7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 3 Anyone??

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
User avatar
Beethovenfan
Posts: 322
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 11:45 pm
Contact:

7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 3 Anyone??

Post by Beethovenfan » August 30th, 2010, 1:06 pm

Round 3:
Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on my query. I have made some significant changes to this query so anyone who feels they can give advice or suggestions, they will be gladly accepted! I have given Jane a lot more voice in this one, hopefully making her more real.

Jane Picardy should have left well enough alone the day she found that conductor’s baton. But what self-respecting musician could refuse to try it out? Certainly not her. Especially after finding it in the burned out hollow of a tree.

Jane only waved it once but that’s all it took and suddenly she’s not in Kansas anymore. She is whisked three hundred years into the past and everything that was familiar is gone. Finding herself plunged into colonial America Jane is humiliated more than once by her ignorance of the customs of the day. However, she is befriended by an enigmatic society of musicians who take her under their wing and teach her more than social niceties. They show her that music is powerful beyond anything she ever thought possible. With a wave of their hands and the hum of a tune they can heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow small forests in a single day.

Jane’s trip to the past was no accident. She is dumbfounded to learn her new friends purposely placed the baton in the tree so that she would find it. They need her because someone has been misusing their musical powers thus creating a terrifying evil called the Faceless Ones. It will require powerful music from the future to defeat them, music that Jane can provide. But Jane knows she cannot reveal things to the past without changing the future so must discover another way to accomplish her task. To add to her distress, Jane is but an infant in this new world of music and she wonders who really will be the death of them all; the Faceless Ones or herself.

My approximately 135,000 word fantasy novel, SOULSONG, explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

Thank you for your valuable time in considering my work.
............................................................................................................................................................................................

Round 2:
I have made some revisions making it (hopefully) clearer. I am struggling with making Jane real in my query, someone you care about and can relate with and still keep my word count down. right now it's at about 275. Thanks for your feedback!

When Jane Picardy, a talented concert pianist, finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do; she tries it out. But, as soon as she waves it in the air, power that has lain dormant for centuries within it is activated and Jane is whisked three hundred years into the past.

Frightened and confused she accepts friendship from an enigmatic society of musicians who teach her that there is much more to music than she ever thought possible. Jane finds herself immersed in this unique colonial American society where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such marvels as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day.

Jane soon learns that her trip to the past was no accident, but that her new friends brought her there for the express purpose of saving them from an evil called the Faceless Ones. She must use her knowledge of music from the future to defeat the evil beings or they will overwhelm the music guild and obliterate them. However, Jane realizes that she cannot reveal things to the past without changing the future so must discover another way to accomplish her task. To add to her distress Jane is just an infant in this new world of music and soon realizes that her biggest adversary will be to overcome her own self doubt.

My approximately 135,000 word novel, SOULSONG, is a fantasy but with a Jane Austen influence. It is a journey into the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.


Thank you for your valuable time in considering my work.

............................................................................................................................................................................................


OK, I have commented on a few queries so I think it only fair that I put mine out there to go under the knife. I'm hoping that it's my query that needs help and not my story. Here goes:

Dear Agent,

When Jane Picardy, a talented concert pianist, finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do; she tries it out. But, as soon as she waves it in the air, power that has lain dormant for centuries within it is activated and Jane is whisked three hundred years into the past. She finds herself immersed in a unique colonial American society when she is befriended by a group of people who belong to an enigmatic music guild. However, Jane quickly learns that these people were responsible for bringing her to the past with the express purpose of saving them from an evil called the Faceless Ones. Although filled with fear and trepidation over her circumstances, Jane soon realizes that her biggest adversary is really herself.

My approximately 135,000 word historical fantasy novel, SOULSONG, is a journey into a world where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such incredible things as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day. It explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

I have a bachelor degree in Music History and Literature and a master degree in Education. I am a pianist and my background in music has helped me develop the story for this book. I currently work as a substitute teacher which provides me the freedom to pursue writing as well as spend time with my husband and two boys.

