dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

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lexcade
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dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » April 23rd, 2010, 6:21 am

NEW ATTEMPT ON BOTTOM OF PAGE 3

Dear Agent:

Janelle’s life was almost perfect. Her divorce was nearly finalized. She enjoyed a flourishing career at the premier genetic experimentation facility in the world. Best of all, she was carrying the child of her true love, the geneticist whose work she’d followed since high school. It was all coming together.

And now she can’t remember any of it.

Waking as the newest success of the Humani Project, which she had worked so hard to perfect, Janelle must face the ones she loved—and hated—as a panther hybrid called “Dima.” Both her former lover and her former stalker, lead scientists with the Project, hold the answers, but they hide the truth from her for their own reasons. Lorenzo wants to save her from herself; James wants to keep her memories hidden for the sake of the government-funded phenomenon. Janelle’s mind holds the key to reversing the transformation; the government would do anything to keep that information sealed away.

As Dima, she must learn the truth behind her transformation, else more people become victims of a desperate government seeking the perfect soldier. But with James’ obsession turning deadly, should she stay in the lab to find her answers, or escape into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast?

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is a science fiction work complete at way too many frigging words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Last edited by lexcade on May 26th, 2010, 4:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Quill » April 23rd, 2010, 10:44 am

Hey, this version has a lot more interest. I think it's a bit confusing, though, to begin in past tense. Couldn't you state those things in present?

Also, the transition, where she wakes up as a panther, is not quite dramatic enough. You sort of skim over the fact that she's been experimented upon. Make it huge and crystal clear, like, why she was chosen, how she was enticed or forced, or, if not, something about her bewilderment if that's the angle you want to emphasize.

Also, sharpen the language to eliminate lukewarm phrases like "hold the answers" "worked so hard to perfect" "hide the truth" "holds the key".

Just suggestions. Overall the structure is great! Very engaging.

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Joel Q » April 23rd, 2010, 7:20 pm

I totally agree with Quill.

You have a great start, more drama, but also a bit sloppy (sorry).

Also change the "life was almost perfect." cliche. The last sentence of the first paragraph sums that up.

And I want to know what happened to the baby... you have to mention something in the query, not details but at least mention the uncertainty of not knowing.

JQ

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by ocelott » April 23rd, 2010, 10:04 pm

Agreed with the others about lukewarm phrases. You've also got a lot of adverbs in the first paragraph, considering how short it is. It's a really interesting premise, so let your wording reflect that.

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Serzen » April 24th, 2010, 10:31 am

I only want to comment on a few things, so I'll be posting inline. Hopefully you'll find some use.
lexcade wrote: Janelle’s life was almost perfect. Her divorce was nearly finalized. She enjoyed a flourishing career at the premier genetic experimentation facility in the world. Best of all, she was carrying the child of her true love, the geneticist whose work she’d followed since high school. It was all coming together.
As you close with "...coming together," you might begin with a similar tone: "Janelle's life was nearing perfection." It says the same thing as "was almost perfect," but says it without the ambiguity that the latter inherently contains. Also, would you consider "Her divorce was almost finalized."? Nearly is a word often villainized for implying that the author didn't know what s/he intended to say.
And now she can’t remember any of it.

Waking as the newest success of the Humani Project, which she had worked so hard to perfect, Janelle must face the ones she loved—and hated—as a panther hybrid called “Dima.” Both her former lover and her former stalker, lead scientists with the Project, hold the answers, but they hide the truth from her for their own reasons. Lorenzo wants to save her from herself; James wants to keep her memories hidden for the sake of the government-funded phenomenon. Janelle’s mind holds the key to reversing the transformation; the government would do anything to keep that information sealed away.
I know that you mean the hybrid individual is being called Dima, but you might consider "named" here. I doubt that it would really create that much confusion, but leave no room for uncertainty. Also, I can't quite tell if phenomenon is the word that you really want; it's leaving me with some confusion: Was Dima's success that rare and un-hoped-for? Did no one believe it could be done? Or has Dima's transformation turned her into something of a cultural icon? Is she on display as a testament to The Awesome Power of Science™? I can't tell what you wanted me to take away from that branding.
As Dima, she must learn the truth behind her transformation, else more people become victims of a desperate government seeking the perfect soldier. But with James’ obsession turning deadly, should she stay in the lab to find her answers, or escape into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast?
I'm not crazy about "...else more people..." It's far more formal than the rest of the letter and feels out of place amongst the other words. Since we're dealing with a government gone mad (and who isn't these days?), and the forced transformations sound inevitable, what do you think about something along the lines of "...before more people..."?

