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Author Topic: 3rd Revision in post 20, page 2 (query) KILLING PARADISE  (Read 643 times)
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« Reply #30 on: Yesterday at 04:32:47 AM »

Pineapplejuice,

I saw your "harsh" before you removed it but know that I view your comments as you being honest, which I appreciate very much. Hard truths, though they may cause an initial pain, are what writers need to hear. My first CP, whom I still have, was extremely harsh on me, though he tempered it with a bit of sugar....."You're a great storyteller, but your writing is sh**."

I'm glad you're not offended...  :)I hope your cp's sugar included helpful advice as well. Oh, yes. I was going to split my novel in two because it was 211k. He read the first half in a day or so. Told me he hated where it ended. I then let him read the second half, and he read that in about a day and half. Said the nice thing, then the harsh true thing, then convinced me to keep novel whole and to put in work to get count down. My new count has fluctuated (was less, then added more back in) but is 96k at this time. Next step was him getting me past some of my telling. That began with dialogue work because I was afraid of dialogue when I wrote my book (lol) and would tell the readers what the people talked about  embarrassed2. Between him, temporary CP's, being here/reading new and old posts about writing/etc., and google/writing sites, I've been able to come along way since that first read by him.  I had a 'free sample critique from someone off fb and she said my pages were LONG AND BORING in all caps. OUCH! ( They were, the beginning had no hook but the delivery of message left a lot to be desired ) . I have greatly changed my first pages though so I'm glad I got that feedback. Two other people, inc an indie publisher who liked my pitad tweet ( she was polite ) and an agent I paid to read first 10 pages ( not so kind ) both said 'nothing happens' in my first pages lol. lol OUCH, again! But how are you supposed to know if no one tells you? Well, most of us have to suffer some battle wounds to become better fighters (writers). We're both lucky in that we received the feedback we needed to begin a proper path.  Adding to my rewrites. So my problem for first chapter was that my storytelling sucked. ( My writing wasn't that great either tbh ) Not sure what my point is here, possibly to say I think you are telling me you understand what it's like to have something suck.  Smiley ...I know what you mean by harsh critique helping in the long run but I hope I aid something useful as well. Oh, yes! I am glad you've already done a big edit for fine tuning writing in MS. Already done a big edit is an understatement. I sucked so bad that I'm on my 11th draft, me closing out a draft after so many passes/making a copy/then working on that. I had to work on things in layers. For some things, I could look out for/fix 2 or 3 issues at a time. I would go through MS 2 to 3 times for that. Other issues required me to focus on them singly. Pinapplejuice, I sucked so bad that the list of things I had to fix/learn/apply could fill a novel. Truly. And having dyslexia made some things difficult. Then there were the passes to reshape this subplot or that one. Luckily I got the idea to code my MS so that certain elements and subplots could have their own code and I tagged each spot wherever each thing surfaced so I could track arcs and such more easily/use my document map or "find feature" to jump around. Saved me a ton of time and I wished I'd thought of that sooner. I also was late to think of giving my chapters temporary titles that were descriptive of key events in chapter so I could find scenes quickly whenever I wanted to check this or that. Anyway, on 11th draft but as far as completed passes I've done, 300 is a conservative number. 

Quote
I know queries can often bring out the very worst in our writing ( I have found this for me ) but also they can shine a light on things that need attention in our Manuscripts, so it might be a good idea to see if you do use weak verbs in MS and and study narrative distance/psychic distance and filter terms ) as well.

   
Maybe what I not grasping is that you kind folks are suggesting I approach writing my query as if I were writing in my manuscript. I don't mean that exactly....Hard to explain. Like, for me queries sometimes need an 'angle' like a journalist would have, since it's impossible to tell everything in 300 words and have it feel accurate and sufficient, I kind of feel like queries need a sort of angle and voice of their own, just for the query , subtle as it might be and those elements add to the experience of reading good 'writing' in the query, but that 'writing' isn't like the MS, if that makes sense. I think the query should have the same voice as the MS. But the angle thing, I see what you mean. One of Munley's posts to this thread had her saying something that made me realize I wasn't focused on what I'm interpreting as "theme" so as to use the right elements to highlight a certain aspect of the story. For example, the "the light of one boy/one man's darkness" should focus on the more spiritual side of story. An opening of "Of all the dangers Shokur faces..." could have a focus of Shokur believing the "conspirators" are his antagonists/people to protect himself from, to then discover they are actually the good guys and it's the chief he needs to watch out for.



