Sunday, April 20, 2008

Query / Pitch Critique.... Part I

The first post in this series is here. If you missed it when it was first posted, haven’t had a chance yet to post your pitch in comments, or decide after reading this one that you’d like to post your own pitch for critique, feel free to drop a comment with your pitch at the first post and I can include it in subsequent crits. Originally I planned on doing one blog post with any pitch / query critiques that were wanted – but I realized how long that one post would be, so it’ll be a series, for as long as you’re all interested in working on them.

Before posting my critique, I thought I’d point out a few things for anyone who needs to do a little digging on how to better hone their query. Most of the best advice on query and pitch writing that I’ve gotten over the last year or so has come about through blogging – it’s more than just a time suck, though as Josie points out from her time with Donald Maass, if it scratches the itch it can be detrimental.

Here are a few blog references for those looking to see how a query / pitch might work best, from some people with much better experience than I:

Most of the agents in my sidebar have done posts on how to write (or how not to write) a query – if you search their sites, you’ll find some fabulous advice.

BookEnds held a series of pitch crits that I learned a great deal from... my own pitch has changed significantly since then, but I knew I was at least on the right track there... there are numerous posts and a significant amount of great feedback from writers in the comments, but it’s worth the time to read through if you haven’t seen it yet.

Our own JJdebenedictis, who recently gained representation, held The Goblin’s Crucible, and many pitches were improved. (Check out JJ’s winning query letter for a good example of what’s worked).

The lovely and talented Moonrat held a Book Blurb contest that was stellar in not only developing pitch but also a working start at synopsis... her contest was to give a back cover blurb (your pitch), jacket flap copy (your synopsis minus the ending), and a tagline.

Okay.... and now it’s time.... our very first entry:

Dear Perfect Agent;

I’m guessing this was a typo, but just in case, it should be a colon (:) or comma (,) depending on your preference or the agent’s

(Personalized note about agent.)

I generally include genre and word count in the opening paragraph as well, that way you don’t have to include the line towards the end, “Paladin's Pride is a fantasy novel, which is complete at 130,000 words.” Which seems out of place and a little awkward stuck in between the pitch and bio sections. I try to keep it to one or two sentences particular to the agent and why I am querying them, usually I can tie it neatly in with my genre – for an example with yours, you might mention a book they rep in your genre and draw a parallel between the writing style or subject matter and your own and finish the sentence with, ‘I thought my fantasy novel would be a good fit for your list’ or ‘a good fit for representation’ I finish that small paragraph with a straight forward sentence on word count – if you’ve already mentioned the genre, you might use, “PALADIN’S PRIDE is complete at 130,000 words.” – When you reference the name of your novel, most sources state that ALL CAPS is the correct format for query.

Just to give you an over-view before I get into specifics, this is too long with too much description. Your story sounds both interesting and fun, but a reader might not wade through all the extra verbiage to find that out. You want your pitch paragraph to be just that, one paragraph – two at the most, but it needs to be concise and it needs to intrigue the reader – the agent doesn’t need to know the whole story from your query, they only need their interest piqued. Look at some of the back cover blurbs on your favorite books – the really good blurbs will give you a great indication of what your pitch paragraphs should look like.


The king is missing. The infant prince is being poisoned. Guards loyal to the king are systematically exiled or killed. It's a dangerous time for a sixteen-year-old girl to join a unit connected to the king's elite Horse Guards, some of his most loyal troops. It's especially dangerous for a girl who has caught the eye of a demon, a pirate and the demon caller.

Gentyl has always dreamed of joining the Horse Guards when she was old enough. However, after the last of the missing king's personal guards is executed like a common criminal, her parents enroll her in an exclusive healing school, where she will be protected. Gentyl thinks her prayers have been answered and she has found favor with the Divine One, when she is accidentally assigned to a military unit instead.

