Monday, August 03, 2009

Face-Lift 660


Guess the Plot

N

1. One man's struggle with Narcolepsy, and the challenge of staying awake long enough to finish a book about it.

2. Tired of being called a heartless bastard, a teenager leaves the Earth and crosses the galaxy accompanied by her spineless navigator Nigel, A.K.A. . . . N.

3. The letter pinned to the starlet's bikini said only "N." For Zack Martinez, homicide detective, this meant only one thing: those first thirteen murders were related.

4. With a brutal serial killer holding him hostage and his life depending on a game, it's not the best time for Mason to discover he lost some of the Scrabble tiles.

5. In the shadowy backstreets of a nameless city lurks N, a man of mystery. Who is he? Does anyone, even N himself, know for sure?

6. In an alternate world of gneissic knolls, gnu-sized gnats and gnocchi-kneading gnomes, the unlikely hero is a knuckle-headed knight in pneumatic knickerbockers.

7. Zorro II sets off on an epic journey to find an optometrist who's not afraid of a man with a sword. Turns out she's hot, too.

8. Q has gone missing and N is running the show with agents Orange and 013. Can they foil a plot to assassinate the PM?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Thank you in advance for taking the time to consider representing N, a young adult science fiction novel. N is complete at 45,000 words and is my first novel.

Like many girls her age, Dance West [has a ridiculous name.] [Last week we had a character named Satiety. Is it common practice these days to name your kid by randomly choosing a word from the dictionary?] [At least they didn't choose East.] falls under several labels. [Not sure "falling under" labels is a known expression.] Unlike most girls her age, those labels are more along the lines of “criminal”, “deserter”, “con artist”, “heartless bastard”, “thief”, or “pirate.” [You left out "cannibal." Try to keep your lists to three items.] Sick of the problems and injuries these labels cause, Dance sets out to find the one bargaining chip in the galaxy large enough to clear her name – a massive lost ship dubbed the Archon. [I don't see how a ship is a bargaining chip, what kind of bargain she would make with it, or how it would clear her name. Unless . . . "I've acquired a massive ship; I'll give it to you if you stop calling me a heartless bastard."] [Wouldn't it be easier and faster to acquire a ship that isn't lost somewhere in the galaxy?]

She begins her journey alongside her absolute wuss of a ship's computer, Nigel. [Also known as N, because it's a cooler title than Nigel.] Nigel's lack of a figurative spine antagonizes Dance's aggressive inclinations [Nothing's worse than having your inclinations antagonized by something that doesn't exist.] and the closer they get to the Archon, the more their constant struggles against each other threaten to compromise the mission. [Their struggles are irrelevant. Either the the Archon is empty and there for the taking, or someone else has the Archon, in which case they certainly aren't turning it over to a heartless bastard from a primitive planet that's the laughingstock of the galaxy.] Unexpected threats loom as they draw closer to their goal and ultimately a trauma forces them to band together and reverse roles to defend their prize, with Dance's future on the line. [This is complete vagueness. What threats? What trauma? What happens?]

N has been nothing short of a hit with the young adults who have read it. [Uh oh.] Readers have enjoyed the realistic characters, [You've mentioned only one character. Unless Nigel counts as a realistic character.] engaging style, and fluid storytelling. They said the novel weaves together humor, tragedy, and richly imagined fictional history. [They declared it to be the greatest book ever written; I reminded them of Shakespeare, Stephenie Meyer and Dr. Suess, but they stood by their claim. And who am I to press the argument?] Many noted that N redefined their perceptions of science fiction [If someone traveling through space with an uncooperative computer redefined their perceptions of science fiction, it's only because they never saw 2001. Or about a third of all Star Trek episodes.] [Also, young adults don't say things like "It redefined my perceptions." They say, It was sick. Or crunk or tope or buck or whatever this week's word for awesome is.] and generated interest in a genre they had never considered interesting before.

Again, thank you for considering N as a novel worth representing. I look forward to hearing from you.


Notes

Top fifteen things I see in query letters, ranked in order of how much I care about them:

1. Your plot.
2. Your main character's motivations and growth.
3. Your genre.
4. Impressive credits.
5. Word count.
6. Why you are bothering querying me.
7. Unimpressive credits.
8. Your biography.
9. Names of successful authors you write better than.
10. Titles of books that meet each other, resulting in your book.
11. Whether your book would make a good movie.
12. Titles of movies that meet each other, resulting in your book.
13. Who should play your main character in the movie.
14. Number of people who follow you on Twitter.
15. What people you let read your book said to you about it.