Out of curiosity is there a big confrontation between Shokur and Cheif? Yes. There are a string of them, the first being in first chapter. Like, is the angle here that Shokur is increasingly in danger from being killed by the Cheif by being an almost reluctant ringleader of the disbeleivers? Okay, so my apologies for likely getting a little long here. Yes, there is increasing danger for MC because of those confrontations, which the conspirators warn him against doing, confronting the chief. Once he comes to lose faith in the chief, he realizes he'd been sowing the seeds of his own destruction and the damage is done. He's an enemy of the chief. Chief does the same thing, sowing seeds of his own destruction, via his interactions with Shokur upsetting people, chief revealing sides of himself that turn people away, make them lose respect, etc. and in some mistakes he makes that has nothing to do with Shokur. His advisors believe he's become overconfident due to his years of rule and become sloppy due to his drug habit (drinking potent medicinal teas he uses to get high). Back on Shokur, he is not the reluctant leader of the conspirators. He's not the leader at all. Where I wrap my query, with him wanting the truth about chief, he's not even thinking about the conspirators, helping them. He's literally just wanting to know if what he's believed his whole life is based on lies (just past halfway in story). The risk in this moment of the story is what I state in query. Shokur's suspicion in chief might be viewed by spirits as a form of disbelief, and we learn early in query the punishment for that. If the chief is not guided by spirits and Shokur gets chief to reveal truth, then chief will be super pissed at him and claim "the spirits" demand his death. Seems doomed either way, but my hope is that including that MC's actions with chief has been helping the conspirators that if he gets the chief to reveal truth, there could be upheaval. MC comes to lose faith 4 chapters later from where I stop query and there's still a whole lotta story going on. That second half of the novel is dark. While there is dark and light throughout novel, the dark is darker and those moments of light are smaller, but they shine so bright. I have a hard time with second half. I get depressed and I still cry over certain events even though I know it's fake, that I made it all up. lol 

By reluctant ringleader - is he sort of like Katniss as 'The Mockingjay' in the Mockingjay Part One where she hates the idea of being a spokesperson for the rebels but is obliged to do it? I know different situation, just wondering what the big stakes tension should focus on
I haven't seen any of those movies/read the books, so I have no idea what you're talking about. In my story, Shokur never sees himself as the voice for the rebels. He certainly does a lot of things that inadvertently helps them though, even though he remains a believer in chief until @ 4 chapters past the halfway point. It would take pages to explain, and I'll spare you.  Smiley


EDIT : I was skimming over past comments by others and you told someone Shokur is 11!

I ...feel so much more for this character knowing this! I wonder if you're doing yourself a disservice ( re: connecting with reader ) leaving this out. An agent is going to find out eventually...in pages so there's not much point in leaving it out when it might be the thing that help them have more respect and empathy for his plight...that is the case for me.

Well, I've danced around the issue. I can't list his age in query or else that will say to agent that I have an MG or YA story but they'll see that I'm not including an age category (YA or MG). Shokur's age would put story as an MG one. Though I think YA would fit, to query YA, you must include age. If I include "11", agents will think I've made a mistake in using YA. Story is an adult one, with an adult narrator, me, though I keep a close 3rd person for most of the novel.

Yes, I think I've done myself a disservice. If any agent got past my query and to my pages, by top of page 5, readers see my MC returning to his mother for treatment of injuries sustained in shark/dolphin incident that opens novel. Like everyone here, agents likely thought MC was a young man and felt a bit of a shock and possibly felt a bit misled.

My way around this for new query was to have that "the light of one BOY..." so as to alert agents I do have a boy MC but since I'm not stating age or adding in MG or YA, they can glean the story is an adult one. At least they will no longer be blindsided. Munley got around a young MC by giving a clear indication MC is a child but didn't include age in query/didn't list YA or MG in title paragraph and got requests. So I'm going to be more upfront by using "boy" in some context for any query I might send out in future for this story. Another reason I led with that "light/darkness" line is to show a larger theme of novel so that the rest of my query would be viewed with that in mind. As Munley put it, it's like David and Goliath, light vs. dark, good vs. evil. 




« Last Edit: Yesterday at 05:16:49 AM by 007 fan » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: Yesterday at 05:01:48 AM »

Munley,

Quote
it occurred to me how much Shokur’s faith crisis reminds me of that song by Styx:

“Show Me the Way.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhJZ58lUqeE

Haven't heard that in ages and it is just so perfect for my MC. Thank you for sharing it. Put it on a playlist on my phone and have already listened to it several times.


On an aside, I noticed you capitalized "Chief" and "Spirits" even though they follow "the". I thought lower case, like when you say "your mother wears combat boots" vs. "hey, Mother, put on those combat boots". I'm guessing your way is the proper way. That means lots of changes in my MS if that's the case. Good thing I figured out how to use the find/replace feature.


