1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Query revamp

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by doggiedude, May 3, 2016.

    So here's another try at this. The last paragraph I'm still not sure even belongs in a query but I hope this is an improvement over the last try.
    -- revamped again in post 11 --



    Dear [agent name]


    I am seeking representation for Sleeper Earth, a 114,000 word science fiction novel set a thousand years in the future.


    Senator William Davies is chosen to lead a projected fifteen-year government project to store two billion people in cryostasis before the Earth’s environment collapses. After millennia of being ravished by man, the Earth has become polluted and unstable. Unless the power hungry Senator can get a significant portion of the population off the planet before the end, there will be no future for humanity.


    The Sleeper Earth project is a massive government undertaking supported by the companies that will profit the most. The opposition comes from religious groups who consider cryostasis as blasphemy, terrorist groups who feel underrepresented, and a starving population upset over wasted resources and the possibility of a eugenics agenda. Senator Davies climbs to the Presidency of Earth during a time of great change.


    During the years of the project, William Davies is bombed by terrorists, betrayed by his aide, and escapes the Capital as it collapses under an earthquake. By the end of the world, he only succeeds in getting a portion of his population to safety where they spend the next several millennia waiting for the Earth to heal. When he wakes to the new world he is weary of power games. William gladly steps down and gives away a chance at being an Emperor.


    The story shows not only the privileged life of Senator Davies and his future wife but also the lives of several characters affected by the World Government. Jalil Attar is a disillusioned teenage Turkish terrorist who doesn’t have the stomach for killing. After being convinced to kill, he seeks to turn his life around by helping some of the thousands of children living on the street in his home city. Luis Cardozo and his daughter have escaped from the flooding of Brazil to find themselves in a North America that has had enough of South American refugees. Both father and daughter have a genetic disease that affects the way other people treat them. Enedia Cardozo grows up in a world with a father that’s more concerned with saving his career than caring for his family. She becomes increasingly isolated from and disdainful toward a society that rejects her.


    Please find below [Your submission requirement]


    Sincerely,
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Roughly how much of your book does this query cover? Like, how many words is it before they come back to Earth?

    I'm wondering if this is really the meat of your story, or if the novel really begins when they return.
     
  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Nah. They return in the last 40 pages or so. That's when the reader get's the big twist ending. :twisted:
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Aha. In that case I think you're probably covering too much ground, and you might be better off choosing one high-tension moment to be the "star" of your query. At the moment it reads more like a synopsis; a straightforward chronological sequence of events explained in unemotive language. It's informative but not enticing.

    All good. *thumbs up*

    It gives me an immediate idea of your plot, which is very good--a lot of queries don't do that.

    I'm a bit confused about Senator Davies though. If you take out "power hungry" he sounds very altruistic. When you add it in he sounds like a mixture of altruistic and self-serving. In the novel, what's his main motivation for taking this project on?

    This is VERY synopsis-y and I'm confused about who the antagonist is. You can have more than one (and sounds like you do) but for a query you're better off picking one as the star antagonist. In this climate I feel like the terrorist groups are the most interesting antagonists, but I'm just shooting in the dark.

    A query shouldn't really cover years (or if it does, you should make it sound like it's a shorter time frame). It takes away the immediacy. When I read "during the years of the project" I think "oh, so all the stuff I just read was backstory?" and backstory doesn't belong in a query. Not more than a sentence anyway.

    Your MC "gladly" making a choice is a damp squib to end the query on. It should leave me with a question, one that I'm burning to find out the answer to.

    I agree with you: this doesn't belong in a query. It's too many names, too many storylines. Generally a query should name the MC, the antagonist, and maybe a sidekick or love interest. More than three characters and you're in trouble.

    If you really want to you could end with "Sleeper Earth is told from four points of view including Senator Davies', a pacifist terrorist's, and two displaced migrants." or something like that.
     
  5. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    The whole power hungry thing is part of the storyline that I'm not really sure how to explain in a short query.
    He begins power hungry but that doesn't make him bad at his job. He really is honest about the project being needed. That doesn't stop him from wanting to be on the top of the food chain.
    Over the course of the story, he realizes initially that if he does end up on the other side, a few thousand years in the future then (1) what's the point in gathering money and power in his present time. (2) He's got a chance at being a king or emperor when they return.

    By the end when he does make it through, he just spent two decades gathering power and watching his world collapse. He's sick of being the one everyone looks to for leadership and he walks away from it all.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I totally get it. Summarising 114,000 words in 250 is a frickin' nightmare.

    That's why we have to go easy on ourselves and simplify things, even if it doesn't exactly represent the full story. If I were you I'd start by listing:

    - The MC's motivation (one main motivation, even if he's much more multi-faceted in the book)
    - What the MC wants
    - The antagonist and his/her/their motivation
    - What the antagonist wants
    - Why the MC and antagonist's goals are incompatible
    - What the MC does to thwart the antagonist
    - A question or choice the MC has to make

    Then jazz that up into a query.
     
