Wednesday, June 1, 2016

QK Round 1: Don't Eat Me! vs. Berserk Zombie

Title: Sanctuary
Entry Nickname: Don’t Eat Me!
Word count: 80,000
Genre: YA SF


Query:
Seventeen year old Kenzie Cord has never doubted her future as an elite guard on Sanctuary, an orbital prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. When the prisoners take her hostage, she’s confident her commanding officer -- who also happens to be her mother -- will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.

But Kenzie’s mother chooses regulations over her daughter, leaving Kenzie to engineer her own escape -- easier said than done when surrounded by mind readers, invisible vigilantes, and infuriatingly charismatic thieves who run at the speed of sound. Reluctantly, she begins to empathize with her captors’ desperation for freedom, wondering whether the real criminals aren’t the people imprisoning children in a soulless, AI-controlled wasteland.

But then monstrous alien creatures tear through Sanctuary, determined to harvest the entire station. With Kenzie’s survival tied to the prisoners’, she discovers there is more to her past than she ever dreamed, and more to the alien invasion than she initially suspected. Her worldview in tatters, she’s torn between the future she’s always imagined and the increasingly complex moral web she’s weaving -- a choice that might land her in prison herself.

Of course, that decision won’t matter if the space monsters eat her first.


250 Words:
At the shrill of the alarm, I shot straight up in bed, smashing my head against the overhang. My tiny, capsule sized room lurched, bursts of red illuminating the posters on the wall, the tangle of gray blankets around my knees. The dizziness faded -- the alarms didn’t.

I leaped to my feet, jamming my feet into my boots. The lights came up, revealing I had them on the wrong feet. Swearing, I swapped them and tugged at the laces.

“Kenzie!” Dad’s voice boomed outside the door.

“Coming!” I shouted. I took a second to scrape my curls out of my face and into a ponytail before I slid the door aside.

Dad waited, looking like he’d never even gone to sleep. He frowned at the reflective surface of the comm device embedded in his wrist. “I know!” I said, barreling past him.

The alarm was loud enough to wake the dead, ridiculous since only five guards lived on the entire station -- and of course, I made six. I ran down the deserted corridors with Dad on my heels. We shot through the living quarters into the larger area of the station, housing medical supplies, airlocks, a common room, and of course the command center.

The latter was where we found Mom, hands clasped behind her back, not a hair out of place. Guiltily, I smoothed my hand over my own unruly ponytail. “About time,” she said crisply. “Kenzie, pull up the video feed on the prison.”

VERSUS
Title: Lux and Lies
Entry NicknameBerserk Zombie
Word count: 75k
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Query: 

In 2072, a pharmaceutical company, VidaCorp, has discovered emotions cause disease and shorter life spans in humans. For those who can afford VidaCorp’s emotion suppressant pill, reality television provides second-hand emotions without the risk of actually feeling them.

Unable to afford the drug, Wren Qof-12678.3 watches the shows to forget about the lung cancer ticking down her days until a routine police scan turns into a life-changing proposition. The reality star Sloane Lux has overdosed just weeks before the premier of an upcoming reality show. To protect their interests in the show, VidaCorp offers Wren a deal to replace Sloane in exchange for the drugs to save her life at the season’s end.

Wren can’t resist the thought of a future full of hopeful tomorrows. She begins the agonizing physical alterations that turn her into the perfect replica of Sloane—at a cost. Wren enters a new world, marked by a dissociative disorder, with only her quick thinking to aid her. On the first night of filming, she learns a social anarchist group called the Whitebirds has infiltrated the cast and crew with the sole mission of destroying VidaCorp. 

To survive, Wren must uncover the anarchists while avoiding their increasingly dangerous acts and navigating the fame-hungry cast members. During filming, she discovers the Whitebirds’ leader is her closest ally on the show. But when Wren learns VidaCorp has been illegally dumping emotion suppressants into the water supply for years, she must decide whether to betray her new friend or join his fight against VidaCorp and the very drug she needs to save her life.

