Author Topic: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction  (Read 1557 times)

Offline sbernich

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REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« on: December 04, 2018, 06:28:00 PM »
Hi folks, so here goes. I've tried variations of this query with quite a few agents.  Got some partial requests but that's about it.  Wondering if I'm way off the mark, if there's too much, too little...  whatever.  In any case, any comments are welcome, thank you!

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told, a good soldier, doing his duty. Given a rare second chance to live and fight for the Germans during World War 2, he sees his chance to survive and eventually get home.  When that second chance appears to run out, he quits the soldier life and tries to get home across war ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi occupied Poland. Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the only family she has left in spite of the profound pressure to do something to help the war effort.. and resisting the awful temptation in the character of a tall handsome good hearted German who could be her only true hope.

I am pleased to present my first novel, The Good Soldier, a 97,000 word work of historical or commercial fiction, the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart, The Good Soldier is aimed at the adult reader who enjoys a mix of action, romance, and history in one story, but who also dives deep into questioning human conduct and arguably enjoys extended conversation.
 
As a full time history teacher, I have specialized in and taught the World War II era from military, social and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust.  I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel as well as kicking around ideas for a third. A devoted husband and father of two, I enjoy reading history and fantasy, ice hockey, craft beer and whiskey.
 
Finally, I am active on social media through my Twitter account (@twitterhandle).  Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,

Me & my contact info
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 08:38:55 PM by sbernich »
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline rivergirl

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 07:41:21 PM »
Congrats on finishing this historical fiction. I'm finishing my own Revolutionary War novel now. There's some changes i'd make for better flow. Queries are much harder than writing novels.

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told, a good soldier, doing his duty. This first sentence doesn't flow at all and give a bad first impression. I'd break it into two sentences. Willem Tadeujski has always done as he's told. He's a good soldier who strives to do his duty. Given a rare second chance to live and fight for the Germans during World War 2, he sees his chance to survive and eventually get gets home. This sentence confuses me. Is he only looking for a way to get home or is he gunning to fight? If it's the former, maybe say something like: Given a rare second chance to return to his homeland and the woman he loves, Willem risks everything. What Willem doesn't know is that his wife Elise has her own struggles...Keep this in Willem's POV, unless the story is told in two POV, in that case I'd mention it.  living with When that second chance appears to run out, he quits the soldier life and tries to get home across war ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi occupied Poland. Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the only family she has left in spite of the profound pressure to do something to help the war effort.. and resisting the awful temptation in the character of a tall handsome good hearted German who could be her only true hope.

I am pleased to present my first novel, The Good Soldier make sure the title is in italics, a 97,000 word work of historical or commercial fiction, the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart, The Good Soldier is aimed at the adult reader who enjoys a mix of action, romance, and history in one story, but who also dives deep into questioning human conduct and arguably enjoys extended conversation. Don't love this. When you say your work is historical, the agent automatically knows who the audience is. Choosing between one's duty and heart also implies that this book is a conversation piece.
 
As a full time history teacher, I have specializedspecialize in and teach taught the World War II era history from military, social comma here and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust.  I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel as well as kicking around ideas for a third. A devoted husband and father of two, I enjoy reading history and fantasy, ice hockey, craft beer and whiskey. I'm a devoted father of two who enjoys ice hockey, craft beer, whiskey, and of course reading history and fantasy. totally nitpicking but the wording if off and makes it sound as if you enjoy reading whiskey.
 
Finally, I am active on social media through my Twitter account (@twitterhandle).  Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,

Me & my contact info

BTW, this is totally a story I'd read.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 07:44:49 PM by rivergirl »

Offline Pineapplejuice

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 07:52:18 PM »


Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

I love 'Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told. ;D But I agree with Rivergirl about the broken sentence with the comma's. It would read nicer with a full stop after 'told'.

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told, a good soldier, doing his duty. Given a rare second chance to live and fight for the Germans during World War 2, he sees his chance to survive and eventually get home.  When that second chance appears to run out, he quits the soldier life and tries to get home across war ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi occupied Poland. Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers in Krakow and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the only family she has left in spite of the profound pressure to do something to help the war effort.. and resisting the awful temptation in the character of a tall handsome good hearted German who could be her only true hope.

