Friday, June 1, 2018

QK1 Match 3: This Wasn't in the Job Contract vs Never-Beings

Title: Warpers
Entry Nickname: This Wasn’t in the Job Contract
Word count: 100K
Genre: YA Scifi

Query:

There are three rules for time traveling:

1. Do not double warp.

2. Do not interact with people from the past.

3. Do not allow the past to catch up to the present.

Unfortunately, 18-year-old Galileo Matox is about to break them all. By accident, of course. 

Galileo works for ScorpioCorp as a warper, traveling into the past to collect evidence of high-priority crimes. His latest mission? To identify a senator’s murderer. Seems simple enough.

But everything goes to shit before the mission even begins. When Galileo suspects sabotage, he presses the emergency warp button, hoping to save his team—but the attempt fails. Not only does the botched warp drop his crew eight days earlier and 1,510 klicks from the murder scene, it also badly injures his teammate.
With his friend quickly bleeding out, Galileo does the only thing he can think of: he swaps his own warp suit for her damaged one and sends the team back to the present, initiating a double warp—Rule #1, broken. Now, Galileo’s stranded in the past—and in an alternate reality.

Enter Avaline Eisenhart, a gifted time-space scientist and daughter of the soon-to-be-dead senator. After negotiating with the girl from the past (completely shattering Rule #2), Avaline and Galileo strike a deal: in return for fixing the warp suit, Avaline will get the chance to study ScorpioCorp’s highly coveted warp tech.

As the countdown to the senator’s assassination draws near, realities blur and timelines merge . . . and Galileo begins to realize he may be responsible for the murder. Except, Galileo’s not sure if he can bring himself to kill the senator, even if letting him live could result in an interstellar war. After all, sometimes it’s the smallest change that causes the biggest ripple.

Trapped in a reality in which he doesn't belong, Galileo must find a way to escape before Rule #3 flies out the hatch and the past merges with the present, thereby unleashing chaos across the time-space fabric.

“Inception” meets “Minority Report” . . . in space.


First 250:
Chapter One


03:14:15

Temple City, Enora

Jumping back four days to watch a dog get hit by a hover car is a bloody waste of time. Unfortunately, that's my job.

I swallow an annoyed huff, miffed that Gamma team was assigned this joke of a mission. We could be solving that Leviathan kidnapping case, or figuring out who’s responsible for sabotaging the Interstellar Fleet’s dreadnoughts, or a million other crimes more important than identifying the license plate number of the asshole who ran over Senatori Gable’s pet dog.

Not saying said-asshole doesn’t deserve a dose of justice. But still—kidnapping case, or road rage mystery? One clearly carries more priority.

I wince as Takana’s too-loud voice crackles in my aud implant. “Hasn’t anyone told Senatori Gable live pets went out of style fifteen years ago? Droids are the newest rage. Especially droid horse racing—”

“Maybe some people prefer a living, breathing companion instead of a mass of circuits and synth-fur,” I reply, tracking the dog in question as it sprints back and forth upon the lawn of the senatori’s mansion. At precisely 03:25:00, the dog will leap over the shock fence, plant its furry butt in the middle of the road, and get run over by an incoming hover car.Tilting my head, I can't figure out why the dog reminds me of something . . . something just beyond my recollection’s grasp. An echo of a half-forgotten memory. Doesn’t matter, though. I’m not interested in dredging up old memories right now.

VERSUS

Title: State of Never Being
Entry Nickname: Never-Beings
Word count: 94K
Genre: YA Sci Fi/Time Travel

Query:

STATE OF NEVER BEINGis Levithan’s Every Day meets the Fifth Wave. 

After a rash of botched missions, teenage assassin Zinnia’s life hinges on eliminating seven of history’s violent criminals. The Department of Retroactive Justice is determined to create an alternate history of peace to secure a safer future, and the last thing they’ll tolerate is an agent who intentionally defies orders and refuses to kill.

Zinnia’s irked by her recent spike in failures, but it’s not by chance that she’s survived eight years in the field as an accomplice, not a drop of blood marring her hands. She’s long feared the collateral damage committed by the agency rivals the atrocities of those it targets, but she’s never had proof. Until—while trapped in the vicious cycle meant to reaffirm her allegiance—she falls for the hooded counter-op who landed her there.

Now, she has reason to evade her assignments. And adventure-seeking Phineas to help her do it. Still, for every failed elimination, she’ll be forced to face another target, as well as a brutal reality: letting criminals walk means allowing them to fulfill the heinous acts she could’ve stopped.

Enlisting the help of Phin’s team, Zinnia sets out to alter targets’ paths rather than end them. But when team members accused of impeding justice cease to exist, she must find a way to alter the agency itself—before she loses more than a future with Phin, she loses the past that brought them together, too.

First 250:

Prologue

The last time I was in Pompeii’s outdoor marketplace I was with my history class, more than two millennia after it crumbled to Vesuvius. It was chaos quietly captured. Adults curled into fetal positions, comforting each other in their final breaths. Children, mid-stride, propelled by hope of escape. I whispered to my partner, Mason: Why can’t we save them all? The response was hurled by Exudatious, the mastermind behind the Department of Retroactive Justice, clad in her grey skirt-suit with winged shoulder pads and dagger heels. We can’t salvage entire civilizations, Zinnia Namida. Nor can we interfere where Nature has written the law. We save people from monsters—humans who died at the hands of other humans. Which meant Pompeii was once the killing ground for a monster; there was no other reason for us to be there.

