Saturday, July 22, 2017

#291

Questions:
Will beginning each part of my book with a stanza be a total turn-off for agents? Not including it in a response to a request for pages would be dishonest; but I realize the only other creatures in the sea who share my love of poetry might be cryptozoological.

Is including supplementary/reference material at the end of a manuscript frowned upon? (Not as extreme as Operation Red Jericho)

Dearest Carcharodon Inquiro,
Filo is a glitch in a centuries-old U.N. plan. The Academy was designed to admit one child from each family. There shouldn’t have been any siblings. Filo and his brother must decide which of them is to attend and which must stay behind. When another child fails to show on Collection day, Filo secretly takes Silas’ place. He thinks he is merely an imposter protecting his frightened friend. He is trying to fit into a hole he was not designed for.


This is a hot mess of backstory and explanation. SIMPLIFY! I should be able to read this paragraph straight through without pausing to think "huh??" and at the end know what problem the main character faces. Yes, it's really hard to get it right.  It helps to prune out everything that doesn't matter, AND go in chronological order.

Filo is a glitch in a centuries-old U.N. plan.
The Academy was designed to admit one child from each family.
The Academy admits one child from each family.
There shouldn’t have been any siblings.
Filo and his brother must decide which of them is to attend and which must stay behind.
When another child fails to show on Collection day, Filo secretly takes Silas’ place.
(I'm assuming that Filo's brother is NOT Silas' but that is not clear here at all.)

He thinks he is merely an imposter protecting his frightened friend.
He is trying to fit into a hole he was not designed for.
But: he's not. And this is where the query goes flat. If he's not just an imposter, what is he?

At the Advancement Academy, 21 students are instructed in the ways of an ideal Humanity. A perfected gene-pool, crafted ethics, and dogged morals. Their charter from the United Nations is to restore mankind to a better state.

Eleven years later, all Filo wants is to complete his training unnoticed. To maintain calm and order. A resurgence of suppressed memories and the appearance of Silas dissolve this balance and bring Filo under the microscope. He can either escape the compound with Silas or stay and let the Academy run its course. Escape would jeopardize not only the success of his fellows, but the entire species. If he stays, he might be collateral damage.


And here's where I've stopped reading. That entire first paragraph is now backstory. It's clear the main part of the plot takes place here, eleven years later. And what you've written is too abstract to be interesting. I'm confused about who Silas is, I have no idea what happened to his brother, and I thought "The Academy" was an institution not something like a disease.

Then there’s the matter of being an asexual male charged with repopulating the planet.

Huh? Where the everloving holy moly did that come from?


INITUS is 47,000 words of young adult fiction and deals with the paradoxes of ethics and diversity from the revolving viewpoints of Filo, his brother, their co-conspiring classmates, and Silas. INITUS is GENESIS with a human instigator -- a real-life macrocosmic ‘Take Two’.

I don't understand any of that. 

And there's no way you can write any kind of complex world-building-required fantasy in 47,000 words. You'll need twice that.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

As to your questions:


(1) Will beginning each part of my book with a stanza be a total turn-off for agents? Not including it in a response to a request for pages would be dishonest; but I realize the only other creatures in the sea who share my love of poetry might be cryptozoological.

 It wouldn't be dishonest at all. I'm not sure why you think it would be. Lots of things get added to a book betwixt submission to an agent and publication. Glossaries, indexes, timelines, maps, and epigraphs (which is what you're talking about.)

You can include them if you want of course. I personally find them distracting and useless but I just skip over them. I don't stop reading if you include them.



(2) Is including supplementary/reference material at the end of a manuscript frowned upon? (Not as extreme as Operation Red Jericho)

This is added later if the editor thinks it's beneficial.  For example, there are extensive author notes in Gary Corby's historical novels about the real life events and timeline for the world he's created. All of that is added after the book has been edited.


Those things aren't even close to your problem here though.

Your problem is two fold: a hot mess of confusion in the query, and word count in the book.

First things first: figure out what you left out of the book if you think it's finished at 47K. Then rework the query to show us:

Who is the main character?
What does he want?
What is keeping him from getting what he wants?
What must she sacrifice to get what he wants?

4 comments:

cam.robbins said...

3 males are going to explore diversity?

Laina said...

*raises ace hand*

"Then there’s the matter of being an asexual male charged with repopulating the planet."

Asexual people can have sex. Asexual people can have children. Asexuality = not feeling, or feeling very rarely or only under certain circumstances, sexual attraction, not "doesn't have sex". Have you gotten an ace sensitivity reader to make sure you're not falling into aphobic tropes? Because I'm sitting here kinda cringing personally because this... isn't a great place to start, with it as an afternote like that.

Especially considering... things going on currently with asexuality rep in YA.

Is it not kosher to say I do ace/aro sensitivity SRs here? Or there's plenty of people who aren't me who also do them! Because... I mean yeah. I really think you need one. I mean, I think you need to do a lot of world building first, but hiring (HIRING) a few SRs is a step I really don't think you should skip here, friend. My red flags are all waving right now.

Dani Nosek said...

Maybe the point of that line wasn't that the character isn't *able* to repopulate, it's that he doesn't want to be forced to do so? I don't know, I haven't read the book. I'm just hoping for the best.

In my opinion, however, unless the entire story revolves around that character trait, it shouldn't be included in the query. If he is in the novel, and it's well done, then that's great. But included here it seems like you're fishing.

And, having just finished the first set of revisions on my own MS, I can tell you that as a skeleton first-drafter, my first draft came in at about 47. It was essentially an outline. I have gone through and added another 40k in the revisions (not saying they're perfect, but they're there). I think you need to go through and do the same. It might also allow you to really flush out the character traits you think are important to your novel.

Mister Furkles said...

To me, it hints at being judgmental about either society or politics. “You readers are too stupid to figure it out, so I’m going to tell you what to think.” If that’s the case, it’ll be as effective as a neutrino bowling ball.


Of course, it's too vague to know what it's about, so perhaps my read is entirely off.