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The Wrong Empress (I'll return critique)


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#21 danipie

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 01:40 PM

Thanks, CarterT!  (I didn't find a way to decrease the mentioning of Rome while leaving the enmity of the empire and of Alexander's role, and I'll welcome suggestions to do that. As for Caligula, I thought his name is quite known so his unknown role here is intriguing.)

 

Here's the new version:

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves. I think this hook is good, but could use a couple details to make it great.

 

When Bernice's father tries to kill himself, pressed by inflating debt to the senators controlling Rome, Bernice vows to overthrow the senators' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula in his quest to become emperor. Meanwhile Bernice seeks aid in repaying her father's debt, by looking for her childhood friend, Alexander. When she finds him, now a formidable officer in the Roman army, they wrangle over Rome's oppression, recognize their mutual dream of justice, and fall hopelessly in love.

 

Bernice and her father achieve their goal as Caligula becomes emperor, appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel, and revives the republic's elections. The degraded oligarchs poison Caligula, and when he becomes insane, they exploit the empire's people and leave them starved. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion, rallying the entire Eastern Empirethough I am intrigued by the story through these last couple paragraphs, the question I'm asking myself is why Bernice? Why is she the main character? the story seems to be focusing on all these other characters and not her. Though I think it's important to get the story through the way you have, I think some restructuring for more focus on Bernice might be good.

 

After the rebels' announcement of independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. Fearing for the life of the new Queen, Alexander rushes to the grieving Bernice, comforts her and proposes. But marrying a Roman commander will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.



#22 eric balson

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 03:32 PM

Thanks, CarterT!  (I didn't find a way to decrease the mentioning of Rome while leaving the enmity of the empire and of Alexander's role, and I'll welcome suggestions to do that. As for Caligula, I thought his name is quite known so his unknown role here is intriguing.)

 

Here's the new version:

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves. Good Hook

 

When Bernice's father tries to kill himself, pressed by inflating debt to the senators controlling Rome, Bernice vows to overthrow the senators' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula in his quest to become emperor. Meanwhile Bernice seeks aid in repaying her father's debt, by looking for her childhood friend, Alexander. When she finds him, now a formidable officer in the Roman army, they wrangle over Rome's oppression, recognize their mutual dream of justice, and fall hopelessly in love. With some wordsmithing, you can whittle down this paragraph to less words by cutting out superfluous info

 

Bernice and her father achieve their goal as Caligula becomes emperor, HOW DO THEY ACHIEVE THIS?appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel, and revives the republic's elections. The degraded oligarchs poison Caligula, and when he becomes insane, they exploit the empire's people and leave them starved. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion, rallying the entire Eastern Empire.

 

After the rebels' announcement of independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. Fearing for the life of the new Queen, Wait, what? Queen of what? When did she become queen Alexander rushes to the grieving Bernice, comforts her and proposes. But marrying a Roman commander will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.

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#23 dragoness

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 07:08 AM

Thank you all. I was on a vacation, and now I'm back.

I tried looking at dozens of historical novels' back-covers, but couldn't find much in common, most of them didn't have any hook, for example  :sad: . Yet, I made several changes, and I hope they improved the query.

Here's my new version:

 

As the bankers controlling Rome enslave the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice, and Jesus who has risen up against them is crucified, a rebellion is only a matter of time.

 

When Bernice's indebted father tries to kill himself, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs isn't complicated enough, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love.

 

The oligarchs haven't said their last word yet, however, and they poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and then stab him to death. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing the independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieved Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for her life, rushes to comfort her, and proposes. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavement.



#24 Keledron

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:09 AM

Thank you all. I was on a vacation, and now I'm back.

I tried looking at dozens of historical novels' back-covers, but couldn't find much in common, most of them didn't have any hook, for example  :sad: . Yet, I made several changes, and I hope they improved the query.