First 250:

Wren Qof-12678.3 concentrated as she drew the white perpendicular lines on the purpled skin of her bruised cheek. She held the marker steady in her hand, breath bucking against the cancer-pocked walls of her lungs, and focused solely on her reflection in the mirror. Her residence mark had to be perfect or the Links would stop her more often than they already did, and she couldn’t afford anymore docked quotas because of tardiness to work. 

Her father’s alarm blared through the paper-thin walls of their government-issued apartment. The marker skidded across her skin, ruining her tedious work. 

With her heart in the back of her throat, she stood frozen in front of the mirror. Her wide eyes caught on the yellowing bruises along her shoulder and neck mingling into the newer, fresher marks along her jaw. Marks she hadn’t drawn on.

The alarm cut off with a bang, and Wren easily—too easily—imagined his fist crashing against it. The bed creaked when he rolled over, adjusting into a more comfortable position. A moment later, his snores picked back up, like the sputtering start of a car before the Third World War Peace Act had put a sky-high quota on gasoline.

Breathing out a shallow, halting sigh of relief that sounded more like a wheeze, Wren turned back to her reflection.

22 comments:

  1. Judges, reply here with your votes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don’t Eat Me: Wow, you do an amazing job setting up your character’s world in your query, and establishing the stakes in the story!

      Alright, I’m just going to step aside here and wait for this appear on the shelves. I’ve got nothing constructive to suggest, I just want to read more!

      Berserk Zombie: I haven’t checked the word count, but I wonder if your query, while already tight, is too long. I’d try and trim things down, see if you can’t streamline the plot just a little.

      It took me some time to figure the “he” in the final paragraph was her father, because of this it took even longer for the full impact of this opening to resonate. Fix that part and this will really pop!

      Victory to Don’t Eat Me!

      Delete
    2. Bernadine HarrisJune 1, 2016 at 5:59 PM

      Ooh, our first Sci-Fi and YA entries! Yay. These are both super creative ideas and I think you both do a great job of explaining complicated worlds. They both reminded me of some of my favorite Sci-fi books/movies.

      Don’t Eat Me!

      I honestly don’t have a lot to say. Like seriously. It was at the point where I was nitpicking word choice. My biggest qualm is that you tend to use the same words a lot, especially in close vicinity. For example, you use the word “feet” three times in two sentences. I’d go through and see about varying your word choice a bit. Like I said, I’m nitpicking here but it’s your own damn fault since this is so good.

      Berserk Zombie

      You do an amazing job of creating this world. The idea that they must reality tv to feel second hand emotions is just awesome. I immediately felt for Wren in these opening pages. I did have a big bump though. Why must Vidacorp be destroyed? I get that they are making money on suppressing people’s emotions. But I need to understand the stakes more. So Vidacorp is suppressing people’s emotion and illegally dumping emotion suppressants into the water supply. That is weird and definitely not an ideal situation but it isn’t really on the level of say if she if she discovers that the suppressants are actually killing people instead of saving them as promised. Or they are slowly turning people basically into zombies. I need to have the stakes amped up a bit more in the query so it feels more life or death, versus just relying on the “they must be destroyed because they are a big bad corporation” trope. Hopefully, it’s in the pages and just needs to be added to the query itself.

      Another tough choice because these are both so clever but…

      VICTORY: Don’t Eat Me!

      Delete
    3. Superpowered teenagers, alien invasions and space monsters out to eat everybody? Futuristic evil pharma companies that use reality TV to turn humanity into zombies? Seriously you guys, how can I even judge this? This is all so epic. But I did sign up to be a judge, so here we go.

      Don’t Eat Me!
      I thought the query here was very solid. I especially loved the last line. On the 250, we’re immediately placed in an active scene that grabbed me and made me want to keep reading. I would agree with Bernadine, however, that there were some repetitive word choices, especially feet and alarm, for such a short selection. That being said though, it’s an issue that wouldn’t deter me from reading on.

