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Tales of Adventure: The Wayfarer [Adult (Psychological) Fantasy] - Critique for Critique


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#21 Wayfarer

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 03:24 AM

I attempted some major revision using your advice Sataris, do let me know if you find it any better. Thank you for your help!



#22 pigeononthemoon

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 03:47 AM

Aëros Arûaë finds himself balanced on the brink of insanity after the villain he has long sought to slay instead kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was so rightly his due. [This is so much better! Before I had no idea what was going on, and now I'm intrigued. You can still cut words, but even if you don't, this is ten times better than the first draft.]

 

He repressed the memory of his failure then, affecting in its place a falsehood he could bear; ;[colon not semi-colon] that the villain lived, and he would find his reprisal still. He journeys now in search of his illusory revenge, guided by a shadow only he can see, and only he can hear. It whispers to him of the villain’s refuge, and he heeds its words without question as he ventures towards his journeys conclusion.

 

In the end Aëros will learn that his shadow is nothing more than a symptom of his unraveling mind, its purpose to guide him back to the place where his descent into insanity began; the villains grave. It is there he will be faced with a choice; to accept the memory of his failure, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once again, savoring the hollow numbness offered in doing so, but cursing himself to descend into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return. Don't give away the ending in the last paragraph.That's what synopses are for. Imagine this is the back cover of the book. What does it say? I highly recommend reading the Query Shark's website!

 

You're definitely getting there, but I don't see enough plot. And don't forget to include a paragraph with the book's title, word count, and genre.

 

Good luck!



#23 Wayfarer

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 04:46 AM

Revision 7 posted.

 

Thanks for the help Pigeon! As far as the logistical aspects of the query, I excluded them because I didn't want to clutter the revision posts, but I do have them already prepared.



#24 Wayfarer

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 01:05 PM

I've made a second update to the new revision, refining a small aspect of its wording in the process.



#25 Wayfarer

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 03:24 PM

Posted another revision, some more minor adjustments.



#26 Wayfarer

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 03:44 PM

Posted yet another revision.



#27 Wayfarer

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 11:32 PM

And #11 is up. Still only minor adjustments and additions, because to me it's reading well, but that doesn't mean jack so I happily await my next mauling.



#28 Jbaydoun

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:26 AM

Revision 11:

Aëros Arûaë (person preference, can you do away with the squiggles above the name? It doesn't "look" good. I know it's there for pronunciation but Aeros Aruae looks a lot better)  finds himself balanced on the brink of insanity after the villain (who's the villain and why is he/she the villain? Did they kill a loved one? Did they kick Aeros's puppy? Don't just tell us "villain". Give us a name and a reason why they are evil) he has long hunted kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due. (other than the villain issue, I love this hook). 

 

Aëros repressed the memory of his failure, affecting in its place replacing it with a falsehood he could bear: the villain lived, and he would find his reprisal still. He journeys now in search of his illusory revenge, lead by a shadow only he can see. (I like!) By its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain, a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. It is beneath these burial mounds that those slain by the villain rest, including those Aëros cherished but failed to save, making the guidance of his hallucination all the more compelling.

 

But the whispers of his shadow are not as they first appear, for the phantom is a symptom of his unraveling mind, purposed only to lead him back to where his descent into insanity began; the villains grave. As Aëros unwittingly ventures towards this effigy of the past he will find its memory stirring within him, seeping ever more readily into his conscious mind the nearer he draws. (The prose it too purple here. Your writing flows beatifully, but the prose is confusing. Try to rewrite this sentence in a more direct way.)

 

When he at last finds himself in the bowels of the ruined fortress, the villain’s grave before him, he will be faced with a choice; to accept the memory he once repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once again, savoring the salve of numbness offered in doing so, (too purple. savoring the salve of numbness?) even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

I liked the premise, but you get carried away with the language at times. Being direct is a lot more impactful than using big words. Your query read like poetry at times, isn't all that bad, but it is confusing. I feel that agents would want something more direct, without so many abstract descriptions of Aeros and his mental instability. 

 

Good luck!



#29 MICRONESIA

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 10:36 AM

Revision 11:

Aëros Arûaë finds himself balanced on the brink of insanity after the villain he has long hunted kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due.

