Monday, November 21, 2016

Friendsgiving Critique

Time to kick off this critique party! I'll start things off with this Young Adult Fantasy and a new critique will be posted by one of us each day this week.

Also see all the other critiques:

Laura's critique from 11/22
Liana's critique from 11/23.
Emily's critique from 11/24.
Sarah's critique from 11/25.

Our Twitter chat will be December 2nd at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm EST on #FFChat.

Val has studied, fought, and completed her sailing expedition (You might want to give a specific detail or two of what she went through in order to attract the reader to her in a stronger way. Short phrases. For example: Val practically blinded herself studying star charts and learned to be the fastest hand with a sailor's cutlass all to complete her sailing expedition in record time)—faster than anyone else—to become chiefess of her clan. (What's really missing here is her motivation. Why does she want to be the chiefess? Give us a reason to care about her in her motivation and to care about the clan. That means adding another sentence. And you might start off with just a touch about the world. Do they live on islands? Is their world mostly water? Sailing seems to be important; Key that to the world you created. For example: On her Island Nation, Val has...)

Returning home (-ing phrases are often consider lazy writing. You might use a preposition phrase instead. As she returns home?) , she discovers her twin brother has been kidnapped and held ransom by her the clans’ long term rivals, the Airyllens. If she doesn't find him, the clans will not be able to prevent the Airyllens from draining the Airyleens will use him to drain the magic out of the land. (A little bit of confusion here. What's the connection between draining the magic and her brother. Is he the only one they can use? Also if he's being held ransom, why don't they just pay it? Problem solved. And you never say what the magic does or why their rivals want it gone.)However, the only way to get to Airylle is aboard one of their ships and their laws prohibit girls from joining a crew. (Maybe rephrase: However, the sea chart to Airylle is secret, and Val must board one of their ships but their laws prohibit girls aboard.) 

Assisted by Airylle’s sole female mage, Val disguises herself as a boy and convinces the captain of the Eventide to hire a clan lad. Val is prepared for two months of hatred from her enemy crew members, but soon discovers that not all Airyllens are ruthless. As she earns Captain Devon's trust, Val’s traitorous heart falls for him. (Below you say the story is alternating POV. This would be a good place to turn the paragraph into Devon's viewpoint if he is your 2nd POV. For example: Captain Devon just wants to blank blank, he's not expecting to fall for the new cabin lad from the clans he's hired--or to find out he's a girl.)

When the clans use a magical storm to blockade the Airyllens, Val is stuck behind enemy lines.(With or without her brother? stuck behind enemy lines with her mission incomplete.) If the king (You dump a king out of nowhere. I'd cut and just keep it to nationalist Airyllens.) discovers her, Val risks losing her brother, the war and her life. (It feels like you are shorting the last paragraph. Add a sentence about the choice Devon must make. Is he pressured to turn Val in? Also expand on Val's choice. What will it be like to live in a world without magic? We need a reminder of why Val has to rescue her brother.  

Told in alternating POVs(I'm totally unsure who is the other POV. The only other named character is the Captain. Most often, queries for dual POV will include a second paragraph from that character and then the third paragraph contains the stakes for both characters. You might want to rewrite so the alternating POV is clear. I actually think you can make the query more interesting by giving us info from both characters!), THE EVENTIDE is a 99,000 word Young Adult Fantasy that is a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT (This is my own subjective thought but I suggest not using caps for comp books and just using italics. I really feel that using caps for your manuscript and italics for other books puts the importance on your story.) . A standalone fantasy with series potential, the manuscript features characters of diverse sexualities and backgrounds. It is standalone fantasy with series potential. I believe It’ll appeal to readers of Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (just italics?) and Meagan Spooner’s SKYLARK (just italics?).

I graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Affairs and a minor concentration in Writing & Rhetoric. Like Val and Devon, I love to sail.(All good as it shows why you wrote this story and that you know your sailing facts!) I am an active member of SCBWI and RWA and guest blogger on the Writer’s Rumpus Blog.
 Below you will find the first ten pages of THE EVENTIDE. Thank you for your time and consideration.

A story aboard ship and without pirates is a nice twist. I hope my notes on this query doesn't overwhelm the author. My main suggestions would be to add Val's motivation in the first paragraph, make sure you give us a paragraph from the second major POV, and flesh out the stakes a little more to include what the magic does and so why Val needs to save it and her brother. Also knowing Devon's stakes would be helpful. 

Take what you can use from my suggestions and once you have those established, you might change out some words to get more sailing language into the query. Such as faster than you can splice a rope, Captain Devon is prow over stern in love... Using sailing verbs and slang and the query will have more voice and a unique touch. Good luck! 

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