      Chapter 1

“It’s 79 AD. You’re in Pompeii.” Our handler, Persephone, opens her palm and a halogen sphere rises from it. It illuminates the canvas flap that conceals us, the overturned fruit cart it’s attached to, the figs mashed between the white tunics Mason and I are wearing and the cobblestones where we kneel. “You’ve got a two-minute lag time. After that, three minutes forty-five seconds to take out your target.” She leans out from the shadow of the sphere, her eyes catching like flame. “Any longer and you’ll be turned into statues.”

26 comments:

  1. Judges, please respond with your feedback and vote here! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This Wasn’t in the Job Contract: While Warpers is fine, I almost wish the title reflected Galileo’s personal predicament. The query is long, and I don’t think you need to state each time he breaks a rule since its stated at the beginning that he does. Trust the agent/editor to recognize that. That said, you’ve managed to get some voice into the query, which is important. I would cut the sentence: “Rule #1, broken. Now, Galileo’s stranded in the past—and in an alternate reality.” Replace the ellipses with a period in the second to last paragraph. Remove “begins” from the following sentence “and Galileo begins to realize he may be responsible for the murder.” I’d also encourage you to shorten and distill the last paragraph, so the stakes are more potent. Something like: “Galileo must find a way to escape the reality he’s trapped in before the past merges with the present, unleashing chaos across the time-space fabric.” The voice of the 250 words really make this entry a contender. It immediately puts us in Galileo’s world and time and gives us a sense of who he is. It also hints at the plot problem. After reading this, I had to remind myself that this is supposed to be young adult. I’m not sure how clear that is from the query and words.

      Never-Beings: Love the title! For the query, I think you should put the initial sentence at the end and throw us immediately into the problem. “to secure a safer future” is redundant, so I’d remove it. The sentence: “She’s long feared the collateral damage committed by the agency rivals the atrocities of those it targets, but she’s never had proof” is really hard to read, and I had to reread it several times to understand what you were trying to get across. I’d encourage you to change the word “rivals” and simplify Zinnia’s concern here. I’d also combine the first two sentences of the third paragraph. Your stakes aren’t completely clear, so I’d encourage you to work on the last paragraph and give details as to how she’ll alter the agency. For your first 250 words, I’d say this is a short prologue, but it does a great job of letting us learn about Zinnia’s character and that she cares about life. I really appreciate the concise way that you write such vivid and sensory detail. I had the same problem with this one as “Wasn’t in the job contract:” Nothing about this query and 250 words screams young adult except maybe the love subplot.

      VICTORY to THIS WASN’T IN THE JOB CONTRACT!
      ~Red Ink Slinger

      Delete
    2. Thaddeus SpinsterJune 1, 2018 at 3:02 PM

      This Wasn’t in the Job Contract: Don’t you hate the subjective nature of the business. As Red Ink Slinger didn’t think it necessary to mention the broken rules, I, Thaddeus Spinster, am quite the opposite and found it to add character to your query. I also didn’t get a sense of this being a YA novel. Other than Galileo’s age, nothing in the query screams at me, Young Adult. Now on to the first 250. Everything about the first 250 screams, Young Adult. It has a great YA voice. It’s snarky, funny, with just the right amount of well-placed cursing. From the first 250 I get a good sense of the world and Of Galileo. I am a fan of the writing and would love to read more of it.

      Never-Beings: Just my preference but I’d put the comps on the bottom. From the Query, I’m not getting a sense of this being a YA novel. If I’m reading right, Zinnia has been an assassin for eight years. If she is 18 years old, did she really become an assassin at 10 years old? What was so compelling to make her a 10-year-old assassin? Although, even with my comments, I really like the concept of going back in history to make the future safer. I don’t think you need the prologue. The first 250 is well written but it very proper. If you could add a little more oomph to the voice to wouldn’t read so stiff. It is a great concept but I think it would work better as an adult novel.

      Both entries were great. I am leaning towards one over the other due to my perception of such a great voice. VICTORY TO THIS WASN’T IN THE JOB CONTRACT.

      Delete
    3. Love and SqualorJune 1, 2018 at 10:07 PM

      THIS WASN'T IN THE JOB CONTRACT: Really strong query. I'm on the fence about the first part. I think you could delete the three rules and start with 'Galileo works for ScorpioCorp...' and it would be even stronger. The query has great voice, and it would come through quicker if you deleted the three rules. The first 250 is really strong too. I love the voice. I'm a bit put off by the main character minimizing the importance of the dog getting run over, though. I get what he's saying: it's not as significant as some of the other jobs. Still, you're going to get a lot of animal lovers reading your query/pages, and it might be best to substitute a different job there so you it's not off-putting and the reader can focus right on the great voice.

      NEVER-BEINGS: The query is interesting, but the first two paragraphs have exclusively long sentences, and that can get a little tough to read. I'd suggest cutting some of the sentences shorter and alternating sentence length. On the 250, I like the anecdote in the prologue, but that could easily be worked into the first chapter. I don't think you need to the prologue at all. I'd also like to get right into the main character's head, which doesn't happen in the first paragraph in Ch. 1. Consider giving the reader some of Zinnia's reactions and thoughts to what's happening.

      This was a close one, but in the end, VICTORY to NEVER-BEINGS!

