Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Face-Lift 1032

Guess the Plot

Shifted

1. Moto the car can't seem to get his speed over ten miles per hour. If his owner notices, he'll be sent to the junkyard for sure. But wait! No wonder! The idiot's been so busy yacking on his cell phone he hasn't . . . Shifted.

2. When an accident at Oak Ridge nuclear plant threatens a meltdown, Dr. Jack Johnson bravely volunteers to pitch in, receiving what should have been a fatal dose of Gamma radiation. Instead, a shift has occurred. On NASCAR race days, the mild mannered doc becomes the champion avenger of all things rural, the superhero known as . . . the HICK!

3. Stephenie Meyer addict Zoe Dewson always thought it would be cool to be a shape-shifter -- to become an animal that is large and crafty. When she awakens one day to find she shares the fate of Gregor Samsa instead of Jacob Black, her life and her views change.

4. Drake Langdon hates his job mining coal but he loves the chief's daughter Lily. Chief Randal puts Drake on a swing shift in order to keep the lovers apart. When an earthquake traps him a mile below the hills of West Virginia, the only way out is through a condemned mine shaft. But has the trembling earth shifted the shaft?

5. As soon as teenager Kaia arrives in Paris she's arrested as a terrorist. Fortunately, a team of superheroes who have the ability to shift elements want Kaia for her ability to shatter glass. They kidnap her from the police and she joins the team. But will she use her power to shatter the Louvre's glass pyramid?.

6. When a team of shapeshifters all change to look like the president during a White House tour, it's up to tour guide and amateur sleuth Prissy Figbottom to prove which woman is the real president and which ones are imposters. Luckily, Prissy is the one person who knows about the president's new tattoo.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Kaia Davis: Painfully shy high school student. Suspected terrorist. And unknowing wielder of an elemental power that could turn the White House into an outhouse. [That outhouse would be big enough for Godzilla. Although I question whether Godzilla would use an outhouse rather than just take a dump in the street.] [On the other hand, maybe the fact that you never see Godzilla dropping logs indicates that he does like a little privacy.] [Then again, whether you like privacy or not, when you discover you're under attack by King Ghidorah and the entire Japanese army, who wouldn't shit their pants? Plus, dropping logs the size of actual logs would be an effective weapon]

Kaia's Monday starts out pretty good. [That sentence would be okay, if a bit blah, if this were the opening of the query, but once you've introduced terrorism and super powers, there's no turning back.] Leaving Pennsylvania for Paris on a foreign exchange program? Terrifying, but exciting, especially when it means getting away from an unloving foster family. Being arrested as a terrorist upon arrival, though, will bring anyone down. Getting rescued by a cute (but cocky) British boy who can control the wind itself? Weird, yes, but an improvement. However, Kaia's day is finally, completely ruined when he drugs and kidnaps her.

Kaia wakes up to find she's been dragged into a covert group made up of teenagers from around the world, all of whom possess the ability to manipulate the elements themselves [Adding "herself," "yourself," etc after a word rarely does anything useful, or at least I, myself, don't think so.] – "shifting" them from gas to liquid [Condensation Boy], altering their structure [Alchem-Miss], or just moving them around really fast and whacking people with them [The Nunchuks Kid].

At first, Kaia feels (for some odd reason) a little out of place. Until, that is, she discovers a silicon-based power of her own which lets her do little things like shatter glass with her mind. [Every team of superheroes needs a member who can shatter glass. Otherwise criminals would be safe hiding in buildings with windows.] [Wait, shattering glass can turn the White House into an outhouse?] [Presumably she has a more useful power than shattering glass. Doing it with your mind may be amazing, but doing it with a brick is equally effective.]

While it sounds kind of cool to join them and become a real-life superhero, Kaia hasn't yet realized there's more to this world than having fun and saving the day. Powerful people have their hands [ladles] in the pot and are cooking up a dangerous soup of [spicy] intrigue, [fishy] conspiracies, and [cheesy] action, laced with a dash of death and a pinch of betrayal to taste. Kaia will have to break out of her [clam] shell – and maybe break some windows [eggs] too – if she's going to [avoid this recipe for disaster.] make it out alive. [An abundance of cooking cliches might be cute if you were trying to sell Murder at Le Cordon Bleu, but here it seems misplaced.] [Also, this is a vague way to tell us about the villains and the danger Kaia faces. It's like opening a menu and reading: 

Entree 1: Ingredients are combined lovingly and cooked to perfection, then spooned onto a plate and served.