On another aside, I did read/listen to that short from the link you provided. I had such a difficult time reading it because of the old timey language and words I didn't know that it strained something in my brain so hard that something broke. Then that "the light of one boy..." line fell out. Thanks?  Grin


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Mr. Fluff -- from the SPCA


« Reply #32 on: Yesterday at 06:05:28 AM »

I don't think you need to capitalize "chief" and not sure why I did. I also spelled "dolphin" two different ways. Just ignore.

Glad you liked the song and had a brain bust from the Hawthorne story that resulted in such a good line.
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« Reply #33 on: Yesterday at 06:59:18 AM »

Pineapplejuice,



 both said 'nothing happens' in my first pages lol. lol OUCH, again! But how are you supposed to know if no one tells you? Well, most of us have to suffer some battle wounds to become better fighters (writers). We're both lucky in that we received the feedback we needed to begin a proper path.  [/color]Adding to my rewrites. So my problem for first chapter was that my storytelling sucked. ( My writing wasn't that great either tbh ) Not sure what my point is here, possibly to say I think you are telling me you understand what it's like to have something suck.  Smiley

Yes. That as it lol  Grin

I had to work on things in layers. For some things, I could look out for/fix 2 or 3 issues at a time. I would go through MS 2 to 3 times for that. Other issues required me to focus on them singly.

This is really interesting. I found after the first two passes I've had to do this as well, just work on fixiing one bad habit or just improving a paragraph here and there for one chapter etc. I don't feel able to be productive going through the whole thing


Pinapplejuice, I sucked so bad that the list of things I had to fix/learn/apply could fill a novel. Truly. And having dyslexia made some things difficult.

I have brain fog from me/cfs and it does make it so much harder when you can't think like other people!!!


There's a DVpit coming up on twitter in late April. As far as I know you don't need an OWN voices book ( an MC with same marginalized issue as yourself ) you maybe could enter as a marginalized author without a marginalized protag.

Or other Pitmad competitions. ( Assuming you haven't already been ) I came up with a good pitch two days ago and got feedback in DM from an agent who was open to DM's for critique for DVPit people. She liked it! Maybe your book is a bit like mine in that it's hard to nail down the stakes but having tiny wordcount can highlight the really unique things , like Dolphins save Shokur and 3000 BC etc.







Anyway, on 11th draft but as far as completed passes I've done, 300 is a conservative number.  Argh dear god. I ...don't feel so bad now about having to go over my MS again

Out of curiosity is there a big confrontation between Shokur and Cheif? Yes. There are a string of them, the first being in first chapter. Like, is the angle here that Shokur is increasingly in danger from being killed by the Cheif by being an almost reluctant ringleader of the disbeleivers?

 Where I wrap my query, with him wanting the truth about chief, he's not even thinking about the conspirators, helping them. He's literally just wanting to know if what he's believed his whole life is based on lies (just past halfway in story). The risk in this moment of the story is what I state in query. Shokur's suspicion in chief might be viewed by spirits as a form of disbelief, and we learn early in query the punishment for that. If the chief is not guided by spirits and Shokur gets chief to reveal truth, then chief will be super pissed at him and claim "the spirits" demand his death.

Sounds like a catch 22...be so much easier if in Query you could say Shokur is in a Catch 22

 Seems doomed either way, but my hope is that including that MC's actions with chief has been helping the conspirators that if he gets the chief to reveal truth, there could be upheaval. 


[/color]

Well, I've danced around the issue. I can't list his age in query or else that will say to agent that I have an MG or YA story but they'll see that I'm not including an age category (YA or MG). Shokur's age would put story as an MG one. Though I think YA would fit, to query YA, you must include age. If I include "11", agents will think I've made a mistake in using YA. Story is an adult one, with an adult narrator, me, though I keep a close 3rd person for most of the novel.

I think it's stupid that a young character has to be YA or MG...I know there are young protagonists in Adult books out there but I guess they are outliers , hence your hesitation

My way around this for new query was to have that "the light of one BOY..."


Ahh ok yeah that sounds good.





« Last Edit: Yesterday at 07:12:26 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
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« Reply #34 on: Yesterday at 05:13:56 PM »

Quote
I had to work on things in layers. For some things, I could look out for/fix 2 or 3 issues at a time. I would go through MS 2 to 3 times for that. Other issues required me to focus on them singly.