      Delete


    4. But everything goes to shit before the mission even begins. SABOTAGE BOTCHES THE warp drop, SENDING his crew eight days earlier and 1,510 klicks from the murder scene, AND badly INJURING GALILEOS'S teammate.

      With his friend bleeding out, Galileo does the only thing he can think of: he swaps his own warp suit for her damaged one and sends the team back to the present, initiating a double warp—Rule #1, broken. Now, Galileo’s stranded in the past—and in an alternate reality.

      Enter Avaline Eisenhart, a gifted time-space scientist and daughter of the soon-to-be-dead senator. Avaline and Galileo strike a deal: in return for fixing GALILEO'S warp suit, Avaline will get the chance to study ScorpioCorp’s highly coveted warp tech. RULE #2, BROKEN.

      As the countdown to the senator’s assassination draws near, realities blur and timelines merge. Trapped in a reality in which he doesn't belong, Galileo must find a way to escape before Rule #3 flies out the hatch and the past merges with the present, thereby unleashing chaos across the time-space fabric.

      THIS WASN'T IN THE JOB CONTRACT – I adore your 1,2,3 hook. I fiddled a little with our query, tried to tighten it up. You'll see I took out the bit about Galileo possibly being the murderer. I feel two ways about it. On the one hand, it ups the stakes some. On the other hand, you introduce us to the three rules, and the hook is Galileo breaking the three rules, so I lean towards sticking with the three rules only.

      Your 250 are good. 'Bloody waste of time' – is that an intentional pun? Are you punning first line? I sort of wish Galileo had a LITTLE more sympathy for the dog, but hey, I'm a softy. Take out the droid horse racing line, you don't need that. Also, this:

      An echo of a half-forgotten memory. BUT I’m not interested in dredging up old memories right now.

      Otherwise, great job. I'm in and ready to adore Galileo, which is a good thing.

      ***

      After a rash of botched missions, teenage assassin Zinnia’s life hinges on eliminating seven of history’s violent criminals. The Department of Retroactive Justice is INTENT ON CREATING an alternate, PEACEFUL history to secure a safer future, and the last thing they’ll tolerate is an agent who intentionally defies orders and refuses to kill. (GREAT HOOK)

      Zinnia’s long feared the collateral damage committed by the agency rivals the atrocities of those it targets, but she’s never had proof. Until she falls for the hooded counter-op who landed her in in the vicious cycle meant to reaffirm her allegiance.

      Now, she has reason to evade her assignments. And adventure-seeking Phineas IS EAGER TO HELP. BUT for every failed elimination, she’ll be forced to face another target, as well as a brutal reality: letting HISTORY'S criminals walk means allowing them to fulfill the heinous acts she could’ve stopped.

      Enlisting the help of Phin’s team, Zinnia sets out TO FIND A BETTER WAY. But when team members accused of impeding justice cease to exist, she must find a way to alter the agency itself—before she loses more than a future with Phin, she loses the past that brought them together, too.

      NEVER-BEINGS – Queries are so hard, especially when you've got a complicated storyline, as it's obvious you do. I've tried to trim your query down, zero in on the important bits. I really need more clarification as to how Phin landed her in the 'cycle' and what the cycle is. Otherwise I love the idea of violence ending violence bringing peace, and Zinnia's moral qualms. I think that's what we need to focus on.

      Your 250: Cut the prologue. It's great but move it and use it later in the story. Your Zinnia opening is so much better, draws the reader right in. I immediately want to know what happens next. I hope the next sentence gives us insight into Zinnia's thoughts/feelings/voice. We need to see that ASAP.

      VICTORY TO THIS WASN'T IN THE JOB CONTRACT. For both of you, after the contest, if you want more hands-on advice, hit me up. I'll make time.

      Delete
    5. This Wasn’t in the Job Contract:
      Query: This sounds like a fun book! But your query is long; consider paring it back to about 250 words. I’m not fond of the start outlining the rules. Maybe it’s just because I prefer the familiar, three-paragraph format. But with today's tight market, it might not be wise to try something new. Agents reject easily enough without giving them an automatic reason. I also believe your query reads more like a synopsis, so consider tightening the start to get to where the meat of your story: that he suspects he will kill the senator. To me, that’s when the query became enticing.
      First 250: 100k is long. Consider tightening to get it below 90k. I think your first 250 is solid. My big concern is the lack of sympathy factor for the about-to-be-hit dog. Not that the dog will die but the MC's attitude about the upcoming death. But the voice in your excerpt is excellent. You created solid questions, which makes me eager to see what happens next.

      Never-Beings:
      Query: What a cool idea! I wasn’t sure why she's called an assassin if she refuses to kill, especially after eight years. It felt like “assassin” was used for effect. I’d like to see the start of your query tightened to get to the meet up with Phin, because, trying to alter the targets makes your story sound unique. I couldn’t quite understand what you meant by the “collateral damage committed by the agency” sentence, so perhaps make that clearer.
      First 250: I don't think you need the prologue, because you open the story discussing Pompeii. Could you incorporate the important information from the prologue into the first chapter instead? Otherwise, I really enjoyed your start; them needing to get in and take out their target fast (or be turned into statues) is an excellent hook.

      Now comes the hard part: choosing the victor of this round. Both of these entries are exciting in their own way. But, I have to choose, so…

      Victory to NEVER-BEINGS!

      Delete
    6. Ah, time travel. Never as easy as it seems, is it?

