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Author Topic: Age of Sail - Sci-Fi  (Read 991 times)
robev333
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« on: May 17, 2017, 08:48:56 AM »

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over. He finally finds the opportunity he’s longed for when he’s chosen to lead the first American expedition to far space in decades. But being “first” with a qualifier isn’t enough. While the American government is content to ease into their return to exploration, Charlie has been planning something that’s never been done before, something that’s sure to cement his place in history: setting sail for the galactic center.

There’s just one problem: his crew doesn’t know about their new destination. When the head navigator is murdered not long after departure, Charlie must decide whether solving her death is worth risking the exposure of his plans and possible mutiny. Meanwhile, the onboard federal agents have used the murder as an excuse to investigate Charlie himself, a saboteur continues to roam his sheep freely, and new information has come to light that threatens the fundamental premise of his mission. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and foreign spies, Charlie realizes that Captain Stones may not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might.

AGE OF SAIL is a 123,000-word science-fiction novel with series potential that takes inspiration from its eponymous historical period.

--------------------------------
REVISION 1:

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over.

The American government finally gives him an opportunity to leave his legacy when they choose him as captain of their first expedition to far space in decades. They’ve provided him with a fleet, a crew, and a modest mission to chart the stars.

Charlie doesn’t do modest.

He’ll take the fleet and crew, but he’s set a new mission for the expedition, something that’s sure to launch him into history: being the first man to sail for the galactic center.

The only problem is his crew still thinks they’re charting the stars. Nothing Charlie can’t manage under normal circumstances, but when the head navigator is murdered not long after departure by a spy seeking to prevent America’s reascendency, he must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to keep his plans secret and prevent mutiny. The onboard federal investigators have chosen him as their prime suspect, and the murderer continues to roam his ship freely. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and international agents, Charlie realizes Captain Stones might not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 09:38:26 AM by robev333 » Logged
Falthor
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 09:42:05 AM »

okay, we have a solid base here.  you defintiely have the 4 c's (Character, Conflict, Choice, and consequences)  I think my only pull back on here is there are a couple too many ideas at work, or that those ideas need to be smoothed out to work better with one another.

here's how the query reads right now:

Captain stones wantsto be famous (basically)
He's chosen to lead an expidition into space, the first in a long time
he's decided he'll hijack the mission without telling anyone
the crew doesn't know so he's basically putting their lives in danger
the head navigator is killed
captain stone is worried about whether he should investigate the death or not.
the federalagents onboard (how big is this crew really, just wondering) use the navigator's death to investigate the captain
there's a sabateour (the guy who killed the navigator I presume)
new info threatens Captain stone's mission in life.
feeling trapped he wonders if becoing a tyrant will work better for him.

that's a whole lot of seperate ideas that mostly fit together.  Like I said, if you can cut some that would help, but I think the real key here is to make them work togetehr better because right now they all sound like different elements...

As I was making my list I also realized this guy is a bit of a narrcissistic scum bag.  Even if his crew was only 5 or 6, Which I'm guessing is low because there are federal agents on board too, he's basically signed them all up for a death sentence, just because he wants to be remembered when he's gone.  IS he the bad guy/lead, and is there anything redeeming about him?
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miawinter
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 07:39:23 PM »

I agree with Falthor and Gobbo. This is incredibly dense, reads like a list of events with zero voice. The length isn't too bad, but with how it's written, it feels like a block of text. I'd advise taking another stab at this (it's always helpful to review the thread with successful queries!) and post a revision. The plot itself sounds very interesting, and I think if you clean this up/streamline some of the ideas, the story will shine through. Right now it's hidden with so many other factors/ideas going on. Good luck!

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over. He finally finds the opportunity he’s longed for when he’s chosen to lead the first American expedition to far space in decades. But being “first” with a qualifier isn’t enough. While the American government is content to ease into their return to exploration, Charlie has been planning something that’s never been done before, something that’s sure to cement his place in history: setting sail for the galactic center.

There’s just one problem: his crew doesn’t know about their new destination. When the head navigator is murdered not long after departure, Charlie must decide whether solving her death is worth risking the exposure of his plans and possible mutiny. Meanwhile, the onboard federal agents have used the murder as an excuse to investigate Charlie himself, a saboteur continues to roam his sheep freely, and new information has come to light that threatens the fundamental premise of his mission. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and foreign spies, Charlie realizes that Captain Stones may not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might.

AGE OF SAIL is a 123,000-word science-fiction novel with series potential that takes inspiration from its eponymous historical period.


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mgmystery
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 08:03:42 AM »

I didn't have a problem connecting the events, but I'd really like to get a better feeling fro your MC. We need a reason to like him (or maybe just root for him if he is actually a terrible person). My suggestions below are mostly to help us connect with Charlie.