Entree 2: A medley of items from our kitchen prepared stovetop by our chef and brought to your table.

Entree 3: Stuff, cooked.

Some specifics about these powerful people: who they are, what they want, what happens if they get it, how the superheroes plan to stop them, would be helpful.]  

Fortunately, she has some powerful new friends on her side, including her original rescuer, Connor – that cocky, irritating, sarcastic [windbag] Brit… who also happens to be annoyingly attractive when he risks life and limb to protect those he cares about. [For instance, the time he protected his best friend from being mugged outside the Louvre by causing a tornado, he looked annoyingly like Brad Pitt.] [On the bright side, the tornado destroyed the glass pyramid.]

SHIFTED is a YA sci-fi novel with a multicultural cast, complete at 115,000 words. It stands alone but is the first of a planned series of three books.

I am a legal assistant/graphic designer/resident IT… Jill-of-all-trades at a small law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, but I have finally decided not to let my Literature degree and all those Creative Writing courses go to waste. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

I don't see the need for Kaia being arrested as a terrorist in the query. The kidnapping gets her to the superhero team quickly without raising questions that you don't answer.

You could combine the first two paragraphs into:

Painfully shy high school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange program in Paris--until she's kidnapped outside Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport by a cocky (but cute) British boy named Connor.

This has the added advantage of telling us Connor's name so that when you mention his name in paragraph 6 you don't have to explain who he is.

Apparently the team know about Kaia's power even though she doesn't?

Just make the part about what happens after the kidnapping as specific as the setup and this'll be 100% better.

40 comments:

collectonian said...

Being able to shatter glass with her mind does not seem like much of a super power at all, if that is all she can do. Seems like any of the other folks can already do it with their own powers. Also not sure if saying they can "manipulate the elements" is good in this case. Most people would automatically think of elemental powers, i.e. fire, water, etc.

Author said...

Here's a little extra info for everyone:

Kaia can control silicon in its pure form and in compounds (the "compound" angle is unique to her and plays a role in the book).

Therefore, she can:
1. Shatter glass and manipulate the shards as weapons
2. Control sand to create flesh-gouging whirlwinds
3. Manipulate quartz (found in rocks, watches, etc)
4. Mess with the semiconductors in many microchips

I only mentioned one ability to keep it short, but it looks like I might have to elaborate a little :-)

Hmmm...I'm not really sure off-hand how I can describe their powers other than "manipulate the elements" - each one has a literal element they control (oxygen, iron, copper).

Do I need to specify this? In some sort of "they manipulate the elements - not the old earth, wind, or fire, but the literal building blocks of nature" way?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

1. Anybody can shatter glass.

2. You are all over the place with the metaphors and wordplay, and it will get you nowhere. Turning the White House into an outhouse just distracts and raises questions, and makes it sound like an attack on DC is planned, which it apparently isn't.

3. Call me old fashioned, but if a guy had drugged and kidnapped me I'd find his sex appeal to be absolute zero.

4. Bios are generally unnecessary. I have a lit degree and a buncha creative writing courses in my past too, but find it far too embarrassing ever to mention to my editors or agent. Saying you don't want them to go to waste makes it sound like that's your actual motivation for writing. Please tell me it isn't.

5. To become an exchange student while in foster care is probably rather difficult. I was an exchange student, back in the Pleistocene. The application was quite rigorous. It involved, among many other things, a home visit and an essay from my parents.

(IOW: don't raise questions in the query that the query doesn't answer. Maybe it makes sense in the manuscript.)

6. Focus, focus, focus. Decide what's at the center of the story. Sum that up in one sentence. Build your query from that and do not try to impress the reader with your writing.

Evil Editor said...