      Berserk Zombie
      I really love the concept here. The evil pharmaceutical company and reality TV show aspects had me completely hooked. I would again agree with Bernadine that the issue of the drugs in the water supply is confusing – especially because in the beginning of the query it’s established that emotional suppressants are available only to the rich. But if that’s the case, why would the drug company dump the same stuff into the water for free? I loved the 250! It breezed by but was remarkably affective at establishing the fear/domestic abuse being felt by Wren. I, too, wondered if the Qof-12678.3 was the best detail to put in the very first line of the book. And I agree that reminding the reader that it’s the father snoring in paragraph four would heighten the tension even more.

      This was really, really hard, but for me the winner is Berserk Zombie.

      Delete
    4. Don't Eat Me!

      Very solid query! Concept reminds me of The 100 but with more layers. I'd definitely want to read more. Query flows well, and we see a lot of the world building already. My only comment would be that I'm not sure you need the last line. "Space monsters" kind of threw me out of the serious tone, and I think the stakes are pretty clear from the prior paragraphs. Strong First 250 as well, though I was surprised by (1) Dad, who is not mentioned in the query (might there be a scene with Mom that's a better starting point?), and (2) there are only five guards? From the query, I had the sense it was a much bigger prison station.

      Berserk Zombie

      Cool concept, and the First 250 are full of voice and the MC's dire circumstances, but I thought the query got bogged down in too much detail. Consider combining paragraphs 2 and 3, and if Sloan is just a tangential figure (no direct interaction), you could just refer to her as a celebrity look-a-like.

      Victory to Don't Eat Me!

      Delete
    5. DON’T EAT ME!

      This is really good. The query does its job. My only suggestion is perhaps explain why she starts siding with her captors. You say reluctantly, but maybe include a reason she comes around. They turn out to be more like her, more normal, than she was led to believe? It’s a great place to add some voice. “She discovers they eat ice cream, hate pony tails, like X, and are not the villainous monsters she was led to believe.” (But, better.) Just a tinge of the basis for her reversal.

      The 250 reads well. I kind of did an eye roll at starting with waking up—it’s a big no-no. I know yours is different in that you’re slowly introducing her world, but still wonder if there’d be a better way to rework it to avoid such a taboo open.

      BESERK ZOMBIE:

      Neat concept! For the query, I got tripped up because the first paragraph talks about the drug in relation to emotions, but the second paragraph says Wren can’t afford the drug and has cancer. Well, the drug wouldn’t do anything for her cancer, right? The rest gets a little synopsis-y. I’m wondering if there’s a way to make it more concise. Maybe condense the first couple paragraphs into one? And the paragraph that starts, “Wren can’t resist” can probably be cut a little too. I get with sci-fi you need to introduce the world, but this almost sacrifices Wren and her personality for more world. I’d look for ways to make the MC leap off the page a bit more.

      For the 250, you introduce several foreign concepts in the first paragraph: her weird name/number, perpendicular lines, residence mark, Links, and docked quotas. That’s a lot going on. I think spacing those out will avoid information overload.

      This was a tough one too. Battle of Sci-Fi!!! One drew me in a bit more . . .

      VICTORY TO DON’T EAT ME!

      Delete
  2. Please Don't Eat Me!:

    This query does just about everything right. We know who the character is, what her life is like BEFORE the inciting incident, what happens to change that, and (to some degree, more later) what the stakes are. You've got a mother's betrayal, hinting at an interesting family dynamic (and it's always nice to see YA where the parents play an important role), and the sentence beginning "Reluctantly, she begins to empathize..." introduces theme without shouting HEY THIS IS THE THEME.

    The biggest weak point in the query for me is the third paragraph. This is where you start to get vague, hinting at a mysterious past and stating that the conflict is between Kenzie's future and her moral web... which don't make immediate sense to me as things that would be in conflict. I know you don't want to give away ALL of your secrets here, but I'd like a little better idea of what the specific stakes BEYOND life and death are at this point. I love the last line, and having those space monsters there does provide SOME stakes... but I'd love to see the moral and emotional stakes as well.