( First paragraph needs breaking up. Also there's a lot of repetition in wording. It needs some cleaning up. The paragraph is pretty wordy, especially with wife's info and the stakes are a bit hidden because of it )


I am pleased to present my first novel, The Good Soldier, complete at a 97,000 word work of historical or commercial fiction, the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart, The Good Soldier is aimed at the adult reader who enjoys a mix of action, romance, and history in one story, but who also dives deep into questioning human conduct and arguably enjoys extended conversation. ( I think the choice and dilemma's should be evident in quer, no need to reiterate here if you make it clear in query. I think if you want to add something, here it needs to be something insightful or exciting you can't put in synopsis part )
 
As a full time history teacher, I have specialized in and taught the World War II era from military, social and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust. I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel as well as kicking around ideas for a third. A devoted husband and father of two, I enjoy reading history and fantasy, ice hockey, craft beer and whiskey.
 
Finally, I am active on social media through my Twitter account (@twitterhandle).  Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,

Me & my contact info

« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 07:58:43 PM by Pineapplejuice »

Offline Pineapplejuice

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 07:55:33 PM »
I like Rivergirls suggestion of using Williams POV by segueing into wife with 'What William doesn't know is his wife Elise has her own struggles - ' ( then mentioning she is looking after their daughter and stops receiving his letters. )

It needs to happen a bit faster

Is the 'rare second chance' necessary to say, because for me it warrants explaining and you might not have time for it. I want it explained, so if it's not essential to plot, ( and it doesn't appear to be in this query ) I'd leave it out.


Titles are supposed to be in all caps,

THE GOOD SOLDIER
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 08:04:19 PM by Pineapplejuice »

Offline kaperton

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 08:49:35 PM »
Here's how I would write it:

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

Willem Tadeujski is a good soldier who has always done what he's told. Following the Nazi invasion of Poland [??], Willem is given a rare second chance to live, by fighting for the Germans. He takes it, seeing the opportunity to eventually get home. But when his second chance runs out, he quits the soldier life [does he "quit" or escape? I assume he doesn't get to just walk away. If he's escaping, say that, as it's about 100x more exciting] and tries to get home across war-ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the only family she has left in spite of the profound pressure to do something to help the war effort [This I don't get. My knowledge of WW2 is pretty limited--what is she being asked to do to help the war effort? Because my mind goes to Americans donating their old tires and that's not very exciting]. and resisting the awful temptation in the form of a tall handsome good-hearted [too many adjectives - pick one, maybe two] German who could be her only true hope [her only hope to what?]

THE GOOD SOLDIER is a 97,000-word work of historical fiction that will appeal to fans of _________.

As a history teacher, I have specialized in and taught the World War II era from military, social, and political history points of view, as well as the Holocaust.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Me & my contact info
@twitterhandle
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 08:34:16 AM by kaperton »

Offline mramberg

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2018, 03:37:51 AM »
Congratulations for taking on a very complicated part of world history. I've been living in Poland for 3 years and know how tough it is to sort out the details and complexity of the place. But for someone who knows Polish history your query is hard to understand. I'm confused right away by the MC's name: Willem is German but Tadeujski is Polish. Which is he? And I don't understand the second sentence at all. If he's always been a good soldier what's unique about him serving in the German Army? Was he in a different army before? Why did he choose to fight for the Germans and was it even a choice? He could have joined the Polish underground army, or the Russians, who occupied Krakow first. And it sounds like he deserts the army at one point, so how is he a good soldier?

You have to give some more details about his situation, and be succinct. Something like: "For a German in Poland, choosing sides in the war didn't come easy for Willem, especially with a wife and child to support." or "The Germans forced him to fight for them even though he was Polish" or "He lied to the Army, told them he was German, so he could join the Army and live" or "They promised him money so he joined the Army to feed his wife." Be more specific about his motivation other than just claiming he's a 'good soldier.' Show us he's good with decisions he makes.

You do better in describing his wife's situation but it still gets vague with statements like 'pressure to help the war effort.' By doing what exactly? Detail is very important but you have to do it without getting bogged down in verbosity, I know.

