Slago Twintigamour

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Slago Twintigamour is the Zero-award winning author of less than several novels. His books have not been published in any one of 30 languages. He lives in Amsterdam with his collection of children, and writes, endlessly.

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Slago Twintigamour Discussions
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Hi All,While my other piece has been out on submission, I've been busying myself by trying something…
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  •  · Thanks for the reply! Valentine's story has been on the back burner while I've been busy with my mai…
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Hi All, I had a 1-2-1 session today with a London-based agent, and I am absolutely knocked over by t…
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  •  · Congratulations on getting such a positive response and very good to know that your genre is in high…
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Hi All,I've been working on my novel "The Corner-Cutting Kid" for about a year now, and I've had sev…
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  •  · Hi Alexandra,Many thanks for taking the time to read this. I won't blather - yes, yes, and thank you…

Hi Danny, Yes. Would love to. Whole thing, or chapters? Let me know what you want to do. Actually, simpler than that: send me what you'd like me to see, and I'll reciprocate (85k high concept fiction with a romantic twist). Looking forward to hearing from you. Word is fine. Cheers, S.

Hi Mairi,

Thank you so much for this. Wow. That's a lot of positives. For the rest: thank you, thank you. I will look at it all again with fresh eyes.

Abnormal personality vs. personality disorder sets me thinking. Personality disorder is a technical term, implying a specific diagnosis of a known condition could be made. He might be a little PDD-NOS, but the abnormal nature of his personality (remembering the future) isn't in any textbook I've ever read. ;-) Abnormal personality, on the other hand, is a common-sense term - something one internalizes after a lifetime of people telling you you're not normal

Cheers, S.

Hi Mairi,

Re. Chapter 2.

Well, starting at the end, the ending was great. The motif of the dead sheep works, for me, and you’re building up the sense of foreboding from chapter 1 again. It’s a hook.

Having said that, to get that far isn’t plain sailing. The change of tense has been commented on already, and that’s part of it, but there’s something not quite there in the transition between ‘now’ and the past-tense conversation with Catriona. The atmosphere and the tone is different in this part. I’m not quite sure where the issue is, but some kind of disconnect.

The description of the landscape at the start is just great. Really evocative. My pace-instinct screams at me ‘cut to the action!’ but I think that’s the writer speaking, not the reader. The reader seems happy enough, and anyway, all us townies have got to get used to the pace of life here, which seems to be the message. Only now I wonder if Eilidh could reach Catriona’s pottery as part of her daily walk, then meet the sheep on the way home?

I have a couple of issues with the glamping pods. Of course, this is a highly plausible development, but the nature of the work is hinted at for quite a few pages, and then at the reveal I’m like … glamping pods? Is that all? I thought they were planning an HQ for Scientology or something really way-out. Of course, at the end I realize the reason for all this tension building is that she knows what the diggers will find (brilliant), but the buildup stumbles. The other issue – being a man, and assuming I must know everything construction-related – is that the idea that glamping pods need proper foundations doesn’t sound right. To me, anyway.

I also have a small beef with thinking of Catriona and her stomach listing. The meaning of ‘lists’ is clear enough – a ship leans sideways in a heavy swell – and I like the image of that fairground vertigo you feel when you’re on the ship and just for a moment gravity isn’t quite where you thought it was. The problem I have is: why is this linked to Catriona? She isn’t the cause of the glamping pods, and so far as I can tell, she isn’t particularly in favour either. The link isn’t quite there.

Overall, this is lovely writing. I’ve held off saying it – trying just to be the reader, not the writer or the critic – but I wonder if the scene with Catriona doesn’t come across as well because it’s lacking the lyricism of the rest, and maybe it needs a slight change of tone? Perhaps even let your inner thriller-writer out and go full-on? ;-)

I hope this helps. I’ve really enjoyed reading so far, and I’d be happy to read more, or another draft of this part. Please let me know.

Cheers, S

Hi Mairi, You were incautious enough to suggest swapping chapters, and being me, I can't pass up the opportunity! If it's OK with you, I'll dm the opening chapter of my WIP, to see what you think? Thanks in advance, S.

