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BARREN (dystopian w/ light sf)


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#41 michaelmonson84

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:13 PM

okay, I think I'm pretty close to kicking this one out of the nest to see if it can fly. I've considered everyone's comments and am very thankful for each and every one. If you made a comment that I didn't incorporate, it's only because my gut ultimately told me to go another direction and I want to blame myself instead of you when the rejections come rolling in (aren't I nice, aren't I optimistic). Any thoughts, defenses of previous comments, suggestions, name calling are still welcome, encouraged, and hoped for. A thousand blessings on you and your children.

Dear _____________,

Hannah longs for a baby, but a new universally administered male contraception has made that impossible. That is, until she meets Noah Barson, the victim of an abandoned experiment that’s kept him unconscious since before the sterilizations began.

Two miserable souls stranded in a carefree metropolis, Hannah and Noah resolve to defy the powerful Propagation and Perpetuation Commission by trying for a child. But it won’t be easy keeping a pregnancy hidden in a society where being skinny is a subsidized personal right and hormone levels are monitored on personal communication devices. And if they're caught: the baby will be snatched away as soon as it’s born, Noah will be sterilized if he cooperates (killed if he doesn't), and Hannah will be sentenced to a labor camp where she’ll spend the rest of her fertile life contributing to population stability by continually bearing children she’ll never meet.

Desperate and unprepared, Hannah and Noah set off into the wilderness to have a baby.
Michael
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#42 Dano3000

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:19 PM

Things I would like to see in your next revision:
1. Delve further into the struggles and psychology of living a sexually repressed society.
2. Your voice. Make me feel.
3. Personal Communication Device? Is that just a smart phone? It's a smart phone, isn't it.
4. What I know about hannah: She want baby. What I know about Noah: He survived stuff. I don't really have a sense of who these people are, or how they even fell in love. Do they even fall in love, or are they having a baby out of mutual hatred for the society they live in? How does Noah wake up and suddenly mold into this weird new world? "Hey, whats up Hannah. I just got out of the cryosleeps, and I really think we should make baby."
5. I'm going on a limb here, but I'm assuming the male contraception isn't universal if the worst case scenario is Hannah becoming a baby factory for the rest of her life? It doesn't sound like she just wants a baby, it sounds like she wants a baby she can call her own, NOT property of the PropaPerpeCommision.
6. As it stands, your query makes your book sound like you copied pieces of 1984, and pieces of Handsmaids Tale, and mashed 'em together. This isn't good. The back story behind Noah sounded a lot more interesting.

It sounds like Hannah and Noah are willing to do anything to create and raise a human on their own. I don't know why. I don't why it must be done, I don't know what will happen if it isn't done, and I get a sense that their punishment for being found out will be just the same as everyone else's, so nothing really special there. Instead of trying to show me how brutal your world can be with examples like the repercussions of being found out, just show me. Make a new paragraph about where you world comes from, what it strives for, and why. Make a paragraph about Hannah, and Noah, and all the other main characters, and tell me whats up with them, too. I want to know about these things, but your latest query isn't responsible for that.

Holla when you have you're new one up. I'm a total sucker for dystopias.

#43 michaelmonson84

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:07 PM

Danno, thanks for your thoughts. I'll have to keep reworking. Thanks for pointing out the holes. I can tell my premise isn't coming through--the society isn't sexually repressed, it's completely liberated. Sex has been completely divorced from pregnancy and disease making is strictly recreational. Now throw in a woman who actually wants a baby and the only guy who can give her one. That's the idea I'm counting on to set this one apart from the dystopian cannon. Thanks again. Back to the grind stone.
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#44 Dan

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:29 PM

Michael,

I get what your after . . . I think you need to brainstorm different approaches. Off the top of my head, here's the start of one . . . See what you think. Hope it helps.

In a society of government sanctioned debauchery, sex without the complication of childbirth keeps the masses happy. But Hannah isn't happy. She wants a baby.

