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THE CODEX OF DESIRE (Science Fiction), will reciprocate critiques


Best Answer Laurie E. Smith , 12 February 2018 - 02:07 PM

Folks, you won't believe the query letter crit I just received from a literary agent... because I hardly believe it myself. It looks like my hard work has actually paid off!
 
The agent, who was kind enough to get back to me within the same day, said: "I think it is excellent. I read 40-50 queries a day and yours caught my attention. I like the opening sentence, it makes the reader think “what???” and compels them to keep reading. It is clear and to the point and you get the gist of the story. Great premise BTW, very cool. I don’t rep science fiction books but if I did I would be asking for the full. Do you have some agents in mind to query?"
 
And she then proceeded to send me the contact info for three agents to query, including one at Harvey Klinger Inc. WOW, she is TOTALLY AWESOME!
 
GUYS, I AM DANCING AROUND MY HOME STUDIO! I couldn't have asked for much better than that, now could I? :D My happiness is off the charts! And now I feel confident putting the query letter to one side and continuing to work on my synopsis and Twitter pitches.
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#41 rhwashere

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 06:30 PM

*sigh* Okay. Taking some suggestions from fellow writers on FB, I've punched and kneading this some more. Now it includes some explanation of the universe the story takes place in, which hopefully helps.

This is exhausting. (I hear ya, sister!) As always, I appreciate critique -- but I may have to take a bit of a break from it t get some perspective. I hope folks will continue to weigh in. :)

*******************************

EMOTIONS VERSION 2 (346 words)

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such destructive impulses, more than 67 million years ago. This feels like a log line, which you don't need. Really, it doesn't add much to your query, which should be showcasing plot. "67 million years ago" is useful, however, and you might want to work it into a hook. When I say hook, I mean an eye-catching line or two that plunges us into your story/world. Something like: "Love is not something a slave from 67 million years ago like Girn'ash would ever expect to find. Certainly not with an imprisoned soldier of the enemy."

For over two centuries the primordial dinosaur Tribes have been at war with the genetically modified saurians of the Culture, who are supplied by an alien Codex with higher levels of technology. There's too much going on here. Do we need to know about the Codex? Can you simplify and simply state that Girn'ash's people have been at war with the technologically advanced saurians of the Culture for centuries? Now Girn'ash, a lowly female slave of the Tribes, finds herself desperately torn between conflicting loyalties when she falls in love with a beautiful imprisoned Culture warrior — and she will do anything in her meagre power to release him from captivity. (This is where your story starts, and it's where your query should start, which is why I suggested the above hook in the first paragraph)

But she must be secretive and shrewd. The Most Potent Chieftesss of the Tribes Her queen is plotting to coerce the the handsome youth into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, (that's a little graphic for my taste) she will be cast down from her position as leader of all the Tribes and brutally executed. Is there another way you can phrase this without stimulating seed and failing fertility? Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

Girn'ash hatches a plan to set the warrior free, but he will not leave without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Wait a minute. You seemed to be setting us up for Girn'ash to be with this guy. Why would she risk her life to free him if he isn't even interested in her? Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girnash risks everything to flee to the Culture's homeland. In a monstrous act of betrayal, she begs the warrior's Shogun to send an army to rescue him (This is very confusing on the first read-through. You might want to name this imprisoned warrior earlier and use his name here), and promises to show them the way to the hidden village of the Tribes. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the Shogun's intentions in finding his lost soldier are anything but benevolent. In the end, nuclear fire may annihilate all she has ever held dear. I would leave out this bit about nuclear fire. In a story about dinosaurs, it only adds to the confusion.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. In terms of credentials, I possess a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Philosophy, and have had a short science fiction story ("Like Ants to Honey") published in the e-mag "Far Horizons" (Issue #2, May 2014).

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

Okay, so some final thoughts. You have a tricky job here, trying to introduce us to a world populated by dinosaurs instead of people. It's made infinitely more tricky by the introduction of alien technology, harems, and stimulating seed. Your job is to make all of this simple enough for a person who is speed-reading through it without ever having laid eyes on it before could understand. The best ways to do that are eliminating as many capitalized titles and names as you can, and boil your plot down to your MC's struggle.

