Israel Falls Update (sci-fi 794 words)

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John J. Falco
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#1
I've been away perfecting my story Israel Falls. I've reworked it into a first person diary format. So here's the query and the first chapter (not proofread). What do you think? Does it work?? For those that will ask. He describes the setting on the second page.


Dear Agent,
I am seeking representation for my novel. Israel Falls, is a diary direct from the deranged mind of Henry Wilson, the last known and dying survivor of a cataclysmic event that ripped through the space-time continuum. While organizing his logs for an audience of one, seems like a waste, he hopes to leave a behind a guide which might help someone learn from the mistakes we made. What follows is a rough chronicle of events. Part timeline, part historical record, and part warning about the dangerous empire of time traveling humans and how with his help, we destroyed the universe.

Here is the first chapter.

Log…1?
I f***ed up. It wasn’t just the end of the world that I was facing. No, it was the end of everything. Well technically the space-time continuum basically ate itself as much as I understood the topic. Time Travel was never my purview. But that’s what happens when you are tasked to save the world, you don’t know what you are doing, and you fail.

I struggled with whether or not I should actually write this damn thing. There’s no telling whether or not anything would even read this. But I look at it as a mental exercise disguised to help me figure out a way out of my particular predicament. Who knows perhaps retracing my steps will help me. Where’s the clue? That’s what I’m good at. I gotta figure out how the suspect—in this case me, destroyed the universe. I also have to figure out how to reverse it, if possible.

My first step in writing this thing was to figure out a new way to actually tell time in order to organize my thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Since there technically isn’t time anymore thanks to my screw up and there’s no constant to tether past, present or future. It can be quite challenging to write this thing in narrative format. You know the normal, “One sunny day a long time ago, Mr. Henry Wilson went to work, like it was any other day.” Nope can’t be done. The timeline would be a complex mess that made no sense. How do I know? Well first of, there’s no sun, there’s no days, and there’s no point in time to measure a “long time ago”. Also, as much as I like reading books, I’m not much of a writer and I tried to start and then I stopped writing this thing about 50 times.

I thought about splitting it up and giving this thing two points of view. One from mine and one from Johnny’s. Well as much as I think I can read his mind or decipher what he was thinking at the time. Since my training is in police work, I think I’m pretty good at that. He is after all my best friend. Or was? Ugh Time Travel. So confusing. But that wouldn’t have worked either. There’s too much that I need to talk about, explain, or even try to wrap my head around before I even think about giving Johnny his own act. Leave out everyone else? No can’t be done. Scholars might say Johnny McIntyre’s changes to the timeline directly caused its own destruction, but I’m far from convinced of this. Plus, they’re all dead! I’m the scholar now bitches.

What was left? Tell it from my point of view from the future? Only a few years ago? Start in the distant past nearly a thousand years ago? Combine the two time periods and go back and forth between both time periods? Then what about all the trips done in the meantime? I’ve seen time travel dramas before on TV or in movies, and usually the setting does not portray that the entire society has access to these time travel devices like humanity had actually achieved in the late 21st century. It’s usually a ragtag group of people who accidentally discover it. Making up the rules as they go. Not a well-adjusted culture at the height of its power which figures out a way to incorporate time travel into the daily rhythm of life. The storytelling format just isn’t possible with a world obsessed with time travel. Juggling a bunch of different multiverses is quite a challenge. Trust me. I had enough trouble dealing with my own branches. It has to be a dairy of sorts.

My decision in labeling these journals or logs really wasn’t as glamorous as all that. I basically just gave up. You can tell this by considering the title and chronology I chose. Ah! But what about the question mark at the end? Well, I questioned this because this log could easily go at the end as well as the beginning.
 
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Ihe

Forum Revolutionary
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#3
Hey, I'll point out mostly a few grammar issues with the intro letter first:
Israel Falls, is a diary direct
No comma.
or an audience of one, seems like a waste
No comma. Also, you switch tense, and "seems like a waste" doesn't make sense to me, placed where it is.
What follows is a rough chronicle of events.
It can't be a rough chronicle of events from your POV, as you are the writer. IF you were talking from the POV of the MC, then that would be correct. It can't be rough because you are the one telling it, and are implicitly referencing yourself in the letter.
time traveling humans
Time-travelling. Compound modifier to "human".
and how with his help, we destroyed the universe.
I don't think a comma should go there, but I'm not entirely sure.