On the verge of civil war and ethnic cleansing, her kingdom is rapidly approaching a disaster unless the king is found. Gentyl is assigned to watch over the king's seemingly senile wizard, but when he includes her in his efforts to solve the disappearance of the king and his guards, she learns Saerowyn is not nearly as helpless or addled as he wants people to think he is.

She survives an assassin's blade, court intrigue, a battle with an undead champion, the pirate's attentions, and the demon's attempts to possess her, but her greatest challenge may be conquering her temper and pride.

I like your opening three sentences, they’re punchy and to the point and they draw you right in. The last paragraph has good potential, too, it’s everything in the middle that needs to be edited down. I’m going to give you a brief rewrite at the end, feel free to keep or discard whatever you like. Obviously, you know your story a heck of a lot better than I do. Another thing to keep in consideration is the fact that your own voice, the voice of your story, needs to be as present in the query as possible.

Another thing I noticed, and this may be a personal thing but I’ll include it anyway – the name, Saerowyn, for a wizard sounds too close to Sauron from Lord of the Rings to me. It was the first thing I thought of – though others might disagree.


Paladin's Pride is a fantasy novel, which is complete at 130,000 words.

I was a staff writer for Speedhorse Racing Report for seventeen years. During that time I wrote weekly stories about Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa racing in Canada, Mexico and the United States. I also wrote several stories about the history of various tracks and articles about equine health. One of my stories was nominated for the AQHA Sprint award.

I like your bio; you keep it right on track tying your publishing history into the specifics of the Horse Guard aspect of your story. The only thing I might do differently is to list the story that was nominated for the award by name, giving the date or year of the nomination.

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Julie Weathers

My Pitch Re-Write:

The king is missing. The infant prince is being poisoned. Guards loyal to the crown are systematically exiled or killed. It's a dangerous time for sixteen-year-old, Gentyl, to join the king's elite Horse Guards, especially since she’s caught the eye of a demon, a pirate, and the demon caller.

When Gentyl’s assignment includes watching over a senile wizard, she’s drawn into his clandestine efforts to solve the disappearance of the king and his guards. She can survive an assassin's blade, court intrigue, and the demon's attempts to possess her, but her greatest challenge may be in conquering her own temper and pride.


Okay, as I said earlier, use or discard any of my rewrite / crit as you see fit. I’ve cut a lot of information that you may think is more important than what I’ve kept – you know your story better than I do, so it’s really all about how you are comfortable pitching it – the main point is to narrow down exactly what you want to say to entice a reader, rather than giving it away plot point by plot point.

A very big thank you to Julie for putting her query up for public critique. I’m going to open the comments here to you guys – add in all of your thoughts, crits, whatever is constructive to our author. As I said in the first post, honest crits are always welcome, but nothing derogatory.

If you all are still interested in my opinion, feel free to hit the link at the top for the first post on Query / Pitch crits and drop your own in my comments for feedback....

31 comments:

jjdebenedictis said...

Um. Brace yourself. I am sorry, but I have a bunch of things to nitpick here.

The first three sentences are passive voice, and thus create a bad impression right at the start of your query letter. However, I actually think that first paragraph should be scrapped, because it's all backstory and some of it (the final sentence in particular) doesn't relate in any obvious way to anything else in the query. That paragraph is a weak point because it creates questions that don't get answered and it doesn't clarify very much.

Likewise, the final paragraph is a vague laundry list of plot points and it doesn't give any feel for the story, so I think it should be scrapped too.

In the second paragraph, I'm finding it difficult to figure out what Gentyl's dilemma is. Does she want to be a Horse Guard, but can't now that the political situation is so unstable? Or is she already in the Horse Guard, and thus in danger until her parents find a way to protect her? I'm pretty confused about what's happening here.

The language in the second paragraph isn't as tight as it could be, either, and that means you're wasting space that could be used to develop your plot better. You could cut the paragraph down from almost 70 words to the following 45:

Gentyl always dreamed of joining the Horse Guards. However, after the last of the missing king's personal guards is executed, her parents enroll her in an exclusive healing school. Gentyl thinks her prayers have been answered until she is accidentally assigned to a military unit.