-- This last paragraph is there for those agents who actually specify that they want to know a little about me. For the most part it is not included. --
Thanks in advance to any who take the time to read this over. I really appreciate it!
Last edited by Beethovenfan on September 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm, edited 6 times in total.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

chris13
Posts: 32
Joined: April 30th, 2010, 8:15 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by chris13 » August 30th, 2010, 1:21 pm

I like the premise and the title. A couple of impressions.....


However, Jane quickly learns that these people were responsible for bringing her to the past with the express purpose of saving them from an evil called the Faceless Ones. Although filled with fear and trepidation over her circumstances, Jane soon realizes that her biggest adversary is really herself.This doesn't say much....what does she have to do, why does she have to do it, what will happen if she doesn't (the "stakes.") What/who is trying to foil her?

My approximately 135,000 word historical fantasy novel, SOULSONG, I like this explanation myself, but I doubt it is helpful in a query. Some of it may be put further up to explain this world? But usually world building is too complicated for queries.... is a journey into a world where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such incredible things as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day. It explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

I have a bachelor degree in Music History and Literature and a master degree in Education. I am a pianist and my background in music has helped me develop the story for this book. I currently work as a substitute teacher which provides me the freedom to pursue writing as well as spend time with my husband and two boys.

-- This last paragraph is there for those agents who actually specify that they want to know a little about me. For the most part it is not included. --
Thanks in advance to any who take the time to read this over. I really appreciate it![/quote]

thewhipslip
Posts: 179
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 2:18 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by thewhipslip » August 30th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Dear Agent,

Paragraph one is not a bad start, but you're relying too much on vagaries. I'll point out where you can use some specifics.
When Jane Picardy, a talented concert pianist, finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do;I think you need a colon here instead of a semi-colon. she tries it out. But, as soon as she waves it in the air, power that has lain dormant for centuries within it is activated and Jane is whisked three hundred years into the past. She finds herself immersed in a unique What's unique about it? If you don't tell us, I would cut this adjective. colonial American society when she is befriended by a group of people who belong to an enigmatic music guild What's enigmatic about it? Both adjective (unique & enigmatic) are too vague to give us a specific idea of what the guild is all about or the place that they live in. However, Jane quickly learns that these people were responsible for bringing her to the past with the express purpose of saving them from an evil called the Faceless Ones Okay, good, you've got conflict here - but tell us more about the Faceless Ones. What do they want? That's uber-important to know. Although filled with fear and trepidation over her circumstances, Jane soon realizes that her biggest adversary is really herself Again, too vague? Why is it herself? Let us in on the conflict. That's what an agent is going to be looking for.

My approximately 135,000 word historical fantasy novel, SOULSONG, is a journey into a world where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such incredible things as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day This description needs to be moved to paragraph one, replacing the word "unique" and "enigmatic". It explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

I have a bachelor degree in Music History and Literature and a master degree in Education. I am a pianist and my background in music has helped me develop the story for this book. I currently work as a substitute teacher which provides me the freedom to pursue writing as well as spend time with my husband and two boys Cut this last sentence. It doesn't give you any additional credibility.

-- This last paragraph is there for those agents who actually specify that they want to know a little about me. For the most part it is not included. -- I think you should keep the first two sentences in the last paragraph, but as I said, not the last sentence.
Thanks in advance to any who take the time to read this over. I really appreciate it![/quote]
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

gilesth
Posts: 149
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:54 pm
Location: Denver, CO
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by gilesth » August 30th, 2010, 2:11 pm

Overall, I don't know why I'm supposed to care. What are some of the specific problems Jane will face in the course of this story? Show me a glimpse of the beginning of the story, introduce the problem, and hint at a direction Jane will take to solve those problems. Leave me hanging, though, so that I need to read this book.

