Your first sentence robs the entire paragraph of tension. It does that because it tells us what happens FIRST, not deliver it as the punchline to the paragraph. What you've got here is the first draft. When you revise, you go back through the paragraph and take out all the things that undercut the tension or reveal things too soon. You won't see this when you write it, you'll ONLY see it when you revise.
You'll want to check your novel for this too. This is one of the things I see a lot in early novelists: they put sentences in the wrong order. One too many lessons about "topic sentences" from your fourth grade teacher stuck in your brain. Novel writing and expository writing are VERY different creatures paragraph wise.
Now bound to fulfill an eight-year term, Valadae is thrown into a boot camp full of screaming warlocks and warwitches threatening to shove a combat boot up her ass. However, none of the instructors are harder on Valadae then Warwitch Beaning, and it’s certainly not because she sees any potential in Valadae. Soldiers are suddenly falling ill to an untraceable sickness and dying in the midst of training. When Valadae develops similar symptoms, she just knows that Beaning is the cause.
Are the warlocks and warwitches the instructors? That's not clear. I thought at first that they were Valadae's fellow boots.
There's no connection between Warwitch Beaning seeing no potential in Valadae, and soldiers falling ill. That means they do NOT belong in the same paragraph unless you link them.
Consider this revision with that in mind:
Now bound to fulfill an eight-year term, Valadae is thrown into a boot camp full of screaming
"Just knows" drives me crazy. I think of it as sloppy writing because you haven't got a reason, it's just "she knows." Like deus ex machina, it's a device to clean things up without having to explain anything. Even if you use "she suspects" you're better off than with "she just knows."
Again, this is something you'll see only when you revise. Revising isn't copy editing. It's not checking for spelling errors. Revising is making sure all the sentences flow in logical order, the arc of the paragraph is correct, your style and rhythm are right. If you're not moving sentences, and paring out words and changing words while you're revising, you're not doing it right.
As Valadae slowly makes the connections, (what connections?) a conspiracy is uncovered. A myth surfaces surrounding an ancient artifact called the Millicor, said to hold the heart of an entire country. Anyone bearing a surname similar to Copperstone could lead towards the right country. It has to be what Beaning is after. The longer Valadae takes to prove it, the faster she risks meeting the same fate as her sick comrades and never getting back home to her family.
You're over explaining something we don't need to know. Pare down. The only thing we need to know in a query is what Valadae's choices are and what's at stake. She's going to choose to confront/kill/quit and if she succeeds X happens and if she fails Y happens. But X also means Z bad thing could happen too.
Get the stakes, not just the set up on the page.
Get the stakes, not just the set up on the page.
TIN YEAR, a
I am serving my eighth year in the United States Army Reserve. I drew on my beginning experiences with Echo Company 113th of Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in the writing of this book.
You don't call your own book suspenseful. Of course, you want it to be, and you're writing so it will be, but that's a designation someone ELSE needs to give it.
I'm usually not keen on including bio lines but this one works because it relates directly to the book you're writing.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Question 1): When an agent requests a partial or full of your MS, are writers allowed to request time (short time frame of course) to give their manuscript a final once over before emailing it? Or does an agent expect writers to be so extremely confident in their work that they’ll send it anyway, even with the possibility of the agent finding an error or two?
You should be prepared to send your manuscript to an agent the instant the request comes in. The time for that once over is between sending the query and getting the request for the full.
Of course, in the real world, there's no way I'm going to talk you nit-picky writers (and don't think I don't value that quality!) out of doing a once-over. The trick is to do it in less than 24 hours. Don't write back saying "hold on, I want to go over it one more time" just DO IT, and then send promptly.
Question 2): I remember you explaining in several posts (actually more than several) that shorter sentences are always better. If a query comes off as too simplistic, couldn’t that accidentally advertise the writer’s style as being unworthy of representation?
I'm not sure what unworthy of representation is but it sounds bad, and I don't really like using the word worthy. Suitable for publication, or publishable are the standards I use.
And by shorter sentences, what I mean is sentences that don't go on too long. Nice concrete standard there, no?
You're supposing that short sentences sound simplistic. I assure you they don't. Short sentences have a punch and vigor their lengthier comrades lack. That said, style and rhythm are key. Short and long are better than one or the other.