Just some thoughts. Hopefully they'll help you find the right direction.

~Serzen
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Robin » April 24th, 2010, 1:10 pm

lexcade wrote:Dear Agent:

Janelle’s life was almost perfect. Her divorce was nearly finalized. She enjoyed a flourishing career at the premier genetic experimentation facility in the world. Best of all, she was carrying the child of her true love, the geneticist whose work she’d followed since high school. It was all coming together.
Janelle was living the life she always pictured, until she became the victim of a government project. (or something like that. you focus too much on how perfect her life is without giving any transition to her becoming a creature.
And now she can’t remember any of it.

Waking as the newest success of the Humani Project, which she had worked so hard to perfect, Janelle must face the ones she loved—and hated— You should start here, "as a panther...as a panther hybrid called “Dima.” Both her former lover and her former stalker, lead scientists with the Project, have their own motivations for keeping her from the truth (instead of hold the answers- its a little cliche ) hold the answers, but they hide the truth from her for their own reasons. Lorenzo wants to save her from herself; James wants to keep her memories hidden to protect the government-funded phenomenon <---- good . Janelle ultimately holds the key to reversing her transformation;else more people become victims of a desperate government seeking the perfect soldier the government would do anything to keep that information sealed away. <--- you already said the government wanted to keep it secret...

As Dima, she must learn the truth behind her transformation, .<---- redundant

But with James’ obsession turning deadly, should she stay in the lab to find her answers, or escape into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast? <--- good

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is a science fiction work complete at way too many frigging words. <--- cute!

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Robin
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by NWolfe » April 25th, 2010, 2:14 am

lexcade wrote:Dear Agent:

Janelle’s life was almost perfect. Her divorce was nearly finalized. She enjoyed a flourishing career at the premier genetic experimentation facility in the world. Best of all, she was carrying the child of her true love, the geneticist whose work she’d followed since high school. It was all coming together. (A couple of things: first, the third sentence isn't parallel with the rest of them; generally, in a setup like this, you use the same sentence structures together for effect. Second, these sentences are all written in the passive voice; consider revising to bring it into the active voice.)

And now she can’t remember any of it.

Waking as the newest success of the Humani Project, which she had worked so hard to perfect, Janelle must face the ones she loved—and hated—as a panther hybrid called “Dima.” Both her former lover and her former stalker, lead scientists with the Project, hold the answers, but they hide the truth from her for their own reasons. Lorenzo wants to save her from herself; James wants to keep her memories hidden for the sake of the government-funded phenomenon. (Phenomenon seems like the wrong word here. Project? Agency?) Janelle’s mind holds the key to reversing the transformation; the government would do anything to keep that information sealed away. (Why?)

As Dima, she must learn the truth behind her transformation, else more people become victims of a desperate government seeking the perfect soldier. But with James’ obsession turning deadly, should she stay in the lab to find her answers, or escape into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast? (Everyone knows how agents feel about rhetorical questions! Be careful.)

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is a science fiction work complete at way too many frigging words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Content is good, just tighten up the style.

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » April 25th, 2010, 7:47 pm

holy cow, you guys work fast!!!!!!!!!!!

these are KILLER comments, y'all. seriously. thank you so much!
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » April 25th, 2010, 10:44 pm

one more time, with feeling!

Dear Agent:

Janelle was living the life she’d always dreamed about, and now she can’t remember any of it.

Instead of waking up to her perfect newborn baby, Janelle wakes up as the newest success of the Humani Project, a government-funded experiment she had worked with her lover to perfect. Renamed “Dima,” she works to control the panther DNA married to hers as she struggles to recall her human life, but her lover, Dr. Lorenzo, offers nothing in order to protect her from herself and the government employees populating the lab who would rather see her dead, success or not. Inside Janelle’s mind is the knowledge to reverse the Humani process; should that knowledge get out, the government can kiss its anticipated super-soldiers goodbye.

