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The Many Small Deaths of Oz (YA sci-fi) revised

Young Adult Science Fiction

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#41 Sataris

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 11:05 PM

Thanks Kathryn! added a very minor tweak which I think might clarify the "key to the success" thing.

 

things I'm not crazy about in this version:

1.the phrase "soon finds love in that world; with a girl..." feels really awkward. I need a better link between phrases there. I think it probably needs to be clearer that he's falling in love with her in the virtual world too. I think I've improved upon the link with the phrase "and he does find...one that belongs". Let me know if you agree/disagree.

2. not 100% sure on the closing sentence, but I do like it, as I feel it adds a bit of internal conflict to the external threat of death

3. calling it fantasy - while the book does probably read more like fantasy once you're a good ways in, I've come to the conclusion that labeling it sci-fi is probably more accurate given my query, and because sci-fi elements enable the fantasy stuff in the first place.

4. im considering cutting the "strangers who want him dead in fifteen days" and replacing it with "not that any of them would return the favor."

 5. The link between "every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love" and "twisting the knife" isn't quite right. 

 

^ I think I've addressed the above. Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's heart. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


No current query!


#42 TheBest

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 05:16 PM

 

Thanks Kathryn! added a very minor tweak which I think might clarify the "key to the success" thing.

 

things I'm not crazy about in this version:

1.the phrase "soon finds love in that world; with a girl..." feels really awkward. I need a better link between phrases there. I think it probably needs to be clearer that he's falling in love with her in the virtual world too. I think I've improved upon the link with the phrase "and he does find...one that belongs". Let me know if you agree/disagree.

2. not 100% sure on the closing sentence, but I do like it, as I feel it adds a bit of internal conflict to the external threat of death

3. calling it fantasy - while the book does probably read more like fantasy once you're a good ways in, I've come to the conclusion that labeling it sci-fi is probably more accurate given my query, and because sci-fi elements enable the fantasy stuff in the first place.

4. im considering cutting the "strangers who want him dead in fifteen days" and replacing it with "not that any of them would return the favor."

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, so he has little chance of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become net-positive by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gifts him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold; one that belongs to a murderous girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz needs her help to survive, every moment they spend together twists the knife a little deeper into his friend's heart(In real life, or in the virtual world? How does his friend know if it is not reality?). But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word science fiction novel for young adults. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

This is an outstanding query. Any edits to the flow or structure would be nitpicking. However, OZ's "convincing strangers not to jump" is not explained well. It's difficult to see a connection between that and the virtual world. I definitely would consider this science fiction. I like the last sentence as well, but maybe it could be perfected. Good luck!



#43 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 12:39 AM

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. (Great hook.) Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge. (Got even better.)

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, so he has little chance of earning a place in society. (I'd consider: "...right hand, causing him to have a little chance to earn a place in society.") He graduates in fifteen days. and If he hasn't become net-positive by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. Is "net-positive" an average term in your book? I understood what it meant, but it took me a sec. Could you introduce it later by saying all the other citizens are? If it's hard to do, I wouldn't worry about it.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gifts him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. It's a world where his right hand can once again form a fist or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold, but it one that belongs to a murderous girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor. 

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And Although Oz needs her help to survive, every moment they spend together twists the knife a little deeper into his friend's heart. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first. 

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word science fiction novel for young adults.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. (Leave this by itself.)

 

Your query as improved a lot. Great job! I just inserted some small edits throughout. Nothing major at all.

 

2. I love the closing sentence. Do it.

3. I can understand why you'd want to do it sci-fi. There's actually something called "soft sci-fi" that can have that fantasy/magical element to it. So I think calling it sci-fi is okay. 

4. I like this version better.



#44 Sataris

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 10:43 AM

thanks guys! really appreciate it. I made a few very small changes - like cutting the net-positive thing, since I can see how that could be a stumbling block. I also corrected the whole "how does he know theyre together thing" by being a bit more specific at the cost of a few words. I'd love to hear if anyone else stumbles at any point while reading this latest version.

 

I'm also looking to strengthen the language a bit, because while I think there are some decent lines in the query, overall it reads fairly plain. Would really appreciate suggestions on that, and as Robin mentioned, getting some of the "buts, ands, etcs" out of there. 


No current query!