Forced sterilization of all males has left her searching. When she finds the one man who slipped past the forced sterilization project due to his unwilling participation in project sleep, he's also the only man willing to risk death to get back at the system.

When Hannah and Noah leave society to do the forbidden, they must .... They also fall in love...

Except the PPC ....

Sincerely,

You

#45 michaelmonson84

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:40 PM

Dan, I like that a lot. Funny how we get in ruts. Let me play around a little and come back with something new. Michael
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#46 michaelmonson84

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:05 PM

Since I already had these revisions ready when I read Dan's suggestions (see post 44, above) I'm going to post it while I work on a different approach.

Dear _______________,


After her newborn is taken by the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission, Hannah longs for a baby she can keep, but in a society enjoying the liberation of a universally administered male contraceptive, getting pregnant without Government authorization isn’t possible. That is, until Noah Barson wakes up from an abandoned experiment that’s kept him unconscious since before the sterilizations began.

When Hannah finds Noah, homeless and starving, an idea hatches and hope is born. But adjusting Noah to life in the future and convincing him to help her are only the first step. She’ll also have to keep a pregnancy hidden in a society where being skinny is a subsidized personal right and hormone levels are monitored on surgically implanted personal communication devices. And if she does get pregnant and is discovered, the only hope she has left in the world will disappear with the loss of another child to the Commission. The prospect of hope returning will be killed along with Noah, the last independently fertile man. And grief will slash at her every nine months when she’s force to spend the rest of her fertile life in a labor camp producing children for population maintenance—children she’ll never meet.

Nevertheless, driven by a material instinct as ingrained and irrepressible as a reflex, Hannah rushes off into the wilderness with Noah to try and have a baby.
Michael
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#47 NavyDave

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:21 AM

I really enjoy this type of genre. I would read this book as soon as it on the shelf, or can be uploaded. Good luck to you!
dp

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#48 Dano3000

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

I like the newest revision a lot better, though some of the descriptors seem a tad overwhelming.
The only thing that really comes across as in need of a complete overhaul is your sinker. It's already quite clear from the rest of your query that Hannah really wants to have a child, and your sinker only elaborates on this in a redundant way, and then ends with them...having a baby anyways. Is that the end of your book? I ask because there isn't a tantalizer to keep me interested, and it sounds as though nothing comes after the fact. They just bounce and have a baby and.....that's it. If that's the ending, remove it.
You set up an opportunity with the previous paragraph to really drill in what the stakes are and how far Hannah is willing to go. What is having a baby worth? A strangers life? Her own life? It would be more interesting to focus on the struggle and whats at stake rather than telling us that they have a baby regardless of the struggle and what's at stake.
Couple questions off the top of my head:
Do they start a counter society?
Do they struggle in the wilderness at all? Does the city come after them? The way the query sounds, it comes across as "They walk outside and have a baby. The end."

Yell at meh when you have a new one up :D.

#49 Granite Mark

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:12 PM

Since I already had these revisions ready when I read Dan's suggestions (see post 44, above) I'm going to post it while I work on a different approach.

Dear _______________,


After her newborn is taken by the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission, Hannah longs for a baby she can keep, but in a society enjoying the liberation of a universally administered male contraceptive, getting pregnant without Government authorization isn’t possible .(*whew* that was long, too long.) That is, until Noah Barson wakes up from an abandoned experiment that’s kept him unconscious since before the sterilizations began. (this paragraph, though technically accurate is too wordy and antiseptic. need emotion. Hannah wants a baby dammit and she's gonna get one!)

When Hannah finds Noah,the last independently fertile man, homeless and starving, an idea hatches and hope is born. But adjusting Noah to life in the future and convincing him to help her are only the first steps. She’ll also have to keep a pregnancy hidden in a society where being skinny is a subsidized personal right and hormone levels are monitored on surgically implanted personal communication devices. And if she does get pregnant and is discovered, the only hope she has left in the world will disappear with the loss of another child to the Commission. The prospect of hope returning will be killed along with Noah . And grief will slash at her every nine months when she’s force to spend the rest of her fertile life in a labor camp producing children for population maintenance—children she’ll never meet.

