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DROUGHT (Science Fiction: Post-Apocalyptic)

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#1 eburton

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:43 PM

Hello, everyone. So after countless revisions, 1 full request, and 22 rejections, I’m back here for more rip-my-work-to-shreds feedback. I’ve updated the query to highlight the protagonist’s motivations while focusing more on the plot as opposed to the plot twist. Have a crack at it (critically of course), and if you’d like I’d be glad to pay it forward. Just leave your query link in the post.

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Every morning, Rebecca Saunders removes the pistol from underneath her pillow, then steps into a world fraught with peril. The Earth is dying, the blue sun devastates the land, and a rabid race of infected superhumans roam the countryside. So she clings to her gun and a fierce desire to protect her hometown because they are all she has left.

 

While out scavenging, Rebecca discovers a telekinetic, infected child shackled in a cellar. She knows she should inform the town’s leaders since the boy could be dangerous, but after forming an instant bond with him, she decides to keep him in secret.

 

That same day, soldiers arrive, and her once cloistered town begins to collapse—beatings of dissidents, forced starvations, and the construction of a border wall meant to “protect” the people. Then the military reveals that they haven’t just come for the town but also to retrieve the boy. Rebecca becomes more determined to defend the things she holds dear, mounting a resistance and engaging in bloody contests with the soldiers. However, the military is equally as unremitting. For them, the boy holds a power that will give them an advantage in a war raging beyond the town’s borders, a war that will decide Earth’s future, a war that is now centered on Rebecca and her people.

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time.



#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 21 May 2017 - 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 21 May 2017 - 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 21 May 2017 - 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 22 May 2017 - 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!



#9 RossWrites

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 08:24 AM

Eburton,

 

I like this better. It's shorter and more to the point. It's good that you express who these soldiers are and why they come back to life, otherwise it might just disappear in the glut of zombie fiction out there these days. This separates it. Is determining their source a part of the protagonists journey?

 

You call the coming army a "separatist military unit." What are they supposedly separating from? This implies that there is some sort of political issue as a part of the backstory, which would certainly make sense in a post-apocalyptic story. Is this significant to the larger story? If so, you might mention more, otherwise you might leave out the "separatist" designation.

 

All in all, this is a story I would be interested to read.



#10 eburton

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 05:35 AM

Eburton,

 

I like this better. It's shorter and more to the point. It's good that you express who these soldiers are and why they come back to life, otherwise it might just disappear in the glut of zombie fiction out there these days. This separates it. Is determining their source a part of the protagonists journey?

 

You call the coming army a "separatist military unit." What are they supposedly separating from? This implies that there is some sort of political issue as a part of the backstory, which would certainly make sense in a post-apocalyptic story. Is this significant to the larger story? If so, you might mention more, otherwise you might leave out the "separatist" designation.

 

All in all, this is a story I would be interested to read.

 

I made the updates. Thanks again. If you ever want me to review your work, I'd be glad to.



#11 sarahaspen

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 03:40 PM

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Dust storms swirl through the countryside, unbearable heat scorches the land, and a humanlike race born from the planet wanders its surface in search of the remaining human perpetrators. This is earth, stripped of its natural resources, dying, and plotting its revenge.I know this is probably not what you want to hear if you have changed this around several times already (so take it with a grain of salt), but I would start with the character. I've heard/read that agents look for who to root for right away. Also this confused me at first (I wasn't sure what "born of the planet" meant), but I think it could be less confusing to start with Rebecca and then explain what the creatures are exactly when the true identity of the soldiers is revealed. You might hint at the supernatural aspect right away, though. Maybe something like: Gunslinger Rebecca Saunders lives a meager life, caring for her children in her cloistered town, unaware of the new and growing danger that roams the scorched and dust-swirled countryside beyond. The townspeople have enough to worry about when daily sustenance is a struggle . . . 

 

Gunslinger and mother Rebecca Saunders lives a meager life in her cloistered town. The townspeople struggle daily for sustenance, teetering in that thin space between life and death. So when a military unit arrives with food, water, and promises of change, the people desperately welcome their saviors. Except these soldiers aren’t the harbingers of goodwill they claim to be. Oppressive orders and punishments designed to coerce obedience from the townspeople cause vicious conflicts, especially with headstrong Rebecca. Tensions climax and one day, a flurried skirmish culminates with a shaking pistol in Rebecca’s hand and two soldiers’ 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 the beings earth has dispatched to protect itself from the ravages of mankind. They possess uncanny strength, are nearly indestructible, and are committed to their purpose. For the townspeople, their only hope lies in Rebecca’s determination to protect them. 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. I think you have great stakes, but can you lay them out in terms of what they mean to Rebecca? Maybe something like: Rebecca is determined to help her family and the people of her town escape the powerful armed force, but even if she succeeds, she will still have to protect them from the danger beyond, an enemy that grows in number every day.

 

Supernatural beings, secrets, and family dysfunction (Secrets and family dysfunction are vague so I suggest leaving that out. Can you think of any comp titles instead?) collide in this post-apocalyptic novel about a town’s struggle to survive a drought under martial law.