    As far as the first 250... this is a waking-up scene, but since your character is waking up to an alarm, it doesn't seem like a big stereotypical no-no to me. There is obviously something HAPPENING here, and the pace takes off running in a good way. The only thing that feels a little missing here is that first emotional connection with the character. What does she think the alarm means? Is she panicking because she thinks she is in legitimate danger, or because she's worried that her mother will be upset if she's not fast enough? I want a little more insight into what she's thinking or feeling, to really up that sense of urgency--and, again, stakes--from the beginning.

    (Attempting to continue this in a different post, because it's still not working.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ***

      Berzerk Zombie:

      I love the concept here. The idea of emotion suppressors in a dystopian society and reality TV that's more real than it seems... those are tropes, yes, but they're tropes that I personally like and that I think readers continue to be drawn to. The idea of the main character needing to participate in the show to save her own life is a great twist, and the idea of her having to physically take Sloane's place is creepy and awesome!

      This query does raise a few red flags for me, though, and since a few of those come at the beginning, they may give an agent pause. First, it's usually a good idea to open with the CHARACTER. The world is important, but the character is going to be your reader's connection with the story, and I would recommend you open with Wren, not the pharmaceutical company and reality TV. Next, her name being a long string of numbers kind of makes my eyes glaze over. Even as someone who does read a lot of SF, unpronounceable or too-long names can put me off trying a book, and I've seen SF agents tweet similar things. In the book itself, there's probably a great explanation for that... but here, I would just call her Wren.

      The first 250... you're opening with a very dire image here, which I like. There is quite clearly a situation that this character MUST get out of, both health-wise and in terms of general living conditions. So stakes are here, and there's a basic human tendency, I think, to immediately feel for this character to at least some degree.

      However, there are LOTS of adjectives in this sample. In the first sentence alone: white, perpendicular, purpled, bruised. Your very first WORD is that long name, and we have no idea what a residence mark or a Link is, yet those seem to be the source of half of your narrative tension here. I can assume that a Link is a law enforcement officer, but what a residence mark is, and why the character would be drawing it on herself... Without really knowing that, it’s hard to feel worried or scared on her behalf about it. There are a lot of good images here, and I’m interested to see where the plot goes, but I’m not getting a very good idea of what the character’s *immediate* goal/stakes are in this scene.

      ***

      VICTORY TO... PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!

      Delete
  3. Hi guys!

    Don't eat me: I honestly don't have much to comment on your entry except 'do you need a CP? PLEASE E-MAIL ME!!!' HAHAHA. The query and stakes are very clear, and the pages match. I wouldn't start with a character waking up since it's very cliché, but the rest is good.

    Berserk Zombie: Your entry is ALSO amazing. Query is perfect, stakes are clear, gave me serious vibes reminding me of Delirium meets Airhead by Meg Cabot, but DARKER).I wish there was more action and dialogue in the first 250, but that's about it.

    The judges are going to have a hard time with these entries, and I really like them both. If you guys ever need CP beta readers PLEASE let me know *winks*

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, I love both of these SO MUCH. I'm a huge YA sci-fi fan, and I would buy both of these books in a heartbeat! I do NOT envy the judges here!

    Don't Eat Me!: Your query is so fantastic! The first two paragraphs especially are really unique and pull me in right away. The third paragraph, however, starts to get just a tiny bit vague - "more to her past than she ever dreamed," "more to the invasion than she initially expected," "torn between the future she's always imagined." If there's a way to be more specific in these phrases without giving away too much, I would definitely try! Your first 250 pulled me in right away, and I love the immediate delicious tension! Well done!

    Berserk Zombie: Yes. Yes. Yes to all of this. I would read this tonight if I could! Such an intriguing idea. The one thing in your query that confused me was the line "Wren enters a new world, marked by a dissociative disorder" - is Wren marked by a dissociative disorder, or the new world? And how can someone (or something) be marked by a disorder? Maybe I'm just dense, but this is going completely over my head! Other than that, amazing query. The stakes are so clear and compelling - a choice between her own health/life and doing the ethically right thing is about as high stakes as it gets! Love your first 250 as well, no comments there other than I desperately want to keep reading!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is going to be a hard one for the judges!