 

Aëros repressed the memory of his failure, affecting in its place a falsehood "Affecting a falsehood?" Is there a better way of phrasing this? he could bear: the villain lived, and he would find his reprisal still. He journeys now in search of his illusory revenge, led by a shadow only he can see. So your MC is insane? This will be a turnoff for some readers, but let's see where you take it. From its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain, a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. It takes us this long to realize this is a fantasy world -- "villain" had me thinking Marvel Comics. It is beneath these burial mounds that those slain by the villain rest, Clunky clause that could be said in fewer words. including those Aëros cherished but failed to save, making the guidance of his hallucination "Guidance of his hallucination" is another odd phrase I'd try to re-word. all the more compelling.

 

But the whispers of his shadow Would like more details about this shadow, what it looks like. are not as they first appear, for the phantom is a symptom of his unraveling mind, purposed only to lead him back to where his descent into insanity began Colon or em-dash the villain's grave. As Aëros unwittingly ventures towards this effigy I don't see the circularity of his journey here. of the past Comma he will Keep this in present tense. find its memory stirring within him, seeping ever more readily into his conscious mind the nearer he draws.

 

When he at last finds himself in the bowels of the ruined fortress, the villain’s grave before him, he will Again... be faced with a choice Colon to accept the memory he once repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once again, savoring the salve of numbness offered in doing so, even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return. A lengthy sentence that's easy to get lost in.

 

Sounds like a hellaciously interesting story! However, I don't have a good feel for the choice/conflict. Accept the past or not? Hell, I don't even see why he's so down. I also don't get a sense of MOVEMENT from this query. We spend so much time on the MC's thoughts that very little seems to be happening. He fails to kill a bad guy and is led to a graveyard by a spook. Oh yeah, and he's crazy. We need a bigger sense of the choices he makes, and the REAL (not just internal) roadblocks that are in his way.

 

Have you written a synopsis yet? That would be a great way to highlight the big events/choices of your book and get a few of them into the query.



#30 Nonicks

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 12:28 PM

Hey, fresh eyes here! 

 

Revision 11:

Aëros Arûaë (not an easy name to pronounce) finds himself balanced on the brink of insanity after the villain (maybe describe him in two words, if you can, because "villain" is too general) he has long hunted kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due. (nice hook)

 

Aëros repressed the memory of his failure, affecting in its place a falsehood he could bear: the villain lived, and he would find his reprisal still. He journeys now in search of his illusory revenge, lead by a shadow only he can see. By its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain, a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. It is beneath these burial mounds that those slain by the villain rest, including those Aëros cherished but failed to save, making the guidance of his hallucination all the more compelling. (I read this paragraph several times. I'm not sure if I got this right: the villain is dead but Aeros thinks he is alive, so he journeys to find him?)

 

But the whispers of his shadow are not as they first appear, for the phantom is a symptom of his unraveling mind, purposed only to lead him back to where his descent into insanity began; the villains grave. As Aëros unwittingly ventures towards this effigy of the past he will find its memory stirring within him, seeping ever more readily into his conscious mind the nearer he draws. (so what do you really say in this paragraph?)

 

When he at last finds himself in the bowels of the ruined fortress, the villain’s grave before him, he will be faced with a choice; to accept the memory he once repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once again, savoring the salve of numbness offered in doing so, even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return. (this is clear and good paragraph)

 

Overall - this looks like an interesting read. Quite unique. You don't often get to find stories dealing with mental illnesses that are set in a fantasy world (it is fantasy, right?) I think apart from the second paragraph, which is not very clear, you have a solid query.

 

If you have the time, please take a look at my query 



#31 dizzywriter

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:33 PM

I agree that a crazy guy in a "real" fantasy is an intriguing idea. But I also agree that the prose is too purple. "affecting in its place" would read more easily as "replacing it with a lie". That's just one example.  "despoiling" is another. I have an excellent vocabulary but I think "WTF does that mean?" and I'm not going to look it up. I doubt an agent would like it either. "Depriving" would be a better choice. 

 

Also pay more attention to tenses. I think a query is supposed to be in the present tense. Even if your manuscript is written in flowery language to reflect a certain mileu, this would be way too much. It is way, way too much for a query. As someone said above, it's a business letter. And you are using up valuable real estate with words that add little instead of setting out the plot clearly. But you'll get there. Thank you for your input on mine. I have another revision up if you have time.



