Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

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GeeGee55
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 3

Post by GeeGee55 » February 27th, 2010, 10:29 pm

Danielsmi:

I think this is a big improvement. It's so much clearer and flows much better. Could still be tightened a bit, and remember we don't need to know everything, this is just a tease to get me to read on, as I understand queries. So this is sounding like something I would like to read. Comments below

Abby Bellen is an art curator at one of the world’s premier museums and has a happy (full) - I might cut this word life in the city. But when her cousin calls tell her that her father Will needs help Abby must reluctantly return to Lake Forrest to fulfill the promise to her mother to look after the man whom emotionally distanced himself from her after the her mother’s death.(Very long sentence that's hard to follow. Maybe: But when she receives a call that her father Will, needs help,as his only living offspringAbby must reluctantly return to Lake Forrest. Her promise to her dying mother to look after the man, who's become increasingly distant, I might cut this phrase, it seems awkward has come back to haunt her.) - I agree with CoachMT on this. Will resents the notion that he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother while disregarding her, and is disgusted at his decline into alcohol and self-neglect since her brother’s death. - you show this below with a much better sentence and we don't need to be told she's disgusted Michael was his protégé, the last potter in a long line producing Bellen pottery in Lake Forrest, a point her father made all too clear at Michael’s funeral. Drinking wine and denying the years have crept up on him, Will laments in his studio, oblivious to the emotional strain he has cast on Abby over the years. This is nicely said

This is just me, so don't take it to heart if it feels wrong to you, but I think what follows is too much information. You have the setup, young woman reluctantly returns home to look after ailing father because of a promise to her dead mother, resentments abound, she came intending to leave but something keeps her bound to this place. I think that's where it needs to go in a lot fewer words than you have below

Looking out the window of her family home Abby cannot help but notice the shadowy silhouette of the weeping willow her mother planted before she died, haunting the horizon in the dim lit sky, and of her father speaking to the tree from the log bench below. Curious what Will is saying, she goes out to the snowy shore, and discovers he is conversing with the tree about the colors of the approaching sunrise. Having thought her father emotionally bankrupt, this interaction renews Abby’s compassion for him and leads her to believe their relationship can be redeemed. Abby contemplates convincing her father to let her work by his side in the family studio. If Abby stays, her life and career will be put on hold indefinitely, but leaving could mean an end to their relationship and to the Bellen Studio where she worked and played as a child.

The Potter’s Daughter is an 84,000 word mainstream novel.

I know this looks like a lot of editing, but really it is just about tightening it up and making it smooth. Again, do what feels right to you

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danielsmi
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 3

Post by danielsmi » March 10th, 2010, 4:18 pm

Revision 4

Ok, so I stepped away for a bit for clarity. Having digested the critiques (thank you so much for the feedback) I am submitting a new revision. It's time to reload the query cart as it has been a week or two since the last set of rejections. Ideally this will be sent out in the next round.

Dear Ms. Agent,

Abby Bellen is an art curator at one of the world’s premier museums and has a happy life in the city. But when she receives a call that her father needs help she reluctantly returns to Lake Forrest, honoring the promise to her dead mother to look after the family. Will resents the notion he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother while disregarding her. Abby is disgusted at Will’s decline into alcohol and self-neglect since her brother’s death. Michael was his protégé, the last potter in a long line producing Bellen pottery in Lake Forrest, a point her father made all too clear at Michael’s funeral. Drinking wine and denying the years have crept up on him, Will laments in his studio oblivious to the emotional strain he has cast on Abby over the years.

On the shore of her family home the shadowy silhouette of the weeping willow her mother planted before she died, haunts the horizon of the dim lit morning sky. Through the window, Abby sees her father speaking to the tree from the log bench below. Curious, she goes out to the snowy shore to discover he is conversing with the tree about the colors of the approaching sunrise. Having thought her father emotionally bankrupt, Abby’s compassion for him renews and leads her to believe their relationship can be redeemed. Abby contemplates convincing her father to let her work by his side in the family studio. If Abby stays, her life and career will be put on hold indefinitely, but leaving could mean an end to their relationship and to the Bellen Studio where she worked and played as a child.

The Potter’s Daughter is an 84,000 word mainstream novel.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

Kind Regards,

GeeGee55
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 4

Post by GeeGee55 » March 11th, 2010, 12:07 am

danielsmi wrote:Revision 4

Ok, so I stepped away for a bit for clarity. Having digested the critiques (thank you so much for the feedback) I am submitting a new revision. It's time to reload the query cart as it has been a week or two since the last set of rejections. Ideally this will be sent out in the next round.