    Don’t Eat Me!: I absolutely loved your query and your first 250 and I wish I could read this right now! Starting two paragraphs in a row with 'But' was the main thing that caught my eye, otherwise the voice in the query and the first 250 is great and I want to keep reading. Great work!

    Berserk Zombie: This is some really strong writing here! I just had one quick question about how or why this big corporation would choose the protagonist? Maybe its just luck, or maybe its not...but it left me wondering why her? The style of the query and the 250 are very nicely matched. Well done!

    Good luck to both of you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Don’t Eat Me

    Great query. I get a good feel for the book, and it pulls me in.
    I stalled at the "infuriatingly charismatic thieves". Is one of them a love interest?

    I might offer more concrete info in the last paragraph: "past than she ever dreamed, and more to the alien invasion than she initially suspected. Her worldview in tatters, she’s torn between the future she’s always imagined." It is quite general, which leaves the reader in suspense, I know. But using that generality four times in a row in one paragraph makes me feel I want to be rooted in the story more. It’s so subjective. I don’t want much more -- that’s best left to the book. Just a bit.

    250:

    I like the first paragraph. Already, I’m rooting for her because she is as clumsy as I am. You have a natural and clear writing style. Having the mother abandon her daughter is a nice touch. It adds another dimension to the protagonist's problems.
    The second paragraph has the word feet in it twice in a row. It pulls the reader out of the story. This short paragraph might be smoother.

    You have three exclamation marks on the first page. You don’t need to use them; they are redundant in a sentence such as: “Coming!” I shouted.

    Great job on your query and 250.

    Berserk Zombies:

    I got a great sense of the world. The idea that emotions cause disease, and everyone needs to take a pill to suppress them, is very interesting. Don't we all wish we could take this medication? You've made us feel we're there, with her. I don’t know if you need the complicated character name in the query. It interrupts the flow.

    Also, I wanted to know why the corporation is dumping illegal drugs in the water for years. They are selling the medication -- so is the population addicted to it?

    There’s a lot of detail in the query. It reads a little like a synopsis, and I had to read it twice. Overall, very well done.

    250:

    The writing style pulls you in. You’ve created a dark world. I felt as though I were in the apartment with her, and I got a sense of what her life must be like. But I didn’t understand why she was using a marker on her skin. What caused the fresh marks across her jaw? I wondered if they were from the illness or if someone hit her.
    Great job on the 250.

    Best of luck to both kombatants. You are very talented writers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with others. Your excellent entries will make it hard for the judges:)

    Don't Eat Me sets up the "new" world from the get go. You introduce action and tension right away, which draws the reader in to the scene. If you change the very beginning and start it after she has woken up, you avoid the "character wakes up" cliche. Query had lots of voice and makes the reader want to read the 250. Nice job.

    Beserk Zombie sets up an instant concern for and connection with Wren. The world is intriguing and you provide just enough for us to start to understand without getting bogged down in instant world building. Tightening the query will make it even more compelling. Good job:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. These are both such solid, intriguing concepts - it's a shame they are paired with each other, because they both deserve to go onto the next round! My criticisms are super minor and nitpicky

    Don't Eat Me: At first I was like uh-oh, a wake-up scene. But it works here, and provides a sense of urgency that I think gives the reader a taste for what life on Sanctuary is like.

    Beserk Zombies: I love evil pharmaceutical company plots! The beginning felt just SLIGHTLY heavy-handed. There are 3 direct references to the abuse in the first page, and it's stated in the first paragraphs that she has cancer. Sometimes less is more - a mention of the bruise, a flinch at the sound of her father stirring. A hint that her lungs are less-than-adequate. Again, this is nitpicky stuff! It works as it is, I would just be more intrigued to continue reading if it wasn't all laid out for me on page 1.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, these are both such great concepts! And the writing is really good, too. I don't envy the judges on this one.

    DON'T EAT ME

    Query: Very streamlined, which is great. I loved the last line, and I love that we get such a clear sense of the stakes as well as some personality from your MC. Great query overall.

