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A Place in the Universe (Adult sci-fi) - Draft 2

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#1 beccamae

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 04:22 PM

Hi, here's draft 2. Feedback is much appreciated.

 

 

Yaniqui is a refugee. Yaniqui is also a powerful healer, something she must hide in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. More than anything, she dreams of escaping the labor planet and reuniting with Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before their home planet was destroyed.

 

 

When Yaniqui’s naivety lands her and her mother in a slave ship, her story spreads all the way to Earth, where Hloban lives. With his wife. That doesn’t stop him from immediately assembling a rescue party to save someone he hasn’t seen since childhood.

 

 

An expelled student from an elite galactic university, a Native living in the environmentally-torn US, and an alien that only thinks in the present tense are pulled into the disaster that is the meeting of the estranged would-be lovers.

 

 

Never the damsel in distress, Yaniqui frees herself. Her belief in fate is rekindled when Hloban finds her, then destroyed when she learns he’s no longer hers. Hloban and Yaniqui return to Earth, bringing with them the tendrils of galactic slavery.

 

 

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

Draft 1

 

Hello, I'm preparing to query a science fiction novel. In addition to the pitch below, I will also include a quick author bio. I appreciate any feedback on my query letter and will return a critique on yours. Please link your post in the comments when you respond. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Dear ___________,

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the labor planet populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died.

 

 

Though they could help others, Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. The stars bound her and Hloban together and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them.

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else.

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe.



#2 A Fatalist Dawn

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 06:00 PM

No need to return critique. I'm happy to help.

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the labor planet (What does this mean?) populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died.

 

You've packed a lot in this line, and most of this is covered later on in the query. Based on what you have here, I would focus the hook on her situation and motivation. The part about her having healing abilities can be used to build her character in the next paragraph. Also, I want to hear a bit more of your MC's voice here. It reads a bit bland, as is, and doesn't really hook me.

 

Here's an example of what I mean:

 

When her home was destroyed, Yaniqui became a refugee on a planet where forced labor is a fact of life. Now, she dreams of reuniting with the man she loves.

 

Though they could help others (Help whom and how?), Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking (Genuine question: Are they really humans if they're on other planets?)

 

Right away, I’m taken in by that bit of worldbuilding. Galactic corporations? Human trafficking? Danger and intrigue? It makes me want to read more. I feel you can build on this a bit more. Pull me into your world.

 

Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is, and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. (I'm seeking clarification here. You said her planet "died," implying it was a natural thing. Here, it sounds more like it was intentionally destroyed.)

 

Otherwise, great! You’ve given me a sense of who your MC is, her situation, and what she wants.

 

The stars bound her and Hloban together, and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them.

 

This is a beautifully worded but unnecessary line.

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives (In what way?) and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else.

 

The ending falls a bit flat for me. Is the betrayal referring to Hloban leaving Yaniqui for someone else? If that’s not the betrayal, you’ll need to be a lot more specific about what you mean. Show me more of the stakes. How will this betrayal impact your MC?

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe.

 

A really minor thing, but I'd round the word count down to 100K.


Check out my poetry book, The Groundwork of Realization (2018).
 

#3 hannahb712

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 08:07 PM

Thank you for taking the time to edit my query!!! :) It is much appreciated!

 

 

Hello, I'm preparing to query a science fiction novel. In addition to the pitch below, I will also include a quick author bio. I appreciate any feedback on my query letter and will return a critique on yours. Please link your post in the comments when you respond. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Dear ___________,

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the labor planet populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died.

 

Though they could help others, Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. The stars bound her and Hloban together and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them.

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else.

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe.

 

Okay, I know I didn't edit anything in the letter, but I guess I just feel like I need more. No grammtical errors - I personally thought it all read great!!! But, I need more. Who is your character? A bit more about that in the beginning would be great. Why does she want Hloban? I know you mention that the stars bound them together, but is she searching for him so much because he's the answer to her problems? Is it that type of thing? Or does she really want to be loved? I just want to know why it's so important that she finds him? 

 

I'll be interested to come back and see this once you've touched it up!! :) 



#4 beccamae

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 10:21 PM

Thank you both for the feedback. I was trying to streamline things, but now I feel more confident putting in more details and voice. Good suggestions, I really appreciate it.



#5 IMB

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 02:47 PM

Thanks for your feedback on my query!

