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PUREST BLACK (YA/magical realism/sci-fi)

Fiction Young Adult

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#101 JP1994

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:00 PM

The third paragraph is arranged better, and the 'calculated brutality' bit has been fixed.

 

Everything else still suffers from the problems I saw. I'd work with that older version for now.



#102 PureZhar3

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:19 PM

The third paragraph is arranged better, and the 'calculated brutality' bit has been fixed.

 

Everything else still suffers from the problems I saw. I'd work with that older version for now.

 

Great, thank you!

However, I don't think I can remove Star from the query. She is actually far more of a main character than Jase is, but Jase is more prevalent in the query because otherwise questions of why Jacob was kidnapping Star and such came up. It might be too much of a shock for an agent expecting a Jase/Jacob dynamic to then get a story which often keeps Jase in the background (simply because of setting and such, in terms of plot he's one of the drivers). Do you have any suggestions on how I could make all three of them seem less confusing and yet still keep them in it?


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


#103 PureZhar3

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:40 PM

Also, @JP, I put a slightly edited version up that hopefully fixes those problems you mentioned. 

Thank you!


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


#104 Maddie978

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:12 PM

Alright, I played around with this a little more given the suggestions. Feel free to tell me if you preferred the older version better :)

 

Also, I'm going to work on bringing down my word count in the actual manuscript. Thanks again!

 

Link to my synopsis: http://agentquerycon...lack-ya-sci-fi/
 

Version 5.5:

 

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to kill him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men. But seventeen-year-old Jacob knows the world; he rules it with diplomatic sadism.

 

Love it! Intriguing, mysterious, unique. I want more! Which is exactly what you want. Great job.

 

Many insurgencies have risen to overthrow his empire, but Jacob considers only one a threat: the Northern Rebellion. It has two leaders. Curious, idealistic Star poses no risk, but golden-tongued Jase is willing to die to assassinate Jacob.

 

Still enjoying it. The only questions I have are: what is his empire? and how does a rebellion have two leaders?

 

Jacob understands Jase's untapped potential and doesn't want to kill him ​(seems like Jacob wouldn't hesitate to kill someone even if they have potential. Why is Jase different?). But left untouched, Jase could fragment the nation Jacob has so cruelly crafted. To exploit Jase’s love of Star, Jacob kidnaps her, presenting himself as an omniscient king capable of reading her every thought (interesting, but could be phrased a little clearer. Maybe "Jacob kidnaps Star for leverage against Jase." Is the omniscient king part important?). As Star observes him for a weakness (sounds like you switched perspectives for a second), Jacob employs his icy charisma to tempt her into learning more about him, trapping her in a place of affection and intrigue.

 

 

I'm still interested but it's waning. Why does he have to tempt her into learning about him? Why can't he just tell her? Isn't there an easier way he could break Jase?

 

Yet Jacob needs more than Star’s curiosity to break Jase; he must get her to abandon the boy she loves and sustains. For that, he must persuade her that he's not as wicked as the world assumes by revealing his scheme to reincarnate Earth. If offering his plan works, it could shatter the rebellion. But if it doesn't, Star could tell everyone... and the truth will be his undoing (why?).

 

 

 

Great draft! Strong beginning. I wouldn't change much there. Love the hook. My interest does wane at the third paragraph, though it doesn't disappear entirely. I think another round of revisions and edits and it'll be nice and shiny.

 

Good luck!



#105 PureZhar3

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:20 PM

Great draft! Strong beginning. I wouldn't change much there. Love the hook. My interest does wane at the third paragraph, though it doesn't disappear entirely. I think another round of revisions and edits and it'll be nice and shiny.

 

Good luck!

​Thanks! Three questions:

​1) Can you further clarify your "what is his empire" question? It's something other people have brought up, and I think I just don't understand what details they're looking for.

2) At the third paragraph, would you suggest I cut down length to sustain interest? Or do I need to spice it up content-wise?

​3) You ask "why" at the end (again, a more common sentiment). I was trying to draw it back to the beginning, where no one knows him, to show that now Star has the power to reveal him to the world... but that doesn't seem to be working as-is. How would you suggest I fix this problem? Or should I go for a different ending-stakes altogether?

Altogether, your comments were very helpful :)


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


#106 rhwashere

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Posted Yesterday, 12:32 AM

Taking another look at this, there are a few issues I see.

1. I still don’t like the descriptor for how Jacob rules. Whether it was “merciless law” or “diplomatic sadism”, neither conveys anything clearly to me about how he actually rules. But maybe more important, this query is from Jacob’s perspective. I doubt he thinks of his rule in those terms. How would he describe his rule?

