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RULES FOR RELUCTANT OUTLAWS (YA Dystopian)


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#1 theboldfox

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 03:11 PM

Revised YET AGAIN (taking into account things you have all told me). The things in  [ boxes ] are things I can't decide about:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox conveniently forgets that her antics — or as she prefers “Quests to Improve Humanity” — are in the public eye. With her uncle running for re-election, Mathilda is supposed to show restraint, not concoct a chemical mixture to turn her crass Plebeon lab partner green. If his discolored face gets on the six o’clock Digiwire, her uncle’s already dismal poll numbers will flatline.

 

But when her uncle wins in a surprise landslide, the country's deprived Plebeon class is done with democracy. They overthrow the elite-run government in a military coup, and Mathilda's family is a prime target.   

 

All Mathilda wants is to get to safety with her family, but the coup government craves scapegoats [yearns for vengeance]. It closes the borders and posts lists of its enemies. Mathilda’s mother is sent to a prison camp. Her uncle faces execution. After the coup government recalls citizen ID cards, Mathilda knows she must hustle if she wants to save herself. 

 

After years of engineering pranks and breaking rules, Mathilda has the skills to mastermind an escape route, but the choice to take it is agonizing. If she leaves, not only does she abandon everyone she loves, but she must she restart her life alone as a refugee. If she stays to rescue her family and gets caught, it will be her head on the guillotine.  

 

 

I hope you will consider rules for Reluctant Outlaws, an 89,000-word YA suspense / thriller with some dystopian elements. Thank you for your time.

 

 

 

Dear [Lucky Agent]

 

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox [likes to forget] forgets that her antics are in the public eye. With her uncle running for re-election, she is supposed to show restraint, not turn her lower-class Plebeon classmate green with a chemical mixture of her own making. What if her antics get on the six o'clock Digiwire? That sort of thing doesn't play well in the polls, especially with all those financial scandals.  

 

When Mathilda's uncle wins in a [surprise] landslide, the country's deprived Plebeon majority has had it with democracy. Calling for "Equality, Community, and Opportunity," the Plebeons overthrow the elite Sentrist run government in a military coup, leaving Mathilda's family a prime target.   

 

Riots erupt throughout the country and all Mathilda wants is to get to safety with her family. But as the Whitfox family organizes its finances to flee, those hoping to restore the old government unsuccessfully attack the new. The coup government closes the borders and posts lists of its public enemies. Mathilda's mother is sent to a prison camp, while her uncle faces execution. [When government agents invalidate her citizen identity card, Mathilda knows her options are narrowing.]

 

After years of pulling pranks and breaking rules, Mathilda has the skills to mastermind an escape route. If she leaves, not only must she begin life alone as a refugee, but she abandons everyone she loves to the whims of the regime. If she stays to rescue them, she will be added to the list of public enemies, and if caught, it will be her head on the guillotine.  

 

 

I hope you will consider rules for Reluctant Outlaws, a 92,000 word YA suspense / dystopian. Thank you for your time.

 

Revised version:

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox has her life on a ten-year plan. After beating her academic nemesis and graduating as Teverine High School’s first-ever valedictorian, she’s set to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry. She just has to make it through the eleventh grade without getting expelled for turning her lab partner green (To be fair, he had it coming. He grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice!). 

 

Mathilda never lets a three day suspension interfere with her ambitions, but she doesn't have a revolution in her agenda. When the country's disadvantaged Plebeon majority overthrows the elite Sentrist-run government in a coup, Mathilda's political family is a prime target. Mathilda’s books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her uncle faces execution. When the government tries to take her citizen ID card away, Mathilda packs her bags.

 

Then the new government closes the borders, trapping all those hoping to flee. Many despair, but not Mathilda. She can navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she masterminds an escape route to a neighboring country, Mathilda must make a choice whether to leave and save herself, beginning life anew as a refugee, or to stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a YA suspense/dystopian, complete at 90,000 words. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today.  

 

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox knows she shouldn’t use her chemistry skills to turn her classmates green with her uncle up for reelection next week. Sure, her classmate has it coming — he grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice! —  but that hardly matters when the pundits predict a devastating loss for the incumbents. Mathilda is expected, now more than ever, to do the sort of things those born into the privileged Sentrist class should be doing — studying fine arts, reading dead languages, following the rules, respecting authority, and most importantly, showing a little humility.

