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Borrowed Time (Adult Near Future Sci Fi) Will critique in return (updated #6)

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#1 CarterT

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 02:12 PM

Updated down in #6.

 

 

Hey folks, looking for some feedback on a new query for the first book I wrote/shelved/edited. Will critique back in return. I know this one needs some work, so appreciate any and all opinions.

 

(Not including obligatory stuff or bio, but I know I need them).

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Officer Misaki Aiko was there when the bomb went off. Now she’s on the other side of the world to stop the same thing from happening again.

 

When Aiko goes into Narita airport, her job is to find the bomb before it explodes. She’s too late. Hundreds die, and she barely escapes with her life, as well as a single lead. One week later, the faces of the dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of the suspect. But the man is a top researcher at the company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included, making him nearly untouchable.

 

Needing expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, despite his reputation for being a loner. A well-earn reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology it produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles Aiko's attempts to progress the case. The difference between Japanese and Canadian policework? Or something more?

 

Now, the threat of another attack looming, Aiko will need to predict the bomber's next move, while trying to figure out if she can trust her new partner – or helplessly watch as more people die.

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoy stories like ‘Inception’ or ‘Total Recall’.  



#2 lnloft

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 06:53 PM

Hey folks, looking for some feedback on a new query for the first book I wrote/shelved/edited. Will critique back in return. I know this one needs some work, so appreciate any and all opinions.

 

(Not including obligatory stuff or bio, but I know I need them).

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Officer Misaki Aiko was there when the bomb went off. Now she’s on the other side of the world to stop the same thing from happening again. So, not a bad hook, but one thing that made me stumble is that with a Japanese name for the MC, when you refer to "the bomb" going off, I jumped to the atomic bomb falling on Hiroshima. So from this hook I assumed this story was going to be some sort of alternative history. Which isn't the case.

 

When Aiko goes into Narita airport, her job is to find the bomb before it explodes. She’s too late. Hundreds die, and she barely escapes with her life, as well as a single lead. This all reads awkwardly. For one thing, the query's jumping around in time, starting after the bomb blew up in the hook, and now jumping back to before. The line, "She's too late," also just sounds really clunky. If you keep your hook how it is, you could try experimenting with this one little bit in past tense, something like, "Last week, Aiko failed to find the bomb in Narita airport before it exploded, leaving hundreds dead and only a single lead for Aiko to follow. Now..." That line could use refining itself, but it could be something to play around with. I think it's an acceptable break from query-writing convention because you're still writing the query in present tense. The present just happens to be after one event. One week later, the faces of the dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of the suspect. But the man is a top researcher at the company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions Whoa, hold up. This society has time-pausing devices? This, I think, needs to be established way sooner. I'm getting all settled in for a nice thriller, and then some future tech is casually dropped in. And I think this is a cool piece of tech with great implications for your plot, and that makes it a selling point for your story. But, glancing down at the rest of your query, I can't help but notice that the tech isn't really brought up again. You could just as easily trade out "time-pausing devices" with "life-saving pharmaceuticals" or "hover cars", and it wouldn't change the query at all. Get your time-pausing devices more involved in the query! They're too cool to just cast aside like this., Aiko included, making him nearly untouchable.

 

Needing expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, despite his reputation for being a loner. A well-earn reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology it produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles Aiko's attempts to progress on the case. The difference between Japanese and Canadian policework? Or something more? These don't give me the knee-jerk reaction of rhetorical questions in queries being bad, but I think you could still present this a little more clearly, maybe more like, "Aiko can't figure out if it's a cultural difference, or something more nefarious."

 

Now, the threat of another attack looming, Aiko will need to predict the bomber's next move, while trying to figure out if she can trust her new partner – or helplessly watch as more people die. I feel like the stakes could use a little bit more pumping up. They're falling a little flat. I think it's a bit more of presentation than an issue with the actual stakes, though.

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoy stories like ‘Inception’ or ‘Total Recall’.  Unfortunately, these comps are movies, which means you're looking at different audiences than for a book. If you're offering comps, agents want to hear what other books will appeal, because those readers are the ones they'll market to.

So, it's not a bad query, but I really think you need to play up the existence of time-pausing devices (in case you didn't get that message already :tongue: ). How do they work? Why didn't Aiko use hers in Narita to stop the bomb going off? Without the time-pausing devices, your query reads much more "thriller" than "sci-fi". Also, as I'm talking about the devices and glancing up at the query, I realize that the prime suspect just kind of drifts out of the query. So perhaps tying him back in again would be a good touch as well.

