CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

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MegSue
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CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by MegSue » January 13th, 2013, 5:56 pm

I appreciate any criticism on this; it's a first draft and I urge you to rip it to shreds!

Dear Agent:

Cecily Delahay is a Gifted harpist, a musician who possesses the ability to bring seven clockwork hummingbirds to life when she performs. And she's found herself a musical patron, the Duke of Fairfax, after only one audition. The Duke seems like the perfect patron at first – wealthy, well connected, and in possession of a fine mustache. But Cecily soon learns that the Duke's patronage comes with its own set of difficulties, and she finds herself inadvertently involved in his distressingly eccentric affairs.

Cecily, not blessed with much patience for eccentrics, ought to have left the Duke and sought out new patronage at once... but there's something about the Duke that draws her in. He's young and decidedly handsome, but there's also a dark side to him that Cecily feels compelled to investigate.

Even so, continuing as the Duke's harpist is a trying affair, and Cecily finds herself continually perturbed. For one, there's a persistent cellist who may know more about the Duke's past than he's willing to let on. Then there's the matter of the Duke's dead sister, a woman whose death may not have been the simple accident that it seems. And most frustratingly, Cecily finds herself more and more attracted to the Duke, despite his terribly tied cravats.

When Cecily is invited to perform at Prince Darryl's Holiday Ball, she thinks she's nearly reached the pinnacle of her musical career. But when her performance at the Ball puts Cecily at the center of a murder attempt gone foul, and the Duke stands accused, she has only one option. She must accept the patronage of Prince Darryl, the most influential musical patron in the city – and say goodbye to the Duke of Fairfax.

Cecily feels utterly betrayed by the Duke's unexpected criminal inclinations. The most important thing now is her musical career, and surely there's nothing she can do to turn things around for her accused patron. Not even her Gift can help the Duke now... can it?

CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR is a 97,000 word fantasy. I've received an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel from Brunel University West London, and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

chrissicollins
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Re: CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by chrissicollins » January 13th, 2013, 8:11 pm

Hi,

My edits are in blue, feedback is in red and green means I am uncertain.

Cecily Delahay is a Gifted harpist, a musician who possesses the ability to bring seven clockwork hummingbirds to life when she performs. She finds herself a musical patron, the Duke of Fairfax, after only one audition. The Duke seems to be the perfect fit – wealthy, well connected, and in possession of a fine mustache. But Cecily soon learns that the Duke's patronage comes with its own set of difficulties Set of difficulties is vague and means nothing to me. Either clearly state what these difficulties are or cut that from the paragraph, and she finds herself inadvertently involved in his distressingly eccentric affairs.

The above paragraph has interesting voice and I do want to read on. However, I don't understand why her ability to bring the clockwork hummingbirds to life is important. Including this information in the first sentence leads me to believe it will be detrimental to the plot, not to mention the title, but I don't understand why. Either cut it or explain it.

Cecily, with no patience for eccentrics, really ought to leave the Duke and seek out new patronage at once . . . but there's something about the Duke that draws her in Again, "something about the Duke that draws her in" is vague and sounds like the plot of every other book ever written. Write specifics or say nothing at all. He's young and decidedly handsome, but there's a dark side to him that Cecily feels compelled to investigate.

The above paragraph doesn't tell me anything specific about the plot of the story. This is where queries start to blend into the crowd. Say something clear and specific that makes me desperately want to know what happens next.

Even so, continuing as the Duke's harpist is a trying affair, and Cecily finds herself continually perturbed. For one, there's a persistent cellist who may know more about the Duke's past than he's willing to let on. Then there's the matter of the Duke's dead sister, a woman whose death may not have been the simple accident that it seems. And most frustratingly, Cecily finds herself more and more attracted to the Duke, despite his terribly tied cravats.

When Cecily is invited to perform at Prince Darryl's Holiday Ball, she seems destined to reach the pinnacle of her musical career. But when her performance at the Ball puts Cecily at the center of a murder attempt gone foul, and the Duke stands accused, she has only one option. She must accept the patronage of Prince Darryl, the most influential musical patron in the city – and say goodbye to the Duke of Fairfax.