Best of luck, I know you can do it!

Hi folks, so here goes. I've tried variations of this query with quite a few agents.  Got some partial requests but that's about it.  Wondering if I'm way off the mark, if there's too much, too little...  whatever.  In any case, any comments are welcome, thank you!

Dear Mr./Ms. Agent:

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told, a good soldier, doing his duty. Given a rare second chance to live and fight for the Germans during World War 2, he sees his chance to survive and eventually get home.  When that second chance appears to run out, he quits the soldier life and tries to get home across war ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi occupied Poland. Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the only family she has left in spite of the profound pressure to do something to help the war effort.. and resisting the awful temptation in the character of a tall handsome good hearted German who could be her only true hope.

I am pleased to present my first novel, The Good Soldier, a 97,000 word work of historical or commercial fiction, the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart, The Good Soldier is aimed at the adult reader who enjoys a mix of action, romance, and history in one story, but who also dives deep into questioning human conduct and arguably enjoys extended conversation.
 
As a full time history teacher, I have specialized in and taught the World War II era from military, social and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust.  I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel as well as kicking around ideas for a third. A devoted husband and father of two, I enjoy reading history and fantasy, ice hockey, craft beer and whiskey.
 
Finally, I am active on social media through my Twitter account (@twitterhandle).  Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,

Me & my contact info


Offline sbernich

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Re: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2018, 09:02:30 PM »
Wow... some great replies and advice here, thank you all.  Sorry I was not on it right away...  Winter is my busy season so my attention, unfortunately fades away from writing a little bit.  But I'm still querying obviously, just at a slower pace.

Rivergirl, kaperton and pineapplejuice - awesome, thank you.  Food for thought and I'm going to give it another crack.  Especially on how to describe this book as it is quite complex.

Kaperton - Elise is asked to join the resistance. Something Americans clearly did not have to do because we did not suffer occupation. So, thanks for the question, I hope that helps a little bit.

Mramberg - wow, it's like you're seeing right through me. Will's name is intentionally vague (German Polish mix)... as he is defending Warsaw when the war starts but the Germans put him in uniform in one of the Ostruppen (yes, I know, historically unlikely... but, I'm bending a little bit of history here.) and tthe Freiwillige. And the fact of the matter is, the title Good Soldier actually has a double meaning, as throughout the book, Wil makes choices that may or may not make him a "good" soldier. Ditto with Elise, his wife. So, the title is a bit of a ironic double meaning in there.

Careful on your history though, Krakow was part of the German General Gouverment after the invasion in 39 and then liberated by the Russians in 45. Not to be nitpicky. I worked hard to make this book feasible against the history and background of WWII, but some things had to give, such as the idea of a Pole being conscripted by the Germans... but the invasion of the Soviet Union did put a strain on manpower, so... COULD it have happened? Maybe. And that's good enough for fiction, at least in my view.

In any case, thanks all. I'm back to it and will post another query after some work. Thank you!!

sbernich
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline sbernich

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REVISED: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2019, 08:10:07 PM »
Ok folks, giving this a second try.. gearing up for some winter querying...

I made some changes and it all makes sense... my biggest problem is describing Elise's problem.  How do I smoothly explain that she is a single working mom to her daughter, doesn't know if her husband is alive, lives in Nazi occupied Poland, is tempted to work for Polish resistance, is also tempted by a handsome German officer...  see below.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent whom I hope to work with:

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told. Following the Nazi invasion of Poland, Wil is granted a rare second chance to live, by fighting for the German army. He takes it, better to live a German soldier than to starve in a prison camp. But when that second chance runs out, he escapes and tries to get home across war-ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the family she has left…(here's where the wheels come off) in spite of the profound pressure to take a side and join the Resistance or let herself fall for the tall handsome German who could be her only true hope of life during wartime.

I am pleased to present my first novel, THE GOOD SOLDIER, a 97,000 word work of historical or commercial fiction, the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart.
 