You need to tell us specifically what happens and why Dance does what she does. Who is she? Why has she been labeled a thief, con artist, heartless bastard? Why will finding the Archon change anything? Has anyone else looked for it, and if so, why should Dance have better luck? Won't everyone she knows be dead when she returns?

38 comments:

blogless troll said...

You could put an accent over the "e" so it's pronounced don-say West, which has a better ring to it, though still ridiculous.

Eric P. said...

The comment I plan to leave on this experiences many adjectival descriptors. The people who read my comment said it was witty, clever, devastatingly honest, and fundamentally correct in its assessment of the problems of the query.

Anonymous said...

Seems like the story might be good but you aimed the query letter at the wrong audience. Next effort will be more effective for an agent if you drop the self-flattery, turn down the silliness, and focus on conveying info about the book.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the crazy names coming from?

Interesting names celebrities name their offspring.

Aanisah: Macy Gray (also mother to Tahmel)
Apple: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
Astrella Celeste: Donovan and Linda Lawrence (also parents to Oriole Nebula)
Atherton Grace: Don Johnson and Kelley Phleger
Audio Science: Shannyn Sossamon
Aurelius Cy: Elle Macpherson and Arpad Busson
Blue Angel: U2's The Edge and Aislinn O'Sullivan
Bluebell Madonna: Geri Halliwell
Brooklyn: David and Victoria Beckham (also parents to Romeo and Cruz)
Calico: Alice and Sheryl Cooper (also parents to Sonora Rose)
Camera: Arthur Ashe and Jeanne Moutoussamy
Destry: Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw
Diezel Ky: Toni Braxton and Keri Lewis (also parents to Denim Cole)
Fuchsia: Sting and Frances Tomelty
Gaia: Emma Thompson and Greg Wise
Heaven: Lil' Mo (also mother to God'Iss Love Stone)
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily: Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence
Hopper: Sean Penn and Robin Wright Ireland: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
Jaz: Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi
Jermajesty: Jermaine Jackson and Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza (previously married to Jermaine's brother Randy)
Kal-El Coppola: Nicholas Cage (Kal-El is Superman’s original birth name)
Kyd: David Duchovny and Tea Leoni
Lark Song: Mia Farrow and André Previn
Memphis Eve: Bono
Moon Unit: Frank Zappa, also father to Dweezil and Diva Muffin
Moxie CrimeFighter: Penn Jillette (also father to Zolten)
Poppy Honey: Jamie and Jules Oliver (also parents to Daisy Boo)
Rocket: Robert Rodriguez (also father to Racer, Rebel and Rogue)
Rufus Tiger: Roger Taylor also father to Tiger Lily and Lola Daisy
Sage Moonblood: Sylvester Stallone and Sasha Czack (also parents to Seargeoh)
Satchel: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
Shiloh Nouvel: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Sosie: Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
Suri: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Tallulah: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (also parents to Scout and Rumer)
Willow Camille Reign: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
Zola Ivy: Eddie Murphy and Nicole Mitchell

Most common baby names in US 2008

1 Emma Aiden
2 Sophia Jayden
3 Madison Ethan
4 Isabella Jacob
5 Olivia Caden
6 Ava Jackson
7 Madeline Noah
8 Addison Jack
9 Hailey Logan
10 Lily Matthew

From the celebrity list and from the recent influx of rather odd hero names - I must assume that there is a belief that odd names will lead to popularity or perhaps an odd name will make the person a hero.

When actuallity it probably will just lead to ridicule on the playground.

As to the query - I have nothing useful to add that EE did not already note.

vkw

Evil Editor said...

The list of most popular 2008 names at socialsecurity.gov differs somewhat:

Rank Male name Female name
1 Jacob.......... Emma
2 Michael.........Isabella
3 Ethan.......... Emily
4 Joshua......... Madison
5 Daniel......... Ava
6 Alexander...... Olivia
7 Anthony........ Sophia
8 William ....... Abigail
9 Christopher.... Elizabeth
10 Matthew ....... Chloe

The likelihood that both Jayden and Caden are in the top ten boys names is nil, so I'll put my trust in this list.

Khazar-khum said...