Dear Ms. Agent,

Abby Bellen, an art curator at one of the world’s premier museums, has a happy fulfilling? life in the city. But- cut when she receives a call that her father, Will, needs help she reluctantly returns to Lake Forrest, honoring her promise to her dead mother to look after the family- cut. Will resents the notion he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother while disregarding her. Abby is disgusted at Will’s decline into alcohol and self-neglect since her brother’s death. - I still don't think this sentence adds anything, it flows better without it Michael was his protégé, the last potter in a long line producing Bellen pottery in Lake Forrest, a point her father made all too clear at Michael’s funeral. Drinking wine and denying the years have crept up on him, Will laments in his studio oblivious to the emotional strain he has cast on Abby over the years.

On the shore of her family home the shadowy silhouette of the weeping willow her mother planted before she died, haunts the horizon of the dim lit morning sky. Through the window, Abby sees her father speaking to the tree from the log bench below. Curious, she goes out to the snowy shore to discover he is conversing with the tree about the colors of the approaching sunrise. - this is almost like a scene and I'm not sure it if it would be better condensed. Say perhaps - As Abby cares for Will and learns to have compassion for him she begins to wonder if their relationship can be redeemed. Having thought her father emotionally bankrupt, Abby’s compassion for him renews and leads her to believe their relationship can be redeemed. Abby contemplates convincing her father to let her work by his side in the family studio. If Abby stays, her life and career will be put on hold indefinitely, but if she leaves (for sentence structure) it could mean an end to their relationship and to the Bellen Studio where she worked and played as a child - this could be cut, not sure.

The Potter’s Daughter is an 84,000 word mainstream novel.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

Kind Regards,
This is very close. Good luck with your next round of queries. Definitely, an interesting story.

ahalaw
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 4

Post by ahalaw » March 11th, 2010, 7:25 am

I think you might be including too much. In an attempt to streamline the letter, I suggest cutting "Will resents the notion he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother while disregarding her. Abby is disgusted at Will’s decline into alcohol and self-neglect since her brother’s death." Instead, explain that there's a conflict in the family and then move on.

I also agree with GeeGee55's comment about including the scene in paragraph 2; while it showcases your writing, it just seems a little too ...I don't know, narrative. Also, your sentence structure in paragraph too is a bit repetitive, in that few of the sentences begin with the subject. For instance, "On the shore of her family home," "Curious," "Having thought her father emotionally." These are a lot of modifiers in a row. We don't see a standard subject/predicate sentence until 5/6 of the way through the paragraph. Also, another small consideration is that "Having thought her father emotionally" implies that it's "Abby’s compassion" that is "having thought." [Sorry if you have to reread that a couple times; it's jumbled.] So check that out.

Overall I think you have a very strong character-driven story here. You're also doing a great job of receiving and incorporating criticism into your revisions. Keep it up.

--ahalaw

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danielsmi
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by danielsmi » March 11th, 2010, 4:34 pm

Oh I do love feedback!!! Missing the forest through the trees becomes so easy when you are stirring word stew and golly do those modifiers begin to creep in. Can you tell my latest project is a thriller? Some of the 'edge of your seat' writing is accidentally influencing everything else I touch. Even my emails risk sounding near peril. ;P

Either way, I am going to ship the following revision in this round to see if I get a bite and will continue honing until I do. Thanks so much to everybody that has shared their insight.

Revision 5

Dear Ms. Agent,

Abby Bellen is an art curator at one of the world’s premier museums and has a happy fulfilling life in the city. When Abby receives a call that her father Will needs help she reluctantly returns to Lake Forrest to honor her promise to her dead mother. Will resents the notion he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother. Michael was his protégé, the last potter in a long line, a point her father made all too clear at Michael’s funeral. Drinking wine and denying the years have crept up on him, Will laments in his studio oblivious to the emotional strain he has cast on Abby over the years.

The shadowy silhouette of the weeping willow her mother planted before she died haunts the shore outside the Bellen studio. Will, Abby discovers, converses with the tree as he did with her mother. Abby’s compassion for Will renews and she believes their relationship can be redeemed. Abby contemplates convincing her father to let her work by his side in the studio. If Abby stays her life and career will be put on hold indefinitely, but if she leaves, it could mean an end to their relationship and to the Bellen Studio.

The Potter’s Daughter is an 84,000 word mainstream novel.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

Kind Regards,

GeeGee55
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by GeeGee55 » March 11th, 2010, 8:34 pm

Adding the bit to connect the dead mother with the tree makes it a lot better, for me. I have a friend in Australia who believes that trees have spirits. Good luck with it.