 

Hello, I'm preparing to query a science fiction novel. In addition to the pitch below, I will also include a quick author bio. I appreciate any feedback on my query letter and will return a critique on yours. Please link your post in the comments when you respond. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Dear ___________,

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the labor planet populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died. (This is so confusing. It feels like you tried to pack a whole paragraph of information into one sentence. I had to read it multiple times to understand what is actually happening.)

 

 

Though they could help others, Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. (This is a bit better, but I get the feeling you could be more concice.) Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. (Okay, if you do decide to expand that first paragraph, I think Hloblan's name could be up there when you first mention him.) The stars bound her and Hloban together and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them. (This is sweet, and it gives me a good feel for the sort of person Yaniqui is.)

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else. (This is too mixed together. The betrayal that shapes her life and Hloban love life should be separate phrases, and you should probably expand them. And what betrayal? It sounds so vague. This is the turning point of the story, I'm guessing, and you should make it a little more clear.)

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe.

 

So, I'd suggest you try to start over. Sometimes, re-writing it (even if you end up using similar phrases) helps improve the flow of the query overall. I was left wishing to know more about Yaniqui and the situation surrounding her. I know we're supposed to leave questions unanswered, but if it ends up sounding too empty, the agents might think the book will be empty too, and that's dangerous.


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

Any feedback is appreciated :)


#6 perpetual

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 03:21 PM

Hello, I'm preparing to query a science fiction novel. In addition to the pitch below, I will also include a quick author bio. I appreciate any feedback on my query letter and will return a critique on yours. Please link your post in the comments when you respond. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Dear ___________,

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the labor planet populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died. I don't mind this as a start, though I do feel it's a lot of information to digest. Also, I find it strange "the man" wouldn't be named, if he's so significant to your MC and/or possibly the plot.

 

 

Though they could help others, Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. To me, these two sentences are a better start than the first. I feel you should start your query with this. I am, though, wondering how a grown woman can be "forced" by her mother to do anything. How old is your MC? The stars bound her Unclear if this is literal or metaphorical. and Hloban together and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them.

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else. Is the betrayal by Hloban or someone else? If the latter, who?

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. I believe for debuts, agents STRONGLY recommend staying under 100K. If you haven't already, I highly recommend a critique partner or beta reader who will help you trim the novel a bit. Agents want novels to be as close to ready for publishing as possible, and you don't want your word count making them pass because it's a signal to them that your manuscript may not be fully ready. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe. I've personally read more than one blog, etc by agents who say that they see the "Readers will love my novel because..." too many times in a query and more often than not, it doesn't have the desired effect. I think it's a matter of rephrasing to keep it a bit more neutral. i.e. It's a mix of....; It would appeal to fans of...; etc.

 

As the other critters mentioned, your query definitely needs a bit more meat. I personally also feel it ends too easy. I think we need that next step of what does your MC decide to do once she finds out about Hloban? And how will this decision affect her life? The biggest thing, I feel, that you need to expand on is your stakes. It's not clear to me what your MC's goal is and more importantly, what she stands to lose if she doesn't reach her goal. :)

My query is linked in my signature, if you feel like taking a look ;)
 


Would love your feedback on my query: Click here.

 


#7 kathleenq

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Posted 06 February 2019 - 06:04 PM

Thanks for your critique on mine!

Hello, I'm preparing to query a science fiction novel. In addition to the pitch below, I will also include a quick author bio. I appreciate any feedback on my query letter and will return a critique on yours. Please link your post in the comments when you respond. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Dear ___________,

 

Yaniqui dreams of escaping the refugee labor planet populated by refugees, using her healing powers without fear of others using her, and finding the man she was separated from when their planet died (died how? she's living on a refugee planet, so was hers destroyed?).

 

 

Though they could help others, Yaniqui’s mother forces her to keep their powers a secret, terrified to draw attention in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. Pretending she does not have a gift goes against all Yaniqui is (because?) and she will not follow her mother’s wishes to stop searching for Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before the devastation of her people. The stars bound her and Hloban together and Yaniqui has to believe fate will reunite them. (I would mention Hloban in the first paragraph, where you first mentioned she was looking for him. He seems important.)

 

However, Yaniqui does not see the betrayal (betrayal from who? or what?) coming that will shape her and her mother’s lives and she doesn't know Hloban is living his life. On Earth. With someone else.