In the third paragraph, you get close to explaining what the point of the story is, but you don't quite manage it. What do Saerowyn and Gentyl need to accomplish? Why? What are the stakes? What obstacles do they face? (And please be more specific than just saying demons and pirates show up at some point.)

In addition to obstacles, what dilemmas do they face? The final sentence about Gentyl's temper and pride hint at her dilemmas, but you need to either be more specific about that or leave it out entirely. There was nothing else in the query that suggested Gentyl has these issues, so mentioning them at the end just feels disjointed.

I think the problem here is that, at 130,000 words, you have an immensely rich story and you're thus having trouble condensing it down to just one or two paragraphs. I suspect you've tried to include all the really cool things that happen in the novel, and that's just too much, so that your query ends up being confusing and incohesive.

To me, it sounds like the kernel of the story is this: Gentyl must find the missing king or the kingdom will plunge into civil war and ethnic cleansing. Motivated baddies get in her way, as do her own pride and temper.

If that's the heart of the story, then in your query, you want to focus only on that. The motivated baddies who aren't directly related to the king's story should be left out. Only talk about the ones who try to stop Gentyl finding the missing king, and do say what their motivations are for getting in her way.

I've tried a short rewrite also, but like Merry says, feel free to discard it. Mostly, I just want to show you how quickly you can get through the necessary backstory and how you can highlight the dilemmas Gentyl faces. The reason why you should focus on her dilemmas is because you're trying to make the agent/editor curious to know how Gentyl gets herself out of the mess she's in. If you can do that, you've succeeded in making them want to read your book.

Good luck with your rewrites, and I am sorry for being so harsh about this. It sounds like a very cool story.

*******
Sixteen-year-old Gentyl always dreamed of joining the Horse Guards, but with the king missing, the infant prince recovering from poison and the king's loyal guards being executed like criminals, that ambition could now cost Gentyl her life.

Gentyl's parents enroll Gentyl in a healing school to protect her, but the Divine One seems to have other plans for Gentyl when she accidentally gets assigned to a military unit instead. With the kingdom on the verge of civil war and ethnic cleansing, Gentyl watches over the king's seemingly senile wizard, only to find Saerowyn is not as helpless or addled as he wants people to think. [And here you say what she and Saerowyn try to accomplish, what gets in their way, and why it's imperative that they succeed.]

jjdebenedictis said...

One more comment:

It seems like the story actually starts when Saerowyn and Gentyl begin looking for the king. Everything up to that point is backstory. The reader doesn't really need to know about Gentyl's parents' plan to protect their daughter, or how Gentyl came to be looking after Saerowyn. When you rewrite the query, you might consider leaving all of that out.

Julie Weathers said...
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Julie Weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Weathers said...

First off, thank you for taking the time to do this.

Good catch on the semi colon and oddly enough, that's how I was taught to use it. Semi colon after salutation, comma after closing. Glad to know the truth after half a century.

I'll move Paladin info to the first paragraph.

I had thought about changing Saeroywn's name also. I didn't realize how similar they were until watching the movies, but that's an easy fix.

I'll do some serious paring down. I think I need to mention the murder of Aegis as that is the opening chapter and the thread that runs through the book. Saerowyn hopes solving his murder will help them find the king and missing guards. Plus, Aegis' ghost is one of the few witnesses left.

Solving Aegis' mystery is the point of this book. Finding the king runs through five books.

I'll take another look at plot points, but I think this helps a lot.

Once again, thank you so much.

I've been trying to cut back on my blog reading, but those other links you posted are very good.

*Makes note not to talk to Mr. Maass personally.

Julie Weathers said...

Jen,

No need to apologize. I realized how much help I needed and asked for it.

"Does she want to be a Horse Guard, but can't now that the political situation is so unstable? Or is she already in the Horse Guard, and thus in danger until her parents find a way to protect her? I'm pretty confused about what's happening here."