How can a girl be a heartless bastard? Bitch, sure. Bastard? Not so much. Technically she could BE a bastard, yes. But when it's hurled as an insult, gender matters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks E.E. I was questioning the girls' names with Madison and Addison on the same list, (I should have dug deeper) regardless, a name like "Dance" or "Kal-El" does not make your child or a book interesting.

It just makes YOU look odd.

And, all my friends thought my book sounded interesting as well except for a few "nits", and they loved my query and my synopsis but it does not count unless they are writers, publishers or agents. Children also are horrendous critics since they will say anything to win your praise or to look smart.

Best to identify your audience and write the query to convince them you have a good story.

vkw

Steve Wright said...

Several people have said nice things about my novels. Of course, I'm bigger than them and I know where they live, which is the only reliable way to get good reviews.

The plot description essentially says "Dance and Nigel look for a spaceship and get on each others' nerves". I suspect this can usefully be expanded. Preferably in plain English - "antagonizes Dance's aggressive inclinations", indeed. "Gets on her wick" is much more succinct.

Get rid of Nigel. Use Eddie instead. ("Hi there!")

Why is the computer called Nigel anyway? Is it some sort of acronym? (Numerical Integrator for Galactic Exploration and Location, maybe. Hmm, someone should be able to do better than that.) If the computer's personality is unhelpful, why doesn't Dance just reprogram it? Should be as easy as changing your desktop theme, that ...

vkw - what's wrong with Tallulah? Worked fine for Ms. Bankhead, back in the day.

Dave F. said...

As far as I can tell, Dance West is a crabby, spoiled, willful brat (I refuse to use the word bastard today) and the computer is a sweet, charming push-over of a machine and they go off into outer space in search of a lost spaceship and they are the only ones who know the location.

I suspect that's not your story but that is your query. I remember when SyFy Channel commissioned a movie about scientists reviving a Woolly Mammoth only to have it hijacked by an alien determined to destroy the earth.

The girl who spends a book arguing with a computer that eventually agrees with everything she says. I hope your novel is more than that, too. YIKES!

And another thing about that computer... I'd just love to lock some of my nieces and nephews into a room with a computer programmed to bicker with them. I just love bickering kids. Just take me to the asylum and give me a lobotomy. It's like teen texting and tweeting over dates and music and celebrities and school -- mindless. I mean why don't teens ever have serious discussions of Proust and Nietzsche?

I guess those last remarks were over the line. Sorry, I'm trying to behave.

The reader needs to like Dance West. The query has to reflect her experiences in the search for the lost spaceship.

Eric P. said...

Given that list, I'm forced to conclude that when the children of celebrities go the playground, they all pick on Johnny and Mary.

Maybe part of the backstory is that Dance's parents are egomaniacal galactic celebrities? That would explain a bit. (Either way, atrocious name.)

The Random Word Generator suggests that your character's name should be Nutritive, Playgoer, Bola, Contrail, Ornamentation, Strafe, or Kibitzer. All of which are still ridiculous but better than "Dance." (Not to mention "Satiety.")

BuffySquirrel said...

YAs who don't read SFF are not your market. Therefore what they say is of supreme uninterest.

It's the agent's opinion that matters. Give them more information on which to form that opinion.

Anonymous said...

There really isn't much about the plot here, and the "people I know who've read it said" is a really sad waste of space. Get to the details of the plot and the specifics. The agents you query are adults who wants facts about your book, not teens who will read anything if you say "oh, all of these people loved it".

Also, remember that fancy words aren't always your friend. Your query letter should be written in a way that reflects how your novel is written.

Can't wait for the rewrite.

Kathleen said...

just awesome Guess the Plot submissions.

sylvia said...

The comment I plan to leave on this experiences many adjectival descriptors. The people who read my comment said it was witty, clever, devastatingly honest, and fundamentally correct in its assessment of the problems of the query.

This is perfect. Marry me.

_*Rachel*_ said...

You need genre, wordcount to the nearest thousand, and the story. General audience--ie, YA, is fine, too.

Strange title. And name.

I reccommend rewriting this from scratch.

I'm nervous about your humility. By any chance, are you Alexander?

You know, I still can't understand how my Creative Writing teacher liked my first attempt at a novel. It was bad! ...anyway, if you really do think your novel is as great as the praise in the query is, you might want to give the novel a little time to mature.

Reprogram the unhelpful computer? Nah, you'd be getting rid of all the fun, as well as the thoroughly nutricious drink that is definitely not tea.

I think EE messed with my GTP to give it ulterior motives.

Xiexie said...