#32 Wayfarer

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:34 AM

Thank you for the help everyone! I've posted a new major revision, hopefully it corrects some of the issues you've brought up.

As far as pronunciation of names, and the diacritical marks go, I understand that it will put some people off, but it's part of the aesthetic I want represented in my work. I plan to preface the book with a note stating that the reader should pronounce things however best works for them. I'm not a stickler in that vein, and I think it allows for the reader to bind their own personal conception to the foreign words/names. There's endless debate about how some of the most popular characters and places of all time should be pronounced, and while discourse is fine if its fun for people, I don't personally care how a reader pronounces my characters/places, so long as the way they do works for them.

 

I'll be sure to make my rounds on your queries tomorrow, for now I'm off to bed.



#33 PureZhar3

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 12:56 PM

The Wayfarer, Aëros Arûaë, finds himself balanced on the brink of insanity after Athair, the villain he has long hunted kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due. I think I'm following, but this is a long hook that has me slightly lost. Simple rephrasing should help.

 

The Wayfarer reacts to his failure by tearing open a Rift to a world that is a reflection of his own in all but one way: the Aëros to which this world was home succeeded in slaying Athair, halting his war and preventing the ensuing genocide, costing him his life in the process. I can follow this, but it's difficult. Splitting this up into a few different sentences may help. The Aëros who bears the burden of failure takes the place of his fallen self, renewing his purpose with a simple lie made believable by the false world he has convinced himself is his own: Athair lives and he may find his reprisal still. Interesting concept!

 

He journeys now in search of his unattainable revenge, led by a hallucination born from the truth he has repressed: a shadow visible only to him. I would weed out some of these colons and convert them into normal sentences, otherwise they lose their effect. Two at max should be used. From its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain -- a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. But his shadows words are filled with deceit. Its true purpose to guide him to the one thing that will force him to confront the truth: the grave of the Aëros he has replaced. The memories begin to seep from his unconscious I thought of this as more of a voluntary forgetting (he lost his grasp on the truth, rather than he literally forgot it) as he closes in on the Barrows, his mental condition rapidly deteriorating as his internal struggle consumes him.

 

 

When he finds himself in the bowels of the ruined fortress, his mind nearing the crescendo of insanity, and his own grave before him, he will again be faced with a choice: to accept the memory he has repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once more, savoring the euphoric numbness offered in doing so, even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return. Interesting. Is this the climax? I get a sense that this hook travels pretty far into your book (I could be wrong). If so, you may want to keep out the part about him actually getting to the grave, but build up the same choice.

 

Good query! Your idea sounds extremely interesting, it's just a bit hard to follow at first with all the new information presented. If you tease it out some more, I think you'll be able to get it really good.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#34 Wayfarer

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:46 PM

I've posted a new revision thanks to your feedback Pure.

In regards to Aeros forgetting, it is voluntary. That being said this story is in a way an exploration of how people suffering from issues such as PTSD mishandle that which is the root of their affliction. Aeros has a bad experience, chooses to ignore it (represses it), and tries to live as if it didn't occur. This doesn't work, either for him, or for real people suffering from such an issue. I'm attempting to convey that sense in the query, but it's difficult to make easily understandable to those who are unfamiliar with such a topic. If you (or anyone) have any advice on how I could manage that, it'll be much appreciated!

Also yes, the hook doesn't reveal itself fully until mid-3/4 way through the book. Even then I leave it somewhat open ended as to what is actually causing Aeros's insanity until the end when he finally reaches the grave. And even then I leave the reader with two options to decide between, with foreshadowing for both handled throughout the story only view-able once the reader has reached the end.

I think I have an idea (I'm making this post after posting the newest revision) as to how I can maintain the choice in the query without stating that Aeros makes it to the grave, I'll get to work on that after I review your query first!



#35 Wayfarer

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 03:34 PM

14 is up.



#36 Queen of my backyard

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:15 PM

Revision 13:

The Wayfarer, Aëros Arûaë, finds himself on the brink of insanity after Athair, the villain he seeks to kill, instead kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due.