      Entry Nickname: This Wasn’t in the Job Contract

      Wow, a lot of stuff going on here. I love the voice. I must say that this reads like (and perhaps should be) an adult book. The query is way too long, though, and I feel that the three rules thing is trying to be too cute. There's a lot of unnecessary play-by-play. Set up the disastrous travel, give us the stakes, and get out.

      Entry Nickname: Never-Beings

      I like the premise here, especially because it hangs a lantern on the problematic premise for the Department's existence. I'm a bit confused by the query, though: is she an assassin or an accomplice? If the former, how does she have no blood on her hands. I think it could be simplified quite a bit: she's an assassin who falls in love and then tries to avoid killing / questioning her entire job. In the sample, cut the prologue: any reader who finds this will know the premise already, so give us more of that intriguing chapter 1.

      This is a very close match. Victory to NEVER BEINGS!

      Delete
    7. THIS WASN’T IN THE JOB CONTRACT FEEDBACK:
      QUERY:
      This sounds like a really cool story—and I’m not even much of a Sci-Fi reader! Here’s some feedback on your query: I’m also jumping on the “too long” train. Your query (minus the comp sentence at the end) is 335 words. Most queries are 250 and that’s on the high end. It isn’t easy taking a 100,000 word story and getting it condensed down to 225-250 words. Every word is precious and every word has to count. Here’s what I see as the main themes: the rules (LOVE those!), that Galileo breaks them all by mistake while trying to collect evidence to solve a recent murder of the senator and in turn, goes back in time and he can’t get back to the present. With no choice, he has to interact with Avaline—daughter to the senator and how they both need something the other has. The realization of what is truly at stake (this paragraph, “As the countdown to the senator’s assassination” is great! Keep that!). These all hit the highlights without giving us a mini-synopsis of the plot.

      First 250:
      I love the voice of this character and the visuals you’ve described are great. I personally think you have a strong opening and great set up. However, some basic clean up is needed in your first 250. Some spacing (between “car” and “Tilting”), a possible typo (is it senator? Or Senatori (with an “I” at the end)? The query said senator (no “I”)… so make sure that they’re consistent. And if Senatori has nothing to do with the senator, I’d find a different word because they’re too close and could be easily confused) and perhaps an all caps instead of lower case (aud or AUD for the “…crackles in my aud implant…”) These may seem like minor things and to you they may not be that big of a deal—but some agents/editors are THAT picky when it comes to the work. Left as is, it could come across as sloppy and rushed.


      NEVER BEINGS FEEDBACK:
      Query: I’m a sucker for action books! Love the idea of this story! Here are a few things to note on your query: I think it’s standard in YA category novels to list the age of the main character. In the first paragraph, the second sentence is a bit of a mouthful. I’d break this up into two sentences. I’m also wondering why her life is on the line—is there a way to specifically tell us or clarify what she’s up against? The second full paragraph still has me wondering what exactly Zianna is aiming for. It sounds like, despite the failures, she’s good at her job—so is she having second thoughts about her career and that’s what has botched up her recent assignments? And is her job to sort out this collateral damage conundrum? I feel like we’re given important nuggets to the story (which is awesome!) but they aren’t really tied together in a way that helps the reader understand exactly (a) what she’s up against and (b) what her goal is to fix it.


      First 250:
      Here’s my take on prologues—keeping in mind I’m just one person with one opinion: prologues are spoiler alerts. (insert sad tuba here….*womp womp*) 99.99999% of the time the information contained in a prologue is repeated again in the book. And let’s be honest….I’d rather come across that cool information about our character being at the eruption of Vesuvius in the heart of the book than right now before we dive in—even if it’s in a flashback. The tension, the push/pull, the angst—give me that in the book not as a spoiler. In this case, yes, the prologue does help set up the scene with Zianna and the handler talking about Pompeii. But if that’s all the prologue is doing—giving us a tip that she’s been at the actual event—then this could easily be woven into the first chapter, setting up who Zianna is and what he job involves.



      VERDICT:
      Man alive! Another similar query match up with time travel, solving complex issues! In my opinion both of these entries have good qualities and things that they could both work on to sharpen them for the formal agent query. However, I think THIS WASN’T IN THE JOB CONTRACT is the stronger of the two entries.

      Delete
    8. This Wasn’t In The Job Contract

      Query:
      First off, really cool concept. I love time travel stories, and adding in a murder thread really ups the stakes. And this query has a lot of stakes, so good job on that.

      I think this query is too long, though, and starting with a numbered list is a bit odd. You can still list the rules, but consider doing it in a different format. For example: There are three rules to time travel—rule, rule, and rule. I also don’t think you need to list which rule is being broken as you go through the query. You could cut down on words by taking those mentions out.

      250:
      Love the opening lines! It’s super voice-y and drew me right in. I love the line about real pets going out of style and how droids are all the rage. Nice world building.

      Never-Beings

      Query:
      Okay, really liking this idea. Time travel is the best! First off, usually comp titles go at the end—it’s better to get right to the query first and then include the comp titles after an agent already has a taste for what the book is about. The opening paragraphs of this query are good. In the third paragraph, I’d combine the first two sentences with an em-dash (—) because the second sentence doesn’t seem complete on its own. I am curious about Zinnia’s past. How did she become part of this assassination team if she hates it so much. Was she recruited as a child? Does she have no choice in the matter? Because I don’t understand why she’d just quit if she doesn’t like killing people.