As a full time history teacher, I specialize in and teach World War II history from military, social, and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust. I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel.  I’m a devoted husband and father of two who enjoys ice hockey, craft beer, whiskey and, of course, reading history and fantasy.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Contact information

Thanks folks... any help would be...  helpful!
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline 007 fan

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Re: REVISED: The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 12:20:39 AM »
Ok folks, giving this a second try.. gearing up for some winter querying...

I made some changes and it all makes sense... my biggest problem is describing Elise's problem.  How do I smoothly explain that she is a single working mom to her daughter, doesn't know if her husband is alive, lives in Nazi occupied Poland, is tempted to work for Polish resistance, is also tempted by a handsome German officer...  see below.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent whom I hope to work with:

I think I might be reading this differently than others would.

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told. [< Since you don't follow with an example of him doing what he's told or for the first time, not doing what he's told, that lines feels off. Given what follows, it seems something like "WT has always done what he's needed to survive" might be better.] Following the Nazi invasion of Poland, Wil is granted a rare second chance to live, by fighting for the German army. [< He's given a choice, which does not pair with doing what he was told.] He takes it, better to live a German soldier than to starve in a prison camp. [To me, he doesn't seem the "Good Soldier". He's working for the other side, against his country, rather than being with his captured countrymen and trying to escape with them (or some of)]. But when that second chance runs out [< I don't know what that means. Did the German army decide he was worthless as a forced soldier? Was he caught trying to undermine them? If it's the latter, I'd like to hear that as the reason for him being willing to work for the invaders.] , he escapes [< So he never tries to escape sooner than what I'm guessing is "a time comes the Germans have no use for him"? For me, the "Good Soldier" would either choose joining the invaders so he could undermine them or choose joining them so he can grab at his first chance of escape so he could return to his wife the very first moment he's not watched so closely, not waiting to escape until after the Germans are not interested in him anymore.] and tries to get home across war-ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi-occupied Poland. [Isn't he already in Poland? That's where he is when the Nazis invade and you never mention he's taken out of the country upon capture.]

Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to survive between the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the family she has left…(here's where the wheels come off) in spite of the profound pressure to take a side and join the Resistance or let herself fall for the tall handsome German who could be her only true hope of life during wartime. [I don't know. To me, this reads like she's not in literal danger and has to decide between working with those who are against the invaders or falling for the cute invader because life would be easier. Maybe it's the case that he would be able to protect her and her child?] 

ETA: For the last paragraph, I guess I'm a little bothered by the fact the wife doesn't know if her husband is alive and suffering somewhere, and then her decision is to work against those who might have captured her husband and could be making him suffer OR let herself fall in love with an invader. And the way it reads, she's being pressured to decide between the two paths because of peer pressure? She's not doing either thing right now, so what makes her think she has to make a choice between the two options? And knowing her husband could be alive, she considers falling in love with a handsome invader? Does the wife love her husband? 


I am pleased to present my first novel, THE GOOD SOLDIER, ais a 97,000(-)word work of historical or commercial fiction [< I've heard that word shouldn't be used., the full manuscript of which, is available upon request. < Crossed that out because it goes w/o saying. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart. < I know some people use sentence fragments within the query for effect, but do you really want to use one outside of the meat of the query?

TITLE is a 97,000-word historical. The novel deals with themes of family, etc. (though it's better to show that than say that.)

 
As a full time history teacher, I specialize in and teach World War II history from military, social, and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust. I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel.  I’m a devoted husband and father of two who enjoys ice hockey, craft beer, whiskey and, of course, reading history and fantasy.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Contact information

Thanks folks... any help would be...  helpful!
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 10:27:19 PM by 007 fan »
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Offline sbernich

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Re: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2019, 06:59:25 PM »
Hey 007 fan, thanks for the critique.

You raise a lot of questions, good ones. But, and maybe I'm misreading the idea of the query, how am I to answer all of them without A) giving the whole thing away and B) writing a query letter that's way too long?

That being said, I think you've convinced me... that first line needs work too. Something along the lines of "has always been a good soldier, doing what he's told" or something similar. And to answer your questions, the working title does have some ambiguity to it, but that's intentional.