  7. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    This is better than your last one. It still needs work, though.

    I'm with Tenderizer. It gives me an idea of what happens in the book, but does so without sharing any energy that is inherent in the story. Try to capture the essence of the book, the thing that is going to keep us turning pages until the end, the thing that will make us stay up too late when we have to go to work the next morning. Take this thing and put it in your query.

    One of the biggest issues is that I felt no emotional connection to Senator Davies. I kind of don't like him because you describe him as power hungry. It makes me wonder if he is part of "the problem."

    I also didn't see a climax in the query. There were events, yes, but they all seemed to be on equal footing. There did not seem to be a build-up to a deciding event that could potentially spell doom for Davies.
     
  8. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Every time I try to inject emotion into the query, it starts to sound like a movie trailer.
    Senator Davies is in a world destined to die!! The population is out of control, the planet's tectonic plates are unstable, entire countries are smashed away. Billions have already died, who will be saved?
    Can Senator Davies find love in this mad world as he navigates political treachery?
    Will any of them survive?
    Why is the pasta green?
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I actually like that a lot, minus the exclamation marks :p

    I like that too.
     
  10. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    "Senator Davies is in a world destined to die."

    Agree with tenderizer. Minus the exclamation, I think you might have a very good opener to your query. It is inflammatory and intriguing. The human mind loves death and destruction. I would make that my opener unless you come up with something better.


    But emotion can also be conveyed by showing what personal problems Sen. Davies has that we can all relate too. You mentioned something about finding love. That's good. Does he have a wife/girlfriend who he is trying to save? Does he have children? Not everyone can wrap their mind around the demise of our species, but we all have loved ones we care about deeply. That is the emotion you want to leverage. Make them relate. I have children. If I were in a world destined to die, I would feel very strongly about trying to guarantee a future for them. If Davies is in the same situation, I could relate to that. An emotional connection has been made.
     
  11. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Another rewrite


    I am seeking representation for Sleeper Earth, a 114,000 word science fiction novel set a thousand years in the future.


    In a world destined to die, Senator William Davies is chosen to lead a fifteen-year government project to save humanity. After millennia of being ravished by man, the Earth has become polluted and unstable. The Senator unites the world governments and the large corporations of the world and leads them in an insane plan to cryogenically store two billion people in space before the Earth’s erratic environment kills them all.


    The population is out of control, the planet’s tectonic plates are unstable, entire countries are smashed away, and still not everyone on the planet agrees with the plan. Terrorist have taken action against the World Government believing their people will not be part of the saved. They continually attack the government and the businesses that support Sleeper Earth.


    In the closing years of the project William is forced into sending his wife and child off to space while remaining behind to finish the job. Will he make it out in the end? Will anyone survive?


    Sleeper Earth is written from several points of view showing the last years of human civilization. From the rich and powerful to the disaffected and downtrodden. A teenager convinced to become a terrorist even though he doesn’t want to kill and a refugee family seeking a place for themselves. This is where I run out of steam and have no clue how to wrap it up.



    Please find below [Your submission requirement]
     
  12. Dearest Mothership
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    Dearest Mothership Member

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    It's certainly an improvement over the last one. It's succinct and makes the novel sound like something I'd actually read.
     
  13. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Geez, I think that's the most encouraging thing I've heard since I started this thing. (From a stranger anyway.)
    Thanks

    I keep envisioning myself standing outside a Walmart running up to people... Pssst... Hey buddy, wanna buy a book.
     
  14. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Yeah. You are really getting there. This one is much better. If there is a climactic scene in the book, you should also say something about it. Put it right at the end instead of the will he survive questions.
     
  15. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    The big climactic twist at the end is a scene from another character's POV. While the character is definitely a secondary one( his story has been told throughout the book) I don't see a reason to add another sub-plot to the query. The best I can do would be something like:
    When they wake to return to Earth 4500 years later they don't find what they expected.
     
  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    MUCH better! I think the first three paragraphs are pretty much there.

    The fourth is the one I'd work on:

    In the closing years of the project William is forced into sending his wife and child off to space while remaining behind to finish the job. Will he make it out in the end? Will anyone survive?

    "Will he live or die" is the final question of SO many queries that it doesn't pack any kind of punch anymore. The more interesting question, for me, is if he will be reunited with his wife and kid. Everyone can relate to being apart from the people they love, but we can't relate to wondering if we'll be exterminated along with the rest of the planet unless we can make it onto a spaceship.

    As for wrapping it up:

    Sleeper Earth is written from several points of view, including a teenager convinced to become a terrorist even though he doesn’t want to kill and a refugee family seeking a place for themselves.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Please find below...
     
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  17. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Changes to paragraph 4

    In the closing years of the project, William is forced into sending his wife and child off to space while remaining behind to finish the job never knowing their fate. If he ever makes it into cryostasis will they all survive to see the other side of time or even be able to reunite with each other? Will they return to a stable planet that has wiped out all of humanity or something else?
     

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