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Dramaturgy


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#1 Ethaaang

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 03:56 PM

edited 4/4 at 12:42 PM

 

When Elijah’s schizophrenia fully unveils, Clarke must make a choice:  help his friend, or protect himself. 

 

Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. For their entire lives, they have both been comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time, they start doubting.  It begins with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life.  He convinces himself through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. In a science lab on campus, he discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism.  But being a temporary savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent and implications of his friend’s mental illness.    

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller complete at 80,000 words.  Thank you for taking time and consideration.



#2 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 10:00 PM

Coming of age may mean claiming one’s independence and owning his or her thoughts and behaviors.  In Dramaturgy, for Clarke and Elijah, it means questioning their Christian faith, learning how much of their lives were founded upon belief, and dealing with the ramifications. ("Dramaturgy" is the name of your book, right? Only mention the name at the super end of your query. Also, this is not much of a hook. Like I'm slightly interested, but not too much. This is also the like hardest part of a query and takes forever to find the perfect one, so I don't blame you.)

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC). Clarke Adams and Elijah Finetti (Take out the last names. Only mention last names if you want the first time you mention their names.) are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows. (This is a good sentence.) Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they begin to doubt. (Why? What happened?)  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions. Or so they tell themselves. Both, unbeknownst to the other, decide to take action. ("unbeknownst" is a strange word to use.)

 

Now about halfway through, but I'm not sure what the plot or like the "bad" part of the story is.

 

For Elijah, this means fundamentally altering his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ's mind of Christ. The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes. (Explain more.) What he believes is progress others see as severe decompensation of his mental health. (This sentence sounds weird.)

 

Clarke embarks on a journey to discover tangible proof that Christ is the Son of God. (Like how?) He discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism. (Explain?)  Brief periods of unhinged genius, though it also causes temporary loss of his motor skills. (What does? This sentence is confusing.) He begins using the machine in hopes of finding the proof he seeks...yielding mixed results.  However, his priorities change as he finds that there are more immediate issues that demand his attention, such as his deteriorating relationship with his father, his inconsolable mother, and the realization that his friend’s mental health is drastically declining. (This is a bit of an info dump.)

 

Dramaturgy (Your name of the novel is in all capital letters.) is my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words.  (Mention the genre of the book. That's super important.) Thank you for taking the time and consideration.

 

 

Overall, the query is in good shape. You explain who your characters are well. The first paragraph is not as hooking, but it's hard to get that sentence. I do want a bit more info on your plot though to get what's going on more. 

 

 

 

If you can, please return the favor: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/



#3 Ethaaang

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 03:20 PM

Thanks for your comments.  I added a little meat to it:

 

Coming of age refers to the adolescent’s transition into adulthood.  For Clarke, it means discovering tangible proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  For Elijah, it means dealing with an acute onset of schizophrenia. 

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC). Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they start doubting.  It being with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  Yet they are both deeply unsettled, causing them to take action. 

  

For Elijah, this means altering his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  But it’s healthy to go weeks without eating, if it’s getting you closer to God.  And auditory hallucinations are completely normal.  What he believes is progress others see as his mental health crumbling.  Clarke embarks on a journey to discover tangible proof that Christ is the Son of God.  A theorem, or a philosophy.  It must be possible.  He discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism; the deepest level of autism where individuals have been known to learn new languages in a matter of days, or hundreds of digits of pi.  Being a savant also comes with a price; the loss of motor skills.  However, his priorities change as he finds that there are more immediate issues that demand his attention, especially realizing that his friend’s mental health is drastically declining. 

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller and my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words.   Thank you for taking time and consideration.



#4 London C

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 06:56 PM

It's been a while but I've resurrected this project.  You help me and I'll help you!    Edited on 3/14 at 553 PM

 

 

Coming of age refers to the adolescent’s transition into adulthood.  For Clarke, it means discovering tangible proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  For Elijah, it means dealing with an acute onset of schizophrenia. [I'd rework this to exclude the first sentence—it's a general statement, not about your novel.]

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC). Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they start doubting.  It being with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  Yet they are both deeply unsettled, causing them to take action. [This is a very clear set-up.]

