1. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Bastard of chivalry opening query

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by John Franklin Dandridge, Sep 3, 2015.

    This is what I have so far. Advice would be greatly appreciated and reciprocated.

    Brandon Calumet navigates his way into adulthood through his passion for girls and art; but when these paths intersect, do they bring him to madness, or transcendence? Bastard of Chivalry is a postmodern story of a poet who becomes a poem.

    But girls are not his only problem. Growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s, Brandon Calumet struggles to form an identity, when bullied by white kids for not acting ‘black’, and laughed at by black kids for acting ‘white’. Though mostly, it’s the girls. And when he becomes an adult, it doesn’t get any easier. Watch what happens as Brandon runs from bad relationships and into the arms of the downtown Chicago art college scene near the turn of the century.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I've never written a query so I have no useful advice about that but just a quick note - no apostrophes in 1980s and 90s.

    Good luck with it!
     
  3. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Yeah, you're right. Thanks.
     
  4. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yours is good, but you need a little spice xx


    Brandon likes a picture and he loves girls, and boobs and butts in pictures. He loves pictures, he is an artist. When these paths intersect: the pictures, and the girls he paints in the pictures, do they bring him to madness, or transcendence? Beast of Chivalry is a post-modern story of an artist who becomes an accountant.

    But girls are not his only problem. Growing up in the 1980’s and the 90’s, and the turn of the twenty-first century, Brandon Caldridge struggles to form an identity as a guy. He is bullied by fat kids for not acting fat, and laughed at by the skinny kids for pretending to be thin. Though mostly, it’s the girls who are always laughing at his stupid face. When he becomes an adult man, it does not get any easier, they are still laughing. Watch what happens as Brandon runs from bad relationships and into the arms of the downtown Chicago art college hemp atmosphere scene, yeah that one, near the turn of the century.
     
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  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I did some tweaking and hope it helps but I don't know the story so can't be sure. In particular I don't know why the girls are a problem for him - that needs to be spelled out, and I don't understand the title or how it relates to the work.

    "Brandon Calumet navigates his way into adulthood through his passion for girls and art; but when these paths cross, do they bring him to madness – or transcendence?

    Bastard of Chivalry is a postmodern story of a poet who becomes a poem.

    Girls are not his only problem. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, Brandon struggles to find himself. Bullied by white kids for not acting ‘black’, and laughed at by black kids for acting ‘white’; who is he?

    Mostly though it’s the girls that trouble him. And when he becomes an adult, it doesn’t get any easier. Brandon runs from one bad relationship after another straight into the arms of the downtown Chicago art college scene as the twenty first century approaches."
    Cheers, Greg
     
  6. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Thanks Greg. That was helpful. And the title is explained in the book.
     
  7. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I've thought about it and I'm not sure what to make of this response.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ummm....not in the UK. I discovered this myself when I moved here from the USA and got laughed at for writing things like "back in the 1800's, people didn't drive cars." At first I was horrified. OMG I've been doing this WRONG all my life!!! Then I looked it up and ...no, actually, I'd been doing it right for where I lived.

    In the USA it's perfectly correct to use apostrophes in this context. I swither back and forth these days. I lived in the USA for 37 years (where I got my BA in English) and in the UK for the past 29 years. So I've got a foot in both camps. Using apostrophes to separate things like "I got straight A's in English" is perfectly correct in the USA. As is the date thing.

    Potato's? Nope.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
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  9. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Gotta tell ya, I like "...turn of the century..." It (to me because I was into Matisse and reading Borroughs in the late 70s, thus ...turn of the century means 1901 to me. For you it means 2001 -- Kind of a neat separation, I think. :)

    As far as the query:

    My suggestions from top - down...

    (Is Brandon Calumet the title of the story?) Most successful queries start with the title: The Wizard of Oz is a tale/story/trilogy, etc ...

    Postmodern is implied because you've listed the setting age as 80s and 90s, the "Growing up age.." Notice: the dropped apostrophes for the years.

    "Poet who becomes a poem..." How? -- You should expand on this, it's intriguing and you don't have to reveal the how, what and when, just one of them in a well explained explanation so it wets the mind's whistle...And, was it a good poem or a bad poem? Meaning, did this young man's poetry (life) become a blessing or a nightmare?

    "But girls are not his only problem.." <-- you didn't state that they (girls) were a problem. You left it open as a question of 'madness or transcendence'. Is your intent to state that they (girls) were a problem? If so, don't present 'girls' in a question in the first paragraph, state it.

    Later in the query, you're back to the girls: "Though mostly, it’s the girls" -- okay that seems to be a common theme and I suspect that 'girls' had a lot to do with the young poet's development (both as a poet and a poem?? perhaps??).

