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The Island (YA Sci-Fi) UPDATE ON POST #75 WIll CRIT BACK

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#41 RoseGlacier

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 04:48 PM

Thanks for your helpful feedback on my own query! It's so helpful to see how other people's queries evolve. Yours has come a long way. The concept is intriguing and I think you're close to nailing it.

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2018

Hi everyone, this is my most recent draft!

Quite a few of you mentioned that I should change electric poles to an electric fence, but this is not the word that represents what I mean. These electric poles are more like capacitors with invisible tesla coils located in the ocean surrounding the island. I don't know how to say this without being too wordy, but if anyone has suggestions, please let me know! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by electric poles (maybe give just a few words of description here - are the poles dangerous? Do they shock the people trying to leave?), the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. Enduring back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister (I think 'emotionally fragile' is good to include here if that's what she is, otherwise people will wonder why she needs protection). But the Originators offer only two options: silent obedience to the this cruel way of life—or to be dragged off by the town watchmen and never return. "To be dragged off" reads as passive voice to me. Maybe something like "silent obedience to this cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen - or disappearing, never to return."

To her horror, her sister is taken by the watchmen (seems repetitive after the last sentence, and 'taken' could be replaced by a more powerful verb like 'snatched') and in an unprecedented move (unprecedented why? Is it crucial to say that? I think you could leave it out, the sentence flows better without it), her best friend Zander is among the few chosen by the Originators to help further their oppressive regime.

A strange incident finally gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive, and that he has uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human.

With time running out, hoping to find her father, and trying to save her sister and everyone else from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. This sentence is a little awkward to me. I would reword it to something like, "Rachel is desperate to find her father and save everyone else from a terrible fate, but time is running out. Trusting Keith is a risk and the mission will be dangerous, but she's got to fid a way to destroy that machine. Except (I'd prefer a transitional phrase like 'She soon learns' here to flow better into 'But' in the next sentence)  there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island, where any means of escape floods the island triggers a flood, killing the entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and. If they are able to can find it in time, it will be the only thing that can save them. (Am I giving away too much in the end? Should I tie it up earlier?) I don't think so.

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 



#42 smithgirl

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:48 AM

Hi everyone, this is my most recent draft!

Quite a few of you mentioned that I should change electric poles to an electric fence, but this is not the word that represents what I mean. These electric poles are more like capacitors with invisible Tesla coils located in the ocean surrounding the island. I don't know how to say this without being too wordy, but if anyone has suggestions, please let me know! 

 

Condemned by the Originators to an island surrounded by an electrified border poles, the citizens of the Western Division, including Rachel Ives,  live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. The cold pea soup is kind of funny. :-) Not even WARM pea soup. But The Originators offer only two options: silent obedience to the cruel way of life—or to be dragged off by the town watchmen and never return.  Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape and protect her only family, a younger  emotionally fragile sister

 

I wonder why Rachel and these people are condemned to the island. Are they criminals? Who are the Originators? I realize you won't want to add too much backstory, and maybe you don't have to. Maybe you could just give a tiny bit more context -- or not, if it seems to difficult.. Also, is the sister Rachel's only family? I would also recommend maybe changing the order of the last two sentences and try to get your MC's name in earlier.

 

To her horror, her sister is taken by the watchmen and in an unprecedented move, her best friend Zander is among the few chosen by the Originators to help further their oppressive regime.  The Zander thing seems unimportant to the query. I would delete and incorporate the sister kidnapping into the next paragraph.

 

A strange incident finally gives Rachel hope: A young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. Maybe mention that many  people in this city have been reduced to a kind of mindless human, so the machine seems more relevant to the story.

 

With time running out, hoping to find her father, and trying to save her sister and everyone else from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. Except, there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island, where any means of escape floods the island killing the entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they are able to find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them. (Am I giving away too much in the end? Should I tie it up earlier?) I think this is OK, actually.

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 

I think your query is good overall; I have a clear idea of the overall story and also the stakes. I made some recommendations that I think will help, but it's up to you. It might help if could give more context about the people being condemned, because it sounds a bit like this could be a prison colony. If that's not the case, maybe you could clarify.

