The Scientist and the Savant #pitchslam Critique Party

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The Scientist and the Savant by Mocha Von Bruen

Dear (Agent’s Name)

When Lara, a skeptical fourteen-year-old, befriends Finnian, an ageing musician, she is baffled as to why Red, his angry young cousin, is so jealous.

She soon works out it’s connected to Finnian’s blackthorn walking-stick, which looks completely normal to everyone – except her, and Red.

Finnian claims the stick is an Arthurian artefact, powerful enough to cause a cataclysm that annihilated Britain, transforming it into Arthur’s Wasteland way back in 6th century Wales.

Red maintains it’s been promised to him and views Lara as a threat.

Lara is well-informed on Arthur’s Wasteland thanks to her dad, a climate-change scientist eager to prove his theory that the Wasteland was caused by a super-volcano. She’ll take plenty of convincing to start believing in long-lost, magical treasures. Or that they’ve anything to do with her.

But as Finnian gives her unique insights into the cataclysm, Lara concludes he’s telling the truth. Caught between her dad’s contemporary world of science and Finnian’s older world of legend, Lara doesn’t want to lose her new friend and the magic that makes her feel so alive, but she doesn’t want to lose her dad either.

She needs Red’s help to find the solution. Only Red can’t stand her. And the feeling is mutual.

Set in past (6th century) and present Wales, THE SCIENTIST AND THE SAVANT is a character-driven YA fantasy which investigates the cause of Arthur’s Wasteland using contemporary science and historic tradition. Told with parallel timelines, it is complete at 85,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

MVB

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7 thoughts on “The Scientist and the Savant #pitchslam Critique Party

  1. This sounds like a fun story! I love the mix of science versus magic and the love-hate relationship between Lara and Red. A few of the lines can get cleaned up to make it neater. The opening line is bogged down with names and description of characters. Those descriptions can get cut because we get a strong sense of who they are from the rest of the query, and don’t need to be “told” off the bat since you artfully “showed” us through your writing.
    My suggestion: “When fourteen-year-old Lara befriends Finnian, an aging musician, she’s baffled as to why his cousin Red is so jealous.”
    I also wouldn’t make so many paragraphs (unless that was my error!). I would put the first three sentences together into one paragraph, and if you want to leave the last line on its own it would stand out more since the others are lumped together.
    Also, I know it’s hard to know how much information is too much, but I would have liked to understand further about Finnian’s “insights” and why they turned skeptical Lara into a believer. You don’t have to give it all away, but some specifics may help clarify the stakes. Just a thought because it’s up to you!
    Thanks for sharing your query and best of luck!

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  2. I have a feeling you’re telling a lot more of the story than you need to. Some of the very best query advice I got was not to worry about the whole story, but to do like they do on the back of the book covers and get the reader excited about the lead up to the first plot point (which usually is about the first 50 pages or so.)

    The other great advice I got was to not worry about leaving some of the best characters out. Really focus in on the Main Character and why we care about him/her and why he/she is worth engaging with.

    Hope that’s of some help!

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  3. I agree that this sounds like a good story. I love Arthurian legend stories (I wrote one myself about the early life of Arthur’s mother, Ygraine) so this intrigued me right away. For a query you need to stick to one plot point, the MC and antagonist and the stakes. Don’t put it all in (I have a tendency to do this too), just the first third of your novel should go in a query. Good luck!

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  4. Thanks very much to you all for feedback. I have been trying to simplify the query but it sounds like there’s a bit further to go…
    Kathrine, I think you’re right about the first sentence and too many paragraphs. Thanks for pointing out something easy to change!!!
    Kathleen, that’s very interesting that you wrote a book about Ygraine.

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  5. The story sounds fascinating. I think your final paragraph explains the story layout very well. I agree with Katharine’s suggestions for the first sentence and also to combine the sentences. Would make the query flow more easily. Just a few more tweaks and I think you are there!

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, Anne. I’ve revised it using Kathrine’s suggestions and it does flow better now. I tweaked the stakes a bit too. Events like this are so helpful for getting advice!

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