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PUREST BLACK (YA sci-fi)

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#1 PureZhar3

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 02:23 PM

NEWEST VERSION ALWAYS IN THIS POST

 

Bear with me, everyone... I tried writing a completely new query. I know the old one was good, and I may revert to it, but the question of "why" kept coming up, and I decided to try to write a spoilers query. Please let me know what you think, what's confusing, etc.

Thank you so much for your continued support! I cannot express my gratitude enough.

Link to my synopsis: http://agentquerycon...lack-ya-sci-fi/

REWRITTEN QUERY Version 1.0:

Nine-year-old Jacob possesses a perfection that enthralls the flaws of anyone with contact to him.
Jealous of his mysterious nobility, the gods of Earth snare Jacob with a choice. He can save the world by committing ultimate evil, or curse the world for the sake of his soul. Despite his fear of impurity, Jacob chooses the former. He takes over Earth, terrorizes those left alive, and transforms into a tyrant.
Now, at sixteen, Jacob kidnaps rebel leader Star, whose support will allow him to sacrifice less lives for his goal. However, her curious and idealistic worldview scorns anyone immoral. To convince Star of his goodness, Jacob manipulates her to find more in his mansion than just his shapeshifting prisons, cache of creations, and second set of hidden hallways: He coaxes her to discover who he is.
Yet offering the truth means that Jacob first must know it himself. Unveiling his three-part soul also exposes the abyss of evil within, forcing him to wrestle with whether his soul is worth the world’s salvation. Before crushing his competitor, acquiring Star’s allegiance, or completing what was supposed to be an impossible task, Jacob finds he must conquer the most powerful opponent of all – himself.
PUREST BLACK (xx,xxx words), a multi-POV young adult science fiction novel, blends the pace and structure of Marissa Myer’s “Renegades” with the style and atmosphere of Katherine Arden’s “The Bear and the Nightingale”.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#2 Artsnerd

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 02:53 PM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. Very strong opening!

 

Rebellion figurehead Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in his mansion, where she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to kill. As Star pounds for a weakness in his armor, Jacob’s noble, icy charisma captivates her, stirring a terrifying desire to follow him despite his exterior cruelty. I got a little lost in the latter half of this sentence; I feel like it could be worded in a simpler way to get your message across. Her tearing would a different word--say, unraveling--make this sound more smooth, maybe? loyalty to the rebellion demands she uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her dedication wavers, a feeling that intensifies when she discovers the other rebellion leader knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Choosing between the best friend who betrays her and the mysterious murderer who claims morality, Star faces a decision that, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or rebuild the world.

 

In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words) this seems a tad lengthy for a debut (and YA, no less)--maybe try to cut it down to about 100k? I had a similar issue in which my YA Historical debut was 110k, but after going through and deleting redundant phrases, adverbs and adjectives, and scenes and characters that really weren't working, I got it down to 95k, a young adult novel, the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

 

I had to go back in a second time to really glean the overall plot of this story. Other than that and the things I directly noted in the critique, you've got a solid writing style!


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

―Maya Angelou

 

The query for my current WIP can be found here.

 

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#3 VSChapman

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 04:03 PM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. (nice opening)

 

Rebellion figurehead leader? Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in Jacob’s mansion, where she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to kill. (If no one knows him, how does the world know who to kill?) As Star pounds searches? for a weakness in his armor, Jacob’s noble, icy charisma captivates her, birthing a terrifying desire to follow him despite his cruel actions. Her unraveling loyalty to the rebellion demands she uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her dedication wavers, a feeling that intensifies when she discovers the other rebellion leader (who? I think a name would be important here so we can connect a little more) knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Choosing between the best friend who betrays her (wait, who's the best friend who betrays her? Is this the same as the other leader?) and the mysterious murderer who claims morality, Star faces a decision that, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or rebuild the world.

So, it sounds like an interesting story. The first line is great but the rest gets kinda mumbled a bit. I think it needs to be a little more clear. And I'm a little confused on the stakes. Is there more that you can give us with the stakes? And what are they rebelling against? I need a little more here. But, it's a good start! Keep going! 



#4 PureZhar3

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 08:13 PM

So, it sounds like an interesting story. The first line is great but the rest gets kinda mumbled a bit. I think it needs to be a little more clear. And I'm a little confused on the stakes. Is there more that you can give us with the stakes? And what are they rebelling against? I need a little more here. But, it's a good start! Keep going! 

