A Touch of Madness

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Netti
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A Touch of Madness

Post by Netti » March 11th, 2011, 10:48 pm

This is my sci-fi novel A TOUCH OF MADNESS. I'm getting ready to query soon but would like some feedback on the letter. Feel free to be brutal. Thanks!


When Gliane and her friends are sent to the Maircla Desert to track an odd creature, their mission is strictly to observe.

However, when they follow the creature to a mysterious lab run by a greedy scientist, two of Gliane’s friends are killed, one goes missing, and she is injected with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad.

Gliane accidentally uses her new power to escape and returns to District One, the island where her planet’s representatives meet. There, Gliane is reunited with her missing friend and they are prepared for a return trip to the desert where they will help bring down the scientist. But while there, Gliane is forced to do the unforgivable to ease the pain of someone she loves.

Kidnapped and overcome with bloodlust, Gliane is willing to do anything to quench her thirst for revenge. Even if it costs her life.

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at approximately 85,000 words and has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

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wilderness
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by wilderness » March 13th, 2011, 12:14 am

Netti wrote: When Gliane and her friends are sent to the Maircla Desert to track an odd creature, their mission is strictly to observe. Perhaps a more explicit description of the creature than "odd"

However, when they follow the creature to a mysterious lab run by a greedy scientist,(mysterious and greedy are telling, not showing...what makes the lab mysterious, how do they know the scientist is greedy?) two of Gliane’s friends are killed, one goes missing, and she is injected with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad. The formula which makes anyone who touches her go mad is definitely intriguing, but the other clauses (in blue) make it seem like a synopsis -- too much summary and not enough specifics.

Gliane accidentally uses her new power to escape and returns to District One, the island where her planet’s representatives meet. There, Gliane is reunited with her missing friend and they are prepared for a return trip to the desert where they will help bring down the scientist. But while there, Gliane is forced to do the unforgivable to ease the pain of someone she loves. The last part is also lacking in specifics. Check out Nathan's post on specificity: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/03 ... eries.html

Kidnapped and overcome with bloodlust, Gliane is willing to do anything to quench her thirst for revenge. Even if it costs her life. Totally lost now. Who was she kidnapped by? Why does she have bloodlust? Who is she getting revenge on and why? It seems like you're trying not to give away some details but it really makes it hard for us to care when we don't know any specifics.

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at approximately 85,000 words and has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.
There are definitely some intriguing details in there, but I am pretty confused about the plot. I suggest not going that far into it. Often, you can simply set up the first few chapters to get us intrigued. Kristin Nelson's Query Pitch Workshop has a lot of good examples (see the right sidebar): http://pubrants.blogspot.com/

Hope that helps!

AllieS
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by AllieS » March 13th, 2011, 3:15 am

All right, I tried not to read the other post, so these opinions are just what come to mind:

When Gliane and her friends are sent to the Maircla Desert to track an odd creature drop the odd, their mission is strictly to observe.

However, when they follow the creature to a mysterious lab run by a greedy scientist, two of Gliane’s friends are killed, one goes missing, and she is injected with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad. Long sentence, and although you tell me a lot, I don't feel involved. You need to show me. Maybe saying something like, "Only observing becomes complicated when . . ." etc. This just seems very bland. I like the idea of touching someone and making them go mad, though.

Gliane accidentally uses her new power to escape the phrasing of that sounds strange and returns to District One, the island where her planet’s representatives meet. There, Gliane is reunited with her missing friend and they are prepared they prepare for a return trip to the desert where they will help bring down the scientist.Another overly long sentence. And it's all telling. But while there, Gliane is forced to do the unforgivable to ease the pain of someone she loves. I don't doubt that she is, but it's too vague. You might be holding out on details to leave some mystery, but right now it's all a mystery.

Kidnapped and overcome with bloodlust, Now she's kidnapped? Gliane is willing to do anything to quench her thirst for revenge. Even if it costs her life. I think you can leave these sentences out. Once you work on the details in the last line of the previous paragraph, that will be a good ending point.

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at approximately 85,000 words and has series potential. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Work on inserting some details and showing the reader more. Hope this helps!

Netti
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Netti » March 19th, 2011, 3:35 pm

Thanks for the comments! I was kinda afraid it was too telly and not enough showy. Here's a new attempt. Let me know which you think is better (or at least has more potential). There are some rough spots in this new one because I had issues figuring out how to say some things so any constructive criticism would be great. Thanks, all!


When madness strikes, death follows.

It’s a lesson Gliane learns the hard way when she’s injected against her will with a formula which causes others to literally go mad when she touches them. So far, all experimentation- accidental and intentional- has proved fatal.

The situation becomes worse when the man who injected Gliane decides to sell her. To provide incentive, the man captures her brother and Gliane is forced to do the unthinkable to save him from indescribable pain.

In the ensuing fight, Gliane is kidnapped. But now she has an insatiable thirst for revenge and will take it out on anyone who gets in her way no matter the cost.