#45 Kimseal

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 03:04 PM

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge. don't need this. In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gifts gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold;  colon or comma or dash not semicolon one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every moment they spend together twists the knife a little deeper into his friend's heart why? Is she dating Oz now or is his friend just a jealous prick?. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first. like this, understand the moral stakes

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel for young adults. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

--I'd like to know more about what's going on with the girl is to really understand the choice Oz has to make. If the question is who she's going to date, then what does she think about it? Doesn't she have any say in it--it comes across as if it's a matter between Oz and his friend, which is kind of leaving out the crucial girl-shaped piece in the middle. If Oz just needs her help, why does it matter if there's a romance between them at all? Wouldn't she tell her boyfriend's friend how to save his life anyway?

 

Thanks for taking a look at mine!



#46 Cengel

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 07:24 PM

 

Thanks Kathryn! added a very minor tweak which I think might clarify the "key to the success" thing.

 

things I'm not crazy about in this version:

1.the phrase "soon finds love in that world; with a girl..." feels really awkward. I need a better link between phrases there. I think it probably needs to be clearer that he's falling in love with her in the virtual world too. I think I've improved upon the link with the phrase "and he does find...one that belongs". Let me know if you agree/disagree.

2. not 100% sure on the closing sentence, but I do like it, as I feel it adds a bit of internal conflict to the external threat of death

3. calling it fantasy - while the book does probably read more like fantasy once you're a good ways in, I've come to the conclusion that labeling it sci-fi is probably more accurate given my query, and because sci-fi elements enable the fantasy stuff in the first place.

4. im considering cutting the "strangers who want him dead in fifteen days" and replacing it with "not that any of them would return the favor."

 5. The link between "every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love" and "twisting the knife" isn't quite right. 

 

^ I think I've addressed the above. Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge. solid hook

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. These first two paragraphs are good - very concise and informative, but not in an info-dumpy way.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's heart. This does a much better job of connecting the threads of the query than the previous version I looked at But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

With this latest draft, I think your query is pretty much there. One thing I still don't really understand is the importance of the virtual world. Is it just that he meets the girl there? How does it tie into the conflict or interact with the real world? Maybe this isn't important to the query, but it is still one thing I'm still fuzzy on. If it's central to the plot beyond just being a meeting place for him and his love interest, I would consider making it clearer how/why. 

 

Other than that, I feel like your query is much more clear and concise now.  The stakes are a lot more clear, and I now understand the role of all the characters you mention.

 

If you would look at my newest draft, I would appreciate your feedback!


Please take a look at my query.


#47 JChristian

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 07:35 PM

Solid query. Just one thing.

 

"And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's heart."
 

In his heart, or in his back? Food for thought. Keep up the good work. If you get a chance, I'd love a review.



#48 Sataris

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 07:43 PM

thanks cengel! I'll take a look at yours now. The VR thing, plot-wise, mostly just translates into a place for them to meet; its got some personal growth type stuff to it, but nothing I'd probably want to mention in the query now that I'm taking the relationship angle.

 

and yeah jchristian, I've gone back and forth between heart and back. I do like heart better, but lately i've been thinking that it might cause a bit of a stumble, which im trying to avoid at all costs. ill take a look at yours right after.

 

thanks again! and to everyone else, if you've recently commented on my query and haven't received feedback in return, please let me know. I believe I've gotten to everyone but this threads starting to get a little long

 

im also just going to re-post that last version down here for convenience since I'm making a post anyway:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's back. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


No current query!


#49 JChristian

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 08:06 PM

Back sounds much better to me, reading this again. Consider that we're not interested in how his friend feels (heart). We're looking at what Oz feels (back).



#50 CS29

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 12:51 AM

You've definitely got a solid query here. Honestly, it's hard to find much to fix.

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that they any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources (this one I could go either way on) than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days, and if he doesn't hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that the same girl turns out to be is dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's back. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first. (I like the impact of this last line, though I wonder if it might hit harder if you worded it slightly different. It might require tweaking your hook a bit, but I personally think it would sound great if you used similar language in both. Something along the lines of changing your hook to refer to people taking a last step, then in this last line refer to Oz stepping on others to get what he wants. Anyway, just a thought I had, I understand if it doesn't work for you. The potential for a callback was just too good to ignore.)

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Altogether, I think you have an excellent query here and most of my corrections were more matters of word choice that may not work for, or appeal to you. You story sounds fascinating. Good luck!



#51 jaustail

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 03:09 AM

JMO:

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump(who are these strangers? Are they people who are suicidal?). Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge.(how does he know that they wouldn't return the favor? Maybe: Not that Oz would listen to any of his own advice if he were on the ledge)

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world(I didn't understand this. has a nuclear war happened?), physical labor is king(nice), and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society(not wanting to sound harsh but he can work with the left hand.). He graduates in fifteen days, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.(nice)

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl(if he knows she is bloodthirsty he wouldn't hold her hand. He'd be scared. maybe change the adjective to what he thinks of her) who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had(maybe mention the friend earlier. else it seems forced now). And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's back. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

I didn't really understand what the book is about apart from the love triangle. JMO, but maybe revise this.


