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What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: February 18th, 2013, 10:26 pm
by LaurenNTaylor
Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen.

In the Woodlands, where everyone must follow the rules or is punished harshly, Rosa’s mischief and individuality brands her a leper. No one wants to know her except Joseph, a laid back, ever-grinning opposite, who falls in love with her impulsivity and dangerous attitude.

The Woodlands rose from the ashes of a bitter race war that decimated most of the planet. The Russian wilderness was the only scrap of land left habitable. Two hundred years later, the Superiors who control the concrete compounds where Rosa lives are obsessed with creating a ‘raceless’ race, convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Collecting troublemakers for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they should have lifted the claw when it passed over Rosa’s head.

When Rosa wakes pregnant, her memory lost in a fog of drugs, her only comfort is that she vomited on the creepy doctor’s pants. Her situation seems hopeless, deep underground and guarded closely she plots for an escape that won’t happen. But she doesn’t know Joseph’s out there, searching for her. And his love combined with her stubborn determination leads to a spectacular and brazen break out.

Joseph and Rosa’s reunion should be joyful but it’s not that simple. Her swollen belly holds the reason: The baby she despises, Joseph wants her to keep.

But any misgivings Rosa has are beaten into the ground with every desperate footstep. They have to run and they have to rely on each other. The Superiors want their property back and Rosa’s only hope is to make it to the Mongolian border before the jagged ice teeth of a Russian winter devours them.

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: February 19th, 2013, 10:02 am
by boatbuilder
Let me first say that I also have problems with queries. I will pass on what little I have learned.

There are many things that will cause an agent to push the form reject button during the three minutes that they use to put queries into their two piles. These are some.

1) Calling something the Woodlands and setting it in Russia creates a doubtful premise.

2) Every other dissenter is beaten but Rosa gets branded a leper? Have them marginalized in a consistent way, like shunning or other form of ostracizing.

3) If everything is wiped out where do the super secret high tech concrete piles come from?

4) If she was drugged and lost her memory how does she remember barfing on a doctor.

5) If she is intelligent and the opposite of the grinning Joesph does that make him the prototypical Stepford wife? How would he find a way to break in?

6) You need to clarify your conflict/resolution basis. It comes down to her hating the baby but Joseph not hating the baby. This needs more work than it being ground underfoot as they run for something. It isn't clear what

7) It is disjointed and confusing. If you confuse an agent you are toast. Start with re-reading your book and clarify a few things. Then write out your book in one sentence. From there go to 25 words and then flesh it up to 250-300. Work on a flow that will cause your prospective agent to be enticed. You need to be the head scratcher.

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: February 23rd, 2013, 7:39 am
by Sleeping Beauty
I actually strongly disagree with boatbuilder's appraisal, and I think this query's really good. The premise is solid, the threat to the characters immediate, and it's easy to try and imagine where the story might go. I'm actually wondering about your word count, since you don't mention it, and that can be quite the hurdle to agents asking for more.

I'd definitely delete the following lines:

"Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen." - It's disjointed from the rest of the plot you lay out.

"They have to run and they have to rely on each other." - Obvious from the sentence that immediately follows. It reads much bettee without it, too.

"Rosa's mischief and individuality brand her a leper." - I think the wording is clunky - I don't like mischief as a noun - and I had to reread the paragraph because I thought they were actually calling her a leper in order to chuck her out. Like boatbuilder said, mention her being shunned, and possibly for something more tangible than her personality.

Keep at it!
Allyse x

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: March 22nd, 2013, 6:26 am
by Kristina
Perhaps you should take a little bit of time to explain your writing style; as opposed to just the story line.The story line itself seems good. I just want to know what the ultimate reason for the book is. What kind of book is it? Is it funny, romantic, or straight forward? Is there something you want your reader to walk away with in the end?

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: March 25th, 2013, 1:24 pm
by Mark.W.Carson
Kristina wrote:Perhaps you should take a little bit of time to explain your writing style; as opposed to just the story line.The story line itself seems good. I just want to know what the ultimate reason for the book is. What kind of book is it? Is it funny, romantic, or straight forward? Is there something you want your reader to walk away with in the end?

For fiction, it is highly uncommon, and probably generally discouraged to give a reason for the book. It is written because the author wanted to, and such is the world of fiction. The questions you have don't really belong in a query. Normally they consist of ~3 paragraphs to hook the agent/editor into requesting further materials.

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: March 25th, 2013, 3:11 pm
by Kristina
Mark.W.Carson wrote:
Kristina wrote:Perhaps you should take a little bit of time to explain your writing style; as opposed to just the story line.The story line itself seems good. I just want to know what the ultimate reason for the book is. What kind of book is it? Is it funny, romantic, or straight forward? Is there something you want your reader to walk away with in the end?

For fiction, it is highly uncommon, and probably generally discouraged to give a reason for the book. It is written because the author wanted to, and such is the world of fiction. The questions you have don't really belong in a query. Normally they consist of ~3 paragraphs to hook the agent/editor into requesting further materials.
I think you must have misunderstood my intention. I wasn't proposing a dramatic alteration or a personal account as to the books inspiration. I think Lauren could spare one sentence to explain the intended audience. I believe it is a good idea for ever author to know who they are marketing their book to regardless of their genre.

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: March 25th, 2013, 4:35 pm
by Mark.W.Carson
Fair enough. I noticed that your own submission was related to a work of non fiction, and the wording in your reply made me think you were suggesting a similar tact. Any luck with your submissions, assuming you have made any?

Re: What's wrong with it, please be critical

Posted: March 25th, 2013, 6:28 pm
by Kristina
When I read over my original post I could see where it could have been easily misunderstood. I have not yet actually sent out any queries. I feel as if I have not sufficiently polished my letter and I am reluctant to send it out incomplete.