Dang.. this query letter thing is hard.  Back to it!

sbernich
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline 007 fan

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Re: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2019, 09:19:01 PM »
Hey 007 fan, thanks for the critique. You're welcome.  :)

You raise a lot of questions, good ones. But, and maybe I'm misreading the idea of the query, how am I to answer all of them without A) giving the whole thing away and B) writing a query letter that's way too long? You don't have to give everything away. As things read to me, it's too vague. The meat of your query is only 158, so you have room to add more detail. Overall, I don't think the count necessarily needs to come up. Maybe just replace some of the information with different info or add just a bit to what you have to paint a better picture. Right now, WT sounds passive for much of the query. He's captured. Then he works with the Germans up until what I'm guessing is when a time comes they don't want him before he tries to get back to his family. All that sounds passive to me, meaning he doesn't make a move until the Germans are done with him. I don't know your story. If he joins with the Germans because he thinks he could undermine them, say that. If he joins because he thinks he'll have a better chance of escaping from "being in the army for the Germans" than from prison, say that. He'll sound more active.

On the wife, I think it'll just take a few extra words to make her sympathetic. Like I said, others might read things differently, but it doesn't sound like she's struggling...just deciding b/w fighting against invaders or choosing to fall in love with a cute one. How is the latter even an option for her? I'd be pissed at the invaders and certainly wouldn't consider falling in love with a handsome one. Her situation, I'm guessing, is more serious. And I'm guessing she's worried about her husband. 


That being said, I think you've convinced me... that first line needs work too. Something along the lines of "has always been a good soldier, Is WT a soldier for the Polish army or a citizen? Maybe make that clear. Is he Jewish or Christian? Maybe he's a German Christian who lives in Poland because he married a Polish jewish woman. Because I don't know WT, I have no clue if the "prison camp" is just that or a prison for Jews that would become an extermination camp. I have no clue if he's in prison because he's a captured soldier and not Jewish or if he's a citizen who was rounded up because he's Jewish. Maybe knowing a little more about WT's situation would do more for the details you include.   doing what he's told" or something similar. And to answer your questions, the working title does have some ambiguity to it, but that's intentional.

Dang.. this query letter thing is hard.  Back to it! Good luck!

sbernich
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 01:23:33 AM by 007 fan »
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Offline sbernich

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Re: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2019, 07:06:25 PM »
007 Fan,

Thanks for the clarification and advice.  I appreciate it.

Funny, how trying to sum up something that took so long, was so difficult... is now even more difficult. Again back to it.  And I appreciate your specifying your mind set and what you're reading as opposed to what I think you're reading.  That's very helpful.

Again, thanks. Back to it! Or... maybe I'll just write some more... totally easier!  Ha ha!

sbernich
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline Munley

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Re: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2019, 07:31:54 AM »
Hey 007 fan, thanks for the critique. You're welcome.  :)


On the wife, I think it'll just take a few extra words to make her sympathetic. Like I said, others might read things differently, but it doesn't sound like she's struggling...just deciding b/w fighting against invaders or choosing to fall in love with a cute one. How is the latter even an option for her? I'd be pissed at the invaders and certainly wouldn't consider falling in love with a handsome one. Her situation, I'm guessing, is more serious. And I'm guessing she's worried about her husband.  [/color]
Dang.. this query letter thing is hard.  Back to it! Good luck!

sbernich

This also struck me as a serious problem with the story itself. Elise's attitude reads kinda non-chalant, as in well, my husband doesn't seem to be coming back, but, hey, there's a tall, handsome German over there, so why not?

Not saying it's impossible that a woman in this wartime situation bereft of her husband and trying to survive with a child could not possibly ever consider hooking up a soldier whose army is destroying everything and everyone she has ever known and loved. Or feel some unwelcome visceral attraction to him, which would probably alarm her. But there would have to be a strong, urgent, and convincing reason for her to seriously consider getting involved with that soldier. As written in the query, she's a stereotyped woman whose overriding need, no matter what, is romance, having a man in her life. That's just how women are.

The conflict is stated as whether to go for the German soldier or join the Polish Resistance, which doesn't really sound like the only logical alternative. Perhaps you mean that, if she goes for the enemy soldier, she would not be welcome in the Resistance movement. Actively joining the underground Resistance doesn't sound like a practical option for most widows desperately trying to keep their children alive and fed, and they probably would not be expected to leave their children to their own fate.