  

For In response, Elijah, this means altering alters his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  But it’s healthy to go weeks without eating, if it’s getting you closer to God.  And auditory hallucinations are completely normal.  What he believes is progress others see as his mental health crumbling.[I'd rework this last sentence so it's clear that while he doesn't believe it, he's experiencing the onset of schizophrenia; the way it's written, you're suggesting it's a matter of opinion.]  Clarke's response is to seek embarks on a journey to discover tangible proof that Christ is the Son of God.[Is he seeking evidence that Christ is the son of God, or that God exists? I'm assuming the theft didn't leave him questioning if Jesus was just a prophet instead of God's son, or if maybe God is really Buddha.]  A theorem, or a philosophy.  It must be possible.  He discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism; the deepest level of autism where individuals have been known to learn new languages in a matter of days, or hundreds of digits of pi.  Being a savant also comes with a price; the loss of motor skills.  However, his priorities change as he finds that there are more immediate issues that demand his attention, especially realizing that his friend’s mental health is drastically declining. [The conclusion feels a little weak. Is there an inciting event that shows Clark that Elijah is in danger?]

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller and my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words.   Thank you for taking time and consideration.

 

 

Overall, I think this is strong (and my sentence-level edits might not improve it any). I think you could get rid of the opening paragraph and move right into the background. The other issue I'd think about is how to convey what the conflict is. The stakes are clear: Elijah is trying to mange a serious mental health issue; however, it's not as clear what the conflicts will be. Does Clark have to pick between helping his friend and…RTMS? Not to be flippant, but other than his mental health, what does Elijah have to lose? Your set-up suggests something of it, but I'd like to see a bit more about how this plays out in the plot.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#5 Ethaaang

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Posted 22 March 2019 - 05:09 PM

okay thanks for your help...here is another attempt... I think I am getting to my main points but my conclusion isn't solid... I will return the favor

 

Transitioning into adulthood for two best friends looks drastically different; for Clarke, it is dependent upon discovering tangible proof that Jesus Christ exists and is the Son of God.  For Elijah, it means dealing with an acute onset of schizophrenia. 

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC). Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they start doubting.  It being with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  Yet they both remain deeply unsettled. 

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  But it’s healthy to go weeks without eating, if it’s getting you closer to God.  And auditory hallucinations are completely normal.  What he believes is progress others begin to realize is actually the crumbling of his mental health.

 

Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. A theorem, or a philosophy.  It must be possible.  He discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism; the deepest level of autism where individuals have been known to learn new languages in a matter of days, or hundreds of digits of pi.  But being a savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent of his friend’s mental illness.    

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller and my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words.   Thank you for taking time and consideration.



#6 Faltho

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Posted 23 March 2019 - 03:12 PM

 

 

Transitioning into adulthood for two best friends looks drastically different; for Clarke, it is dependent upon discovering tangible proof that Jesus Christ exists and is the Son of God.  For Elijah, it means dealing with an acute onset of schizophrenia.  (This sounds like an interesting idea. Almost a Da Vinci Code style introduction)

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC) (I don't know that this adds anything to the query as you mention they're students in the next line.). Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they start doubting. (I would suggest finding a way to combine these two sentences together)  It being with a stolen laptop. (This seems like an odd choice of thing to shake someone's faith, unless they are exceptionally cloistered)  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  Yet they both remain deeply unsettled.

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  But it’s healthy to go weeks without eating, if it’s getting you closer to God.  And auditory hallucinations are completely normal.  What he believes is progress others begin to realize is actually the crumbling of his mental health. (I think you can get away with dropping all of this actually. Not only do you end on a more powerful note that way, but much of what you're saying in these lines is completely encompassed in what you're implying)

 

Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. A theorem, or a philosophy.  It must be possible.  He discovers (Does he create it, or find it? Discovering is a little vague) a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism; the deepest level of autism where individuals have been known to learn new languages in a matter of days, or hundreds of digits of pi.  But being a savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent of his friend’s mental illness.    

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller and my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words (Most queries tend to round the word count as this changes with minor edits. Best to just say 80,000).   Thank you for taking time and consideration.