Query: WALL OF ICE

(Space Opera)

Revised version: Link


#52 JustSwizz

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 12:57 PM

thanks cengel! I'll take a look at yours now. The VR thing, plot-wise, mostly just translates into a place for them to meet; its got some personal growth type stuff to it, but nothing I'd probably want to mention in the query now that I'm taking the relationship angle.

 

and yeah jchristian, I've gone back and forth between heart and back. I do like heart better, but lately i've been thinking that it might cause a bit of a stumble, which im trying to avoid at all costs. ill take a look at yours right after.

 

thanks again! and to everyone else, if you've recently commented on my query and haven't received feedback in return, please let me know. I believe I've gotten to everyone but this threads starting to get a little long

 

im also just going to re-post that last version down here for convenience since I'm making a post anyway:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge Not a crazy fan of this second sentence. I can't find it now, but I much prefer your hook in the draft I critiqued.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in fifteen days From school? How important is it to mention school? So far, the world and his injury is most vital, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or and even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to hold– one that belongs to a bloodthirsty girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. And though Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's back This sentence is super long. Maybe break it up?. But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he’s going to have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Thanks for the critique! Hope this helps.  



#53 Vio Liddell

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 03:38 PM

 

Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. Not that any of them would return the favor if it were Oz on the ledge. Excellent hook I think.

 

In Oz’s post-nuclear world, physical labor is king, and citizens must contribute more resources than they consume. But Oz’s own suicide attempt severed the nerves in his right hand, ruining his chances of earning a place in society. He graduates in two weeks, and if he hasn't become a positive contributor by then, he'll be cast out to die (we can guess that he'll most probably die. I think the sentence is smoother to read this way) on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean.

 

But Oz finds a reason to fight when his uncle gives him a machine that can transport him to a virtual world. A world where his right hand can once again form a fist, or even hold a girl’s hand. And Oz does find a hand to holdone that belongs to a bloodthirsty (aggressive? rebellious? vampire?) girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

Unfortunately, back in the real world, that same girl turns out to be dating the only friend Oz has ever had. Although Oz will need her help in both worlds if he's to survive, every second they spend together pushes them closer to something like love, just as each passing day twists the knife deeper into his friend's back (I agree that this sentence is a bit long). But if Oz is going to come out on top for once in his life, he will have to push some other people down first.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Just one little thing to nitpick about: you often use "but" and "and" at the beginning of your sentences. Maybe remove them or rephrase with "yet", "however"...

Overall I think your query is very solid. I wish you the best of luck with agents!

 

I've updated my own query if you're interested: http://agentquerycon...fantasy-rev-36/



#54 Sataris

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:22 PM

Thanks Vio Liddell! I'll take a look at yours shortly. I've been working on another version while sending this one out, so figured I'd go ahead and post it. Not sure I'll end up going with it, but trying to get a bit more of the MC's voice to come through.

 

     

 

 

     Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. So it’s no surprise that society wants him dead.

 

 

 

     Because they’re assholes. Unfortunately, those assholes also have their reasons. In Oz’s post-nuclear world, compassion is a crime, physical labor is king, and every citizen must contribute more resources than they consume without exception. Depression, then, is a death sentence– and Oz is a dead man walking.

 

 

     Two years ago, Oz severed the nerves in his right hand while attempting suicide. The injury decimated his chances of earning a place in society, and now he has fifteen days to do the impossible and become a positive contributor. If he fails, he’ll be cast out onto the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. And despite the irony of it all, it turns out that Oz is a huge fan of not freezing to death.

 

 

 

     Oz, ever the escapist – but denied the books he loves by a government that’s hellbent on productivity – runs to a black market, virtual world when his prospects take a bad turn. There, he meets a girl who considers flirting and violence to be interchangeable. She also claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor.

 

 

     But when survival is a zero-sum game, even a helping hand has sinister implications. And while Oz has never been able to abide the suffering of others, he must now decide whether his own future is worth endangering the lives of an entire civilization. Good times.

 

 

 

     THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


No current query!


#55 dogsbody

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Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:50 PM

     Seventeen-year-old Ozymandias Black spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. So it’s no surprise that society wants him dead.

 

 

 

     Because they’re assholes. Unfortunately, those assholes also have their reasons. In Oz’s post-nuclear world, compassion is a crime, physical labor is king, and every citizen must contribute more resources than they consume without exception. Depression, then, is a death sentence– and Oz is a dead man walking.

