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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Query Workshop 18--Joshua's Tree

Title: Joshua's Tree
Genre: YA Science Fiction


Revision 1

Dear Ms. (agent's name),

Set in the distant future, Joshua’s Tree is a YA science fiction at 75,000 words.

When a skateboarding accident hurls 17-year-old Joshua Tyler into a dismal future terrorized by flesh-eating mutants, he taps into the strength and courage hidden within him and survives only to discover his horrifying relationship to the scientific genius that brought all life on Earth to the brink of annihilation.

Josh is saved from the cannibalistic monsters by 17-year-old warrior student Nadia, who believes he may be the prophesied savior sent to rescue her people. While struggling with doubt about her role as his guardian, Nadia takes it on herself to teach him to fight so he can fulfill his destiny. Terrified by the constant threat of a violent death, Josh wants nothing more than to stay alive and get back to his own life. But the longer he survives in this strange place, the more he learns about its creation. Charged with the job of assassinating the enemy’s leader, Josh begins to uncover his connection to the flesh-eating mutants—a nightmarish truth that could prevent him from ever finding his way home.

Joshua’s Tree is the first book in a potential trilogy and will appeal to readers of books like Divergent and The Scorch Trials. An earlier revision of was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012.  I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and would be happy to provide a copy of my manuscript for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Original
Dear Ms. (agent's name),

Set in the distant future, Joshua’s Tree is a YA science fiction at 75,000 words. It is the first book in a potential trilogy and will appeal to readers of books like Divergent and The Scorch Trials.

When smart but timid 17-year-old Joshua Tyler is forced to tap into the strength and courage hidden within him, he discovers an evil that has brought all life on Earth to the brink of annihilation.

After a skateboarding accident leaves him unconscious, Joshua wakes up to find flesh-eating mutants hunting him. Trapped in this strange future, Josh is saved from the monsters by17-year-old warrior student Nadia, who believes Josh is the prophesized savior sent to rescue her people. To keep him alive so he can fulfill his destiny, she teaches him to fight the monsters. Terrified by the constant threat of a violent death, Josh initially doesn’t care about saving this world—all he wants to do is to stay alive and get back to his own life. But the longer he survives in this dismal place, the more he learns about how it was created. The nightmarish truth Josh begins to uncover might ruin everything he has worked toward and prevent him from ever finding his way home.

An earlier version of Joshua’s Tree was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012.  I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and would be happy to provide a copy of my manuscript for your consideration. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

7 comments:

Charity Bradford said...

Oo, there's some good stuff here too! Here's some quick thoughts.

2. What forces Joshua to tap into this strength? You get to it in the second paragraph, but it sounds vague here. Also, "an evil" is vague. The trick with queries is to be specific without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. You may want to combine this thought with the inciting incident--the skateboarding accident.

Something like: After a skateboarding accident, Joshua Tyler is hurled into a strange future where flesh-eating mutants hunt him. (is the hidden strength and courage tied to any specail powers? If not you don't need to mention them in the query--it will be implied that he needs those things.) He's saved by...

3. This is personal preference, but I'd switch around the sentence starting with "to keep". Suggestion: Nadia takes it on herself to teach him to fight so he can fulfill his destiny.

All the talk about him not caring about the world he's in doesn't endear him to me. You could leave that out and just rework the next two sentences to get to the nightmarish truth he discovers. And don't be so vague. I feel like the true conflict and raising of the stakes are tied to that truth, so give me a bit more. That will open it up for you to share the choice he has to make--perhaps going home to change the future now that he understands it, or continue fighting to make it better from that point?

4. This is good!

Emily said...

I like that you tell about the book in the first paragraph, but I'm wondering if you should move the second sentence in the first paragraph (the part about it's potential and comparison) to the beginning of the last paragraph.

I wonder if you could give us a better idea of how he's smart (i.e. Is he a genius in math and science or is he street-smart, etc) This would tell us more about his character and might even give your query more voice.

I think the synopsis paragraph is really good. So, does finding out how the place was created make him want to save it? If so, that might be a good thing to say--that he has made some sort of connection with the people (or whatever). And then you can lead into the conflict about the truth.

Great references! The story sounds interesting.

Best of luck!

Sam F. said...

This sounds interesting, but I think you could tighten it up a bit.

The second paragraph is unnecessary. It's very vague -- until you explain it in the third paragraph. You'd probably be better off by cutting straight to the third paragraph. I'm much more hooked by "flesh-eating mutants" than the vague summary that comes before.

Also, this sentence here: "Terrified by the constant threat of a violent death, Joshua initially doesn't care about saving the world -- all he wants to do is stay alive and get back to his own life." It's a little redundant, so you can tighten up by saying something along the lines of "Nadia teaches him to fight the monsters -- but he wants nothing to do with his so-called destiny. All he cares about is staying alive and getting back to his own life."

One last thing: "The nightmarish truth Josh begins to uncover might ruin everything he has worked toward." But what has he worked toward, aside from learning combat skills? Try to be a little more specific here.

Overall, less telling and more showing. But good start!

Huntress said...

Very nice!

I'd make one stylistic change. The sentence "But the longer he survives in this dismal place, the more he learns about how it was created" I'd cut the double verb.
"But the longer he survives in this dismal place, the more he learns about its creation."

Huntress said...

One change to your revision:

Second paragraph: Warrior student Nadia saves Joshua from the cannibalistic monsters. She believes he is the prophesied savior sent to rescue her people and while struggling with doubt about her role as his guardian, Nadia decides to teach him to fight so he can fulfill his destiny.

9a9bdbba-ec81-11e1-b7b4-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Wow! This is so awesome! I can't thank you all enough for your comments.

mshatch said...

My comments will be in parentheses:

Set in the distant future, Joshua’s Tree is a YA science fiction at 75,000 words. (I personally would put this bit at the end - but that's just me)

When a skateboarding accident hurls 17-year-old Joshua Tyler into a dismal future terrorized by flesh-eating mutants, he taps (discovers a hidden strength, maybe?)into the strength and courage hidden within him and survives only to discover his horrifying relationship to (with instead of to, I think, and why is it horrifying? This might be important if it was their relationship which brought on the disastrous future) the scientific genius that brought all life on Earth to the brink of annihilation.

Josh is saved from the cannibalistic monsters by 17-year-old warrior student Nadia, who believes he may be the prophesied savior sent to rescue her people. (Good) While struggling (who's struggling? Josh or Nadia?)with doubt about her role as his guardian, Nadia takes it on herself to teach him to fight so he can fulfill his destiny. Terrified by the constant threat of a violent death, Josh wants nothing more than to stay alive and get back to his own life. But the longer he survives in this strange place, the more he learns about its creation. Charged with the job of assassinating the enemy’s leader, Josh begins to uncover his connection to the flesh-eating mutants—a nightmarish truth that could prevent him from ever finding his way home. (This paragraph is a little wordy and a little confusing to me. I would suggest staying with one character here, Nadia or Josh, or maybe divide this into two paragraphs)

Joshua’s Tree is the first book in a potential trilogy and will appeal to readers of books like Divergent and The Scorch Trials. An earlier revision of (of what? I'd just get rid of the the 'of')was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012.(excellent!) I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and would be happy to provide a copy of my manuscript for your consideration. Thank you for your time.


hope my comments help :)