She has always dreamed of being a Horse Guard since her aunt is a very famous warrior and leader of the fabled unit. The unit is primarily composed of Meryn people though and that is why it's doubly dangerous for her to try and join them. Rumors are circulating the Meryn are behind the king's disappearance and vicious attacks on several villages.

If her parents get her into the sisterhood, she will be protected regardless of her ethnic background.

"Gentyl thinks her prayers have been answered until she is accidentally assigned to a military unit."

Actually, she thinks her prayers have been answered when she is assigned to the military unit instead of the healing school.

"In the third paragraph, you get close to explaining what the point of the story is, but you don't quite manage it. What do Saerowyn and Gentyl need to accomplish? Why? What are the stakes? What obstacles do they face? (And please be more specific than just saying demons and pirates show up at some point.)"

Saerowynm and Gen try to discover who was behind Aegis' murder as he was the last witness to the king's disappearance. Solving his murder is the thread that runs through this book.

The stakes? The demon has taken human form and gained the young queen's trust when he cures the ailing prince. The demon caller, a power hungry young baroness, has masterminded the disappearance of the king and the placement of her Rasputin-like holy man to influence the queen. If she succeeds in her plans, the kingdom will fall into her hands and the Meryns will be blamed with the king's ultimate death, thus leading to their genocide.

But, all book one does is lay the groundwork and solve Aegis' death.

In addition to obstacles, what dilemmas do they face? The final sentence about Gentyl's temper and pride hint at her dilemmas, but you need to either be more specific about that or leave it out entirely. There was nothing else in the query that suggested Gentyl has these issues, so mentioning them at the end just feels disjointed.

All right, I can leave them out. I don't know how to cut everything to the bone and add more to explain this. Her temper is something she struggles to control for a long time and she doesn't really master it until book four. Her stubborn pride and sense of duty drive her to the bitter end. Even to the point of insisting, as she is dying, her dead army be taken home for burial.

"I suspect you've tried to include all the really cool things that happen in the novel, and that's just too much, so that your query ends up being confusing and incohesive."

Heavens no. I just started reading Geroge R.R. Martin's GAME OF THRONES and I realized PALADIN is similar in many ways, including a very convuluted plot.

I think I just need to focus on solving Aegis' murder, although there is much more to the story. I just don't want it to come off as a fantasy murder mystery. The missing king is the larger thread that runs through all the books, so I need to weave it in also.

I like your rewrite. I think we're getting close here.

Thanks again for taking so much time.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi JJ,

First, thank you for the very detailed crit! Proving once again, there's more than one way to do these, and one of the reasons I wanted to open this up for comment feedback. (I got more out of the exchange at your Goblin's Crucible than I think any of the other blogs we did on critique)

Hi Julie,

We gave you a bit to ponder, here's what I can add - one of the agents (I think Kristin at Pub Rants, but it might have been BookEnds) said not to think of the entire novel when you're writing the pitch. She said to hone in on the first fifty pages and make sure to include your inciting incident - if it's not in the first fifty that's a good indication that you need to revise.

I think the use or not of passive writing in queries is debatable - I'm a stickler with passive writing (or too much of it, anyway) in the actual fiction, but in the pitch I think it's most important to stay in present tense and entice the reader into wanting to know more... think of it like a movie blurb or advertisement.

I do think that you should include Aegis' murder, as it sounds like that is the inciting incident...

I hope this helps some. Feel free to post your rewrite in the comments, I'd like to see what you do with it. Thanks again for volunteering and hopefully some other writers will stumble over with more feedback.

jjdebenedictis said...

Who's Aegis?

This is a perfect example of how a writer can be so close to their work, they don't realize how little the reader knows! :-D

You haven't told us who Aegis is at any point in this comment thread or the original query letter. Likewise, we don't know who the demon is, why he's involved, or why he's important.

You need to figure out what the core of the story is (or at least what part of it you're going to focus on in the query), then explain that central premise clearly to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the work and its characters.