 

Anyway, nice job handling the dual-POV issue (I'm assuming Alex is the other POV?). This is one to point people to when they can't figure out how to handle it. Good work, and good luck with the rest.


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#3 RichGrad

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 09:57 PM

Officer Misaki Aiko was there when the bomb went off. Now she’s on the other side of the world to stop the same thing from happening again.  

  • You’re telling us that she will stop the same thing from happening again as if the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps say: in an attempt to stop the same thing from happening again.

As well as a single lead.

  • I would remove this. It’s irrelevant here and doesn’t flow well in the sentence.

But the man is a top researcher….

  • This sentence needs work. Time-pausing devices used by billions is pretty vague. Billions of people using time-pausing devices sounds as if everyone around the world freezes time which would make the world a very confusing place to live. Also ‘nearly untouchable’ is also not clear. So he can be found but not quite? What about all the billions of other people using the same devices? Also nearly untouchable?

Expertise and access

  • Access to what?

A well-earn reputation.

  • Should be well-earned. But this sentence should be incorporated into the previous one.

Now, the threat…

  • Should be: Now, with the threat of another attack, Aiko must predict the bomber’s next move…

 



#4 Lucian

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 10:39 PM

Hi CarterT,

 

I don't have much experience myself, but I'll try to give you my impressions while reading and you can draw conclusions from that. I'll certainly point out ways to improve if I think of any.

 

 

Officer Misaki Aiko was there when the bomb went off. I didn't get the same vibe as LNLOFT, but maybe that's because I'm european. I didn't immediately think of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but 'the bomb' is kind of vague, and everyone will fill that in with whatever they want. Maybe be a bit more specific so as not to narrow the range of possibilities. Now she’s on the other side of the world to stop the same thing from happening again. This is a good hook, but I think it should be more specific. If we know 'the bomb' is the bomb that killed someone she loved(insert any other bad consequence), then that's immediately more personal. This will automatically strengthen your second sentence.

 

When Aiko goes into Narita airport, her job is to find the bomb before it explodes. She’s too late. Hundreds die, and she barely escapes with her life, as well as a single lead. I did not realize this was 'the bomb' at first. My first impression was that this was the bomb she was half-way across the world to stop. So I guess this needs to be expressed differently if it isn't what you intended. One week later, the faces of the dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of the suspect. But the man is a top researcher at the company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included, making him nearly untouchable. Holy mule-balls. This needs to be in the hook somehow. Time shenanigans are the coolest thing ever, so use it to your advantage. It's weird to see it in the middle of the query, true, but there is also so much potential for this. Put it in the hook somehow. No question about it.

 

Needing expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, despite his reputation for being a loner. A well-earn reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology it produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles Aiko's attempts to progress the case. The difference between Japanese and Canadian policework? Or something more? This part is good, but a bit bland. At least compared to the time-device.

 

Now, the threat of another attack looming, Aiko will need to predict the bomber's next move, while trying to figure out if she can trust her new partner – or helplessly watch as more people die. Tell us about the threat. How does she find out there's going to be another attack? This is where the stakes go as high as you can make them.

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoy stories like ‘Inception’ or ‘Total Recall’. From all I've heard, having two movies as a comp isn't recommended. Movie + book would be better I think.

 

 

 

As a conclusion, you are really underusing the time-device thingy. My advice is to leverage that as much as you can in this query.

 

Best of luck to you,

Lucian


Please check out my query if you have the time. I greatly appreciate honest feedback.

http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=360969


#5 CarterT

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 08:05 AM

Thanks for your feedback folks. Working on a new'ish version that I'll post when I get the end sentence right. In the meantime, I'd like to shed some light on choices I made in the query (and why), and maybe that will trigger an idea from you smart peeps to help me get around my issues. 

 

1. Yes, almost everybody in the world can stop time with the technology. It is just another everyday thing, like self-driving cars and smart phones. But it is also much more complicated, and the intricacies of it is far too complicated for the query. I tried doing it before, but even scratching the surface of it so that it makes sense in the query proved to be too lengthy. 

2. I'm not trying to explain everything. I intend to leave things open for interpretation, because it's a query and there is a word-count 'limit'. As such, some of the details need to be glossed over. I'm fine with the reader needing to make some inferences about what means what. That said, if anything is drastically unclear, let me know.

3. 'In an attempt' - I get what you're saying, but stylistically, I've chosen to remove that type of language from my queries (and as much as I can, from my writing). The 'try to', 'begin to', 'seemed like', etc. 9 times out of 10, they aren't needed. And, Aiko, she doesn't try to do anything. She simply does. (Insert Star Wars reference here). 