    ...struggles... should be struggled.

    ...when bullied... should be a form of "as/while". "When" is correctly used as a time parameter. "When are we getting together?" "When do you do that..." Although 'when' can be used as an 'although' and a 'considering the facts', -- each need preparation in time -- as in, "When I was young..." Furthermore, 'when' is often a question not a statement.
    Your 'when' isn't tied to time or a question, it's tied to the prejudicial treatment from black and white kids.

    The same 'when' issue in: "And when he becomes..." Should be: "As he becomes, or matures, or becomes poet to poem, what have you..."

    "...into the arms..." is an odd statement, as if the 'downtown Chicago scene' could literally come to life and embrace you..

    If I may, my rewrite (without reading your work and, thus have no idea what query I'm writing) would be:

    I'll title it: Brandon Calumet's Poetry....

    Brandon Calumet's Poetry is the tale of young man with a passion for both, girls and arts. When these passions intersect on a timeline, did they bring Brandon to madness, or transcendence? Or did they turn the poet into the dark veil of some twisted agony? Neither, they made him the man he is today. Not some twisted Frankenstein experiment, but a human being with intelligence and feelings.

    He was Frankenstein at one point in time: Brandon Calumet struggled to identify himself a black or white American in his earlier years. Even though the children of the 1980s and 1990s were quick to offer suggestions as to which he belonged to. Many of the white kids found him "off-color" and categorized him as some monster. The black children were even harsher and suggested that he must be 'white', or close enough to it."

    Those sentiments weighed heavy on the young Brandon Calumet as he became a man. He moved from one bad relationship to the next until the art community of Chicago took him in. There he found his purpose, it was Frankenstein, it was White, it was Black, and it was enveloped in passion. But most importantly, it was all about poetry.

    Need I say more...

    You lead in with that and they will take you seriously,...Again, I'm assuming what your story is about.....
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  10. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Thank you very much for that thorough critique. Ill be taking a lot of that into my next draft.
     
  11. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry John, I was just playing with the words. Sometimes I lack appropriate gravitas. Apologies
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    y understanding is that it's so common to do it in the US that some places/people accept it, but purists will still see it is as incorrect. Since nobody who knows their stuff would call 1970s incorrect, even if they'd also accept 1970's, aren't authors better erring on the side that everyone accepts?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also they "do this" all the time. I find it 'very amusing,' like a paperback in 1974, hew. Blame everything on that doctor Webster or Johnson, they can't even decide. Queen's English, such a marvellous tool - in which to revel, roll in chocolate all day Saturday, run the chocolate taps, drizzle me in flake,

    ...total crap again.
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Umm. No. That's not the way it's seen over there. And I'm an old Yank bird, who learned my grammar and punctuation back in the 1950's! :) In fact, it turns out it's the convention here in the UK that has recently changed.

    Quote from Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss, Profile Books, London, 2003 ...page 46:

    Because I live in the UK, I now use the UK convention of writing dates like 1970s, and I would now write "MPs." But @John Franklin Dandridge lives in Chicago, and the way he writes these things using apostrophes is perfectly correct in his country.

    (Just checked the Webster's Compact Writers Guide ...and it says the same thing. It only cautions that whichever convention you choose to use, you should use it consistently throughout your document.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  15. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    No worries. I'm glad you had fun.
     
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  16. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    An edited version:

    Bastard of Chivalry is the story Brandon Calumet, a poet who becomes a poem. Brandon navigates his way into adulthood through his passion for girls and art; but when these paths intersect, do they bring him to madness—or transcendence?


    But heartbreak from girls is not his only problem. Growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s, Brandon struggles to form an identity while bullied by white kids for not acting ‘black’, and laughed at by black kids for acting ‘white’. Though mostly, it’s the girls. And when he becomes an adult it doesn’t get any easier. Watch what happens as Brandon runs from bad relationships into the Chicago art college scene, near the turn of the century.
     
  17. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never written one? I don't even know what one is! At least not in this context :meh:
     
  18. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    It's the letter one sends to agents in hopes they'll like the novel idea.
     
  19. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, thank you, John. So it's 'query' in the sense of 'query', then?

    I feel a bit of a dolt now.
     
  20. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    I think it's query in the sense of 'please, please, like my novel'.
     
  21. Jax
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    Jax Member

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    I'm far from an expert but I think you need to work on your hook. There isn't enough information to pull me in. What is the character trying to accomplish? What are the obstacles? Is his past relevant enough to take up valuable space in what few lines you get to describe your story? I just think that the hook is the most important part without that it will go into the slush pile.
     
  22. John Franklin Dandridge
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    John Franklin Dandridge Member

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    Thanks Jax, I appreciate the feedback. And welcome to the forum.
     

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