Thank you! I edited my query accordingly. Would you mind checking it out and telling me if it's stronger/clearer?


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#5 Nessa

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 10:38 PM



No one in the world knows Jacob.​[Interesting, but sounds off. I don't know why. Personal preference, probably.] No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: all they know is his name​[They don't know him but they know his name. So they know he exists. So your first sentence isn't true? I'm not following.]. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist.​[Is he some sort of religious entity?]

 

Without information, the Northern Rebellion​[This is introduced out of nowhere.], led by Star and Jase​[Who are these people?], ineffectively wars against his government​[You're getting too vague here. How are they warring against the gov? Are they attempting assassinations? Jumping politicians? I don't know what kind of world this is.]. When Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in Jacob’s mansion​[No build up to get here. When/how is she taken?], she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to know – and kill​[I don't know enough about Star to care about her.]. As Star searches for a weakness to expose​[How? Where? Try to get specific.], Jacob’s noble, icy charisma captivates her​[That must be one hell of a public speaker.]. A terrifying desire to follow him stirs​[I don't see why she'd care. Is he a morally-gray villain? Good intentions but terrible methods of attaining them? Be specific.], demanding Star uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation​[This sounds like it'd take place past the 1/2 mark of your book.]. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her loyalty wavers, particularly when she discovers Jase​[Jase is mentioned so infrequently, you could remove him from the query and focus on Star, who seems to be the protagonist.] knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Jase, a best friend who betrayed her, offers hope for everyone, but Jacob, a mysterious murderer who claims morality, offers truth for her. Which boy Star chooses will, unbeknownst to her​[Awkward. You also might want to rephrase this to not sound like a love triangle. You might turn off agents who aren't feeling the cliché of a girl choosing between two guys.], shatter or rebuild the world.​[Stakes?]

 

In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words),​[Word count is a bit high. You want to aim for 100,000 or less for a debut.] a young adult novel ​[Genre?], the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, ​[I don't recommend you use such a strong outlier as a comp. Divergent is also dystopian, which is still hibernating.] with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.​[I don't see how this ties into your query. I also don't think it's a good idea to use classic literature as a comp for genre YA. It could work, but I don't see that happening with your piece or your query.]


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#6 Mdane

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 11:15 PM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: ​I think this would be more powerful with a period instead of colon. all they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. I like this hook

 

Without information, the Northern Rebellionled by Star and Jaseseemed too halting with the commas ineffectively wars against his(their?) government. When Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in Jacob’s mansion, she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to know – and kill. As Star searches for a weakness to expose, Jacob’s noble, icy charisma captivates her. A terrifying desire to follow him stirs, demanding Star uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her loyalty wavers, particularly when she discovers Jase knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Jase, a best friend who betrayed her(how and when?), offers hope for everyone, but Jacob, a mysterious murderer who claims morality, offers truth for her. Which boy Star chooses will, unbeknownst to her, shatter or rebuild the world.

 

In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult novel, the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I like the query. For the most part it seems really polished. I was a bit lost on the whole Jase betraying Star as I thought they led the Rebellion together. But over all very good.

 

If you get a chance would you mind having a look at my query, The Other Side of Blood.

 

Thanks


Desperately looking for advice on my query The Other Side of Blood

 

My published novel on Amazon The Traitor in the Trees


#7 jennafyre

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 11:00 AM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: all they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist.

 

Without information, the Northern Rebellion, led by Star and Jase, ineffectively wars against his government. When Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in Jacob’s mansion, she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to know – and kill. As Star searches for a weakness to expose , How does she do this? Is she spending time with him, rifling through his drawers? It sounds dangerous, tell me how. Jacob’s noble word choice confuses me, icy charisma captivates her. A terrifying desire to follow him stirs, demanding Star uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her loyalty wavers, particularly when she discovers Jase knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Jase, a best friend who betrayed her, offers hope for everyone, but Jacob, a mysterious murderer who claims morality, offers truth for her. This sentence is awkward and long, would consider breaking it up into two. Which boy The word "boy" tripped me up here. I know it's YA, but if this guy rules the word, boy isn't the descriptor I would use Star chooses will, unbeknownst to her, shatter or rebuild the world.

 

In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult novel, the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

So, your concept is intriguing and opening line/hook is great, but the query is pretty short. I want more information. Some key points I'd like expanded: What is Star doing with her time in the mansion?

Where is the desire to follow him coming from? Is it that she sees his humanity and understands him? Is it some weird kind of involuntary mind control? 