One way to do this might be to write a one paragraph description of the core storyline that doesn't involve names. If you have to describe people by the function they fulfil in the story, that might help you see what information you need to impart to the reader for everything to make sense.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi JJ,

She didn't mention Aegis by name in the original pitch, he's here:

"However, after the last of the missing king's personal guards is executed like a common criminal, her parents enroll her in an exclusive healing school, where she will be protected."

Then in the comment thread she went on to explain why he's important - the last to see the King or witness his disappearance. I think you're right though, there's the inciting incident - this one's the first in a series but I think it's important to let the book itself stand on its own, she can delineate running plots and themes with her agent when she gets there - but this one has to be salable without the overall arc in the series.

Julie Weathers said...

Merry;

Yes, I read that post after I posted this and I've been contemplating those first fifty pages.

Originally, it started out with Gen's parents taking her to town to put her in the school. After some wrangling in a workshop, I decided I needed to add a new first chapter focusing on the death of Aegis, instead of just telling about it. I was going to add a very brief, two pages or so, chapter of Aegis after he dies since he bound his spirit to the place to try and warn someone about the plot regarding the king.

I will take all this into consideration and try to write a new one.

I just spent a while browsing the backs of books at Hastins. Unfortunately, most of them are author praises, so that didn't accomplish much.

Thanks again.

Julie Weathers said...

This is a perfect example of how a writer can be so close to their work, they don't realize how little the reader knows! :-D

Aegis is the murdered guard. In one invitation to post queries, I got lambasted for using too many names. So, I pared it down to Gen and Saerowyn.

In the first book, the murder mystery is the thread that holds it all together, but there is also the ongoing search for the king.

The demon, Erokath/Timmons, is introduced and plays an important part, but he's not in the first chapters, which is why I did the laundry list at the end.

The young baroness, demon caller, is also introduced, but not until later.

Let me work on this.

Thanks again.

Julie

Josephine Damian said...

JJ: Thanks for saying it for me - too much passive voice here. Too much "is" for me - Julie, this can be easily fixed with more active word choice.

I'm afraid an agent might assume your novel has the same use of PV, and might use that as reason alone to reject you.

Merry, or shall I say stranger? Welcome back!

Julie Weathers said...

Thank you, Josephine. I'm working on that. Oddly, the novel doesn't have that problem, but I messed up here.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Josie!!!

Yeah, I extended my break a bit - researching and synopsis writing took all of my time.. besides what I've been using for scrabulous and online dithering.

I'm still not in complete agreement on the passive voice thing, sorry - I completely agree with that assessment in the actual novel, but I don't think it's as big of a detriment in the pitch.. I'll use mine as an example, just because I'm a glutton for punishment:

Raskin is not your average fairy. His affinity for mortals gets him into trouble more often than not, leading to his being clipped as a punishment for his crimes. Now he’s in a race against trolls and a fairy on a power trip to right his past misdeeds and win back his wings. Raskin’s journey takes him across an ocean and onto the path of the only boy who can see him.

Benny Sherman doesn’t need the hassle. In the wake of his parents’ separation, Benny and his mom move from their comfortable suburban home to his Grandma Sicola’s overcrowded bungalow. Then he’s forced to attend Catholic school, where every day promises to be as much fun as Mass. Meeting a wingless fairy in need of his assistance isn’t likely to help him fit in and Benny wonders what he ever did to deserve being saddled with creatures that most people think are just make believe... not even cool creatures, either, he gets girly fairies.

It's loaded with passive voice, but I think it gets to the inciting incident, introduces the main characters and their dilemma's and gives a good taste of my voice. So far I've gotten good feedback on it from two agents and one editor in posting it online, so I'm fairly happy with it at this juncture - though the real test will be in how many requests I get.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm not really sure how to remove all the passive voice in this.

Delete first and last paragraphs I suppose.

Start out with the murder of Aegis, though he isn't the main character and his appearance as the ghost doesn't take place until 2/3 through the novel.

Flip to Gen and Saerowyn meeting, but that's about halfway through. No, I can't just delete the other chapters.

