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Friday, June 3, 2011

two for friday

Our third and fourth queries come from Tara and Misty. My comments are in purple. 

Here is Tara's Query for her scifi thriller:

[Intro, how I know/heard of you (the agent), etc.] 

In 2080 pop travel, laser teleportation, has revolutionized transportation. I absolutely love the idea of traveling in a different way – especially if it’s faster, but if this is scifi I wonder if laser travel is remotely possible? Just asking…scifi geeks can be a picky lot.

Private investigator J. L. Cooper would rather fly. I wonder if there could be a tiny bit more about Cooper here, something to make us like him, root for him. Why would he rather fly? Is that important to the story? Does he have any character traits we might find endearing?

Cooper's latest client is a desperate character who claims pop travel made his boss disappear. During his investigation, Cooper comes across a slew of similar missing person cases with excessive pop travel as the glaring connection. Cooper must brave his aversion to people and pop travel to investigate the bustling Atlanta Transport Center, a pop travel hub. There he discovers a body and evidence of a deadly pop travel flaw. After his client has a fatal accident and his secretary is kidnapped, Cooper decides he must go directly to the source, the Creator of pop travel, to get resolution. I might name the Creator – especially if the Creator is Cooper’s nemesis. 

Mr. Cooper’s activities draw the attention of the FBI causing them to hone in on him. They send attractive, charming Agent Geri Harper to get close to Mr. Cooper and retrieve the evidence. He makes lame attempts to dissuade her, but she sticks with him. I might reword this like this: “Meanwhile, the FBI gets wind of Cooper’s activities and send Agent Geri Harper to get close to him and retrieve the evidence.” I’d also consider naming the evidence. What is it evidence of? And why is the FBI so eager to get their hands on it?

I would want a transitional phrase inserted here, something that shows/tells how/why Cooper and Geri join forces. Together Cooper and Geri confront the Creator who surprises them with plans of his own. And I wonder if this last line might have more punch if it was by itself, like this; “But the Creator has a plan of his own.” 

Pop Travel is complete at 70,000 words.

Thank you for your time.

Tara Tyler

Lastly, I have to say that this sounds like a really fun and futuristic tale. Now, I hope the rest of you will comment and help Tara out with her query. But remember…be kind and be helpful.

Next is Misty's query for her YA High Fantasy:Last but not least I want to reiterate that my purple comments/suggestions are just a single person's opinion. Ultimately it's up the author to decide what works and what doesn't. But the more comments Misty gets from you the better her query will be so please, do add your two cents. Just remember to be helpful, and kind :)

Seventeen-year-old Sloan Reynolds got a new destiny for her birthday that doesn’t include dating or finishing her senior year—an entire realm is awaiting her return, including a king who would prefer she didn’t survive the trip home. ORACLE is a 77,000-word young adult high fantasy. I would probably put the word count at the end of the query.
Sloan has her first vision and passes it off as a simple bout of déjà vu. But when a group of bounty hunting warlocks appear at the steakhouse where she works, Sloan is tossed into a world she never knew existed. Literally.
After reading through the first two paragraphs a few times I want to combine them, maybe like this: When seventeen year old Sloan Reynolds has a vision of _____, she passes it off as déjà vu. But when a group of bounty hunting warlocks appear at the steakhouse where she works, Sloan is tossed into a world she never knew existed and before she knows it she's got a whole new destiny, and this one doesn't include dating or finishing her senior year. Instead, she finds an entire realm awaiting her return, including a king who would prefer she didn’t survive the trip home. 
Dragged through a portal by the guy she’s been crushing on, Sloan finds herself in a realm where people use magic instead of electricity, and dragons instead of cars. Sloan learns she’s the last living member of an ancient oracle bloodline, her crush is really an exiled prince, and her best friend has known all along that their (who? Sloan and...?) entire past is a well orchestrated lie. Now she must come to terms with living in a strange new land, dealing with unharnessed powers, and knowing a king wants her dead for a vision that killed her entire family and would unseat him from his throne.
This last bit is a little confusing. When did her family get killed? Before the story starts? I'd make this clear.
As Sloan comes to terms with her new destiny, she discovers that she’s not just the target for one king, but two. A fallen kingdom on the other side of the realm seeks revenge, (for what?) and its dark king thinks Sloan is the key, or rather, their future child. Now this dark king is the one Sloan must fight to escape and risks falling into the waiting arms of their (again, be clear who they are) common enemy to do it. So she has two enemies? But who are her allies?