 

After reading through the whole query carefully, I would recommend taking out the bit about the Chieftess' motivations altogether. Simply stating that she will either conscript him into her harem or kill him will suffice. That's enough to show that his life is in danger, and provides impetus to your MC. That said, I still don't understand why she's bothering with this fool. He's got another lover, so why is she willing to betray her entire people for him? It is vital that her reasons for this are crystal clear. Right now, they aren't.

 

Lastly, I suggest you end your query with the decision to betray her people. Or, rather, her decision whether or not to betray her people. And again, the motivation for either choice has to be believable.


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#42 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 09:06 AM

Thanks again, everybody, for your critiques! :) I'm going to take some time away from my query letter (a day or so) to let it sit, so I can come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. I've also got a collection of three different versions out to some beta readers to see which one they find most effective. Let's see what they have to say, and hopefully I'll come out of it with a decent query!



#43 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 09:08 AM

And if I've missed giving anybody a reciprocal critque, please let me know and I'll take care of it. :)



#44 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:03 PM

Is it normal to feel like you're beating your head repeatedly against a brick wall? Because oh man, disheartened -- I haz it.

Nevertheless, I knuckled down and produced another version of the query letter. Tried a few different flourishes this time. I think this one has finally captured my authentic "voice", which is important, AND it fits into a single-page letter. Thoughts?

***************************

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #1

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people, and she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But she must be cunning and secretive. The Most Potent Chieftesss who holds the warrior captive is plotting to coerce the handsome youth into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, the desperate slave risks everything to flee to the warrior's homeland. In a monstrous act of treason, she begs his General to send an army to save him from the Chieftess's cruel designs. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's intentions in finding his lost warrior are far from benevolent.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#45 ajvan

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:26 PM

Is it normal to feel like you're beating your head repeatedly against a brick wall? Because oh man, disheartened -- I haz it. Believe me, it's normal. Just don't let the wall win.

Nevertheless, I knuckled down and produced another version of the query letter. Tried a few different flourishes this time. I think this one has finally captured my authentic "voice", which is important, AND it fits into a single-page letter. Thoughts?

***************************

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #1

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. You could probably cut "even" and replace "such" with "these."

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people, Might be a good place for a period. Otherwise this sentence gets really long. and she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But she must be cunning and secretive. One of those two adjectives will do. The Most Potent Chieftesss who holds the warrior captive is plotting to coerce the handsome youth (This brings up a question I've had...would it serve your query to add more dino characterization? For example, why not "stegosaurus" (or whatever) instead of "youth?" It would help us remember all the characters are dinosaurs.) into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess but nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. This is still feeling like a little TMI. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, the desperate slave risks everything to flee to the warrior's homeland. (Lots of non-personal descriptions in that sentence. "the warrior, the slave," etc) In a monstrous act of treason, she begs his General to send an army to save him from the Chieftess's cruel designs. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. (When "the Culture" showed up here, I had to stop and think about what that meant.) Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's intentions in finding his lost warrior are far from benevolent. Still feel this last sentence needs to be more specific and hooky. 

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

This is a step forward! I'm still seeing phrases I think you can condense and simplify, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll stop. :) The length here is more manageable.



#46 Springfield

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:41 PM

Is it normal to feel like you're beating your head repeatedly against a brick wall? Because oh man, disheartened -- I haz it.

Nevertheless, I knuckled down and produced another version of the query letter. Tried a few different flourishes this time. I think this one has finally captured my authentic "voice", which is important, AND it fits into a single-page letter. Thoughts?

***************************

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #1

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people, and she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But she must be cunning and secretive. The Most Potent Chieftesss who holds the warrior captive is plotting to coerce the handsome youth into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, the desperate slave risks everything to flee to the warrior's homeland. In a monstrous act of treason, she begs his General to send an army to save him from the Chieftess's cruel designs. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's intentions in finding his lost warrior are far from benevolent.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

This is still too long, and still has the same issues imo -- the endless proper names, the lack of focus, the synopsis-like thing, that it doesn't sound like dinosaurs, that it doesn't give me a character with a problem or stakes, etc., but you just keep recycling the same thing so I'd say if this is what you want to do, do it. Send it out. We can keep telling you why it's not working, but if you think it does, it's your thing. You don't have to listen to us. Why are you torturing yourself if you just really want to send this?