 

Oh, but life has so much more panache when she can brag that she's the one who filled the square of a city slum with giant bubbles. 

 

When the election takes a surprising turn and the Sentrists snag a landslide win, the dissatisfied and long-denied Plebeon majority stages a military coup, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (fortunately under a false identity) and her uncle faces execution. 

 

As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She figures out how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system just as well as she can the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a choice. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a YA dystopian adventure, complete at *89,000 words. As an art historian, my inspiration comes from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

*note to those helping me out with my query: 89,000 is my current editing target -- I'm actually close to 100,000 right now, down from 134,000, so please cross your fingers I can do it! I'm going to assume that I make it.

 

 

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line required by her distinguished, political-academic family tedious. Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. But on the night of the most contentious election in her country Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.      

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Calapena is a country with problems. The elite Sentirst minority has too much, the common Plebeon majority has too little, and attempts to remedy the situation are too slow. Idealistic and over-confident (just a touch), Mathilda Whitfox embraces the government's prescriptive changes. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she attends a new high school meant to equalize education with her foreign born best friend instead of a private academy that caters to normal Sentrists girls. Mathilda simply does not do ordinary.  

 

 

When Mathilda sneaks out on the night of the most contentious election in Calapena’s history, she walks into the revolution. The Plebeons overthrow the Sentrists and Mathilda’s political family is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 95,000 word, YA sci fi/dystopian/adventure. It shares themes with Divergent and Red Rising. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.


Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#2 Testome

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:10 PM



Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Calapena is a country with problems. The elite Sentirst minority has too much, the common Plebeon majority has too little, and attempts to remedy the situation are too slow. This is too vague for hook and there are no details. Idealistic and over-confident (just a touch), Mathilda Whitfox embraces the government's prescriptive changes. This is vague. You've still told us nothing about your world. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she attends a new high school meant to equalize education with her foreign born best friend instead of a private academy that caters to normal Sentrists girls What's normal for a Sentrists girl? You've still not given us any details.. Mathilda simply does not do ordinary.   Since we don't know what's ordinary, how can we know what is extraordinary about her. Also, this is telling.

 

 

When Mathilda sneaks out on the night of the most contentious election in Calapena’s history, she walks into the revolution What would they be revolting against? What's the conflict here?. The Plebeons overthrow the Sentrists Why were they overthrown? and Mathilda’s political familyThis info comes to late. is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. No need to state the obvious. It is a 95,000 word, YA sci fi/dystopian/adventure. It shares themes with Divergent I would avoid comparison to popular novels. and Red Rising. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. I would leave this for the novel.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

The main problem here is there are no real details in the first paragraph and no hook. You could really lose the first paragraph and not lose anything from this at all. Who are the Sentrists? Who is Mathilda?Not mentioned clearly. What does she want? Is it just to attend some regular nobody high school?. What stands in her way? Revolutionaries, but we know nothing about them. What happens when she fails? The loss of her family. For YA, it's customary to put the character's age somewhere.



#3 Linnet_Crawford

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:50 PM

Hi! The concept sounds really strong, but I agree with Testome that the first paragraph, in particular, could use more of a hook that ties directly into the Mathilda's character, like "in a country where the elite Sentirst hold power and resources over the dissatisfied Plebeon majority, Mathilda bridges the divide by...etc." Not that, obviously, but some kind of initial hook to set up the conflict between her political Sentrist family and her own beliefs.

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Calapena is a country with problems. The elite Sentirst minority has too much, the common Plebeon majority has too little, and attempts to remedy the situation are too slow. Too general, I think, and not focused enough on the main character. Idealistic and over-confident (just a touch), Mathilda Whitfox embraces the government's prescriptive changes Sentirst government? If so, I'm unclear why they are willing to change..is it a democracy? Are they under pressure to make amendments to the system? Not all the detail needs to go in the query, obviously, but enough to make us invested. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she attends a new high school meant to equalize education with her foreign born best friend I was unclear whether foreign-born referred to Plebeon, or some other nationality...instead of a private academy that caters to normal Sentrists girls. Mathilda simply does not do ordinary.   We can infer that from the choices she's made. 

 

 

When Mathilda sneaks out on the night of the most contentious election in Calapena’s history, she walks into the revolution By accident? Did she know it was happening?. The Plebeons overthrow the Sentrists and Mathilda’s political family is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda But now she faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 95,000 word, YA sci fi/dystopian/adventure. It shares themes with Divergent and Red Rising. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. I like this!