Start with a synopsis, pare it down to two or three paragraphs, and then bring it back to us. You have a good start here, and your premise is intriguing. As an agent this wouldn't be enough information to make me request pages. Keep working at it, though! :D

otherside89girl
Posts: 98
Joined: March 31st, 2010, 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by otherside89girl » August 30th, 2010, 5:00 pm

Beethovenfan wrote:OK, I have commented on a few queries so I think it only fair that I put mine out there to go under the knife. I'm hoping that it's my query that needs help and not my story. Here goes:

Dear Agent,

When Jane Picardy, a talented concert pianist, finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do; she tries it out. But, as soon as she waves it in the air, power that has lain dormant for centuries within it is activated and Jane is whisked three hundred years into the past. She finds herself immersed in a unique colonial American society when she is befriended by a group of people who belong to an enigmatic music guild. However, Jane quickly learns that these people were responsible for bringing her to the past with the express purpose of saving them from an evil called the Faceless Ones. Although filled with fear and trepidation over her circumstances, Jane soon realizes that her biggest adversary is really herself. This last sentence is unclear. You should explain more about the circumstances and also why she is her biggest adversary. I think you've done a great job keeping your word count down, so don't be afraid to give more detail to paint a better picture.

My approximately 135,000 word historical fantasy novel, SOULSONG, is a journey into a world where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such incredible things as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day. It explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul. This sounds so cool.

I have a bachelor degree in Music History and Literature and a master degree in Education. I am a pianist and my background in music has helped me develop the story for this book. I currently work as a substitute teacher which provides me the freedom to pursue writing as well as spend time with my husband and two boys.

-- This last paragraph is there for those agents who actually specify that they want to know a little about me. For the most part it is not included. --
Thanks in advance to any who take the time to read this over. I really appreciate it!
I like your query and your story premise. I just saw a few places where you could leave words out, and like I said, you might want to add a few more details. Good luck!

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 30th, 2010, 6:29 pm

You do a good job in simple terms. We know who the MC is, we see the catalyst for the story, we see the problem... but what are the stakes? What if she doesn't save them? I don't care for her. I know nothing about her at all, or where she was before any of this happened. You also have this line at the end of your query:
a journey into a world where music rules and humans have learned to use the power of vibration to do such incredible things as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees in a single day. It explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.
You need to show us this in your query, not tell us. Show us this world in your query and maybe we'll care about saving their world. How does music play any part in the story? She waved a conductor's baton and she's a musician--but what does that have to do with saving anyone? How does she adjust to being in the past? How does she fit in with these colonial Americans? How is her only adversary herself? That makes me think she has some personality problem.

I'm sorry for being harsh! Your query has the right, bare essentials, but it needs to be fleshed out! You get 250-350 words (rough estimate, it varies by book and plot) so use them all :) Don't sell yourself short because your story sounds pretty good! Also make sure to slip in some of Jane's voice so we get a glimpse of who she is.

It also seems like your story is more literary because Jane's biggest adversary is herself--that seems like a character driven story. If it's a fantasy novel then you need to really emphasize what's going on in the story. Plot trumps all! I love the historical touch, but you need to sell it a bit better. WHY is this set in the past? Make it matter.

Last, I think some agents might be turned off by your word count. Sad truth--and I'm not an agent by any means--but they like to see novels around 75,000-90,000 (genre dependent). If they see something going over 100,000 words then they think there's going to be a lot of paring down to do, and that's a lot of work for busy agents and they might pass just on that perception alone. I would try to pare down a bit (search for words like 'just', 'that', 'fact', 'had', and replace -ing verbs with -ed (walking to walked) if it's in past tense). From the looks of your query though, you seem to be short and to-the-point, so if your query ends up being extremely tight they'll think your writing is tight, too. This is entirely your decision!

Good luck and I look forward to seeing your revision!
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
Beethovenfan
Posts: 322
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 11:45 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by Beethovenfan » August 30th, 2010, 10:13 pm

Ha! It's funny because you guys have all been telling me things I have suggested to other people! Guess I need to take my own advice. OK. As for word count, I don't know what to do about that because I've already reduced it from 150,000 words! I hate to start leaving out actual story line. I was hoping that they might be a little forgiving of that number since it's a fantasy - you know, world building and all that. But, as you say, agents are leery! Guess I'll be doing another edit!

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone! I really need this feed back. I'll try to post another version of the query tomorrow in this same thread.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by Quill » August 30th, 2010, 10:32 pm

From what I have read you have 120K words on the outside for a debut fantasy novel. Of course 100-110K is a better outer limit, but 120K might fly if it is off-the-wall excellent. Above that, from what I've heard, your chances plummet as though a boulder into an abyss.

So, indeed, with 7 rejections (although that is not many!) it might be time for a revision, all right -- of your manuscript.