Cecily feels utterly betrayed by the Duke's unexpected criminal inclinations. The most important thing now is her musical career, and surely there's nothing she can do to turn things around for her accused patron. Not even her Gift can help the Duke now... can it? This paragraph uses a lot of words to say very little. I don't think the Gift has been approached correctly in this query. If the stakes of your novel lie with her Gift, don't give it a few throwaway mentions, or your climax seems weak.

I think you have captured the tone and voice of the story very well, but you just need to clarify a few points. Explain the Gift a little further, make the stakes clearer and cut away words that are unneeded. The story itself seems wonderful.

Best of luck!

Sleeping Beauty
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Re: CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by Sleeping Beauty » January 21st, 2013, 8:43 am

I don't have a whole lot to add except for the fact that I think your book sounds excellent! I'm sure someone will snap you right up. :)
The only real problem with this pitch is its lengthiness - I really like that the language you've employed seems like it will be reflected in the book, but sometimes it's necessary to cut some of our cleverest wordplay for the sake of brevity. Pretend you're on Twitter and give yourself a word limit - I find if I really want to post a tweet that's too long, I'll find a way to re-word it without sacrificing the point.
Hope all goes well!
- Allyse

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wilderness
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Re: CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by wilderness » January 21st, 2013, 10:30 pm

I pretty much agree with Sleeping Beauty. The query is a bit wordy, and I think you repeat a few things, like how eccentric the Duke is. You can probably cut it down. One other thought is that it doesn't totally sound like a fantasy. Besides the part about the clockwork hummingbirds, it kind of sounds like a historical romance. Not sure that's a big deal, but something to think about. But ultimately it sounds cool and I would be interested in reading more.

nol_c
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Re: CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by nol_c » January 22nd, 2013, 9:27 pm

MegSue wrote:I appreciate any criticism on this; it's a first draft and I urge you to rip it to shreds!

Dear Agent:

Cecily Delahay is a Gifted harpist, a musician who possesses the ability to bring seven clockwork hummingbirds to life when she performs.This mean nothing to me since I have no idea what bringing 'the seven clockwork hummingbirds to life means' And she's found herself a musical patron, the Duke of Fairfax, after only one audition. The Duke seems like the perfect patron at first – wealthy, well connected, and in possession of a fine mustache I **love** the fine mustache phrase!. But Cecily soon learns that the Duke's patronage comes with its own set of difficulties, and she finds herself inadvertently involved in his distressingly eccentric affairs.This last sentence is too vague. What exactly is difficult about the Duke? 'distressingly eccentric affairs' tells me nothing. What are they?

Cecily, not blessed with much patience for eccentrics, ought to have left the Duke and sought out new patronage at once... but there's something about the Duke that draws her in. He's young and decidedly handsome, but there's also a dark side to him that Cecily feels compelled to investigate.I would cut this paragraph - it doesn't tell us about the plot and you've already told us about the Duke.

Even so, continuing as the Duke's harpist is a trying affair, and Cecily finds herself continually perturbed.This sentence tells us nothing - cut it. For one, there's a persistent cellist who may know more about the Duke's past than he's willing to let on.Again, tells us nothing. Then there's the matter of the Duke's dead sister, a woman whose death may not have been the simple accident that it seems.Better but still too vague. And most frustratingly, Cecily finds herself more and more attracted to the Duke, despite his terribly tied cravats.This whole paragraph could be summed up in this sentence. I would add this idea to the first paragraph and cut the rest.

When Cecily is invited to perform at Prince Darryl's Holiday Ball, she thinks she's nearly reached the pinnacle of her musical career. But when her performance at the Ball puts Cecily at the center of a murder attempt gone foul, and the Duke stands accused, she has only one option. She must accept the patronage of Prince Darryl, the most influential musical patron in the city – and say goodbye to the Duke of Fairfax.I feel like this paragraph is getting at the meat of your plot. But you're skimping here. Why in the world would her performance put her at the center of a murder attempt gone foul, and why must she accept the patronage of Prince Darryl?

