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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query help/historical WWII novel

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message 1: by ChessPawn (new)

ChessPawn | 140 comments Hello,
I need to work on my short summary for my historical fiction manuscript, and would love some help!
Here it is:

In August, 1944, the people of Warsaw make the fateful decision to strike back against their German occupiers for control of the city. However, for former fencing instructor Anatoli Ryszkowski, what might have been a chance to fight for a life without fear has become even more dangerous.

Several months earlier, Anatoli was arrested for his activity with the Polish underground army, and his German captors soon realized that his love for his son, Pavel, as well as for his courier, Gosia, could be bent to their own advantage. The choice he was given was simple: to tell the German prison commandant everything he knew about his underground network, or lose the son he cared for as his own.

Every day the German siege worsens, and Anatoli must decide to what lengths he is capable of going to protect the only family he has left.


For reference, it's just under 150 words, which I've been told is a good standard to work with.

Thanks! =)


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Hey there Chess,

I'm not feeling grabbed. I think your focus is too much on the historical aspect. Kind of like backstory, you start with large historical events when most people care about character. I suggest starting with Anatoli. Perhaps something like this:


Anatoli is being interrogated by his Nazi captors. They’re convinced he has knowledge of the people and operations of the local Warsaw underground network they’ve been dealing with.

A former fencing instructor, Anatoli is used to the give and take of the interrogation and has been successfully putting off the Germans.

Then the Germans realize his love for Pavel, the young man Anatoli considers closer than his own blood. Things begin to unravel as the interrogators apply pressure. As the siege worsens, time is running out for Anatoli’s knowledge to be of any value, so he must decide to what lengths he’ll go to protect the only family he has left.


message 3: by ChessPawn (last edited Apr 06, 2019 03:33PM) (new)

ChessPawn | 140 comments Keith wrote: "Hey there Chess,

I'm not feeling grabbed. I think your focus is too much on the historical aspect. Kind of like backstory, you start with large historical events when most people care about charac..."


Hello Keith, thanks for your comment. That makes a lot of sense.

Here is my revised version: (not happy about the last sentence, but we'll see...)

All former fencing instructor Anatoli Ryszkowski ever wanted was to keep his son Pavel safe. In German-occupied Warsaw, with Anatoli's Jewish background, it's never been easy. However, when Anatoli and his fiancee Malgorzata are arrested by the German police for working with the Polish underground army, he learns the most horrible obstacles are still ahead of him.

The choice the German prison commandant gives Anatoli is simple: give up the information he has about the Polish resistance, or his son will die.

As Anatoli struggles to get himself and Malgorzata out of prison, Warsaw is on the tipping point of all-out street warfare between the Poles and their occupiers. Anatoli is forced to figure out the lengths he is capable of going to in order to protect the only family he has left, and what he'll do if his own fellow Poles ever discover what he's capable of.


message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments If my memory is correct, Pavel isn't really his son, is he?

Is Anatoli arrested before the beginning of the book? That was the impression I had earlier.

Is there a reason you want to keep 'Nazi' out of it? It's WWII, right? So German == Nazi.

I believe this is much better, but think it needs polishing. For instance, starting off with "former" fencing instructor sounds weak. You want to start off with a bang, which is why I suggested putting Anatoli in jeopardy in the first sentence.


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