Just changing "...teenagers from around the world, all of whom possess the ability to manipulate the elements" to "...teenagers from around the world, each of whom possesses the ability to manipulate one element should be enough.

I don't think people in the 21st century automatically assume the classic elements when they see that word. Perhaps the problem stems from the kid who controls the wind, which is not far from the air. As air is made up of nearly 80% nitrogen, I assume Connor can manipulate nitrogen? In any case, note that in my suggested reworking of the opening I left Connor's wind manipulation out.

Rachel6 said...

The story, especially given your clarification in the comments, does sound interesting, but there isn't enough of it. I definitely want to know more about the "powerful people" and the problems they bring to Kaia.

One other thing: super-irritating but adorable love interests are cliche. That said, I do enjoy a snarky love dynamic. I think mentioning that he's cute and cocky is enough, that we can infer "attractive" and "annoying" from that, but I could be wrong.

Looking forward to the rewrite!

BuffySquirrel said...

Manipulating the wind does make it sound more like the old elements than the scientific ones. Just say atomic elements?

You flag up right at the start that Kaia is very shy, yet this hardly recurs in the query--is the shell thing supposed to imply she needs to overcome her shyness to defeat...whatever? If her shyness is an important obstacle to her goal (which is...?), you need to come back to it. If not, don't lead with it.

Goal, Stakes, Obstacles, Dilemma. That's what we need.

Author said...

Alaska:

The foreign exchange question is answered in the book. You're right, it would've been too hard.

I still feel I need to mention it, though - overcoming her shyness is a big part of Kaia's character arc. If I mention it then say she's leaving for Paris, it seems to me everyone would be asking, "Wait, why is this shy kid going by herself to Paris?" Maybe not, but it just feels that way to me.

Rachel6: "super-irritating but adorable love interests are cliche"

This made me laugh, but not for any reason you'd think. I absolutely know what you mean, but it never occurred to me it sounded that way for one very simple reason - Connor's based off my dad. Or rather, what I imagine my dad was like as a teenager.

So the random thought that made me laugh? "Gosh, my dad's a cliche!" Even worse...everyone says I'm my dad made over :-)

Thanks to EE and everyone who's replied already - I will definitely have a rewrite soon.

150 said...

Go with "chemical element".

Author said...

Question for EE if you have a second:

I really appreciate the rewrite on the beginning (it works beautifully at freeing up plot space further down) but was concerned about one thing - in the opening phrase, is it clear to the reader that her desire to leave her foster family is enough of a motivation to visit a foreign country in spite of her shyness? It's clear to me, but I have a hard time judging what fresh eyes might think.

I'm just afraid of someone saying, "Well, if she's so shy, why is she going to live with a strange family?" I thought adding "Despite her fears" to the beginning would clarify it but was hesitant to begin my first sentence with a clause.

Your opinion/advice is, as always, greatly appreciated :-)

Evil Editor said...

You could just delete "Painfully shy." Her shyness may not be as important to the query as it is to the book.

Then there's the point that if you're in the foster care system you might have gotten used to going to live with strange families.

Maureen said...

My main problem is that it is very foggy who the villain is. We know where she is and who she's with, but what's the actual problem? Also is there anything else at stake? What about the exchange actually, does that end at some point, and then what? Are people looking for her? I realise that there might not be room for this in the query, but I think you definitely need to elaborate on the problem/obstacles. What makes them actually DO something in the end? And why is she important to this?

BuffySquirrel said...

I don't see how you can avoid starting your first sentence with a clause.

Author said...

Here's my rewrite of the story description:

High school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange program in Paris – until she's kidnapped outside Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport by a cocky (but cute) British boy named Connor.

Kaia wakes up to find she's been recruited into a covert unit made up of teenagers calling themselves "Shifters." Hailing from around the world, each of them possesses the ability to manipulate one of the earth's elements – transforming them from gas to liquid, altering their structure, or just moving them around really fast and whacking people with them. At first, Kaia's convinced they've made a terrible mistake.

Until, that is, she discovers she has a silicon-based power of her own which lets her do little things like shatter and manipulate glass or create flesh-gouging whirlwinds of sand with her mind.