#47 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:30 PM

Is it normal to feel like you're beating your head repeatedly against a brick wall? Because oh man, disheartened -- I haz it. Believe me, it's normal. Just don't let the wall win. Good to know!

Nevertheless, I knuckled down and produced another version of the query letter. Tried a few different flourishes this time. I think this one has finally captured my authentic "voice", which is important, AND it fits into a single-page letter. Thoughts?

***************************

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #1

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago. You could probably cut "even" and replace "such" with "these." (Good suggestion!)

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people, Might be a good place for a period. Otherwise this sentence gets really long. and she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free. (Check mark... :) )

But she must be cunning and secretive. One of those two adjectives will do. The Most Potent Chieftesss who holds the warrior captive is plotting to coerce the handsome youth (This brings up a question I've had...would it serve your query to add more dino characterization? For example, why not "stegosaurus" (or whatever) instead of "youth?" It would help us remember all the characters are dinosaurs.) into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way. (More check marks. They're a newly discovered species though, so I'm not sure what would fit. Would "handsome raptor" be sufficiently dinosaur-ish to count?)

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess but nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. This is still feeling like a little TMI. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, the desperate slave risks everything to flee to the warrior's homeland. (Lots of non-personal descriptions in that sentence. "the warrior, the slave," etc) In a monstrous act of treason, she begs his General to send an army to save him from the Chieftess's cruel designs. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. (When "the Culture" showed up here, I had to stop and think about what that meant.) Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's intentions in finding his lost warrior are far from benevolent. Still feel this last sentence needs to be more specific and hooky. (Check, check, check... will consider how to integrate all this when I'm not so tired.)

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

This is a step forward! I'm still seeing phrases I think you can condense and simplify, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll stop. :) The length here is more manageable.

Thanks. :) I'll incorporate your suggested changes on my next editing pass. Hopefully what I produce will be closer to good (if that even makes sense... I think my brain is well and truly fried.)
 



#48 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:42 PM

I'm a sucker for punishment. I took your suggestions and ran with them, ajvan. Let's see what y'all think. (I ended up leaving in the part about the warrior loving the poetess though, because without that piece of information the Chieftess's jealousy just doesn't make any sense, and Girn'ash has no reason to go running off to the General.)

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #2

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to these savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people. And she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But she must be cunning. The Most Potent Chieftess is plotting to coerce the handsome raptor warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash risks everything to flee to the warrior's homeland. In a monstrous act of treason, she begs his General to send an army to save him. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's decision to rescue his lost soldier is driven by revenge fuelled by his own darkest secrets.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#49 Wayfarer

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:09 PM

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to these savage impulses,(Is this comma needed?) more than 67 million years ago.

For two centuries the primordial Tribes of the Inspiration and the alien-enhanced Culture of the Word have been locked in relentless conflict, both ideological and military. Now an ancient civilization faces nuclear annihilation when  (Cut the nuke conflict, focus on Girn'ash alone. She's the MC, she gets the spotlight.) Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her peoples leader: the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess seeks to make the warrior her own--and Girn'ash is willing to risk everything to stop her. she will do anything in her meagre power to set him free.

But she must be cunning. But The Most Potent Chieftess stands in her way. is plotting to coerce the handsome raptor warrior into her harem. Without his fresh seed to stimulate her failing fertility, she will be cast down from her position as leader of the Tribes and brutally executed. Her empire is at stake, and she will crush anyone who stands in her way.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, nevertheless rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash risks everything to flees to the warrior's homeland. In a monstrous act of treason, She begs the General of her peoples rivals to send an army to save her love. She will even guide the Culture's forces to the hidden village of the Tribes. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's decision to rescue his lost soldier is driven by revenge fuelled by his own darkest secrets.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

So I tried editing through this again with rested eyes, but sort of petered out towards the end. There's just way too much going on. You need to focus completely on Girn'ash's goal to save the warrior, why it's hard to do (The Chieftess, his own dumbassery), and what will happen if she can't manage it.

Things you do not need to talk about:

Chieftess desire to get pregnant - She wants the dude, that's enough detail

Nukes, unless you can tie that into the stakes at the end as what will happen if Girn can't save dumbdinoman

Rival nations, unless you plan to make the stakes the twist of the dumbdinoman's people's general not being so nice.