On to the excerpt: I don't believe that this works for me. It is very expository, in an unimaginative way. I think the descriptive purpose of the excerpt would be too obvious to the reader.

The whole piece is just the MC wondering in what format he should start the story. There's the semblance of a hook, but it comes in clunky descriptive form, which isn't great. The voice of the MC is good, but I wouldn't consider this a good start to a story. All of that could've been condensed elegantly in a couple of paragraphs to then get on with the transition into the story. If you're going for more unconventional story-telling and it really will be all done through his diary entries, then you have more leeway, but I would cut this way down all the same, or get rid of it altogether. If it is told in diary form, there will be plenty of more organic chances to unload this information. Part of the wonder of reading is discovering things as we go.

There were several punctuation mistakes, and a few spelling ones as well. It seems like you're in the final stages, so make sure to clean it up before sending the query. Hope I could be of help. And forgive the directness, I tend to get straight to the point with crits. As always, take what advise serves you, and discard the rest.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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#4
Hey, I'll point out mostly a few grammar issues with the intro letter first:

No comma.

No comma. Also, you switch tense, and "seems like a waste" doesn't make sense to me, placed where it is.

It can't be a rough chronicle of events from your POV, as you are the writer. IF you were talking from the POV of the MC, then that would be correct. It can't be rough because you are the one telling it, and are implicitly referencing yourself in the letter.

Time-travelling. Compound modifier to "human".

I don't think a comma should go there, but I'm not entirely sure.

On to the excerpt: I don't believe that this works for me. It is very expository, in an unimaginative way. I think the descriptive purpose of the excerpt would be too obvious to the reader.

The whole piece is just the MC wondering in what format he should start the story. There's the semblance of a hook, but it comes in clunky descriptive form, which isn't great. The voice of the MC is good, but I wouldn't consider this a good start to a story. All of that could've been condensed elegantly in a couple of paragraphs to then get on with the transition into the story. If you're going for more unconventional story-telling and it really will be all done through his diary entries, then you have more leeway, but I would cut this way down all the same, or get rid of it altogether. If it is told in diary form, there will be plenty of more organic chances to unload this information. Part of the wonder of reading is discovering things as we go.

There were several punctuation mistakes, and a few spelling ones as well. It seems like you're in the final stages, so make sure to clean it up before sending the query. Hope I could be of help. And forgive the directness, I tend to get straight to the point with crits. As always, take what advise serves you, and discard the rest.
Thanks! You gave me something to think about. Do you think it will work better as a prologue? You know that some authors have the forward or explanation as to how and why they wrote it? Maybe something like that? I am trying to be unconventional here and using his voice as the narrative. What he saw and remembers.
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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#5
It can't be a rough chronicle of events from your POV, as you are the writer. IF you were talking from the POV of the MC, then that would be correct. It can't be rough because you are the one telling it, and are implicitly referencing yourself in the letter.
Also I was told that first person POV query letters do not work, but I really want to do that.
 

Ihe

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#6
I'll be going into a bit more detail about what I didn't like here.

I'll start with the prologue suggestion. To be honest, I'm not a fan of prologues. They almost always feel like a waste of time to me. As far as I know, prologues are supposed to enrich the larger picture, and are usually used when
1. you don't have a chance to place the scene in the main storyline and you absolutely want it in the story for X reasons (usually not justifiable reasons).
2. you aim to establish a false-start hook because the first chapter lacks energy (straight up no-no)
3. you want to info-dump/world-build outside of plot (doubly no-no)
4. and for minor foreshadowing (which is almost never worth the ink it took to write it). If it's major foreshadowing, it should be in the story to begin with.

As you can see, in my eyes there is never a good excuse to use a prologue, and you seem to be ticking all the points on this list above. And beyond that, the main issue here isn't "where should I put this?", it is "should this excerpt even be in the book?".

