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CENTAURIUS PRIME (Science Fiction)


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#1 Peter Burton

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 11:50 AM

Attention, please: Revised Query on post #21, Gang!

OK Guys and Gals, here's your chance for revenge. :biggrin: :wink:

Seriously though, please be brutally honest. I'm thick skinned, thick headed, and promise NOT to bite over anything critiqued. After all, I can't fix it if I don't know what's broken.

This is a WIP, so I hope to have the query ready to go as soon as it is finished.

Also, thank you from the top, bottom, and sides of my heart for taking the time to help me. :wub:


Dear (Agent’s Name),

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, Centaurian Kh’l Vadat, sends retired Star Corps Colonel and former Central Security Agency operative Jack Morgan back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.

Chicago Private Investigator, Jack Morgan has been pantomiming his life since the Centaurian war ended. Dividing his time between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory that causes him to relive his past in real time experience. Blaming both himself and Kh’l Vadat for the ambush that killed his only love, he rejects the Centaurian’s plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss, CSA Chief Director Jonathan Cole.

Resaddled with a life he swore never to return to, and an alien partner he doesn’t want, Jack sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that is killing Centaurius’ top leaders. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets. Along the way Jack also discovers that hate fueled prejudice can blind anyone to true beauty.

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words and ready for partial, or full review at your discretion.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I hope we can work together in the near future.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#2 Robin Breyer

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:15 PM

Your hook seems a little long. Between "enemy" and "back into" you have two names and two titles and not much else. My suggestion would be

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy sends a retired Star Corps Colonel back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.

Starting the sentence with "Dividing" seems abrupt and distances me from the character.

Instead of using Kh'l Vadat's name, use enemy commander or Centaurian commander, or something like that.

The second paragraph is good. I just don't like "along the way".

And I've heard that "I hope we can work together in the near future" isn't something you need to say so I'd drop it.

Your first paragraph needs a bit more life, a bit more about Jack.

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#3 M.E.Pritchard

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:26 PM

Hi Peter,

See my comments below in bold. My general impression is that the names and titles of your characters are so long that they are taking away from the story line. I think the second paragraph with some revision would make a better hook than your current hook. Hope this helps!

Dear (Agent’s Name),

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, Centaurian Kh’l Vadat, sends retired Star Corps Colonel and former Central Security Agency operative Jack Morgan back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.run on sentence with too many long names

Chicago Private Investigator, Jack Morgan has been pantomiming his life since the Centaurian war ended. Dividing his time between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory that causes him to relive his past in real time experience. Blaming both himself and Kh’l Vadat for the ambush that killed his only love, he rejects the Centaurian’s plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss, CSA Chief Director Jonathan Cole. don't need to name minor characters in the query, just say his old boss and leave it at that

Re-saddled with a life he swore never to return to, and an alien partner he doesn’t wantwhere did this come from? are you talking about Kh'l?, Jack sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that is killing Centaurius’ top leaders. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets. Along the way Jack also discovers that hate fueled prejudice can blind anyone to true beauty. this paragraphs seems to come out of nowhere and the last sentence doesn't make any sense to me

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words omit rest of this sentenceand ready for partial, or full review at your discretion.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. omit next sentenceI hope we can work together in the near future.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

#4 Peter Burton

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:45 PM

Thank you both.

Good suggestions, and I'll be taking them into consideration for the next revision, (As well as anymore I can get...hint...hint!)

I also felt the hook was a bit wordy and rambling, but I had to know for sure. :biggrin: :wink:

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And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

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#5 JMB

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 01:02 PM

The points that have been made are good ones. Just want to add that I like this (and its not my genre). I would like a better sense of his partner though and what kind of team they'll make (Odd Couple type comic or what?). Loved the bits about reliving past, crummy cases, hanging out in seedy bars.

#6 Peter Burton

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:10 AM

Thank you JMB. Having someone like a story that is outside their genre is a true compliment.

Yes, it was a big gaff on my part not introducing the partner better. But, I am rectifying that, along with the other advice from Robin and M.E.