But you knew that.

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 30th, 2010, 10:44 pm

Beethovenfan wrote:As for word count, I don't know what to do about that because I've already reduced it from 150,000 words! I hate to start leaving out actual story line. I was hoping that they might be a little forgiving of that number since it's a fantasy - you know, world building and all that. But, as you say, agents are leery! Guess I'll be doing another edit!
Quill is totally and completely right about a debut fantasy novel. I wouldn't say that you need to take out anything from the story line but really ask yourself if a scene is important. Look at each scene and assess what its purpose is for the plot or character development. Is it showing us something about the character we've already found out--or will find out at a later time in a better way? Sometimes you might've told something you showed later on, in which case you'd delete the telling.

It is so hard to pare down but I have faith! You did it once and you did a great job! Look for a beta who will assess your scenes and tell you if they're important or not :) that should help give you a fresh eye--a fresh and hopefully objective eye ;)
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
D.S. Deshaw
Posts: 65
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 2:27 am
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 2

Post by D.S. Deshaw » September 1st, 2010, 2:25 am

I think parts of your query would be stronger if you weren't defining things by Jane. Most of your sentences start with her name or 'she.' Also be careful of your use of 'that' :) not all of them are needed and can free you up for a few more personalized words. Another thing I've noticed about queries: adjectives tell, not show. So asying she's frightened and confused is telling us. Show us through what she does!

Very good though. Again, you are on the right track!
When Jane Picardy, a talented concert pianist, finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do; she tries it out. But, as soon as she waves it in the air, power that has lain dormant for centuries within it is activated and Jane is whisked three hundred years into the past. Make this sentence shorter. Make it more about her reaction than about the baton. That'll help us get to know her more. Her reaction undoubtedly tells us about her personality.

Frightened and confused sShe accepts friendship from an enigmatic society of musicians who teach her that there is much more to music than she ever thought possible. Jane finds herself immersed in tThis unique colonial American society where music rules and humans have has learned to use the power of vibration to do such marvels as heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow entire groves of trees small forests in a single day. What does she do here? Do they teach her things? The next sentence in this paragraph needs to sell the world so when it needs to be saved, we want it to be saved. It also needs to complicate the issue of her trip being planned. Hard to do, but I think you can do it! Mere bad suggestion: "Jane learns more about music than she would've ever imagined, but she never expected she'd have to use it to save these people." (Although try for a more descriptive word than 'these people'... I just don't know how to describe them quite yet!)

Jane soon learns that her trip to the past was no accident, but that her new friendsThe people of the town (or specific name of it?) brought her there for the express purpose of saving to save them from an evil called the Faceless Ones,. What are the Faceless Ones? What is this evil doing? How does she feel about discovering this fact? She must use her knowledge of music from the future to defeat the evil beings or they will overwhelm the music guild and obliterate them. However, Jane realizes that but she cannot reveal things to the past without changing the futureso must discover another way to accomplish her task. To add to her distress Jane is just an infant in this new world of music and soon realizes that her biggest adversary will be to overcome her own self doubt. Bring in a simple sentence here about the stakes--if she doesn't kill the Faceless Ones, will she die too? Will the future be even more damaged? And also bring in her self-doubt if you're deadset on using it. It's a good touch but it might be better for you to leave that to us to figure out as we read it. Something like "Letting the Faceless Ones destroy the music guild will alter her future far worse than anything she can do--but she's going to have to first focus on her age old adversary: self-doubt." I'm lame, I know!

My approximately 135,000 word novel, SOULSONG, is a fantasy but with a Jane Austen influence. It is a journey into the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul. This should really just be blunt and to the point--and throwing in Jane Austen might be a little heavy--the last sentence is what you need to show us in the query. Telling us this late what the book about won't save it! Stick with something short: "SOULSONG is a 135,000 word fantasy." They'll pick up the Jane Austen when they read it, right?


The story is there and the query is shaping up. You're adding the right kinds of things in there :) Keep going!
Show, not Tell -- blog, funny times, updated daily (weekends don't count).