Joining up with this ragtag "family" turns out to be dangerous and terrifying but still pretty cool. Stopping terrorists, busting up drug cartels, saving people's lives – becoming a real life superhero. Unbeknownst to Kaia, however, the secretive backers of their group have been feeding all of them misinformation and carefully controlling their missions for one purpose: to use the Shifters to help the very criminals they believed they were stopping.

Finding out the truth is one thing, but finding a way out is another – especially when the shadowy cabal you've been working for is willing and able to eliminate its assets the instant they stop being of value.

Fortunately, Kaia has some powerful new friends on her side, including Connor, that irritating Brit… who also happens to be annoyingly attractive when he risks life and limb to protect those he cares about.

Evil Editor said...

This is much better.

The last paragraph isn't needed; we already know all of that. I'd change the end of the previous sentence from stop being of value to lose their value (or usefulness).

So . . . the criminal mastermind says, Iron Lad, we need you to melt the door to that bank vault in order to prevent a crime. Then you can be on your way, we'll take it from there. ?

This cabal is able to eliminate the superheroes, but they're unable to do their own dirty work?

Author said...

Thanks! I was rethinking that last line, too ("the instant they stop behaving" is what I had penciled in).

Yeah, it's hard to explain in short form :-). Here's some extra info (if you're interested).

One mission example: they're sent in to rescue some hostages being held by rebels in the jungle. Only they're not rebels, they're refugees fleeing genocide and the "guards" with guns are just men protecting their families - the "hostages."

The cabal can (and does) do a portion of its dirty work, but it has its fingers in many pies - including genetic manipulation to create humans with supernatural abilities. Besides using the Shifters as enforcers, their actions serve as advertising to criminals or unscrupulous governments - "look what we can make! Don't you wish you had soldiers of your own like this?"

Also, as their creators, they're well equipped to eliminate them even if they're not "on their level" power-wise.

I just wasn't sure what (if any) of that needed to be included in this form. Decisions, decisions :-)

BuffySquirrel said...

Okay, leaving aside the strange assumption that Stockholm Syndrome strikes instantly, or perhaps that women don't really mind being kidnapped so long as the kidnapper is fanciable....

High school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange program in Paris – until she's kidnapped outside Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport by a cocky (but cute) British boy named Connor.

As you've already said she's going to Paris, you probably don't need to add Paris to the name of the airport. I realise EE did that, but it's not how CdG is commonly referred to. Apart from that, and the objectionable assumption aforementioned, this is much better imo. Although I would change program to visit.

Kaia wakes up to find she's been recruited into a covert unit made up of teenagers calling themselves "Shifters."

'Recruited' sounds too voluntary. How about conscripted?

Hailing from around the world, each of them possesses the ability to manipulate one of the earth's elements

Each of them hails from around the world? That's not what you meant but it's a valid reading. Dang participles.

– transforming them from gas to liquid, altering their structure, or just moving them around really fast and whacking people with them. At first, Kaia's convinced they've made a terrible mistake.

After some thought, I realised you meant the mistake is forcibly recruiting Kaia, but at first glance it reads as if their mistake is thinking they can do these things, or perhaps doing them. In any case, I think that needs a new paragraph.

I would like some explanation as to how it is that Kaia doesn't know she has powers, but these people apparently do.

Until, that is, she discovers she has a silicon-based power of her own which lets her do little things like shatter and manipulate glass or create flesh-gouging whirlwinds of sand with her mind.

Which is fine, except discovers doesn't feel like the right verb. Learns, maybe. This is presumably something she finds out from the Shifters?

Joining up with this ragtag "family" turns out to be dangerous and terrifying but still pretty cool. Stopping terrorists, busting up drug cartels, saving people's lives – becoming a real life superhero.

Okay (reservations about 'joining' and why she isn't mad as hell at being kidnapped aside).

The next bit again needs a new paragraph imo.

Unbeknownst to Kaia, however, the secretive backers of their group have been feeding all of them misinformation and carefully controlling their missions for one purpose: to use the Shifters to help the very criminals they believed they were stopping.

Is it only Kaia who doesn't know, or is it all the Shifters who don't know? Or is it only some of them who don't know, and others have known all along?