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.


Any thoughts on my query are super appreciated!  Here: http://agentquerycon...ong-ya-fantasy/


#4 theboldfox

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 05:27 PM

thank you all for such amazing help. Please see my revised version above.


Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#5 Linnet_Crawford

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 05:59 PM

This new version works so much better! The second paragraph was definitely the right place to start. 

 

Now that you've cut the first paragraph and have a good hook, I think you can afford to in and flesh out some details - ie. work back in the important fact that Mathilda has some sympathy for the Plebeons (?), and perhaps mention her friend, etc. 

 

When sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox sneaks out of her boarding house (?) on the night of the most contentious election in her country’s history, she walks into a protest that ends with a coup. The dissatisfied Plebeon majority overthrows the elite Sentrist-led government, and Mathilda’s political, elite (they could be political but not part of the Sentrist government) family is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda (I think this sentence could a little stronger, something that shows her character better) She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds a means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision (you don't need to tell us it's tough). She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.    


Any thoughts on my query are super appreciated!  Here: http://agentquerycon...ong-ya-fantasy/


#6 theboldfox

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 08:42 PM

@Linnet_Crawford

 

Oh I revised again. Do you mind having a look at the new one... Sorry about that. I was probably playing around with it while you were looking.

Did I comment on your query yet?


Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#7 billluton

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 09:02 PM

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line required by her distinguished, political-academic family tedious. Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. What about blending these two sentences and using a little contrast? For instance, you might say "Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox would much rather turn her classmates green with chemical mixers of her own making than sit at a boring fundraiser and look distinguished for her powerful political family. She'd be much happier filling the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles than toeing the line at a stuffy reception for political elites." But on the night of the most contentious election in her country Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.      

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Calapena is a country with problems. The elite Sentirst minority has too much, the common Plebeon majority has too little, and attempts to remedy the situation are too slow. Idealistic and over-confident (just a touch), Mathilda Whitfox embraces the government's prescriptive changes. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she attends a new high school meant to equalize education with her foreign born best friend instead of a private academy that caters to normal Sentrists girls. Mathilda simply does not do ordinary.  

 

 

When Mathilda sneaks out on the night of the most contentious election in Calapena’s history, she walks into the revolution. The Plebeons overthrow the Sentrists and Mathilda’s political family is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 95,000 word, YA sci fi/dystopian/adventure. It shares themes with Divergent and Red Rising. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

I'm really new at all of this, but I really enjoyed your query. It definitely made me want to find out more about your story. I made a style suggestion for you in red above. I hope it helps. One more note... the spot where my comment is inserted does seem slightly disjointed. Like there's nothing that links the two parts. Where you've said "But on the night of the..." The use of "But" makes it seem like the two thoughts are more connected, but they don't appear to have much bearing on each other. Maybe if you added an additional sentence to blend them better? It seems like Mathilda probably rolls her eyes at her family about 100 times a day. Is that accurate? If so, why not say something there like this...

 

"Mathilda spent most days wishing her family would lighten up and relax, but on the night of the most contentious election in her country's history, all she felt was panic. That was the night the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon..."

 

Any thoughts on that suggestion?

 

All the best,

Bill



#8 CM_Fick

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 09:47 PM

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line(,) required by her distinguished, political-academic family(,) tedious. Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. (I personally like billluton suggestion for the opening hook - or something with a similar flow: "Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox would much rather turn her classmates green with chemical mixers of her own making than sit at a boring fundraiser and look distinguished for her powerful political family. She'd be much happier filling the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles than toeing the line at a stuffy reception for political elites.")

 

But On the night of the most contentious election in her country's Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (thankfully, under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.      

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws (title should be in all caps or italics) for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

So going over your second query, I think you've done an outstanding job condensing the story. I've put in a few technical suggestions, but It's clear, concise and intriguing - sorry I can't offer more. 



#9 lsprochnow

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 09:54 AM

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line required by her distinguished, political-academic family tedious. I think this first sentence is worded a bit oddly. I think you could make it read smoother Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. But on the night of the most contentious election in her country Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Great hook Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. Nice way of setting up the stakes As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.    