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time. I think you have a unique concept here. A couple of questions that I had were whether Rebecca was in danger for shooting the soldiers and because she saw something that maybe she wasn't supposed to, and also how she found out the truth about them. I know you can not get deep into details, but if it is possible to touch on these subjects without getting into over-explaining, you might consider doing so. Just my thoughts and suggestions, so take whatever is helpful. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to look at mine.



#12 eburton

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 07:34 AM

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Dust storms swirl through the countryside, unbearable heat scorches the land, and a humanlike race born from the planet wanders its surface in search of the remaining human perpetrators. This is earth, stripped of its natural resources, dying, and plotting its revenge.I know this is probably not what you want to hear if you have changed this around several times already (so take it with a grain of salt), but I would start with the character. I've heard/read that agents look for who to root for right away. Also this confused me at first (I wasn't sure what "born of the planet" meant), but I think it could be less confusing to start with Rebecca and then explain what the creatures are exactly when the true identity of the soldiers is revealed. You might hint at the supernatural aspect right away, though. Maybe something like: Gunslinger Rebecca Saunders lives a meager life, caring for her children in her cloistered town, unaware of the new and growing danger that roams the scorched and dust-swirled countryside beyond. The townspeople have enough to worry about when daily sustenance is a struggle . . . 

 

Gunslinger and mother Rebecca Saunders lives a meager life in her cloistered town. The townspeople struggle daily for sustenance, teetering in that thin space between life and death. So when a military unit arrives with food, water, and promises of change, the people desperately welcome their saviors. Except these soldiers aren’t the harbingers of goodwill they claim to be. Oppressive orders and punishments designed to coerce obedience from the townspeople cause vicious conflicts, especially with headstrong Rebecca. Tensions climax and one day, a flurried skirmish culminates with a shaking pistol in Rebecca’s hand and two soldiers’ 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 the beings earth has dispatched to protect itself from the ravages of mankind. They possess uncanny strength, are nearly indestructible, and are committed to their purpose. For the townspeople, their only hope lies in Rebecca’s determination to protect them. 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. I think you have great stakes, but can you lay them out in terms of what they mean to Rebecca? Maybe something like: Rebecca is determined to help her family and the people of her town escape the powerful armed force, but even if she succeeds, she will still have to protect them from the danger beyond, an enemy that grows in number every day.

 

Supernatural beings, secrets, and family dysfunction (Secrets and family dysfunction are vague so I suggest leaving that out. Can you think of any comp titles instead?) collide in this post-apocalyptic novel about a town’s struggle to survive a drought under martial law.

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time. I think you have a unique concept here. A couple of questions that I had were whether Rebecca was in danger for shooting the soldiers and because she saw something that maybe she wasn't supposed to, and also how she found out the truth about them. I know you can not get deep into details, but if it is possible to touch on these subjects without getting into over-explaining, you might consider doing so. Just my thoughts and suggestions, so take whatever is helpful. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to look at mine.

 

 

I apologize for the late response. I really appreciate you taking the time to give feedback. I've made a few updates based on your recommendations.



#13 eburton

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 07:18 PM

Hello, everyone. So after countless revisions, 1 full request, and 22 rejections, I’m back here for more rip-my-work-to-shreds feedback. I’ve updated the query to highlight the protagonist’s motivations while focusing more on the plot as opposed to the plot twist. Have a crack at it (critically of course), and if you’d like I’d be glad to pay it forward.



#14 jaustail

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 12:06 AM

JMO:

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Every morning, Rebecca Saunders removes the pistol from underneath her pillow, then steps into a world fraught with peril. The Earth is dying, the blue sun devastates the land, and supernatural beings known as the Infected roam(describe the beings. do they have giant horns, do they have super powers, do they resemble humans?) the countryside. Death comes in many forms. So she clings to her gun and a fierce desire to protect her hometown because they are all she has left.

 

While out scavenging, Rebecca discovers an infected child who possesses telekinesis shackled in a cellar(i read as the telekinesis was shackled. maybe reword). She knows she should inform the town’s leaders since the boy could be dangerous, but after forming an instant bond with the child, she decides to keep him in secret.

 

That same day, soldiers arrive, and the collapse of her once cloistered town begins—beatings of dissidents, forced starvations, and the construction of a border wall meant to “protect” the people. Then the military reveals that they haven’t just come for the town but also to retrieve the boy. Rebecca becomes more determined to defend the things she holds dear, mounting a resistance and engaging in bloody contests with the soldiers. However, the military is equally as unremitting. For them, the boy holds a power that will give them an advantage in a war raging beyond the town’s borders, a war that will decide Earth’s future, a war that is now centered on Rebecca and her people.

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time.

 

 

It's a good query. I just wish the magic part was described more so it doesn't sound as another Vampire book.

 

 

Also, maybe don't update the query. Instead make a new post. It becomes easier to follow. JMO.