Your hook says Jacob stole the souls of 20 million men, is that supernatural or a euphemism for murder? Is Star discovering he has other-worldly powers?

In my experience, specificity is the key to a good query. Keep it short and concise, but give me clear, important details. 

This is on its way to being really good, keep going!


Liked my feedback? I'm actively seeking advice on my query


#8 KET Writes

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 12:24 PM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men: all they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. This definitely has me curious.

 

Without information, the Northern Rebellion, led by Star and Jase, ineffectively wars against his government. I'm wondering what this world looks like with Jacob in charge? Like modern, futuristic dystopia? Is the world left in ruins with Jacob in charge? Why do they want to revel against him? Yes he stole twenty million souls, but what does that mean? What did he do with the sounds? Does this just mean he killed them?. When Star is kidnapped and imprisoned in Jacob’s mansion, I'm also wondering if Jacob specifically kidnapped her?It's not clear if he does the kidnapping, just that it's in his mansion. she meets the tyrant that the earth craves to know – and kill. As Star searches for a weakness to expose, Jacob’s noble, icy charisma captivates her. Is she in a cell, or is this Beauty and the Beast style, where she's free to roam around his mansion as a guest. Also  why was she imprisoned in his mansion and not a jail cell? Is it just the two of them there? A terrifying desire to follow him stirs, demanding Star uncover the truth: who is Jacob? Yet just as she begins untangling his web of antitheses, he releases her without explanation. Though Star returns to the rebellion, her loyalty wavers, particularly when she discovers Jase knew Jacob before he conquered the world. Does Jacob tell her this? Jase, a best friend who betrayed her, offers hope for everyone, but Jacob, a mysterious murderer who claims morality, offers truth for her. Which boy Star chooses will, unbeknownst to her, shatter or rebuild the world.

 

In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult novel, the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

 

 

I feel like this is a very interesting plot, but the query didn't give me a full setting and story. I asked a lot of questions above, they don't all need to be answered, but they are things that made me stop, which you don't want an Agent to do.  Hopefully the questions can help you add a bit more meat to your query!

 

 

 

Schedule


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my YA Urban Fantasy Query !

 


#9 PureZhar3

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 04:49 PM



In PUREST BLACK (120,000 words),​[Word count is a bit high. You want to aim for 100,000 or less for a debut.] a young adult novel ​[Genre?], the style and structure of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance meets the stakes and world-type of Divergent, ​[I don't recommend you use such a strong outlier as a comp. Divergent is also dystopian, which is still hibernating.] with thematic cores similar to those in The Picture of Dorian Gray.​[I don't see how this ties into your query. I also don't think it's a good idea to use classic literature as a comp for genre YA. It could work, but I don't see that happening with your piece or your query.]

Nessa, you pointed out my lack of genre identification. A question for everyone: my novel could be classified as supernatural, sci-fi, or magical realism... which genre would you suggest I identify it as? I've been saying magical realism, because I think the style fits it best, but didn't know if you had any thoughts?

 

Also, I referenced the Picture of Dorian Gray because my novel does have a heavy moral, philosophical undertone reminiscent of the Picture of Dorian Gray. It's also magical realism, so it does fit into the genre (though not category). I know classics aren't recommended comps, but I thought if I used two more recent ones as well, it might be okay.  But you think it would be better to eliminate that part altogether? If not, do you have a suggestion for how to convey that aspect of my novel (or if I even should)?


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#10 KET Writes

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 07:34 PM

Personally I really like this revision, good job! I understand the conflict, I understand the setting, and personally, I want to see more! (So much more clear than version 1!)


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my YA Urban Fantasy Query !

 


#11 ThatDan

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:09 PM

​Thanks for your feedback, here's mine:

 


Version 2.0:

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men.​<soul stealing doesn't really feature later in the query, so mentioning it here doesn't seem to add anything. All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist.​<might help to add how he rules it (political dictatorship? dark magic? etc?) this would build the world earlier on.