Unbeknownst to the Shifters, however, their secretive backers are deceiving and manipulating them so they can use the group to assist the very criminals they think they're fighting.

Finding out the truth is one thing, but finding a way out is another – especially when the shadowy cabal you've been working for is willing and able to eliminate its assets the instant they stop being of value.

C'mon, there has to be some emotional response to this discovery. They've been lied to, they've been used, everything they think they stand for has been perverted, they've put drugs on the street and they've helped terrorists to bomb, maim and kill. Where's the emotion?

(continued on next rock)

BuffySquirrel said...

Next rock.

--especially when the shadowy backers they've been working for eliminate their assets the instant they lose their value.

Fortunately, Kaia has some powerful new friends on her side, including Connor, that irritating Brit… who also happens to be annoyingly attractive when he risks life and limb to protect those he cares about.

What's Kaia's dilemma? Again, it's not here. Is it in the book?

Evil Editor said...

Not wanting to include an error anywhere on my blog, I Googled Paris airport, and found the official name to be Paris Charles de Gaulle. How it's referred to by frequent travelers may differ from how it's referred to by a kid whose only point of reference is the name of the airport on her ticket. If the name of the airport is on her ticket.

In any case, I had no idea when I wrote that whether the abduction took place in, outside, or miles from the airport, so maybe the airport doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

BuffySquirrel said...

I sit corrected :). Anyway, we don't need Paris twice. (yes, no face saved)

Author said...

From BuffySquirrel:
"Okay, leaving aside the strange assumption that Stockholm Syndrome strikes instantly..."
I think this is a victim of shortening the intro. Here's the order of events: Kaia is arrested upon landing (it's a set-up). Connor breaks in and says "I'm here to rescue you!" Kaia thinks, hey, he's pretty cute. As they're leaving the airport, she starts seeing the holes in the story he's been spinning. He drops the pretense and kidnaps her, at which point she no longer thinks he is cute. She retains that opinion for quite some time, in fact ;-)

Perhaps "High school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange visit in Paris – until the cute (if cocky) British boy who helped her in the airport up and kidnaps her."

Participle question:
How about flipping it to "...a covert unit made up of teenagers hailing from around the world. Calling themselves 'Shifters,' each of them possesses..."

A terrible mistake? How does Kaia not know she has powers? Discovers?
These questions might be fixed by this edit:
"At first, Kaia's convinced they've made a terrible mistake in choosing her.
Until, that is, they help her tap into a silicon-based power of her own which lets her do little things like shatter and manipulate glass or create flesh-gouging whirlwinds of sand with her mind."

"What's Kaia's dilemma?"
I'd probably sum it up as: She doesn't want to continue being used as a "bad guy" but doesn't want to get killed either. I'm not sure if I just didn't convey that idea clearly, or if there's something else you're asking for that I'm not understanding properly. Please elaborate.

P.S. to Buffy and EE: I honestly didn't think anything of calling it Paris Charles de Gaulle since I speak French - and Kaia speaks French, too. I actually use both its shortened and full name in the book. EE, you inadvertently hit it exactly - it takes place right outside.

Author said...

Sorry, Buffy, missed these:

Okay (reservations about 'joining' and why she isn't mad as hell at being kidnapped aside).
This additional sentence might help that:
"Despite her traumatic introduction to their world, Kaia finds the possibility of having a place to belong – a family – too appealing to resist. Joining up turns out to be dangerous and terrifying but still pretty cool..."

C'mon, there has to be some emotional response....Where's the emotion?
"As sickening as it is to realize they've been used as weapons and thugs – that innocent people have suffered at their hands – finding a way out won't be easy.

Especially when the shadowy cabal they've all been working for is willing and able to eliminate its assets the instant they stop behaving."

Maureen said...

I love the additional detail about the 'bad guy' and the twist you've set up. This version of the query really makes me want to read more, and I'm sure you're on the right track.

Of course you can't include every detail about how she was helped in discovering her power or how she hones it. I'd cut the last line about Connor - it's already clear that you're setting him up to be the love interest, or something similar anyway.

