Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Query Revision 21: Redux

Original critique here.

This is a major revision that now highlights Andi and the romance. The author asks:

I find I'm having some trouble with the last "crisis" paragraph because there are several little ones that affect the romance instead of one big one. Deverane has a crippling, chronic disease that nearly kills him. Andi doesn't think he's in it for the long term. Andi gets kidnapped. Does the one I picked work?

Andi Markriss hasn't exactly enjoyed her summer as the guest of the planetary high-lord and his family, mostly because they treat her like an unpaid servant, but she needs their continued support to keep her family's struggling trading outpost running. So, when some prickly army captain shows up on the night of the biggest social event of the summer Andi isn't about to offend her high-ranking hosts on the say-so of some hotshot, arrogant military captain. No matter how sexy he is, or how convinced he is they need to leave now.

Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane and now the stubborn woman won't leave. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Strong. Brave. Clever. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

Deverane follows Andi to the party, but just as he manages to persuade her to leave with him, rebel fighters infiltrate the village to raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their frantic journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself uncomfortably attracted to the taciturn captain. Deverane's not the type to settle down, and running for your life doesn't leave much time to explore a romance and so Andi fights her earthy awareness of Deverane.

All her inner struggles become futile, though, when she's separated from Deverane and captured by the rebel fighters. They mean to use her to stir up unrest from her people, and turn a small feud between tribes into a planetary bloodbath. There's no way Deverane can save her now, and Andi must decide whether she wants to live for him, or die to save Zulaire.

Complete at 80,000 words, "Zulaire" is a science fiction romance novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,
An Author

Comments

To answer your question, Author, IMO the kidnapping is definitely the right choice to use as the "black moment."

What I notice in this revision is what I hear agents -- especially those who rep romance since there are so many contests open to romance writers -- say about the first three chapters of so many of their submissions. Those first chapters have been highly polished since they're the ones generally making the contest circuits, but the subsequent chapters just don't have that same level of polish. I can easily pick out the parts of this query that you've polished over. Once you settle on a structure -- and I think this one hits it for romance -- a final tightening and polishing should smooth things out just fine.

Andi Markriss hasn't exactly enjoyed her summer as the guest of the planetary high-lord and his family, mostly because they she's treated her like an unpaid servant, but she needs her family needs their his continued support to keep her family's their struggling trading outpost running. So, when some prickly army captain shows up on the night of the biggest social event of the summer Andi isn't about to offend her high-ranking hosts on the say-so of some hotshot, arrogant military captain. No matter how sexy he is, or how convinced he is they need to leave now.

Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane and now the stubborn woman won't leave. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Strong. Brave. Clever. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

Deverane follows Andi to the party, but just as he manages to persuade her to leave with him, [This seems like too much unnecessary detail and it sort of belies Andi's resolve to not let Dev take her away. Seems it should take the attack to convince her, not Dev.] That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters infiltrate attack the village to and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their frantic journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortabley attractioned to the taciturn [I agree you need an adjective here; just not convinced "taciturn" is the right one.] captain. Deverane's not the type to settle down, and running for your one's life doesn't leave much time to explore a romance and so Andi fights her earthy awareness of Deverane. ["Earthy awareness" doesn't work for me here.]

All her inner struggles become futile, though, wThen she's separated from Deverane and captured by the rebel fighters. They who mean to use her to stir up unrest from her people, and turn escalate a small tribal feud between tribes into a planetary bloodbath. For that, though, they need her alive. If There's no way Deverane can't find a way to save her now, and Andi must will have to decide whether she wants to live for him, or die to save Zulaire. [OK, the logic is off in my edited version the same as it's off in the original. How does Andi have that choice if she's a captive? Of course, by the time the reader gets to this sentence, they've likely already decided if they'll be requesting pages anyway, so maybe you have a bit of leeway here.]

Complete at 80,000 words, "Zulaire" ZULAIRE is a science fiction romance novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Author here.