 

 

I know that's quite a chop, but it didn't feel like your query really "began" until the next paragraph. And since nothing you've mentioned so far bears directly on what comes after..? Maybe consider the edit.

 

     Two years ago, Oz severed the nerves in his right hand while attempting suicide. The injury decimated his chances of earning a place in society (and if you cut out the first paragraphs, here is where you could explain the society he lives in),and n Now he has fifteen days to do the impossible and become a positive contributor. If he fails, he’ll be cast out onto the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. And despite the irony of it all, it turns out that Oz is a huge fan of not freezing to death.

 

 

 

     Oz, ever the escapist – but denied the books he loves by a government that’s hellbent on productivity (why is this important in the events you're currently describing? what do the books have to do with him being an escapist or running to a black market?) – runs to a black market, virtual world when his prospects take a bad turn. There, he meets a girl who considers flirting and violence to be interchangeable. She also claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor. (Nice tie-in of new character the main narrative.)

 

 

     But when survival is a zero-sum game, even a helping hand has sinister implications. And while Oz has never been able to abide the suffering of others, he must now decide whether his own future is worth endangering the lives of an entire civilization. (but you've lost me here, I have no idea in any specificity what Oz might be doing next; my sense of the "story" ends with the last paragraph and I have no idea why I'd want to read on to see happen) Good times.

 

 

 

     THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word YA science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

(Great title!) 

 

Establishing your main character is important, but I'd advise doing it in a way that doesn't "slow down" the reveal of the story, or seem disconnected from the events of the main narrative. 

 

Venturing into "hugely personal opinion time" -- you know it's a byword now how hard it is to sell dystopian fiction. I would recommend seeing what worldbuilding details you can sneak into your query which are not stereotypically dystopian. (Unfortunately the banning of books, "compassion is a crime," etc is very stereotypical.) Obviously the premise of the society stands, but maybe you can talk more about the black market? Or anything that shows your innovation and fresh ideas, anything that says: "maybe you've seen some of this before, but you haven't seen this OTHER stuff!"



#56 Sataris

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 08:55 AM

thanks dogsbody, there's some good stuff in there. I agree with the stuff about the books and the stereotypical bits - it's more nuanced/"original" in the book, but i don't think ill be able to do it justice in the query (nor should i, probably) so i'll probably just cut it. the escapist/book stuff in particular definitely needs to go.

 

as for the first two cuts, i feel like im probably going to stick with the first two/three lines but pare down the second paragraph. i might play around with trying to start at where you suggested,  but i think there's a few things ill still have to get across (mainly why his injury would prevent him from becoming a contributor - otherwise it might come off as "this guy's disabled now, so he's not good enough for society" which would be pretty offensive and I want to avoid at all costs). It also seems like opening a query with "two years ago" probably wouldn't jump out at an agent very well, but I could be wrong.

 

as to the specifics of what exactly he has to do, im not 100% sold that I want to list them. I can see how it would be advantageous if it were something like "and to do that, he must sabotage his classmates" or something cut and dry like that, but I think it'd balloon my query a good bit to really get into the sorts of things he'll have to do. maybe I need a line that shows the direction he has to go in. im hoping my last line adds a bit more concrete clarification as well, even if it's sort of a side point.

 

going to post another attempt below. It's a bit longer, but I think it ties the first two lines/last paragraph in better, and has a bit stronger language. Probably lacks a bit of voice, but I think it's worth it overall. The fifth paragraph is a little clunky too. Think i still need to cut down on that second paragraph too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Seventeen-year-old deadbeat Oz spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. He just wants to be useful for a change. Others would argue that he’s making a hobby out of treason.

    

     In Oz’s post-nuclear world, civilization is on the brink, and all citizens must contribute more resources than they consume without exception. There's simply no room for people who, like Oz, struggle with depression.

    

     He has fifteen days to go from parasite to positive contributor, otherwise he’ll be exiled onto the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, the potential of becoming a corpse popsicle is a pretty solid motivator.

    

     Wanting to contribute is a good start, but it isn't enough. Two years ago, Oz severed the nerves in his right hand while attempting suicide. The injury decimated his chances of earning a place in his labor-intensive society. It also convinced him that he isn’t worthy of one.

    

     When the stress becomes unbearable, Oz runs to a black market, virtual world. He's just looking for a temporary escape. Instead, he meets the savior he doesn’t deserve: an impetuous girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor. All Oz has to do is fool the entire world into believing he's invaluable. In two weeks.