Here's my new version:

 

As The bankers controlling Rome enslaved the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. Jesus, the leader of the Christian movement and voice of the people has just been crucified. As the people suffer, a rebellion stirs. (Good hook, just needs a little clean-up and the ability to take a breath while reading it, just a suggestion here :) )

 

When Bernice's indebted father tries to kill himself, she vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchyBernice and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs isn't complicated enough, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love. (I don't think unwittingly works here. Just a feeling)

 

The oligarchs have no plans of fading away quietly. They poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and then stab him to death. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing the independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieved Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for her life, rushes to comfort her, and proposes. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion (This reads more like a synopsis here, and explains events more than "hooks" my interest. I'd find a way to keep this very general. Setup what's at stake here, and the consequences of Alex's proposal to her. We don't need to know WHY he proposed to her in your query. I would suggest stating their love growing as the rebellion takes hold, and in comes Alex's proposal. This sets up your true conflict. It shows rather then tells what the stakes are. Also, WHY would it force her to abandon the rebellion if she marries him? He has just as much option to join the rebellion. That isn't very clear here, and it might cause an agent to ask the same questions.)

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavement.

 

Don't forget you need a summary section with the details of the book's TITLE, genre, and approximate word count. Possibly state a novel or two that "fans of X and Y would enjoy bla bla", and absolutely make sure to thank the agent for their time and consideration. Also, if they ask for attached pages/synopsis, let them know it's attached to the same email.

 

 

 

 

Despite my getting a bit wordy :) I like this! I'm a total history geek and the story is definitely interesting. The reason I suggest keeping Jesus a generalized character in your first statement, is that for your query, his death is what sets this off, but he as a character is not significant to YOUR story. Try to limit names in the query to the main characters involved.

 

I was flipping back and forth about even eliminating the name of her father. Because again, your main characters are Bernice and Alex, based on your query. I would keep her father generalized (as: her father), without naming him directly.

 

Does that make sense?


Any critiques on my current query for A Wizard Deceived would be highly appreciated, and I would gladly critique yours in return!

 

http://agentquerycon...rd-deceived-uf/

 

Synopsis critiques would be SO APPRECIATED!!

 

http://agentquerycon...izard-deceived/

 

Follow Merlin's journey to publication!

 

http://scribblersepic.livejournal.com/

 

 

 


#25 perpetua

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 11:24 AM

I agree with the previous two commenters. The first sentence needs a little something more to draw us in. Maybe if you started a second sentence with something like: Especially when... or Especially since....

 

Regarding your last sentence, perhaps if you turned it around a little and said something like:  Bernice must now choose: give the masses their only chance at freedom or sacrifice her love—and probably her life.

 

I like your premise a lot, and I think you're on the right track. Keep at it.



#26 Chuck_Spragins

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:15 PM


First of all, thank you for your critique of RIVER PLATE BASIN. I take your point about the short paragraphs and think that the changes you made are spot on.


I also take your point about the Americans being smart and everyone else stupid. However, my intention is to show that the really clever one is Alman, the terrorist. Not only does he escape but his ploy to cause the US Navy to spread its resources thin and alleviate pressure on his homeland actually works in the end. The American 'triumph' is hollow and David recognizes it. Regarding Brazilian 'stupidity', my intention is to show the possible unintended consequences of unbridled corruption and greed in business and politics. I have lived here for over 30 years and the level of corruption that has been uncovered over the last two is unbelievable. It has led to some equally unbelievable acts of stupidity. That it could figure into a ploy that leads to war .... well, that is pure fiction. Or not?


Moving on to your piece, I see that you have changed the name and shortened it up substantially. I liked the previous name better, but that is probably just me. In any case, you do not mention at any time that Bernice is/becomes an empress or why she is 'wrong', and probably should. More importantly, at 223 words it reads more like a query than a synopsis. Ops! Sorry, but I just now realized that it is a query. I assumed that your link sent me back to the synopsis. So, forget all the next part about word count. You have plenty of room to build out your story. I've read every link on this site and lots of others to try to get a fix on the word count for synopses. The best reference I found was the word count of the 'successful' synopsis link posted on this site. Two were in the 400 to 600 range, but many more (5 I think) were in the 1300 to 1700 range. For what it is worth, my latest version (after your comments and not posted yet) comes in at 701.


There is much more of a consensus regarding queries, 250 to 500. Your synopsis is even shorter than that.


My specific comments are below.


As the bankers controlling Rome enslave the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice, and Jesus who has risen up against them is crucified, a rebellion is only a matter of time. This opening does not work for me. First, the word 'enslave' can lead to confusion. I am no historian, but I think that most people know that towards the end, the slaves in Rome outnumbered all others by many multiples. I know that you use it metaphorically and refer to something that is happening to the non-slaves, but why invite the confusion? Second, Dormice, according to Webster's, is the plural of dormouse, any of numerous small, nocturnal, furry-tailed Old World rodents. That is a weird image. I suggest working with the 'Jesus' clause, since (I believe) the Romans viewed that as a rebellion, or something like that.