 

Also, voice isn't important in the query. That's something I had (am still) to learn myself. This is a business letter, and needs to read as simple as possible. You need Main Character - goal - conflict - stakes. You don't need to go overboard on detail, it's just confusing.



#50 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:14 PM

Thank you for the detailed editing crit, Wayfarer! I've reworked the query according to your suggestions. How does this read?

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #3 (205 words)

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to these impulses more than 67 million years ago.

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess seeks to make the warrior her own — and Girn'ash is willing to risk everything to stop her.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. She begs the General of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's decision to rescue his lost soldier is fuelled by his own darkest secrets.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

(I left "feathered" in the hook sentence because (to me) it brings a very specific image to mind, and a touch of specificity might be what grabs somebody. These aren't old-school scaly dinosaurs: they're hip, modern, FEATHERED dinosaurs, as fast and as smart as birds. For those who know anything about dinos, the "feathered" touch could make all the difference. :) )



#51 PureZhar3

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:52 PM

Thank you for the detailed editing crit, Wayfarer! I've reworked the query according to your suggestions. How does this read?

LET'S TRY SOMETHING NEW #3 (205 words)

 

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell victim to these impulses more than 67 million years ago.

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with a dashing enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess seeks to make the warrior her own — and Girn'ash is willing to risk everything to stop her. ​Can you tell us something about the warrior besides "dashing"? Not only is it cliché, but I could probably assume it from the fact that everyone wants to date him... You could also be more specific than "risk everything". Unless she is really going to risk everything, ​just give us specifics. Is she risking her life? Her status as a member of the Tribes? This is particularly important because as the lowest slave, she doesn't have as much to lose

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. She begs the General of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine the consequences of her actions, or that the General's decision to rescue his lost soldier is fuelled by his own darkest secrets. ​Again I think we would be aided by specifics. This is nice and succinct, but it isn't always specific. You don't need to lengthen it; replacing words should do. For example, can you give us a hint of what the consequences might be? Otherwise we can't anticipate what will happen. But even more importantly (and more stake-focused), tell us the General's secret if you can do so quickly. His dark secret could mean anything from wanting to kill the boy to wanting to use him to start a war. So tell us what his secret is, so that we can begin to imagine why he wants to rescue the soldier

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN ​These aren't really good comps, because they should be written within the last three years. And both are quite successful, which could turn an agent off. That said, they're functionable comps, I suppose — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

(I left "feathered" in the hook sentence because (to me) it brings a very specific image to mind, and a touch of specificity might be what grabs somebody. These aren't old-school scaly dinosaurs: they're hip, modern, FEATHERED dinosaurs, as fast and as smart as birds. For those who know anything about dinos, the "feathered" touch could make all the difference. :) ) ​I respect and understand that. BUT the hook isn't the place for the information. Throw it in later if you must, but don't put it in the hook. It interests me, it makes me go "huh", it makes me wonder how evolved these dinosaurs are - all good things. Except for the fact that all that distracts me from the real tension/hook - these are DINOSAURS, not people!! Which is a super cool idea, and putting in feathered is making me think more about feathered things and less about your amazing story concept. It takes away the punch, it takes away the moment of "sweet!", it takes away the uniqueness of the dinosaurs. Because, again, suddenly the most interesting thing isn't that your story is about dinosaurs experiencing human things (which should be what's most interesting), but the fact that the dinosaurs are feathered. So in my opinion, it's a cool detail, but it's in the wrong spot. Also, the word "intelligent" actually makes me think of a lot of the things you said feathered brings to mind for you, so you're conveying a lot of that even without "feathered"

 

Hopefully that all helps!


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


#52 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:06 AM

Thank you again, PureZhar3, for the thorough crit. :) Here's a new version based on your notes. I hope you'll let me know what you think.

 

****************************

 

213 WORDS

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses more than 67 million years ago.

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with an enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess seeks to make the warrior her own — and Girn'ash is willing to risk both life and liberty to stop her.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. She begs the General of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine that the Tribes will be annihilated in nuclear fire, or that the Shogun's decision to seek out his lost soldier is fuelled by his own darkest race prejudices.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith



#53 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:08 AM

Hopefully that all helps!