Nevertheless, driven by a material (maternal?) instinct as ingrained and irrepressible as a reflex, Hannah rushes off into the wilderness with Noah to try and have a baby.


Your query feels very antiseptic though I do understand the story. I usually don't read other's comments I think Dan is onto something. The major difference he has is emotion. Your whole story is about deep, crushing, overwhelming emotion and needs to come out in your query. The love, the anguish, the sex, the fear. its all there - tap into it! :smile:

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#50 michaelmonson84

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 03:25 PM

Thanks to everyone for your comments and especially Dan (post #44, above) for reaching virtual hands through my computer screen and shaking me until I realized that there was a better way. I'm feeling pretty good about this one, now start pummeling it to see which parts don't hold up under stress.

Dear __________,

In a society of government sanctioned debauchery, sex without the complication of childbirth keeps the masses happy. But Hannah isn't happy. She wants a baby.

Forced sterilization of all males has left her searching. When she finds Noah Barson, a stranger from the past who slipped past the sterilization requirements, Hannah seizes the opportunity to get what she wants. But Noah’s not ready to be seized, at least not a first. As their love slowly grows so does Noah’s resolve to defy the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission by trying for the forbidden. But keeping a pregnancy hidden in a society where being thin is a subsidized personal right won’t be easy, and raising a child in a metropolis where babies’ cries are never heard may be impossible. Nevertheless, Noah and Hannah move forward, risking their own lives and that of the child they hope to have.

When they find a house in the farming district and Hannah gets pregnant, it looks like they might actually be able to have everything they’ve hoped for, that is until Hannah disappears.

[bio, personalized tidbit, etc.]

Thanks....
Michael
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#51 JMB

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:02 PM

Reading only post 50, all I can wonder is how humans will survive if there are no babies...

And I feel like "subsidized" is the wrong word choice.

All and all I am intrigued but there's lots of dystopia out there so you need to show the uniqueness of your story and make sure we get a sense of your character's personality.

Good luck.

#52 Dano3000

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:04 PM

Hi hi.

Dear __________,

In a society of government sanctioned debauchery, sex without the complication of childbirth keeps the masses happy. But Hannah isn't happy. She wants a baby. Snagged. Hard. Gimme a tissue, my lip is bleeding.

Forced sterilization of all but the richest? All but the most powerful? All but a select government few? males has left her searching. Echoing the above, I think it might be wise to make clear that the only acceptable pregnancy is a government approved artificial insemination When she finds Noah Barson, a mysterious stranger from the past who's slipped past the sterilization requirements, Hannah seizes the opportunity to get what she wants. But Noah’s not ready to be seized, at least not a first., Finding a way to say "but there isn't anything as difficult as seducing a man who's not interested." would work better here. Keep the focus on Hannah.

As Hannah's efforts grow
, so does Noah’s resolve to defy the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission by trying for the forbidden. This is where your query kind of loses it. -> But keeping a pregnancy hidden in a society where being thin is a subsidized personal right won’t be easy, and raising a child in a metropolis where babies’ cries are never heard may be impossible.
Nevertheless, Noah and Hannah move forward, risking their own lives and that of the child they hope to have. It's kind of hard to believe that they would press on despite these things, or that they wouldn't first search for a safe place because of these things. The way it's structured makes the characters sound unbelievably optimistic. It would make more sense to say to just go ahead and say their search for a safe place to get busy ends with a house in the not-so-monitored farming district.

When they find a house in the farming district and Hannah gets pregnant, it looks like they might actually be able to have everything they’ve hoped for, that is until Hannah disappears. Now that I know that Hannah disappears, I'm assuming she was captured by the commission, and I'm assuming that Noah tries to rescue her? This would be a much more interesting close than just "She disappears." in my opinion, especially if it's part of your story. "When Hannah disappears in the middle of her pregnancy, Noah must-" etc. You still have a lot of room to tell us what exactly Noah does in response to this, and what's at stake, and how either the worst case or best case scenario might affect the world. and so on.