Hi Author,

You've given us a lot about N and Dance without much of the action. Fill us in on the action and less on N and Dance and all the self-though-claimed-to-have-been-given-by-others-praise.

Robin S. said...

So I was looking at the top 5 things you look at/care about when looking at a query. Impressive credits was in there - food for thought and action.

Evil Editor said...

Of course, the more impressive your credits, the more likely you already have an agent taking care of all this submission stuff for you.

Robin S. said...

That's a point, though I'm trying to work up the will to fine tune some work and send short stories out, so I thought I'd use this as motivation.

I've gotten very close a few times, and I've only sent something out those few times, so I'm gonna be more diligent and careful this time, and see what happens. And send to a boatload of places, rather than a smattering. There's that.

Because if this is in your top five, it's probably in other top fives as well.

Author said...

Revision:


Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my young adult science fiction novel, N, which is complete at 51,000 words.

Three thousand years in the future, humans aren't exactly the top of the heap when it comes to intelligent species in the galaxy. Dance West knows this all too well, having been “adopted” into brutal military service at a young age. Since deserting, she has taken up a life of crime that, while enjoyable, has brought a world of trouble for her. Now she's found the bargaining chip that might be able to win her a clear record at last – the massive Archon, a ship that has been lost for hundreds of years and is rumored to contain an immense treasure.

Constantly at odds with her insecure and uncooperative ship's computer, Nigel, Dance strikes out to claim the ship and discovers a good deal more than she bargained for. The ship's great “treasure” is the missing past of the human race and the ship itself plays host to a finicky ancient computer system that takes delight in playing mind games. On top of all of this, they have been tracked by tag alongs bent on stealing her prize. With Dance severely injured and their plan in shambles, Dance and Nigel must overcome their mistrust towards one another to escape the Archon alive.

I am a high school junior and have had short stories published in two literary magazines: the 2009 Boulder High School Jambalaya and the 2010 Albemarle High School Lantern. In addition, I placed second in the National Junior Classical League's 2009 essay contest.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

enewmeyer said...

The query was much better and I am actually interested in your plot this time around. I'm not so sure that you should mention that you are still in high school. That might work against you. Good luck!

Tom said...

Wow. Just wow. I read all of the comments for the first query, and I sure hope that when mine comes up everyone is just as brutal (with a smile on my face and trembling hands).

The second query read pretty good to my non-editor eyes. Leave out your age and anything to do with school-related publishing. Adults look down on kids. The query is good, or it isn't. Leave it at that.

One comment, why is Dance satisfied with just escaping the ship alive? Shouldn't she be defeating all of her enemies, or co-opting them to her plans and getting away with the ship, treasure and all?

150 said...

My gosh. I'd read that. Fantastic rewriting job.

It could still be tightened further: "takes delight" could be made simply "delights", for example. I'd like to see specifics in place of "With Dance severely injured and their plan in shambles": "When the tag-alongs board the ship and shoot her in the leg", or whatever. Either way, I think you've got something good here. Good luck!

Owls said...

(This is Owls from the NW) Awesome rewrite. The plot is much more coherent now. Although there are a few sentences that could use some skimming for extra words, I think it reads much better.

Bernita said...

Much better. Much, much, much.
Agree with Tom about ditching the school-related stuff.

_*rachel*_ said...

As far as mentioning high school goes, it puts the publishing/contest credits in context. If you keep the credits, keep your age as well. That way we know you're not a 40-year-old coasting on your freshman year glory; these are recent and relevant.

That said, well done. Reading over this, my impression of the book is, "Yeah, I'd read this." It looks interesting, and it doesn't have any of the vagueness or weird compliments that threw me off last time.

It sounds a little on the short side even for YA, though. I'd still give it a try.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Holy Underage Query Batman!

Author, I wasn't around for the original query and from what I can see you were ripped to threads (see how I avoided that cliche?). I'd bet the new 50 cent piece I got from today's recycling haul that neither EE nor the minions knew you were in HS when that happened. Not having read the first query and only reading this one, I had no clue as to your age when reviewing it--and only came up with one line that I found suspect.

While being young will not help you get published, I must say that you, young man/woman, are far far far ahead of the game and your revision shows that you have both talent and determination. I applaud you!

Here's my nit:
"Since deserting, she has taken up a life of crime that, while enjoyable, has brought a world of trouble for her."

both "life of crime" and "world of trouble" are both pretty cliche...and both pretty vague. Without extending it too much, maybe provide some detail as to what kind of crime and what kind of trouble.