 

Finally, and here's the crux of my problem. For the first half of the book, Aiko's motivations are 'the job'. It's what she's there to do. It's not until the mid-point (almost to the literal word) that things become personal for her. So, it's creating an issue for me of putting good stakes in. That said, I won't move up the revelation in the book (the timing is important). Is 1/2 way through the book too far to cover in a query? I sure think it is (I've been aiming for 50-75 pages in). 

 

Thanks! Will update query when I get the stakes right. There will still be some of what's above in it though. 



#6 CarterT

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 01:53 PM

New version coming up. And, something else I could use help on - comparisons. The reason I used movies is because i am grossly under-read in this genre. I have nothing I can compare it to, because I haven't read anything similar. It's not at all the genre I usually read, but the idea for it consumed my life and I needed to write it. If you've got anything you can suggest, I'd appreciate it. (Also, this is NOT a cut and paste, I manually retyped it in, so there may me minor type-o's.)

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

As a child, Officer Misaki Aiko lost her mother to a random act of terror, so when a bomb is reported in Narita Airport, she's the first on the scene. But, even with the technology to stop time, she's a second too late. 

 

One week after failing to find the bomb before it exploded, and with the faces of hundreds dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of answers. But her one lead is the politically untouchable company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included. 

 

Needed expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, regardless of his reputation for being a lone. A well-earned reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology is produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles the teamwork they need to identify the unknown bomber. 

 

With their quarry constantly one step ahead of them, and Alex keeping secrets from her, Aiko finally gets a clue as to the bomber's identity. A clue that shakes her world to its very core. Now, with hints of another attack coming, Aiko will need to decide who she can trust, and how far she's willing to go to catch the man responsible for the bombs - the same man who killed her mother. 

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction with series potential, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoyed stories like 'Inception' or 'genre-book-i-haven't-read-yet.'



#7 AsperBlurry

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 07:47 AM

Hey Carter,

 

First, thank you very much for the feedback on my query! Sorry it took me so long, but I'm returning the favor :)

 

 

 

New version coming up. And, something else I could use help on - comparisons. The reason I used movies is because i am grossly under-read in this genre. I have nothing I can compare it to, because I haven't read anything similar. It's not at all the genre I usually read, but the idea for it consumed my life and I needed to write it. If you've got anything you can suggest, I'd appreciate it. (Also, this is NOT a cut and paste, I manually retyped it in, so there may me minor type-o's.)

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

As a child, Officer Misaki Aiko lost her mother to a random act of terror, so when a bomb is reported in Narita Airport, she's the first on the scene. But, even with the technology to stop time, she's a second too late.  Good hook! I know right away why + who + what. 

 

One week after failing to find the bomb before it exploded, and with the faces of hundreds dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of answers. But her one lead is the politically untouchable company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included. Good, I'm already invested. 

 

Needed expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, regardless of his reputation for being a lone. A well-earned reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology is it produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles the teamwork they need to identify the unknown bomber. 

 

With their quarry constantly one step ahead of them, and Alex keeping secrets from her, Aiko finally gets a clue as to the bomber's identity. A clue that shakes her world to its very core. Now, with hints of another attack coming, Aiko will need to decide who she can trust, and how far she's willing to go to catch the man responsible for the bombs - the same man who killed her mother. 

 

I wish I had something constructive to add, but... I really like your query! Even though I'm not a big sci-fi fiction fan, I'd definitely want to read yours. It's like 100 x better than your first draft :) 

Ok, flattering aside. I feel like the ending gives TMI. But, maybe it's not really a spoiler? If she learns about her mother's killer identity quite early, ok, but if not, I wouldn't give it away. Even if you were to cut this information and simply leave it with "and how far she's willing to go to catch the man responsible for the bombs", it would work in terms of stakes. 

 

ETA: Only now I read in your other comment that her motivations aren't personal in the beginning. So, I wouldn't reveal who the man responsible for the bombs is. But maybe you could highlight that it's only job for her until she learns the truth.

 

As for comps - have you tried looking up similar books on Amazon & Goodreads? From what I remember, you can narrow your search down to keywords so maybe something will come up?  That's what I did. Because two movies =nope but one movie + one book = yes, yes, yes :) 

 

Hope it helps! 

 

I've posted a new version of my query so if you have a second, I'd love to see your feedback.

 

Oh and I like that you don't use "try", "begin" & so on if the character has already made the decision and acts on it. 

 

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction with series potential, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoyed stories like 'Inception' or 'genre-book-i-haven't-read-yet.'