Love the revision. Another masterful job. :)

I was kind of fudging the kidnap plot in the query, which is probably why it doesn't make sense. *sigh*

Here's my revision of the last paragraph:
Then she's separated from Deverane and captured by the rebel fighters, who mean to use her death to escalate a small tribal feud into a planetary bloodbath.

Deverane has to get to the capitol with evidence he's discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a larger plot in a terrifying alien race's attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. His information is vital to the war effort, minutes count. But if he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Michelle Massaro said...

Whoa, it's a bit wordy for me.

For instance:

Deverane has to get to the capitol with evidence he's discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a larger plot in a terrifying alien race's attempt to subjugate the entire Sector.

How 'bout:

Deverane must take his evidence to the capitol; evidence that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is really part of a larger plot to subjugate the entire Sector.

LSimon said...

Just a few nit- picks :)
I think that "slave" is the same thing as "unpaid servant" but with more impact in fewer words.

Also most of the sentences seem really long and complicated (something I am guilty of).

I have to go pick my kid up- or I would get more specific, but that is my 2 cents :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

I don't know what it is about this one, but it's just not hitting me right.

You've done a great job of making it her story. I like some of the details you've got here. It is a bit wordy.

The first part is fairly clear, but the stakes get a little confusing in that last part. Plus it seems like you're withholding the ending and only the ending.

Maybe if you take a step back and think about what a query is meant to do - get the editor/agent to read the pages. That's all.

You don't want to mislead them. You do want to generate interest in your manuscript and/or yourself as a writer.

Here's my suggestion for cutting the first paragraph down:

Andi Markriss hasn't enjoyed her summer as the guest of the planetary high-lord, but she needs his continued support to keep her family's trading outpost running. When hotshot, arrogant, Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane shows up on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn't about to offend her high-ranking hosts on his say-so - no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Yet even with this: "shows up" - can this be something stronger and more descriptive? Can you find a way to word this so his arrogance shows in his actions?

You've made great strides. I look forward to the next round.

Anonymous said...

Author here. :)

Here's Take 3 if anyone's interested...

Dear Benevolent Editor,

Andi Markriss hasn't exactly enjoyed her summer as the guest of the planetary high-lord, but her family needs his continued support to keep their struggling trading outpost running. When hotshot Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn't about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane's say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone by Deverane, and now the damned stubborn woman won't leave. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their frantic journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane's not the type to settle down, and running for one's life doesn't leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is separated from Deverane and captured by the rebel fighters, who mean to use her death to escalate a small tribal feud into a planetary bloodbath. Meanwhile, Deverane has discovered that Zulaire's so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race's attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. This information is vital to the war effort, minutes count. But if he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Complete at 80,000 words, ZULAIRE is a science fiction romance novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,
Author

Sarah Laurenson said...

Looking really good. A couple of nits:

Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone
I'd drop the by Deverane here.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters
I don't think you need to say they were separated. It's implied.

Phoenix said...

*squirm*

You keep wanting to make it Dev's story, don't you? Andi is now the victim needing to be rescued by a guy who may or may not come for her. Is that how it's set up in the ms? In the first version, I didn't exactly see how Andi could influence things but at least she was point central in the ending. This version says she has no influence and has become a passive player at the end. If it's full-on romance, will that work today?

Now, I have a heroine who is captured and rescued at the end by the hero in my ms, Cameliard Rising. I've pitched it as both historical romance and women's historical (with only minor tweaks to the query and a title change - it's Spoil of War as a romance). But I don't say the hero rescues her in the query. I put the ball in her court. (And, yes, my heroine plays a part in the rescue once it's underway, so she isn't a total milquetoast.) The basic query is here if you'd like a look. It got me numerous requests for partials and fulls, so it's at least a serviceable example. (I also got two revision letters from agents and the ms made it to the editorial board review twice at two different publishers, but that's another long, sad, story...)