I love the insecure uncooperative computer. I'd read your opening just for that line. You rock. Keep writing. Don't get discouraged and if you want, track me down and write me. I've got two agents who I know personally that would likely give this a partial read.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I did not read the original, so I only have this one to go on. It’s good. Could use a bit of clean up and a bit more detail. 51K words is a shade light, but still in the good range for YA. If an editor or agent loves it and feels it’s short, they might ask for more to be added.

How old is Dance? That’s important for YA. If you can’t work it in nicely though, I’d leave it out. But perhaps replace young age with how old she really was and then say how much time she was there and is now doing some sort of crime.

What crime? If you can give us some detail on what she’s doing that’s illegal, it will help establish her character.

Remove most of these (from query and manuscript): actually, really, exactly, very, just. There are a lot of words that we love to throw into normal life that are not helpful in a novel.

“immense treasure” “great treasure” – I’m feeling ambivalent about these descriptors. Seems like there could be better words to describe it. These are generic, but they do get the point across.

Dance being severely injured comes out of the blue for me. How did she get injured? I’m missing something important here.

You have a lot of great details here that help set the tone, the scene and the action. I especially love the finicky ancient computer system that delights in playing mind games. Even here, a little detail might kick this into a higher gear, but this is one that can stay as is if you need the space.

As for the publishing credits and your age – I agree that you either drop them both or keep them both. It’s a tough call.

150 said...

Actually, after thinking about it, let me weigh in on the age issue: are your two pub creds to places that regularly turn people away? My high school, for example, had a literary magazine that you could be in just by handing a poem to the teacher in charge. It's awesome, but in a query letter context, that doesn't really count as a pub cred.

I think a lot of teenagers want to include their age because it can be used as a marketing point, and they're right, it can--but only after you have a good manuscript to market. It may influence the book-buying public, but it won't influence an agent.

So I agree that you should keep them both or drop them both, and add that which you decide should hinge on whether your pub creds are really worth mentioning.

Eric said...

I'm impressed. I've got to say I might have been a bit gentler if I'd known you were still in high school, but you took your medicine well and came back with a solid and much improved piece of query. Good work!

"Tagalongs" as a noun is one word. (And a nice cookie.)

I'm still not crazy about the names or the one-letter title, but it's your story.

Otherwise, ditto the comments above. Rephrase a couple of predictable word combinations; maybe explain her "severe injuries"; keep both credits (advisedly) and age or neither.

If you keep on taking criticism this well and (more importantly) improving your work this much, you're sure to go very far indeed.

Author said...

Re-revision:


Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my young adult science fiction novel, Salvage, which is complete at 51,000 words.

Three thousand years in the future, humans aren't exactly the top of the heap when it comes to intelligent species in the galaxy. Fifteen year old Dance West knows this all too well, having been “adopted” into brutal military service at a young age. Since deserting, she has taken up a life of crime ranging from pickpocketing to outright piracy that, while enjoyable, has brought a world of trouble for her. Now she's found the bargaining chip that might be able to win her a clear record at last – the massive Archon, a ship that has been lost for hundreds of years and is rumored to contain an immense treasure.

Constantly at odds with her insecure and uncooperative ship's computer, Nigel, Dance strikes out to claim the ship and discovers a good deal more than she bargained for. The ship's great “treasure” is the missing past of the human race and the ship itself plays host to a finicky ancient computer system that delights in playing mind games. On top of all of this, they have been tracked by tagalongs bent on stealing her prize. When Dance's hand is blown off in the ensuing firefight and their plan dissolves around them, Dance and Nigel must overcome their mistrust towards one another to escape the Archon alive and reclaim their key to freedom.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Sarah Laurenson said...

This is good. I love the details you're adding. Care to add a bit more? :-)

Details can help give your query the flavor of your voice.

I tightened it a bit and added comments where I think you could spice it up even more.


Three thousand years in the future, humans aren't top of the heap when it comes to intelligent species in the galaxy. Fifteen-year-old Dance West knows this all too well, having been “adopted” into brutal military service at a young age. Since deserting, she has taken up a life of crime ranging from pick pocketing to outright piracy that, while enjoyable, has brought a world of trouble for her. [Cliché. What is the catalyst for her search? What is pushing her to look for the bargaining chip? A bargaining chip means she is about to bargain with someone or something. Why is she now at this impasse?] She needs a bargaining chip to win her a clear record [Why is this a high stake? Can you rephrase it to raise the stakes? Are we talking about her life or having freedom of movement? Tie it to the world of trouble catalyst.] and she might have found one in the massive Archon, a ship that has been lost for hundreds of years and is rumored to contain an immense treasure.