 

I think this is a pretty darn good query so far. My main feedback is on the first two sentences. I think they are the weakest in the query when they need to be the strongest. I had a look at some other peoples' feedback, and I agree that you could split the second sentence into two to give it more of a contrast like CM Fick suggested. The first sentence is strangely worded to me but other people might think it's fine, so take that with a grain of salt. Good luck!

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 



#10 Jhur

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 02:34 PM

Hello [Dream Agent],

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line required by her distinguished, political-academic family tedious. Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. But on the night of the most contentious election in her country Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.      

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

Interesting concept, but it seems way too short. It reads more like the blurb of an intriguing novel. In order to expand the query, and to give the agent a better idea of what exactly the plot is about, I would elaborate more here: She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.  Instead of keeping the whole plot of whether she stays or leaves ambiguous, tell us - does she stay or leave? if she stays, what challenges does she face, who is the antagonist, who is her friend (because the query alone makes the novel seem like Mathilda is facing this all alone with no side-kick or bff)? If she leaves, what are the challenges she faces as a refugee? I'd focus on which option she choose, and from there, clarify what the stakes are.    



#11 Niambi

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 01:02 AM

It's a decent query, but I still don't see much of a hook or conflict. I agree with the commenter above, I think you should state that she stays and tries to rescue her family. What does she need to do to save them? Who or what is preventing her from doing that ( I assume the dissenfranchised faction )?

Now for the hard part.

It's nice to keep it short and sweet, but the skill in writing a query that I am still trying to master is conveying the world you've built and the attitudes of certain characters. Paint us a picture and don't make it too convoluted.

#12 Novelarnia

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 02:06 AM

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line (What line?  Be specific!  Also, it should be "Sixteen-year-old") required by her distinguished, political-academic (I think that "politically-minded" might be clearer) family tedious. Life has so much more panache (LOVE this!!  Awesome) when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum (Public square implies a fancy place, not something paired with "slum."  Rephrase to maybe "filling the local slums") with giant bubbles. But on the night of the most contentious election in her country's Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon (Does this need to be capitalized?) majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run (Not sure how necessary the "Sentrist-run" part is.  I'd delete.  It cleans up the sentence!) government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. (Nice!  Love myself a rebellion.) Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately) (The false name bit is unnecessary.  By this point, we don't care about the mom.  Tell us more about Mathilda!), and her beloved Uncle (Don't capitalize this unless you mention his name here too) faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists (If you delete it earlier, replace this with "many elitists") despair (despair, or disappear?  Because in the next sentence you talk about Mathilda slipping into a neighboring country.  I'd clarify or rephrase), but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. (Rephrase.  "Mathilda will have to decide:  begin anew as a refuge in a foreign country, or risk her life attempting to save those she loves.") She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves.      

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today.  (Love the credentials you have here!  Absolutely shows why you're perfect to have written this book.  Although I will say that for a YA, 100,000 is really toeing that line of being too long.  :/  Word count really matters, and if an agent thinks it's too long, they often won't even read the sample pages.  [True story.  I had a MG book that was 78,000 words, and it got 40 rejections.  I changed it to YA, where that word count is more appropriate, and got 3 full manuscript requests in a week. >.> ]  Check here for word count lengths and decide for yourself!  Best of luck!! http://www.writersdi...definitive-post )

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Calapena is a country with problems. The elite Sentirst minority has too much, the common Plebeon majority has too little, and attempts to remedy the situation are too slow. Idealistic and over-confident (just a touch), Mathilda Whitfox embraces the government's prescriptive changes. Much to the chagrin of her parents, she attends a new high school meant to equalize education with her foreign born best friend instead of a private academy that caters to normal Sentrists girls. Mathilda simply does not do ordinary.  

 

 

When Mathilda sneaks out on the night of the most contentious election in Calapena’s history, she walks into the revolution. The Plebeons overthrow the Sentrists and Mathilda’s political family is a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her beloved Uncle faces execution. As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. Although she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 95,000 word, YA sci fi/dystopian/adventure. It shares themes with Divergent and Red Rising. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

The book sounds truly spectacular!!  I love this idea of a political rebellion, and a character who's just as awesome on the streets as in parliament.  Nice job. :D 

 

Although I will say that for a YA, 100,000 is really toeing that line of being too long.  :/  Word count really matters, and if an agent thinks it's too long, they often won't even read the sample pages.  I'd also definitely pick one genre.  Don't make it a sci-fi / adventure.  Make it a sci-fi.  Or a contemporary.  Or a fantasy.  But not all.  (I'm not sure "adventure" is even an official genre.  Do some research on that!)

