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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » query: THE COLONY revised

   
Author Topic: query: THE COLONY revised
Estee
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I'm pitching this to an agent this weekend, so I'm revising and rewriting and revising again. So this is the summary part of the query letter, which I will use for my oral pitch. Is this new version better or worse? I experimented with a different style, and I'm not sure it works.


Sixteen-year-old Alison is a hero. She risks her life to rescue fellow classmates from the side of a gorge after a major earthquake.

Alison is determined. The apocalypse took her family, friends, and home but she won’t give up. There’s got to be a place where life is okay again.

The Moon colony is a great place to start over. Since Earth is so foreign, Alison figures she might has well go to another globe.

Six corpses are too many, especially when one is the leader of the Moon colony. Moon fever baffles the scientists, and kills quickly. The colonist are in chaos.

A civilization under the surface of the Moon is willing to help. Alison discovers these ancient people. She can’t understand them or their customs, but they have the cure for Moon fever. Most of the colonists follow her underground and assimilate themselves into the Lunarian villages.

The Lunarian civilization is not a safe place for colonists who wants to keep their heads. The Lunarians start using the colonists as sacrifices to the sun god. Alison is mistaken for the colony leader and is trapped in the dungeon awaiting her sacrificial ceremony.

Zamna, a Lunarian Princess, says she wants to help save Alison and the other colonists. But Alison doesn’t trust her, since if she escapes, Zamna will take her place as the sacrifice.

Alison risks trusting Zamna. The colonist are her family now, and she will do whatever it takes to save as many as she can.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This is a sci-fi YA. I'm not sure I love the first paragraph. Do you think it needs the extra hook at the beginning, or would it be just as powerful to start with paragraph two? Any other suggestions are very appreciated. Thank you.


Sixteen-year-old Alison’s life plans did not include surviving a world-wide natural disaster or living on the Moon. And she certainly didn’t expect to be a celebratory sacrifice to the Sun God.

Alison wants post-appocalyptic normalcy. That’s not easy when almost everyone she loves is gone, along with her home and way of life. She joins a Moon colony, hoping to out-run the pain of her lose, but the fledgling colony struggles to adapt. When a mysterious moon fever becomes deadly, the colonists are thrown into chaos. At the colony’s breaking point, Alison is discovered by priests from a civilization that has been living under the Moon’s surface for centuries. The Lunarian’s have their own language and customs—and the cure for moon fever. Most of the colonist follow Alison underground and assimilate into the foreign villages. Unfortunately, these descents of the ancient Mayans plan to use the light-skinned strangers from the surface as sacrifices to their gods.

The Lunarian king mistakes Alison for the colony leader, putting both her and Marshall—the boy she can’t live without—in danger. Marshall is forced to play a game with a heavy rubber ball that he can only hit with his hips. The losing team captain loses his head. Literally. Meanwhile, the Priests prepare Alison to be an extra special sacrifice to their sun god—the sacrifice that will bring wealth to their land. Alison’s only hope to escape lie with a Lunarian princess who would have been the sacrifice if Alison hadn’t shown up. Alison’s not sure who she can trust, but she’s determined to do whatever it takes to save her fellow colonists.

[ February 18, 2013, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: Estee ]

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Long Writer B8
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Estee, you don't say, but I hope what you provided is your query and not the opening of your story.

Your opening paragraph intrigues me. I don't think you need to say "natural" disaster. The less words to convey your message the better. I'm not sure "celebratory" adds anything either.

Since the protagonist should be the actor, I would have her find the priests rather than them find her.

I believe the plural would be "Lunarians"

I believe it should be "Most of the colonists"

Rather than "foreign villages" why not make them "Lunarian villages"

I would think it would be "descendants" not "descents"

Why are all the Earthlings "light-skinned"

To keep a query short, I don't think we need he section about Marshall forced to play game." Actually, he doesn't seem critical to her success except that she "can't live without" him for some reason.

Just some thoughts.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Estee:

Sixteen-year-old Alison’s life plans did not include surviving a world-wide natural disaster or living on the Moon. And she certainly didn’t expect to be a celebratory sacrifice to the Sun God.

IMO, yes, I'd lose the tag line and just add her age to the beginning of the next paragraph. But that's me.

quote:
Alison wants post-appocalyptic normalcy. That’s not easy when almost everyone she loves is gone, along with her home and way of life. She joins a Moon colony, hoping to out-run the pain of her lose
loss
quote:
, but the fledgling colony struggles to adapt.

I think that last phrase goes without saying and the next sentence really covers it.
quote:
When a mysterious moon fever becomes deadly, the colonists are thrown into chaos. At the colony’s breaking point, Alison is discovered by priests from a civilization that has been living under the Moon’s surface for centuries.

I agree. This seems like a very passive way to kick the story into motion.
quote:
The Lunarian’s

no apostrophe.
quote:
have their own language and customs—and the cure for moon fever. Most of the colonist

colonists
quote:
follow Alison underground and assimilate into the foreign villages. Unfortunately, these descents of the ancient Mayans plan to use the light-skinned strangers from the surface as sacrifices to their gods.

The Lunarian king mistakes Alison for the colony leader, putting both her and Marshall—the boy she can’t live without—in danger. Marshall is forced to play a game with a heavy rubber ball that he can only hit with his hips. The losing team captain loses his head. Literally. Meanwhile, the Priests prepare Alison to be an extra special sacrifice to their sun god—the sacrifice that will bring wealth to their land. Alison’s only hope to escape lie

lies
quote:
with a Lunarian princess who would have been the sacrifice if Alison hadn’t shown up.

and WHY would the alternate sacrifice want to help Alison?
quote:
Alison’s not sure who she can trust, but she’s determined to do whatever it takes to save her fellow colonists.

And presumably herself and Marshall.

Presumably, you'd follow this with a short paragraph containing the title, genre, and word count. Maybe an indication why you chose this agent to query.

I think the beginning of the query is a little too mired in background information. Try to start with Alison escaping to the new colony and finding a new start with Marshall. (Answering hte questions: Who is the main character and why should we care? What does she want?)

Overall, this is just a little long. Not horribly so, but if you can trim it to about 250 words, all the better.

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micmcd
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My first thoughts on reading this that haven't been already mentioned in Meredith's dissection:

1. "out-run" should be "outrun"
2. Society has the tech to make a colony on the moon, but doesn't notice a society living under its surface that plays Mayan bloodsports?
3. There are a few too many em-dashes densely included. I overuse that particular mark all the time, and try to make a point of looking at a big section of text at a time to see if there are dashes all over the place, particularly in a small overall text like a query.

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Carl F
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The first try is certainly better. By the way, it should be loss not "lose"
Since this intended to be YA, some poor grammar and slang may be acceptable, however; "There’s got to be" bothered me. I use it in conversations but not in more formal descriptions. The pitch needs to have flawless grammar and punctuation or you will turn them off at the start. (I presume)
I second the above comments and suggestions.

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Meredith
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The first was better. This is too disconnected.
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