I shouldn't have read the backcover of GAME OF THRONES.

At least I have the starting incident. A starting point is good.

Merry Monteleone said...

Julie,

You might want to look at a few back covers and query examples for pitch ideas. There's a link to JJ's query letter on the blog here and Kristin Nelson has examples of queries that worked for her in her sidebar.

Precie said...

Sorry to interrupt, but, Merry dear, I have a meme for you!

Ello said...

Would it be terribly remiss in me to say that 130,000 words is just way too long? Even for fantasy? I might be wrong in saying this, but you may need to prune your novel which may help prune your query. And one of the key things I hear from every agent is that editors just don't want such large books from first time authors. You have a really interesting sounding story, but I fear that you are going to scare off alot of agents after they see your word count. There are agents out there that will completely disregard a query that indicates more than 100K. And my belief for any writer is that no matter how great you think your writing is, there is always sections of fact that can be cut. My first novel was 125,000 when I finished writing. After 2 major pruning sessions, I ended up at 88,000 words.

Julie Weathers said...

Ello, I am taking a Barbara Rogan workshop in May. I'm sure she'll be pretty blunt about what I can cut. However, until I am there, I just went with what I estimate will be the final word count.

My words are not sacred, but this is the first of a five-book series. Some things have to get laid out or people will be scratching their heads later and wondering where that came from.

Hopefully, Barbara and the other students will be able to steer me in the right direction. The rest of the series means nothing if the first book isn't published.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Precie,

Thanks for thinking of me!!! I already responded at your place, but I'll do the meme in the next few days.

Hi Ello,

You know, that's a good point, it seems like most agents want to see first novels at little over 100,000 on the outside, and don't even get me started on the whole, word count function vs. counted pages...

Julie,

It's great that you'll be going to the workshop in May, I hope it's excellent!!! How much time is the workshop running and how indepth will the crits be per participant?

Julie Weathers said...

Merry;

It's an 18-week course with ten students. The critiques are very in depth and Barbara has had very good success with her students.

It's her next level workshop, which takes your novel to the next level and also teaches you some self-editing skills.

I'm excited.

Julie Weathers said...

All right, I really have been listening to every word you all have said.

This could be pared and polished some more, but am I getting closer or farther away?

(Salutation and intro)

Gentyl only dreams of being a horse guard. Her dreams fade, when her commander assigns her to wizard watch. Keeping an eye on an addled wizard with a talent for irritating nobles, botching spells, blowing things up with explosives and fireworks, and animating household items isn't going to qualify her for the elite horse unit.

Everyone at court believes the aging wizard Marak is senile. He makes sure they believe that. When Aegis, the last of the missing king's personal guards, is murdered, he wonders if he will find the king before a bloody civil war destroys the realm. He needs a clue. What he gets is an accident-prone young soldier, who hates life at court nearly as much as he does.

Gentyl and Marak discover the charismatic holy man who cured the dying infant prince isn't who he says he is. Even they don't realize he's an arch demon in human form, who has been sent to gain the confidence of the young queen and begin a genocide that will destroy Gentyl's people.

She just wants to be a horse guard. She doesn't want to communicate with the dead. She doesn't want to possess the Siren Song, a blade that sings to those it's destined to kill. She sure doesn't want to be a hero. Life has a way of giving some people everything they don't want. (This paragraph could be deleted.)

(Bio)

(Closing)

Julie Weathers said...

Merry,

I haven't said it before, but I love the premise of your book. I've seen the pitch before and it cracks me up.

I really hope that gets published soon.

Julie

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks, I'm hoping to find an agent, as I'm just starting submissions now - meanwhile, on to the next ms - I'll be starting on that in the next few weeks.

Your workshop sounds fabulous!

