Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

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sbs_mjc1
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Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

Post by sbs_mjc1 » April 5th, 2011, 4:04 pm

We're trying to get this query polished and ready to send out (and thus stop bothering all you lovely people). Thanks in advance for the feedback.
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Winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unable to stop the chaos.

The Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But they find sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister goal: to end the war on their own terms and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

FORGOTTEN GODS, a historical fantasy novel, is complete at 96,000 words. I have published academic work on 18th-century Scottish history and am a Scottish Gaelic speaker. Currently, I am working on a postgraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, where I continue my work in Celtic Studies. My coauthor has an academic background in European military history.

Thank you for your consideration.
http://sb-writingtheother.blogspot.com/
FORGOTTEN GODS is out September 17th 2011! Check the blog for details.

AllieS
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Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

Post by AllieS » April 5th, 2011, 6:47 pm

Winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate Just saying "desperate" doesn't work for me. It can mean many things. I would change the phrasing to something like, "Desperate for victory..." and so on., Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.

Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage Why only a temporary advantage? These are magical beings, shouldn't they have a great advantage?, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unable to stop the chaos.

The Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them. But they find sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Could you show this instead of telling? Instead they harbor a sinister goal: to end the war on their own terms and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.

I'm getting multiple impressions here. The Scots made a deal with the sidhes, there are some lone sidhes who are wreaking havoc, the sidhes are working with the Scots but they only have a temporary advantage in the war. Then you say the sidhe leaders are unable to stop the lone sidhes, but that they aren't really allies with the Scots in the first place because they have their own agenda. I think I'm just a little confused on if there are any good sidhes, or if all of them have the same goal, because it seemed in the second paragraph that some of them were sticking to their agreement. Other than these confusions, I think it's a cool story and a pretty good query.

Bron
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Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

Post by Bron » April 6th, 2011, 8:08 am

This does sound like a good story. Apart from what Allie said though, I noticed that you use the word sidhe a lot. I know the whole story is about them and it's probably hard to avoid but can you think of an alternative, maybe a short descriptor occasionally?

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Quill
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Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

Post by Quill » April 6th, 2011, 11:12 am

sbs_mjc1 wrote: Winter, 1745. Scotland is losing a war for independence. Desperate, Robert Maxwell and his fellow soldiers beg for supernatural aid from the daione sìdhe, magical inhabitants of Scotland exiled in ancient times to a parallel plane of existence. The sìdhe ask to negotiate with the Scottish leadership—who rashly enter into a magical contract promising the sìdhe a permanent return to Britain in exchange for their help for the duration of the war.
This is good.

Not sure leadership can be considered a plural term (leadership who enter). Maybe say "leaders who enter" or "leadership which enters".

I'd trade the em dash for a comma after "leadership". The em dash doesn't seem to really signal a break.

I'd eliminate "the duration of" and just say "in the war". More straightforward.
Access to sìdhe soldiers and magical weapons gives the Scots a temporary advantage, but their agreement has no stipulations to prevent lone sìdhe creatures from hunting humans, stealing children, or riddling the countryside with hidden portals that can whisk passers-by into parallel dimensions. Worse still, the sìdhe leaders seem unable to stop the chaos.
Good.

Consider trading "has no stipulations" for "lacks stipulations", as being perhaps more elegant.

Consider removing "still" from "worse still". "Worse still" is bordering on query cliche. Is there another way to start the sentence?
The Scottish leadership attempt to understand the sidhe and find a way to live peacefully alongside them.
This is a bit wordy and awkward. I'm seeing "to accomplish (or elicit, or afford, or reach) a peaceful coexistence" rather than the subservient-sounding "live peacefully alongside them". Also, "attempt to understand" also sounds subservient and a bit clunky. Also, you are again making "leadership" a plural term (leadership attempt).

How about "The Scottish leaders work to understand the sidhe to find a way to attain a peaceful coexistence" or some such.

But they find sìdhe are not as disorganized as they appear. Instead they harbor a sinister goal: to end the war on their own terms and secure their claim on Britain, no matter what the cost to their human allies.
Good. But how about instead of "Instead they harbor" putting "And that they harbor". Because harboring a goal is not necessarily the alternative to disorganization.
FORGOTTEN GODS, a historical fantasy novel, is complete at 96,000 words. I have published academic work on 18th-century Scottish history and am a Scottish Gaelic speaker. Currently, I am working on a postgraduate degree at the University of Glasgow, where I continue my work in Celtic Studies. My coauthor has an academic background in European military history.

Thank you for your consideration.
Good strong bio.

Good luck with the project.

writermorris
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Re: Forgotten Gods Query (Yikes-- Again!)

Post by writermorris » April 8th, 2011, 9:01 am

I agree with a lot of the word-choice level edits suggested above. In general, I think you should comb each sentence and question "can I say the same thing while cutting any given word?" My best example is that you can cut "Desperate" from the second sentence without losing anything.

The bigger issue I have with the query is that I feel a little like I am watching ten minutes of a soccer game. By this I mean, I don't know anything about soccer. All I know is that I watch guys run from one end of the field to the other and back and people seem to get excited about this. I am getting some of the back and forth conflicts in your story but not a sense of the bigger picture. I am missing a frame.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
writermorris
writermorris.blogspot.com

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