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over. (This is kind of sad. Why does he feel this way?) He finally finds the opportunity he’s longed for when he’s chosen to lead the first American expedition to far space in decades. But being “first” with a qualifier isn’t enough. While the American government is content to ease into their return to exploration, Charlie has been planning something that’s never been done before, something that’s sure to cement his place in history: setting sail for the galactic center. (Is there some way this is useful other than it's never been done?)

There’s just one problem: his crew doesn’t know about their new destination. When the head navigator is murdered not long after departure, Charlie is the main suspect. Charlie must decide whether solving her death is worth risking the exposure of his plans and possible mutiny. (this makes him sound really cruel.) Meanwhile, the onboard federal agents have used the murder as an excuse to investigate Charlie himself, a saboteurWhile the real killer continues to roam his sheep freely, and new information has comes to light that threatens the fundamental premise of his mission. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and foreign spies, Charlie realizes that Captain Stones may not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might.
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robev333
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2017, 09:41:46 AM »

Hi all, thanks for the feedback. I've edited my letter to slim down the text, remove details that detract from central story, and provide more of Charlie's voice. I'm glad you think he's a narcissistic scumbag, that's precisely the character I'm going for. He does have some redeeming qualities, but overall, this is more of a descent into madness type of situation (like Heart of Darkness). I edited the OP with my new query, and I'm providing it again here.

---------------------------
For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over.

The American government finally gives him an opportunity to leave his legacy when they choose him as captain of their first expedition to far space in decades. They’ve provided him with a fleet, a crew, and a modest mission to chart the stars.

Charlie doesn’t do modest.

He’ll take the fleet and crew, but he’s set a new mission for the expedition, something that’s sure to launch him into history: being the first man to sail for the galactic center.

The only problem is his crew still thinks they’re charting the stars. Nothing Charlie can’t manage under normal circumstances, but when the head navigator is murdered not long after departure by a spy seeking to prevent America’s reascendency, he must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to keep his plans secret and prevent mutiny. The onboard federal investigators have chosen him as their prime suspect, and the murderer continues to roam his ship freely. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and international agents, Charlie realizes Captain Stones might not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might.
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Falthor
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 09:56:53 AM »

Alright.... that reads a lot better and more streamlined, we also get a pretty decent feel for your MC, although I think you're shying away from making him look too bad.  If he's a bad narcissistic douche then you need to portray that here, but you also need to give us a reason to want to read about him as well.

Instead of "the only problem" at the beginning of the last paragraph I would just replace it with "but" only because you state it's the only problem and then you list 2 or 3 others.

Also, I don't think it's truly necessary, but What would the consequence of Tyrant Charlie Be...   is he ready to just start torturing and killing, etc?

As is, you are sitting at 202 words and have lots of room to add a little more of the character and consequence in.
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DownNineUpTen
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 10:53:32 AM »

I guess I'll jump in now. As someone who rewrote a query countless times because my MC appeared unlikeable, I feel for you, though it sounds like you want him to be unlikeable. Therefore, I guess you should prove he has whatever it is that unlikeable main characters must have and that is... charm? We're envious? We can't look away? I am familiar with a few explorers from history who led crews into the unknown but as far as I know, the crews at least knew their destination. I have not read Heart of Darkness but didn't he have a loyal following, at least in the Apocalypse Now version? They willingly followed?

Maybe he's more like Captain Ahab? Obsessed. If so, maybe there's gotta be some explanation for his drive for immortality, something in his past, some wound he can only heal this way (and maybe the query letter needs to hint at it).




---------------------------
For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over. Maybe add a phrase that it doesn't matter to him whether he's remembered for infamy or X?

The American government finally gives him an opportunity to leave his legacy when they choose him as captain of their first expedition to far space in decades. Maybe providing a small detail that explains why they chose him will give us something to admire or envy. Did he accomplish something great? Is he a it's-lonely-at-the-top type who is incredibly talented? They’ve provided him with a fleet, a crew, and a modest mission to chart the stars.

Charlie doesn’t do modest.

He’ll take the fleet and crew, but he’s set a new mission for the expedition, something that’s sure to launch him into history: being the first man to sail for the galactic center. Once he's off course isn't it treason? What stops them from sending others after him? I don't think you have to address that necessarily in the query, but the fact that he's not following orders is too significant to ignore, isn't it? If it goes well, maybe all will be forgiven, but isn't there supposed to be a massive black hole in the center of the galaxy?