Janelle’s stalker, Frederick James, is the other lead scientist and personal science advisor to the President. His obsession with Janelle continues after her transformation, and he uses his new authority to make her life a living hell for choosing Lorenzo over him. Breaking her spirit becomes his primary goal, but the panther DNA has made Janelle stronger and more ferocious. She counters every movement he makes to hurt her, ultimately making him look like the idiot she knows he is. And he doesn’t like it.

Dima needs to piece together her past before more people become unwilling experiments in a once-benevolent project steered astray. But with deadly intentions tainting James’ obsession, and Lorenzo powerless to protect her, she must decide if she’ll stay in the lab to find the truth or if she’ll venture into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast.

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is complete at 117000 words (which will hopefully be pared down to around 115000 or so). Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Quill » April 25th, 2010, 11:54 pm

lexcade wrote: Janelle was living the life she’d always dreamed about, and now she can’t remember any of it.

Instead of waking up to her perfect newborn baby, Janelle wakes up as the newest success of the Humani Project, a government-funded experiment she had worked with her lover to perfect. Renamed “Dima,” she works to control the panther DNA married to hers as she struggles to recall her human life, but her lover, Dr. Lorenzo, offers nothing in order to protect her from herself and the government employees populating the lab who would rather see her dead, success or not. Inside Janelle’s mind is the knowledge to reverse the Humani process; should that knowledge get out, the government can kiss its anticipated super-soldiers goodbye.
This paragraph encapsulates the story pretty well. Still there are a couple of problems.

Word territory: you repeat many words: perfect, success, government, lover, work, new, knowledge. That's a lot and it weakens the prose.

Also, unclear to me what you mean by "Dr. Lorenzo, offers nothing". No food? Love? Recognition? Memory jogs? Nothing is not descriptive enough.

Also saying "DNA married to hers" so close to "lover" before and "lover" after it tends to smear the meaning; ditto for "kiss" later in the paragraph. Love talk with mixed meanings. When an agent skims it...

Am I nitpicking?
Janelle’s stalker, Frederick James, is the other lead scientist and personal science advisor to the President. His obsession with Janelle continues after her transformation, and he uses his new authority to make her life a living hell for choosing Lorenzo over him. Breaking her spirit becomes his primary goal, but the panther DNA has made Janelle stronger and more ferocious. She counters every movement he makes to hurt her, ultimately making him look like the idiot she knows he is. And he doesn’t like it.
I want to say omit this subplot from your query. Either that or shorten and make more exciting.

Eliminate the cliche "make her life a living hell".

Eliminate passive voice like "Breaking her spirit becomes his primary goal" ; trade up to hotter verbs than "is" "continues" "uses" "becomes" and "made."

If you keep the paragraph at least cut, "She counters every movement he makes to hurt her, ultimately making him look like the idiot she knows he is. And he doesn’t like it."
Dima needs to piece together her past before more people become unwilling experiments
Sorry, "needs to piece" simply does not wind us up for the big finish.
in a once-benevolent project steered astray.
Omit as unneeded.
But with deadly intentions tainting James’ obsession, and Lorenzo powerless to protect her, she must decide if she’ll stay in the lab
Again, "if she'll stay in the lab" just doesn't bring us to a thrilling conclusion. Find stronger language to state the crux.
to find the truth or if she’ll venture into the unknown as an uncontrollable beast.
Can one really decide whether or not to be uncontrollable? Hmm...

Eliminate the cliche "venture into the unknown."

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by BAL » April 26th, 2010, 12:39 pm

Wow, this sounds like a great story. Your second query is great, it made sense and explained the story very well. I wish I could give you good advice, but i'm very new at this. So I'll just give you a big round of applause and say good job and keep it up.

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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » April 27th, 2010, 5:13 pm

Quill - thanks for the input! i'll keep trudging. i want this to be as close to perfect as possible.

BAL - sometimes a word of encouragement is the best thing you can offer. thanks :)
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » May 10th, 2010, 5:43 pm

Dear Agent:

Janelle was living the life she’d always wanted. And now, she can’t remember any of it.