Please consider a re-critique http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=360734


#8 CarterT

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 09:25 AM

Hey AsperBlurry, thanks for the GoodReads idea, i think I found what I'm looking for. 

 

Also, you said you updated your query, but I must be missing it. Was the one in #13 the latest? Though I was sure that was the one I read. 

 

Unrelated, but is there a way to tag people? Does the @ thing work here?



#9 AsperBlurry

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 10:03 AM

Glad I could help!

 

If you check out Amazon - go to the recent books/bestsellers, it's better to have a comp which is fairly new.

 

Yes, I updated my query, it's in post #17. I didn't change the hook so maybe that's why you thought you commented on it.

 

Hm, I don't think we can tag people here. I simply follow the topic with my comments & get notifications :) 

 

 

Hey AsperBlurry, thanks for the GoodReads idea, i think I found what I'm looking for. 

 

Also, you said you updated your query, but I must be missing it. Was the one in #13 the latest? Though I was sure that was the one I read. 

 

Unrelated, but is there a way to tag people? Does the @ thing work here?


Please consider a re-critique http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=360734


#10 London C

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 06:55 PM

New version coming up. And, something else I could use help on - comparisons. The reason I used movies is because i am grossly under-read in this genre. I have nothing I can compare it to, because I haven't read anything similar. It's not at all the genre I usually read, but the idea for it consumed my life and I needed to write it. If you've got anything you can suggest, I'd appreciate it. (Also, this is NOT a cut and paste, I manually retyped it in, so there may me minor type-o's.)

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

As a child, Officer Misaki Aiko lost her mother to a random act of terror, so when a bomb is reported in Narita Airport, she's the first on the scene. But, even with the technology to stop time, she's a second too late. (Nice hook)

 

One week after failing to find the bomb before it exploded, and with the faces of hundreds dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of answers. But her one lead is the politically untouchable company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included. 

 

Needed Needing expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, regardless of his reputation for being a lone. Alex has A well-earned reputation as a (evocative word goes here). Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology is produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles the teamwork they need to identify the unknown bomber. (This pararaph works descriptively, but the writing is a little clunky relative to the rest of the query.)

 

With their quarry constantly one step ahead of them, and Alex keeping secrets from her, Aiko finally gets a clue as to the bomber's identity. A clue that shakes her world to its very core.(watch for cliches like this—can you give it a more original spin or state how it challenges her belief system more specifically?) Now, with hints of another attack coming, Aiko will need to decide who she can trust, and how far she's willing to go to catch the man responsible for the bombs - the same man who killed her mother. 

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction with series potential, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoyed stories like 'Inception' or 'genre-book-i-haven't-read-yet.'

 

This has a decent structure and makes the stakes for Aiko very clear. The thing I feel it's missing is what the stakes are for Alex. I'm assuming he's the other POV—if not, you need to work that person in. 


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#11 NoNoNoNo

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 10:42 PM

It's not very new, but the plot seems reminiscent of https://en.wikipedia...forward_(novel)

 

#

As a child, Officer Misaki Aiko lost her mother to a random act of terror, so when a bomb is reported in Narita Airport, she's the first on the scene. But, even with the technology to stop time, she's a second too late. 

 

One week after failing to find the bomb before it exploded, and with the faces of hundreds dead etched in her memory, Aiko heads to Toronto, Canada, in pursuit of answers. But her one lead is the politically untouchable company responsible for the time-pausing devices used by billions, Aiko included. - This sentence is clunky and I'm not sure it's necessary. 

 

Neededing expertise and access, Aiko partners with a local detective, Alex Stokes, regardless of his reputation for being a loner. A well-earned reputation, it turns out. Despite Alex's knowledge of the company, and the technology is produces, his unwillingness to communicate stifles the teamwork they need to identify the unknown bomber. - This could be more direct. The whole paragraph could be boiled to something along the lines of "Aiko partners with lone-wolf detective Alex Stokes. She needs his knowledge of the company and technology to identify the bomber, but he's not telling her everything he knows." 

 

With their quarry constantly one step ahead of them, and Alex keeping secrets from her, Aiko finally gets a clue as to the bomber's identity. A clue that shakes her world to its very core. - How? Now, with hints of another attack coming, Aiko will need to decide who she can trust, and how far she's willing to go to catch the man responsible for the bombs - the same man who killed her mother.  - Again you're repeating a bit but I like the conclusion.

 

BORROWED TIME is a dual-POV, adult, near-future science fiction with series potential, complete at 119,000 words, that will appeal to people who enjoyed stories like 'Inception' or 'genre-book-i-haven't-read-yet.'

 

 

This seems pretty close. Good luck with everything.







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