Cecily feels utterly betrayed by the Duke's unexpected criminal inclinations. The most important thing now is her musical career,why? and surely there's nothing she can do to turn things around for her accused patron. Not even her Gift can help the Duke now... can it?Still not exactly sure what her Gift is.

CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR is a 97,000 word fantasy. I've received an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel from Brunel University West London, and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
So I think you have a really good story here, but it's kind of hard to tell because you beat around the bush so much in your query. Vague hints at the plot are not effective. In my opinion you need to give us a better idea of the plot without losing your voice, which actually comes through pretty nicely.

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SariBelle
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Re: CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR (fantasy)

Post by SariBelle » February 1st, 2013, 12:38 am

Hi MegSue, I think you've already been given a lot of good advice from the other commenters, but I'll see if I can add anything new!

I love how strongly the voice comes across in your query but, as has been mentioned above, it does need to be shortened. I'm also a bit confused at the fantasy nature of the story, and I think this needs to come through more strongly. What is her Gift? Is it only the ability to make 7 hummingbirds sing. I understand that this is adding to the quirkiness of the voice, but if it creates confusion then it is also detracting from the query.
MegSue wrote: Cecily Delahay is a Gifted harpist, a musician who possesses the ability to bring seven clockwork hummingbirds to life when she performs. I think this needs to be referred to again later or cut. As it stands it's a bit confusing, and the reader might assume that's the extent of her Gift. And she's found herself a musical patron, the Duke of Fairfax, after only one audition. The Duke seems like the perfect patron at first – wealthy, well connected, and in possession of a fine mustache nice detail. But Cecily soon learns that the Duke's patronage comes with its own set of difficulties, and she finds herself inadvertently involved in his distressingly eccentric affairs. As someone earlier mentioned, this is very vague. Concrete details go a lot further in a query (as in the 'fine mustache'). What difficulties? What eccentric affairs? You don't have to list them all, just paint a picture that will make someone want to read on.

Cecily, not blessed with much patience for eccentrics, ought to have left the Duke and sought out new patronage at once... but there's something about the Duke that draws her in again, 'something' is another vague word and one to avoid as much as possible. He's young and decidedly handsome, but there's also a dark side to him that Cecily feels compelled to investigate. More detail here would be good. What 'dark side'? Has she seen him speaking with dodgy looking people in dark alleyways? Does he avoid questions about his past? What has made her suspicious?

Even so, continuing as the Duke's harpist is a trying affair, and Cecily finds herself continually perturbed.This is repeating info from a previous para For one, there's a persistent cellist who may know more about the Duke's past than he's willing to let on.I don't think it's necessary to bring this character into the query. He's not mentioned again and it doesn't really add anything. Then there's the matter of t The Duke's dead sister, a woman whose death may not have been the simple accident that it seems. I would run this on from the previous para, as I assume it relates to the Duke's dark side? And most frustratingly, Cecily finds herself more and more attracted to the Duke, despite his terribly tied cravats.Again, I'd cut this line as it's already said above - the duke draws her in, he's handsome, etc.

When Cecily is invited to perform at Prince Darryl's Holiday Ball, she thinks she's nearly reached the pinnacle of her musical career. But when her performance at the Ball puts Cecily at the center of a murder attempt gone foul, and the Duke stands accused, she has only one option. She must accept the patronage of Prince Darryl, the most influential musical patron in the city – and say goodbye to the Duke of Fairfax.

Cecily feels utterly betrayed by the Duke's unexpected criminal inclinations. The most important thing now is her musical career, and surely there's nothing she can do to turn things around for her accused ex-patron. Not even her Gift can help the Duke now... can it? As mentioned above, it's very unclear what her Gift is, and the fantasy element in this story comes through very weakly in the query. How can her gift help the Duke?

CLOCKWORK IN E MINOR is a 97,000 word fantasy. I've received an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel from Brunel University West London, and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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