 

(Here's a story for you about word counts, too.  I had a MG book that was 78,000 words, and it got 43 rejections.  I changed it to YA, where that word count is more appropriate, and had 3 full manuscript requests in a week. >.>  Check here for word count lengths and decide for yourself!  Best of luck!!)

 

http://www.writersdi...efinitive-post 

 

Also, I've updated my query for the YA Fantasy, Harbinger.  If you have a chance, I'd truly love some opinions on it! <3 

 

http://agentquerycon...-adult-fantasy/



#13 Ajax

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Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:46 AM


Revised version:

 

Hello  Dear [Dream Agent's name],

(Break row.)

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox finds toeing the line required by her distinguished, political-academic family tedious. Life has so much more panache when she can turn her classmates green with chemical mixtures of her own making or fill the public square of a city slum with giant bubbles. [I love the idea of a (scientist?) girl who uses her skills to pull pranks on people. I'm hooked!)

(Break row.)

But on the night of the most contentious election in her country Calapena’s history, the dissatisfied and deprived Plebeon majority overthrows the elitist, Sentrist-run government, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target.  Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (under a false name, fortunately), and her beloved Uncle faces execution. (This is where the logic gets a bit wobbly. If there was an "election", this is ostensibly a democratic setup. Why would the victory of one party lead to the persecution of the people from the rival party? Has the new government overthrown the traditional setup and paved the way for a hegemonic regime? What's the new status? What about the commoners? Did people really vote for this? I need something to justify this mad witch hunt.) As the borders close, (Why?) many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She knows how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. (HOW?) When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a tough decision. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. (Her family or the people?)

(Break row.)

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a 100,000 word, YA sci fi/adventure. (100k words is longer than the standard genre/category word count. I'd research about this if I were in your position.) As an art historian, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. (There's nothing wrong with this, but it's also not required. The talk about the inspiration is almost always reserved for 'the call' with the agent and that too after they offer you representation.)

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Why would you call this a YA Dystopian in the title, but YA sci fi/adventure in the query? Are you unsure about the genre?

I liked the bit about the protagonist performing funky scientific stuff. That was the highlight for me.

 

Good luck.



#14 Linnet_Crawford

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 01:31 PM

Much more detailed and engaging than the earlier versions! My biggest concern would be the change in tone between the opening paragraph and the rest...

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox knows she shouldn’t use her chemistry skills to turn her classmates green with her uncle up for reelection next week. Sure, her classmate has it coming — he grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice! —  but that hardly matters when the pundits predict a devastating loss for the incumbents. Mathilda is expected, now more than ever, to do the sort of things those born into the privileged Sentrist class should be doing — studying fine arts, reading dead languages, following the rules, respecting authority, and most importantly, showing a little humility.

 

Oh, but life has so much more panache when she can brag that she's the one who filled the square of a city slum with giant bubbles. Ok, so this opening is really fun...but I can't help but feel that it's oddly in contrast to the serious political turn later in the query. It leaves me uncertain about what, exactly, the novel will be - is it a playful, scienc-y school story, or is it dark and political? It's also a big contrast to some of the earlier versions of the query (some of which were more uniformly dark in tone, although not as engaging for Mathilda's character). So maybe either work in the political stakes sooner, or keep up some of the playfulness later (ie. is she a chemistry genius? Is she going to use that to help her save people?)   

 

When the election takes a surprising turn and the Sentrists snag a landslide win (Don't know if you can 'snag' a landslide win...), the dissatisfied and long-denied Plebeon majority stages a military coup, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp (fortunately under a false identity) and her uncle faces execution. 

 

As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She figures out how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system just as well as she can the halls of government. I think these two sentences could still be stronger and more specific. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a choice. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. Great! This is what grabs me, personally - and if the stakes are this high, I think it should be hinted at from the beginning of the pitch. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a YA dystopian adventure, complete at *89,000 words. As an art historian, my inspiration comes from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. Again, this all suggests something darker in tone than the first part of the query...

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

*note to those helping me out with my query: 89,000 is my current editing target -- I'm actually close to 100,000 right now, down from 134,000, so please cross your fingers I can do it! I'm going to assume that I make it.