    250: I like that this starts in a tense moment--it really serves to pull your reader in and want to know what's happening. Even though I've never been much for aliens or superpowers, your first page made me want to keep reading!

    BERSERK ZOMBIE

    Query: There's a lot going on here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing--I like all of the concepts you've introduced. However, I agree with what some of the other comments have said: if VidaCorp is already providing this emotional suppressant, presumably at a high cost, why would they also be dumping the medicine into the water supply? Since that seems to be the reason for the rebel group's revolt, this seems odd to me. I'm sure there are other reasons--maybe give one to ground the reader?

    250: I, too, was confused that the father was the one moving around on the bed. I think it's because you mention that it's so the father can find a comfortable position, but we can't know that for sure given that we're in Wren's POV. Some clarification here would be helpful. Otherwise, I really enjoyed your first page! I got drawn into the world.

    ReplyDelete
  11. These are both such solid, intriguing concepts - it's a shame they are paired with each other, because they both deserve to go onto the next round! My criticisms are super minor and nitpicky

    Don't Eat Me: At first I was like uh-oh, a wake-up scene. But it works here, and provides a sense of urgency that I think gives the reader a taste for what life on Sanctuary is like.

    Beserk Zombies: I love evil pharmaceutical company plots! The beginning felt just SLIGHTLY heavy-handed. There are 3 direct references to the abuse in the first page, and it's stated in the first paragraphs that she has cancer. Sometimes less is more - a mention of the bruise, a flinch at the sound of her father stirring. A hint that her lungs are less-than-adequate. Again, this is nitpicky stuff! It works as it is, I would just be more intrigued to continue reading if it wasn't all laid out for me on page 1.

    ReplyDelete
  12. DON'T EAT ME
    Query: Very strong. I think you successfully weave Kenzie’s fate with her captors and set it up beautifully for the attack. The last line is playful and works well to add a touch of humor and fun.

    250: In the “Dad waited” paragraph, I would move Kenzie’s “I know!” dialogue to a new paragraph. Watch word repetition (feet/feet). Otherwise, strong active opening!

    BERSERK ZOMBIES
    Query: I love the world building, and I think you get the reader into the Wren character well. I do think this is a long query, and it can be tightened. I know you’re trying to start things off with background, but you might weave in the MC somehow into that first paragraph, something like: “In 2072, a pharmaceutical company has discovered emotions cause disease and shorten life spans in humans, and it’s all Wren can think about.” — something like that. The query reads more like a synopsis, and there seem to be too much mentioned here from the book. It detracts from the main stakes you give with the last sentence. I would definitely trim up that last paragraph (up to the last sentence which is a good one to leave it on)

    250: You have some great imagery and details here. The mention of the father in the next room added some great tension. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  13. DON'T EAT ME:

    Your query is EXCELLENT. I haven't read every entry in the contest yet, but I think this is the best I've read so far! If you're getting turned down by agents, it's almost certainly not because of your query. As far as little critiques go, I would cut the Mom from the query and go straight from being a hostage to trying to escape. It's not so critical to the plot that we need to know it in the query version, even though it is interesting. Also, is there a particular infuriating thief? If so, say so! Make that singular. I got a potential love interest vibe? If that's the case, I could use a teensy bit more info on him/her, but there's no need to say much. :)

    Your first 250 are good but could use polishing. It's a great opening! Just watch your voice; it felt a little juvenile, like you haven't quite found your feet yet. Dad's voice booming, mentioning her hair so early on, all felt like a younger author and not someone who's been around the block as a writer. You're very close, though, so go read and polish and have courage, because I want to read this book and I expect it on the shelves one day!

    BERSERK ZOMBIES:

    I loved this concept! Wow! It's a very complex story with a lot going on, and it sounds like a has a lot to offer: action, intrigue, relationships. You have a wonderful plot here.

