no longer only himself he must protect."

 

Meanwhile, swearing revenge, the murderous highwayman Josho Bun Lee pursues Kol. Josho’s quest for vengeance is both dismayed when he is taken as a conscript by The Silence, a battalion famous for wanton slaughter. However, when Josho learns the golden-boy leader of The Silence, Colonel Havaren Byrn, is bent on pursuing the man who ended civilization, a diabolical partnership is formed. // how much of the book is from josho's POV? If not too much, I'd just describe him as a force pursuing Kol, e.g. Kol and his disciple search for the legendary star room, purused by a murderous highway man and a battalion of slaughterers, all of whom have personal grudges with Kol. (something like that but better)

 

By the time Kol finds a Star Room with an Oracle, he has attracted a motley cadre of loveable allies. Together, they await the new moon, the time during which all Star Chambers are able to commune with one another. However, on the precipice of discovering where his wife and child are located, Josho, Byrn, and The Silence track Kol down. //honestly, this paragraph with all the names just confused me a bunch. I thnk you can just cut it.

 

If Kol waits for the new moon to learn the whereabouts of his missing family, he will endanger the family he has accumulated. He must chose between his lost child and his beloved student. With no way to win, Kol will once again bear responsibility for the decimation of all that he has come to love. But it is a decimation that will thrust Kol into a peace and power that his enemies can not touch. //nice stakes... one thing ot make it stronger would be to add one detail earlier showing how kol's relationship with veepa has grown. I also think you just reorg this paragraph as: "But when he finally finds the trail of his long lost family, he is caught by his pursuers. He'll have to make a choice between... 

 

Of Eye and Cloud is a speculative fiction/fantasy set in a world whose technology is based on magnetics and glass. It will appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss and R. Scott Bakker. //might want to specifically call out your similarities to these works (e.g. a first person narrator with an interesting voice) More info about me and a polite sign off.

 

 

Sounds interesting. I have also been doing my first query. The big thing it took me a while to realize is that there is a difference between summarizing your book (which is what you do in a query) and giving a summary of the narrative (which is waht a synopsis does). The query just needs to communicate, in a compelling way: your MC and his goal, what is the origin of conflict, what are the stakes, and what is most unique about your book. (Thus, you don't need to give the blow by blow of how Kol meets Veepa or how Josho befriends Byrn)

 

Also, if you have time, please take a look at my query.



#17 Phaust

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:52 PM

Excellent insights npstanford. Thanks. I'll take a look at your stuff. Though my confidence as a novelist and novelist feedbacker is way higher than my query form of the same. 



#18 Phaust

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 06:09 PM

Here's #4. Thanks for the last feedback. 

 

 

 

Ten years ago the warrior monk Cyril Kol caused the collapse of civilization. The ensuing cataclysm cost the lives of his wife and child. Or so he thought.

 

Since learning that they live, Kol has scoured the war torn world in search of his family, knowing only that they reside in one of the Star Rooms - sacred chambers of Oracles. His search is made more difficult by the price on his head, the criminalization of his order and occupation, and his coping method of consistent insobriety.

 

But when he rescues an orphaned courtesan-in-training runaway and takes her as a student, it is no longer only himself he must protect. Pursued by a murderous highway man bent on revenge and a battalion of slaughterers determined to bag the man who caused The Collapse, Kol and a motley cadre of loveable allies search for an occupied Star Room, while Veepa learns the ways of The Order of Eye and Cloud.

 

But by the time he finds the trail of his long lost family, his predators are closing in. If Kol waits for the Oracle to divulge the whereabouts of his missing family, he will endanger the family he has accumulated. He must chose between his lost child and his beloved student. With no way to win, Kol will once again bear responsibility for the decimation of all that he has come to love. But it is a decimation that will thrust Kol into a peace and power that his enemies can not touch.

Of Eye and Cloud is a speculative fiction/hard fantasy with a unique voice and strong characters whose stories unfold in a world where the technology is based on magnetics and glass in a historical period roughly equivalent to our early 1800’s. Centered on an ethical question and a metaphysical system, Of Eye and Cloud will appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss for it’s lively tone and to people who enjoy the philosophical and moral predilections of R. Scott Bakker.



#19 Testome

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 01:24 AM



Here's #4. Thanks for the last feedback. 

 

 

 

Ten years ago the warrior monk Cyril Kol caused the collapse of civilization. The ensuing cataclysm cost the lives of his wife and child. Or so he thought.

 

Since learning that they live, Kol has scoured the war torn world in search of his family, knowing only that they reside in one of the Star Rooms - sacred chambers of Oracles. His search is made more difficult by the price on his head, the criminalization of his order and occupation, and his coping method of consistent insobriety.

 

But when he rescues an orphaned courtesan-in-training runaway and takes her as a student, it is no longer only himself he must protect. It doesn't seem to affect things much.Pursued by a murderous highway man bent on revenge and a battalion of slaughterers determined to bag the man who caused The Collapse, Kol and a motley cadre of loveable allies seems not to impact things much.search for an occupied Star Room, while Veepa learns the ways of The Order of Eye and Cloud. Who is Veepa? I can assume it's the girl he rescued, but you never mentioned the name before now. 

 

But by the time he finds the trail of his long lost family, his predators are closing in. If Kol waits for the Oracle to divulge the whereabouts of his missing family, he will endanger the family he has accumulated. This family he's accumilated part seems glossed over. He must chose between his lost child and his beloved student. The stakes are not coming through well on the student side of things because she seems glossed over. With no way to win, Kol will once again bear responsibility for the decimation of all that he has come to love. Not sure this really adds enough. But it is a decimation that will thrust Kol into a peace and power that his enemies can not touch. This is vague and telling.

 

Of Eye and Cloud is a speculative fiction/hard fantasy with a unique voice and strong characters whose stories unfold in a world where the technology is based on magnetics and glass in a historical period roughly equivalent to our early 1800’s. Centered on an ethical question and a metaphysical system, I would avoid commenting on your own work. Let it come through in the query and manuscript.Of Eye and Cloud will appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss for it’s lively tone and to people who enjoy the philosophical and moral predilections of R. Scott Bakker.

My main problem with this the new family/student aspect is not coming off as believable the way it's currently written so the stakes came off as flat to me.



#20 Phaust

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 08:27 AM

Flat student stakes. Good. Got it. Graci.







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