      250:
      I really like the prologue—it’s beautifully written and sets the story up nicely. But why does it need to be a prologue? The switch to chapter 1 seems like it continues what is happening in Pompeii, with the obvious exception of a tense shift. But tense shifts are jarring to readers and should be used so, so sparingly. I don’t think you need one here. I think you can find a way to keep the prologue as your opener, but write it in present tense so the story can naturally flow into the first chapter material.

      Super tough choice here because of how much I love time travel stories. I’d really like to read both of these right now! Also, I feel both entries have spots that need work, whether that’s in the query or the 250. But the voice in the first entry really grabbed me and stood out for me, so …

      Victory to THIS WASN’T IN THE JOB CONTRACT

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. This Wasn’t in the Job Contract
    Awesome premise. I’m not sure what qualifies this as YA, though. The protagonist is technically an adult, and the writing in the pages doesn’t seem particularly YA. In the query, I don’t think you actually need to point out each time the MC breaks a rule. Since the rules are the first things you list, I caught each time he broke one without being told. Other than that, I think it’s a well worded, enticing query and the pages present a ton of voice!

    *Sorry, I forgot the title first time around!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Never-Beings
    For me, the first two sentences of the query seem like they’re out of order. I think the second sentence would make for a stronger opening, and it would also add more clarity to the first sentence. Is the protagonist an assassin, or an assassin’s assistant? I don’t see how an assassin could have “not a drop of blood marring her hands,” so that confused me. In paragraph 3, the first two sentences seem like they should be one sentence, rather than separate. Overall, I found the query confusing—I’m not sure how time travel played into anything, or how it’s part of the stakes. I think there’s a good idea here, and the query is on the right track, it could just be cleaned up to add more clarity so the reader understands exactly what happens and sequence of events. I don’t think you need the prologue in the pages—didn’t add anything, for me. Since the story starts out with Pompeii, you could easily shorten the prologue and weave it in as a small memory or bit of backstory, in chapter one. Just ask yourself what you’re trying to convey in the prologue and where else you could add it. I do like the last sentence of your pages. Intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment is for Warpers:

    This reminds me a little of Loopers, right down to the title. The decisions of the protagonist are clear from the query, but not necessarily the motivations beyond survive and prevent temporal disaster. I'm not sure about saying shit in a query for young adult. Certainly it is welcome in the narrative, but not as a selling point. The story sounds really fun, with lots of potential for danger and adventure, and the first 250 establishes the universe in an efficient way. It already starts to establish rules to time travel, and the voice of a character board with the job. What kind of a world does time travel become boring? lol

    ReplyDelete
  6. For State of Never being: As a time travel entry myself, I kind of hope I get to go up against you. It would be good for us to prepare notes. I feel like the time cop premise has been done a lot - it even kind of happens in mine. However deliberately assasinating the past feels like an opposite take - like Looper but even more sinister. I would be interested to see where it goes. I don’t think you need the prologue. It’s just tell heavy for what your chapter 1 begins to show.

    ReplyDelete
  7. For Warpers: Love the use of "Galileo" as a historical reference-- very cool. I'm trying not to be distracted by the other comments, however it is a little hard not to make a comparison between "Warpers" and "Looper" even if Warper isn't the actual title. That said, this query does a good job of creating a very crisp narrative despite what is actually a complicated timeline. Love the writing in the sample itself. You might still be able to condense the language in the query more and still keep the distinct voice. E.g., agree there's no need to repeat the rule numbers, and things like "flies out the hatch," which is maybe one place where the language feels a little awkward. The material is strong enough to be effective without leaning so hard on the "Rules"-- which in fact are self explanatory and used in many time travel tomes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. JOB CONTRACT:

    Query: I actually loved how you went through the rules! The story sounds very fascinating, very original, and is something I would definitely want to read. I do agree that it could be streamlined somewhat. Some lines that could be abbreviated/deleted:

    “By accident, of course.” <- could be deleted

    “Galileo works for ScorpioCorp as a warper, traveling into the past to collect evidence of high-priority crimes. His latest mission? To identify a senator’s murderer.” <- condense into one sentence?

    “When Galileo suspects sabotage, he presses the emergency warp button, hoping to save his team—but the attempt fails. Not only does the botched warp” <- condense to “A botched warp drops his crew…”? Unless his guilt for this particular choice plagues him throughout the rest of the query, how the warp was botched might not need specifying.

    “After negotiating with the girl from the past (completely shattering Rule #2), Avaline and Galileo strike a deal” <- perhaps condense to: “Galileo negotiates a deal with Avaline, completely shattering Rule #2:”

    “After all, sometimes it’s the smallest change that causes the biggest ripple.” <- nice line but I feel like it doesn’t add much to the query…

    First 250:
    The voice is EXCELLENT. Very YA, very sassy, and jumps right into the action. Also introduces the world very well, without any dreaded info-dumps. I’m an animal lover and didn’t get annoyed that Galileo was (mildly) dismissing the dog’s death, but I know others might feel differently.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Job Contract:
    I think you could get rid of the rules without any problems. Time travel stories have to have rules, but I found myself asking more questions about the "why" and "how" of the rules rather than paying attention to the part of the query that dealt with the actual story. If anything, I'd suggest maybe cutting them out, or simplifying it to say that the MC was about to break all of the rules regarding time travel.

    The first 250 does a good job of grounding the reader in the world, but I'm wondering how the MCs team made such a big jump in crimes. If something happens to make that change, perhaps mention it in the query?

