January 11, 2013 at 2:52 am #3503
Jane’s parents didn’t approve of her relationship with Shaun.
They didn’t like anything about it, of course, they had never really taken the time to try and get to know him. He was the son of a bar owner, and thusly he was going to be a bartender when his father died. Jane’s father ran a very successful lawyers office. Jane was meant to marry a well-to-do man whose father had an upperclass job. Her parents just wanted her to be happy and taken care of, but Jane didn’t see that. She just saw how in love she was with Shaun.
He had captured her heart just like she had captured his.
They decide to run away together, but their lives take a nasty turn when a portal opens in the meadow and a band of blood-thirsty pirates kidnap Jane, leaving Shaun for dead. He must find his way into the mysterious world of Kosmo and search for his love before it is too late.
I just want to know how that sounds for the back of a book and if anyone is interested, I would like someone to critique some chapters for me.January 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm #5971
I think it could use some revision. It feels disjointed and I don’t think it’s getting the actual plot across very well. Here’s my reaction:
The first part sounds both fairly low-stakes and not very well supported. There’s no “Jane is being prevented from seeing Shaun, her parents are trying to run him out of town or ruin her life unless she breaks up with him” kind of thing, just “they don’t really like him.” And assuming this is modern times, Jane’s parents’ attitude seems very dated, especially when the class difference is bartender vs. lawyer, not McDonald’s janitor vs. CEO or similar. (Also, he’s not just a bartender; he’ll be the owner of a small business.)
And the description of the romance is long enough that it makes me think it’s a romance novel. Coupled with the low stakes, it’s not enticing in and of itself.
Then the pirates show up. Given that I had assumed this was a romance, this is a total shock. (Of course, if this were the back of a book I’d know the genre already.) This is a much higher-stakes setup–Shaun must journey into a totally strange land to find his endangered love–but there’s not much description of it, so I don’t know enough to care. Also, it doesn’t have anything to do with the first half of the description; Jane’s parents presumably can have no effect on his search for Jane.
Also, the first part sounds like Jane is the main character, and the second part sounds like Shaun is.
I could see this being a really good story, but I don’t think the current description conveys that.January 13, 2013 at 4:02 am #5972
Okay, so did quite a bit of tweaking, so here we go.
Set in eighteenth century England, Shaun and Jane have a somewhat forbidden relationship. Shaun runs a tavern, planning to take over the business when his father passes. Jane comes from a long line of lawyers, and her father is no exception.
Jane’s father makes it very clear that no daughter of his will be marrying anything less than a well-to-do doctor, so the young couple keep their love out of sight from her parents. Her parents just wanted her to be happy and taken care of, but Jane doesn’t see that. She just sees how in love she is with Shaun.
He had captured her heart just like she had captured his.
They decide to run away together, but their lives take a nasty turn when a portal opens in the meadow and a band of blood-thirsty pirates kidnap Jane, leaving Shaun for dead.
Shaun vows to find Jane by any means necessary. Finding his own portal to run through, he finds himself in the company of a barkeep, a crippled war veteran, and a crew of drunk lowlifes in the strange dimension known as Kosmo.
Jane must deal with rude pirates, a stubborn captain, and a first mate who helplessly tries to win her affection. Confined to the ship and left with no hope of ever seeing Shaun again, she carves her own place in Kosmo.
Was that better? I’ve always had a problem with overexplaining my story ideas, so I’m trying to find the perfect middle where I can share just enough of the story for it to make sense and sound appealing, but not give away everything.January 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm #5973
It might help to just focus on one character, whichever is the main protagonist, Shaun or Jane.
For instance, if Shaun is the protagonist, you might consider something like this:
Shaun is hiding from Jane’s father. His job as family tavern keep isn’t prestigious enough to be considered worthy of the lawyer’s daughter. But determined to have to woman he loves, he and Jane steal away to the meadow. Their affair lasts only moments when a portal opens and a band of blood-thirsty pirates kidnap Jane and leave Shaun for dead.
Shaun vows to find Jane and seeks out his own portal to the strange dimension known as Kosmos. Together with a barkeep, a crippled war veteran, and a crew of drunken lowlifes, he risks his life and his world to regain his beloved Jane. Will he find her? Or will he be doomed to wander alien space forever without his love?
If Jane is the main protagonist, then you can focus more on how her father restricts her to men of a certain stature and then move on to the abduction and the rude pirates.
Jane’s father has determined she will only marry a well-to-do doctor. Secretly, she loves Shaun, a bartender and future tavern owner. Knowing her father will never allow her the life she wants, she flees with Shaun to the meadow. Her thrilling choice encounters a nasty surprise when a portal opens and Jane is abducted by blood-thirsty pirates, dragged kicking and screaming to the dimension known as Kosmos.
Jane is kept prisoner aboard the pirate ship where the crew is rude, the captain is stubborn, and the first mate has an unwelcomed romantic obsession for her. She is forced to adapt to the strange new dimension, but she never forgets about her home, her family, or her loving Shaun. And she never stops trying to escape.
These are just examples and I don’t know if they are relevant to your story or style. But it might give you some ideas. It’ll be less confusing if you stick to just one character. And it might also create more interest if it ends with a “DUN-DUN-DUN!!!!” type feeling.January 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm #5974
The story follows both of them. One chapter follows Jane and the next one follows Shaun. That’s why I tell a bit about what each of them have to face at the end.January 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm #5975
The revision is a lot better, I think. It keeps the forbidden-love aspect in proper context (since it’s really just backstory), tells more of the plot so we can get interested, and clears up my confusion about the era. 🙂 I think I agree with Risu that sticking to just one perspective might be better, even if the book is from both perspectives. It sounds like Shaun’s the more active character (I don’t really understand how Jane can “carve her own place in Kosmo” if she’s being kept prisoner on a ship), so maybe focusing on him, with some mention of what’s going on with Jane, would make the description cleaner and maybe add some suspense on whether Jane will be okay and whether Shaun will succeed.January 15, 2013 at 9:23 am #5976
Jenny mentioned earlier about the low-stakes romance and I have to agree with her assessment. Though the second version is better, it shines Jane in a bad light, telling us that Jane is blind and stubborn and cowardly. Rather than explain to her well-meaning parents of her love, she’d rather hide it as if embarrassed. It creates more empathy for her parents than it does for her.
Also like Jenny said, the romance does feel more like back story and the real adventure doesn’t seem to start until the pirates arrive.
To make this fit more of the sci-fi/fantasy audience that this looks to be geared toward, I’d recommend maybe cutting down the romance to just a few lines without explaining the justifications, and jump right in with the pirates.
Also, the first version ended with a “DUN-DUN-DUN” with Shaun’s finding Jane before it’s too late, but the second version lacks any sort of tension hook at the end. It could easily be misconstrued as “Jane finds her own place in the Kosmos without Shaun. The end.”
Since you’d like to focus on both characters equally, then here is an idea on how to shorten things up.
Shaun runs the family tavern. Jane’s lawyer father has declared she will marry nothing less than a well-to-do doctor. Rather than forever keep their forbidden love a secret, they decide to run off together. Their happy-ever-after is interrupted when blood-thirsty pirates from a different dimension kidnap Jane and leave Shaun for dead.
Shaun sets out to find his own way to the Kosmos and rescue Jane with the help of a barkeep, a crippled war veteran, and a crew of drunken lowlifes. Meanwhile, Jane is confined to the pirate ship where she must deal with a stubborn captain and his rude crew, as well as a first mate who helplessly wants her love. Will Shaun find and rescue Jane? Or will he be too late?
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