Jacob’s stratified empire thrives like a weed, suffocating everyone in its grasp.​<not sure if this is literal The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate the ruinous Jacob, but without information, they must settle for ​(maybe insert a word her like "fruitless" or "desperate" to indicate their lack of success) infiltration​s and raids. When their leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob, she finds herself imprisoned inside his mansion, in a jail simulating the wilderness. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, moral king who can read her every thought – and proves most of them wrong​<I assume these are the thoughts about Jacob vs the rebellion. if so, could be a little clearer.. By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell to report to the rebellion. Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob … and not so she can defeat him.​<if this is a hint at romance, it's not very strong, since it gets completely left behind in the next sentences. When he offers the truth​< maybe "the truth about..." to make it a little less vague? in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stick by an ineffective but ​seemingly? virtuous rebellion, or she can indulge curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant.<maybe also include something about Star and what makes her special enough that Jacob would want her to join him, rather than just kill her. The decision, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or reincarnate the earth.

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult magical realism novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”, but with higher stakes and pace, as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

 

​Really good so far. The story sounds very intriguing. There are just some minor things in the text to clarify which I've mentioned.

​But now on to the bigger issues:

​1 What kind of world is this set in? You categorize it as magical realism. But the vibe from this query is that its more of a future magical dystopia cross sci-fi type thing (complex!). Without much to go on, I visualized this query being set in a not-too-distant future world akin to the unseen future portion of the movie "Looper" (also because of the mysterious tyrant element). However, with mentions of "the Northern Rebellion" I get a high/epic fantasy feel. And "magical-realism" tries to convince me its roughly current day, with urban elements. I'm not saying any of this is wrong, or that blurring genres are bad (see genre comment below), but I feel you need to guide me a little more to ensure the world you've created is infact the world I'm imagining. As it stands, its a little hazy.

2  I can't help but wonder how this query would feel if it started with and focused on Star instead (it certainly feels like Star is the MC, so a little strange for the hook to be solely about Jacob).

 

​Re: genre, I think you're in the same boat as me. Creating new genres, or mixing genres seems to be perceived as "trying too hard to be original" or "not knowing the established market". It's an unfortunate predicament to be in. For the sake of simplicity, I've classed mine as "YA fantasy", though it could easily be classified as urban fantasy (minus romance), science fantasy, magical realism, or paranormal/supernatural. It has elements of all those genres (and more), but to call it any of them would be at best 60% accurate. Ideally, I'd love to call it "preternatural" but unfortunately that's not a genre, and has been strongly advised against. Simple "fantasy" seems to be the best option for me, purely through vagueness. Although I've not really offered any advice here, I hope it guides you a little to find what genre to query your story as.


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

My query >>> http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=349578


#12 PureZhar3

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 04:59 PM

 

 


​But now on to the bigger issues:

​1 What kind of world is this set in? You categorize it as magical realism. But the vibe from this query is that its more of a future magical dystopia cross sci-fi type thing (complex!). Without much to go on, I visualized this query being set in a not-too-distant future world akin to the unseen future portion of the movie "Looper" (also because of the mysterious tyrant element). However, with mentions of "the Northern Rebellion" I get a high/epic fantasy feel. And "magical-realism" tries to convince me its roughly current day, with urban elements. I'm not saying any of this is wrong, or that blurring genres are bad (see genre comment below), but I feel you need to guide me a little more to ensure the world you've created is infact the world I'm imagining. As it stands, its a little hazy. If I had to describe the world, it's a supernatural/sci-fi cross dystopia feel (I've received comments that it feels similar to the world of Divergent, although my story is otherwise extremely different than Divergent). Do you think that if I clarified the genre better, it would be easier to tell what kind of world it's set in, or will I need to convey a better sense regardless? (As for the Northern Rebellion conjuring images of an epic fantasy world, that's definitely inaccurate. Should I take out the name of the rebellion to avoid that, or should I leave it?)

2  I can't help but wonder how this query would feel if it started with and focused on Star instead (it certainly feels like Star is the MC, so a little strange for the hook to be solely about Jacob). Ultimately, the story is framed around Jacob, but pretty much all of the story involving him is wrapped in secrets, and any attempt to talk about him requires big reveals, so a lot of it is through Star's eyes (my story is multi-POV). Hence the query is focused on her (what, at first, you're supposed to believe the story is about). As such, most of the tension revolves around Jacob, so I figured I would start with him and introduce Star in relation to him. Do you feel like the hook doesn't fit?