 

Could you please look at my query when you can? Thanks! http://agentquerycon...ate-in-post-13/



#43 Bkrasnik

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:12 AM

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing never to return.

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime.

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human.

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them.

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#44 MICRONESIA

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 10:25 AM

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. I think you want your "hook sentence" to end with something harder-hitting than pea soup. I think the electric grid island is interesting enough in itself. Enduring back hyphen breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more I've noticed every other query has a character "wanting nothing more." Maybe go with something different. than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent Why is this capitalized? obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing Punctuation needed. never to return. The Supremes make them disappear? Like, with a disappearing ray? Also, the Supremes makes me think of Diana Ross.

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime. Long, clunky, awkward sentence. Break up.

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. Another huge, clunky sentence. Suddenly there's this new guy? And she has a father... and we should care he's alive? It strips away everything that makes someone human -- so, like, the flesh, endocrine system, lymphatic system, emotions, etc.? My experience with agents is that they DO nitpick on this level.

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. You're throwing too much at the reader. I would bet A LOT of this stuff doesn't happen in the book's "first act." But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them. Vague.

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 

Scale back, simplify.



#45 morgan.spraker

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 08:01 PM

 

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated to me, this word just feels out of place huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing never to return.

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime. This feels too short. How does Rachel feel? 

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human.

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them. Your paragraphs feel a little choppy. I would either add or combine. Also, the ending feels a little cliche. With the rest of the query so good, I wouldn't want this to be the last impression. 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. You may want to add comps and a biography

 

I really enjoyed this and would TOTALLY want to read this!! If you don't mind, would you take a look at my query?

http://agentquerycon...-of-alexandria/



#46 Tanja

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 12:51 AM

 

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing never to return.

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime.

A strange incident gives Rachel hope:  When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. This is very long. Try to break it up.

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them.  you want to leave a bit of mystery, especially at the end of the query. I don't think the detail about the glitch in the system is needed and I think you're going too far into the story. I would leave it at the part where she learns there is a deeper evil in the generator and amp it up from there and build it more about the fact that she needs to trust Keith. 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 

Much better than the previous version. It's mainly the last para that needs some work. Otherwise good job


Query:  10 DAY BETRAYAL

             10 DAY CONSPIRACY

             RABBIT 76 (NEW PROJECT)

 

Twitter: @tccorrey


#47 punitrastogi

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 01:59 AM

 

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup while E enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings.(period) Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen(The second reference to the Watchmen was in your previous versions, but does not exist in this version. If you do not want to go back to the old way, might consider deleting the underlined part.) or disappearing never to return.

To her horror, her sister disappears and when her (Rachel's or the sister's?. Also, as per your previous versions, the friend joining the supremes leads to the disappearance of the sister. That's why I replaced "and" with "when") best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime.

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claims ing that her deceased father is very much alive and that he un discovered a secret governmental (You mean the Supremes, right?) machine that strips away not only memories, but and everything else that makes someone human.

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine (I still dont think that the link between destorying the machine and finding her sister is established properly. If you think that it is important, please look into it.). She soon learns there is about a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape (does this mean that destroying the machine needs one to escape the island? Or does Rachel want to do both at one go?) triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save everyone them.(So we have 4 goals of Rachel mentioned in one single para - Saving the father, Saving the sister, escaping the island, and saving the civilization. These goals just kept getting piled one with one getting lost when a new one is discovered. This needs to be written in a much better way. If it is as per your story, maybe try and write it as a dilemma putting one goal against the other.)

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 

 

As I suggested earlier, it sounds like a fascinating story.

Hope my suggestions help.

 

If they do, please let me know your comments on my query as well. :)



#48 W.P.

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 01:49 PM

 

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup.  ((Not sure you need all this. I think the only part that is needed here is "Western Division" because you paint a much better picture of their living conditions with the beginning of the next sentence. That, and the next sentence is much more engaging because we read about the main character)) Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life  ((you've already shown this in the first two sentences. here it's redundant and makes the sentence unnecessarily long)) under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing never to return.

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime. ((this sentence reads as odd to me. It's two very big events that happen simultaneously without build up. They are written in a way that seems like you just dumped the information here. It's reads as "unrelated" and "disconnected" from the previous and next paragraphs. Maybe try using linking words in order to give an idea of cause--consequence or action--reaction.))

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at her workhouse claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. ((again, this paragraph seems to come out of no where. we didn't know she was an orphan, there's no mention of what Rachel is doing or will do to search for her sister or try to get her friend back (giving that "disconnectedness" feel) and suddenly there's a memory-erasing machine when there was no hint of memories being removed or this being an issue before this paragraph. If there was a hint, it was too subtle and needs to be clearer ))   

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. ((but how does destroying the machine help Rachel find her sister?))She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island----any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them.

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 

 

 

 

Your story sounds very interesting, filled with conflict and high stakes. But the query isn't doing it justice in my opinion. It reads as if pieces of information were stitched together. It doesn't flow from idea to idea, from action to reaction to action to reaction. Some things are unclear as well. I pointed it all inline. I hope some of it will be of help. :)



#49 yawriter

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:11 PM

 

Hi Everyone, 

Here is my newest version. Once again feedback is appreciated, and I will return the favor. Thank you! 

May 5th Version

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts with nothing to eat but cold pea soup. Enduring back breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings, Rachel wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister. But the Supremes offer only two options Who are the supremes? The guards? the people that Condemned the Western Division?: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life under the eyes of the town watchmen or disappearing never to return. I'd like to know how old Rachel is here....is she seven or 27?

To her horror, her sister disappears and her best friend betrays her by joining the Supremes to help them further their oppressive regime. 

 

A strange incident gives Rachel hope: A young man named Keith, unlistedNot listed in the government records, arrives at her workhouse, claiming that her deceased father is very much alive and that he uncovered a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. Who is Keith? Is he part of the Supreme? Is he one of the Western Divisioners? Is he a life time friend? How does he relate to her at all?

 

Desperate to find her father and save her sister from a terrible fate, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. She soon learns there is a deeper evil in the generator that powers the island--any attempt at escape triggers a devastating flood ​How does it trigger a flood? Did the push down a dam? Does the island have magic powers that knows when they're trying to escape? that will kill their entire civilization. But there is a glitch in the system, and if they find it in time it will be the only thing that can save them. What will save them? The glitch? Is this a high tech island? This reminds me of The Hunger Games how the glitch in the system saved them all. I hope this helped. Of course these are just my opinions. Happy read a new version just let me know.  I updated a new version of Pieces of Alice if you're ever bored one day. 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words.

 



#50 Bkrasnik

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 04:10 PM

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials. Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister, but the Colonials offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life or be taken by watchmen never to return.

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. They uncover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder.

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father that he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen.

 

Meanwhile, Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking for her and is taken by watchmen. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her.

 

Blinded by the fear of losing Marybeth and finding her father, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of freedom and escape. But she realizes too late that the machine was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials. Racing against the clock, they must find the loophole in the islands blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization.  

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#51 lnloft

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 06:48 PM

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials. This is a long sentence to be starting your query with. Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister, but the Colonials offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life or be taken by watchmen, [comma] never to return.

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. They uncover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder. Do they know the evidence is misleading at this time? This is a little confusing.

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father, [comma] that whom he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen.

 

Meanwhile, Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking for her and is taken by watchmen. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her.

 

Blinded by the fear of losing Marybeth and finding her father She's... blinded by the fear of finding her father? Because that's what you're saying, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of freedom and escape. But she realizes too late that the machine was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials. Racing against the clock, they must find the loophole in the island' [apostrophe]s blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization.  Huh? The island itself has a blueprint, or...?

 

THE ISLAND Not to throw more name drama at you, but "The Island" is the title of a Michael Bay movie, which immediately what I thought of. is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel Why are these all capitalized? complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.

There is a lot going on in this query, and it makes it tougher to follow. It seems you need a lot of background information to help establish things, and I don't know what specifically you can cut out, because removing context can also make it MORE confusing, but... it needs to be streamlined somewhere. And then there are things that we get without any setup, like Keith being "unlisted in the records" (what records?), and Rachel's dad being dead. So I guess you somehow need to convey more information in a less wordy way. Oh boy. Sorry. I hate when I find myself giving really difficult-to-follow advice like that.

 

As for the Colonials... Yeah, I'm not a fan, either. If you hadn't said they were the leaders, I would have thought of them more as conquerors. Which may or may not be correct for your story, but it raises too many questions for me in the query. But, other suggestions... The Autocrats? (Maybe a little too much like Autobots.) Or the Sovereigns? (Although that was the name of those gold people in Guardians of the Galaxy...) The Directors? (Got a decently autocratic sound to it if that's what you want.) The Exalted is more similar to your original name. Um... Ooh, what about the Superiors?

 

Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#52 Quillaby

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Posted 09 June 2018 - 08:20 PM

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials. This is backstory**. You'll want to start here --> Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape  the island and protect her emotionally fragile sister, but the Colonials offer only two options: Ssilent obedience to the cruel way of life or be taken by the Colonials' watchmen never to return. If you remove the "but" and make these two statements separate sentences, you'll discover they don't actually connect. 

 

**This query does require a little bit of backstory, but not as much as you think. We don't need specifics like "Western Division" or a long list of what makes the island so terrible. This reads like a dystopian, and if it is, you need to succinctly explain either a) why they're on the island or b) make it clear Rachel has no idea why they're on the island. If it's the latter, you might be better starting with something like: All Rachel's ever known is the island.

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, <--not very clear arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. They uncover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder. This part is irrelevant

 

This part is a problem. If Rachel is so concerned about protecting her sister, deliberately defying the Colonials just to satisfy her curiosity seems like a bad way to do that. This isn't believable.

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father that he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human (this is too vague)—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen. This is wordy and finishes in an awkward passive voice. Chop this up into short, sharp sentences. And why do the watchmen do this? What's the point of wiping memories?

 

Who is Keith? Why is he set on destroying the machine? Is he part of some underground activist group? A dissident within the Colonials? Without motivations, he's just a plot device.

 

Meanwhile, Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking for her and is taken by watchmen. Do you mean goes looking for Rachel while Rachel's out after curfew? You'll need to make this a bit clearer. And again, Rachel's whole 'out after curfew for no good reason' thing is a problem. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her. We know she vows to save her because of the next paragraph.

 

Blinded by the fear Afraid of losing Marybeth and finding her father, she risks trusting Keith, following him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of freedom and escape. But she realizes too late that the machine was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials. Racing against the clock, they must find the loophole in the islands blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization. 

 

You cram a lot of new information and drama into this last paragraph. Also "she realizes too late" suggests she's successfully destroyed the machine/saved Marybeth at this point, which just kills the tension. You finish off with these big "gotta save civilization!" stakes when the entire query has been about personal stakes.

 

What does Rachel want to achieve? What bad thing will happen if she doesn't achieve it? What other bad thing will happen if she does achieve it?

 

You'll note I've cut out all mention of Rachel's father and it doesn't confuse things. In fact, it reduces some of the confusion.

 

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine. <-- This is great, but agents will want you to specify what you mean by "my work". Poetry? Short stories? Because this reads as code for "writing completely irrelevant to my novel".

 

As for suggestions on what to call the "Colonials", that's tricky. Some ideas:

 

The Directors (seconding the above poster's suggestion)

The Presiders

The Wardens

The Trust

The Keepers

 

I quite like the juxtaposition of The Trust, but you know the vibe of your book far better than I do!



#53 Surrly

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 07:06 PM

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials. I think you can cut this and not lose anything. The first sentence should begin with the protagonist. Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape this prison island and protect her emotionally fragile sister,And this is a good first line because you say the protag's name and her wants and also her obstacles... but the Colonials offer only two options: Silent obedience to back-breaking labor and public whippings the cruel way of life or be taken by watchmen never to return. I don't know what taken by watchmen entails, at this point it sounds like a great alternative to the Colonials. Get more specific here. "taken by the watchmen to die a horrible death." Or "taken...to be neurologically stripped of their humanity"

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, what records? I think I understand what you're going for here: Keith is an outsider, not part of the slaves. Say something like that and lose the records. If that's not what you mean then this needs clarification. arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. This is a bit confusing. Why does Keith arrive at Rachel's house? Are they investigating his arrival behind his back? Does he tell them why he's there? I need more connective tissue here. What starts their curiosity about his arrival and why do they want to know? What does it mean for them to find out? Will it either help Rachel's desire to a) escape or b) protect her sister?  They undiscover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder. This seems important and yet doesn't mean anything to me. Do they care what happens to Keith? Are people looking for Keith related to this murder? How do they know it's misleading evidence? At this point I'm confused at what Rachel wants and why. You say she wants to escape and protect her sister and I don't know how exploring Keith's arrival makes her think that she'll get closer to either of those desires.

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father that he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen. So Keith has arrived at the Colonial camp to destroy a machine that the Watchmen have? Up till now it sounded like the Watchmen were a different group of people not associated with the Colonials (other than to take the rebellious away). And here it sounds like they're part of the same group and live in the same place. Confusing.

 

Meanwhile, You have 250-300 words for this query. Use every word to max potential. Words like meanwhile are filler. Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking looks for her Huh? Looking for her where? The set up of this is lost in your presentation. The logistics and timeline of the plot is getting convoluted. Rachel is a slave who wants to escape. This dude Keith shows up for some reason. She leaves (to where?) to find out why he's here (why doesn't he just tell her?), she learns her father is alive and Keith wants to destroy this machine. I guess she's still out discovering why Keith is still here when her sister decides to go looking for her? I need clarity on the cause and effect of events in this story.  and is taken by watchmen. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her. So all she wanted to do was protect her sister and now, by her decision to leave, she's caused her to get kidnapped. This is good. But the reason she leaves in the first place needs to be justified more. Will it help her escape? Will it help her protect her sister? Also, you don't do anything more with the father story line so I don't know why it's included.

 

Blinded by the fearful of losing Marybeth and never finding her father she already thought he was dead and we don't know where he is or how close she is to finding him, it just seems extraneous to include him here, she risks trusting Keith at this point she has nothing to lose. Her sister is already taken and she hasn't really found a way to escape. So there's not much risk here. Something does need to be at risk for her to continue but trusting Keith sounds like her only choice. And if she doesn't have a choice then she's not actively risking anything., following she should be more active than following.him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of freedom and escape. But she realizes too late She discovers that the machine was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials.  Racing against the clock, you're telling me this, not showing it. Why is there suddenly a time limitation?  they must find the loophole in the islands blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization. Woah, this is a lot of info dumped at the end that throws this all off. She has to destroy the machine to get her freedom (and I assume her sister, who goes missing in the query here), but the machine is what keeps them alive (because they have to be stripped of their humanity? Are they already?) You're telling me this but it doesn't make sense to me and while I'm assuming you have written it logically in the story itself here it comes off as a disconnect. And then the loophole in the islands blueprint is out of nowhere. The idea of an island blueprint is already an odd choice of words, maybe prison blueprint? But a loophole? I know a loophole is an escape but it's not the appropriate term for what I think you are trying to say. The word loophole has become so synonymous with contracts and fine print that it has more of an academic quality than a we're-gonna-find-an-escape-route adventure. It deflates the escape part of this story. 

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.

 

What does Rachel want?

What obstacles get in her way to get what she wants?

What must she sacrifice to get what she wants?

 

Start with those questions. You've set up what she wants pretty clearly, which is great. But then Rachel's actions don't follow the motivations you've set up. I don't know how finding out about Keith will get her any closer to what she wants. And I think that's key. If you can connect those two things then this query will come together. Because of the disconnect my mind wants to fill in the blanks, I was led to believe that you might even have had Rachel find a way to escape at first and when she comes back to tell her sister, MaryBeth has been kidnapped by the Watchmen. Now Rachel has to follow Keith in order to get inside the Watchmen's fortress (or wherever) and get her sister back and maybe help him destroy the machine that will free them all. But once she destroys the machine then she realizes that she and the others are no longer useful to the Colonials. So she's condemned her own people to die. Unless she can find an escape for them all. But that's me thinking about this query a lot. And an agent won't do that for you. 

 

As you've written this query, you've set up two goals for Rachel (I want to escape and protect my sister) but you end on saving their civilization. She might do this but readers won't care unless you keep it personal. It's about saving her sister and maybe in the end (if you're so inclined) she has to make a choice on whether to save her sister or civilization. A Sophie's Choice for the Sci-fi crowd.

 

Either way, I think if you focus on Rachel's wants and her decision to make those wants a reality then you will have a tighter query.

 

And yes, Colonials is not so great. But I also don't care for any of the other choices you've pitched. Maybe start throwing some words into thesaurus.com and see if you can hybrid two words together, or riff on synonyms of Colonial (The Insulars).



#54 Graeme_Smith

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Posted 10 June 2018 - 08:05 PM

You might want to consider some options that, on the surface, are bland - but can cover all sorts of skullduggery. For example, The Commission - members are Commissioners. Or The Board. Very business-like, but making what they're doing 'just business' is, in it's way, possibly even more intimidating. Or yu could go abstract - Section 9. The island is run by Section 9. What's Section 9? What is it a Section of? You never have to answer - it's just 'Section 9', or 'The Section'. Thoughts?



#55 punitrastogi

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 05:57 AM

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials and their Watchmen. Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape and protect until her emotionally fragile sister Marybeth, but the Colonials offer only two options: Silent obedience to the cruel way of life or be gets taken away by the watchmen never to return.

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. They uncover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder. (This adds no value except telling us that Keith arrived at her warehouse)

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father that he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen.

 

Meanwhile, Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking for her and is taken by watchmen. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her.

 

Blinded by the fear of losing Marybeth forever, and finding her father, she risks trusting Keith - a stranger who showed up at her warehouse, right after Marybeth's abduction(?). Keith claims of a machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human. The machine is used on the citizens taken by watchmen, including Rachel's father who she had always presumed dead.

 

Rachel follows ing him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of reuniting with her family, and eventual freedom and escape. But she realizes learns too late that the machine is why the Colonials have kept the islanders alive  was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials. Racing against the clock, they must find the loophole in the islands blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization.  (This is a spoiler and adds nothing to the urgency of the query. Maybe mention that the colonials have detected her rebellion and are chasing after her, so she needs to choose between forgoing her family or the entire population of the island. I dont't know if you used this in previous versions of the query, but that is a good stake to put the protagonist through.)

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.

 

Apologies for the blunt dissection.

Just wanted to rearrange a few things.

I kept just enough info about Keith, to make him interesting and unreliable, yet Rachel's only chance at freedom.

 

Hope it helps.

 

Please have a look at my query too. :)



#56 Bkrasnik

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:07 PM

You might want to consider some options that, on the surface, are bland - but can cover all sorts of skullduggery. For example, The Commission - members are Commissioners. Or The Board. Very business-like, but making what they're doing 'just business' is, in it's way, possibly even more intimidating. Or yu could go abstract - Section 9. The island is run by Section 9. What's Section 9? What is it a Section of? You never have to answer - it's just 'Section 9', or 'The Section'. Thoughts?

I really like the name Section 9 and the concept behind that. I might just use that, thank you!! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#57 Bkrasnik

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:33 PM

 

Newest Version June 9

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I have been struggling to find a good name for the leaders of the island. I originally had Supreme's but some people were reminded of Diana Ross so I decided to change it to Colonials. I don't know if I like this change. If anyone has any other suggestions of what to call them, please let me know! And as always, I will be returning critiques! 

 

Condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid, the citizens of the Western Division live in dilapidated huts and endure back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings under the eyes of the Colonials. I think you can cut this and not lose anything. The first sentence should begin with the protagonist. Rachel Ives wants nothing more than to escape this prison island and protect her emotionally fragile sister,And this is a good first line because you say the protag's name and her wants and also her obstacles... but the Colonials offer only two options: Silent obedience to back-breaking labor and public whippings the cruel way of life or be taken by watchmen never to return. I don't know what taken by watchmen entails, at this point it sounds like a great alternative to the Colonials. Get more specific here. "taken by the watchmen to die a horrible death." Or "taken...to be neurologically stripped of their humanity"

 

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the records, what records? I think I understand what you're going for here: Keith is an outsider, not part of the slaves. Say something like that and lose the records. If that's not what you mean then this needs clarification. arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she and her best friend disobey curfew to investigate the reason for his arrival. This is a bit confusing. Why does Keith arrive at Rachel's house? Are they investigating his arrival behind his back? Does he tell them why he's there? I need more connective tissue here. What starts their curiosity about his arrival and why do they want to know? What does it mean for them to find out? Will it either help Rachel's desire to a) escape or b) protect her sister?  They undiscover a dead body, with misleading evidence linking Keith to the murder. This seems important and yet doesn't mean anything to me. Do they care what happens to Keith? Are people looking for Keith related to this murder? How do they know it's misleading evidence? At this point I'm confused at what Rachel wants and why. You say she wants to escape and protect her sister and I don't know how exploring Keith's arrival makes her think that she'll get closer to either of those desires.

 

Rachel soon learns that Keith has a connection to her dead father that he claims is alive and the real reason for his arrival—to destroy a secret governmental machine that strips away not only memories, but everything that makes someone human—a machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen. So Keith has arrived at the Colonial camp to destroy a machine that the Watchmen have? Up till now it sounded like the Watchmen were a different group of people not associated with the Colonials (other than to take the rebellious away). And here it sounds like they're part of the same group and live in the same place. Confusing.

 

Meanwhile, You have 250-300 words for this query. Use every word to max potential. Words like meanwhile are filler. Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, goes looking looks for her Huh? Looking for her where? The set up of this is lost in your presentation. The logistics and timeline of the plot is getting convoluted. Rachel is a slave who wants to escape. This dude Keith shows up for some reason. She leaves (to where?) to find out why he's here (why doesn't he just tell her?), she learns her father is alive and Keith wants to destroy this machine. I guess she's still out discovering why Keith is still here when her sister decides to go looking for her? I need clarity on the cause and effect of events in this story.  and is taken by watchmen. Crippled by the news, Rachel vows to do everything in her power to save her. So all she wanted to do was protect her sister and now, by her decision to leave, she's caused her to get kidnapped. This is good. But the reason she leaves in the first place needs to be justified more. Will it help her escape? Will it help her protect her sister? Also, you don't do anything more with the father story line so I don't know why it's included.

 

Blinded by the fearful of losing Marybeth and never finding her father she already thought he was dead and we don't know where he is or how close she is to finding him, it just seems extraneous to include him here, she risks trusting Keith at this point she has nothing to lose. Her sister is already taken and she hasn't really found a way to escape. So there's not much risk here. Something does need to be at risk for her to continue but trusting Keith sounds like her only choice. And if she doesn't have a choice then she's not actively risking anything., following she should be more active than following.him on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine in hopes of freedom and escape. But she realizes too late She discovers that the machine was the one thing keeping them alive—without it they are useless to the Colonials.  Racing against the clock, you're telling me this, not showing it. Why is there suddenly a time limitation?  they must find the loophole in the islands blueprint that will be their only chance to save their civilization. Woah, this is a lot of info dumped at the end that throws this all off. She has to destroy the machine to get her freedom (and I assume her sister, who goes missing in the query here), but the machine is what keeps them alive (because they have to be stripped of their humanity? Are they already?) You're telling me this but it doesn't make sense to me and while I'm assuming you have written it logically in the story itself here it comes off as a disconnect. And then the loophole in the islands blueprint is out of nowhere. The idea of an island blueprint is already an odd choice of words, maybe prison blueprint? But a loophole? I know a loophole is an escape but it's not the appropriate term for what I think you are trying to say. The word loophole has become so synonymous with contracts and fine print that it has more of an academic quality than a we're-gonna-find-an-escape-route adventure. It deflates the escape part of this story. 

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My work has been published in EveryWritersResource.com, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Zodiac Review, and UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.

 

What does Rachel want?

What obstacles get in her way to get what she wants?

What must she sacrifice to get what she wants?

 

Start with those questions. You've set up what she wants pretty clearly, which is great. But then Rachel's actions don't follow the motivations you've set up. I don't know how finding out about Keith will get her any closer to what she wants. And I think that's key. If you can connect those two things then this query will come together. Because of the disconnect my mind wants to fill in the blanks, I was led to believe that you might even have had Rachel find a way to escape at first and when she comes back to tell her sister, MaryBeth has been kidnapped by the Watchmen. Now Rachel has to follow Keith in order to get inside the Watchmen's fortress (or wherever) and get her sister back and maybe help him destroy the machine that will free them all. But once she destroys the machine then she realizes that she and the others are no longer useful to the Colonials. So she's condemned her own people to die. Unless she can find an escape for them all. But that's me thinking about this query a lot. And an agent won't do that for you. 

 

As you've written this query, you've set up two goals for Rachel (I want to escape and protect my sister) but you end on saving their civilization. She might do this but readers won't care unless you keep it personal. It's about saving her sister and maybe in the end (if you're so inclined) she has to make a choice on whether to save her sister or civilization. A Sophie's Choice for the Sci-fi crowd.

 

Either way, I think if you focus on Rachel's wants and her decision to make those wants a reality then you will have a tighter query.

 

And yes, Colonials is not so great. But I also don't care for any of the other choices you've pitched. Maybe start throwing some words into thesaurus.com and see if you can hybrid two words together, or riff on synonyms of Colonial (The Insulars).

 

I really appreciate the time you took to give me such in-depth feedback. It is very difficult to translate a complicated story into a query, because as soon as you strip it from some of its details, the message might get a little lost. Now that you pointed out where you see the disconnects, I will go back and try to clarify and make it better. Thank you!


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#58 Bkrasnik

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:35 PM

As for suggestions on what to call the "Colonials", that's tricky. Some ideas:

 

The Directors (seconding the above poster's suggestion)

The Presiders

The Wardens

The Trust

The Keepers

 

I quite like the juxtaposition of The Trust, but you know the vibe of your book far better than I do!

 

Thank you for your detailed feedback!! I appreciate it very much and will go back to fix the issues you mentioned! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#59 jpfranco

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 02:22 PM

This query strikes me as too long, too detailed, and too much like a synopsis. It needs stripping down to the most compelling elements, with minimal backstory and explaining. 



#60 Bkrasnik

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 02:32 PM

June 16 

 

Hi All, 

Here is my newest revision. I have been playing around with various names for the leaders of the island, and the one I like most at this point is the Elite's. Thoughts? 

Rachel Ives is condemned to an island surrounded by an electric grid where back-breaking labor, harsh laws, and public whippings are the way of life. She wants nothing more than to escape and protect her emotionally fragile sister, but the Elite’s only offer two options: silent obedience or be taken by watchmen to never return.

When a young man named Keith, unlisted in the government records, arrives at Rachel’s workhouse, she learns he is here to destroy a secret governmental machine that neurologically strips the citizens of their humanity, turning them into humanoids. A machine used on the citizens taken by watchmen.

To her horror, Rachel’s sister, Marybeth, is taken by the watchmen. Blinded by the desire to save her before it’s too late, she joins Keith on a dangerous mission to destroy the machine. But the machine is the one thing keeping the citizens alive—without it, they are useless to the Elite’s.  Rachel must choose between risking thousands of lives by destroying the machine for a chance of freedom and escape, or being mindless slaves to the governmental machine forever.

 

THE ISLAND is a Young Adult Science Fiction Novel complete at 96,000 words. My fiction writing advice articles have been published in EveryWritersResource.com & Black Fox Literary Magazine and my short stories have been published in The Zodiac Review & UIC Red Shoes Review Literary Magazine.


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/






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