When Bernice's indebted father tries to kill himself, Bernice she vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy.You need to explain more about the oligarchy. That way, when you use the word later on, the reader knows what you mean. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs Provide an example of what her resisting actually consists of in order to make this believable. isn't complicated enough, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's the oligarch's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love. From discussing politics to falling in love is quite a leap. Build a smoother transition with another sentence or two.


The oligarchs haven't said their last word yet, however, react, and they poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and. tThen they stab him to death. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing their independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieveding Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for her life, rushes to comfort protect her, and proposes. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion.


Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her between love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavement. and fighting to free her people from the oligarch's yoke.


#27 augustasands

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:39 PM

Thank you all. I was on a vacation, and now I'm back.

I tried looking at dozens of historical novels' back-covers, but couldn't find much in common, most of them didn't have any hook, for example  :sad: . Yet, I made several changes, and I hope they improved the query.

Here's my new version:

 

As the bankers controlling Rome enslave the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice, and Jesus who has risen up against them is crucified, a rebellion is only a matter of time. (There needs to be at least one more example here for rhythm's sake. If there isn't one, you may eliminate the Jesus crucifixion and focus on the banking aspect. It would look more like this:) Rebellion is only a matter of time. The Roman bankers have enslaved the empire's people. Their abusive oligarchy led Bernice's indebted father to attempt suicide, and Bernice now vows to overthrow their abusive oligarchy by helping the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and revive the republic's elections.

 

When Bernice's indebted father tries to kill himself, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs isn't complicated enough, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love. (The love story seems like a major part of the plot, but it comes out of left field with all the detail regarding the structure of the query so far. It needs some help in phrasing. Really link it back to the politics so it seems relevant. Maybe something like: In the midst of the political warfare, Bernice finds counsel in her childhood friend, Alexander. With a matching desire to bring justice to Rome, the two fall in love swiftly. However, loving a Roman commander like Alexander will force Bernice to abandon her rebel loyalties.

 

As far as where that placement would be, that's up to you to decide. I think it might behoove you to withhold the information about Alexander being a Roman commander until the end. So you mention the love of justice and their mutual pining and then the assassination. Then at the end, the reader understands it's not that simple and it develops a really natural conflict.)

 

The oligarchs haven't said their last word yet, however, and they poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and then stab him to death. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing the independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieved Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for her life, rushes to comfort her, and proposes. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavement.


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#28 newb

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:24 PM

Thank you all. I was on a vacation, and now I'm back.

I tried looking at dozens of historical novels' back-covers, but couldn't find much in common, most of them didn't have any hook, for example  :sad: . Yet, I made several changes, and I hope they improved the query.

Here's my new version:

 

As the bankers controlling Rome enslave the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice, and Jesus who has risen up against them is crucified, a rebellion is only a matter of time.

 

When Bernice's indebted father tries to kill himself, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs isn't complicated enough, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love.

 

The oligarchs haven't said their last word yet, however, and they poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and then stab him to death. This line was a little confusing. Maybe beause of the "yet, however, and they". Is it important that Caligula becomes insane? Maybe it's just important he is stabbed to death. So it could be "The Oligarchs haven't had their last say. They poison Caligula" or "they kill Caligula". 

 

In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing the Israel's independence, So the emperor dies and the king of israel starts a rebellion against the dead emperor? The Oligarchs aren't in power right? So is it still a rebellion? Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieved Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for her life, rushes to comfort her, and proposes. this makes it sound like he's proposing only because he fears for her life. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavementthis last sentence seems a bit clunky.  

Sounds like an interesting story. Just got confused on a few details. Thanks for taking the time to leave a critique. Really appreciate it. 



#29 Phaust

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 04:29 PM

 

 

As the bankers controlling Rome enslave the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice, and Jesus who has risen up against them is crucified, a rebellion is only a matter of time.

 

When Bernice's indebted father, NAME, tries to kill himself, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy. She and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections, and Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. Meanwhile, as if resisting the oligarchs isn't complicated enough, When Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman commander, reappears in her life. While the two of them discuss Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and unwittingly fall in love.