This piece lays your entire main plot bare in front of the reader. Now they know the stakes, the world-building, the main conflict, and where the problem and the solution ultimately lie (with the MC, as he is the only survivor by the end of this story, and it will be all up to him). You are giving away 70% of your story in the first 800 words. And it all happens outside the plot, which hurts the reader hook-investment, IMO. Even if you have plot twists planned, the reader doesn't know that (as yoU haven't foreshadowed the finer details yet)--they sat down to play and you showed them your entire hand. I think this piece does not serve any purpose to aid the plot. In fact, I believe it does it a disservice.

You need to think about what you want to achieve with this excerpt. Is it to introduce the narrator? Because you can do that more organically in following chapters. This reads like a disclaimer on what one is about to read, as in "By gosh, I need to explain to you the structuring of my story to avoid confusion". If you need to do that, then you might need to reassess the format of your entire story :LOL:.

So to summarize, I wouldn't use this excerpt anywhere in the story, not without a major rework.

With all that said, I don't know how the rest of your book is, so I will advise that if you do go ahead with this excerpt in the end, make sure you fully commit to the diary format/unreliable 1st POV narrator in following chapters. The disconnect in format could be too great otherwise.

Don't be afraid to cut those little gems you've been polishing for months/years. Most writers here know how bad it hurts to cut off something with so much effort poured into it. But a writer's responsibility does not lie with a single scene, but with a whole story. For the good of the story, some well-loved scenes always need to go. I suspect that this would be one such occasion.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you good luck with this.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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#7
I've been away perfecting my story Israel Falls. I've reworked it into a first person diary format. So here's the query and the first chapter (not proofread) Why not?. What do you think? Does it work?? For those that will ask. He describes the setting on the second page.


Dear Agent, (better getting personal look up the name and direct it at him/her Now it may be that was your intention, but then a Dear {I will insert his/her name here} would have been helpful)
I am seeking representation for my novel. Israel Falls, is a diary direct (it's a log apparently - very different) from the deranged mind of Henry Wilson, the last known and dying survivor of a cataclysmic event that ripped through the space-time continuum. While organizing his logs for an audience of one, seems like a waste, he hopes to leave a behind a guide which might help someone learn from the mistakes we made. What follows is a rough chronicle of events. Part timeline, part historical record, and part warning about the dangerous empire of time traveling humans and how with his help, we destroyed the universe.

IMO you've jumped in too soon. Hello I want you It's about a guy whos ...

Plus to my mind you're being a bit presumptuous - Agaents usually have a 'process' and a submission guideline. First ten pages - first three chapters etc.

By the way, I'm absoolutely sure there's a guide somewhere on the site about introductions to agents.Might be worth a search.

Here is the first chapter.

Log…1? (?---- ? what he can't remember - some log keeper)
I f***ed up. It wasn’t just the end of the world that I was facing. No, it was the end of everything. Well technically the space-time continuum (yep that's everything) basically ate itself as much as I understood the topic. Time Travel was never my purview. But that’s what happens when you are tasked to save the world, you don’t know what you are doing, and you fail. (seems a bit too much day one to me as in this is his first entry - of a log - So how would he know what would come - Only if he had written it after the events - in which cae this isn't a log/diary)

I struggled with whether or not I should actually write this damn thing. (again he's either writing a log or not usually people write "logs" because it's a requirement - not because they fancy doing it or maybe not) There’s no telling whether or not anything would even read this. But I look at it as a mental exercise disguised to help me figure out a way out of my particular predicament. Who knows perhaps retracing my steps will help me. Where’s the clue? That’s what I’m good at. I gotta figure out how the suspect—in this case me, destroyed the universe. I also have to figure out how to reverse it, if possible.

My first step in writing this thing was to figure out a new way to actually tell time in order to organize my thoughts in a clear and concise manner. Since there technically isn’t time anymore thanks to my screw up and there’s no constant to tether past, present or future. It can be quite challenging to write this thing in narrative format. You know the normal, “One sunny day a long time ago, Mr. Henry Wilson went to work, like it was any other day.” Nope can’t be done. The timeline would be a complex mess that made no sense. How do I know? Well first of, there’s no sun, there’s no days, and there’s no point in time to measure a “long time ago”. Also, as much as I like reading books, I’m not much of a writer and I tried to start and then I stopped writing this thing about 50 times.

