dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

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

Post by lexcade » June 21st, 2010, 3:33 pm

as always, you have some great points, quill. thanks for all your feedback. it's been incredibly helpful!
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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

Post by lexcade » June 25th, 2010, 8:28 pm

clara, somehow i missed your post :( but thanks for the encouragement! i really appreciate it :)
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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

Post by lexcade » June 29th, 2010, 3:07 am

one more time, with feeling!


When the Department of Defense offers fledgling geneticist Janelle Gray the opportunity of a lifetime, she jumps at the chance to be part of the world’s most controversial cross-mutation experiment; she never plans to be the experiment.

Now, she’s the Humani Project’s crowning achievement, a panther-human hybrid that has retained the ability to speak human language. But Janelle barely remembers being human, let alone that she perfected the process. She doesn’t care. She thrives on the power, ferocity, and grace the DNA infuses in her. She can even read scents to gauge another’s health and mood. Most importantly, she knows when someone’s lying.

However, Janelle’s love affair with her wild side doesn’t last. Thrust into the lab’s most brutal physical exam, the Endurance Chamber, Janelle must kill repeatedly to prove her animal worth. Her horror overwhelms her as more blood stains her fur, leading to a battle between human and panther for control of her mind.

Janelle needs reconciliation before that battle rips her apart, but with the panther taking over more and more, she can’t trust her vague humanity to combat the animal’s stronger influence. She must anchor herself and thinks that the only avenue to take is the one she neglected. She needs to know who she is. And she needs the panther’s skills to help her.

As more victims become allies, Janelle’s scent-reading pinpoints a disturbing fact—the subjects aren’t chosen because of perfect DNA. Both subject and scientist have a connection to hide, forcing Janelle to wonder if she fits this vengeful pattern or if she’s an exception.

The more she learns, the more she realizes that the woman she was isn’t what she’d hoped to be. And this time, curiosity will cost the cat more than her life.
Last edited by lexcade on July 12th, 2010, 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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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Quill
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Re: dirge of the desert - new attempt, new slant

Post by Quill » June 29th, 2010, 11:51 am

lexcade wrote:one more time, with feeling!
When the Department of Defense offers fledgling geneticist Janelle Gray the opportunity of a lifetime,
Omit "fledgling" as it it is redundant to opportunity of a lifetime, and makes her sounds like a baby bird.
she jumps at the chance
Cliche.
to be part of the world’s most controversial
How about "a controversial"? "World's most" sounds pulpy, and how would she know?

In the real world Black ops have been rumored to be genetically altering humans for decades.
cross-mutation experiment; she never plans to be the experiment.
The semi-colon may not be the best punctuation here. How about a period, or begin the sentence with "When she" and use a comma?

Also, "never plans" doesn't work for me. How does someone never plan? In any case, always stronger to go with the positive, if possible, in sentence structure.
Now, she’s the Humani Project’s crowning achievement, a panther-human hybrid that has retained the ability to speak human language. But Janelle barely remembers being human, let alone that she perfected the process. She doesn’t care. She thrives on the power, ferocity, and grace the DNA infuses in her. She can even read scents to gauge another’s health and mood. Most importantly, she knows when someone’s lying.
Omit "Most importantly" as this does not seem more vital than the ferocity or power, or the fact that she's a panther. The phrase seems also too cerebral for a paragraph about her wild side.

Actually, consider taking the entire sentence out.
However, Janelle’s love affair with her wild side doesn’t last. Thrust into the lab’s most brutal physical exam, the Endurance Chamber,
This seems more a physical test than an exam.
Janelle must kill repeatedly to prove her animal worth.
I do not know what this means, prove her animal worth.
Her horror overwhelms her as more blood stains her fur, leading to a battle between human and panther for control of her mind.
I'm not sure "as more blood stains her fur" works. The sentence seems stronger without it.
Janelle needs reconciliation
This feels simply not visceral (direct) enough for the situation. And the meaning of reconciliation isn't clear.
before that battle rips her apart,
Not sure what this means, battle rips her apart. You mean an internal battle rips her apart psychologically? The wording reads melodramatic.
but with the panther taking over more and more, she can’t trust her vague humanity to combat the animal’s stronger influence.
Rewrite stronger and more direct. Weak phrases: "more and more" "vague humanity" "stronger influence".
She must anchor herself and thinks that the only avenue to take is the one she neglected.
I think you need panther-speak here, image-wise. Not anchor (boats) and avenue (city).