[bio, personalized tidbit, etc.]

Thanks....


Getting really close. I like the first half of this a lot. Just get a little more of your book in the ending.
And, as always, give a holler when you have a new one up :D

#53 michaelmonson84

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:14 PM

this process is starting to feel like the republican nominating process, an ugly, drawn out slug-fest, that will probably end as a result of exhaustion rather than triumph. Anyway, for your reading pleasure today I've come up with two alternates. Even if you don't have time to comment, a vote for either Version 1 or 2 would be helpful. Basically the story is about a couple, Noah and Hannah. Version 1 comes at it from Hannah's pov, Version 2 from Noah's. Thanks in advance.


Version 1:

In a society of government endorsed debauchery, sex without the threat of pregnancy keeps the masses happy. But Hannah isn’t happy. She wants a baby.

After being artificially inseminated for population maintenance, Hannah gives birth to a baby boy who’s seized by the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission before she leaves the hospital. Heartbroken, Hannah struggles to get her son back, but he’s already been shuffled in with thousands of other newborns and lost to her forever. Desperate for a child she can keep, Hannah sets out to find a man who hasn’t received the male contraceptive shot.

Unfortunately, such men no longer seem to exist. Nearly ready to give up hope, Hannah stumbles across Noah Barson sleeping in her apartment lobby. He smells bad, uses phrases she doesn’t understand, and shows no interest in her, but—he hasn’t had the shot. Hannah brings him home. Getting him to go along with her plan, however, will require more than just a simple seduction; she’ll also have to make him fall in love with her so he doesn’t leave and leak her plans to the Commission.

Version 2:

After his mom dies, mechanical engineering dropout, Noah Barson, longs for a family, but his girlfriend has disappeared and NASA wants to send him into space.

When Noah returns from a journey to the edge of the Universe, he’s horrified to discover that instead of being unconscious for the two years he expected, he’s been away for two hundred years and life ain’t what it used to be. Families no longer exist, a new agency call the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission taking over that role. Abandoned by a bankrupt government to fend for himself in this new world, Noah is finally taken in by Hannah, a woman grieving over the State sanctioned taking of her only son.

As their relationship grows, Noah describes to Hannah the way life used to be, ripening her yearning for a child into desperation for a family. Together they set out to resurrect a way of living that’s long been kept buried. But they’re being watched, and as soon as Hannah gets pregnant, she disappears. Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life aches for, both of which the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission are willing to kill to keep hidden.
Michael
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#54 Mia K Rose

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 01:38 AM

Personally my vote is for Version 2, the one from Noah's POV. His stakes seem to be higher and engaging, and his back story interesting. If I saw Version 2 I would want to read more, Version 1 doesn't have quite the same punch. And frankly, I can't see anything immediately wrong with Version 2. However, one small thing:

Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life [he] aches for, both of which the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission are willing to kill to keep hidden [hide and kill for (maybe?)].


However I would like to see how you end the query to mention your story is from both Noah and Hannah's POV.
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#55 jmenon

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 05:27 AM

I'm in love with this story- I really think you've got something great, and I'm eager to read the story!

Sorry, I know this is going to hurt since you've been working so hard on Version #1, which I do very much like, but I personally like Version #2 more because it shows more depth to the story. It also might be easier for a reader to relate to someone from the present, rather than someone from the future, for purposes of the query at least. I think you have a very enticing story and query, but it might help to somehow bring some of the interesting things from the future into Noah's POV if you can (like the male sterilization bit- the fact that he's the only man that has the power to start this new life with Hannah seems important to your story, and is interesting for the query. You might even consider a hook that includes something about this (E.g. After a NASA experiment gone wrong, Noah finds himself 200 years in the future as the only man in existence with the power of choice to pro-create....)