The newest success of the Humani Project, a government-funded genetic experiment she’d sacrificed her loveless marriage for, amnesiac Janelle must learn to exist as “Dima” while struggling to tame the panther DNA fused to hers. Lead scientist Lorenzo Fernandez, her former lover, offers no explanation in an effort to protect her from her old life and from the federal employees populating the lab who’d rather see her dead. Janelle’s mind contains the knowledge to reverse the Humani process. Should she remember anything, the government can kiss its anticipated super-soldiers goodbye.

Frederick James’ role was to ensure Janelle’s amnesia and update the President on viable successes. However, after being rejected by Janelle too many times, he abuses his authority to punish her for choosing Lorenzo over him. He never expected her to fight back with a perfect blend of human logic and untamed animal ferocity.

Dima knows she must unlock Janelle’s secrets before more people become victims. But with deadly intentions tainting James’ obsession, and Lorenzo powerless to protect her, she must decide if she’ll risk her life to find the truth or if she’ll escape into the unknown, unable to control her animal desires.

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is a science fiction work complete at 116,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Last edited by lexcade on May 23rd, 2010, 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by HillaryJ » May 10th, 2010, 7:05 pm

lexcade wrote:Dear Agent:

Janelle was living the life she’d always wanted. And now, she can’t remember any of it.

The newest success of the Humani Project, a government-funded genetic experiment *cut: she’d sacrificed her loveless marriage for*, amnesiac Janelle must learn to exist as “Dima” while struggling to tame the panther DNA fused to hers. Lead scientist Lorenzo Fernandez, her former lover, offers no explanation in an effort to protect her from her old life and from the federal employees *awkward: populating* the lab who’d rather see her dead. *This read very awkwardly. Maybe: In an effort to protect her, Lorenzo Fernandez, Janelle's former lover and the Project's lead scientist, refuses to explain what's happened to her.* Janelle’s mind contains the knowledge to reverse the Humani process. Should she remember anything, the government can kiss its anticipated super-soldiers goodbye.

Frederick James’ role was to ensure Janelle’s amnesia and update the President on viable successes. However, after being rejected by Janelle too many times, he abuses his authority to punish her for choosing Lorenzo over him. *This sounds like he has authority to punish her, which seems an odd line on a job description. Do you mean he abuses his authority by punishing her?* He never expected her to fight back with a perfect blend of human logic and untamed animal ferocity.

Dima knows she must unlock Janelle’s secrets before more people become victims. But with deadly intentions tainting James’ obsession, and Lorenzo powerless to protect her, she must decide if she’ll risk her life to find the truth or if she’ll escape into the unknown, unable to control her animal desires. *The dreaded suspenseful hanger..."deadly intentions"..."powerless to protect"...escape into the unknown"..."her animal desires". I feel like you're trying to summarize ALL the tension in the query, much of which you've already shown. Perhaps, instead, just give THE BIG CHOICE she'll have to make, and try to be specific over dramatic*

DIRGE OF THE DESERT is a science fiction work complete at 116,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Please take this with a grain of salt (or shot of whiskey), but I do suggest that you try to simplify a bit.

Because you have a love-triangle in here (Janelle/Dima, Lorenzo and James), I don't think you need to mention the ex-husband...unless that's who James is? Maybe you don't even have to explain that Lorenzo is her former lover. She's got an ex-husband, a former lover and rebuked suitor...are all of these necessary for just the query?

"Amnesiac" sounds like that's a condition she's always had. If the process gave her amnesia, I think you should just spell that out.

I don't understand why the gov. employees want to see her dead if she's their most recent success? I also don't get why her remembering how to reverse the process (and is the process so simple that a reversal could simply be remembered?) would mean that the government could no longer do it. Is she opposed to the process and/or its results? Why? Is it immoral? Are those processed not volunteers? Are the "victims" people actually killed by the process?

I actually think that the prior version read more smoothly than this. This feels fragmented to me. There seems to be a lot of tension, but I'm not really understanding what's at stake for Janelle/Dima, and find referring to her by two names to be confusing.

This is an interesting premise with a lot of tension, but I feel like there is too much going on for the query.
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by lexcade » May 11th, 2010, 11:32 pm

*headdesk*

OK. the sad thing is that the ending is her big choice. she can either get out and try to live some kind of life, or she can stay and suffer under james so she can figure out why this happened to her. but i'll work on simplifying. i thought it was a little too convoluted, too. thanks for the suggestions!
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