 

The oligarchs haven't said their last word yet, however, and they poison Caligula, who becomes insane, and then stab him to death. Caligula is driven mad and assassinated. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion that costs NAME his life. rallying the entire eastern empire. But after announcing the independence, Bernice's father is assassinated. The grieved Bernice mourns her father, not knowing that the oligarchs had ordered her elimination as well. Alexander, fearing for BERNICE'S life, rushes to comfort her, and proposes. Marrying a Roman commander, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion. Wait, what? You lost me with this consequence. Is this a forbidden love? How would this end the rebellion? Why must he propose if that is the stakes? 

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love, and probably her life, for the only chance of the empire's people to fight their enslavement. and avenge her father? 



#30 dragoness

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 06:06 AM

Thank you all so much!  :smile:

 

I named only to the two MC, and to the known Jesus and Emperor Caligula. Should I delete one of them? Should I name Bernice's father too?

 

Here's another version. What do you think?

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire proves easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves.

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. Revolutionaries like Jesus, who rise up against the bankers' evil, are cruelly crucified. Rebelling is deadly, as Herodian Bernice, whose dream is to marry her beloved Roman Officer Alexander, knows very well. But when the oligarchs press Bernice's indebted father to attempt suicide, Bernice resolves to overthrow their abusive oligarchy regardless of the price. Her first step must be parting with Alexander, and she does it even though it breaks her heart. Then she and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. After they announce the alliance's independence, however, Bernice's father is assassinated. Alexander, fearing for Bernice's life, rushes to her, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept and not be lonely anymore, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love -- and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.



#31 Chuck_Spragins

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 09:27 AM

This is getting much better

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the whole of the Roman Empire proves easier than opposing the a single Roman commander, when he is the man she loves. I like what you are trying to do with the opening, but you are not quite there. In the query Bernice never really opposes Alex. She parts from him at one point and at the end she must choose between him and leading the rebellion. I've tried to reconcile this with the changes proposed. I'm sure you can do better. It could be read as a spoiler because it implies that she chooses to lead the rebellion and dump Alex, whereas you end the query with this as an open question.

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to line their own pockets and finance their lavish parties of stuffed-dormice. It is a stretch to think that parties alone, no matter how lavish, would be enough to starve Rome's people. IMO the 'stuffed dormice' image is creepy and the phrase is esoteric. I think you will lose some of your audience with it. Revolutionaries like Jesus, who rise up against the bankers' evil, are cruelly crucified. Jesus' story is pretty well known and not generally associated with a rebellion against anything associated with bankers. Again, IMO this is a stretch too far. If your point is that leading a rebellion is dangerous, then you can leave it out without losing anything critical to your story. Rebelling is deadly, as Herodian Bernice, whose dream is to marry her beloved Roman Officer Alexander, knows very well. But when the oligarchs press Bernice's indebted father to the point that he attempts suicide, Bernice  she resolves to overthrow their abusive oligarchy regardless of the price cost. Her first step must be is parting with her true love, a Roman officer named Alexander, and she does it even though , though it breaks her heart. Then she and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as the King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. After they announce the alliance's independence, however, Bernice's father is assassinated. Alexander, fearing for Bernice's life, rushes to protect her, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept and not be lonely anymore, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love -- and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement oppression. With all the slaves there were in Rome, the notion that citizens are being enslaved is an unnecessary point of confusion. 



#32 augustasands

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 11:14 AM

Thank you all so much!  :smile:

 

I named only to the two MC, and to the known Jesus and Emperor Caligula. Should I delete one of them? Should I name Bernice's father too?

 

Here's another version. What do you think?

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire proves easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves. (I know the others seem good with this hook, but I can't help but feel that it paints Alexander in an unsympathetic way. Opposing a dangerous empire is one thing, but if she has to oppose Alexander, it makes the romance seem one-sided. I will be very lenient in that critique though, because romance is admittedly not my thing.)