A few quick suggestions/ comments below:

After his mom dies, mechanical engineering dropout, Noah Barson, longs for a family why- because his mother died? Any other reason? Family as in babies galore or family as in mom replacement?, but his girlfriend has disappeared and NASA wants to send him into space. Can you make this hook simpler? There's a lot of information here and I'm left trying to figure out if he wants a family because his mom dies and what his girlfriend's disappearance has to do with NASA launching him into space. Can you play with the hook a bit more in organization and some more detail on the NASA bit, which is really what is the interesting/ different part of your story- moms die, girlfriends leave, but not everyone is shot into space by NASA (E.g. After his mom dies and girlfriend leaves, Noah has little left in his life holding him back from being launched into space by NASA unconscious for two years, but he didn't expect to return to the future.-- okay that's not quite right either, but something simpler might be more grabby. Then you could potentially cut out some of the stuff in the first paragraph and jump right into it...

When Noah returns from his a journey to the edge of the Universe, he’s horrified to discover that instead of being unconscious for the two years he expected he’s been away for two hundred years and life ain’t what it used to be. Families no longer exist, since a the new agency called the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission has taken ing over that role. Can you rephrase "that role"? The family role? Raising children role? These could be two different things...give the reader a sense of how this new social construct is in practice- are kids fitted with 'chosen' parents in a nuclear setting, or are kids raised more in an orphanage/ government sponsored home? Can you briefly explain why this is- bring in the shot? Abandoned by a bankrupt government to fend for himself in this new unknown world, Noah is finally taken in by Hannah, a woman grieving over the State-sanctioned taking of her only son. I'm left wondering how he met Hannah- she finds him, right? Can you succinctly elude to how they met?

As their relationship grows why? in what way does it grow?, Noah describes to Hannah the way life used to be, ripening her yearning for a child into desperation for a family. Together they set out to resurrect a way of living that’s long been kept buried. But they’re being watched, and as soon as Hannah gets pregnant, she disappears. Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life he aches for, both of which the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission are willing to kill to keep hidden. The state wants to kill and keep hidden both the woman and the life he aches for? This ends a bit awkwardly-- can you change the sentence?

#56 michaelmonson84

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 03:57 PM

MiakRose and Jmenon, thanks for your comments and suggestions. I'll keep retooling and post a revision. I think I agree with you that version 2 is stronger. Michael
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#57 michaelmonson84

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:11 PM

I'm feeling pretty good about this one, but feel free to depress me by pointing out the glaring errors, cliche phrases, and sections that make your eyes wander and your thoughts turn to the household chores you'd rather be doing than reading my query.

Dear _________,

College-dropout-turned-garbage-truck-repairman Noah Barson gets a second chance at a bright future when NASA invites him on mission, the only catch is, he’ll be pumped full of an experimental drug leaving him unconscious while he travels.

When Noah returns, he’s horrified to discover that instead of being gone for the two years he agreed to, he’s been away for over two hundred years and life ain’t what it used to be. His girlfriend’s dead and the prospect of finding someone else is bleak. Families no longer exist, men “enjoy” a new contraceptive called “the shot,” and no one seems interested in anything more than a quick wham-bam-thank-you-mam. That is until Noah meets Hannah, a woman grieving over the State-sanctioned taking of her artificially inseminated son.

As Noah describes to Hannah the way life used to be, her yearning for a child ripens into desperation for a family. Together they resolve to resurrect a way of living that’s long been kept buried. But staying together for more than one night draws attention, especially since Noah hasn't had the “shot,” and as soon as Hannah gets pregnant, she disappears. Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life he aches for. But, as Noah soon discovers, families didn’t fade away only as a result of societal evolution, and the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission is willing to kill to keep the masses distracted, single, and (unless authorized) barren.
Michael
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#58 Mia K Rose

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:29 PM

LATEST DRAFT

I'm feeling pretty good about this one, but feel free to depress me by pointing out the glaring errors, cliche phrases, and sections that make your eyes wander and your thoughts turn to the household chores you'd rather be doing than reading my query.

