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DROUGHT (Dystopian Fiction: Revision #6)

Commercial Fiction

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#1 eburton

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:43 PM

Hi, everyone. Any critiques you all can give would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Dust clouds swirl through the countryside, unbearable heat scorches the land, and a humanlike race born from the planet wanders its surfaces in search of the perpetrators—humans. This is earth, stripped of its natural resources, dying, and seeking retribution.

 

No matter how many drops of water the family collects, Rebecca Saunders knows she can’t keep her children alive much longer in this parched town. So when the townspeople desperately welcome a separatist military unit who arrives with food, water, and promises of change, life has hope. Except these soldiers aren’t harbingers of peace and goodwill. Their oppressive orders and punishments designed to instill obedience cause vicious conflicts, especially with gun-toting Rebecca. Troops eventually storm her home, interrogate her, and brutally beat her family. The situation culminates with a shaking pistol in Rebecca’s hand and two soldier’s bodies strewn across a bloody floor. Moments later, the soldiers rise unscathed from what should have been fatal injuries. Rebecca eventually learns the soldiers are beings the earth has dispatched to protect itself from the ravages of mankind. They appear human, possess uncanny strength, are nearly indestructible, and are committed to their purpose.

 

The town’s fate appears bleak, yet Rebecca is determined to protect her people. But even if they somehow manage to escape the powerful armed force, there are more like them beyond the town’s borders, and their numbers grow every day.

 

Supernatural beings, secrets, and family dysfunction collide in this 95,000-word dystopian novel about a small town’s struggle to survive a drought under martial law. I’ve included (page numbers). I truly appreciate your time and consideration.



#2 RossWrites

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:01 PM

It has been recommended to me to not ask for any feedback or recommendations in a query letter since agents are not looking to provide that amount of time and effort for a work that they do not plan to represent or at least don't have enough interest in. If it gets to the point that they will offer recommendations, you will already have communicated enough to know their interest in your work.



#3 Jatsuki

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 01:50 AM

I'm new to writing query letters and these might just be my personal preference but...hope this helps a little!

 

Hello, everyone. Any critiques you all can provide on my query would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Dear (insert agent's name):

 

No matter how many drops of water the family collects, Rebecca Saunders knows she can’t keep her children alive much longer in this parched town. The mountain passages exhale dust clouds, whiplashes of wind and sand that bite the skin, and the blue sun scorches any remnants of life brave enough to bear its burn. Broken by this life’s futility, Rebecca enters her daughter’s room in darkness to end the family’s struggle, except the weapon fails to discharge, staining her with guilt and renewing her commitment to survive.

 

Within her community, Rebecca’s town desperately negotiates an arrangement with a separatist military unit who arrives with food, water, and promises of change. The armed force introduces themselves with a seemingly benign community gathering in a dingy auditorium. But their speech gradually transforms from gratitude into oppressive proclamations seeking to marshal the people into a productive union under the New Democracy. Rebecca believes such a militant presence jeopardizes the people she cares for most, and after repeated attempts to oust the new regime from power, the situation between them evolves into a bloody confrontation. Troops storm her home, interrogate her, and brutally beat her family. The conflict culminates with a shaking pistol in Rebecca’s hand and two soldier’s bodies strewn across a bloody floor. The family experiences momentarily relief until however, seconds later (might be less wordy) the soldiers rise unscathed from what should have been fatal injuries. Rebecca soon learns that the soldiers are but one of many secrets the dying earth has hidden while living in her cloistered town—and that as time goes by, those secrets will reveal themselves in nefarious ways that alter the townspeople’s lives forever. This felt like a disappointing and vague ending, I want to know what's next. What is the next big decision Rebecca needs to make that will leave me desperate to read on. This also leaves me wondering, is the story going to follow Rebecca's experience or the members of the town?