 

​Re: genre, I think you're in the same boat as me. Creating new genres, or mixing genres seems to be perceived as "trying too hard to be original" or "not knowing the established market". It's an unfortunate predicament to be in. For the sake of simplicity, I've classed mine as "YA fantasy", though it could easily be classified as urban fantasy (minus romance), science fantasy, magical realism, or paranormal/supernatural. It has elements of all those genres (and more), but to call it any of them would be at best 60% accurate. Ideally, I'd love to call it "preternatural" but unfortunately that's not a genre, and has been strongly advised against. Simple "fantasy" seems to be the best option for me, purely through vagueness. Although I've not really offered any advice here, I hope it guides you a little to find what genre to query your story as. Very helpful! In that case, it may be best to classify my novel as "YA science fiction". I wasn't sure if science fiction was too specific a category, (because I tend to think of hard science fiction) but that sounds like it would be best. In that case, do you think I need to change my comps (both being magic realism)?

Thanks Dan! A few thoughts in response to yours...


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#13 Gabe S.

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:36 PM


No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men (Just dudes? Dang.). All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. (I like these opening lines.)

Jacob’s stratified empire thrives like a weed, suffocating everyone in its grasp. The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate the ruinous Jacob, but without information, they must settle for infiltration and raids. When their leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob, she finds herself imprisoned inside his mansion, in a jail simulating the wilderness. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, moral king (Name? Sounds like an important character.) who can read her every thought – and proves most of them wrong. By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell (Is Jacob a hermit crab? This sounds a little too...weird, without context.) to report to the rebellion. (She's in contact with them? Is she mole sent to infiltrate Jacob's lair? Are smoke signals involved? I have questions.) Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob … and not so she can defeat him. When he offers the truth in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stick by an ineffective but virtuous rebellion, or she can indulge curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant. (You know, 'seduced' popped into my head as I read this sentence. Like she struggles resisting the seduction of Jacob and his shiny shell. I think you got the keyboard-fu to re-write this sentence.) The decision, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or reincarnate the earth.

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult science fiction novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”, but with higher stakes and pace, as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

 

Sorry about being facetious in my comments. I like the query. Just tidy up a bit. It has some really cool aspects. I hope the MS explores the dark nature of human desires - evil is always more interesting than 'goody-good' people. 


If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...aded-ya-sci-fi/


#14 ThatDan

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:13 AM

Thanks for the return feedback.

In response to your questions:

 

 If I had to describe the world, it's a supernatural/sci-fi cross dystopia feel (I've received comments that it feels similar to the world of Divergent, although my story is otherwise extremely different than Divergent). Do you think that if I clarified the genre better, it would be easier to tell what kind of world it's set in, or will I need to convey a better sense regardless? I believe its good to get a good grasp of genre and world through the query itself, especially considering some genres can be very diverse. (that being said, I don't really use much world building in my own query...). (As for the Northern Rebellion conjuring images of an epic fantasy world, that's definitely inaccurate. Should I take out the name of the rebellion to avoid that, or should I leave it?) It'll be fine if something else established the world first. The only reason if felt that way was because "souls" and "iron fist" were the only indicators before hand as to what kind of world it was. Afterwards i doubted there was anything epic fantasy about it, but just the way it reads led me to think that first off.

 

 

Ultimately, the story is framed around Jacob, but pretty much all of the story involving him is wrapped in secrets, and any attempt to talk about him requires big reveals, so a lot of it is through Star's eyes (my story is multi-POV). I've seen a lot of recommendations suggesting that if a story is multiPOV, it's best to pick the main one and stick with that for a query. Obviously not going to be true for all cases though. Hence the query is focused on her (what, at first, you're supposed to believe the story is about). As such, most of the tension revolves around Jacob, so I figured I would start with him and introduce Star in relation to him. Do you feel like the hook doesn't fit? Not necessarily. But I wonder if the whole query would be stronger if we see it all from Star's viewpoint. But go with whatever feels right to you.

 

Very helpful! In that case, it may be best to classify my novel as "YA science fiction". I wasn't sure if science fiction was too specific a category,<not sure if you meant to write "science fantasy" here. Because sci-fi is definitely a genre. Sci-fantasy on the other hand, I need to read into more. Not sure how established it is as a genre. maybe someone else can chime in here? (because I tend to think of hard science fiction) but that sounds like it would be best. In that case, do you think I need to change my comps (both being magic realism)?.Maybe comp like "has MR elements of X and Y"?


I'm no professional. Take my critiques merely as suggestions.

My query >>> http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=349578


#15 Nonicks

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:41 AM

Hey guys, thanks for your help! Hopefully this version is clearer than the last. It’s a bit longer than it should be, so if you have suggestions for any words/bits that could be cut, I’d appreciate it.