Dear _________,

College-dropout-turned-garbage-truck-repairman [I'm not sure on this long connection stream] Noah Barson gets a second chance at a bright future when NASA invites him on [a two-year] mission, the only catch is, he’ll be pumped full of an experimental drug leaving him unconscious while he travels.

When Noah returns, he’s horrified to discover that instead of being gone for the two years he agreed to, he’s been away for over two hundred years [scrap the over and give us an exact figure] and life ain’t what it used to be. His girlfriend’s dead and the prospect of finding someone else is bleak. Families no longer exist, men “enjoy” a new contraceptive called “the shot,” and no one seems interested in anything more than a quick wham-bam-thank-you-mam. That is until Noah meets Hannah, a woman grieving over the State-sanctioned taking of her artificially inseminated son. [Originally in Version 1 Noah is viewed as bum who smells bad, maybe elude to Hannah saving him from sleeping in lobby punishment?]

As Noah describes to Hannah the way life used to be, her yearning for a child ripens into desperation for a family. Together they resolve to resurrect a way of living that’s long been kept buried. But staying together for more than one night draws attention, especially since Noah hasn't had the “shot,” and as soon as Hannah gets pregnant, she disappears. Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life he aches for. But, as Noah soon discovers, families didn’t fade away only as a result of societal evolution, and the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission is willing to kill to keep the masses distracted, single, and (unless authorized) barren. [And what does he do about it? The second last sentence states he is going to rescue her, but then we get a reveal and nothing after it. Originally it tied with his rescue making it feel more personal, now it seems unrelated. Up the stakes of the rescue again.]


Hopefully my comments don't depress you :) Good luck with it.
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#59 Dano3000

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:21 PM

LATEST DRAFT

I'm feeling pretty good about this one, but feel free to depress me by pointing out the glaring errors, cliche phrases, and sections that make your eyes wander and your thoughts turn to the household chores you'd rather be doing than reading my query. Ha!

Dear _________,

College-dropout-turned-garbage-truck-repairman Noah Barson gets a second chance at a bright future when NASA invites him on a mission, the only catch is, he’ll be pumped full of an experimental drug leaving him unconscious while he travels.

When Noah returns, When Noah wakes up? he’s horrified to discover that instead of being gone for the two years he agreed to, he’s been away for over two hundred years. and life ain’t what it used to be. His girlfriend’s dead and the prospect of finding someone else is bleak. Everyone he loved is gone. Families no longer exist, men “enjoy” a new contraceptive called “the shot,” and no one seems interested in anything more than a quick wham-bam-thank-you-mam. That is until Noah meets Hannah, a woman grieving over the State-sanctioned taking of her artificially inseminated son. ooooohoho, this is good.

As Noah describes to Hannah the way life used to be, her yearning for a child ripens into desperation for a family. YES. Together they resolve to resurrect a way of living that’s long been kept buried. YES YES YES. But staying together for more than one night draws attention, especially since Noah hasn't had the “shot,” and as soon as Hannah gets pregnant, she disappears. Frantic, Noah launches out into a society he still doesn’t understand to rescue the woman and life he aches for. But, as Noah soon discovers, families didn’t fade away only as a result of societal evolution, and the Propagation and Perpetuation Commission is willing to kill to keep the masses distracted, single, and (unless authorized) barren. But, as Noah soon discovers, society didn't just outgrow the concept of families, and the government of [insert city here] will go to any lengths to keep the masses distracted, single, and BARREN GOOD GOD THAT IS A GREAT SINKER. DO NOT CHANGE IT. EVER.



I have to be honest with you. I really, really like this version. A lot. It explains the reasons so clearly and so well. Really, really close, mate.

#60 jmenon

jmenon

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 11:16 PM

I was going to comment again in detail, but I'll wait til you come out with the latest and greatest after the other comments. I think you've managed to marry Noah's story with Hannah's with bringing in more of his experience in the new world...it works.

I agree with Dano- your ending sentence is fantastic- don't change it. The hook is great too...I think you're really close to taking this bad boy for a spin!




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