Also, "the one she neglected" is weak and unclear.

She needs to know who she is. And
This is also very general when we need specificity.
she needs the panther’s skills to help her.
Good. This is saying something. Could you go on to say how?
As more victims become allies,
This isn't clear. Victims of what? Allies of what? I think I know because I've read several of your queries, but will an agent reading quickly and for the first time?
Janelle’s scent-reading pinpoints a disturbing fact—the subjects aren’t chosen because of perfect DNA.
You can leave out "'s scent-reading". It is enough to know that she pinpoints. (Good word, by the way, and ditto for disturbing fact).
Both subject and scientist have a connection to hide, forcing Janelle to wonder if she fits this vengeful pattern or if she’s an exception.
Awkward sentence, leaving this reader with more questions than answers. I can't imagine what "connection to hide" means. They obviously have a connection, as they are in a medical relationship. What other connection would there be that they would both want to hide, and from whom, can you tell us, or hint?

Awkward: 1. "forcing Janelle to wonder". I can't imagine the logistics of being forced to wonder.

2. "fits this vengeful pattern." Can a pattern be vengeful? Can anything that is not sentient be vengeful?

Weak: "or if she's an exception." Coming at the end of a sentence that begs "what connection" and "what pattern" renders the meaning of this phrase unclear, and it also lacks the strong verb and strong noun to give it punch.

The more she learns, the more she realizes that the woman she was isn’t what she’d hoped to be. And this time, curiosity will cost the cat more than her life.
Again, vague, and mild in language.

I do like the story. For me the main problem with the query, besides needing more clarity and generally stronger verbs and nouns, is that it lacks a panther feel. It seems to be written strictly from the human in her. I know she's not the writer. I'm speaking stylistically. And maybe what you have fits the writing of the book. But I wonder if you injected some shorter sentences and more visceral language to show, on a structural level, what it is like for her to be half cat, to show the conflict. Do you get my drift? It seems a little sedate for the subject matter, as it now stands.

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

Post by lexcade » July 1st, 2010, 4:53 pm

thanks again, quill! :)

i'm thinking i have an idea of how to make this more visceral. i guess i was so concerned about her struggle to preserve her humanity that i kinda forgot about her pantherness being a character in and of itself.
"Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God." ~~Dante

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

Post by lexcade » July 12th, 2010, 4:06 am

this resulted in a headache.

Dear Agent:

When the Department of Defense offers geneticist Janelle Gray the opportunity of a lifetime, she immediately accepts the offer to collaborate on its new, and highly controversial, cross-mutation experiment. Until she becomes the experiment.

Janelle wakes to a new body and new life as the Humani Project’s crowning achievement. Mutated by panther DNA, Janelle has lost almost every trace of humanity, including her memories. She can speak human language, but it isn’t enough. She knows deep down that she was human. She doesn’t know if she’d ever want to be again. The strength, grace, and ferocity she’s gained just feel too good to give up.

Until the killing starts. A rabbit, just to see how much of an animal she is. The panther’s typical quarry for sustenance. Animal hybrids to prove that she’s in control of her body. But she’s not a killer, and she’s not in control. The panther’s the only thing keeping her alive. She has to survive. And surviving means getting her claws bloody.

Losing control completely isn’t an option. If she can’t tame the panther before its fury turns on the scientists, they’ll terminate her. So she decides to hunt for something totally different: her past.

Too bad that this hunt could get her killed.
"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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