Constantly at odds with her insecure and uncooperative ship's computer, Nigel, Dance strikes out to claim the Archon [You have 2 ships, need to be sure which we're talking about.] and discovers the “treasure” is the missing past of the human race and the Archon plays host to a finicky ancient computer system that delights in playing mind games. Dance and Nigel have also been tracked by tagalongs bent on stealing her prize. When her hand is blown off in the ensuing firefight and their plan dissolves around them, Dance and Nigel must overcome their mistrust towards one another to escape the Archon alive and reclaim their key to freedom. [Not sure what this means. What’s she playing for here? What is so important that she risks life and limb when she was enjoying her life of crime?]

enewmeyer said...

Good job with the rewrites! I like the new title. The last title reminded me of a variable in an algebraic equation. I'm still a bit fuzzy on what the treasure is exactly. The missing past of the human race is confusing to me. Good luck! Let us know if this gets picked up. Sounds like a decent story.

Tom said...

As I read it, if she comes back with the old ship she will be a hero and her crimes forgiven. Might want to clarify this if it didn't go on too long.

Why is this ship so important? What is it about the history of the human race that makes it worth while to save?

Who are the villains? Aliens who want to keep humans down, or who want to steal some bit of lore that will keep them on top? Or are they humans who are simply competitors?

You are really making progress. I hope to see another query soon.

No one reading this would suspect you were a just a dumb kid (not implying you are dumb, quite the opposite). The only time anyone needs to know that is when you have your mom co-sign your contract.

Do you have a chapter on line somewhere?

_*rachel*_ said...

This is good. It wouldn't hurt to fiddle with it a bit, like looking at what Sarah says, but you're in good shape here.

I second Tom: is any of it online?

Joe G said...

I liked "N". It was a bit enigmatic.

You should say "at the top of the heap". Otherwise it sounds like you're suggesting that humans are among the stupider species in the galaxy, which is funny, but it's the only joke in the query.

Is she a pirate from the start or does she become one when she goes looking for the ship? That's an exciting story (pickpocket army deserter becomes pirate) but if she's a pirate from the beginning, skip all the back story.

At ___ Dance West is a bit young to be a space pirate, as her only companion and computer navigational system N.i.g.e.l. (Neurotic Inter-Galactic Exodus Lackey) constantly reminds her, but that isn't going to stop her from pursuing the biggest treasure in the galaxy; the ancient ship The Archlon, which may hold the secret of the forgotten history of the endangered human race.

Now the backstory.

3,000 years in the future, humans aren't exactly at the top of the heap etc. Humans are _______ (Forced into the army? Stuck in feudal societies? Bred for food?) Dance has escaped a life of military conscription and gone from living on the streets to acquiring her own ship. When she discovers the existence of the Archlon, she realizes she may have found the bargaining chip she needs to obtain her freedom and leave her life of crime.

But Dance isn't the only one looking for the Archlon. An evil group of tagalongs (que?) follow in hot pursuit, intent on stealing her prize. And it doesn't help that she is constantly at odds with Nigel, the only one who can help her, because __________. Nigel has his own interest in finding the Archlon, because __________. But the two of them must overcome their differences and succeed in their quest, because __________.


If you have a more compelling villain than "a group of tagalongs" you should probably mention that. I do think your query is getting there though. It sounds like a good story.

I wonder if anyone will ever write a story where the ship, instead of having a dorky voice named Nigel or a sexy lady voice, has like, a Rastafarian voice, or is a super uptight conservative Christian and is always trying to prevent the captain from sexing the local alien babes.

nikanors-inn said...

Here's an exercise that might prove helpful to you. Try to state the plot in one sentence.

Pop that into your query. If you can make an effective hook out of it, make it the first sentence of the query.

Also go over your work and cut EVERY unnecessary word. Agents see hundreds of queries a week. Be concise, clear, to the point.

Yours might stand out better.

Anonymous said...

Writer, I would like to salute and adopt you. Can you get Daunc-e loaded on sugar and get silly with N and let them have a crazy night of what if's? Of course N needs negative ions to get jazzed, and I'm teasing. Wonderful revision, congratulations. Bibi