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at 82,600 words and has series potential.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

Bron
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Bron » March 21st, 2011, 6:44 am

I think this new attempt is a bit vague. We don't know who injected her or why, and while I like that you mention the brother, we don't know what Gliane does nor what she is saving her brother from. I think you should keep the basic structure of the second query, since it seems like that cuts more to the heart of your plot, but add in some more details about the scientist, and what it is that Gliane must do to save her brother and why.

Bron
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Bron » March 21st, 2011, 6:51 am

I should mention though that I really like your concept and think it would be an interesting one to explore in a novel. How would someone react to not being able to touch anyone, ever?

clamjaphry
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by clamjaphry » March 22nd, 2011, 5:00 pm

Hi Netti! I'm a noob on these boards, but here's what I think:
Netti wrote: When madness strikes, death follows. personally, I'm not a fan of this type of grand pronouncement at the start of a query...it doesn't plunge me into the story right away

It’s a lesson Gliane learns the hard way when she’s injected against her will with a formula which causes others to literally go mad when she touches them. neat! but who injects her with this formula? why? So far, all experimentation- accidental and intentional- has proved fatal. fatal to whom? the toucher or the mad person?

The situation becomes worse when the man who injected Gliane decides to sell her. this might make more sense if you gave us a bit of context earlier in the query: "Gliane is a research-slave for X Laboratories..." right now I'm confused about why anyone is in a position to sell GlianeTo provide incentive, the man captures her brother and Gliane is forced to do the unthinkable to save him from indescribable pain. do what unthinkable thing to whom?

In the ensuing fight, Gliane is kidnapped. But now she has an insatiable thirst for revenge and will take it out on anyone who gets in her way no matter the cost. I'm lose!

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at 82,600 words and has series potential.
Overall, I need a bit more context about the world and Gliane's situation. It sounds like you have an interesting idea, but right now it's too vague...

Good luck, hope this helps!

Hilary

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wilderness
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by wilderness » March 25th, 2011, 2:30 am

Netti wrote:
When madness strikes, death follows.

It’s a lesson Gliane learns the hard way when she’s injected against her will with a formula which causes others to literally go mad when she touches them. So far, all experimentation- accidental and intentional- has proved fatal. I like how you start with the formula. Good hook. But the second sentence is vague. We don't know what you mean by "all experimentation". Who did she touch and why? She seems a bit cruel if she is purposely making people go crazy. Also, it would be nice if we were just a little grounded in a time/place.

The situation becomes worse when the man who injected Gliane decides to sell her. To provide incentive, the man captures her brother and Gliane is forced to do the unthinkable to save him from indescribable pain. Sell her? Is she a slave? And what is the indescribable plan? Don't hold out on us -- being mysterious often comes across as vague.

In the ensuing fight, Gliane is kidnapped. But now she has an insatiable thirst for revenge and will take it out on anyone who gets in her way no matter the cost. Again, we don't know who she fought, who she was kidnapped by, and why she wants revenge. More details please!

A TOUCH OF MADNESS is a science fiction novel complete at 82,600 words and has series potential.
Netti - You do have a great hook. As is, I'm more confused than intrigued. Hope I wasn't too tough! Good luck!

Netti
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Netti » March 25th, 2011, 9:45 am

So the reason it's so vague is that to add in all the detail you guys are talking about it would basically turn into a synopsis and I already have one of those. I can only include so much and picked out the most important details. So if anyone knows how to be detailed, but not too detailed without turning a query into a synopsis while still keeping it interesting, please let me know.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

Moni12
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Moni12 » March 25th, 2011, 10:38 am

I really like the level of mystery here. Detail doesn't seem particularly necessary, like you said too much detail will turn it into a synopsis. With your more recent query I think you are along the line of being too vague and being too detailed (if that makes any sense). What I mean is that you provide just enough detail to make the reader interested, but not so much that they're drowning in it.
I definitely want to know what happens next!

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wilderness
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by wilderness » March 25th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Hi Netti - In my first critique above I posted some links that tackle just those issues. Nathan's on specificity is great. The key thing I take from it is that if you don't have room to include something with clarity, don't include it at all! Instead, focus on one main aspect or conflict, and explain that well. The workshop on pubrants I pointed to focuses on the theory that you only have to focus on a few chapters in your query. Hope that helps!

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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by glj » March 25th, 2011, 4:21 pm

So the reason it's so vague is that to add in all the detail you guys are talking about it would basically turn into a synopsis and I already have one of those. I can only include so much and picked out the most important details. So if anyone knows how to be detailed, but not too detailed without turning a query into a synopsis while still keeping it interesting, please let me know.
Ah, no one said it would be easy. The 250 words of your query will require much more time and effort than 2,500 words of your manuscript.

No, you don't need as much detail as a synopsis. The query should:

- introduce the MC and make the reader empathize with MC
- show an impending conflict,
- put the MC in the middle of a believable dilemma, where MC must make a difficult choice

That is the basic query. Don't tell what the MC decides or how it comes out. It must be believable, and the reader must want to read more, must really want to see how it all turns out. Simple, really. :)

Okay, an example always helps. Here is how it might go.