Any thoughts on my query are super appreciated!  Here: http://agentquerycon...ong-ya-fantasy/


#15 RosieSkye

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 02:02 PM

Revised version:

 

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox knows she shouldn’t use her chemistry skills to turn her classmates green with her uncle up for reelection next week. Sure, her classmate has it coming — he grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice! —  but that hardly matters when the pundits predict a devastating loss for the incumbents. Mathilda is expected, now more than ever, to do the sort of things those born into the privileged Sentrist class should be doing — studying fine arts, reading dead languages, following the rules, respecting authority, and most importantly, showing a little humility. (You list five things here - I'd cut it to three, tops.)

 

Oh, but life has so much more panache when she can brag that she's the one who filled the square of a city slum with giant bubbles. (Hehe!)

 

When the election takes a surprising turn and the Sentrists snag a landslide win, the dissatisfied and long-denied Plebeon majority stages a military coup, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned (It feels odd to mention this fact before mentioning what happens to her family) her mother sent to a prison camp (fortunately under a false identity) (this dilutes the sense of danger) and her uncle faces execution. 

 

As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She figures out how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system, and discovers just as well as she can the halls of government. When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a choice. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. (The wording of this makes it seem like she's absolutely going to stay and fight for her family.  It seems like she'd be both a biyotch and a totally lame MC if she just ran away and saved herself.  Her chemistry skills have sort of disappeared from your query here, so maybe find a way to bring them back around.  A "Mathilda has to figure out how to use her chemistry gifts to save her family before it's too late" type of thing.  Assuming that's what actually happens, of course.)

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws (all caps) for your list. It is a YA dystopian adventure, complete at *89,000 words. As an art historian, my inspiration comes from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

*note to those helping me out with my query: 89,000 is my current editing target -- I'm actually close to 100,000 right now, down from 134,000, so please cross your fingers I can do it! I'm going to assume that I make it.  (You will!)

 

 

 

This sounds like a really cool story!  Another comment about your query, however, is that the tone shifts pretty drastically in the middle.  The first two paragraphs are all about a gluteus maximus and giant bubbles, and then we've suddenly got a mother en route to a prison camp and everyone's life is in danger.  I completely get that things go from good to bad, but you want the overall voice and tone of your query to be consistent, so maybe you can adjust your wording to bridge that gap a little more.

 

Also, as I said above, Mathilda seems to be all about her chemistry powers, but those completely disappear from your query just when it seems they'd be the most useful.  If you're going to make a big deal about them up front, you should have them come full-circle at the end.

 

Hope this helps!



#16 CM_Fick

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:57 PM

Hello [Dream Agent],

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox knows (that, with her uncle up for reelection next week), she shouldn’t use her chemistry skills to turn her classmates green with her uncle up for reelection next week. for me, this  way it feels like the election is less tacked on Sure, her classmate has it coming — he grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice! —  but that hardly matters when the pundits predict a devastating loss for the incumbents. Mathilda is expected, now more than ever, to do the sort of things those born into the privileged Sentrist class should be doing — studying fine arts, reading dead languages, following the rules and respecting authority, and but most importantly, showing a little humility. I suggested this revision because following rules and respecting authority are two sides of the same coin.

 

Oh, but life has so much more panache when she can brag that she's the one who filled the square of a city slum with giant bubbles. 

 

When the election takes a surprising turn and the Sentrists snag a landslide win, the dissatisfied and long-denied Plebeon majority stages a military coup, leaving Mathilda’s family a prime target. Her books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp(,) (fortunately under a false identity) and her uncle faces execution. (how does she escape? out of everything listed, I'd say that's most important)

 

As the borders close, many Sentrists despair, but not Mathilda. She learns figures out how to navigate the city’s underground tunnel system just as well as she can the halls of government (is this comparison important to the story?). When she finds the means to escape to a neighboring country, Mathilda faces a choice. She can leave and save herself, beginning anew as a refugee, or stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. (does she help other refugees escape too?)

 

I hope you will consider (they know this is why you are querying) Rules for Reluctant Outlaws (Italicize or all caps for your book title) for your list. It is a YA dystopian adventure (I know you were unsure of the genre, but I suggest looking into some thriller sub-genres to see if any of them fit your ms.), complete at *89,000 words. As an art historian, my inspiration comes from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today. 

