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Monday, September 16, 2013

Workshop #1 Athenian Rain

Revision #1

When Donna is sent back in time to Classical Athens, she is furious Dr. Stephens for going against her wishes. Then a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife.

She is forced to learn a new language and culture, and faces her fears of never returning to her own time, all while being confronted with her issues—being compared to her genius brother, borderline abusive friends, and a cheating boyfriend.

But her husband, Peleus, is kind and patient. Although against her best judgment, she allows him into her heart. He counters all the negative voices from her past, and if she can let go of her fears, he could teach her to see herself as he does; beautiful.



Original

Dear "agent" in this query critique!

Donna awakes in Classical Athens. Only one person could have sent her there, her eccentric scientist friend, Dr. Stephens. He thinks he’s helping her because her life sucks. She just graduated high school, barely, her parents compare her to her genius brother, and her boyfriend cheated on her, right in front of her. So she turned to Dr. Stephens for distraction. He shows her his latest invention; Time Travel. He asks to test it on her but she refuses, afraid of making her life worse.

When she finds herself in Athens, she’s lost, knowing only what she learned in her high school history classes. She senses there are sinister happenings going on around her as men come to see her like a freak show, and call her “Amazon.” When a Greek soldier shows up and purchases her for his wife, she is horrified.

But this soldier, Peleus, is not what she expects. He isn’t like other men from his time and society. There’s something about him which draws her to him, despite her best judgment and knowing she could soon return to her own time. If she allows him in, he could either crush her already broken heart, or he could be the one thing she needs to heal and discover her true potential.

Dancing in the Athenian Rain is a New Adult Time Travel Romance complete at 84,000 words.

14 comments:

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

First paragraph meanders. Strikeout the parts you don’t need. Boil it down to the essentials.
Start with Donna: Out of high school, sister to a genius brother, and a cheating boyfriend to boot. Life sucks for Donna. But even when her eccentric friend tells her he has the solution to her problems, she is skeptical. Time travel? Come on. She agrees to test it and finds herself in Athens, (how many years ago?)

Second paragraph--Again, there is a lot that isn’t needed. Cut words and phrases. Amazon is good, freak show and how her history classes came in handy. Skip ‘Greek soldier shows up’ and go straight to ‘purchased as a wife on the auction block’.

Third paragraph: Cut the cliché ‘crush her already broken heart’. Find a different way to say it. Sometimes the love angle is overplayed. Can you find a different motivation/conflict?

Charity Bradford said...

CD hit on almost all the things I would have said. It looks like you've got a great idea here, but it's getting lost in all these words.

Simplifying for a query is the hardest thing you'll have to do, but learning to do it will make all of your writing clearer and better in the end.

The only thing I would add to what CD said is to avoid starting with "Donna awakes". Dreams play a huge part in my novel and I changed my first chapter to avoid the waking syndrome. Agents and editors hate it.

Suggestion: When Donna is sent back in time to classical Athens, she doesn't know whether to curse Dr. Stephens or thank him. Cursing wins out when a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife.

That cleans out most of the first two paragraphs in 2 sentences. We don't need the backstory about her present day problems in the query. What's more important is the fact she's out of time and now trapped in a marriage to a complete stranger. THAT would get my attention.

Patchi said...

The wordiness got to me too. You do have Character, Conflict and Choice in there, but also a lot of necessary details. I think Carol hit on the important points, but make sure you rewrite the query in your (novel's) voice.


@Charity: That's a great logline for this book.

Charity Bradford said...

Woot! Thanks Patchi! Wish I was as good at coming up with loglines for my own writing. LOL.

Martha Mayberry said...

This sounds like an interesting story; I’ve always enjoyed time-travel books. I think the reasons for Dr. Stephens sending her back in time could be beefed up; because having a sucky life and problems comes across as tame to me. Maybe build up the part where he asks her to test it and she refuses, since showing it was against her will would add tension.

I love the voice in the sentence where she’s horrified she was purchased.

How does she know she could return to her own time? By clarifying this it will add to the stakes of being unsure whether she wants to return or stay in ancient Athens. I’m not sure about the ‘discover her true potential’ part. Is this tied to staying in the past with Peleus? Or to her own inner self-discovery?

Kara said...

I remember seeing your pitch on #PitMad and being intrigued. I do agree with others above that your writing needs to be streamlined. Some of the punctuation choices are a little odd, and I think that would cause a lot of agents to hesitate.
I'd like a little more "show" about Peleus. You tell us he's different from other men of his time, but I'd rather you show it by telling us something about him, whether it's that he talks to her like a person instead of an object, or whatever it is that sets him apart.

mshatch said...

The entire first paragraph could be reduced to: When a time travel experiment goes awry, 17/18 year old Donna LastName ends up in Athens circa [insert date]. This after barely graduating from high school, watching her boyfriend cheat on her, and being compared yet again to her genius brother.

- or something like that.

nwharrisbooks said...

I agree with the comments made above and don't have a whole lot to add. I wanted to say that this sounds like a really cool and interesting story, but I think the query needs to be boiled down a bit. It hooks in the beginning, but then there seems to be a lot of information that we don't need to know from the query. Would love to read this book!

Katie Hamstead Teller said...

Hey everyone!

Thanks for all the great feedback. I've been swamped the last few days so haven't been able to check on here until now.
So, I've looked through all you've said and come up with this:

When Donna is sent back in time to Classical Athens, she is furious Dr. Stephens for going against her wishes. Then a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife.

She is forced to learn a new language and culture, and faces her fears of never returning to her own time, all while being confronted with her issues—being compared to her genius brother, borderline abusive friends, and a cheating boyfriend.

But her husband, Peleus, is kind and patient. Although against her best judgment, she allows him into her heart. He counters all the negative voices from her past, and if she can let go of her fears, he could teach her to see herself as he does; beautiful.


What do you think?

Renée A. Price said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renée A. Price said...

Time-travel + Classic Athens + Greek Soldier = perfect combination.

Here are the questions your revised query raised:

1. What wishes? Why is Dr. Stephens doing this?
2. How is she confronted with her issues? Did her friends, boyfriend and brother follow her?
3. What are the stakes?

I think if you can answer this questions and still be objective, your query will be great!

Raluca Balasa said...

I agree with the above comment. This sounds like a great premise, but the query isn't answering some important questions. Did Dr. Stephens hope she'd learn/find something in ancient Greece? Also, her brother, friends, and boyfriend may have been problems to deal with in her present-day life, but in Greece they disappear (unless they actually DID follow her). What's she trying to achieve while she's in Athens? So far you don't have any external stakes, only internal stakes (her learning to see herself as beautiful).

Basically, what's the important choice Donna must make? I'm guessing it's along the lines of returning home to a familiar - if unfulfilling life - vs. staying here with Peleus. Even so, we know there's not much for her at home, so the stakes of losing her past life don't strike me as very high.

Good luck with this!

Katie Hamstead Teller said...

Ok... third time lucky... I hope

When Donna is sent back in time to Classical Athens, she is furious at Dr. Stephens for sending her against her wishes. Then a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife.

She is forced to learn a new language and culture, and faces her fears of never returning to her own time. The society hates her, especially because they think she’s an Amazon, which forces her to confront her issues—being compared to her genius brother, borderline abusive friends, and a cheating boyfriend.

But her husband, Peleus, is kind and patient. Although against her best judgment, she allows him into her heart. He counters all the negative voices from her past, but those voices drive a wedge between them. She must let go of her fears and admit her feelings, or she could lose him and the life they’ve built.

mshatch said...

The revised is too brief, imo, doesn't show or tell us who Donna is. Maybe a combo of the two?