MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

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MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 11th, 2010, 11:31 pm

Hi again. I got some great advice here for my query, which out of 5 queries garnered 1 request for a partial. But that eventually turned into a rejection, so now as I look to address the concerns raised by the agent's reply, I also want to see if I could improve my query.

Here's the new version I'm considering:

Dear [xx],

In the online video game Ages: High Seas, unemployed EMT Jaime Adricks has teamed up with Brazilian gamer Alessandra Rocha as their pirate and spy characters try to stop time-traveling Nazis from conquering the 17th century Caribbean. But when Jaime’s suicidal ex-girlfriend Afi disappears in Brazil, he and Alessandra team up in the real world on a journey to Manaus, the technoglitz capital of the Amazon, where Afi worked as a game designer for the company that makes Ages: High Seas.

As they dodge anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and computer-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for Alessandra, but if he’s going to win her heart, solve his friend’s disappearance, and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves, he’s going to have to weave between a digital fantasy and a reality more magical than he ever believed.

MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 110,000-word urban fantasy novel, inspired by my experiences with game design and my own journeys in Brazil. I graduated with a Creative Writing degree from Emory University in 2004, and have authored two dozen role-playing game products published by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

[personalization] I have included [requested material, if any]. Thank you for your time and consideration.





By way of comparison, here's the version I've been using.

Dear [xx],

Pirates versus time-traveling Nazis. That’s the latest gimmick of the multiplayer online video game Ages: High Seas, and it’s the reason Jaime Adricks quits playing. Though he was close to defeating the game’s archvillain, Jaime just can’t take the game seriously anymore. He thinks time-traveling Nazis are cheesy.

He won’t be able to stay away long, though. His suicidal ex-girlfriend calls for help from Brazil, which in the run up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics seethes with civil discontent as an international crisis brews off its coast. To navigate the volatile country and bring his old lover home, Jaime accepts the aid of Alessandra “Alê” Rocha, a beautiful Brazilian gamer whose World War II superspy character just recently smuggled her way into the 17th century Caribbean aboard a time-traveling U-Boat.

Between dodging anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and tech-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for this woman who wants his help to sink a fleet of internet Nazis. But with the media stoking the fires of war and an apparition of his missing ex-girlfriend blaming him for her death, Jaime must weave between a digital fantasy and a reality more magical than he ever believed if he’s going to solve his friend’s disappearance, win Alê’s heart, and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.

MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 113,000-word modern fantasy novel. I graduated with a Creative Writing degree from Emory University in 2004, and have authored two dozen role-playing game products published by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.

[personalization] I have included [requested material, if any]. Thank you for your time and consideration.


I figure the simplicity of the new one, which doesn't mention the political subplot, is better, especially since that subplot is kinda complicated, and probably best-explained in a longer synopsis. Which do you think is better?

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by Quill » July 12th, 2010, 12:30 am

ryanznock wrote:Hi again. I got some great advice here for my query, which out of 5 queries garnered 1 request for a partial. But that eventually turned into a rejection, so now as I look to address the concerns raised by the agent's reply, I also want to see if I could improve my query.

Here's the new version I'm considering:
The new version is more focused than the previous, but still has more detail than may be optimal. Let's see what can be stripped out:
In the online video game Ages: High Seas, unemployed EMT Jaime Adricks has teamed up with Brazilian gamer Alessandra Rocha as their pirate and spy characters try to stop time-traveling Nazis from conquering the 17th century Caribbean.
I like, but it's a lot. What is "EMT"? Will all agents know this? Is it needed? Can you omit "unemployed EMT"? The rest is very evocative and data-rich without being confusing. Good opening.
But when Jaime’s suicidal ex-girlfriend Afi disappears in Brazil, he and Alessandra team up in the real world on a journey to Manaus, the technoglitz capital of the Amazon, where Afi worked as a game designer for the company that makes Ages: High Seas.
Again good, but fat. Not bad fat, just hefty. Suggest eliminating "suicidal" and "Manaus, the" as concepts we don't need in this query, leaving the rest to shine.
As they dodge anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and computer-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for Alessandra,
I'd put a period after "Alessandra". It's a big moment and we've already slogged through many antagonists in this sentence. Of them, by the way, irate airline clerks works the least well. Usually it is the travelers who are irate and the clerks...haggard? Testy? Clerks seems weak, too. How about fed-up flight attendants?
but if he’s going to win her heart, solve his friend’s disappearance, and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves, he’s going to have to weave between a digital fantasy and a reality more magical than he ever believed.
Good sentiments, a few structural problems:

1. "Win her heart" is borderline cliche, and threatens to be too mild here, but it's serviceable. Any chance for something stronger? Makes him sound so wholesome; is he a sweet boy? I keep seeing it as "catch her heart" which probably doesn't make sense.