    For your query, I was very confused. If your emotions are GONE, how do you get them from a show? What are emotions if not felt? I'm not sure what that means, or how it works. Next question was, Why her? Why does SHE replace the star? That was unusual enough that it threw me to not have an explanation. Lastly, I found myself wondering why she'd want the drug. You did say it helped with disease (it was unclear that it cured cancer) but is her goal after everything to gain a drug that will take away her humanity?

    Your writing voice is lovely, and I was engaged. I would maybe pick a point later in the story to start the book, though. This feels like a "here I am starting my day" opening, and that's always something to shy away from. Excellent job! It's funny because I think your strongest skill must be plot/story, so don't be discouraged because we didn't get to bask in it's glory here!

    ReplyDelete
  14. DON'T EAT ME:

    Your query is EXCELLENT. I haven't read every entry in the contest yet, but I think this is the best I've read so far! If you're getting turned down by agents, it's almost certainly not because of your query. As far as little critiques go, I would cut the Mom from the query and go straight from being a hostage to trying to escape. It's not so critical to the plot that we need to know it in the query version, even though it is interesting. Also, is there a particular infuriating thief? If so, say so! Make that singular. I got a potential love interest vibe? If that's the case, I could use a teensy bit more info on him/her, but there's no need to say much. :)

    Your first 250 are good but could use polishing. It's a great opening! Just watch your voice; it felt a little juvenile, like you haven't quite found your feet yet. Dad's voice booming, mentioning her hair so early on, all felt like a younger author and not someone who's been around the block as a writer. You're very close, though, so go read and polish and have courage, because I want to read this book and I expect it on the shelves one day!

    BERSERK ZOMBIES:

    I loved this concept! Wow! It's a very complex story with a lot going on, and it sounds like a has a lot to offer: action, intrigue, relationships. You have a wonderful plot here.

    For your query, I was very confused. If your emotions are GONE, how do you get them from a show? What are emotions if not felt? I'm not sure what that means, or how it works. Next question was, Why her? Why does SHE replace the star? That was unusual enough that it threw me to not have an explanation. Lastly, I found myself wondering why she'd want the drug. You did say it helped with disease (it was unclear that it cured cancer) but is her goal after everything to gain a drug that will take away her humanity?

    Your writing voice is lovely, and I was engaged. I would maybe pick a point later in the story to start the book, though. This feels like a "here I am starting my day" opening, and that's always something to shy away from. Excellent job! It's funny because I think your strongest skill must be plot/story, so don't be discouraged because we didn't get to bask in it's glory here!

    ReplyDelete
  15. DON’T EAT ME

    Query: The query sets out all of the necessary elements nicely, the only part that confused me was the end where she might end up in prison. Isn’t the prison being eaten? So saving the prison would be a crime that would put her in it? That line threw me for a loop, but maybe it’s just me.

    250: You paint a very vivid picture with your words, so great job. You might want to watch out for duplicate words and overuse of exclamation points. Overall, good job.

    BERSERK ZOMBIE:

    QUERY: I love the idea of the pharmaceutical company running the reality tv show, but I don’t really understand the idea of second-hand emotions and how they play in here. Also, why would Wren care if they’re dumping the meds into the water. Wouldn’t that mean all she has to do is drink the water and she’ll be cured. I think if you clarify those parts, you’ll have a solid query.

    250: The only problem I had with this was a little confusion on when you were talking about the dad vs. Wren. I actually went back up into my comments above and changed all my “shes” to “hes” then had to change them back after I got through the paragraph. You might need to be a little clearer about who you’re talking about. Other than that, great job.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Don’t Eat Me!

    Well-written query describing an interesting take on Stockholm Syndrome. Why are the aliens "harvesting" the station? Do they eat them? Drink their blood? Or just do it for kicks? I do find the moral quandary Kenzie faces eminently interesting, especially given her former inmates were likely as not to shove her out an airlock.

    Love how the first 250 starts off. Although when I put *my* boots on the wrong feet I know without even looking. I am not a fan of descriptive dialogue tags.

    Berserk Zombie

    Another *very* interesting concept! With high stakes and intrigue to boot. Blew through the first 250 without a hitch and found myself wanting more. Well done!

    ReplyDelete