 
It does indeed. :) (And I removed "feathered", because you're absolutely right, that can be included in the synopsis.)



#54 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:10 AM

PureZhar3, you posted:

"THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN ​These aren't really good comps, because they should be written within the last three years. And both are quite successful, which could turn an agent off. That said, they're functionable comps, I suppose — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles."

Finding comps for this beast is proving to be a nightmare. I've done some looking around and just can't find anything in the last 3 years (in the adult book realm) that captures the flavour of "CODEX". This afternoon I'm going to bite the bullet and call some local bookstores, explain my situation in three sentences or less, and ask them for recommendations. Because you're right: using GoT and WATERSHIP is far from optimal.



#55 PureZhar3

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 01:49 PM

​Pure reporting for duty!  :smile: 

 

Thank you again, PureZhar3, for the thorough crit. :) Here's a new version based on your notes. I hope you'll let me know what you think.

 

****************************

 

213 WORDS

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses more than 67 million years ago. ​beautiful

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with an enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess seeks to make the warrior her own ​you know how earlier you said, "bring the warrior into her harem" or something like that? That might be better, because although I understand this sentence, people who don't know what's going on might not. That said, you can wait and see if fresh eyes find it confusing — and Girn'ash is willing to risk both life and liberty to stop her. ​well, this would work, if she had liberty in the first place  :tongue: maybe try telling us something else she's willing to lose (or be more specific about how she will lose what little liberty she does have. you could even go so far as to say that she'll lose her freedom to go the bowling alley on Friday nights, or whatever is applicable), and if not, just say her life

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. She begs the General of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine that the Tribes will be annihilated in nuclear fire, or that the Shogun's decision to seek out his lost soldier is fuelled by his own darkest race prejudices. ​Ah, much better. Maybe figure out how to make "own darkest race prejudices" more concise?

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words ​I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but this might be too long word-wise, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

Better, in my opinion! Good job fixing the problems - I had a few additional thoughts on this newest version :)


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


#56 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 02:16 PM

Thanks so much, Pure! :) I took your latest advice on board and produced the following.

 

(And I hear you, re: the length. But for a science fiction novel 133K isn't really that outrageous. If an editor wants to work with me to cut it, I'd potentially be open to that.)

ONCE MORE! WITH FEELING!

 

***************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses more than 67 million years ago.

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with an enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess plots to coerce the warrior into her harem — and Girn'ash is willing to risk what little liberty she possesses, or even her life, to set him free.

The warrior, who loathes the Chieftess, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. She begs the Shogun of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine that the Tribes will be annihilated in nuclear fire, or that the Shogun's determination to find his lost soldier is fuelled by his darkest racial prejudices.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith
 



#57 Temeraire

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 03:24 PM

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses more than 67 million years ago. Wait like literal sentient dinosaurs? Dude. Yes. But saying that, also no to beginning with a list of cliched nouns. Begin with your character and their problem. 

Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, falls in love with I know words are limited here, but can you make this more interesting? "falls in love with" doesn't tell me anything about the characters. Even "falls desperately, hopelessly in love with" tells me something more an enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess plots to coerce the warrior into her harem — and Girn'ash is willing to risk what little liberty she possesses, or even her life, to set him free.

The warrior Doesn't he have a name?, who loathes the Chieftess If he loathes her that much, wouldn't he want to leave?, rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover, a mysterious Tribal poetess So Girn'ash is in love with the warrior, but the warrior is in love with poetess? Isn't Girn'ash heartbroken by his already having a lover?. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder the warrior in jealous rage So the Chieftess knows about the lover? How has the warrior had enough time and opportunity to gain a lover?, Girn'ash flees to the warrior's homeland. If it's so easy to leave, why hasn't she tried to escape before? And if she's a slave, how does she escape? And why is she risking her life for someone who doesn't love her back? I know people do stupid things for love, but this doesn't make me like her or empathise with her She begs the Shogun of her people's enemies to send an army to save her love. Why does she think they'll agree to this? It's like Saving Private Ryan, only more ridiculous and wasteful because it's a whole army Girn'ash can't begin to imagine that the Tribes will be annihilated in nuclear fire I don't quite understand the wording here, or that the Shogun's determination to find his lost soldier is fuelled by his darkest racial prejudices. This is really interesting world building! 