2. The third paragraph goes off the rails a bit. Jacob is sparing Jase, but we don’t have a good reason why. Untapped potential means nothing if we don’t know how he plans to use Jase. Then Jacob goes through this whole convoluted plan to break Jase’s spirit (instead of simply killing him) by kidnapping Star and convincing her he’s omniscient and using his icy charisma. Why? We need a concrete reason why he’s doing all this. Because if all he wants is to break the rebellion, he could just kill Jase and Star and be done with it.

3. The stakes at the end of your latest version make no sense to me. It introduces reincarnating the earth out of nowhere, implies that that’s somehow a good thing without indicating how, and then implies that revealing this plan to Star with somehow destroy the rebellion. Why? And how would people knowing his true plan lead to his undoing?

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...eep-ya-fantasy/


#107 Arcanjoe

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Posted Yesterday, 11:41 AM

Alright, I played around with this a little more given the suggestions. Feel free to tell me if you preferred the older version better :)

 

Also, I'm going to work on bringing down my word count in the actual manuscript. Thanks again!

 

Link to my synopsis: http://agentquerycon...lack-ya-sci-fi/
 

Version 5.5:

 

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to kill him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men. But seventeen-year-old Jacob knows the world; he rules it with diplomatic sadism.(Other than 'diplomatic sadism', which I'm not entirely convinced by, I like this hook. However, reading back over the query a second time, the hook seems to state things that don't apply/aren't elaborated on in the next few paragraphs. No-one knowing him, for instance. You go against this statement a couple of times later. And the souls theme never comes up again.)

 

Many insurgencies have risen to overthrow his empire (set the scene a little more. Is this our world? I'm assuming so if you propose this book is magical realism. You've introduced Jacob by telling us he rules the world, but now he only has an empire? Clarity.), but Jacob considers only one a threat: the Northern Rebellion. It has two leaders. Curious, idealistic Star poses no risk (Due to her age? Her temperament? Are they allies? Why does he suspect she is no risk?), but golden-tongued Jase is willing to die to assassinate Jacob.

 

Jacob understands Jase's untapped potential and doesn't want to kill him. But left untouched, Jase could fragment the nation Jacob has so cruelly crafted. To exploit Jase’s love of Star, Jacob kidnaps her, presenting himself as an omniscient king capable of reading her every thought. (Is he not a king? Is he not all-powerful? I'm not sure what Jacob actually is at this point.)  As Star observes him for a weakness, Jacob employs his icy charisma to tempt her into learning more about him, trapping her in a place of affection and intrigue.

 

Yet Jacob needs more than Star’s curiosity to break Jase; he must get her to abandon the boy she loves and sustains. For that, he must persuade her that he's not as wicked as the world assumes (Again, confused. The opening sentence states nobody knows him, so how could they possibly assume he's wicked?) by revealing his scheme to reincarnate Earth. If offering his plan works, it could shatter the rebellion. But if it doesn't, Star could tell everyone... and the truth will be his undoing.

 

Firstly, if Jacob is this all-powerful ruler of an empire, how is it possible that nobody knows who he is? That threw me a little. Secondly, be aware that two of the three characters you've named in the query start with a Ja- which can be very confusing. They often say never to give characters in your story names that begin with the same letter(s), which I understand is difficult. But in a query it becomes even more vital. Two 'Ja' characters becomes confusing.

 

I'm sure you're aware of this, but the way you've described Jacob doesn't make him immediately likable. If you're going for an anti-hero type, it's working. However, I don't really understand Jacob's character. Is he the ruler of an empire or the entire world? Is he someone we're rooting for or against? Why does he take souls? Why is he simultaneously anonymous and yet seem as a terror by his people? You've given us lots of breadcrumbs about him but not expanded on the important ones enough? What is vital for us to know about him? Only put that in.

 

I notice you've left out the word count//genre/comp titles in this version. Is that just because the word count is fluctuating?

 

You've got a very interesting idea here and I know you're going to make this great, but there are still a few things that need clarification. Good luck!


I'd love for you to critique my latest query...

Eyes White as Snow:

http://agentquerycon...-fantasy/page-2

 

Or the first 250 words of my story...

In the Heart of the Desert:

http://agentquerycon...agical-realism/


#108 PureZhar3

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Posted Yesterday, 04:20 PM

Taking another look at this, there are a few issues I see.

1. I still don’t like the descriptor for how Jacob rules. Whether it was “merciless law” or “diplomatic sadism”, neither conveys anything clearly to me about how he actually rules. But maybe more important, this query is from Jacob’s perspective. I doubt he thinks of his rule in those terms. How would he describe his rule?