    Never-Beings:
    I found the query a little bit confusing. You mention that the MC has a string of failed missions, then suggest she is responsible for the failures, then mention she's irked by them (as if she's upset she failed). I'm also wondering how an organization centered around time travel hasn't been able to figure out why only HER missions haven't succeeded over the past 8 years. You also say that the MC suspects the collateral damage from the organization "rivals the atrocities of its targets", but the next sentence providing the "proof" presents no evidence and serves only to introduce a love interest. I'd suggest that if there is evidence she figures out, to present it in the query. Otherwise, it feels like something is missing. Finally, the stakes are raised in the end of the query, but they seem to be due to the agency trying to counteract the deliberate failures of the MC, so it makes it seem like everything that's going on is the fault of the MC. If the organization IS sinister, you need to paint them in that light, because as it is, the query makes it seem like the MC is the one in the wrong.

    The first 250 is good and I'm very excited by the locale. I'd suggest combining the prologue with the first chapter. Since the prologue is so short, it would be relatively easy to present it as something the MC is remembering while on mission. I'm also a bit confused as to what the "halogen sphere" is. Is it simply light or does it have to do with their time travel devices? And are they really going to turn to stone? (though, I suspect that question may be answered in the following sentences).

    I really hope this helps and best of luck to both of you!

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  10. Warpers Query:

    There are three rules for time traveling: [I'm okay with the unusual opening, but I think you can make it stronger than "there are". Maybe something like "ScorpioCorp's employees operate under the three rules of time travelling"?]

    1. Do not double warp.

    2. Do not interact with people from the past.

    3. Do not allow the past to catch up to the present. [It always will, though, no? So maybe "Get out/back before it catches up"?]

    Unfortunately [<—you can cut this], 18-year-old Galileo Matox is about to break them all. By accident, of course. [this too. The first sentence, minus the "unfortunately", is good, and then this one kind of takes away the agency of it]

    Galileo works for ScorpioCorp as a warper, traveling into the past to collect evidence of high-priority crimes. His latest mission? To identify a senator’s murderer. Seems simple enough.

    But everything goes to shit before the mission even begins [how so?]. When Galileo suspects sabotage, he presses the emergency warp button, hoping to save his team [from?]—but the attempt fails. Not only does the botched warp drop his crew eight days earlier and 1,510 klicks from the murder scene, it also badly injures his teammate. [so did it really fail? He wanted to save them, which implied they'd have died otherwise, so this is kind of success, no?]
    With his friend quickly bleeding out, Galileo does the only thing he can think of: he swaps his own warp suit for her damaged one and sends the team back to the present, initiating a double warp—Rule #1, broken. Now, Galileo’s stranded in the past—and in an alternate reality. [You can tighten a lot. "Travelling to the past to identify a senator's murderer seems a simple enough mission—until a sabotage lands Galileo three days prior to his destination, and forces him to double-warp his injured teammate back to present." Or something to that extent, less step-by-step]

    Enter Avaline Eisenhart, a gifted time-space scientist and daughter of the soon-to-be-dead senator. After negotiating with the girl from the past (completely shattering Rule #2), Avaline and Galileo strike a deal [the way this is written, it says that the two of them negotiate with a girl in the past, but I think it's supposed to say Avaline IS the girl from the past]: in return for fixing the warp suit, Avaline will get the chance to study ScorpioCorp’s highly coveted warp tech. [this just seems insanely risky, and I'm a bit surprised the guy who just broke the rules to altruistically help a teammate would opt for giving up time-travel secrets to help himself. Seems like a pretty big deal, and something they'd be trained not to do, so what makes it a better option than the alternatives?]

    As the countdown to the senator’s assassination draws near, realities blur and timelines merge [meaning what, specifically?] . . . and Galileo begins to realize he may be responsible for the murder [how so?]. Except, Galileo’s not sure if he can bring himself to kill the senator [why would he?], even if letting him live could result in an interstellar war [where did this come from, and how does he know?]. After all, sometimes it’s the smallest change that causes the biggest ripple. [True, but we haven't seen the specific change or the ripple effect, so this doesn't really mean much]

    Trapped in a reality in which he doesn't belong, Galileo must find a way to escape before Rule #3 flies out the hatch and the past merges with the present, thereby unleashing chaos [what does that mean, specifically?] across the time-space fabric. [Okay, but what are his actual choices here, and what are the stakes either way? If he escapes, the senator lives and war happens—and if he stays to kill the senator, chaos happens. How does the latter affect the MC and the people he cares about? Why is it a hard and personal choice to make?]

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  11. Warpers 250:

    I don't actually have much to critique here, just two things that gave me a pause. First, if pets went out of style 15 years ago, that hardly makes the droids "newest rage". Fifteen years is a long time, especially to 18-year-olds. Which makes that bit kind of "As you know, Bob", IMO.
    The second thing is the hover car... it just really challenges my suspension of disbelief, as I'd have assumed hover cars had sensors or whatever ensuring accidents like those can't happen as easily as they do today. Other than that, the voice is really strong and the MC's personality shines through right away, and that's great.