 

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

*note to those helping me out with my query: 89,000 is my current editing target -- I'm actually close to 100,000 right now, down from 134,000, so please cross your fingers I can do it! I'm going to assume that I make it.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts on this revision. I hope it helps.

 

Thank you for your assistance with mine. 



#17 samlat77

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:07 PM

Revised version:

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox has her life on a ten-year plan. After beating her academic nemesis and graduating as Teverine High School’s first-ever valedictorian, she’s set to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry. She just has to make it through the eleventh grade without getting expelled for turning her lab partner green (To be fair, he had it coming. He grabbed her gluteus maximus! Twice!). 

 

Mathilda never lets a three day suspension interfere with her ambitions, but she doesn't have a revolution in her agenda. When the country's disadvantaged Plebeon majority overthrows the elite Sentrist-run government in a coup, Mathilda's political family is a prime target. Mathilda’s books are burned, her mother sent to a prison camp, and her uncle faces execution. When the government tries to take her citizen ID card away, Mathilda packs her bags.

 

Then the new government closes the borders, trapping all those hoping to flee. Many despair, but not Mathilda. She can navigate the city’s underground tunnel system as well as the halls of government. When she masterminds an escape route to a neighboring country, Mathilda must make a choice whether to leave and save herself, beginning life anew as a refugee, or to stay and risk her life attempting to save those she loves. 

 

I hope you will consider Rules for Reluctant Outlaws for your list. It is a YA suspense/dystopian, complete at 90,000 words. As a classicist, my inspiration came from historical events ranging from the civil wars of Republican Rome to the French Revolution, as well as protest movements of today.  

 

 

Thank you for your time.

Okay, so I went through and looked at your previous queries and I find that they have more information than your most recent one. In the new one, I have more questions and no answers. Having looked back at the others, I know that Mathilda lives in a different country, but had I not read through the previous queries, I wouldn't have known that. I don't know anything at all about this book aside from the fact that Mathilda is apparently intelligent. There are stakes and I understand this is a revolution story, but I think what you should do is put the focal point on this revolution and the new regime (I assume that's the whole plot of the book) and then talk about Mathilda's academic aspirations to give a sense of what she's losing. 



#18 theboldfox

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 08:07 PM

I'm trying to use all of your fantastic advice for this one. I can't decide if I include the parts that are boxed. grrrrrrrr. 

 

the latest one is  in post one...


Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#19 smithgirl

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 02:17 PM

Hi boldfox! Thanks for reviewing my query! My comments are below.

Revised YET AGAIN. The things in  [ boxes ] are things I can't decide about:

 

Dear [Lucky Agent] colon

 

Sixteen-year-old Mathilda Whitfox [likes to forget] forgets that her antics are in the public eye. With her uncle running for re-election, she is supposed to show restraint, not turn her lower-class Plebeon classmate green with a chemical mixture of her own making. What if her antics get on the six o'clock Digiwire? That sort of thing doesn't play well in the polls, especially with all those financial scandals.

 

I would delete the question. You don't need it, and agents, generally speaking, really hate questions in a query. I'm just a bit confused out the very last part, with the financial scandals. I'm not sure her uncle is having financial scandals, or if they are just scandals in general.

 

My initial response to this first paragraph is that it is good, but when I reached the end of the query, it didn't seem to fit anymore. Paragraph 1 makes it feel like your story will be light-hearted and playful, but in fact your story is very serious. I also thought there might be a magical element (see below). You should change this first paragraph so that  it really introduces your story.

 

When I first read about her turning her classmate green, I thought it was like a spell (like she mixed a potion), but the rest of the query doesn't seem to contain fantasy/magic elements. Recall that an agent reading your query has no idea what's real and what's fantasy. You have a foreign world (Plebeion), which might or might also be magical. 

 

When Mathilda's uncle wins in a [surprise] landslide, the country's deprived Plebeon majority has had it with democracy. This sentence seems contradictory. Her uncle won in a vote, but that means they've had it with voting? So the didn't want the uncle to win? Calling for "Equality, Community, and Opportunity," the Plebeons overthrow the elite Sentrist run government in a military coup, leaving Mathilda's family a prime target. ​I don't know who the Sentrists are. You need to clarify the relationship between the Mathilda's uncle and the Sentrists.