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eringayles
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by eringayles » March 19th, 2010, 6:29 am

danielsmi wrote:*Please go to the end of the thread to see Revision 5*

I have withheld comment from the other critiques because I have yet to get a request for even a partial. Out of 25 queries I have received 12 rejections. I have been following the Blog and comments for almost a year and think it is time I look for some insight.

Dear Ms. Agent,

- Personalized intro paragraph -

Abby Bellen’s relationship with her father has deteriorated since the death of her mother and the later loss of her brother. Honoring a promise to her mother, Abby has reluctantly returned home to Lake Forrest to her father Will, to find he does not want her help and resents Abby’s notion that she needs to put his life in order. He continues to lug heavy urns around his studio, drinking wine, and denying the years have crept up on him. Abby’s only respite from her father is with her cousin Caroline’s family and new romance Mitch Carlson.

Inevitably, the long buried rift between father and daughter surfaces and together they must face the failures of their misspent relationship. Concerned about her father and the family business, confused about the relationship with Mitch that has become more than a fling, Abby must choose between Lake Forrest and the life she thought full until her return home brought doubts. Choosing to leave would jeopardize reconciliation with her father and sever ties with Mitch. If Abby stays, the life and career that define her are put on hold indefinitely.

The Potter’s Daughter, an 84,000 word mainstream novel, is a touching tale of a father and daughter, ordinary people distanced by loss, and the man she is falling in love with. Like many great stories it is about people you know, and will speak to anyone who has left home with issues unresolved. What makes this novel special is that it is one of few stories written about a father and his adult daughter and it reveals a candid portrait of family tradition, loyalty, love, and remembrance.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I have a completed manuscript prepared to send you and look forward to your request.

Kind Regards,
I'm not critiquing, but was skimming the board and your title popped out. I was researching fantasy authors today and came across that title. You might need to check. :)

JTB
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by JTB » March 25th, 2010, 11:34 am

you’ve done your research or know about being a curator and indeed being a potter?

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JaEvans
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by JaEvans » March 25th, 2010, 12:11 pm

I am having a time of it getting my query off the ground as well so I do not propose to have the answers.

Abby Bellen is an art curator at one of the world’s premier museums and has a happy fulfilling life in the city. When Abby receives a call that her father Will needs help she reluctantly returns to Lake Forrest to honor her promise to her dead mother. What promise? Will resents the notion he needs help and Abby resents Will for favoring her brother. Michael was his protégé, the last potter in a long line, a point her father made all too clear at Michael’s funeral. Drinking wine and denying the years have crept up on him, Will laments in his studio oblivious to the emotional strain he has cast on Abby over the years. Maybe better to keep on the story between Abby and her father?

The shadowy silhouette of the weeping willow her mother planted before she died haunts the shore outside the Bellen studio. Will, Abby discovers, converses with the tree as he did with her mother. Abby’s compassion for Will renews and she believes their relationship can be redeemed. Abby contemplates convincing her father to let her work by his side in the studio. If Abby stays her life and career will be put on hold indefinitely, but if she leaves, it could mean an end to their relationship and to the Bellen Studio.

I guess for me I don't get a real sense of what is going on in this story, the conflict, storyline, etc. Your first try had some areas that needed revising but is on a completely different track and I am not sure that it works. I feel like I am begging for more detail about what is going on before I can decide if I want to read the novel. I don't know if this is helpful but I hope it is.

The Potter’s Daughter is an 84,000 word mainstream novel.

It would be an honor to work with you on this novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.
"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, a comedy for those who think" Horace Walpole

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danielsmi
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by danielsmi » March 25th, 2010, 12:53 pm

eringayles - the title is a WIP title. It is my understanding that most MS do not retain their title through publishing so I am not over thinking it at this time.

jtb - yes, I have both research and first hand knowledge of my material, though I use it mostly for my own backstory as the novel does not exploit either the curator position or ceramic artisan in depth. This is not to ceramics as Moby Dick is to whaling

Overall feedback - thank you so much everybody, though the latest feedback is contradictory from earlier posts it is all helpful. I am happy to report that after 20 rejections with other versions I received a request for a partial and full off this one. So I am quite pleased with this forum.

JTB
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by JTB » March 25th, 2010, 1:47 pm

why doesn't the daughter curate the father's work for him? is he a renowed potter? perhaps father and duaghter have similar characters?

ps
good luck with the partial

GeeGee55
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Re: Query Critique - The Potter's Daughter - Revision 5

Post by GeeGee55 » March 25th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Yay, Danielsmi! Hope they love your story.

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