Anyway, I like it, and I'd read the book based on this. You've made it clear even within the query that finding this new family is preferable to her old family, even if she got there ... um... involuntarily.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Author, you've got a lot to learn, as we all do. But the one thing which absolutely and completely separates the published from the unpublished is this:

Do you respond to a critique by 1. rewriting, or by 2. answering the critique point by point?

AA said...

AlaskaRavenclaw: I don't see that. This author isn't even arguing. It's just a more transparent way of seeing the author's thought processes to be sure the rewrite addresses major problems. He/she obviously wants to be careful not to misunderstand anybody's comment.

I assumed a rewrite was forthcoming after all the problems were addressed.

Author said...

Maureen:
Thanks for the kind words! EE suggested I cut those lines as well - I'm glad it's still clear Connor is the love interest (it's hard to tell things like that when I'm so close to the story).

Alaska:
"Do you respond to a critique by 1. rewriting, or by 2. answering the critique point by point?"

Well, I definitely have a bit to learn about making my intentions clear ;-)

AA has it right: I was rewriting in response to the critiques and posting those rewrites in sequential order to make sure I was addressing the listed problems.

All of my responses were rewrites, not rebuttals.

I was thinking it would be better to say "Is this what you meant?" or "Does this address the problem you saw?" in small doses instead of posting an entire rewrite when I wasn't sure if more comments were forthcoming.

I certainly was not intending to belittle any criticisms. Quite the contrary - I came here for your opinions, and I am doing my best to incorporate your suggestions.

I will post the next version (with the changes I noted incorporated) very shortly.

Author said...

Okay, here's the second rewrite, incorporating the changes I had mentioned yesterday. See if this fixes the issues mentioned. (I kept the word recruited because it actually is accurate to the way the story plays out - if it still sounds odd, please let me know. "Pulled into" is another possibility.)


High school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange visit in Paris – until the cute (if cocky) British boy who helped her in the airport up and kidnaps her.

Kaia wakes up to find she's been recruited into a covert unit made up of teenagers hailing from around the world. Calling themselves "Shifters," each of them possesses the ability to manipulate one of the earth's elements – transforming them from gas to liquid, altering their structure, or just moving them around really fast and whacking people with them.

At first, Kaia's convinced they've made a terrible mistake in choosing her. Until, that is, they help her tap into a silicon-based power of her own which lets her do little things like shatter and manipulate glass or create flesh-gouging whirlwinds of sand with her mind.

Despite her traumatic introduction to their world, Kaia finds the possibility of having a place to belong – a family – too appealing to resist.

Joining up turns out to be dangerous and terrifying but still pretty cool. Stopping terrorists, busting up drug cartels, saving people's lives – becoming a real life superhero.

Unbeknownst to the Shifters, however, their secretive backers have been manipulating them for one purpose: to help the very criminals they believed they were stopping. As sickening as it is to realize they've been used as weapons and thugs – that innocent people have suffered at their hands – finding a way out won't be easy.

Especially when the shadowy cabal they've all been working for is willing and able to eliminate its assets the instant they stop behaving.

AA said...

This is definitely better. It's clear what's at stake. The plot pretty much makes sense. The conflict is obvious. Shaping up.

Author said...

I seem to be suffering from "too many cooks with this query. In hopes of getting a final polish on it, I let another group look at the final version from here, and they criticized me for adding all of the details you guys advised me to. I just want something solid to represent my book but can't get a "yeah, this works" to save my life.

Here's the version they "approved" of (not really, they just hate it a little less). It makes some things vague again but is punchier in parts. Does this seem like an improvement or a step in the wrong direction?

QUERY:
High school student Kaia Davis is thrilled to leave behind her unloving foster family for a foreign exchange visit – until the cute (if cocky) British boy who helped her in the airport up and kidnaps her.

Kaia wakes up to find she's been recruited into a covert unit made up of teenagers from around the world. They call themselves "Shifters," and each possesses the ability to manipulate one of the atomic elements – transforming them from gas to liquid, altering their structure, or just moving them around really fast and whacking people with them.