What's missing for me is what compelling --very personal -- circumstance would drive her to take that first step toward that German soldier?
It can't just be a boy-meets-girl thing, which is how the query reads now. Unless she is totally selfish and whimsical, and feels no love for her own country or loyalty to her suffering neighbors, she would have a horrendous internal conflict. Maybe she is that selfish and unconcerned about others. Main characters don't have to be likable to be intriguing enough to follow. Even so, she'd be aware of the risks. Other people, including the resistance, would not simply disapprove. She'd be at risk from her own people, who would certainly distrust her, as well as at risk from Germans who would not take for granted it's just a love thing.

So, what -- assuming she's not just looking for romance and she does have concern for country and neighbors -- motivates her, despite the conflicting feelings and risks, to take that first step, or even seriously consider taking it?

If you can show something believable in her motives, which is certainly possible, I think you have the makings of a really interesting character and story. And you have the background knowledge to have it all play out with historical accuracy.


« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 08:45:54 AM by Munley »

Offline sbernich

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3rd Time's the charm!! REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2019, 10:07:34 AM »
Ok.. some good feedback dissecting what I clearly was not seeing....  so, below, the first two paragraphs are where the real problems lie, but of course anything else... 

Dear Agent:

Willem Tadeujski has always done what he was told, a good soldier doing his duty. Captured defending Warsaw after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Wil is granted a rare second chance to live, by fighting for the German army. He takes it, better to live a German soldier and eventually get home than to starve to death in a prison camp. But when that second chance runs out, he escapes and tries to get home across war-ravaged Europe to his wife and child in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Elise Tadeujski is doing the best she can in wartime Krakow, trying to care for her daughter Katerine, struggling to make ends meet under the oppressive Nazi occupiers and those who would resist them. When Wil’s letters stop coming home, she must remain strong for the family she has left in spite of not knowing whether her husband is alive or dead. As the war goes on, a German officer notices Elise, as does the Polish Resistance.  The Polish Resistance force Elise to assist them by spying on the  handsome German, implying they'll hurt her and Katerine if she does not. Elise struggles with her assignment as she begins to develop feelings for the kind German, and her heart is torn between her lost husband, protecting her daughter, helping her country and her new found unwelcome but undeniable love.

My first novel, THE GOOD SOLDIER, is a 97,000 word historical or commercial work. Dealing with themes of family, love, and what it means to choose between one’s duty and one’s heart, it asks questions of human conduct under the worst of conditions.
 
As a full time history teacher, I specialize in and teach World War II history from military, social, and political history points of view, as well as teaching the Holocaust. I enjoy writing in my spare time and am currently working on my second novel.  I’m a devoted husband and father of two who enjoys ice hockey, craft beer, whiskey and, of course, reading history and fantasy.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
contact info
Writer of Fantasy and Historical Fiction; one finished manuscript, working on #2; enthusiastic about my family, books, hockey, whiskey and beer; Teacher, Slytherin, Stark.

Offline Munley

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Re: REVISED The Good Soldier - Historical Fiction
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2019, 11:23:56 PM »
The query has some problems with sentence structure and punctuation, but I'm focusing on content.

Whose story is this primarily? Wil's or Elise's?

From the title and first paragraph, it seems to be Wil's story. Then we here nothing more about him. I think the query needs to end with some clear personal stakes stated for the main character based on some specific plan or goal that character hopes to pull off.

As written, the query states the basic situation of two individuals in wartime, where everyone faces higher-than-normal risk of death or capture. Elise's increased personal risk is more  specific to her. I'm not familiar enough with how the Polish Resistance got members to assess how realistic it is to portray them as forcing a Polish citizen to participate in their underground movement by carrying out some assignment. I know only that they did have some secret courts to try local collaborators with the Germans.

Anyway, if you intend Wil to be the main character, the ending of the query needs to be about him, I think.

As for your bio, stick with information that is relevant, such as being a history teacher, since the manuscript you're submitting is a historical novel.