 

 

 

I think the story is an interesting concept with a lot of potential. However, the query is a little bit bogged down. If you look at many of the successful queries in the other section, most are fairly short and to the point of introducing characters, basic setting, stakes, and plot. While I really like the 'voice' associated with many of the lines like "And auditory hallucinations are completely normal", they tend to slow the reading down. And since some agents get hundreds of queries a day, this slowing can become an issue. 

The only other concern I might see people having is possibly plot related, which I won't get into here. Rather I'll ask the question, have you ever worked with a beta reader?



#7 happy werewolf

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Posted 05 April 2019 - 11:16 AM

I think you've done a great job revising this - it reads much better than earlier drafts and makes me very interested in your story!

A few minor notes:

- The word "lives" is used in two sentences right in a row, so maybe find a way to reword one of those slightly.

-"...they have both been comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows." That sounds passive to me - maybe tweak it to something like "...they have both found comfort in the knowledge that when God is in control, success follows."

-I'm not sure about the phrase "culminates to." I've only ever heard "culminates in." It might be something to look up to make sure the usage is correct.

One note on the story itself:

-A stolen laptop seems like a pretty minor incident to send two students spiralling into crises of faith. Changing the crime to something more serious, such as a brutal assault, especially if it happened to one of their friends, would be a stronger trigger and would make the emotional stakes that much higher.

That is just an opinion, though! As always, please take it with a grain of salt!

Overall, I am super-impressed with how hard you've worked on this. It sounds REALLY good to me! Best of luck on your project!

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#8 Cengel

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 12:11 PM

Ethaaang,

 

First, thank you for your critique on my query and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It's been a crazy couple of weeks.

 

edited 4/4 at 12:42 PM

 

When Elijah’s schizophrenia fully unveils, Clarke must make a choice:  help his friend, or protect himself.  I think this hook is getting much better, but it's not at 100%. "Fully unveils" feels a little odd to me. Does he have a schizophrenic episode? What has made it "veiled" in the past?

 

Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically top of their class means academically, you don't need to state that while leading busy social lives. For their entire lives, they have both been comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows. agree with happy werewolf -- this sentence is a little too passive Until, for the first time, they start doubting.  It begins with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought. two things here. First, it's weird to me that stolen laptop is creating such a big reaction. Has he never been exposed to crime in his life, ever? Like he must've heard of war, genocide, murder, rape. Is there a reason why the laptop is so important? How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life.  He convinces himself through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes. this implies that it's working (he's getting closer to Christ) but he's also going mad. Is Christ the cause of his madness, then? Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. In a science lab on campus, he discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism.  But being a temporary savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent and implications of his friend’s mental illness.    

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller complete at 80,000 words.  Thank you for taking your time and consideration.

 

I think this is an intriguing concept, but I'm fuzzy on some of these details. Also, I don't think you're supposed to put character thoughts in a query. Like, not directly (the parts in italics). 

 

My biggest confusion is the inciting incident. The stolen laptop leads to Elijah completely altering his way of life, to the point where he fasts, isolates, and meditates (and becomes mad as a result, I think?)

 

I also want a little more from the third paragraph. What are the specific stakes? Right now, we have Clarke's "safety at risk" but I think there could be a bigger punch from this last paragraph.

 

Overall, I think a lot of the core concepts are in this draft, there are just a few things that are unclear to me that I think could be reworked to help people who aren't familiar with your story. 


Please take a look at my query.


#9 Joseph Isaacs

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 07:13 PM

edited 4/4 at 12:42 PM

 

When Elijah’s schizophrenia fully unveils, Clarke must make a choice:  help his friend, or protect himself. i am wondering if you mean real schizophrenia or the movie/tv show variety which is actually multiple personality disorder

 

Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. For their entire lives, they have both been comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time, they start doubting.  It begins with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  usually this is a death of a child or something way worse. is humor intended here? It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life.  He convinces himself through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes. cool  Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. In a science lab on campus, he discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism.  But being a temporary savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent and implications of his friend’s mental illness.    this makes me feel you don't really have a grasp on mental illness and how it works. I am thinking you are confusing schitzophrenia with more like a serial killer psychosis? also everything is pretty light and then suddenly we have the threat of a serial killer assuming thats what you are getting at.