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to finance their parties of stuffed-dormice finance their parties of stuffed dormice by starving the empire's people. Revolutionaries like Jesus, who rise up against the bankers' evil, are cruelly crucified. (You seem set on mentioning Jesus in your query, which is fine if you detail him in the book as a character or major plot point. If not, it feels very much like historical-fiction name-dropping. I would really think about how needed this information is, and if it gives the query just as much weight without describing who was crucified. If the act of crucifying rebels is what you're trying to show here, then you don't necessarily need the name-drop.) Rebelling is deadly, as Herodian Bernice, whose dream is to marry her beloved Roman Officer Alexander, knows very well. (Simplify when you can! The marriage to Alexander doesn't quite connect to the rebellion for Bernice. This sentence makes it sound as though there's no argument who Bernice will choose (Alexander). It makes me think we're missing something connective between the love-story and the rebellion. Is there any way you can add something to explain Alexander's motivations? It doesn't have to be long, but what we have now makes Alexander seem like he is a roman commander first and Alexander, the lover, second.) But when the oligarchs press Bernice's indebted father to attempt suicide (This makes it sound as though her father is blackmailed, but what you wrote before made it seem as though her father turned to suicide because of no other options. Be careful with the phrasing.), Bernice resolves to overthrow their abusive oligarchy regardless of the price. Her first step must be parting with Alexander, and she does it even though it breaks her heart. Then she and her father help the rebellious Caligula become emperor and revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel. After her father's attempted suicide, Bernice parts from Alexander to attend to the revolution. With her father's help, they assist the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and to revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. After they announce the alliance's independence, however, Bernice's father is assassinated. Alexander, fearing for Bernice's life, rushes to her, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept and not be lonely anymore, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion. (This feels like a lot of information. Think about what you need to explain to get to your last hook. If our hook is: Bernice must choose between love and liberty--then we need to know two things. We need to know 1. What Alexander does 2. What the oligarchy does. So what we know right now is that Alexander proposes in an attempt to protect her. Knowing this, we don't need to know that Bernice hopes to reunite with him, because we know that she eventually does. With the oligarchy, we know they arrange a coup and replace the ruler Bernice helped instate. We also can assume, since Bernice helped put Caligula in rule, that she will have a target on herself, which explains why Alexander would need to propose to protect her.)

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love -- and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.

 

Since Bernice's father is important because of his relation to Bernice, I think calling him her father is an easy way to keep the characters neat in the query. I like the name Caligula and I think that it's unique enough that there isn't any confusion for using his name either. My only issue is Jesus (which sounds bad out of context) but I explain that more in my in-text critique. Don't feel too pressured to take every bit of critique and suggestion given to you! I didn't write as many corrects as much as I wrote reflections. I think you're on your way to creating a really sellable pitch, you just need to iron out what this book is to you.

 

I've become sort of invested now in seeing how this turns out, so if you rewrite the query again and you want me to give it another look, please don't hesitate to shoot me a message or to write on my profile or anything like that!


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#33 dragoness

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:13 AM

Thank you for your helpful comments!  :smile:

 

I didn't find how to improve the hook. The novel isn't a romance, it's focus is on Bernice's life-long fight for justice. The love affair is there to create conflict and to attach the readers.

 

(Chuck_Spragins, enslavement seems the right phrase to me, because the oligarchs made the masses get into inflating debts and sell their belongings, lands, their children and themselves to slavery to pay their debts. The novel displays a lot of creepy and cruel things, as it displays a true story involving cruel people, so I think the query may include some of it too. Anyway, I'd like to hear other opinions...)

 

Here's the new version:

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves.

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to line their pockets and finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. Rebels are cruelly crucified, but when Bernice's indebted father attempts suicide, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy at all costs. Her first step must be parting with her love Officer Alexander, who joined the Roman army believing the unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within. Then, with her father's help, Bernice assists the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and to revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire, which brings to Bernice's father's assassination. Alexander rushes to protect Bernice, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love –  and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.



#34 Bananas

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:53 AM

 

 

Here's the new version:

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves.  If this story isn't a romance, I'd suggest dropping this "hook".  It sounds straight up romancey.  If you're not able to write a tighter hook, then maybe consider going without it.

 

Here's my attempt at what I think your novel is about.  Ditch it if it sucks. It seems to me that you're trying to cover a lot of ground and there are a lot of extraneous plot points that distract away from Bernice.  I've tried to cut it down to what I think are the salient points.  I can't say I love what I've wrote, because I think it sounds like a synopsis.

 

In ancient Rome, bankrupted nobles have two choices: either sell themselves and their families into slavery, or commit suicide.  Drowning in debt, Bernice's father chooses the latter, but is unsuccessful.  Bernice vows to get revenge against the bankers who orchestrated her father's downfall.

 

She sees the restoration of the Republic's long dead electoral process as the best, and perhaps only, solution to the banker's oligarchy.  The only way it can return though, is if the Emperor decrees it.  Bernice and her father help the rebellious Caligula assume the throne.  Unfortunately, before he can implement her changes, his opponents have him murdered.  