Also, I'm going to work on bringing down my word count in the actual manuscript. Thanks again!

Version 2.0:

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men (I love the hook!). All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist.

Jacob’s stratified empire thrives like a weed, suffocating everyone in its grasp. The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate the ruinous Jacob, but without information, they must settle for infiltration and raids. When their leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob (why? for what purpose?) , she finds herself imprisoned inside his mansion, in a jail simulating the wilderness. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, moral king who can read her every thought – and proves most of them wrong (this sentence makes me think it's a dual POV novel. Maybe reword it to show Jacob's POV). By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell to report to the rebellion. Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob … and not so she can defeat him. When he offers the truth in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stick by an ineffective but virtuous rebellion, or she can indulge curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant. The decision, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or reincarnate the earth. (intriguing!)

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a young adult science fiction novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”, but with higher stakes and pace (I don't think it is wise to say such a thing about a published book. Yours is not published yet...), as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

 

 

Seems like a very interesting read, mainly because Jacob seems like an interesting character. The only thing that was not clear for me is the POV issue. If it is a dual POV, maybe it's worth mentioning it.

 

Thank you for your comments on my query. I made some changes, I'd appreciate it if you took another look, here



#16 PureZhar3

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 09:08 AM

 

Thanks for the return feedback.

In response to your questions:

 

 If I had to describe the world, it's a supernatural/sci-fi cross dystopia feel (I've received comments that it feels similar to the world of Divergent, although my story is otherwise extremely different than Divergent). Do you think that if I clarified the genre better, it would be easier to tell what kind of world it's set in, or will I need to convey a better sense regardless? I believe its good to get a good grasp of genre and world through the query itself, especially considering some genres can be very diverse. (that being said, I don't really use much world building in my own query...). (As for the Northern Rebellion conjuring images of an epic fantasy world, that's definitely inaccurate. Should I take out the name of the rebellion to avoid that, or should I leave it?) It'll be fine if something else established the world first. The only reason if felt that way was because "souls" and "iron fist" were the only indicators before hand as to what kind of world it was. Afterwards i doubted there was anything epic fantasy about it, but just the way it reads led me to think that first off. What, in your opinion, would most succinctly clarify what kind of world it was in?

 

 

Ultimately, the story is framed around Jacob, but pretty much all of the story involving him is wrapped in secrets, and any attempt to talk about him requires big reveals, so a lot of it is through Star's eyes (my story is multi-POV). I've seen a lot of recommendations suggesting that if a story is multiPOV, it's best to pick the main one and stick with that for a query. Obviously not going to be true for all cases though. Hence the query is focused on her (what, at first, you're supposed to believe the story is about). As such, most of the tension revolves around Jacob, so I figured I would start with him and introduce Star in relation to him. Do you feel like the hook doesn't fit? Not necessarily. But I wonder if the whole query would be stronger if we see it all from Star's viewpoint. But go with whatever feels right to you. I'll play around with it - definitely worth trying :)

 

Very helpful! In that case, it may be best to classify my novel as "YA science fiction". I wasn't sure if science fiction was too specific a category,<not sure if you meant to write "science fantasy" here. Because sci-fi is definitely a genre. Sci-fantasy on the other hand, I need to read into more. Not sure how established it is as a genre. maybe someone else can chime in here? Sorry! I meant to write genre (science fiction was too specific a genre). My bad. (because I tend to think of hard science fiction) but that sounds like it would be best. In that case, do you think I need to change my comps (both being magic realism)?.Maybe comp like "has MR elements of X and Y"? I'll play around with that too.

 

Any thoughts on these topics are welcome :) thank you all, I will try to have a revised query up soon!


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#17 alibi174

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 10:36 AM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty-million men. All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist [I like the way this sentence reads, but "an iron fist" is vague. Is there something you could replace it with to give the reader some more specific info about Jacob?].

Jacob’s stratified empire thrives like a weed, suffocating everyone in its grasp. The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate the ruinous Jacob, but without information, they must settle for infiltration and raids. When their leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob, she finds herself imprisoned inside his mansion, in a jail simulating that simulates the wilderness. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, moral king who can read her every thought – and proves most of them wrong. By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell to report to the rebellion. Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob [the wording of this sentence is confusing] … and not so she can defeat him. When he offers the truth in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stick by["can remain loyal to"? I'm not sure...I'm going back and forth] an ineffective but virtuous rebellion, or she can indulge [her] curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant. The decision, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or reincarnate the earth.

