1. Benjones93
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    Benjones93 New Member

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    EUREKA! YA SF, Query Help

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Benjones93, Dec 11, 2015.

    Here's a query I've written for my recent novel Eureka! Be as brutally honest, and critical as possible. I promise I can take it.



    Walter is falling for the elusive campus celebrity Eureka Green, and it may cost him his life for doing so. What started as a ‘friend of a friend’ acquaintance has escalated into a partnership that involves hurdling across the stars rather than a typical kind of romance. He’s obsessed with her, and she’s obsessed with the loose rumour that her deceased father is still alive. It’s a rumour she’s willing to follow even if it will risk both of their lives.

    Walter had never expected any of this when he first left his home, to attend school at the renowned Wira University. Then again he never expected to meet someone the likes of Eureka Green either. From the penthouse of a sunken hotel by the sea, the two of them whisk off to faraway places by use of her miracle glass Anchor Box. Even against the warnings of the other star travelling Jockeys, Eureka takes Walter to the edges of known space following blind rumour.

    However, when the blind rumours lead to dead ends, Eureka gets desperate. Very quickly, Walter finds himself caught in a wild ghost chase surrounding the fastest ship ever built, a star skipping gambler, and an all knowing alien dish. Walter has a choice: follow the mad Eureka Green, or sum up the strength to tell her no.

    EUERKA! Is a 97,000 word YA Science Fiction novel set in the not so distant future where international corporations have more power than nations, and rising seas have swept away a more optimistic past. It is my debut novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
  2. Sentient94
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    Sentient94 New Member

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    -'Walter had never expected any of this when he first left his home, to attend school at the renowned Wira University. Then again he never expected to meet someone the likes of Eureka Green either.'

    I think this is too similar to the first paragraph. I feel like I'm being reintroduced to Eureka, having just read a paragraph about their relationship, we're going back to an introductory description.

    -'From the penthouse of a sunken hotel by the sea, the two of them whisk off to faraway places by use of her miracle glass Anchor Box. Even against the warnings of the other star travelling Jockeys, Eureka takes Walter to the edges of known space following blind rumour.'

    Good progression into description here. I guess if I had anything to say I would suggest maybe making the entire thing a little shorter and snappier, though this is, of course, personal preference.

    'However, when the blind rumours lead to dead ends, Eureka gets desperate. Very quickly, Walter finds himself caught in a wild ghost chase surrounding the fastest ship ever built, a star skipping gambler, and an all knowing alien dish. Walter has a choice: follow the mad Eureka Green, or sum up the strength to tell her no.'

    My favourite bit, I just wish we'd got there a little sooner, as I feel the real excitement happens here.

    '97,000 word YA Science Fiction'

    Sadly I've been told that the real average is around 80,000. If there is any way to get the novel down, it may work to your advantage, especially as a debut novel. I've also written a debut YA Science Fiction, originally at over 100,000 words, until I was told this information. I gave it another look through and to be honest, there was a lot that could be axed and it's made the book a lot cleaner. Something to think about but of course, I have not read the novel! So yours might work perfectly.

    Don't forget to add a little bit about yourself.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    General view:

    I think that your feeling is that you're including plot twists and turns, but as I read it, the plot summary more or less says the same thing over and over: Walter and Eureka follow rumours around. I think that you need to find the core of some of the events and make the multiple restatements of that fact different from one another.

    Also, I feel that you're using unnecessarily complex sentences. I'm not saying they're too complex, just unnecesarily complex. Every bit of complexity should earn its keep--it should be necessary.

    For example, the sample sentences below have unnecessary complexity. I realize that you never go to the level of baroque over-complexity as my later examples, but I wanted to go to extremes:

    The cat was fat, and, in addition, it was fluffy.
    The cat was fat, and, in addition, it could be seen as fluffy.
    The cat was fat, and, in addition, the average person might see it as fluffy.
    The cat was fat, and, in addition, the average person, taking a long close look, might regard it as fluffy.
    The feline house-dwelling creature was rather rounder than the average member of its species, and, in addition, as a secondary characteristic, the average person, taking a long close look, and taking a moment to consider it against other house pets, might regard it as fluffy.


    I would communicate just as much with the much simpler:

    The cat was fat and fluffy.

    > Walter is falling for the elusive campus celebrity Eureka Green, and it may cost him his life for doing so.

    I don't have the terminology to describe the grammatical errors in the above, but they are present. The following is a corrected version. I'm not suggesting it, just saying that the grammar errors are fixed:

    Walter is falling for the elusive campus celebrity Eureka Green, and doing so may cost him his life.

    But it's still unnecessarily complex. "...it..." and "...doing so..." in your original version seem to be reaching desperately for a specific noun. The below uses "friendship" for that noun. I'd use "obsession" but you use that later in a way that's harder to change.

    Walter's friendship with the elusive campus celebrity Eureka Green may cost him his life.