Okay, on first look, you need to pare the new pitch down, I'd say by half. You don't want it to go over 8 sentences at the outside, I'd say two paragraphs max. I like the first paragraph, again, though I think you can cut some of the descriptives of your wizard and only leave two or three... Also, when you get into the second paragraph it becomes confusing because you're talking about the wizard instead of your mc - I think if you just narrow it down from your mc perspective, it'll work... Remember, the agent doesn't need to know all the particulars, they just need to know the main plot.

Julie Weathers said...

Merry,

Your pitch caught my attention immediately when I first read it. What really tickled me was him complaining about getting stuck with girly fairies. I have a warped sense of humor, though.

I do hope you get it out there soon. I don't believe you'll have much problem finding an agent. The premise is just too much fun.

What's the next project about?

As for Barbara's workshop, yes, it's a top notch opportunity.

Okay, this, I think is getting closer.

Julie Weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Weathers said...

First off, I want to thank all of you who commented. I appreciate that more than you know.

This still needs some tweaking, but I think we're getting close. I'll post this last revision with heartfelt thanks.

Dear Perfect Agent,

(Personalized introduction to agent.)

PALADIN'S PRIDE is complete at xxx words and it's the first in a series.

Gentyl just wants to be a Horse Guard. Her dream fades, when her commander assigns her to wizard watch. Keeping an eye on a senile wizard with a talent for irritating nobles, botching spells and blowing things up won't qualify her for the elite horse unit.

She learns Marak isn't as addled as he wants people to believe, when he recruits her to help him solve the murder of the king's last personal guard and the only remaining witness to the king's disappearance. They discover the charismatic holy man who cured the dying infant prince isn't who he says he is. Even they don't realize he's an arch demon in human form, who was sent to gain the confidence of the young queen, however. With the king gone and the queen under Erokath's influence, a bloody civil war and genocide that will destroy Gentyl's people grows closer.

I was a staff writer for Speedhorse Racing Report for seventeen years. During that time, I wrote weekly stories about Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa racing in the United States , Canada and Mexico. I also wrote several stories about the history of various tracks and articles about equine health.

(Closing)

Gina said...

Wow!! this is such a great workshop!! I love how detailed and helpful the comments are! this is like taking a course but not having to pay the huge fee!
I am still working on my query. Will post as soon as I am done.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Julie,

Thank you - I've had some great feedback from agents who don't take the damn genre (just my luck) but we'll see how the ones on my query list react... it's going to be a long process I think. The next one is supposed to be historical (also middle grade) set in 1915 Chicago - that's the one I've been reading up on and I think I really need to be immersed in the time period before I start the writing process.

However, another plot idea has caught my fancy and I'm mapping that one while researching the first... unfortunately, the other plot idea is not in middle grade - it's adult humorous mystery... but it's just shaping up so easy, so I'm going to go ahead and outline it and see if it flies... besides, I love humorous writing and there's a bit of humor in my own ms, but nothing like this one... it should be a fun write, either way.

I think the new revision is great - much better. The only thing I can think to add, and this may just be a personal preference, but I'd mention the names when introducing the characters. I got confused for a second when you called Marak by name and then your Rasputin character, too... it might just be me, though, hopefully someone can give us a second opinion.

Hi Gina,

This did turn into a nice discussion didn't it - love the blog writing circle, it's really helpful especially when you can't get out to a regular class or writer's group. Drop your pitch/query in the comments here or on the last post whenever you're ready and I'll post the crit the same way we did this one. I look forward to reading it.

Julie Weathers said...

Merry;

Well, I hope you push the fairy story darned hard. I have been in love with it since I read the first pitch I have a good feeling about it.

Not that I am an expert, but I find when something starts falling into place for me that's a sign I should be working on it.

I like humorour writing also. Even as dark as Paladin is in places, it has a lot of humor.

And, blast, double blast. I changed Saerowyn's name to Marak since it sounded like Sauron. I should have mentioned that. Erokath (demon name)/Brother Timmons (holy man) remained the same.

I do like this much better. It might sound a little light for what it actually is, but not sure how to fix that or even if I should try.

Again, many thanks to all of you.

Julie

Julie Weathers said...
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