2. Not sure "weave" is the best word there. You might be thinking of it like weaving among traffic in a car. I see it being confused with weaving on a loom, even though you say "weave between". Any chance of coming up with a more modern, hopefully even game-y metaphor? Going to have to integrate, going to have to...

3. "believed" what? Believed existed. Seems truncated without saying what he believed.

4. Also, there seems a jump between first and second paragraphs. Be nice to know more about the main character(s)' personalities, not just the action. Maybe slip something of that in there.
MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 110,000-word urban fantasy novel, inspired by my experiences with game design and my own journeys in Brazil. I graduated with a Creative Writing degree from Emory University in 2004, and have authored two dozen role-playing game products published by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing.
Good strong paragraph in (hopefully) good support of a thick (for a debut book even though it's fantasy) manuscript (which I see you've trimmed by 3k words since the last query).

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by FK7 » July 12th, 2010, 12:46 am

Hey Ryan!

I too agree the new version is more focused, so that's great already.
ryanznock wrote: Dear [xx],

In the online video game Ages: High Seas, unemployed EMT Jaime Adricks has teamed up with Brazilian gamer Alessandra Rocha as their pirate and spy characters try to stop time-traveling Nazis from conquering the 17th century Caribbean. But when Jaime’s suicidal ex-girlfriend Afi disappears in Brazil, he and Alessandra team up in the real world on a journey to Manaus, the technoglitz capital of the Amazon, where Afi worked as a game designer for the company that makes Ages: High Seas. Are the events of the game pertinent to the ex's disappearance? I understand the people behind the game might, but at this point I'm thinking there should be a strong and important link between the events of RL plot versus the game's PLOT.

As they dodge anti-American protesters, irate airline clerks, and computer-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for Alessandra, but if he’s going to win her heart, solve his friend’s disappearance, and kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves, he’s going to have to weave between a digital fantasy and a reality more magical than he ever believed. I don't really see how the current reality is magical considering the aforementioned negative stuff. Seems more like hell to me, but if this implies he feels magical beside the girl he's falling for, isn't it slightly clichéd? ;) I like the first part of the paragraph because it's fresh and lets the voice through (and is 100x better than "as they dodge trouble") but winning her heart and the magical reality are a bit over the top. Also, it's not clear at this point how the events inside the game should affect the events in reality, if at all?

MEETING OF THE WATERS is a 110,000-word urban fantasy novel, inspired by my experiences with game design and my own journeys in Brazil. I graduated with a Creative Writing degree from Emory University in 2004, and have authored two dozen role-playing game products published by companies including Paizo, Goodman Games, and E.N. Publishing. Great paragraph. Everything is pertinent to the novel's premise and I don't see where you could save some space here.

[personalization] I have included [requested material, if any]. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yup, so I think the premise's clear and the first paragraph is strong. But I'd really like to know how the game and reality complement each other, or are they completely separate in relation? If so, it'd make the whole thing less interesting. I think if you cleared this up it would make the query a lot stronger (I'd request pages for sure).

I hope this helps!

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 12th, 2010, 1:21 am

Good points all around. Thank you from all four chambers of my heart. How about this?


In the online video game Ages: High Seas, Jaime Adricks has teamed up with Brazilian gamer Alessandra Rocha as their pirate and spy characters try to stop time-traveling Nazis from conquering the 17th century Caribbean. But when Jaime’s ex-girlfriend Afi disappears in Brazil, he and Alessandra team up in the real world on a journey to the technoglitz capital of the Amazon, where Afi was working as a programmer for the finale of Ages before she vanished.

As they dodge anti-American protesters, thuggish arcade security guards, and computer-savvy Amazonian brigands, Jaime starts to fall for Alessandra. But their romance is interrupted when a senator who moonlights as a video game Nazi tries to start a war in real life. If Jaime wants to discredit the senator, solve Afi’s disappearance, and convince Alessandra that a long distance relationship with an American can actually work, he’s going to have kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by GeeGee55 » July 12th, 2010, 8:50 pm

Well, I have to say I still like the first new version better. I love that line about weaving between the game and reality.
ryanznock wrote:Good points all around. Thank you from all four chambers of my heart. How about this?


