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Mind Bubbles (Sci-Fi)

Fiction Humor/Satire Science Fiction

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#1 johnmorrison

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 05:15 PM

Here is my draft query letter to an agent. Please feel free to throw stones.

= = = = = = = =

 

Dear AGENT-X,

 

I am seeking representation for my second novel, Mind Bubbles, a 70,000-word sci-fi dark comedy. It is a tale told by a sentient, opinionated quantum computer, about the perils of modifying human behavior using genetic engineering.

 

I enclose the first five pages, per your submission guidelines.

 

PREMISE

 

What if the culture war between men and women could be won (or lost) through genetic engineering? Canduka Cantor, brilliant charlatan, meets Berky Benson, half-mad geneticist, and they decide to change the world to their liking.

 

STORY IDEA

 

Cantor, a would-be 21st-century prophet, thinks women should be content to live their lives as pets, and men should be free to roam. His partner, Berky Benson, decides to apply a technology called Mind Bubbles to realize that dream. It requires re-engineering the genome using human templates for the desired behaviors—subservience, dependence, and a willingness to suspend judgment. 

 

Cantor and Benson find two DNA patterns for their “perfect woman.” One is Nadia Holkam, an agoraphobic ex-school teacher from a small town in Appalachia. The other is a dead Bangladeshi who embraced the traditional role of Muslim women in society. When the school teacher and her twin sister discover the Cantor-Benson plot, they decide to teach one last lesson, with help from the dead woman’s son.

 

PRIMARY CHARACTERS

 

Protagonist - Nadia Holkam is a retired high school science teacher living in Assurance, NC—an Appalachian ghost town. Nadia is the town’s only resident and is obsessed with preserving the history and artifacts of Assurance. She is agoraphobic.  Her house is her prison. As a result, she has become very dependent on a single person. A former student, Berky Benson, who lives outside the town, provides her basic needs. Nadia has a very logical approach to most problems—except for her agoraphobia—but can spin her mind into fantasy and daydreams. She has a quirky sense of humor. She is subservient, dependent, and unable to judge other people’s motives. The twin traumas—death of her father, and death of the town—caused Nadia’s mind to snap. She lacks the self-confidence to live in the objective world and is unable to face the future.

 

Antagonist - Berky Benson is CEO of Xanadu NeuroLab. Berky is obsessed with making a perfect world and will let nothing get in the way. He is a badly-dressed, nose-picking, balding man who radiates both forcefulness and confusion. He likes to wear disguises and is superstitious about luck. Berky is the grown-up boy Nadia Holkam taught in high school. Oddly, for someone obsessed with making a perfect world, Berky is oblivious to human relationships. He is incredibly smart in matters of science and engineering. He is dominant, self-sufficient, and suspicious of others. He believes he will define the future of humanity.

 

SETTINGS

  • Assurance, NC (an Appalachian ghost town)
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Savannah, GA
  • Chicago, IL
  • New York City, NY

MARKET

  • Fans of Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), and Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle)
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans interested in genetics and psychology

CREDENTIALS

 

Non-fiction credits:

  • A chapter in Tactical C3 for the Ground Forces (AFCEA International Press)
  • A feature magazine article, Programming Perestroika (ComputerWorld)
  • Analytical reports sponsored by government and commercial companies

Fiction credits:

  • A first novel, The Ganymede Project (sci-fi)
  • Screenplays:
    • The Ganymede Project, adapted from the novel (optioned by Woofenill Works, NY)
    • SCRAM, a story about a nuclear reactor meltdown outside New York City (optioned by Woofenill Works)
    • Writing contributions to ten other screenplays

 

Sincerely,

 

John Morrison



#2 smithgirl

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 05:34 PM

This is not how you write a query. You need to review proper query format. Look at other people's queries, at successful queries, check out QueryShark: http://queryshark.blogspot.com.

 

A query is a short pitch -- 250 - 300 words, told from the POV of your MC. It's a bit like the blurb on the back page: short, concise, gives you an idea of the plot, pulls you in, leaves you hungry to read more.

 

You should rewrite as a proper query and then check back again.



#3 lnloft

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 05:43 PM

Have you read the typical formatting for a query? Because this is not it, at all. First, don't start by saying you are seeking representation, because if you're querying, then obviously you are. Second, the rest of this isn't how it's formatted, either. You want a succinct hook (one or two sentences), followed by a couple paragraphs about who the main character is and what the stakes are. Last paragraph then has title, genre, word count, and writing credentials. So all of this with headings and sections is just super weird.

 

Furthermore, it took me until literally the last sentence of your STORY IDEA section to realize that Cantor and Benson were not the heroes of your story. And that meant that I was super turned off by the whole concept. You need to be clear from the start that your story is not about two scientists who are trying to make the "perfect, subservient" woman, but rather about the people trying to stop them. Big difference. One has laudable heroes and the other makes me physically cringe. (I mean, honestly, as a woman, the whole concept makes me uncomfortable, anyway, even with the heroes are the ones stopping it. So if you want this to work, you have to really go hard on the fact that what Cantor and Benson are doing is not okay, at all.)

 

Also curious, if you've already been published before, then why aren't you with your previous agent? Or are you self-published? If you've been agented before, then some agents might be wary, wondering why your first agent didn't want to work with you again. It's fine to just say something about how you had creative differences on your new project, if that's the case, though. If it's self-publishing, then just be clear on that front.

 

There are other pieces I could go into on your query, but I think the first thing is to look at the big picture that I'm pointing out here. Once you've got those sorted out, then we can discuss more of the minuteae.



#4 johnmorrison

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 06:06 PM

Thanks for the reply. It has been over a decade since I published my first novel, which is why I'm seeking a new agent.

 

I like your advice about putting the protagonist first. Doh.

 

I'll re-work it. Thanks!







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