Query: WALL OF ICE

(Space Opera)

Revised version: Link


#15 eburton

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:50 AM

JMO:

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Every morning, Rebecca Saunders removes the pistol from underneath her pillow, then steps into a world fraught with peril. The Earth is dying, the blue sun devastates the land, and supernatural beings known as the Infected roam(describe the beings. do they have giant horns, do they have super powers, do they resemble humans?) the countryside. Death comes in many forms. So she clings to her gun and a fierce desire to protect her hometown because they are all she has left.

 

While out scavenging, Rebecca discovers an infected child who possesses telekinesis shackled in a cellar(i read as the telekinesis was shackled. maybe reword). She knows she should inform the town’s leaders since the boy could be dangerous, but after forming an instant bond with the child, she decides to keep him in secret.

 

That same day, soldiers arrive, and the collapse of her once cloistered town begins—beatings of dissidents, forced starvations, and the construction of a border wall meant to “protect” the people. Then the military reveals that they haven’t just come for the town but also to retrieve the boy. Rebecca becomes more determined to defend the things she holds dear, mounting a resistance and engaging in bloody contests with the soldiers. However, the military is equally as unremitting. For them, the boy holds a power that will give them an advantage in a war raging beyond the town’s borders, a war that will decide Earth’s future, a war that is now centered on Rebecca and her people.

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time.

 

 

It's a good query. I just wish the magic part was described more so it doesn't sound as another Vampire book.

 

 

Also, maybe don't update the query. Instead make a new post. It becomes easier to follow. JMO.

 

Thanks for the review, JMO. If you have a query you'd like me to look over, please point me to the posting.



#16 ShatteredSmooth

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 09:03 AM

Congrats on your request! 

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Every morning, Rebecca Saunders removes the pistol from underneath her pillow, then steps into a world fraught with peril. The Earth is dying, the blue sun devastates the land, and the Infected, humanlike beings with superhuman abilities, roam the countryside. Death comes in many forms. So she clings to her gun and a fierce desire to protect her hometown because they are all she has left. Do the infected's superhuman abilities also make them bad or some kind of rabid killers? Or is everyone dangerous and lethal in this world because its the only way to survive? My confusion about the infected is pulling me out of the query. 

 

While out scavenging, Rebecca discovers an infected child, who possesses telekinesis, shackled in a cellar. She knows she should inform the town’s leaders since the boy could be dangerous, but after forming an instant bond with the child, she decides to keep him in secret.

 

That same day, soldiers arrive, and the collapse of her once cloistered town begins—beatings of dissidents, forced starvations, and the construction of a border wall meant to “protect” the people. Then the military reveals that they haven’t just come for the town but also to retrieve the boy. Rebecca becomes more determined to defend the things she holds dear, mounting a resistance and engaging in bloody contests with the soldiers. However, the military is equally as unremitting. For them, the boy holds a power that will give them an advantage in a war raging beyond the town’s borders, a war that will decide Earth’s future, a war that is now centered on Rebecca and her people. 

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time. Comps?

Your last two paragraphs really work for me! They include the inciting incident, the conflict, the stakes and give me a sense of the character. I liked your opening line too, but the rest of that paragraph didn't work. It felt too much like telling world-building being thrown at me. Is there a way to incorporate this into an action somehow? 

 

http://agentquerycon...ost-7/?p=342054



#17 danipie

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 09:53 AM

Hello, everyone. So after countless revisions, 1 full request, and 22 rejections, I’m back here for more rip-my-work-to-shreds feedback. I’ve updated the query to highlight the protagonist’s motivations while focusing more on the plot as opposed to the plot twist. Have a crack at it (critically of course), and if you’d like I’d be glad to pay it forward.

 

Dear (agent’s name):

 

Every morning, Rebecca Saunders removes the pistol from underneath her pillow, then steps into a world fraught with peril. The Earth is dying, the blue sun devastates the land, and the Infected, humanlike beings with superhuman abilities, roam the countryside. Death comes in many forms. So she clings to her gun and a fierce desire to protect her hometown because they are all she has left. One thing I often get ripped apart about is my hook. The clearer and more concise the better. I think the first sentence packs a punch but you could maybe see how it feels to have some of these other details, like describing the Infected, in the second paragraph.

 

While out scavenging, Rebecca discovers an infected child, who possesses telekinesis, shackled in a cellar. She knows she should inform the town’s leaders since the boy could be dangerous, but after forming an instant bond with the childhim, she decides to keep him in secret.

 

That same day, soldiers arrive, and the collapse of her once cloistered town begins—beatings of dissidents, forced starvations, and the construction of a border wall meant to “protect” the people. Then the military reveals that they haven’t just come for the town but also to retrieve the boy. Rebecca becomes more determined to defend the things she holds dear, mounting a resistance and engaging in bloody contests with the soldiers. However, the military is equally as unremitting. For them, the boy holds a power that will give them an advantage in a war raging beyond the town’s borders, a war that will decide Earth’s future, a war that is now centered on Rebecca and her people. This paragraph is solid, imo, just focus on tidying up the first half of the query :)

 

DROUGHT is complete at 95,000 words. I’ve included (page numbers). I appreciate your time.

 

my query is here http://agentquerycon...on-in-67/page-4







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