(BTW, their relationship does have its Oscar and Felix moments, but is serious as well. You can't throw two volatile personalities such as these together without some humor.)

If anyone has anything more to add, PLEASE, do so. I consider all advice, (based on insider's knowledge of the storyline, of course :tongue: ), and will take all the help I can get.

What can I say? I is a HO! :wink: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Again thank you all for responding. The revised query will be up soon.

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And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

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#7 Peter Burton

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 09:33 AM

Revised query

Dear (Agent’s Name),

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy sends retired Colonel Jack Morgan back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.

Chicago Private Investigator, Jack Morgan has been pantomiming his life since the Centaurian war ended. Between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory that causes him to relive his past in real time experience. Blaming both himself and the Centaurians for the ambush that killed his only love, he rejects the plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss.

Resaddled with a life he swore never to return to, Jack sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that is killing Centaurius’ top leaders. To complicate matters further Jack finds himself partnered with a female Centaurian police detective who despises humans. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets.

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#8 Ben Goodwin

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 10:26 PM

Revised Query on post #7, Gang!

OK Guys and Gals, here's your chance for revenge. :biggrin: :wink:

Seriously though, please be brutally honest. I'm thick skinned, thick headed, and promise NOT to bite over anything critiqued. After all, I can't fix it if I don't know what's broken.

This is a WIP, so I hope to have the query ready to go as soon as it is finished.

Also, thank you from the top, bottom, and sides of my heart for taking the time to help me. :wub:


Dear (Agent’s Name),

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, Centaurian Kh’l Vadat, sends retired Star Corps Colonel and former Central Security Agency operative Jack Morgan back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.

I like the hook above

My first major beef with your query letter. Names with quote characters!!! I hates em! kh'l Vadat could be Khul Vdat? :tongue:

Second issue, above you say he's a retired star corps colonel and below he's a private investigator. I get that he was one and is other but it almost looks like you are introducing two characters, one in the first paragraph, another in the second

Chicago Private Investigator, Jack Morgan has been pantomiming the word pantomim seriously does not work his life since the Centaurian war ended. Dividing his time between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory that causes him to relive his past in real time experience. Blaming both himself and Kh’l Vadat for the ambush that killed his only love, he rejects the Centaurian’s plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss, CSA Chief Director Jonathan Cole.

OK, in our bid to be brief and get important facts out... all of the above could be shorted to something like. He hates the Vadat, blames them for his wife's death, but is blackmailed back into service by his old boss to help save them. In this letter, at this time, talk of his artificial memory is wasting words.

So turn the above para into a single sentence and then tell me something about what vadat wants him for? Are his people being killed, is there a mystery? If you look at your query letter as it is, all you tell me is that some guy asks for help and Jack is blackmailed into giving it. So? Why would this hook me? What's interesting about the case? Skip details about Jack and others and give me a set up here.

Resaddled with a life he swore never to return to, and an alien partner he doesn’t want, Jack sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that is killing Centaurius’ top leaders. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets. Along the way Jack also discovers that hate fueled prejudice can blind anyone to true beauty.

See it's only here in para three that you begin to tell me something abou this mystery. And now I'm confused. Is there somebody behind this poisoning? Are they being mysteriously poisoned? Are only a few people being singled out? For me I'm expecting protag and antag and you don't have to name the antag, but if there's some evil force out to get people, let us know.

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words and ready for partial, or full review at your discretion.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I hope we can work together in the near future.

So in summation, I like your first sentence, it's a nice hook but the setup and conflict don't give me much of an idea what your story is about and you fail to finish grabbing me by the throat.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton



#9 RileyRedgate

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:15 PM

Peter!!!! *rubs hands together; evil grin*

Just kidding. Okay.


Dear (Agent’s Name),

An unexpected plea for help from his old enemy sends retired Colonel Jack Morgan back into a life he left behind to save a race he utterly despises.
This is a hell of a hook. But it's also incredibly confusing. His old enemy pleads for help, so he goes out of retirement, into a life he wanted to leave, to help people he hates?! This is so backwards it's practically forward. Not quite sure how to react, so I'm going to read on.

