Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sample Editorial Letter #2 YA Fiction

Sample Editorial Letter #2

First, I must commend you for your brilliant imagination, your excellent writing skills and your obvious talent at weaving an interesting tale. Internal Gold was a delight to read for many reasons: it was entertaining, well put together, highly imaginative (right down to the characters names), fairly clean grammatically, and just an all around great manuscript. I read and edit so many things; hundreds of manuscripts that will never make it to publication, so it is a real joy to enjoy read something great once in a while.

That said, the story is not without flaws which I will try to cover here.

There are a few grammatical points I’d like to make – the final call is yours, obviously.

The pacing of the story drags in parts and moves to quickly in other scenes. The story flows at the same pace for the majority of the manuscript but at times you skip from one setting/town to another without resolving issues or leaving questions unanswered.

The timeline could use a little work. It’s hard to figure how much time has passed between scenes. Have years gone by during the course of the story – or months? A timeline should be established between scenes and stated. Gleda’s age and maturity can be a gauge – she can go from being the na├»ve, fun loving girl, to the sophisticated, worldy woman of Neras with a timeline. It would be odd if she was 16 throughout the entire transformation and all the events.

Some of the scenes are extraneous or unexplained. There are loose ends as it seems you are skipping over vital information to get to the interesting parts. This is a common error with early novelists: you know all the background information therefore when you write a scene you understand what is going on and the logic behind each action, but the reader does not. This leaves holes in the plot. I have pointed these few instances out.

The descriptions of the worlds, characters and scenery could use a little work. In Ivor in particular. I was surprised to learn that Ivor was brown and dusty – it came on page 11. Painting the setting is a vital part of writing. I was also really confused as to Gleda’s looks – what she human-like with gold skin? Or alien like? I never really got a mental picture of her until she became Neras.

The warriors could use a little more background. I confused Ironhand and the Accursed. The Accursed didn’t appear in the very beginning – who are they? Azah’s army? Or otherworldly beings? This was never apparent.

Tenses should be watched. You had trouble with “laid” vs. “lay” and “burnt” vs. “burned”. Those two stand out in particular.

Thoughts should be italicized to separate them from the text – no need for quotation marks.

Page by page notes:

Page 1: warned her or told her? Warned seems wrong.

Page 2: The world of Ivor could use description. As well at the bakery, the landscape and the smithy. The description of the dining room in the bakery is good – it shows what’s around – but what are the walls made of, what does the mismatched furniture look like, how many tables, windows, etc?

Page 11: the description comes too late. Readers have already formed a visual on the land (mine was lush – like the hobbits shire in Lord of the Rings) so now the reader must shift gears which is off putting.

Page 15: What is the significance of plumes?

Page 19 and earlier: Why is Palace capitalized? If it was Azah Palace that would be one thing but if it’s just the palace (no title) then it should be lower case.

Page 21: Is Dummy the lizard?

Page 47: Where is Zerah during all of this? Shouldn’t she be by her companion?

Page 114: Who is talking here?

Page 130: How did she get there? This is a really quick change of scenery.

Page 140: How and when did they get separated from Cor and the rest of the group? Am I missing something? The transition here could use work. Why did Cor leave her?

Page 142: Who is Horatus the Friend of the General? I don’t recall who he is.

Page 149: Is Mischief speaking?

Page 151: is Gleda human? Are any of them ‘humans’?

Page 167: Where are the people? Where are they (they group)? Are they up high looking down? I’m not getting a real visual on the city, it could use a little more description. Why are people out and about walking the streets? It seems deserted. Also, where do they come into the city – up high looking down? Are they walking on a walkway? It’s confusing.

Page 167: Remind us who the Brethren are.

Page 180: Cor has mentioned that she has a grandfather before. So why the surprise?

Page 186: Riverlin is acting much older than a newborn. How old is she? How much time as passed since they saved her?

Page 196: Where exactly is the bathing pool? I thought it was situated in the city.

Page 196: Who is talking here?

Page 204: Where is Riverlin? It seems she has been forgotten. Why don’t they send for her?

Page 217: Why hasn’t she told him Fair City is under attack and that they tunnels have been blown up, etc? Or that the chief is dead? It should be the first thing out of her mouth – really.

Page 221: Why isn’t she using the bauble for light instead of stumbling through the dark?

Page 224: Who is asking? Cor?

Page 228: How did he find out about the chief?

Page 234: Should Cor be astonished that she can open the impossible-to-open door? Why is he so mute?

Page 235: Where is Cor? Is he in the room? What’s going on? Is this a dream/altered world/vision?

Page 237: I’m still not sure what’s happening here. Is the ‘real’ Cor watching this? Is she in a trance? What’s happening?

Page 239: Why does he thank her? I’m not sure what was supposed to happen here. Has she shut the door on Teras forever?

Page 242: Has she been sent to the rabbit room? Otherwise where is she?

Page 243: How did she get ill again?

Page 243: How did she know “they” were coming? What has happened to Ironhand? Is the war almost over here? I love the description of how she ends it all and spreads good throughout the land. It’s beautifully done. Wonderful stuff here.

Page 248: So is she now beautiful? As beautiful as Teras?

Page 252: What happened to her bauble – was it dispersed forever throughout the kingdom?

There are a few questions I had at the end: was Ivor still dusty and drab? What happened to the palace (Azah’s palace). Was the war finally over? Where is General Ironhand? It never mentions that he has been defeated. Was he in the tunnels of Fair City when they were collapsed? How did Cor recover so quickly from his wounds in the woods? Did they remarry in the end? Have any children? How much time has passed between the time she has transformed and the end of the book? What does the future hold for them?

As I stated in the beginning – this is a wonderful story and you show a lot of promise. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’m happy to go over the entire manuscript at your leisure.