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Request for Feedback

Hello everybody. I'm trying to finalise my MS, and would welcome some feedback. It's a fantasy takes place in modern day Athens, in which many of the main characters are Greek gods who currently inhabit the bodies of feral cats. the elevator pitch is as follows (it's a tall building).

Imagine a world where the old gods are still among us, hiding in plain sight, but embodied as cats. Arrogant, disdainful and as manipulative as ever, they shun our company or seek it as suits their purposes, while all the time plotting against one another, as ever they did. Into this world a malevolent artificial intelligence has arrived that seeks global domination. It has manipulated humanity to the point of extinction, but, unlike mankind, recognises that the old gods are still here, and sees them as the final block to the fulfilment of its plans. Therefore it wants to eliminate them. But what if they can be roused from torpor and unite (unlikely) to try and save the world? Alternatively, what if some of them, see this as an opportunity to end the world sooner rather than later and settle scores once and for all? Who is working with or against who, and what of the poor mortals that get caught up in their machinations?

The above description covers a whole series. The first book tells of the abduction of a cat (named Olympia) from Delphi, and the efforts of her friends Apollo, Daphne and Jason to rescue her. They travel to Athens, but instead of finding help, they get caught up in a political struggle between Athena and two Titans, Kratos and Zelus, each of whom leads a gang of feral cats that want control of the city centre and the tourist hotspots where the best quality scavenging is to be had. In the midst of this Hermes veers between trying to keep the piece, and stirring things up for his own ends. Each of the Delphi animals (soon separated) faces a life and death struggle to navigate this environment and try to rescue their friend.


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Replies (9)
  • Hi Andrew......

    'She took a deep breath and told him.'

    Ah, so much effort put forth here. The good news, the cats as gods is clever. They tend to act that way, don't they? 

    All the 1's and 0's made me not want to go further. I did put this aside rather than comment. But we're all here for feedback, are we not? So I came back, skipped the prologue for the most part, and tried to read on. Unfortunately, I skipped most of the first few pages. But then the cats decided to have a conversation! What were they saying? Was it interesting? 

    I'll admit I am not your target reader but I was quite charmed earlier today by a talking chicken. Surely the cats deserve equal attention. Unfortunately the cats are not talking to the reader but having their actions described instead. The old telling not showing.

    Also, it's Daphne that becomes a laurel tree.

    I think your premise possibly has merit but you have to make the reader engage. Let the cats tell you what to put on the page. Listen to them. They have a story to tell.

    Please don't be discouraged. I can tell a lot of effort has gone into this. I mean my thoughts to be constructive because we all want to succeed as writers or we wouldn't put ourselves out there.

    Keep at it!

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    • Hi Connie,

      Thanks for the feedback. You've highlighted a problem in that my first chapter is relating the reason why they've made the transition into cats, and the prologue is the wrapper for the whole series. How to best blend the two is the problem I'm wrestling with. The characters as cats properly begins with chapter 2, so I've got an issue.

      I think I may need either to reassess, or get a manuscript assessment!



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    • HI Andrew,

      OK the beginning simply doesn't work - you need to engage the reader from the first word, the first word here is a batch of numbers. Initially I thought your word doc had malfunctioned, then got it. 

      As other's have said this has potential but you need to catch the readers attention immediately - you need to do this for an agent too,  and an elevator pitch is really only one or two sentences that encapsulate what the books about, what you've written above is a blurb, and from that I think the idea is really good.

      Personally, I wouldn't engage the services of a manuscript assessor until you've restructured the beginning as it's expensive and you want them to tell you about things that you don;t know about.

      Good luck

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      • Thanks for the feedback Danny.

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      • Hi Andrew. I'm a complete sucker for the old gods. And having them wandering around modern Athens as cats sounds fabulous.

        Skipping over the prologue for now, I loved this opening line 'The cat was older than the rocks on which he sat.' My whiskers are immediately twitching. It poses lots of question. I also have to mention this line, 'He felt so bad about terrorising and killing them that  now he’s trying to fuck them into submission, one by one'. Brilliant.

        So I think there's some really great writing in here, but...

        I feel what you have here is something called scaffolding. It's loads of background information about your characters. As the writer, you need to know all this. The more detail the better because you need to understand how and why your characters behave and speak and react in the way they do. But the reader doesn't need to know the minute detail.

        It's common in early drafts to have lots of scaffolding, because you're learning about the characters and story yourself as you write. But once you've got the story down, you then need to go back and weed these bits out.

        You say yourself in response to some of the feedback, that chapter one gives the reason why the gods transitioned into cats. But as a reader I don't need to know that up front. I'm going to be intrigued by the fact there's these cats that are obviously a lot more than your average moggy and have the names of Greek gods living among humanity. The relevant bits of how they got like this can be drip fed in as the story progresses.

        Putting the details up front is asking the reader to take on board back story before they've engaged with your characters and story. And if they're not engaged, why should they care. The reaction you will get is what you've had so far in the feedback. So, my suggestion would be similar to the others. Start where your actual story starts, which sounds like chapter 2. Get me straight into the intrigue and action, and then drip feed in your back story.

        If it makes you feel any better I had exactly this problem with my old beloved opus. I ended up chopping off something like 15 chapters of Egyptian god backstory from the beginning. A big ouch, but it had to be done.

        You've mentioned getting a manuscript review, but you might want to think about doing the Jericho self edit course instead. The work and feedback is centered around your own manuscript and the opening is something that is looked at. It's also where I realised those 15 chapters had to go! The tutor didn't actual tell me they had to be chopped (though she may have hinted rather strongly), but she gave me the tools to be able to look at the chapters and have that lightbulb moment that they weren't working. And most importantly why. There's also a ridiculously high publication rate for alumni. Something like 25%.

        Going back to the prologue, I think you're giving away your story up front. There's an AI stripping the world of resources and letting humanity destroy itself. Only the cat gods can stop it, so they need to be destroyed. I know the story, so why read on?

        I hope some of that is helpful in helping you edit and move on with the story. As always these are just my opinions so take what makes sense to you and discard the rest. Would be great to see chapter 2 when you've got over the trauma of this posting.

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        • Thanks Kate, lots of good points raised. I'm going to have to rethink the opening.I'm happy with everything from chapter 2 onwards, but this is about the 6th different chapter 1!

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          • Only the 6th! 😃

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            • Cheers, Rick.

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