I thought about splitting it up and giving this thing two points of view. One from mine and one from Johnny’s. Well as much as I think I can read his mind or decipher what he was thinking at the time. Since my training is in police work, I think I’m pretty good at that. He is after all my best friend. Or was? Ugh Time Travel. So confusing. But that wouldn’t have worked either. There’s too much that I need to talk about, explain, or even try to wrap my head around before I even think about giving Johnny his own act. Leave out everyone else? No can’t be done. Scholars might say Johnny McIntyre’s changes to the timeline directly caused its own destruction, but I’m far from convinced of this. Plus, they’re all dead! I’m the scholar now bitches.

What was left? Tell it from my point of view from the future? (as before you're twisting the future to the now. This is too disjointed in itself. I'll be honest - If I was the agent this letter is a crumple ball heading for the bin - harsh maybe but it's an hnest opinion.) Only a few years ago? Start in the distant past nearly a thousand years ago? Combine the two time periods and go back and forth between both time periods? Then what about all the trips done in the meantime? I’ve seen time travel dramas before on TV or in movies, and usually the setting does not portray that the entire society has access to these time travel devices like humanity had actually achieved in the late 21st century. It’s usually a ragtag group of people who accidentally discover it. Making up the rules as they go. Not a well-adjusted culture at the height of its power which figures out a way to incorporate time travel into the daily rhythm of life. The storytelling format just isn’t possible with a world obsessed with time travel. Juggling a bunch of different multiverses is quite a challenge. Trust me. I had enough trouble dealing with my own branches. It has to be a dairy of sorts.

My decision in labeling these journals or logs really wasn’t as glamorous as all that. I basically just gave up. You can tell this by considering the title and chronology I chose. Ah! But what about the question mark at the end? Well, I questioned this because this log could easily go at the end as well as the beginning.
Obviously, I'm not convinced this letter/story will work. I suspect you have the makings of a fine tale of daring do, but I would seriously consider changing the format/presentation and go for the traditional chapter one, two etc.

Of course these are only opinions and I have no qualification to to give me any justification to say it. In fairness I have a dislike of the loggy type tale format which is obviously biasing my views.

Hope I helped

Tein.
 

ctg

weaver of the unseen
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#8
I think this would come back with a standard rejection. The reason, you are not hooking your target audience soon enough. The letter to the reader isn't serious nor is it silly to make your story a comedy. The SF lovers start skipping the text after third paragraph and that should alarm you. I know that it's hard to see as an author, because we love our texts and we keep loving them even if they're faulty.

The reason why you have to hook from the very beginning is because the people these days have a really short attention span. The new generations even more so and they are who you need to sell this if you want to be successful. I know that you take the TT business very seriously. Therefore, I wish you'll go back and read your start to find a better beginning. One that introduces the main characters and provides a twist. When you later on have established your series, you can start the story this way, as your fans should already have all the necessary background information to really appreciate the story.

If you look for example Cathpad's recent entry in the critiques. He goes straight into to provide the hook and the twist (at the beginning and at the end of the first chapter). Although that is a double hook, you only need one. At the moment there none. Sorry.
 

Joshua Jones

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Location
Maryland, USA
#10
Not to join the choir, but I think everything you accomplish here could be a subtitle for the novel, rather than an introduction chapter. If you stick with the diary format, you could name it Israel Falls: A Diary of the Collapse of Time. or something like that to establish format and temporal anomalies, and establish characterization and stakes in the first entry.

Sorry I cannot be more optimistic, but I will say the premise does seem interesting. I hope to see more sometime soon!
 

Cli-Fi

John J. Falco
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#11
Not to join the choir, but I think everything you accomplish here could be a subtitle for the novel, rather than an introduction chapter. If you stick with the diary format, you could name it Israel Falls: A Diary of the Collapse of Time. or something like that to establish format and temporal anomalies, and establish characterization and stakes in the first entry.

Sorry I cannot be more optimistic, but I will say the premise does seem interesting. I hope to see more sometime soon!
Oh I like this idea!
 

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