    I'm also unsure about "elusive campus celebrity". Do we need all of those details? The sentence would IMO have much more impact with maximum simplicity:

    Walter's friendship with Eureka Green may cost him his life.

    Much more interesting--again, IMO.

    > What started as a ‘friend of a
    > friend’ acquaintance has escalated into a partnership that involves
    > hurdling across the stars rather than a typical kind of romance.

    This is the second sentence that has unnecessary complexity. "...rather than a typical..." breaks the flow and energy of the sentence without adding any real meaning. I would just cut it.

    I feel the desire to trim the rest down just a bit, but I'm less certain about that, and I'm trying not to actually rewrite stuff.

    Also, "hurtling" rather than "hurdling."

    > He’s
    > obsessed with her, and she’s obsessed with the loose rumour that her
    > deceased father is still alive. It’s a rumour she’s willing to follow
    > even if it will risk both of their lives.

    "loose" seems like a waste of space. Its meaning isn't clear, and if it's intended to communicate uncertainty, "rumour" communicates uncertainty already, so it's redundant.

    "Willing" seems pretty weak for what sounds like a determination.

    You already said "rumour" a few words ago, so "It's a rumour..." feels redundant. In fact, do we care that it's a rumour? Another example of a drastically simplified sentence:

    He's obsessed with her, and she's obsessed with finding her father--even if the quest risks both of their lives.

    > Walter had never expected any of this when he first left his home, to
    > attend school at the renowned Wira University.

    This feels like unnecessary detail. Do we care that the university is renowned? Do we care about its name? How important is the University to the story? Leaving one's home and parents to go to school is an improtant life stage for many people, and all this detail is draining much of that emotional impact.

    > Then again he never
    > expected to meet someone the likes of Eureka Green either.

    What is "the likes of" giving you that's better than the simpler "like"? It does have a little bit more flavor; is it worth it? I'm not sure.

    > From the penthouse of a sunken hotel by the sea,

    Is the above important?

    > the two of them whisk off to faraway places by use of her miracle glass Anchor Box.

    Something about the above doesn't work for me. I realize that my saying that without explanation is not the least bit helpful. Maybe it's that the "sunken hotel" feels like it's intended to be just as important as the magic thing, and thus the magic thing is being made prosaic? Similarly, "miracle" and "glass" seem to be given the same level of importance.

    Also, the whole sentence seems redundant with the next sentence. The only unique information is the Anchor Box.

    > Even against
    > the warnings of the other star travelling Jockeys, Eureka takes Walter
    > to the edges of known space following blind rumour.

    We already heard about the rumour twice, and we're going to hear about it a fourth time below. Too much rumour.

    "Even" weakens the sentence, without adding meaning. "Other" implies knowledge that we don't have. "travelling" seems redundant, because travel has been implied all along.

    Jockey being capitalized has the potential to look like an error. People use the word in casual phrases--"cycle jockey", "car jockey", etc. Do you mean to coin a similar phrase, "star jockey"--or is there an actual organization called the Jockeys that would be capitalized?

    Combining all these:

    Against the warnings of experienced star jockeys, Eureka takes Walter to the edges of known space following blind rumour.

    > However, when the blind rumours lead to dead ends, Eureka gets
    > desperate.
    > Very quickly, Walter finds himself caught in a wild ghost
    > chase surrounding the fastest ship ever built, a star skipping
    > gambler, and an all knowing alien dish.

    "alien dish"? Like, sentient Chicken a la King?

    > Walter has a choice: follow
    > the mad Eureka Green, or sum up the strength to tell her no.

    This all feels rather redundant. I know that each sentence probably reflects transitions in the story that are important to you, but to me the last several sentences read like:

    Eureka followd a rumour and went somewhere, bringing Walter.
    Also, Eureka followd a rumour and went somewhere, bringing Walter.
    It didn't go so well. Eureka kept following rumors and going places, bringing Walter.
    Eureka and Walter kept following rumors and going places. There were exciting things involved.
    Water has to decide whether to keep following Eureka, who's following rumors and going places.

    > EUERKA! Is a 97,000 word YA Science Fiction novel set in the not so
    > distant future where international corporations have more power than
    > nations, and rising seas have swept away a more optimistic past.

    Your plot summary doesn't touch on the corporations or the seas.

    > It is my debut novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    It sounds like it could be interesting, but I don't feel that your query is communicating that.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with ChickenFreak - this needs some smoothing, and closer attention to the details of the sentences. Simplification would be good.
     
  5. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    The fluffy fat cat grabbed his hat and said "That is that." Nice job ChickenFreak, that was excellent critiquing.
     
  6. Benjones93
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    Benjones93 New Member

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    Thank you Chickenfreak. That is definitely an eye-opening critique. I'll work on it, and repost the fixed version.
     
  7. Herro Raymond
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    Herro Raymond Member

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    It's good, I think it's just missing that opening hook that you can really sink your teeth into. It feels like you skipped it and went straight into the summary.
     

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