I think this sounds like a very interesting tale but a few things could make it even more enticing to an agent. If Sloan is an orphan I'd say so - orphans are always interesting - and I'd also make more mention of her visions as it sounds like these may be important - unharnessed powers perhaps? I'd also like to know if she's in this alone, or if the exiled prince/crush and her best friend are going to help her out.

And if you want more of your queries critiqued, send them along to: marcy@tidewater.net with 'unicorn bell query' in the subject line and we can play this game again next month - unless you'd rather do something else? 


Charity Bradford said...

Tara, your story sounds interesting. I love sci fi and remember hearing a bit about your story. I love the idea of the mode of travel and how it could have side effects the creators would want to hide. I think Marcy advice is spot on with ways you can improve the query. Being a sci fi girl myself, I agree with her first statement on the laser travel. You will need to make this sound possible in the MS itself. If you believe it and have some science to back it up, you will be fine.

Misty! *waves* I almost didn't read your query because I was thinking "no spoilers!". The plot sounds complicated and I can't wait to see how you handle it in the wip. I may have more advice on your query after I finish the MS. ;)

Huntress said...

In 2080 pop travel, laser teleportation, has revolutionized transportation.

Private investigator J. L. Cooper would rather fly.
*At this point add an example of his ‘aversion to people’. You are introducing him to us the reader. We need to get an immediate flavor of who Mr. Cooper is.*

A client claims pop travel made his boss disappear.
*Cut any word that slows the forward motion. Use simple nouns, simple verbs.

At this point, I like to use the ‘But when’ example, the complicating incident. “But when Cooper discovers other people are missing due to ( at this point, use ‘laser teleportation’)…”

Next is ‘must’. “…Cooper must investigate…”

Sometimes you can throw in another ‘but when’. “…but when FBI Agent Geri Harper gets wind of the investigation…”

And last? ‘In order to’. “…When the Creator of pop travel (insert complication here), Cooper and Geri must (verb) in order to (their goal).

Maybe limit the use of ‘pop travel’? Substitute laser teleportation or something else?

Huntress said...

I like Marcy’s suggestion. Combine the first two thoughts into one hook. It tells her age, the genre, where it takes place but try cutting it down to the bare minimum. I like ‘steakhouse’. It gives me a mental picture. Cut stuff like ‘…a group of…’
Look at these sentences. 80 words. Try highlighting every word that is absolutely necessary for the story; like her name, age, bounty hunter (I think you might want ‘hunter’ instead of ‘hunting’) warlocks. Try to make two sentences from those necessary words using 25 to 30 words.

Use simple verbs, simple nouns to clarify your message.

Now introduce me to the other characters. Give me the Crush’s name and a tidbit, a personality trait.

I love the magic and dragons idea (gee I wonder why…lol). Cut stuff like ‘…last living member…’ and substitute “…as the last Oracle, Sloan must…”

Tell us something new. For instance, we know she must learn how to live in this new world. Heaven knows, I would! Show me HOW she must do it; give an example, a detail that blows my mind.

Love the phrases ‘fallen kingdom’, revenge, ‘dark king’. Love those images.

Use the format I illustrated in Tara’s query critique, the complicating incident, (But when), the quest and how the villain or antag affects her goal. Keep the nouns and verbs simple. Example: “A dark king seeks revenge for (complicating incident) and Sloan fights (complicating incident).”

Tara Tyler said...

thanks for the input!
fyi, i did do some research to make the laser transportation plausible =)
and the Creator is in the dark about the problem, the company w/help from fbi is covering it up. do you think i should add any of that info?

misty, i like the story as i see it so far. i also agree with a condensing some of the wording. nice job!

Misty Waters said...

Awesome advice guys! Thanks so much:)

Misty Provencher said...

I was really intrigued when you mentioned the revenge of the dark king too. I think all the suggestions will make the queries even stronger.