In the video game Ages: High Seas, unemployed -I think you could keep this, adds a bit about the characterJaime Adricks has teamed up - teams up perhaps to keep it in present tense with Brazilian gamer Alessandra Rocha online as their pirate and spy characters try to stop time-traveling Nazis from conquering the 17th century Caribbean. But when Jaime’s ex-girlfriend Afi disappears in Brazil, he and Alessandra team up in the real world on a journey to the technoglitz capital of the Amazon, where Afi was working as a programmer for the finale of Ages before she vanished. - good

As they dodge anti-American protesters, thuggish arcade security guards, and computer-savvy Amazonian brigands - I think this list needs to progress from least to most threatening - whatever you might determine that to be, and thuggish arcade security guards is awkward, Jaime starts to fall for Alessandra. But their romance is interrupted when a senator who moonlights as a video game Nazi tries to start a war in real life. If Jaime wants to discredit the senator, solve Afi’s disappearance, and convince Alessandra that a long distance relationship with an American can actually work, he’s going to have kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves.
How about:
ryanznock wrote:if Jaime wants to kick those damned swastika-wearing anachronisms out of the game he loves, convince Alexandra that a long-distance relationship with an American can actually work, and solve his friend’s disappearance, he’s going to have to weave between a digital fantasy and a reality more magical than he ever believed.
I'm liking it Ryan. Good luck with the next round of submissions.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by Emily J » July 13th, 2010, 11:32 am

I know what an EMT is, but if he is unemployed do you need to mention his former job? Just a thought.

Also, I feel like you are really missing an opportunity for an attention grabbing start. Just a thought, but you could start with talking about fighting Nazis in the 17th century and then go into the explanation that it is all an MMORPG (i hope i got the acronym right). Just a thought tho!

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by wilderness » July 13th, 2010, 2:48 pm

I think I liked version 2 better than version 3. (Your original is version 1).

In the newer version (version 3) there are 2 plots, Afi's disappearance and the senator. How are they related? Also, since they are in Brazil, I'm confused. Is it an American senator or Brazilian?

In version 2, why does the MC still be play the game in Brazil? How does the game help him track down Afi?

Basically, in all versions I feel that everything is not tied together. But it sounds like a very interesting story and I thought version 2 was pretty solid.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 13th, 2010, 6:25 pm

What you have detected is ultimately one of the flaws of the novel that I'm trying to work out. The ending's complicated.

So it's 2016. The Olympics are about to start in Rio, and Jaime goes to Brazil to find his ex-girlfriend Afi, who programmed for the game that he and Alessandra play: pirates vs. time traveling Nazis. There's anti-American sentiment in Brazil, because China and the US are trying to fight for who gets dibs on buying cheap Brazilian oil. One American senator -- who plays a Nazi occultist in the video game (but he keeps that little fact secret) -- is pushing for the US military to get involved if China won't back down. This threat of violence between the US and Brazil creates strife between Jaime and Alessandra, but they have a budding romance as they road-trip in search of Afi. Along the way they game together, because it's their hobby, and they are regularly antagonized by the Nazi occultist (and his ninja henchman, because c'mon, pirates vs. ninjas).

When they finally do get to where Afi was last seen and find a suicide note, Jaime is torn up, and decides to go home. Just then the news gets plastered with the story of an American security guard shooting a Brazilian athlete, which provokes riots. Feeling abandoned by Jaime, Alessandra tries to help protect some American Olympic athletes they've met from the rioters. She ends up in a building that gets surrounded by rioters.

Jaime is watching live TV, and the American senator/internet Nazi is pushing for the military to mount a rescue mission for the endangered American citizens, when simultaneously he, Jaime, and Alessandra (plus hundreds of other players) get invites to the finale of the in-game plot thread (with time traveling Nazis fighting pirates to try to get the Fountain of Youth). Jaime sees the senator get the message, and pieces together a few clues to realize that this guy who's causing trouble for him in real life is also his nemesis in the game. Instead of flying home, Jaime drives through the riots, does heroic stuff to get into Alessandra's building, where they both realize it's stupid to let little things like international politics get in the way of a relationship. Then the climax is the two of them in the game, engaging in a Hollywood special effects budget action sequence to stop the Nazis and unmask the senator in order to shame him and hopefully keep him from provoking a war.

I think the ending needs some fixing, but I haven't gotten many people to read it, so I'm not sure what will work.

Thanks for getting me thinking about this.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by wilderness » July 13th, 2010, 7:46 pm

OK, the way you've just described it makes sense to me. It is quite intricate, but I think it could work really well in your novel!