     

     But when survival is a zero-sum game, even a helping hand has sinister implications. If Oz wants to succeed, he’ll have weigh every scheme against upsetting the delicate balance that allows civilization to persist. And somewhere along the way, he’ll have to convince himself that he’s not the feckless leech that everyone thinks he is.

 

     THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word science fiction YA novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


No current query!


#57 MICRONESIA

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 06:32 PM

Thanks for looking at my query. 

 

 

     Seventeen-year-old deadbeat Oz spends his nights on a rooftop convincing strangers not to jump. He just wants to be useful for a change. Others would argue that he’s making a hobby out of treason. Is "deadbeat" the right word here? When I hear that word, I automatically think "useless." But he can't be useless if he's saving people's lives. Also: you tell us it's treason, but you take too long to tell us how/why. The thread therefore gets lost. 

    

     In Oz’s post-nuclear world, civilization is on the brink Of what?, and all citizens must contribute more resources than they consume without exception. There's simply no room for people who, like Oz, struggle with depression. ...and can't work? I don't see a strict correlation. A lot of depressed people go to work just as often as non-depressed people. 

    

     He has fifteen days to go from parasite to positive contributor, THIS is your hook! I would REALLY REALLY REALLY suggest starting with this line, then filling us in on the details in subsequent paragraphs. If this had been your hook, you would've gained my attention immediately. otherwise he’ll be exiled onto the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, the potential of becoming a corpse popsicle is a pretty solid motivator. Great voice.

    

     Wanting to contribute is a good start, but it isn't enough. Two years ago, Oz severed the nerves in his right hand while attempting suicide. The injury decimated his chances of earning a place in his labor-intensive society. I feel like this essential background info should come sooner. It also convinced him that he isn’t worthy of one.

    

     When the stress becomes unbearable, Oz runs to a black market, virtual world. He's just looking for a temporary escape. Instead, he meets the savior he doesn’t deserve: an impetuous girl who claims to have a way around the requirement for physical labor. This "way around" needs to be more specific. Also: does the girl have a name? This is a pet peeve of mine, but it's kind of a drag when the query only talks about one character. All Oz has to do is fool the entire world into believing he's invaluable. In two weeks.

     

     But when survival is a zero-sum game, even a helping hand has sinister implications. How so? If Oz wants to succeed, he’ll have weigh every scheme against upsetting the delicate balance that allows civilization to persist. Once again: too vague. And somewhere along the way, he’ll have to convince himself that he’s not the feckless leech that everyone thinks he is.

 

     THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word science fiction YA novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

This is a solid query. I feel like everything is here*, it's just presented in the wrong order. See my comments above.

 

*I'm not clear on what CHOICE the MC has to make. The only option is "prove worth or die," correct? If there's no other option, then the narrative loses its drive. If the character chooses A, then [these horrible things will happen]. If he chooses B, then [these other horrible things will happen]. We need a better idea of this in the query.

 

Also, I'm still not sure how keeping people from committing suicide is "treason."



#58 Sataris

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 06:50 PM

Thanks Micronesia! I think I'm just going to drop the first bit as both you and dogbody have suggested and give that a shot. It seems like I'm introducing too many ideas that could be considered conflicting. I'm going to scratch off that last version as I work on the next.


No current query!


#59 JGettys7

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 06:56 PM

Seventeen-year-old deadbeat Oz has fifteen days to go from parasite to positive contributor.

 

Thankfully, the potential of becoming a corpse Popsicle on the frozen wasteland that was once the Pacific Ocean is a pretty solid motivator. In Oz’s post-nuclear world, civilization is on the brink, and all citizens must contribute more resources than they consume without exception. There's simply no room for people who, like Oz, struggle with depression. 

 

Despite this, Oz still wants to be useful. Unfortunately, because a failed suicide attempt resulted in severed nerves in his right hand two years ago, he ruined his chances. When the stress becomes unbearable, Oz runs to a black market, virtual world for a temporary escape. Instead, he meets the savior he doesn’t deserve: an impetuous girl [name?] who claims to have a way to cheat the requirement for physical labor. All Oz has to do is fool the entire world into believing he's invaluable.

 

In two weeks.

 

THE MANY SMALL DEATHS OF OZYMANDIAS BLACK is a 93,000 word science fiction YA novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I hope this doesn't confuse you, but I think it might be a better rearrangement for your query as it gets to the exciting parts faster.

 

Otherwise, your story seems very fascinating.



#60 MICRONESIA

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 07:11 PM

^ Dude. There it is, right there. I mean, you probably need to throw in a few more details, but...

 

Yeah. Great work, Gettys.







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