 

The emperor's assassination sparks open revolt in the provinces.  Bernice and her father rally the entire eastern empire, spearheading an effective resistance.  But before they can strike against their enemies, her father is murdered.  Suddenly alone and vulnerable, Bernice has to choose - she can either quit and live or she can continue fighting for justice and risk everything.

 

 

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to line their pockets and finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. Rebels are cruelly crucified, but when Bernice's indebted father attempts suicide, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy at all costs. Her first step must be parting with her love Officer Alexander, who joined the Roman army believing the unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within. Then, with her father's help, Bernice assists the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and to revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire, which brings to Bernice's father's assassination. Alexander rushes to protect Bernice, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love -- and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.



#35 Keledron

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:43 AM

I'm in agreement with the direction that Bananas is suggesting here. Your latest draft is coming off more of "and then this happens, and then this happens". It sets up plenty of conflict, to the point where Bernice and her impact upon it seem almost non-existent. Don't forget: she's your star! :)

 

Her input shows how you can shine a light on Bernice, who is your protagonist and central spotlight, and ensures SHE helps drop the plot forward, and is not just a reactionary to the plot.  

 

I also agree that unless you're going for a romance category novel here, her and Alexander's love is more a mini sub plot to the overall story of your novel: Bernice's revolution and the fight to see the republic restored.

 

If you ARE writing a romance novel, then the query gets switched around: Alexander and Bernice's love is the main thing your story cares about, while the republic and the chaos surrounding it's collapse is merely the backdrop providing obstacles to B&A getting together etc etc.

 

Consider that: What is the main plot here, and what is just backdrop? What is the story your book is trying to tell?

 

 

:) thanks for your input on my query.


Any critiques on my current query for A Wizard Deceived would be highly appreciated, and I would gladly critique yours in return!

 

http://agentquerycon...rd-deceived-uf/

 

Synopsis critiques would be SO APPRECIATED!!

 

http://agentquerycon...izard-deceived/

 

Follow Merlin's journey to publication!

 

http://scribblersepic.livejournal.com/

 

 

 


#36 E.G. Tczarzenskawitz

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 10:29 AM

When Bernice’s indebted father attempts suicide to escape a life of enslavement, Bernice vows to overthrow the banker’s abusive oligarchy at all costs.

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to line their pockets and finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. With the oligarchy’s system rigged against them, the masses are forced into continuously inflating debt. Forced into slavery when the debt becomes too high to pay, it seems there is no hope for the citizens of Rome. Alexander becomes an Officer in the Roman army, believing the unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within. Bernice follows a different path, deciding to join the rebellious Caligula to revive the republic’s elections. When the oligarchs murder Caligula, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire. When Alexander proposes, Bernice must choose to marry her love, and give up her fight against the oligarchs, or to sacrifice her love – and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.

 

The Wrong Empress is a (Insert Genre) novel of (Insert Word Count.)



#37 Phaust

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:33 PM

Kaledron speaks the truth above. Below are some line comments. 

 

 

 

 

 


 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves. Nice! Might not need "rebellion leader."

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling mid 1st century Rome starve the empire's people to line their pockets and finance their parties of stuffed-dormice (I do not know what stuffed-dormice is. I kept reading door mice and was confused). Rebels are cruelly crucified, but when Bernice's indebted father attempts suicide, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy at all costs. Her first step must be parting with her love, Officer Alexander, who joined the Roman army believing the unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within. Then, with her father's help, Bernice assists the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and to revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, When Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire, which brings to Bernice's father is assassinated 's assassination. Alexander rushes to protect Bernice, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love –  and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.

 

 

What is the climax? Is it her choice to love or lead? After all the Empire intrigue, the romantic angle feels less than... Not sure how to fix it though I get what you're going for I think and its great. Maybe an even more general, less detailed outline of the politics and a bit more about the romance and its stakes. I think you said this was not a romance novel and I don't think it has to be to get more into it.... not unless The English Patient was a romance novel. 

 

 

if you get a chance: http://agentquerycon...ion-8/?p=338622



#38 augustasands

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:48 PM

Here's the new version:

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves.