Chicago Private Investigator, No comma here. Actually, how about 'A Chicago Private Investigator, Jack has been...'? You don't have to remention his last name Jack Morgan has been pantomiming his life hmm. i think you could rework this - 'Jack has felt like he's just pantomiming his life since...'? The literal way this is stated makes me think of a beefy army guy in mime paint. Interesting image, yes; appropriate/good, probably not. since the Centaurian war War ended. Between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory that causes him to relive his past in real time experience This sounds like it's really interesting, but I'm not quite sure what it means. Couldn't take a guess, actually.. Blaming both himself and the Centaurians for the ambush that killed his only love, he rejects the plea it's been far too long for you to refer to this as only 'the plea' and expect us to get it right away. Maybe 'his enemy's plea for help' - just something a little more specific., only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss.

Resaddled with a life he swore never to return to, This feels like a reiteration of your hook, but I like the way this is phrased better. Maybe you could change the hook to say 'sends retired Colonel Jack Morgan back into action to save...' - something that isn't so similar to this line? Jack sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that is killing Centaurius’ top leaders. To complicate matters furthercomma Jack finds himself partnered with a female Centaurian police detective who despises humans. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets.
I feel like this is where your plot kicks off, and the rest should be condensed into a couple sentences. Who's the antagonist? We don't know. My best guess would be Jack's own prejudice against the Centaurians - but that's not right, is it? What's Jack's mission? How are he and his partner supposed to save the day, so to speak?

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

I feel like the query needs refocusing - on the mystery and conspiracy you mention in your very last line. But, of course, that's just my humble opinion. It looks like a great story, in any case! :wink:

Best of luck, Sir Burton. You can do it!

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#10 Robin Breyer

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:32 AM

I read this earlier and didn't quite know how to comment. Anticipa has some good points. I don't think your hook needs more than some tweaking, probably to the first part. I can see how "unexpected plea" and "old enemy" could be stronger. I'm rather fond of the last part. I think it shows the strength of feelings he has and shows that what ever the problem is, he has to overcome his own feelings.

Anticipa is completely right about the rest. You have some good stuff, but I think you need to get more into the mission on one side, and his feelings for these Centaurians on the other.

But if you compress some of that and tighten it up, you need to add some more to get us more into the story.

And of course we are trying to find ways to make it even better. I know I've sent out queries that weren't nearly this good. I think you have a good query here with a great hook. I think there might be some things to look at to make the query as good as the hook.

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#11 Peter Burton

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:19 AM

Thank you for the suggestions on the original query, Ben, but I think I'll keep Kh’l Vadat's name with the apostrophe. I kinda like it that way. :biggrin:

I agree, Robin, and anticipa ...but anticipa forgot to cackle evilly while rubbing her hands together and grinning. :laugh: :wink:

Just kidding, Sweetie. :wub:

Anticipa, you have brought up some great points, (wish I'd thought of them), and have given me some killer ideas to work with for the next revision. Including a tweak for the hook!

The fun part will be getting more into the mission without turning it into a spoiler, but I think the comments from you two have given me an idea how to do just that.

Thank you both. I'm very grateful to have friends like the ones here at AQC.

Now to phrase it properly. :biggrin:

Stay tuned for the next revision, kiddies...same bat-time...same bat-channel. (Adam West is gonna clobber me for that one.) :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

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And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

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#12 Peter Burton

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:05 PM

Revised query attempt #3.

Here we go again, Gang! Saddle up, and have at 'er. :biggrin:

Dear (Agent’s Name)

After receiving an unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, retired Colonel Jack Morgan finds himself forced back into a life he swore never to return to, attempting to save a race he utterly despises.

As a Chicago Private Investigator, Jack has been faking his life since the Centaurian War ended. Between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory. Wetwired to be a living data recorder incapable of forgetting the smallest detail of any experience, Jack finds himself reliving the horrors of his past as though they were current events. Although alcohol can interfere with the synapses relays of the wetware, the plea for help from his old enemy, Centaurian Kh’l Vadat, threatens to send Jack spiraling out of control.