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a multi-POV young adult science fiction novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”,Ruth Emmie Lang's BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE  but with higher stakes and pace, as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” [same as prior].

 

 

 

I would greatly appreciate any feedback you can provide on my new version of my query for BISECTER

If you have a few moments, I'd appreciate your feedback on my query for BISECTER (YA Fantasy).


#18 bijou

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 11:07 AM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty million men. All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist. [I love this hook. It's really gripping. I don't know where I am yet, but I'm in for the ride.]

Jacob’s stratified empire thrives like a weed, suffocating everyone in its grasp. [I think you can cut this first sentence and just go into the rebellion.] The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate the ruinous Jacob, but without information [what kind of information? I was confused by this.], they must settle for infiltration [wouldn't infiltration give them information? Isn't that the point of infiltration?] and raids. [After reading the whole thing, I realized this is where you were implying they are ineffective. But it's not strong enough right now to set up the conflict for Star.] 

 

[I feel like this should be a new paragraph] When their leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob, she finds herself imprisoned inside his mansion, in a jail simulating the wilderness [you don't need this last phrase. It's not crucial here what the jail is like, and it's just distracting]. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, moral king [I don't understand this phrase. Why "moral"?] who can read her every thought – and proves most of them wrong.[I'm confused by this phrase as well. He proves her thoughts wrong? I'm not sure what that means.] By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell to report to the rebellion. Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob … and not so she can defeat him. When he offers the truth in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stick by an ineffective but virtuous rebellion,[I didn't realize they were ineffective. Maybe you need to do more earlier to establish this. Also, I feel like I need to know more about Star. That could go at the start of this paragraph. Is she frustrated with the rebellion? If so, better to frontload that info.] or she can indulge curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant. The decision, unbeknownst to her, will shatter or reincarnate the earth.[I really like the conflict here. This dilemma is fascinating.]

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a multi-POV young adult science fiction novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”, but with higher stakes and pace, as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.[It seems strange to me to use a 100-year-old novel as a comp.]


If my feedback was helpful, I'd appreciate some thoughts on my historical novel query.


#19 PureZhar3

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 11:35 AM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, or how he stole the souls of twenty-million men. All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with an iron fist [I like the way this sentence reads, but "an iron fist" is vague. Is there something you could replace it with to give the reader some more specific info about Jacob?]. Would something like "with merciless laws" help, or is that just as vague as iron fist?

PUREST BLACK (120,000 words), a multi-POV young adult science fiction novel, possesses the style and structure of “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”,Ruth Emmie Lang's BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE  but with higher stakes and pace, as well as thematic cores similar to those in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” [same as prior]. I was under the impression that the only book that should be capitalized in a query letter was the novel being proposed.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#20 Wayfarer

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 03:01 PM

No one in the world knows Jacob. No one knows where to find him, how to break him, (this is somewhat ambiguous, I assume your meaning is "how to stop him", if so maybe try another phrasing. Not terribly important, just a thought I had while reading) or how he stole the souls of twenty million men. All they know is his name. But Jacob knows the world; he rules it with merciless law.

Jacob’s hierarchical empire thrives like a weed, stealing everything it needs from its subjects. The Northern Rebellion has risen to assassinate Jacob him, but without information, they must settle for fruitless raids and pep talks unavailing discourse(Again not a necessary change, but "pep talks" just sounds out of place, or almost childish for an assembly discussing the fate of the world)

 

When their adventuresome  (whimsical, jaunty, itinerant, roving, wayfaring [lol]) leader Star is kidnapped by Jacob, she finds herself imprisoned in a jail that simulates the wilderness. There, Star is confronted by the impassive, ethical king who can read her every thought – and proves most of her assumptions wrong. By engaging Jacob in conversations, Star hunts for flaws in his shell to report to the rebellion. Yet hours alone with his cold charisma rouse a terrifying desire to learn more about Jacob him… and not so she can defeat him.

space

When Jacob offers the truth about his power in exchange for her allegiance, Star faces a choice. She can stand by an ineffective but virtuous rebellion, or she can indulge her curiosity by joining an unbreakable, persuasive tyrant. The decision, unbeknownst to her, will either serve to reincarnate the earth, or shatter it.

I'd say this is a really good query. My only adjustments where to particular phrasing, but outside that it reads well, I understand the plot, Star, and what's at stake just fine.







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