    Good luck~

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  12. Job Contract: This sounds like a book I’d love to read! I actually like the outline of the rules in the query, though I agree that you don’t have to point out each time he breaks one (though I didn't mind it.) I mean, I think it would work without the rules, too, but I enjoyed the clear presentation of them. I wasn’t bothered by the dog death or his attitude about that assignment, because it was enough for me that he says that the person who did it definitely deserved a dose of justice even if he wants a bigger case, and I appreciate the way you use the discussion about live pets vs. droids to show us the setting/time period. Smooth world-building! The voice reminded me some of MT Anderson’s main character in FEED, very chill with that sort of dark humor edge to it, which I love. I might cut the “I’m not interested in dredging up old memories now” line at the end of the 250 and maybe show us that he’s distracted by whatever’s more important or just move on because they’ve got a job to do, etc…he’s already said it doesn’t matter, so I’m not sure you need that extra line unless the phrase dredging up old memories has a more literal meaning in this world than we know yet, which it might. I love the comps—they sound perfect!

    Never-Beings
    The query has lots of intrigue, though I wasn’t quite sure why she was irked at her mission failures if she intentionally refuses to kill her targets—seems like failing at her assassinations is her intention, but maybe she was unsuccessful in turning their lives to different paths instead. I enjoyed your 250. I often like prologues and I like this one, but wow, the intensity of chapter 1 is gripping. I'm wondering if maybe you can combine the two and maybe add a bit of the most important information from the prologue at the very end of the first paragraph of chapter 1, so that we still get these parts: The last time I was in Pompeii, I was with my history class more than two millennia after it crumbled to Vesuvius, surrounded by the ancient remains of adults and children. The pain of being unable to save them all hurt me then as it did now, but we were only sent back to prevent one human from killing another. Which means a murderer is here, now, with us.
    ... And now that I've thought about it more, I’m wondering why it matters if someone’s about to murder someone else when they will both be killed by the volcano in 3 minutes, but hopefully that’s part of the story that will be explained! I’d definitely keep reading to find out what happens!

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  13. This Wasn’t in the Job Contract:

    Not really sure how this is YA. Also, the query has a bit too much, and the rules are kind of confusing. Think of Asimov's laws of robotics. They're pretty simple, even though the background behind them are complex. Or the rules of Fight Club. Very straightforward. Not sure how everybody else feels about these rules, but in a query letter, I'd get a little lost, and I'm not sure if I'd focus long enough to get the rules down.

    As for the 250 words, there's still too much going on. I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but the sci-fi I do read is more character focused than gimmick focused, so maybe that's why it's not really registering with me. Not sure.

    Never-Beings: Not really a fan of this query, as there is also a bit too much going on, but I like the first 250 words and the idea of watching tragic events in history occurring but feeling like there is nothing that can be done. That's a heavy idea. Also not really sure how this is considered YA, but the voice does feel closer to it than This Wasn't in the Job Contract. I don't necessarily think the prologue is necessary, but it doesn't hurt the piece.

    Good luck to the both of you.

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  14. State of Never Being Query:

    After a rash of botched missions, teenage assassin Zinnia’s life hinges on eliminating seven of history’s violent criminals. The Department of Retroactive Justice [hah I like the name] is determined to create an alternate history of peace to secure a safer future, and the last thing they’ll tolerate is an agent who intentionally defies orders and refuses to kill. [that agent being her? That's not what "botched missions" tells me—I assumed she fails or makes mistakes along the way from the original wording. Consider rewording and reordering a bit: first tell us what she's supposed to do and what she does instead, and then what the problems are that arise from it]

    Zinnia’s irked by her recent spike in failures [so are they failures or choices?], but it’s not by chance that she’s survived eight years in the field as an accomplice, not a drop of blood marring her hands [eight years? How old is she? I really need an age, "teenage" is too vague]. She’s long feared the collateral damage committed by the agency rivals the atrocities of those it targets, but she’s never had proof. [<—this is a big thing, important for the story, and tells me a lot about the character—and it's kind of buried in the middle here. If you rewrite the opening paragraph to make it clear she's avoiding doing the actual murders, and how/why she does it, you can tie this in as the problem much clearer] Until—while trapped in the vicious cycle meant to reaffirm her allegiance [this is super vague and tells me nothing]—she falls for the hooded counter-op who landed her there.

    Now, she has reason to evade her assignments [so... until now she didn't have reasons? that makes me immediately less interested in her. I thought she was choosing to evade them because she didn't agree with the Department's philosophy, and had some sort of a plan]. And adventure-seeking Phineas to help her do it. Still, for every failed elimination, she’ll be forced to face another target [for how long? in the first sentence, you told us her life hinges on this. She's been at it for 8 years, which also suggests she was virtually raised into this job. Why is she getting this many chances?], as well as a brutal reality: letting criminals walk means allowing them to fulfill the heinous acts she could’ve stopped. [how is she just learning/realising this now?]

    Enlisting the help of Phin’s team, Zinnia sets out to alter targets’ paths rather than end them. [I like that. I still don't get why it took a chance encounter with a guy to get her to this point, though, or what her motives and goals were before] But when team members accused of impeding justice cease to exist [that's an interesting way of putting it. Do they just get deleted/removed from time in some fashion?], she must find a way to alter the agency itself—before she loses more than a future with Phin, she loses the past that brought them together, too. [Honestly, I don't really care about her future/past with Phin. If you want the query to focus on their relationship, it needs to do it more clearly and with more emotion—but I think you'd have a much stronger query on your hands if you focused on Zinnia's moral dilemmas and the scheming she has to do to change the agency and defies its plans. What are specific choices she makes, and what are the goals and motivations behind those choices? And if Phin plays such a crucial role in it all, why is that?]