Teenage girl moves to new town and feels like outsider.
Girl falls for dark, handsome, brooding Boy.
Boy helps Girl deal with class bullies, making Girl desire Boy more.
Boy asks Girl out.
Girl sees clue that indicates Boy is werewolf, but Boy doesn’t know Girl knows.
Mysterious know-it-all warns Girl that Boy must have rabies shot, or he could die.
Girl learns also that rabies shot will turn Boy from werewolf into just human and he won’t desire her anymore.
Girl decides rabies is unlikely, will ignore potential threat.
Girl and Boy meet for date.
Girl has syringe in her purse, just in case.
Boy is foaming at the mouth.
Girl must now decide whether it is lust, or rabies.
Please consider my 80,000 word fantasy, LOVE IN THE TIME OF HYDROPHOBIA.

Netti
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by Netti » March 29th, 2011, 1:42 pm

Ok, here goes again... The one thing that I'm most unsure about in this version is the very last line. I was trying to do something not cliche and interesting(I guess that's the word I want) but think I may need to dial it back a bit. Anyway, thanks for all the help!



Duty above all else is what the Successors are taught from a young age on the planet Jodlaz. So when Gliane and her comrades are sent by the planet’s Representatives on a simple fact-finding mission to the Maircla Desert, they do it without question.

But Gliane soon finds herself at the mercy of a scientist who injects her with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad. She accidentally uses her new power to escape and free her surviving comrades.

Duty above all else. The Representatives send the Successors back to the desert to collect more information and free the other prisoners. As part of the plan, they allow themselves to be recaptured and Gliane is prepared by the scientist to be sold.

The plan goes awry when Gliane discovers that the scientist has also kidnapped and poisoned her brother. In his pain he begs his sister to put him out of his misery.

Vengeance nestles around Gliane’s heart and she’s willing to do anything to satisfy its hunger.
"It's kind of shocking to hear Toby called a babe; sort of like calling God a studmuffin."
- Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood

http://myscientificattempt.blogspot.com/

AllieS
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by AllieS » March 29th, 2011, 7:05 pm

Duty above all else is what the Successors are taught Passive voice. Try, "Successors on the planet Jodlaz are taught to follow duty above all else." from a young age on the planet Jodlaz. So when Gliane and her comrades are sent by the planet’s Representatives on a simple fact-finding mission to the Maircla Desert, they do it without question.
Do we need to know they go to Maircla Desert? Could you just say they're sent on a mission.

But Gliane soon Saying, "But Gliane" or "Soon Gliane" sounds better than using both of those words. finds herself at the mercy of a scientist who injects her with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad. She accidentally uses her new power to escape and free her surviving comrades. I'd like you to show me how this happens.

Duty above all else. This repetition seems unnecessary. The Representatives send the Successors back to the desert to collect more information and free the other prisoners. As part of the plan, they allow themselves to be recaptured and Gliane is prepared by the scientist to be sold. Too vague. You tell me what happens, but I can't imagine anything in my mind. Either spice this up by the way you phrase it, or put more action into it. So far it's "they do this, then that, then this..."

The plan goes awry when Gliane discovers that the scientist has also kidnapped and poisoned her brother. Mention of the brother comes out of no where. I know you don't want to turn this into a synopsis, but If you're going to use the brother here, at least mention him in one of the above paragraphs. In his pain he begs his sister to put him out of his misery.

Vengeance nestles around Gliane’s heart and she’s willing to do anything to satisfy its hunger.

Hm...yeah, that last line is very vague. It's cool, but doesn't do it for me. I still don't feel excited reading this. Hope this helps!

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wilderness
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Re: A Touch of Madness

Post by wilderness » March 29th, 2011, 11:35 pm

Netti wrote:
Duty above all else is what the Successors are taught from a young age on the planet Jodlaz. Passive voice. How about "On the planet Jodlaz, the Successors are taught from a young age to place duty above all else." So when Gliane and her comrades are sent by the planet’s Representatives on a simple fact-finding mission to the Maircla Desert, they do it without question.

But Gliane soon finds herself at the mercy of a scientist who injects her with a formula which makes anyone who touches her literally go mad. Long and awkward sentence. I would break it down into multiple sentences. She accidentally(unwittingly?) uses her new power to escape and free her surviving comrades.

Duty above all else. Not sure about the repetition. The Representatives send the Successors back to the desert to collect more information and to free the other prisoners. As part of the plan, they allow themselves to be recaptured and Gliane is prepared by the scientist to be sold. The last part is awkward and passive. I'm also not sure it's necessary information. The part about being sold doesn't relate to what comes next.

The plan goes awry when Gliane discovers that the scientist has also kidnapped and poisoned her brother. In his pain(insert comma) he begs his sister to put him out of his misery.

Vengeance nestles around Gliane’s heart and she’s willing to do anything to satisfy its hunger.
This is better -- I'm glad you've revealed the part about her brother. I think you can take it a bit further and tell us that she did in fact euthanize him (I'm guessing) but that afterward she wants revenge. If you can make your last sentence a moral dilemma, I think you'll have something very gripping.

Also, watch out for passive voice, awkward sentence construction, and the yoda effect.

Good luck!

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