 

Riots erupt throughout the country and all Mathilda just wants a safe escape with her family  is to get to safety with her This is awkward. Too many prepositional phrases. family. But as the Whitfox family organizes its finances to flee, those hoping to restore the old government unsuccessfully attack the new. The coup government closes the borders and posts lists of its public enemies. Mathilda's mother is sent to a prison camp, while her uncle faces execution. [When government agents invalidate her citizen identity card, Mathilda knows her options are narrowing.]

 

After years of pulling pranks and breaking rules, Mathilda has the skills to mastermind an escape route. Escape route from what? Is she trying to break her family out of prison? Escape for herself from the city?  If she leaves, not only must she begin start  life alone as a refugee, but she must also abandons everyone she loves to the whims of the regime. If she stays to rescue them, she will be added to the list of public enemies, and if caught, it will be her head on the guillotine.  I think you have very clear (and serious) stakes here, but this last paragraph wanders a bit. Try to condense. I was also unclear what you mean by her escape route.

 

After years of pulling pranks and breaking rules, Mathilda has the skills to mastermind an escape route. But if she leaves, she must start life over, alone, and abandon her family to a cruel regime. If she stays to help, she becomes a public enemy, rip for the guillotine.

 

I hope you will consider rules for Reluctant Outlaws, a 92,000-word YA suspense / dystopian novel. Thank you for your time. Title should be italics/in quotes/all caps.

 

 

I think your story is intense and interesting, but I felt some conflicting moods in your query. Parts seemed lighthearted and playful, while others are very serious. Maybe your book is like that; it starts lighthearted and then becomes serious. If so, you did a good job of conveying that in your query. I would just be sure that your query prepares the agent for your book. The first paragraph made me think it would be a happy story with some bumbling and maybe some magic and it really does not prepare for the rest of the query, which is about a country falling into chaos. You can't assume an agent will read your entire query, so if your first paragraph is not representative, you are losing a lot. You can add some playfulness to the query, but be sure you're not sending the wrong message. If your story is primarily serious, then make your query serious, too. Good luck!



#20 RosieSkye

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 04:15 PM

Revised YET AGAIN. The things in  [ boxes ] are things I can't decide about:

 

Dear [Lucky Agent]

 

I'm usually fan of putting the title/genre/word count at the end, but maybe putting it here and establishing straight-off that this is dystopian will help when you use certain political terms later on.

 

Sixteen year old Mathilda Whitfox [likes to forget] forgets (I'd go with "likes to forget."  Saying she plain-old forgets makes her sound a bit dim) that her antics are in the public eye. With her uncle running for re-election, she is supposed to show restraint, not concoct a chemical mixture to turn her lower-class Plebeon classmate green with a chemical mixture of her own making. What if her antics get on the six o'clock Digiwire? That sort of thing doesn't play well in the polls, especially with all those financial scandals.

 

When Mathilda's uncle wins in a [surprise] (I'd keep "surprise" because it sounds like his win could be shady, and then the rebellion feels logical) landslide, the country's deprived Plebeon majority has had it with democracy. Calling for "Equality, Community, and Opportunity," the Plebeons They overthrow the elite Sentrist-run government in a military coup, leaving and Mathilda's family becomes a prime target.   

 

Riots erupt throughout the country and all Mathilda wants is to get to safety with her family. But as the Whitfox family organizes its finances to flee, those hoping to restore the old government unsuccessfully attack the new. The coup government closes the borders and posts lists of its public enemies. Mathilda's mother is sent to a prison camp, while her uncle faces execution. [When government agents invalidate her citizen identity card, Mathilda knows her options are narrowing.]

 

After years of pulling pranks and breaking rules, Mathilda has the skills to mastermind an escape route. If she leaves, not only must she begin life alone as a refugee, but she'll abandons everyone she loves to the whims of the regime. If she stays to rescue them and gets caught, she will be added to the list of public enemies, and if caught, it will be her head on the guillotine.  

 

 

I hope you will consider rules for Reluctant Outlaws (title in all caps), a 92,000 word YA suspense / dystopian. Thank you for your time.

 

 

I think this is really getting there.  You have a lot of extraneous information, but it can be painlessly cut.  My only other suggestion is that since her chemistry powers are what make Mathilda stand out from a lot of YA heroines, you might want to add another mention or two about them in the query.  For example, instead of just saying she has the skills to mastermind an escape route, specify what she'd be able to do.  Let the reader know what kind of a force she is.

 

Good luck!






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