Kaia's convinced they've made a terrible mistake… and then they help her tap into a silicon-based power of her own. With it, she can shatter and manipulate glass and create flesh-gouging whirlwinds of sand with her mind.

Despite her traumatic introduction to their world, Kaia finds the possibility of having a place to belong too appealing to resist. Plus, she gets to take out terrorists, bust up drug cartels, and save people's lives. She is a real life superhero.

If only the secretive backers of their group weren't so darn evil.

SHIFTED is a YA sci-fi novel with a multicultural cast and complete for your review. It stands alone but is the first of a planned series of three books.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Evil Editor said...

This is the same as the last version you submitted here, except that instead of telling us what the villains are up to you just tell us they're darn evil.

I generally prefer specificity over vagueness. I don't see that's there's much of a downside in this new version. She's a superhero, she has a family. If we don't know the evil people are a threat to Kaia's job/family/life, why should we care about them?

BuffySquirrel said...

Obviously we are right and they are wrong. Uh, I mean, well.

I like the revision you posted much better than the original. It's pacier and it seems to me I understand what's going on. In the version the other group liked, you still need a but rather than an end in the terrible mistake paragraph.

You could always fling this at QueryShark for a casting vote. Although she's meaner than we are.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I think the last version works better than the previous one. Yes to details but no to excess verbiage explaining said details.

Trouble with QueryShark is she's got a huge backlog and your chances of actually getting critiqued, esp. in a timely fashion, are slim.

I'm not sure anyone is meaner than we are.

Author said...

@EE

"I generally prefer specificity over vagueness...If we don't know the evil people are a threat to Kaia's job/family/life, why should we care about them?"

I was thinking the same thing but found it hard to maintain my confidence in the face of a stream of negative Internet bombardment. I definitely value your input on this - thank you.

@Buffy

I see what you mean about the "but." Thank you.

I actually did send the final version from here to the Shark but she hasn't bitten :-)

@everyone

Sorry if it looks like I was asking about really insignificant changes, but I've been staring at this so long it seemed like every word has earth-shattering importance.

I really need to get outside a bit, don't I? ;-)

Author said...

@Alaska

Thanks for the feedback - I'm glad it's improving! :-)

I get in such a negative internal loop on this sort of stuff I can't tell if it's better, worse, or if starting my own version of "All work and no play makes me a dull girl."

Yeah, I don't hold up much hope for the shark but figured "what they heck." :-)

BuffySquirrel said...

Lol, author, I'm glad you got what I meant despite my typing 'end' instead of 'and'. *facepalm*

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

QS seems to have critiqued one query a month for the last few, and that's against a reported backlog of hundreds. If I was gonna go up against those kinds of odds, I'd rather just be submitting the damn thing and see what happens.

If it's any help, the plot description in the query with which I landed my agent was four sentences long.

Not long-ass sentences. Just ordinary sentences. Less is more.

Evil Editor said...

Hundreds? And we have zero? Of course, if I'd been doing one a month for the past six years, I'd have a backlog of about a thousand.

Rachel6 said...

I liked your second rewrite best, with the details about the villains. You had my attention. You had my full, I-bet-my-sister-would-like-this-too attention, which means I'll actually get the book.

Brava, author! Please let us know when you sell the book, because I'll be watching the stores!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

[shrug] That's what she sez. I have not seen her inbox, of course.

Probably the speed at which they get sharked is largely responsible for the backlog. Maybe also that she's unanonymous and an agent, so folks are hoping to get a foot in the door via the shark tank...

Author said...

@Rachel
Definitely :-) (fingers -and toes- crossed)

@Alaska
Yeah, I sent it to her mostly on a whim - and I'm definitely not waiting on her to send out my letter.

@EE
Maybe you shouldn't be so darn efficient and hard-working - then you could have a backlog, too ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with mc being kidnapped by a cutie at the end of first 'graph and waking up at the start of the second.

??? That leap needs a connection or progression that I couldn't detect.

Also "Shifters" hit me as the wrong word in this query. Preconceived notions.

On "every word has earth-shattering importance", I believe that to be true in the query.

Good luck. Maybe set it aside for a bit.