 

A PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE is a 106,000 word adult science fiction novel with series potential. Readers who loved the worldbuilding in The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley and character driven plot of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders will enjoy A Place in the Universe.

Like the other crits, I think you need a lot more detail. This is very much just telling me exactly what's going to happen, which is fine, but is a bit bland. Because of that, I'm not totally clear on the stakes. The end definitely peters out a bit, with a betrayal and Hloban's betrayal (I assume these are two separate things?). After she's betrayed, what happens then? Unless the story ends on the betrayal, I think you need to show a bit more of the stakes. Hope this helps!


Query: Glass Domes


#8 kassamarandra

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 05:06 PM

Hi, here's draft 2. Feedback is much appreciated.

 

 

Yaniqui is a refugee. Yaniqui is also a powerful healer, Yaniqui is a powerful healer and a refugee (why?), something she must hide in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. More than anything, she dreams of escaping the labor planet and reuniting with Hloban, (I wouldn't put his name in the hook.) the man she was betrothed to before their home planet was destroyed. 

 

 

When Yaniqui’s naivety lands her and her mother in a slave ship, her story spreads all the way to Earth, where Hloban lives. With his wife. That doesn’t stop him from immediately assembling a rescue party to save someone he hasn’t seen since childhood.

 

 

An expelled student from an elite galactic university, a Native living in the environmentally-torn US, and an alien that only thinks in the present tense are pulled into the disaster that is the meeting of the estranged would-be lovers. (this confuses me altogether it feels like a fragment. Who is the expelled student?) 

 

 

Never the damsel in distress, Yaniqui frees herself. (how?)  Her belief in fate is rekindled when Hloban finds her, (how?) then destroyed when she learns he’s no longer hers. Hloban and Yaniqui return to Earth, bringing with them the tendrils of galactic slavery.

 

 

 

Thank you for the critique on my query. 

So I think that while you have some of the bones here for a great query, I think you need to stick to a single POV. I'm not entirely sure that I fully understand the stakes and I wonder if you've gone too far into the story. There is a theory that you shouldn't go past your 50pg / first major plot point (point of no return) in the query, and I wonder if looking at your story from that perspective will help bring the conflict and stakes of your story out a little more. 

 

a few things to consider when writing your next version: 

who is the character,

what is their conflict,
why should we (the reader) care,
what happens if the character doesn’t succeed?
 

Hope this helps some. 



#9 A Fatalist Dawn

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 06:38 PM

I know this might frustrate you, but I personally preferred your first draft, beccamae. Conceptually, it was solid. You just needed more detail/substance/meat, as others have said.

 

Yaniqui is a refugee. Yaniqui is also a powerful healer, something she must hide in a galaxy where immense corporations are in the business of human trafficking. More than anything, she dreams of escaping the labor planet and reuniting with Hloban, the man she was betrothed to before their home planet was destroyed.
I'd find a way to get rid of the repetition. (e.g. Yaniqui is [xx]. Yaniqui is [xx].) Again, I feel you're running into the problem where you may be trying to pack a bit too much in your opening hook.
 
When Yaniqui’s naivety lands her and her mother in a slave ship, her story spreads all the way to Earth, where Hloban lives. With his wife. That doesn’t stop him from immediately assembling a rescue party to save someone he hasn’t seen since childhood.
At this point, I'm wondering whose story this is. Unlike your first draft, which was from Yaniqui's POV, this one seems to be trying to balance both perspectives. The problem with trying to sell the story from both angles is that things become overly complicated in your query.
 
An expelled student from an elite galactic university, a Native living in the environmentally-torn US, and an alien that only thinks in the present tense are pulled into the disaster that is the meeting of the estranged would-be lovers.
I don't need to know who is in Hloban's rescue party, as this will only confuse me.
 
Never the damsel in distress, Yaniqui frees herself. Her belief in fate is rekindled when Hloban finds her, then destroyed when she learns he’s no longer hers. Hloban and Yaniqui return to Earth, bringing with them the tendrils of galactic slavery.
This ending feels less compelling than your first draft. Before, you were able to tease out the betrayal, while leaving the reader wanting more. Here, you might be digging too deep into your story by revealing what comes after the betrayal.

Check out my poetry book, The Groundwork of Realization (2018).
 





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