 

Drought is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (insert page numbers). I can send you the full manuscript upon your request. Any feedback or recommendations would greatly be welcomed. I truly appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from 



#4 RosieSkye

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:04 AM

Hello, everyone. Any critiques you all can provide on my query would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Dear (insert agent's name):

 

No matter how many drops of water the family collects, Rebecca Saunders knows she can’t keep her children alive much longer in this parched town. The mountain passages exhale dust clouds, whiplashes of wind and sand that bite the skin, and the blue sun scorches any remnants of life brave enough to bear its burn. (I feel like you're repeating yourself here. We know the town is parched - I'm more interested in your setting.  Are we in the Dust Bowl of the 1930's or on some other planet, or what?) Broken by this life’s futility, Rebecca enters her daughter’s room in darkness to end the family’s struggle, except the weapon fails to discharge, staining her with guilt and renewing her commitment to survive. (Since she doesn't end up killing her daughter, there's no real payoff for this in your query.  I'd cut it.)

 

Within her community, Rebecca’s town desperately negotiates an arrangement with a separatist military unit who arrives with food, water, and promises of change. The armed force introduces themselves with a seemingly benign community gathering in a dingy auditorium. But their speech gradually transforms from gratitude (Why are the ones who are bringing the food grateful?) into oppressive proclamations seeking to marshal the people into a productive union under the New Democracy. Rebecca believes such a militant presence jeopardizes the people she cares for most, (In what way?) and after repeated attempts to oust the new regime from power, the situation between them evolves into a bloody confrontation. Troops storm her home, interrogate her, and brutally beat her family. The conflict culminates with a shaking pistol in Rebecca’s hand and two soldier’s bodies strewn across a bloody floor. The family experiences momentarily relief until the soldiers rise unscathed from what should have been fatal injuries. (This is where your story really starts, and where it differs from a hundred other stories we've seen before. I'd get to this point much sooner.) Rebecca soon learns that the soldiers are but one of many secrets the dying earth has hidden while living in her cloistered town—and that as time goes by, those secrets will reveal themselves in nefarious ways that alter the townspeople’s lives forever. (This is very vague. What's ultimately at stake for Rebecca?)

 

Drought (all caps, no italics) is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (insert page numbers). I can send you the full manuscript upon your request. (This is a given.) Any feedback or recommendations would greatly be welcomed. (No, no, no. Occasionally a generous agent will offer this, but it's bad form to ask.) I truly appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

As I said above, the soldiers rising from the dead is what sets your story apart from all the other post-apocalyptic stories out there.  You need to get to that right away, and not bog agents down with minutiae they've already seen.  And once that idea is introduced, expand on what it means for everyone else - especially Rebecca.

 

Good luck!



#5 eburton

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Posted Yesterday, 10:38 AM

It has been recommended to me to not ask for any feedback or recommendations in a query letter since agents are not looking to provide that amount of time and effort for a work that they do not plan to represent or at least don't have enough interest in. If it gets to the point that they will offer recommendations, you will already have communicated enough to know their interest in your work.

 

Thanks, RossWrites! That is something I never knew, nor found during my research. I made the changes you recommended. When you have a moment, please take a second look at the query and see if there are other potential improvements.



#6 eburton

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Posted Yesterday, 10:43 AM

I'm new to writing query letters and these might just be my personal preference but...hope this helps a little!

 

Jatsuki, I condensed the passages you pointed out to read more succinctly. I also expounded on the vague ending. Hopefully, I've improved upon the query. If not, I'd love to hear any other critiques you may have. Thanks again.



#7 eburton

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Posted Yesterday, 10:50 AM

As I said above, the soldiers rising from the dead is what sets your story apart from all the other post-apocalyptic stories out there.  You need to get to that right away, and not bog agents down with minutiae they've already seen.  And once that idea is introduced, expand on what it means for everyone else - especially Rebecca.

 

Good luck!

 

RosieSkye, you've given the most substantive feedback to date, and I am beyond grateful. I read your words, digested them, and tried to reconstruct the query from its base. I believe the revision is an improvement; however, if not, please lend me your discerning eye once more. (Probably could have made that last sentence less dramatic, but what the heck).



#8 eburton

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Posted Today, 07:10 PM

Okay, the sixth iteration is up. Anyone willing to read it, please have a go at it for any suggestions/improvements. Thank you!







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