User avatar
Beethovenfan
Posts: 322
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 11:45 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 2

Post by Beethovenfan » September 1st, 2010, 4:12 pm

Thank you D.S. Deshaw for running through it again for me. I'm too close to this and can't see the forest for the trees! Thanks so much for your feedback and you are far from LAME! You are being specific and I NEED that. :)
Last edited by Beethovenfan on September 3rd, 2010, 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

ABFTomioka
Posts: 32
Joined: August 30th, 2010, 8:36 pm
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 2

Post by ABFTomioka » September 1st, 2010, 8:26 pm

Oooooo, I really love the idea of this story! It's unique, but also speaks to what most people already understand, that music can transform the world. Fantastic!!!

Here are my ideas for revision.

When Jane Picardy finds an old conductor’s baton, she does what any self-respecting musician would do - she tries it out. But as she waves it in the air, Jane activates the dormant power within it is whisked three hundred years into the past.

Frightened and confused, she accepts the friendship of an enigmatic society of musicians who know there is more to music than Jane ever imagined. Jane immerses herself in colonial America where music rules, and humans use the power of vibration to do marvels.

Jane soon learns that her trip to the past was no accident. Her new friends brought her there to save them from an evil called the Faceless Ones. Jane must use music from the future to defeat the evil beings before they overwhelm the music guild, obliterating them (are there bigger consequences here, such as obliterating music as we know it? That would add some drama). But Jane is an infant in this new world of music, and soon realizes her biggest adversary is self doubt.

SOULSONG, approximately 135,000 words, is a fantasy novel with a Jane Austen influence. It is a journey into the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

Jaligard
Posts: 57
Joined: August 11th, 2010, 1:42 pm
Contact:

Re: 7 Rejections - Time for a Revision - round 3 Anyone??

Post by Jaligard » September 3rd, 2010, 2:35 pm

Beethovenfan wrote:Jane Picardy should have left well enough alone the day she found that conductor’s baton. But what self-respecting musician could refuse to try it out? Certainly not her. Especially after finding it in the burned out hollow of a tree.

Jane only waved it once but that’s all it took and suddenly she’s not in Kansas anymore. She is whisked three hundred years into the past and everything that was familiar is gone. Finding herself plunged into colonial America Jane is humiliated more than once by her ignorance of the customs of the day. However, she is befriended by an enigmatic society of musicians who take her under their wing and teach her more than social niceties. They show her that music is powerful beyond anything she ever thought possible. With a wave of their hands and the hum of a tune they can heal the sick, communicate with animals and grow small forests in a single day.

Jane’s trip to the past was no accident. She is dumbfounded to learn her new friends purposely placed the baton in the tree so that she would find it. They need her because someone has been misusing their musical powers thus creating a terrifying evil called the Faceless Ones. It will require powerful music from the future to defeat them, music that Jane can provide. But Jane knows she cannot reveal things to the past without changing the future so must discover another way to accomplish her task. To add to her distress, Jane is but an infant in this new world of music and she wonders who really will be the death of them all; the Faceless Ones or herself.

My approximately 135,000 word fantasy novel, SOULSONG, explores the ethereal nature of music and how it affects the human soul.

Thank you for your valuable time in considering my work.
I think a big issue here is wordiness. You need to trim. Especially when you say the novel is 135,000 words. After reading the rest of the query, agents are going to know the novel needs to be pared down.

For instance:
Jane Picardy should have left well enough alone the day she found that conductor’s baton. But what self-respecting musician could refuse to try it out? She only waved it once and it whisked her three hundred years into the past.

Disoriented in colonial America, Jane befriends a band of musicians who show her how powerful music can be. With a strum of their instruments and a hum of a tune they can heal the sick, communicate with animals, and grow small forests. As powerful as they are, they need her. Someone's misuse of their musical powers has created the evil Faceless Ones, who will[do whatever horrible things they do]. It will require powerful music from the future to defeat them, which is why they brought Jane to the past.

Jane has to balance defeating the Faceless Ones without revealing too much of the future. To add to her distress, Jane is an infant in this new world of music and wonders who really will be the death of them all: the Faceless Ones or herself.
I cut about a third of it out and I don't think I lost anything. You also start to notice that's it's 90% exposition and only 10% plot.

Love the idea, but cut it down some. That goes for the novel, too.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests