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The Circuit (will return critique)


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#21 Koechophe

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Posted 31 December 2018 - 10:17 PM

Laura Bishop has a secret and she's the last person in the City still capable of keeping them.  (I know this line originated from a suggestion I made a few rounds of critique ago, but I actually think that your next sentence is a superior opening line. "Laura Bishop is targeted by the government because she's the only person immune to their brainwashing drug". 

 

If you do decide to keep your original hook, I actually like it better with the semi-colon. Or, more accurately, do replace the semi-colon with a dash. I:E. ...secret--she's the last person in the City capable of keeping them". Do what you like, you'll notice that feedback frequently contradicts. In short, you're never going to have a universally loved query, you just need to get to the point where you love it enough that the feedback isn't resonating anymore. )

 

Her immunity to Vocacium, a government-controlled brainwashing drug, makes her a target. She hides with the Circuit, who are (avoid proper names unless you need them)a group of mercenaries hidden in the City's Underworld. Their sole purpose is to bring down the authoritarian government that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past and knowledge of the drug makes her a useful asset. This is kind of clunky, you can pull it and no one's the wiser.

 

The Circuit suddenly Laura jeapordizes her grouprisks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura when she is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians during a failed terrorist attack. She seeks help from an old friend who offers her protection in exchange for a favour – she needs to steal a valuable flash drive. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in routine vaccinations on almost every citizen, she keeps it for herself.

 

Laura comes up with a plan. Instead of hiding, she Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to hopes he will help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen, but the authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura's execution. To succeed Laura needs must convince Jonah to willingly betray the government that gives him power, or she’ll have to be buried along with the knowledge that could save the life lives of millions.

 

The bones are better, there's just a lot of wording tweaks I'd recommend to increase clarity and help it read smoother. My big concern is that there's just too much going on here. First she's with the Circuit, then she's working for that one guy, then she has the flashdrive, and finally she's captured by the detective. It's almost more of a synopsis than a query. If you can trim out her leaving the circuit and her work with that random guy and go straight from the mercs to the flashdrive, it'll be less events and more crisp. I also have this big question mark as to what the government could gain by comitting mass genocide. People in power need underlings, after all.

 

Hope this helps! Good luck and happy writing.

-I critique because I care.



#22 Jemi

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 08:54 PM

 

Laura Bishop has a secret (kind of generic - I'm worried an agent might stop reading here) and she's the last person in the City still capable of keeping them (nice twist! Can you lead with this?).

Her immunity to Vocacium, a government-controlled brainwashing drug, makes her a target (I changed my mind - I'd start here! :) ... Laura Bishop's immunity to the government's brainwashing drug has made her a target.). She hides with the Circuit, who are a group of mercenaries hidden in the City's Underworld. Their sole purpose is to bring down the authoritarian government that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past and knowledge of the drug makes her a useful asset.

 

The Circuit suddenly risks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. She seeks help from an old friend who offers her protection in exchange for a favour – she needs to steal a valuable flash drive. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in vaccinations on almost every citizen, she keeps it for herself. (That's a lot of information in a short space. It's also focused more on plot points than emotions. How is Laura feeling. Is she excited about the challenge? scared down to her bones? determined?) 

 

Laura comes up with a plan. Instead of hiding, she allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen but the authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura's execution. To succeed Laura needs Jonah to willingly betray the government that gives him power, or she’ll have to be buried along with the knowledge that could save the life (lives) of millions.

 

Sounds like an interesting story. I like the twists, but you may need to simplify/tighten. You don't want the agent to get lost in 'what's happening'. From what I've read, agents are more likely to be pulled in by the emotions/people. Of course you need enough plot details to show your story is unique but don't get bogged down with too many details.

Of course, you know your story best. If none of this makes sense for you, feel free to ignore it. Hope at least some of that helps! Good luck!!



#23 darlah

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Posted 01 January 2019 - 09:20 PM

Laura Bishop has a secret and she's the last person in the City still capable of keeping them.

Her immunity to Vocacium, a government-controlled brainwashing drug, makes her a target. She hides with the Circuit, who are a group of mercenaries hidden in the City's Underworld (Cool, but who are these people?). Their sole purpose is to bring down the authoritarian government that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past and knowledge of the drug makes her a useful asset.

 

The Circuit suddenly risks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted (By who? The government?) next to the corpses of two civilians. She seeks help from an old friend who offers her protection (Why is she not with the underworld anymore) in exchange for a favour – she needs to steal a valuable flash drive (From the underworld?). When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in vaccinations on almost every citizen, she keeps it for herself (Why does she keep it and now is she in danger because she has it?).

 

Laura comes up with a plan. Instead of hiding, she allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months(Why has he been hunting her?). She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen but the authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura's execution. To succeed Laura needs Jonah to willingly betray the government that gives him power (What kind of power? Money?) , or she’ll have to be buried along with the knowledge that could save the life of millions.



#24 NerdWitch

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 09:44 AM

Hi all, thank you so much for your help. Here is yet another version with your suggestions in mind, decided to try a new hook and hoping it's better but I really appreciate all your input. I will get back to your individual queries as well :) 

 

--- 

 

 

Laura Bishop used to have a good life, a family and a home. Now, all she has is an arrest warrant for murder.
 
Her immunity to Vocacium, a government-controlled brainwashing drug made her a guinea pig as a child and now, years later, she’s a target. Deep within the City’s underworld -a refugee camp for society’s outcasts, she hides with the Circuit, a group of mercenaries who rescued her. Driven by revenge, their sole purpose is to bring down the authoritarian corporation that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past in the city and knowledge of the drug makes her a useful asset.
 
The Circuit suddenly risks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offer Laura protection in exchange for a favour - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizens she keeps it for herself for leverage
 
Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power. Succeed and she’ll save the lives of million, fail and she’ll be buried along with the knowledge that could have saved the lives of millions
 

Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 


#25 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 03:17 PM

Laura Bishop used to have a good life, a family and a home, but now all she has is an arrest warrant for murder. (I'd combine these because the first sentence by itself wasn't much at all.)
 
Her immunity to Vocacium, a government-controlled brainwashing drug, made her a guinea pig as a child and now, years later, she’s a target. Deep within the city’s underworld, -a refugee camp for society’s outcasts, (Try not to have much that you need to define. That could make your query hard to read.) she hides with the Circuit, a group of mercenaries who rescued her. Driven by revenge, their sole purpose is to bring down the government authoritarian corporation that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past in the city and knowledge of Vocacium makes her a useful asset. (Does she want to be one though?)
 
The Circuit suddenly risks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses during a failed terrorist attack. (Did Circut make the attack? Why is that bad for Laura to be spotted like that? Did she kill them? Or was she set up?) of two civilians. Worried for the Circuit's safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor: she must steal a City official's flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizen, she keeps it for herself for leverage. (Not sure you need the last sentence. You're trying not to give much of the story away in your query, but I felt like that was more of a spoiler.)
 
Knowing the information she has is powerful information to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by a detective Jonah Nolan, who’s been hunting her for months. (I wouldn't bring in anyone new in the last paragraph. Also, why let herself get captured like that? She doesn't know anyone on the inside who would help.) She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen's fatal nature and the detective might just be that someone. (Why? What  does she see in him?) But when then authorities task the detective with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray the very government that gives him power. Succeed and she’ll save the lives of million, If she fails, and she’ll be buried along with the knowledge that could have saved the lives of millions of lives.
 
Your query is definitely stronger now. I like this format more. Mostly, I just have words being tightened throughout. If something is crossed off, I most likely just found a more concise way to say it. Good luck!
 
If you can, I have a new draft posted: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/


#26 mkuriel

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 04:07 PM

 

Hi all, thank you so much for your help. Here is yet another version with your suggestions in mind, decided to try a new hook and hoping it's better but I really appreciate all your input. I will get back to your individual queries as well :) 

 

--- 

 

 

Laura Bishop used to have a good life, a family and a home. Now, all she has is an arrest warrant for murder.
 
Her immunity to Vocacium, a (see notes at bottom) government-controlled (this is misleading, unless the authoritarian corporation is the government) brainwashing drug made her a guinea pig as a child and now, years later, she’s a target. (I thought she was a murder suspect?) Deep within the City’s underworld -a refugee camp for society’s outcasts, she hides with the Circuit, a group of (these words don't add anything) mercenaries who rescued her. Driven by revenge, their sole purpose is to bring down the authoritarian corporation that rules the nation with an iron-fist. Laura’s past in the city and knowledge of the drug makes her a useful asset. (can you show rather than tell? Are these details even necessary to the query?)
 
The Circuit suddenly risks exposure when, during a failed terrorist attack, (this clause bogs down the sentence) Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. (who? her family? Something happened to her "good life, family, and home. Your hook didn't go anywhere.) Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offerS Laura protection in exchange for a favour - she must stealing a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizens she keeps it for herself for leverage
 
Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, (vague and weak. possession of information does not bring power: what you can do with it shows power. What can she do with this information?) Laura allows herself to be captured by (passive;  consider: turns herself over to) Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power. Succeed and she’ll save the lives of millionS, fail and she’ll be buried along with the knowledge that could have saved the lives of millions (I don't care for this repetition; also, there's no evidence to support the idea that people care at all about the knowledge they're buried with: weakens the stakes.)
 

 

 

Consider "the" instead of "a" where I made the text red: "a brainwashing drug" implies there's more than one. "a group of mercenaries who rescued her" means that more than one group rescued her. Read the queryshark archives; agents notice these things.

 

So... the basics:

Who is the MC and what does she want? Laura Bishop wants to stop authoritarian corporation from murdering millions of people with a vaccine.

What's in her way? Um... Detective Jonah Nolan? The corporation? The Circuit? 

What bad thing will happen if she gets what she wants? Nothing. There's nothing bad here.

What worse thing will happen if she doesn't? Millions of people will die. 

 

Those are the big issues: clarify the antagonist and show what CHOICE she faces. Right now, it isn't a choice; it's a race to stop a small group of people from killing a larger one. I'm also unclear about why the corporation would want to kill brainwashed people and how anyone could form a resistance if they were brainwashed. Anyone not on the drug would be obvious (Why don't you think Everything is Awesome!?), and anyone who is on it probably wouldn't fight back.

 

Hope that helps, good luck!



#27 NerdWitch

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 02:44 AM

Hi guys, thanks again for all your input. I appreciate it. All your critique is really good and hopefully with some tweaking I'll get there. Here is another attempt.

..........

In the near future, the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed.

Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she’s committed any crimes—yet—it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother heads the company that makes the drug. She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her.

The Circuit  is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizen she keeps it for herself for leverage.

Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  

Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others.

Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 


#28 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 11:11 PM

In the near future (How near? Like in the next 50 years or so?), the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed. (I think cutting out the middle makes the hook have more punch. Good hook though!)
 
Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she has committed any crimes, but rather that she's it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother is control of the company that makes the drug. She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her. (Rescued her from what if she wasn't in any danger?)
 
The Circuit is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians during an attack. Worried for the Circuit's safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor: she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizen  (The phrase was a long read.), she keeps it for herself for leverage. (Why does she choose to do this?)
 
Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura lets herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan, a man who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen (Why does she need that?) and she believes Jonah might just be that someone (Why?). But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  
 
Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others. 
 
(This draft reads much smoother than the other ones. Good job! I think just adding in some information to help clarify some few things will help.)
 
If you have the time, please check out my query: http://agentquerycon...ique-in-return/


#29 annevic

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 04:40 PM

In the near future, the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed (Why would they do this?? Is there any special reason why they do it? Are there many crimes then?).

Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she’s committed any crimes—yet—it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother heads the company that makes the drug. She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her. (I would rewrite these sentences in a different way. Make it clearer and more powerful, I don't know, maybe: Laura Bishop has two problems... She hides with the Circuit, the group pf mercenaries that rescued her.)

The Circuit  is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians (the same here. You can write it in a different, clearer way). Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally (ally?) offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizen she keeps it for herself for leverage.

Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  

Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others. (I would rewrite it as well. It could be much more powerful)

 

I think it's a good query, powerful concept, nice hook. It just need some polishing. Good luck.

 

Please, could you have a look at mine? http://agentquerycon...antic-suspense/



#30 W.P.

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 10:33 AM

Thanks so much for the critique! I'm here to return the favor. :)

 

 

In the near future, the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed. ((this reads more like a synopsis than a query. not very "hooky". Also, it has a lot of filler. Only half of it is needed. The rest is implied or too much info dump for a query.))

Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she’s committed any crimes—yet—it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother heads the company that makes the drug. She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her ((rescue her from what? nothing here tells who is after her or why)). ((nothing here explains why she has to escape. I know why, but the information has been left out. you say it's a problem that she's immune to the vaccine, but not why. anyone who doesn't know the story will wonder why that's bad? wouldn't immunity to a brain-washing drug be a good thing?))

The Circuit  is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor ((if the ally is worried about the circuit, why does he still ask for a favor back? sounds more like a business than a helping hand)) - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations on almost every citizen, she keeps it for herself for leverage.

Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess this information is critical, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. ((what makes her think he'd help her and not just off her and hand back the flashdrive to whoever it belonged to? he could be in on it)) But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  

Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others. ((I'm a bit confused by these stakes. maybe they are too vague for me to understand where they are coming from. how could she save herself? she's been arrested and sentenced. the only person that can help her is Jonah. it sounds like it's all in his hands))

 

 

 

Although it's smoother than before, I feel like this version could be a bit clearer. I hope some of this helps. :)



#31 Gabe S.

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:31 PM

Hi guys, thanks again for all your input. I appreciate it. All your critique is really good and hopefully with some tweaking I'll get there. Here is another attempt. NOT "ATTEMPT," THERE IS NO "ATTEMPT"--"Another step towards perfection!" :D

..........

In the near future, the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. (You mean, like, it is now?) Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine, called Vocacium, that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed. 

Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she’s committed any crimes—yet—it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother heads the company that makes the drug. She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her. (Why did she get imprisoned? I'd say her own brother imprisoning her is something you might want to mention briefly.)

The Circuit  is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. (This confused me. How is Laura being seen next to two dead bodies exposing The Circuit? Do people know she's on the up and up with The Circuit? If they do, they aren't very secretive. Just saying because it popped right into my head after reading the sentence.) Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. (Is Laura afraid for The Circuit or is the old ally? Reason I ask is the old ally kinda sorta sounds like he/she's blackmailing Laura in order to give protection to The Circuit.) When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium vaccinations, on almost every citizen she keeps it for herself for leverage. (Yeah! Screw that old ally, he/she was fishy anyways.)

Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  

Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others. (Wait--so, she wanted to be captured so that she can convince Jonah to help her expose her evil brother's Pharma Corp, but how does losing her life save millions of others? If she dies, then nothing happens because she didn't hand over the flashdrive. Right? Am I over thinking this?)

 

I like this story. Sit on the query for a week, then come back to it. I bet you'll see trouble spots that are easy fixes.


If you'd like, you can critique my query at: http://agentquerycon...a-sci-fi/page-2


#32 NerdWitch

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 11:58 AM

Hi all, 
I followed the advice of Gabe S and decided to let the query sit for a week and come back to it. I've been doing some revisions in the story itself because there's quite a lot going on and I wanted to see if I could shift the focus. the main idea is that there's a rogue science division who were part of the drug's creation, and they're now kidnapping people to turn them into bionic humans (cyborgs basically). Laura's friend gets kidnapped and she wants to save him so she has to work with Detective Nolan. I'm struggling with whether or not I should leave the flash drive in there 
because that's also part of the story and ties in with the secret science division as well as tying it up in the end. As always, any help would be appreciate and query critique will be returned. 

Thanks! :)

-----------------

 

Dear (Agent’s Name)

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit; a group hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts. Specifically for those immune to Vocacium; the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist.

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and taking people off the street. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division, running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents.

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late.

 


Here's my latest query :) http://agentquerycon...turn-critique/ 

 

 


#33 spineofiron

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 12:34 PM

Disclaimer: I haven't read any of your other query posts above.  :smile: 

 

*

 

Dear (Agent’s Name),

 

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. (Your comp titles should be in caps, not italics.)

 

For Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. (I'd re-order this list so it packs a bigger punch: "freezing temperatures, armed police officers, and prison cells." Also, why not?) She relishes her skills (what does this mean?) as a mercenary for the Circuit, a group hiding in a refugee camp for society’s outcasts: the Citadel. Specifically, the Citadel protects those immune to Vocacium, the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could otherwise take down the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist. (You mention Laura's powers as a mercenary, but then drop them almost immediately. Does she kill members of the corporation? What does she actually spend her days doing? I think you could add more into the second sentence to highlight this.)

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. But that’s the least of her problems. (This part about her brother doesn't really seem to tie into the rest of the query's problems and conflicts. I'd take it out.) Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and taking people off the street. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division (I'm not sure what this means — are they part of the corporation running the City, or a rebel offshoot of the corporation?), running unholy (is there a religious element to this novel? If not, maybe find a different word for this?) experiments on unsuspecting innocents. 

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. (This is where you lose me. Isn't the Circuit supposed to be helping people oppressed by the City? Isn't that Laura's job as a mercenary for them? Why wouldn't they help her?) Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan, who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late. (Why would he do this? It sounds like a no-brainer for him. He's got power in his job, so why would he risk that to help someone he thinks is a dangerous criminal behind a terrorist attack, someone he's been searching after for months?) 

 

*

 

Right now, the biggest thing I'm struggling with here is Laura's agency: her actions in the story. They might be there in your manuscript, but they aren't here in the query. You mention she's a mercenary, but the query doesn't show anything about what she does. The entire plot seems to hinge on someone else doing something for her: Detective Jonah Nolan deciding whether or not to spare her life and help her rescue her friend. And that's a lot to ask of someone just to save one person, someone he doesn't even know and probably wouldn't like, being a member of the City.

 

A query is focused on your main character and what's at stake for them. What happens if Laura doesn't rescue her friend? Will she just be sad that her friend is gone, or is her friend an important piece of a larger puzzle that cannot be solved without her? That's someone worth saving. There are a lot of things at play in your query, and I think you have the right amount of worldbuilding to make it not overwhelming. But the conflict is a little murky as it stands right now. It's hard for me to see why she would risk everything — the Circuit, her mercenary job, her life — for it.

 

I apologize for all the scary red! Hopefully I've helped you start to think about how to frame your query. Please let me know if you have any questions, too! And if you are feeling up to it, I've got a query here that could use some love.


"I am a fire escape. My spine is made of iron, my heart pumps out old red paint."

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#34 IMB

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 03:57 PM

Thanks for the feedback on my query, I'm here to return the favor!

 

Just a little tip, you should probably put the link to your latest revision in your first post, so people can find it easily (If they have to search for it, they might give up).

 

Hi all, 
I followed the advice of Gabe S and decided to let the query sit for a week and come back to it. I've been doing some revisions in the story itself because there's quite a lot going on and I wanted to see if I could shift the focus. the main idea is that there's a rogue science division who were part of the drug's creation, and they're now kidnapping people to turn them into bionic humans (cyborgs basically). Laura's friend gets kidnapped and she wants to save him so she has to work with Detective Nolan. I'm struggling with whether or not I should leave the flash drive in there 
because that's also part of the story and ties in with the secret science division as well as tying it up in the end. As always, any help would be appreciate and query critique will be returned. 

Thanks! :)

-----------------

 

Dear (Agent’s Name)

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.  (Housekeeping - title, genre, wordcount, etc - usually goes at the end of a query. Most agents recomment to get right into the hook, so you don't waste any time)

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit; a group hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts. (I'm a bit confused already. You might want to remove the citadel part and just say the circuit is a refugee camp. Right now it feels like there was a paragraph missing between the first sentence and this one.) Specifically for those immune to Vocacium; the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist. (This whole paragraph is a lot. I had to read about the vaccine twice to fully understand it. You need to make this sentence snappier somehow. Also, give a little more about Laura first. She's the one that matters here.)

 

But Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor.  (Yeah, you definitely need more about Laura up there if this is how the second paragraph starts. I'm more intersted in this conflict already.) But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and taking people off the streets. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division (a rogue science division? I get it, but I had to turn back and re-read, because it felt a little weird.), running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents. (yes, these are stakes, but how is Laura involved? I get that she's supposed to stop them because she's a mercenary, but that's the second time you started a paragraph with her in the spotlight and then completely left her behind.)

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. (Okay, so now she's going rogue. I like it.) Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. (Wow, wow, what? Where did this come from? Maybe a Detective following her for months should be up there in the first paragraph, along with the things she's not bothered by? So that when you mention him down here, he's not such a shot in the dark.) The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late. (There's nothing here that makes me think he would listen to her. I mean, is he conflicted in any way? Does he secretly hate the corporation? Does she appeal to his humanitarian side? Is there such a thing in their reality? The stakes seem really loose here.)

 

Let's be honest here, you have a really difficult book to put into a query. I get it, there's a lot of intrigue going on, and it's hard to explain it in such a short form. I feel for you.

 

In my opinion, you should focus more on Laura, and who she is. That's your chance to hook someone into the pages. Try to avoid long worldbuilding explanations if you can, and draw attention to what drives Laura. I liked the bit about her brother, but that didn't come up again. And her friend, she's important, but why? Among all the explanation about vaccines and rogue science divisions, I didn't get a feeling that Laura was attached to her friend at all; her friend felt like a passing ship. Also, you might think to expand more on the Detective if you can, and definitely mention him sooner. He's clearly important.

 

It's scary to think about dialing down the exposition, but I think that's what you need here. (The complete opposite of what I need with my query right now, which is funny in a dry-sarcastic-laugh kind of way!)

 

I'm sorry about the long review, but I hope it helps!


Current Query (YA Science Fiction): http://agentquerycon...cience-fiction/

Any feedback is appreciated :)


#35 Joseph Isaacs

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Posted 02 March 2019 - 01:43 PM

Hi all, 
I followed the advice of Gabe S and decided to let the query sit for a week and come back to it. I've been doing some revisions in the story itself because there's quite a lot going on and I wanted to see if I could shift the focus. the main idea is that there's a rogue science division who were part of the drug's creation, and they're now kidnapping people to turn them into bionic humans (cyborgs basically). Laura's friend gets kidnapped and she wants to save him so she has to work with Detective Nolan. I'm struggling with whether or not I should leave the flash drive in there 
because that's also part of the story and ties in with the secret science division as well as tying it up in the end. As always, any help would be appreciate and query critique will be returned. 

Thanks! :)

-----------------

 

Dear (Agent’s Name)

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. nice writing She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit; a group hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts. Specifically for those immune to Vocacium; the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist. cool

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and taking people off the street. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division, running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents. nice

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late.

Hi I think this is pretty solid, worth sending out and seeing what happens. I couldn't find anything to crit and not for want of  looking. My only suggestion is maybe add something to help us like or identify with Laura as a person so we care about her.

mine is Soul Hosts if you would mind having a look please



#36 Robin LeeAnn

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Posted 02 March 2019 - 02:44 PM

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete with 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. (I usually do not prefer queries to start like this. I like this part to be at the end. But it is well written. Just doesn't grasp my attention.)

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers, and the freezing cold are not obstacles. (Interesting. Touch chick.) She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit, a group (What kind of group?) hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts (So, the circuit is a bunch of outcasts?). Especially for those immune to Vocacium, which is a the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the city with an iron fist. (The last sentence feels a bit like an info dump. I understand it, but it could be because I've read your query before. Any info we can take out? Any information we can explain a bit more?)

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. (Because the drug is causing them to be outcasted, right?) But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the city (Is the city named City? A bit confused on that.) and taking people off the street. (Just taking random people? Why is that more of a problem to her than the fact she could be a traitor?) Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all is a rogue science division, running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents. (Why? What evidence do they have to think this?)

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan (Who does he work for? The city?) who has been following her for months since she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. (Why is the the main suspect? Couldn't say that because she has an arrest warrent out for her or so? I'm just thinking of a way to explain this without like making the query too much longer since there is already other spots I wanted more explanation.) The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late.

 

You have improved a lot! Your second paragraph is your weakest right now. I'd spend more time explaining everything and what's going on. Also, you introduce Jonah Nolan in the last paragraph now. It's not good to introduce more characters at the very end. But since your query is stronger now than it was before, could you possibly do a query without mentioning him at all? Just mention her going after them and thinking of a plan. Or don't even list his name at all. Perhaps see what that does to the query. I think it'd help.



#37 epercak

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 07:24 PM

Hi all, 
I followed the advice of Gabe S and decided to let the query sit for a week and come back to it. I've been doing some revisions in the story itself because there's quite a lot going on and I wanted to see if I could shift the focus. the main idea is that there's a rogue science division who were part of the drug's creation, and they're now kidnapping people to turn them into bionic humans (cyborgs basically). Laura's friend gets kidnapped and she wants to save him so she has to work with Detective Nolan. I'm struggling with whether or not I should leave the flash drive in there 
because that's also part of the story and ties in with the secret science division as well as tying it up in the end. As always, any help would be appreciate and query critique will be returned. 

Thanks! :)

-----------------

 

Dear (Agent’s Name)

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. This opening line confused me because I'm not sure how those features wouldn't be obstacles for everyone. I don't think you need to clarify why they aren't here, but it raised to many questions that are not answered by the following sentences. She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit; a group hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts. Specifically for those immune to Vocacium; the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist. Generally, I think this opening paragraph could be improved. There's a lot of explanatory inserts that hurt the flow and confuse.

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. In contrast, the stakes are clearer here. If you figure out a way to tidy up the explanation of Vocacium and its importance, I think this will work. But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and are taking people off the street. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division, running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents.

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. This detail comes in quite late and is jarring. The authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late.

 

I think you're pretty close and the language is nice and clear. I do think you spend too much time in the setup and world-building leaving the conflict little room at the end. If you build up the relationship between Jonah and Laura, I think the reader would have a better idea of what to expect from the novel.

 

My query if you have the time.

 

Eric



#38 Joseph Isaacs

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 08:52 AM

Hi all, 
I followed the advice of Gabe S and decided to let the query sit for a week and come back to it. I've been doing some revisions in the story itself because there's quite a lot going on and I wanted to see if I could shift the focus. the main idea is that there's a rogue science division who were part of the drug's creation, and they're now kidnapping people to turn them into bionic humans (cyborgs basically). Laura's friend gets kidnapped and she wants to save him so she has to work with Detective Nolan. I'm struggling with whether or not I should leave the flash drive in there 
because that's also part of the story and ties in with the secret science division as well as tying it up in the end. As always, any help would be appreciate and query critique will be returned. 

Thanks! :)

-----------------

 

Dear (Agent’s Name)

I am seeking representation for THE CIRCUIT, a speculative fiction novel complete at 74,000 words that will appeal to readers of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Claire North’s 84K and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

 

To Laura Bishop, barred prison cells, armed police officers and the freezing cold are not obstacles. weak opening line imho, not enough hook She relishes her skills as a mercenary for the Circuit; a group hiding in the Citadel - a refugee camp for society’s outcasts. sounds coolSpecifically for those immune to Vocacium; the compulsory vaccination used to expose secrets that could be used against the corporation that controls the City with an iron fist.vaccinations prevent you from getting a disease. it would have to be some other form of medication more like a truth serum

 

Laura’s own secret - that her own brother is responsible for the drug's creation - could cast her out from the Circuit and brand her a traitor. But that’s the least of her problems. Lately, a series of strange disappearances have occurred throughout the City and taking people off the street. Rumor has it that the culprit behind it all, is a rogue science division, running unholy experiments on unsuspecting innocents. none of this sounds particularly hooking to me, is there a way to make it clearer why i should read your book? might just be me, find out how others feel and go with the majority

 

When Laura’s best friend becomes the next victim, the Circuit refuse to help her due to fear of losing more of their own. Desperate for help, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who has been following her for months, as she’s the main suspect in a terrorist attack. this part if the most hooking for meThe authorities have tasked Jonah with Laura’s execution, but if she wants to save her friend, Laura has to convince him to betray the government that gives him power before it's too late. why? none of this is coming together in a compelling way for me yet. queries are hard! keep at it.



#39 London C

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 07:23 PM

Hi guys, thanks again for all your input. I appreciate it. All your critique is really good and hopefully with some tweaking I'll get there. Here is another attempt.

..........

In the near future, the world is run by powerful pharmaceutical organizations with questionable ethics. Every year, citizens are administered a brain-washing vaccine [is that the right word?] that makes them admit to any crimes they’ve committed.

Laura Bishop’s problem isn’t that she’s committed any crimes—yet—it’s that she is immune to the vaccine. That, and the fact that her brother heads the company that makes the drug.[These two sections need a transition—the "problem" doesn't imply she needs to hide; is she under threat?] She hides with a group of mercenaries, known as The Circuit, who rescued her.

The Circuit  is exposed when, during a failed terrorist attack, Laura is spotted next to the corpses of two civilians. [Without knowing Laura's legal status, this is a little confusing.] Worried for the safety of the Circuit, an old ally offers Laura protection in exchange for a favor - she must steal a valuable flash drive from a City official. When she discovers it contains proof of a fatal pathogen used in Vocacium [Is this the brain washing drug?] vaccinations on almost every citizen [awkward construction: do you mean the vaccine, which is administered to almost everyone, has a fatal pathogen?] she keeps it for herself for leverage.[Leverage against who?]

Knowing the information she has is powerful to possess, Laura allows herself to be captured by Detective Jonah Nolan who’s been hunting her for months. She needs someone on the inside to help prove the fatal nature of the pathogen and Jonah might just be that someone. But when then authorities task Jonah with her execution, Laura has to convince him to betray they very government that gives him power.  

Laura must choose between saving herself by handing over the flashdrive and keeping her mouth shut or risk losing her own life in order to potentially save millions of others.[Confusing sentence construction. I think you mean she must choose between revealing the information to (somebody) and saving millions of lives, or letting the company get the flash drive and silence their culpability.]

 

Overall, with a few tweaks/bits of add info, this will have clear stakes. I have a concern about the plot, though. If millions of people will die from this vaccine, wouldn't the company not use it? It doesn't matter if they're evil or not, millions of people dying suddenly is really, really hard to contain…and wrecks the economy. If the drug killed only a few percent of people, it would still be horrific, but more believable to me. 


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques





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