 

you mention the friends mental illness early on and toward the end but it actually isn't much in the middle. if this is the big selling point of your story, how does it work in with the meat of your summary? and speaking of the meat, I feel the stakes are too low. the savant thing might be interesting but I am not quite clear at what you are talking about and why it puts him in so much danger.

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller complete at 80,000 words.  Thank you for taking time and consideration. No problem! Oh you mean the agent. Well, speaking of taking time and consideration, would you please take a look at my blurb for Soul Hosts. Thank you very much in advance for your kind consideration as well.



#10 London C

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 10:32 AM

okay thanks for your help...here is another attempt... I think I am getting to my main points but my conclusion isn't solid... I will return the favor

 

Transitioning into adulthood for two best friends looks drastically different; for Clarke, it is dependent upon discovering tangible proof that Jesus Christ exists and is the Son of God.  For Elijah, it means dealing with an acute onset of schizophrenia.  Very nice introduction. 

 

Classes, chapel, and Bible study comprise the academic demands of being a student at United Christian College (UCC) ​No need for the acronym since it  doesn't appear later. You might just say a Christian college. Clarke and Elijah are popular juniors who are at the top of their class academically while leading busy social lives. Both are comforted by knowing that when God is in control, success follows.  Until, for the first time in each of their lives, they start doubting.  It being with a stolen laptop.  How could a true Christian steal, Elijah thought.  How could a just God let this happen?  It culminates to an in-class debate where the validity of Christianity and faith in Christ is challenged to the core.  Doubt is natural though.  It deepens your convictions.  Or so they tell themselves.  Yet they both remain deeply unsettled. ​Like the other commenters, this felt like a very superficial trigger for their doubt. It seems the trigger isn't a theft, but that a Christian theft. That makes them seem incredibly ignorant and naive (I could write a long list of crimes by people who identify as Christian…including some massive scandals). Unless you want to target a niche market, this would work better if the doubts are tied to them knowing the thief, who was an exemplary Christian, or comes from a personal connection to a tragedy (somebody dies in a flood, a missionary friend is killed, etc.)

  

In response, Elijah alters his way of life. He convinces himself that through fasting, isolation, and meditation, he can get closer to Christ’s mind.  The closer he gets, the more twisted his own becomes.  But it’s healthy to go weeks without eating, if it’s getting you closer to God.  And auditory hallucinations are completely normal.  What he believes is progress others begin to realize is actually the crumbling of his mental health.

 

Clarke's response is to seek tangible proof that Christ existed and will return to Earth. A theorem, or a philosophy.  It must be possible.  He discovers a Resonant Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation system, which can induce brief periods of savantism; the deepest level of autism That phrase is a warning for me.  where individuals have been known to learn new languages in a matter of days, or hundreds of digits of pi.  But being a savant also comes with a cost; the loss of motor skills.  This puts his own safety at risk as Elijah starts believing Clarke is the cause of his issues, while Clarke starts to understand the full extent of his friend’s mental illness.    

 

DRAMATURGY is a psychological thriller and my first novel.  It is complete at 80,314 words.   Thank you for taking time and consideration.

 

Your last body paragraph raises some concerns for me. "Deepest level" of autism isn't the way I've seen experts and people with autism talk about it. When I duckduckgo'd it, the closest I've come to it was "Levels of autism" which are numbered. Savantism isn't a feature that's automatically part of autism as one has more symptoms (it's not even always associated with autism). The description of Elijah's mental issue also feels a little suspect. 

 

Be really careful about this. In the contemporary publishing market, agents and publishers are concerned about accurate and respectful representation of people who have often misrepresented in literature. Mental illnesses are a big one. If you've done the research, or have a personal  connection to the subjects your writing about, put that in the  query (at least the one you send out, if you don't want to share that here). If not, I'd hold  off querying until you've done enough research that you don't make mistakes, especially in the query. 

 

The core of the novel sounds very intriguing  and investigating how two different people deal with profound doubts about the core meaning in their lives could make for an awesome novel. One of my favorite  novels is Lying Awake by Mark Salzman, about a Carmelite nun who begins hearing God, then discovers she has a brain tumor. It's a profound and deeply moving book. If you  deliver half of what Salzman does, this book will be a winner—but you have to have the details completely locked down.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques





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