So the way I interpret it is that Afi missing is the inciting incident, but the main conflict is preventing a war and saving Allesandra from the rioters.

I think the logical flow goes like this:
1. Afi is missing
2. Jaime travels to Brazil to find her with the help of Allesandra.
3. To let off steam, they play the game. They are antagonized by an online nazi.
4. They find the suicide note, and Jaime goes home
5. Allesandra stays and gets stuck in a rioting building
6. Clues lead Jaime to realize the nazi in the game is really the American senator provoking the war
7. He realizes he can stop the war by revealing the senator's online alter-ego
8. He saves Allesandra and they work together to bring down the senator and stop the war

I think just being explicit about the transitions, the causes and effects, will help tie it all together. Also, since Afi programmed the game, you could make it so that they are somehow using the game to find clues to her whereabouts. Of course, that might require too many rewrites. Good luck!

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 13th, 2010, 9:07 pm

Hmmm. Intriguing suggestions. This thread has actually given me some excellent ideas for rewrites that could make the story flow better. Thank you very much.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 13th, 2010, 9:31 pm

GeeGee55 wrote:Well, I have to say I still like the first new version better. I love that line about weaving between the game and reality.
I liked the line too because it explains what Jaime ends up doing at the end of the story. Unfortunately, I realize now that it's not a very clear mental image, and I'm worried that might turn some people off.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by FK7 » July 13th, 2010, 11:41 pm

ryanznock wrote:What you have detected is ultimately one of the flaws of the novel that I'm trying to work out. The ending's complicated.

So it's 2016. The Olympics are about to start in Rio, and Jaime goes to Brazil to find his ex-girlfriend Afi, who programmed for the game that he and Alessandra play: pirates vs. time traveling Nazis. There's anti-American sentiment in Brazil, because China and the US are trying to fight for who gets dibs on buying cheap Brazilian oil. One American senator -- who plays a Nazi occultist in the video game (but he keeps that little fact secret) -- is pushing for the US military to get involved if China won't back down. This threat of violence between the US and Brazil creates strife between Jaime and Alessandra, but they have a budding romance as they road-trip in search of Afi. Along the way they game together, because it's their hobby, and they are regularly antagonized by the Nazi occultist (and his ninja henchman, because c'mon, pirates vs. ninjas).

When they finally do get to where Afi was last seen and find a suicide note, Jaime is torn up, and decides to go home. Just then the news gets plastered with the story of an American security guard shooting a Brazilian athlete, which provokes riots. Feeling abandoned by Jaime, Alessandra tries to help protect some American Olympic athletes they've met from the rioters. She ends up in a building that gets surrounded by rioters.

Jaime is watching live TV, and the American senator/internet Nazi is pushing for the military to mount a rescue mission for the endangered American citizens, when simultaneously he, Jaime, and Alessandra (plus hundreds of other players) get invites to the finale of the in-game plot thread (with time traveling Nazis fighting pirates to try to get the Fountain of Youth). Jaime sees the senator get the message, and pieces together a few clues to realize that this guy who's causing trouble for him in real life is also his nemesis in the game. Instead of flying home, Jaime drives through the riots, does heroic stuff to get into Alessandra's building, where they both realize it's stupid to let little things like international politics get in the way of a relationship. Then the climax is the two of them in the game, engaging in a Hollywood special effects budget action sequence to stop the Nazis and unmask the senator in order to shame him and hopefully keep him from provoking a war.

I think the ending needs some fixing, but I haven't gotten many people to read it, so I'm not sure what will work.

Thanks for getting me thinking about this.
Dude... this concept is brilliant. I absolutely love it. Seriously, I'd read this for sure. I might be biased as a gamer, but I think the senator playing an evil Nazi in a game is a super twist. Where it might not work is why are the two fighting it out in the game? Even if he beats him on the PC screen (I do hope it's a PC? PC > consoles :D) how does he get what he wants in the real world (ie. expose the senator)?

I did not get the political play at all in the original query and since your world building appears to be very well thought out but massive, it'll be though to cram it in a 300 word query (I know the pain). I think a query letting a political thriller vibe and hint at a double life in the video game (maybe where the senator meets his conspirators to discuss his evil plans?) would give the spin you want.

My 2¢.

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Re: MEETING OF THE WATERS -- 5 rejections means revision time!

Post by ryanznock » July 16th, 2010, 2:57 pm

I posted a new synopsis - viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1775 - with some changes I plan to make based on comments made about the query, and some other flaws I've noticed. If anyone can spare time to read the synopsis, maybe the insight could help me work out a query that captures it all.

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