Blaming both himself, and Vadat, for the ambush that killed his only love, Jack rejects the plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss. Arriving on Centaurius Prime, he sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that has been killing Centaurius’ top leaders and who, or what, is behind it. To complicate matters further Jack finds himself partnered with a female Centaurian police detective who despises humans. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets.

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#13 Robin Breyer

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:57 PM

Ooh, even better.

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#14 Peter Burton

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:07 AM

Thank you, Robin. :biggrin:

I meant to say that earlier, but wanted to see if anyone else had anything to add. :huh:

Did I get it right, Gang?

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And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#15 Arielle

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 11:28 AM

Just a little nit-picking here...

Dear (Agent’s Name)

After receiving an unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, retired Star Colonel Jack Morgan finds himself forced back into a life he swore never to return to, attempting to leave behind, to save a race he utterly despises.

Like I said, I'm just picking at your wording, but I think it flows better this way. I put back in the 'Star' part because it adds the element of space in, whereas before he could just be a regular army goon here on earth.

As Now a Chicago Private Investigator, Jack has been faking his life since the Centaurian War ended. Between crummy cases and seedy bars, he struggles to control an artificially enhanced memory. Wetwired to be a living data recorder incapable of forgetting the smallest detail of any experience, Jack finds himself reliving the horrors of his past as though they were current events. Although alcohol can interfere with the synapses relays of the wetware, the plea for help from his old enemy, Centaurian Kh’l Vadat, threatens to send Jack spiraling out of control.

I put in 'now' to replace 'as' at the beginning of this paragraph, because it was confusing to read the way it was.

Blaming both himself, and Vadat, (not sure commas are needed here) for the ambush that killed his only love, Jack rejects the plea, only to be blackmailed back into service by his old boss. Arriving on Centaurius Prime, he sets out to discover the source of a mysterious radiation poisoning that has been killing Centaurius’ top leaders and who, or what, is behind it. To complicate matters further Jack finds himself partnered with a female Centaurian police detective who despises humans. The contentious duo soon discover a mystery that stretches back to humankind’s prehistory, and a conspiracy that threatens to consume both planets.

I like the premise of your book and would probably read it.

CENTAURIUS PRIME is a science fiction novel, complete at 75,000 words.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely;
Peter Burton

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's all she wrote.

#16 M.E.Pritchard

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 11:30 AM

Hi Peter,

Much better. I don't understand what a wetwire/wetware is, but scifi is not my genre, so maybe that will be obvious to an agent.

#17 Robin Breyer

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 01:22 PM

I think wetwire/wetware refers to biologically compatible electronics.

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#18 FineMan

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 01:21 AM

After receiving an unexpected plea for help from his old enemy, retired Colonel Jack Morgan finds himself forced back into a life he swore never to return to, attempting to save a race he utterly despises.

I would add alien race, rather than race since you need to hook with the fact it is off world SF, as opposed to say, Caves of Steel, where it is all Earth Bound.
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#19 Peter Burton

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 11:06 AM

Thank you, Arielle.

Nit picking can be good, and you did give me a couple of tweaks that are quite handy for the next revision. :D

Robin nailed it M.E. Wetwire/wetware are generally accepted terms for biologically compatible electronics in Sci-Fi. I would think that most agents reping the genre should know about them...if not, I would have to wonder about their services. o_O

Hi there, FineMan! Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to think about that one, though. It's useful, but kind of an apples and oranges thing. I'll try it out to see how it flows with my voice. (Which I do with all the suggestions I receive.) ;D

(Unfortunately, the new Icons aren't showing up on my computer, so I have to do them 'old school'.)

Next tweak coming up! :D

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

~Elton John


#20 FineMan

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 05:50 PM

No worries. My thought was that in the Race sensitive world we live in, that making sure the reader of query was aware you were not referring to a human race. Nit pick to be sure.

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