 

The Wayfarer reacts to his failure by tearing open a Rift to a world that is a reflection of his own in all but one way: the Aëros that belongs to it succeeded in slaying Athair, halting his designs of war and preventing the ensuing genocide, costing him his life in the process. The Aëros who bears the burden of failure takes the place of his fallen self, renewing his purpose with a simple lie made believable by the false world he has convinced himself is his own: Athair lives and he may find his reprisal still. <I'm confused... you've indicated the MC tore a Rift and entered a new world (we take you at your word by the way). So, after you introduce the concept MC is on the brink of sanity due to sworn enemy committing suicide b4 MC gets the chance to kill him, we can sort of wrap our heads around the concept, even if it does seem to be somewhat of an extreme reaction based on a vague description of he wanted to kill a "villain". Now if I read the beginning of this paragraph correctly, you've just told us that in this world, MC not only killed said villain and prevented a war, but he also died... making him a ghost...I think?? After that I get totally lost. I cannot make sense of the sentence beginning with "The Aëros who bears the burden..." does that mean MC from "real" world is somehow able to bring dead version of himself in this world back to life? If so, that's not clear. Additionally, the distinction between MC being insane vs MC entering a different world through a magical Rift really needs to be clarified, particularly given you've indicated this is a story about the effects of PTSD. Like I said, as readers, we take you at your word and you told us he entered a new world.

 

He journeys now in search of his unattainable revenge, led by a hallucination born from the truth he has repressed. It manifests as a shadow visible only to him, and from its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain -- a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. But his shadows words are filled with deceit. Its true purpose to guide him to the one thing that will force him to confront the truth: the grave of the Aëros he has replaced. The memories begin to seep from his unconscious as he closes in on the Barrows, his mental condition rapidly deteriorating as his internal struggle consumes him.

 

 

When he finds himself in the bowels of the ruined fortress, his mind nearing the crescendo of insanity, and his own grave before him, he will again be faced with a choice: to accept the memory he has repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once more, savoring the euphoric numbness offered in doing so, even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return.

 

I'm not going to attempt a line edit. I started parsing it out, but decided you're better off by addressing the larger issue. I think you've come a long way in trimming down the purple prose (and kudos cuz I know it's hard to totally change up your writing style from manuscript to query letter/synopsis... completely different beasts). However, I do think you need more work on creating simple declarative sentences for the purposes of the query. Ya gotta make sure we (the agent) understands whats going on, what it means, and why it matters.

 

I noticed at the top of page 2 that you did one revision based on advice you were taking from Sataris (who, by the way, I've decided to nickname the query editing savant... GENIUS that Sataris is, I'd swear on it.). I actually looked at the date stamp on that and went back to see what his advice was (although I had a sneaking suspicion already, based on a similar bit of advice he gave me... that REALLY helped when I TOOK it.)... turns out I wasn't surprised by his suggestion to you. He suggested you end the query at an earlier point in the plot line, but interestingly, your revision didn't appear to end much earlier in the story. You've noted that your "hook" isn't fully revealed until 3/4 of the way through the book but I think that's exactly what's tripping you up... you're attempting to cover way too much ground in 250 words (hey, I was guilty of the same thing, so I'm not pointing fingers... I'm just saying you might want to play around with taking Sataris' advice).

 

Does the villain's suicide happen at the beginning of the story? It seems like that's the inciting event: the first choice the MC has to make is to remain in the "real" world and deal with the soul-crushing reality of his failure and it's consequences, or succumb to the insanity of a fantasy world where MC still has a chance to slay villain/redeem himself, etc.. If he chooses option A, X will happen. If he choose option B, Y will happen... I think you have enough to go on if you leave it there without overly complicating things... just my opinion. :)


If you found my comments helpful, please consider critiquing my query at http://agentquerycon...fantasyrevised/


#37 PureZhar3

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 05:37 PM

The Wayfarer, Aëros Arûaë, finds himself on the brink of insanity after Athair, the villain he seeks to kill, instead kills himself, despoiling him of the vengeance that was his due.

 

The Wayfarer reacts to his failure by tearing open a Rift to a world that is a reflection of his own in all but one way: the Aëros that belongs to it succeeded in slaying Athair, halting his designs of war and preventing the ensuing genocide, though it cost him his life in the process. The Aëros who bears the burden of failure takes the place of his fallen self, renewing his purpose with a simple lie made believable by the false world he has convinced himself is his own: Athair lives and he may find his reprisal still.