The only problem is his crew still thinks they’re charting the stars. Charting stars that can't be seen from Earth? Ones further out or in other galaxies? Nothing Charlie can’t manage under normal circumstances, but when the head navigator is murdered not long after departure by a spy seeking to prevent America’s reascendency, he must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to keep his plans secret and prevent mutiny. I don't really get what he could lose. Also, does he know the spy knows his plans or is it just a guess? The onboard federal investigators have chosen him as their prime suspect I can't help but wonder why. He is the captain. They can't know his secret plans..., and the murderer continues to roam his ship freely. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring American feds and international agents, Charlie realizes Captain Stones might not have what it takes to make history, but Tyrant Stones just might. I don't understand this last bit, with the two Stones. There's no feeling earlier that he is split or at odds with himself. Without that, I don't think it works at the end...

So, the story is definitely interesting. I'm a little worried he has no allies or friends, because that seems like a hard slog to read if he's the POV character, especially if it's no fun to be in his head. I also have some questions about the setting, this alternative future, such as why he expects to get anywhere for long against orders. Is there a war on? Other ships are occupied?

Maybe we need to know why he's the prime suspect. Something about that makes me think an investigator or two must have a sense something is wrong. Obviously the navigator was in on the plan. Weren't they friends or at least trusting associates?

And what is he going to do about this murderer who knows of his plans and could just reveal them... maybe that's what you're missing. What is he going to do about it?

Overall, I guess I feel you're not quite getting across the really important aspects of the story.

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robev333
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 04:11:02 PM »

I added some more detail to flesh out Charlie's character as per Falthor's suggestion, and tried to address the questions raised by DownNineUpTen. I don't want to answer EVERYTHING, since it wouldn't fit in a query letter and would take out some of the mystery, but I think I got most of them. Hopefully it's clearer who Charlie is and what the central story details are.

I really do appreciate all the feedback, and wish I had known about this forum months ago. I'll have to make sure to stick around and return the favor for others.

---

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over.

Years after a heroic mission put him in the limelight, he’s developed a taste for something more substantial than celebrity. The American government finally gives him an opportunity to leave his legacy when they choose him as captain of their first expedition to far space in decades. His audacious temperament isn’t ideal for the conservative administration, but his popularity with the people and special “circumstances” that saw the other candidates withdraw brought him the captaincy. America provided him with a fleet, a crew, and a modest mission to chart the stars.

Charlie doesn’t do modest.

He’ll take the fleet and crew, but he’s set a new mission for the expedition, something that’s sure to launch him into history: being the first man to sail for the galactic center. Thousands of light years from Earth in the lonely depths of space, there’s nothing to stop him and the small group of officers he hand-picked to assist him from accomplishing his goal.

Except a crew that still thinks they’re charting stars. And a head navigator who turns up murdered shortly after departure. And federal agents whose investigation leads them perilously close to exposing Charlie’s new destination. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring government feds and treasonous crew members who’d like to see America fail and take Charlie with it, Charlie must decide whether it’s worse to be remembered as a monster, or to not be remembered at all.
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mgmystery
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 08:18:05 AM »

Nice job rewriting this! I love seeing your voice come out in this query  Thumbs Up

For Captain Charles Stones, the only thing that matters in life is whether he’s remembered after it’s over.

Years after a heroic mission put him in the limelight, he’s developed a taste for something more substantial than celebrity. The American government finally gives him an opportunity to leave his legacy when they choose him as captain of their first expedition to far space in decades. His audacious temperament isn’t ideal for the conservative administration, but his popularity with the people and special “circumstances” that saw the other candidates withdraw brought him the captaincy. America provided him with a fleet, a crew, and a modest mission to chart the stars.

Charlie doesn’t do modest. Love this line!

He’ll take the fleet and crew, but he’s set a new mission for the expedition, something that’s sure to launch him into history: being the first man to sail for the galactic center. Thousands of light years from Earth in the lonely depths of space, there’s nothing to stop him and the small group of officers he hand-picked to assist him from accomplishing his goal. (I can't make sense of this part. Do you mean he hand-picked officers that won't stand up to him? Or the officers know the plan? I wonder if it's necessary for us to know about the officers in the query.)

Except a crew that still thinks they’re charting stars. And a head navigator who turns up murdered shortly after departure. And federal agents whose investigation leads them perilously close to exposing Charlie’s new destination. Fired upon from all sides by conspiring government feds and treasonous crew members who’d like to see America fail and take Charlie with it, Charlie must decide whether it’s worse to be remembered as a monster, or to not be remembered at all. Nice ending!
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samcantcook
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 09:09:58 AM »

This is a huge improvement. I would definitely want to read the manuscript! It kind of has an Interstellar/Martian vibe, which are two of my favorite movies (well, I loved The Martian book, but didn't enjoy the movie quite as much). It sounds like you have winner.
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