 

It's the mid-1st century, and the bankers controlling Rome starve the empire's people to line their pockets and finance their parties of stuffed-dormice. Is there any way to break this up? Your concepts are heavy (in a good way), so you might break it up to add a catchier rhythm. Rebels are cruelly crucified, but when Bernice's indebted father attempts suicide, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy at all costs. Though rebels are cruelly crucified, Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' oligarchy at all costs after her indebted father attempts suicide. OR MAYBE Bernice vows to overthrow the bankers' oligarchy at all costs after her father attempts suicide. We may not even need to mention the crucifying since we can assume the bankers are cruel.  Her first step must be parting with her love Officer Alexander, who joined the Roman army believing the unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within Can this be shortened. I think it's important how Alexander wants to change the Roman army, but maybe we put it against Bernice like: Bernice vows to overthrow... at all costs. Her lover, Roman Officer Alexander, believes it can be done from within. Then, with her father's help, Is it pertinent to know Bernice's father helped appoint Caligula and do we need to know about his new status of the King of Israel? Bernice assists the rebellious Caligula to become emperor and to revive the republic's elections. In return, Caligula appoints Bernice's father as King of Israel.

 

Bernice hopes to reunite with Alexander, now that the army supports their ally Caligula, but the oligarchs murder Caligula and appoint a greedy puppet emperor in his place. In response, Bernice and her father spearhead a rebellion rallying the entire eastern empire, which brings to Bernice's father's assassination. Alexander rushes to protect Bernice, and proposes. The grieving Bernice wishes to accept, but marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love –  and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.

 

I feel like there is so much information in the second to last paragraph. I read a tip that helped me center down my action about focusing on the first 50 pages of action for the hook. Does this all happen so soon? If not, cut some stuff out.


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#39 dragoness

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 04:50 AM

Thank you all very much!  :smile:

 

Trying to implement your comments, I wrote it a little differently. What do you think?

 

 

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire seems easier than opposing the Roman commander she loves.

 

When Bernice's father attempts suicide, pressed by inflating debt to the bankers controlling Rome, Bernice resolves to overthrow the bankers' abusive oligarchy. In an empire reigned by oligarchs who starve the masses to line their own pockets, Bernice and her father swiftly spearhead a revolution allying the entire eastern empire.

 

As the rebellion spreads, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, now a Roman officer, visits her for several days to talk her out of rebelling. While Bernice and Alexander dispute over the best way to change Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, and fall deeply in love. Nevertheless, they part knowing they have no future together.  

 

When the time comes, Bernice and her father declare the alliance's independence, but Bernice's father is assassinated. Alexander rushes to protect the mourning Bernice, and proposes. Marrying a loyal Roman officer, however, will force Bernice to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether to sacrifice her love – and probably her life – for the masses' only chance to fight their enslavement.



#40 E.G. Tczarzenskawitz

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 09:21 AM

For rebellion leader Bernice, opposing the Roman Empire would be easier if it didn’t also mean opposing the Roman commander she loves. (I tried making it sound more conflicting yet connected)

 

When Bernice’s indebted father attempts suicide to escape a life of enslavement to the bankers controlling Rome, Bernice vows to overthrow the banker’s abusive oligarchy. So to free the empire, reigned by oligarchs who starve the masses to line their own pockets, Bernice and her father swiftly spearhead a revolution allying the entire eastern region. (I used a connecter with So, and changed the last empire to region so that the word empire isn’t overused.)

 

As the rebellion spreads, Bernice's childhood friend Alexander, believing the seemingly unbeatable Rome can be changed only from within, comes to talk her out of rebelling.  While Bernice and Alexander dispute over the best way to change Rome's oppression, they recognize their mutual dream of justice, causing them to fall deeply in love. Nevertheless, they part knowing that a Roman Commander and the Rebel Leader have no future together.  (I thought adding a line you used in a previous draft connected the paragraph better. Then adding that he is a Roman Commander vs her as the rebel leader being why they can’t be together clarifies that point.)

 

When the time comes, Bernice and her father declare the alliance's independence, leading to Bernice's father’s assassination. Realizing he could lose her, Alexander rushes to protect the mourning Bernice and propose. Though she loves Alexander, Bernice knows that marrying a loyal Roman officer will force her to end the rebellion.

 

Bernice must choose whether sacrificing her happiness, and probably her life is worth what could be the masses' only chance to end their enslavement. (I wanted to show more conflict/stakes, and said “end” instead of fight to make it more dramatic. It’s not just giving up her life for a chance to fight, but for a chance to win.)

 

You keep getting better and better. I'm impressed. I can't wait to see your next draft. Maybe it will be the finished product. Hope my thoughts help. :)






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