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  15. State of Never Being, the first 250:

    I quite love prologues, but I think 99% of them are unnecessary, and that definitely applies to this one. I'm not sure why you're calling it a prologue at all: they're all details that can be very easily weaved into the opening chapter. Even just making it the opening chapter would work better than separating them like this, since they flow directly from one another and the prologue paragraph isn't enough of a self-contained scene to warrant separation.
    Between the lines of some of the confusing stuff in the query, and this prologue thing, it sounds like a complex and intriguing story. Good luck!

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  16. This Wasn’t in the Job Contract

    Firstly, WOW. I don't even read sci-fi but I would definitely pick this up in a bookshop! I'm a huge fan of rule structure so I quite like it in this query. That being said, it is quite long - as pointed by others, i'm sure. I would suggest removing the question bcus agents don't tend to like that so: "His latest mission is to identify a...." I can see that you're showing how each rule is broken and how's it all connected but you it's best to add the necessary parts only. You could remove the part about the 'eight days earlier' because it's already mentioned in the 'back to the present' part. Try to find a better way to bring in Avaline because 'enter' changes the mood a little. Maybe jump right in with how he's breaking Rule 2 with her. Making it shorter will pack a stronger punch because we're seeing one disaster happen after another. Other than that, your query is quite strong and I love it!

    I LOVE your first 250 words! It's impactful, full of voice and quite engaging. There's not much to critique, honestly. I'm curious of the memory it's bringing up in his mind. If Takana is an older person, then the '15 years ago' part makes sense but if he's a teen, then he wouldn't really speak use that term. Apart from that, I hope you get published soon because this sounds really good!

    Never-Beings:

    Your story certainly sounds very interesting! I would suggest adding the comps in after the query because that's the normal structure. I'm not too sure on the wording of 'rash of botched' - maybe try rephrasing. I got confused mid-way with the sentence about the agency rivals? Maybe make that sentence simpler, but it could just be me, since I don't read much sci-fi. Also, this sentence can be combined: "Now, she has reason to evade her assignments: the adventure-seeking Phineas." The stakes are pretty high as well so its nicely done!

    I'm not too sure on prologues because I know some agents don't want to see it. If you can, try merging bits and parts with the first chapter since its quite short. For the dialogue part of it (I whispered and the italicized part), I would suggest making it a new para. The first chapter ending hooked me! That's quite a punch! Your writing is good and descriptive! Not much to critique, honestly. My suggestion would be to focus on the character more in the beginning. With the prologue, it feels like an info-dump and then with the first bit of chp 1, the focus is on someone else so there's less info presented on the MC. Just something to keep in mind but feel free to ignore. All advice is subjective, after all!

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  17. WARPERS
    This query is really strong. My only complaint here is in the third paragraph, I get a little lost with him swapping his suit and sending his teammates back without him. Just since we don’t know how the time travel works and why they could go back and he couldn’t. I think here is one of those places where you could give less information. Almost that whole paragraph could probably be condensed into something about a disaster striking that ends up with him separated from his crew and permanently stuck in the past unless he can figure out how to fix his suit.

    Other than that, this premise is awesome and I am so excited to read your 250.


    First 250:
    No complaints here. I’m intrigued and dying to read on!


    STATE OF NEVER BEING
    I start out really confused. I have no idea who this character is or what she does for work, so I’m stuck trying to figure that out instead of focusing on your story. The rest of the query seems to work more or less, but since I’m having a hard time figuring out what it is exactly that she does, it all kind of goes over my head. Since agents usually skim queries, I think what your character does needs to be SUPER clear in order for the query to be understood.

    First 250:
    Your prologue is lovely. You’re obviously a very talented writer. I just wish it were incorporated into the action of the first chapter. Most agents and editors agree that prologues are a no-go, and I agree. I think that the stuff in the prologue is awesome and I really just want it to be part of actual stuff happening in the first chapter.

    Good luck to both of you!

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  18. Warpers

    I admit, I wasn't sure starting with a list in a query would be a good idea. But you won me over. And the twist that Galileo might be the murderer himself? That was awesome. My biggest critique is that this doesn't sound like YA. The protagonist struck me as someone in his mid-twenties, at the youngest. Even at eighteen, he's a bit old for a YA protag. He's also dealing with adult issues, and he's clearly held an adult job for a decent amount of time. Just something you might want to consider while you're marketing this. Again, the story sounds awesome. It was really just the age and category that threw me off. As to the first page, the opening line was great. It catches attention and manages to ground the audience in the setting at the same time. I was glad Galileo didn't drag up old memories, too. Not that they aren't interesting, but not quite the place for them in page one. :)

    Never-Beings
    First off, I like the concept of this story a lot! There's so much fun moral dilemma you could have. What is someone's obligation to protect another from a crime they know will be committed? What is there obligation to try to stop the crime in a peaceful way? I guess my big question is, how did Zinnia get into this line of work if she hates to kill? Wouldn't someone realize her hesitation long before she got to her current position? Or is this a sudden change of heart she's had? I'm assuming it's the latter, but maybe give a hint of that? Also, I didn't really get that Phineas was a long interest at first, so it felt out of place at the end. It's clear they're close, though.
    Onto the first page, I liked the opening to chapter 1 more than I liked the prologue, but that's just me. I feel like all time travel stories have a moment when the character laments that they can't avert a natural disaster because it would disrupt things too much. And to be fair, it's a good conversation to have. But the start of the mission feels exciting and urgent, and that's where my interest is more. Best of luck with this!

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