2. The third paragraph goes off the rails a bit. Jacob is sparing Jase, but we don’t have a good reason why. Untapped potential means nothing if we don’t know how he plans to use Jase. Then Jacob goes through this whole convoluted plan to break Jase’s spirit (instead of simply killing him) by kidnapping Star and convincing her he’s omniscient and using his icy charisma. Why? We need a concrete reason why he’s doing all this. Because if all he wants is to break the rebellion, he could just kill Jase and Star and be done with it.

3. The stakes at the end of your latest version make no sense to me. It introduces reincarnating the earth out of nowhere, implies that that’s somehow a good thing without indicating how, and then implies that revealing this plan to Star with somehow destroy the rebellion. Why? And how would people knowing his true plan lead to his undoing?

​1. I'll put some more thought into this. Thanks!

2. The concrete reason for the convoluted plan is that Jacob is secretly working on removing all evil from the world, but the cost of removing all evil is his soul and his life (imagine if evil was a poison... by taking all evil into his soul, he would kill himself but there would no longer be poison in the environment). So he knows that he will die when his plan is enacted, and that he will be leaving behind an extremely fractured and lost remnant of humanity behind. To guide humanity back into hope/love/all-that-good-stuff (rather than giving up like they have and going extinct), someone must be present to leader. Jase (his brother) is a brilliant leader and speaker, and Jacob knows that by leaving his brother alive, he will be safely ensuring that humanity survives the reincarnation of the world. Hence, the convoluted plan. The only way for Jacob to keep his brother alive without having Jase stop his plan is to break him, and the only way to break Jase is by stealing the one thing that Jacob has not already stolen from him - Star. I'm having a lot of trouble fitting that into the query, though.

3. Understandable. I was trying, as I said to someone earlier, to connect that back to the first paragraph... show that Jacob is ruling anonymously and thus them discovering his identity would lead to his undoing. But I'm clearly doing a poor job at that. Any advice?

 

Thanks for your critique!


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


#109 PureZhar3

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Posted Yesterday, 04:24 PM

Firstly, if Jacob is this all-powerful ruler of an empire, how is it possible that nobody knows who he is? That threw me a little. Secondly, be aware that two of the three characters you've named in the query start with a Ja- which can be very confusing. They often say never to give characters in your story names that begin with the same letter(s), which I understand is difficult. But in a query it becomes even more vital. Two 'Ja' characters becomes confusing. ​Others have mentioned this too, but Jase and Jacob have extremely similar names for a reason... they're twins.

 

I'm sure you're aware of this, but the way you've described Jacob doesn't make him immediately likable. If you're going for an anti-hero type, it's working. However, I don't really understand Jacob's character. Is he the ruler of an empire or the entire world? Is he someone we're rooting for or against? Why does he take souls? Why is he simultaneously anonymous and yet seem as a terror by his people? You've given us lots of breadcrumbs about him but not expanded on the important ones enough? What is vital for us to know about him? Only put that in. ​Well there's an overarching "what Jacob's true plan is" that explains why he's doing everything, but then there's the actual plot, which is what I covered in the query. You feel like there's a lot of breadcrumbs because that's all I can put in without making the actual plot super confusing, I feel like. My book, as I've told others, is essentially the mystery of who Jacob is and why he's so ironic. Hence he comes across in the query as mysterious (confusing) and ironic (confusing). 

 

I notice you've left out the word count//genre/comp titles in this version. Is that just because the word count is fluctuating? ​Oh, I just forgot to copy that in. But the word count is fluctuating, yes (I'm working on reducing the word count in the manuscript).

 

You've got a very interesting idea here and I know you're going to make this great, but there are still a few things that need clarification. Good luck!

 

​Thank you for your critique!


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


#110 PureZhar3

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Posted Yesterday, 04:26 PM

I'm contemplating rewriting my query focusing on Jacob's master plan as opposed to the Star plotline. It would (hopefully?) be far less confusing as to the "why"s... any thoughts on that idea?


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


#111 rhwashere

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Posted Today, 08:20 AM

I think that’s a great idea. As I was reading your explanation above, I was thinking: “Why isn’t THIS in the query?” It’s his core motivation and it makes sense. If Jacob is the MC of your novel, then I think we need this information.

If you can somehow write the query to convey the idea of a villain saving the world, it’ll be quite compelling. Show the duality of his nature. On the one hand, he’s calculating and ruthless, but on the other hand, he truly wants to help the word, so much that he’s preparing to give his life.

That said, is there a choice he has to make? Does he ever doubt his plan? If so, this should also be included.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...eep-ya-fantasy/






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