Libby

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I like the sound of this novel. The contemporary themes make me curious to read the whole thing. You give a sense of the character of each protagonist, something which is often missing in synopses, and there's a sense of a good plot, which I believe is one of the main things agents look for in a synopsis. 

I agree with Kate that it's a bit unbalanced, that there's too much info at the beginning. When I got to the paragraph about Luca's mother it felt rushed. I had to concentrate hard and read it twice to follow what was happening. So yes, use fewer words about the set up - how the romance starts and that the ex-girlfriend is jealous (the familiar stuff as Kate says) - and more about the main plot.

Best of luck. It sounds like you've got something good here.

I hope your hand is soon better, Zoe.

I ducked out of the most-inspiring place question as I don't there's one above all others :-) 

This was a really good webinar. Monisha is an excellent teacher, and so much of travel writing is relevant to novel writing. 

I've added her book recommendations to my reading list.

Thanks, Donna. She's my go-to source for craft questions. Harry Bingham's advice here on the JW site is brilliant too though it can be hard to re-find so I generally print out the posts I want to go back to.

Hi Nicki, Emma Darwin's blog is very good on all kinds of things. I haven't read these two posts recently but they may be helpful.

Narrative Drive

https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2014/03/dont-plot-just-play-fortunately-unfortunately.html

Hi Janet, I think the answer lies in seeing the scene through your main character whom I'm assuming is Katherine. How does she see and feel the playfulness you mention? Is she learning for the first time the things the crowd is learning? Stick to one or to examples of historical fact, the ones most relevant to her. What are her emotional reactions? Is she hopeful or doubting or a mix. What does it feel like to be in a big crowd like this and to witness your country changing direction? Does she know that's what's happening? How fast is her heart beating? Does she feel it's a reward for the political work she's been doing? Is she frightened it could all go wrong or not go right enough.

I could be wrong in terms of what your story is about but I think what I'd like to see as a reader is a sense of big history taking place in front of my eyes, with all its uncertainties and hopes. In my opinion, in a short extract it needs to be through the eyes and feelings of one character. Mine deep into her emotions and raise the emotional pitch.

This is my feeling too. For me, the extract reads like straight history or journalism. One way around this may be to start at '“People’s Militia came into Prague this morning,” says Jarek.' 

I think that having told readers in the intro piece that there are three characters, they'll want to get to at least one of the characters quickly. What the characters are thinking and feeling will be the hook, as it were, for this scene.

Regarding the need to give some physical scene setting, I think that paradoxically an excerpt from somewhere during the story needs this more than the opening page of a novel. With an opening, we trust the reader to gradually reveal where we are and what's happening. With an excerpt there's the unsettling feeling of being dropped into the narrative without knowing what has gone before. As a reader I want quick concrete information to let me create an instant picture of the physical setting. You tell us where we are but there are few details to show what it might look like. You don't need many details, but, for instance, are characters being jostled, how far can they see, can they hear the speakers properly.

Hi Janet, for me, the physical grounding is more important than losing a bit of historical material. Although it's an excerpt it will be read as fiction and therefore needs the apparatus of fiction, i.e. scene setting and a sense of the personal life of at least one character (probably only one character as this is a short extract). 

One historical fact or two will go a long way. Most readers are intellectually familiar with political oppression and upheaval even if they've never experienced it themselves. They can extrapolate from one or two facts. I recommend Laure's approach. Readers will relate to a personal memory and some characterisation more strongly than they do to a wide scope of historical background. But they'll also know the background is there.

Thanks, Chris. I'm glad it was helpful. It's so hard to judge your own blurb, synopsis and pitch. 

Hi Chris, many thanks for posting. Here are my thoughts but please bear in mind I've no real knowledge of blurb writing.

I mostly like it, and it shows you're a good writer. I think it's a bit long and occasionally too vague. 

Evelyn Blackbriar has spent her life spends her life? spends her life, and all her money? trying to understand the deadly trickster folk, creatures able to bend the earth at will. Can you be more specific about what bending the earth means? (Unless it's just me not getting it as this isn't my genre.) It’s an obsession that has brought her to the brink of ruin. < --- Maybe delete this sentence. You've already told us she's pretty much obsessed, and the brink of ruin is too vague. It could mean psychological ruin. When a wealthy benefactor takes an interest in her research, it's an opportunity she cannot turn down < --- she can't turn the man/woman down. She and Alfred, her former partner, agree to join an impossible project: to catch a trickster and learn how it wends its horrible power. But the trickster brings tragic ruin < --- avoid repetition of ruin if you've already used it, but also can you be more specific? 'Tragic' is vague too.  to their project before it has a chance to begin < --- before the project can begin. Or just say, 'But the trickster destroys the project before it can begin.' Do we need to know in the blurb that it was tragic? Separated, Alfred and Evelyn must make unlikely allies < --- why are they unlikely if they've already agreed to join the same project? and desperate choices to survive. For Evelyn to find the answers she seeks she will need to give up everything that was once important to her, and perhaps sacrifice her very humanity.

Added a comment to Cover impact 

Hi Rob, I like them though I agree with Georgina that they're too dark. Also, in the type face you've chosen I think the G and C are too similar. You don't want it to read as 'When Cods Clash' :-(

Re the titles, I much prefer 'A Voice at Culloden'. It's the most specific and concrete. The juxtaposition of that and the Capitol is also intriguing. For me Aegis and The Heavens are both too vague and don't spark my interest but if they're appropriate for your genre then don't take notice of what I say.

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