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN yessssss Watership Down— with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist wait there's a human in here? where? in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith

 

I LOVE that it's about dinosaurs, but I'm struggling to empathise with Girn'ash because her struggle seems pointless. She goes through all this, and repeatedly risks her own life for someone who outrightly tells her they have a lover and presumably aren't interested in her (unless I'm misapplying monogamy onto dinosaurs?). What's driving her to do all this? She's got to have some hope, and even then, it seems like she's just met the guy, and if they're both slaves, they can't have had much time or opportunity to build a believable and solid connection that would drive her forward. I'm a cynical romantic, which might be why I'm struggling with this, but I would really recommend trying to show the connection Girn'ash has with her warrior. A name would be a good place to start. 

 

(also thank you for your crits on Unicorn, much appreciated!)


If I've helped you with your query, I'd love if you would take a look at mine! 

 

UNICORN (gothic fantasy) 

Query letter 


#58 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 03:43 PM

Thank you for the thorough crit, Temeraire. :) I greatly appreciate it!

I want to raise some questions in this query which will be answered in the synopsis without too much repetition. (And yes, sentient dinosaurs.)

Do the following tweaks work better for you? (Or for Pure, or anybody else looking in?)

 

ONCE MORE! WITH FEELING! PART 2!

*********************************************

Dear [Agent or Publisher Name],

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent dinosaurs fell victim to such savage impulses more than 67 million years ago.

Professor Raoul Deguchi is mentally transported back in time when he touches an alien metal band wrapped around the forearm of a recently excavated theropod dinosaur fossil. He witnesses the tragic story of Girn'ash, the lowest female slave of the Tribes, who falls desperately in love with Tir'at, an enemy warrior imprisoned by her people's leader, the Most Potent Chieftess. The Chieftess plots to coerce the handsome young raptor into her harem — and Girn'ash is willing to risk what little liberty she possesses, or even her life, to set him free.

Tir'at, who loathes the Chieftess, becomes enthralled in his turn with a mysterious Tribal poetess and utterly rejects Girn'ash's plan to escape without his new lover. Fearing that the Chieftess will murder Tir'at in jealous rage, Girn'ash escapes the Chieftess's settlement and nearly runs herself to death to reach Tirat's homeland. She begs Tir'at's Shogun to send an army to save her love. Girn'ash can't begin to imagine that the Shogun's determination to find his lost soldier is fuelled by his darkest racial prejudices, or that everything she holds dear may ultimately be consumed in nuclear fire.

THE CODEX OF DESIRE is an adult science fiction novel, complete at 133,000 words, with ongoing series potential. The emotional intrigue of GAME OF THRONES meets the mythical storytelling of WATERSHIP DOWN — with dinosaurs and a human palaeontologist in the starring roles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Laurie E. Smith
 



#59 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 03:47 PM

I LOVE that it's about dinosaurs, but I'm struggling to empathise with Girn'ash because her struggle seems pointless. She goes through all this, and repeatedly risks her own life for someone who outrightly tells her they have a lover and presumably aren't interested in her (unless I'm misapplying monogamy onto dinosaurs?). What's driving her to do all this? She's got to have some hope, and even then, it seems like she's just met the guy, and if they're both slaves, they can't have had much time or opportunity to build a believable and solid connection that would drive her forward. I'm a cynical romantic, which might be why I'm struggling with this, but I would really recommend trying to show the connection Girn'ash has with her warrior. A name would be a good place to start. 

 

(also thank you for your crits on Unicorn, much appreciated!)

 

To answer your questions... yes, she really does love him so completely and so selflessly that she will do whatever it takes to ensure HIS safety and HIS happiness. Does it hurt her? Terribly. But he's brought a ray of light into her dark and circumscribed life just by existing, and she has devoted herself utterly to his service. (Which is made clear in the synopsis as well as in the book. I hope. I've been working so hard, with so many revisions, I HOPE it's in the synopsis... :D )



#60 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:05 PM

By the way, if anybody is curious to see what my characters look like (as a commercial artist I was able to draw some good likenesses and find a representative photo for Raoul Deguchi), I have a very short slideshow up on my FB writer page.

https://www.facebook...44130192955224/






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