I am still paying attention and listening to your suggestions. I just disagree with a lot of them. Maybe I'm wrong -- I know I'm pigheaded -- but I trust my instincts and what I've learned from other sources, and I have to weigh them against the advice I've gotten here.
A lot of your advice has been good. I don't like it when people push back at criticism, but I feel the need to explain to you why I didn't take all the advice offered.
KappaP wrote:like someone else said, I am still basically under the impression they are actual donkeys. Since it's sci-fi, I have really no reason to suspect that's not true. Also, I just have absolutely no frame of reference about annnnny of this. A secret cabal for what? Why are they recruiting? And recruiting for what? I mean, I honestly could read this and understand it to mean a group of smart donkeys is recruiting Maggie to sell lollipops at the corner store. You're trying to sell sci-fi-- you have to understand that I am reading this under the assumption that my assumptions about reality and the world are incorrect and, as a result, I need you to fill in details. I don't get any details here.
I have a hard time understanding this. After labeling them as a cabal, explaining that they are mad geniuses, and giving examples of three of them in the next paragraph, I don't see how any reasonable person would leap to the assumption that actual donkeys were being presented here.
Can I make it clearer without several hundred words of explanation? Hmmn. I'll try:
They are a cabal of insane geniuses who call themselves the Platinum Donkeys, and they are organizing the damaged and deranged rejects from society in an attempt to conquer the world.
That's a clumsy sentence IMHO, and it misrepresents the plot just a little, but does it help in your opinion?
I know your next question: Why? The answer is self evident: They're insane
. I don't know how much more that can be emphasized. :)
by what/who? this is realllll ambiguous and in no way illuminating.
Well, that was the 'showing' solution. The 'telling' solution is to label it: Earth is a dystopia. I don't think it's a good idea to come out and say that, however. If you need a rationale and a person to blame for extreme social control, then I don't think we live in the same world. :)
A key component of being insane is an unawareness that you are-- by social definitions-- insane. That's what makes insane people insane: they aren't aware of the contextual inappropriateness of their actions and don't consider the consequences. An insane person would never try to find the cause/cure for their insanity because they wouldn't acknowledge that there is a cause/cure for a condition they don't believe they have.
This is my biggest disagreement. As someone who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, I know for a fact that one can suffer compulsions that lead them into violent, illogical behavior, after which they are wracked with guilt and knowledge of what kind of monster lives inside them. When you make this advice, I just have to shrug and say that I think I understand insanity better than you, and I'll keep the language as-is.
Why do they have power? What type of control do they exert? Why are they at all a viable threat? You mention them once at the beginning of the query and again at the bottom but you don't in any way tie them into the WORLD, only to the character. So I have no context to understand this conflict and the stakes.
Well, that's why I mentioned the precognitive megalomaniac and the doomsday devices, to give a sense of their powers and threats. I don't know how to make this better. There are a dozen donkeys in the novel, each with their own personality disorder, destructive specialty, and grandiose plan to ruin the world. I can't list them all here.
If I were making a pop-culture elevator pitch, this is "A homocidal Girl Genius
stuck in Orwell's 1984
as a double agent within the League of Extraordinary Psychopaths
Second, if she's destroying the world.... aren't they included in the world? How is she planning on ruling as queen in a world that doesn't exist and why would she be interested in that? This choice is so vague and confusing that it rings meaningless to me. You need specificity here BIG time.
You make a good point here. Maybe 'ruin the world' is better. (In the book they only 'destroy' major cities.) But 'destroy' is a much more evocative word, and I think it fits well enough. Maybe 'destroy society'? Meh, that's weak.
Right now the "this is my book" part of the query is 105 words long. Nathan has said, and I've seen this reiterated other places, that most solid queries bank between 250-350. Use those extra words-- shorter is not better if it's not illuminating on the work. So far, this query reads as a lot of weird details and no way for me to cohere them together into a story.
You might be right. But I personally don't like queries that long. I'd rather get the introductions over with as soon as possible, and let them get to reading an excerpt. I've also gotten good advice from other quarters to keep the query short and sweet, and I have a lot of trust for the people who gave me that advice.
I hope this explains why I'm selective in the advice I take, Kappa and Josin and everyone else. I'm not ignoring you, I just disagree in some cases.
But please, don't let that stop you from giving advice/suggestions/insults! :) As I said, criticism cannot hurt me, and I welcome any help that I can get.