 

He journeys now in search of his unattainable revenge, led by a hallucination born from the aspect of himself that wishes to accept what he has repressed. It manifests as a shadow visible only to him, and from its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered the refuge of the villain -- a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. But his shadows words are filled with deceit. Its true purpose is to guide him to the one thing that will force him to confront the truth: the grave of the Aëros he has replaced.

 

 

If the Wayfarer does not reach the grave in time he will succumb to his unraveling mind. If he does he will be free to choose his fate. Either accepting the memory he has repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refusing it once again, savoring the euphoric numbness offered in doing so, even as it drags him into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return.

 

Upon reading this newer version, something still isn't working for me, though it's clearer. I don't know how you'll feel about this, but I almost think you could cut the final paragraph and not much would be lost. You wouldn't be stretched to cover nearly as much, and there's plenty of tension in the fact that shadow is deceiving him. If you cut that entire last paragraph and put in a single sentence that exploits the tension of his shadow deceiving him, it might work really well. Just a suggestion - if it works, great, if not, revert. I know it wouldn't cover as much thematically as you probably want, but I would say they're underlying the first few paragraphs enough. Hopefully that helps!


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#38 Wayfarer

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 07:09 PM

I've posted a new revision, which includes a major overhaul to the hook and first paragraph.

I'm seeing clearly that most of you aren't understand the story correctly, which is excellent because its given me a clear picture of what I need to fix.

Hopefully the new revision is easier to understand, as I know the plot I've chosen to create is easily convoluted and confusing if not explained correctly. It's an easy thing to guide the reader into with 80,000 words, obviously not as much with only ~300. But I think I'm learning, and hopefully getting ever closer to a successful query.

 

Thanks again everyone.



#39 PureZhar3

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 10:34 AM

The Wayfarer, Aëros Arûaë, finds himself balanced on the precipice of insanity as he wanders through a world that is not his own. Much better hook! Clearer (though slightly wordy? It may be okay, see what others think)

 

After Athair, the villain responsible for the genocide of the Wayfarer’s home world, kills himself despoiling Aëros of the vengeance that was his due, he is left with a choice: to accept his failure, or deny it. Another big sentence. Cut it down into 2+. (Athair, the villain responsible for the genocide of Wayfarer's home world, kills himself. Despoiled of his due vengeance, Aeros can accept or deny his failure) He chooses the latter, and weaves the Threads of Aūr to open a Rift into a new reality, one that is a reflection of his own in all but one way. In this reality, Athair’s genocide was thwarted by an Aëros who now lies dead.

 

As the Aëros who fled from his reality takes the place of his fallen self, he renews his purpose with a simple lie -- Athair lives and he may find his reprisal still. He journeys now in search of his unattainable revenge, led by a hallucination born from the aspect of himself that wishes for him to accept the repressed truth he has repressed. It manifests as a shadow visible only to him This is more or less the definition of a hallucination, so it could probably be cut, and f From its guiding whispers he believes he has uncovered uncovers the refuge of the villain: a crumbling fortress set in the heart of a great necropolis known as the Barrows. But his shadow's words are filled with deceit. Its true purpose is to guide him to the one thing that will force him to confront the truth: the grave of the Aëros he has replaced.

 

The Wayfarer must reach the grave before his unraveling mind overwhelms him, for it is only there that he can remake the choice he has already made once before. To either accept the memory he has repressed, and the consuming anguish remembrance will bring, or refuse it once again, choosing to dwell in a false world as he descends into the abyss of insanity from which there is no return.Not a full sentence - this choice can be majorly simplified down. Think about something like this:

He can accept the consuming anguish his true memories bring, or dwell in a false world while descending into an abyss of insanity.

 

Much clearer, Wayfarer! I understood the plot a lot better. Again, there's still some simplifying to do (I understand because I'm a majorly wordy person myself). But overall, this shows great progress.

A minor question, but why does Aeros see it as a failure that Athair has died? I know he wanted to kill Athair, but shouldn't he be happy that Athair is dead anyway? Is it because Athair lived to a ripe old age and then died? Is it because he's despoiled of his purpose (which he put in his vengeance)? Is it because he was not just going to kill Athair, but literally cause him to cease to exist?


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#40 MICRONESIA

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 10:44 AM

^ That's a problem for me as well. It seems like the important conflict is already resolved before the story starts. The MC "getting right with himself" seems like a sad coda.

 

You need to find a way to amplify the stakes -- in the query or possibly (gulp) in the novel.






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