Hi Mairi,

(I wrote this before looking at the other comment.)

Rushing around, I managed to read the first chapter, first of all. My naive reader’s impression is: yes! I’m sucked into the situation. I love the descriptions, and beyond that the lyrical quality of the language – lights spluttering their threat, branches whipped and glistening – really, really good stuff which makes the situation come alive. The basic story-telling is spot on – getting to the point of Dad heading off to the lifeboat, and the sense of impending disaster – brilliant. Gripping, and thoroughly enjoyable. I won’t ramble, but you’ve got something.

The last short section (‘It takes fourteen days…’) didn’t quite work for me. It seems too brief, and somehow rushed. Looking back a second time, I think it’s all in the last sentence – it’s just too jarring to drop all that information. Maybe find a way of seeing it more from Eilidh’s point of view?

Beyond that, a few phrases didn’t quite work (for me) here and there. ‘Unable to witness anymore’ sounds odd – witness to what? The sentence beginning ‘the cells of her body…’ I like, but I had to read to the end of the chapter to be sure this was a figure of speech (an analogy, a way of looking at things), and not a literal truth. I guess this is only an issue because it’s so near to the beginning.

Now to read chapter two, if I can find some time!

Cheers, S.

Hi Kate, 

I held off saying anything for a while, because I'm not the self-publishing guru, and there are plenty of them around here, but you're certainly in the right place for lots of help and advice.

One thing I do know is that the competition in self-pub is no less cut-throat than in traditional publishing, and you need to make your manuscript sparkle as much as possible. First question: who has read the manuscript, until now? In my view, the key to improvement is getting as much feedback as you can from as many readers as possible, and while an editor would be a good idea, I'd start off with peer-to-peer critiques, either here or on another forum (Goodreads or https://www.critiquecircle.com/ perhaps?). People are often open to the idea of swapping chapters (I certainly am!) so that might be a good way of getting started. Let me know if you're interested.

Either way, making the most of other readers' opinions (even if those readers happen to be other writers) strikes me as the best approach, before going for a professional editor.

What kind of novel are you writing? If you can give us an idea of genre, maybe you'll pique the interest of others writing in a similar area?

To give a literal answer to your question (finally), Jericho have their own editing service, and I can certainly recommend the wonderful Emma Cooper (https://emmacooperauthor.wordpress.com/) who did a brilliant job of producing a manuscript assessment for my current WIP (which I'm still working through), and while I'm talking about successful authors who are also editors, I have to mention the highly perceptive Laure van Rensburg (https://www.laurevanrensburg.com/critique-service). These two represent rather different genres, I have to say, so it's worth thinking about where you sit, and where you'd get the most benefit.

Cheers, S.

Added a comment to Blurb help?  

The literal answer is ... yes, the paragraphs are clearer in themselves, and I have a better idea of who the characters are and their motivations. But ... sorry to say this, it now sounds less like a blurb. I also don't get much of the third paragraph. I don't get anything about the secret threats, because they're secret. Why is a brutalized population the last defence of the mortal world? (I've had some problems trying to tease what's coming up without giving the whole thing away, so I know how difficult it can be.)

I don't know if this helps, but I wonder if you could start with a three-sentence hook (something like the elevator pitch - I still think that's the key), then introduce your characters/stakes, then round off with the question? Something like:

One man, born to rule. The other a rebel, born in a sawmill. Together, they hold the fate of the Kingdom of Draehn in their warring hands.

(Brief paragraph, one sentence about each character, emphasizing the stakes - what they both have to lose.)

With Treyson and Shane as the rising powers, do the people have a future?

I assumed this kind of structure (which seems familiar) must be part of some formula or other, and when I started googling I ran into this straightaway https://estherrabbit.com/how-to-write-the-perfect-blurb/ (you've probably seen it but lots of good ideas in there).

Also, related to what L. said: you have two protagonists? Or a protagonist and an antagonist? Who are we meant to root for? I'd assume Treyson (because I'm always rooting for the underdog, even if it's Max Verstappen), but it needs to be clear.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, S.

I'm just an echo of what everyone else says ... mega congratulations! Looking forward to reading, and to hearing about your continued success. Cheers, S.