This is really interesting. I found after the first two passes I've had to do this as well, just work on fixiing one bad habit or just improving a paragraph here and there for one chapter etc. I don't feel able to be productive going through the whole thing

Well, there are ways to get around literally looking at each word in MS as you go to fix, let's say, "filtering", so you can go thru whole MS faster. I used my find feature/find all and highlighted all filter words (and their various forms ((see, saw, seen, etc)) by selecting "all word forms") with yellow or green or whatever. I picked one color for all filter words. Word will change them all at once.  Then I was able to just do a visual search thru whole MS for the color w/o needing my eyes to "find" the filter words buried in surrounding text. I do at least 2 passes for such a projects. First pass gets you into rhythm and builds experience so that when you get to 2nd pass (or more if wanted or needed), you're able to clean out even more/work faster. 

Quote
I have brain fog from me/cfs and it does make it so much harder when you can't think like other people!!!

I had to look that up. But yeah. With my thing, the thing I dislike most is talking in a group and then saying something and everyone looks at me like I just grew arms out of my head because my angle of whatever is being talked about is clearly different than anything they were thinking.  Grin

Quote
There's a DVpit coming up on twitter in late April. As far as I know you don't need an OWN voices book ( an MC with same marginalized issue as yourself ) you maybe could enter as a marginalized author without a marginalized protag.

I don't see myself as marginalized in having dyslexia or synesthesia, so I don't think I should do that. Some have said I could query as having a diverse book because no one is white in the story, but I'm not comfortable with that b/c everyone is the same, meaning no one is facing the issue of being a minority.

Quote
Or other Pitmad competitions. ( Assuming you haven't already been ) I came up with a good pitch two days ago and got feedback in DM from an agent who was open to DM's for critique for DVPit people. She liked it!


Wow! An agent liked your pitch!  clap  On the contests, etc., I've only entered PitchWars once very early into finding my way with fixing my MS. Not shocked I didn't get picked because if you think my queries are kinda sucky now, oh, boy, you should have seen them way back then.  Yes

You seem to have found a lot of good sites that talk about agent likes and dislikes, info about contests, etc. I think the forum could use someone that alerts everyone to upcoming contests. Feel like being that person? We have an appropriate forum for such a thing.  Smiley
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 05:40:57 PM by 007 fan » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: Yesterday at 08:05:15 PM »

3rd Revision

Thanks again, neverish, for your helpful comments in my first posting of this version.



Dear First Last,

The light of one boy might be the most powerful weapon against one man’s darkness.

In a jungled land by a sea, Shokur tells his people how dolphins protected him from a shark. He vows he’ll never hunt dolphins again. Tribemates believe his survival is a mystical sign and seek his help to oust their chief. They tell him about the tribe’s peaceful past, before Chief Isirs’ rule. When they say the chief lies about his claim that divine spirits demand human sacrifices so he can eliminate his enemies, Shokur reminds them the spirits tend to choose disbelievers to die.

If Shokur were honest with himself, he’d admit fear binds him to his faith. The hunter escapes his troubles by swimming with dolphins. When he witnesses the chief’s enforcers murder a friendly outsider, he begins questioning Chief Isirs about the violence required by the spirits so he can understand. Tribemates praise Shokur for drawing out sides of the chief that sway people toward their cause but warn him against becoming Chief Isirs' enemy.

Then one night, the chief’s enforcers beat a tribemate for information about secretive activity, and Shokur realizes the spirits never told the chief about the disbelievers or their plot. Now he suspects the chief could be a fraud. His suspicion likely angers the spirits, but what scares him most—Chief Isirs might be a killer. Shokur must somehow get the chief to reveal the truth that could land him in the sacrificial chamber or set his people free.

Set in the tropics around 2500 B.C., KILLING PARADISE is a historical drama with series potential complete at 96,000 words. It will appeal to fans of the recent movie, Alpha, and Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series. X pages are below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Name
Phone Number
Email

It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I feel like this could flow a bit more smoothly. Right now, it feels a bit cluttered and hard to follow. It feels long, too, so maybe shorten it by around 50 words?

It's a cool concept but I feel like you can convey it better. For example, remove parts which aren't critical to the central idea, like him not wanting to hunt dolphins anymore.
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« Reply #36 on: Today at 05:35:43 PM »

It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I feel like this could flow a bit more smoothly. Right now, it feels a bit cluttered and hard to follow. It feels long, too, so maybe shorten it by around 50 words?

It's a cool concept but I feel like you can convey it better. For example, remove parts which aren't critical to the central idea, like him not wanting to hunt dolphins anymore.

Including as much of the story as I can squeeze in has always been a problem of mine, among other things.  naughty

On a smoother flow, I think I'm understanding what people have said about having a closer narrative and not presenting elements in a way that sounds like a list. I think I'll have to work on the quality of my presentation first, then tackle revealing the right things that leave me satisfied about the peek I give of my story.

Thank you for your comments.  Smiley
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