Hi Glyn,

(I wrote some of this before the other posts, so apol.s if it sounds like repetition.)

I found a lot to enjoy in this. The characters have life and are distinct. The premise is interesting. The point of view was interesting (more on that later) - it allows you to hop to the fox at the end of chp1 for example, which I thought was rather stylish.

I didn't see much of the premise in the first chapter, not that it has to be there, per se, but the 'blurb' raises expectations. (I've been caught out by this myself.) Everything you say about the writing is the writing.

I wondered to what extent I was being 'told' the backstory in the first chapter. Sure, things happen, and there are interesting concepts - the race vs. brexit discussion for example - but I couldn't help wondering if the story is starting too soon.

This last point aligns with something about the narrative style - it sounds 'pacey', yet the pace... isn't. (I don't know how to describe it.) I think there's potentially something great about the style - a kind of echo of the modern world, where we never have time to
react to one tweet before, beep, there's another one hogging our attention, but it isn't quite there, yet.

Third-person present tense is an unusal choice (to me - I suppose it depends on what you're used to). I guess it works for a less-deep PoV, and if that's what you're aiming for, fine. For me, it did seem a little too distant. At the same time, there were a few places where refering to nameless characters (thugs in the pub, mysterious laptop guy) sounded a little strained, and I thought that might have worked better if we'd seen those people through other characters' reactions. I also thought there was quite a bit of obvious 'telling', and that seemed to be mostly around these characters. Getting the distance right would be the key, I feel.

The title is great - a knowing 'loan' from Bjork? Linked to the text in some way?

Certainly keep going! You've got some great characters, an interesting premise and - for want of a better word - the core of a brilliant style, which deserves to make it through onto the page.

Cheers,

S.


Added a comment to Blurb help?  

(I posted on the other question before I saw this!) 

It certainly sounds like a blurb, but having read through a couple of times, I realize I'm only learning the back-story. There's going to be a battle between these two guys, but why? There's no motivation for either. What are the stakes? What has caused this conflict? What *is* the conflict? What is the nature of the rebels' idealism?

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I wonder what is the USP here - what is it about your story that's different? The one thing that stands out is Herrale's sense of ennui - lacking a goal. That could be something interesting in itself: thrust into the role of leader, wondering why there has to be all this killing, etc. A man who doesn't fit in his circumstances.

In terms of specifics, a few phrases came across as vague (if interesting): e.g. floundering for posterity. A king might care about 'legacy', but a kingdom? Grasping for hope to stand on sounds like a mixed metaphor.

Perhaps it helps to think in terms of the 'elevator pitch'? What is your premise, in the simplest terms (20 words or so)? I know this probably sounds like an even worse challenge, but you'll need the elevator pitch if you're looking for an agent, and once you've nailed that the blurb might fall into place easier.

Looking forward to hearing more!

Cheers,

S.



The obvious answer is - ask us! There are plenty of people here (myself included) who would love to read your work, and give honest feedback - possibly in return for reading something of theirs. If you don't feel ready to share your work right away, why not start by offering feedback on others' work? No need to feel 'impostor syndrome' - and honest reader's perspective is often the most valuable.

Hi Ravi,

It sounds like you have a lot of interesting ideas here. We shouldn't shy away from the big questions, and this even sounds like it could be quite commercial. I have to agree with what's been said about agents and novellas.

Padding a 15k novella with 60k of 'something' to make it novel length doesn't sound like the best strategy, but incorporating the novella as a story-within-a-story might be a possibility? Depending on where inspiration leads, maybe this could be in terms of the lives of several generations of a family, the same events viewed from different characters' perspectives, parallel timelines, parallel universes - you name it.

I might be a little more circumspect about comparing myself to Murakami. It's helpful to have a comparison, but it shouldn't be too close. The usual advice is to make a comparison with more than one writer. "This would be an ideal read for readers who wish Haruki Murakami had written Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'." (Ludicrous example - don't want to influence you too much.) 

I'd also be wary of talking about the impact the writing would have - "leaves the reader wanting more" - let the writing speak for itself.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, S.

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