Guess the Plot
1. Todd is 16 and he's always wanted to be a girl. He runs away from home and takes a new street identity, "Lily." After a few years of hooking and doing meth, he finds new self-respect and becomes an inspirational speaker at high schools. In the triumphant finale, he wins a $70 million lawsuit against Jodi Picoult for writing his life story as fiction with only slight name changes.
2. In a world where time is currency, the heir is kidnapped as a bargaining chip for a slave's freedom. But does the leader have time to spare? Will the slave run out of time? And would either be good or bad? It's all kind of . . . recondite.
3. Quint invents an AI called "Recondite" that operates on obscurities and abstractions. He loads it into a droid modeled after Robert Pattinson and turns it loose at San Diego State, where it wreaks havoc on the ladies of the French Literature department.
4. An apocalyptic cult named cryptically 'Recondite' hides in the mountains of Montana as a lone FBI agent tries to crack their secrets, hoping for a promotion. Instead, he will get a taste of the end of days.
5. When an agent receives a manuscript with an obscure one-word title, it's up to the more than five thousand member National Pawnbrokers Association to decipher the clues and bring the book to publication.
I am sending my query to you in hopes that you will consider representing RECONDITE, a NA contemporary sci-fi novel, complete at 92,000 words. I have included a synopsis and the first 10 pages of my manuscript for your consideration. If you would like a larger sample, or the entire manuscript, you may contact me using the information below my signature. [Zzzzzzzz. Snort. What? Oh, right, queries. Recondite. Wait, that's the title? A word that's obscure, abstruse, and that few people understand? What does it even mean? I'm not interested in a book that makes me feel stupid before I even open it.]
New York City is breeding a terrifying secret. In an underground Compound, [No need to capitalize that.] an ancient community births a hidden society [Are you sure that shouldn't be "an ancient society births a hidden community"?] of people called Recondites. ["Recondite" is a noun?] Enslaved to a debt system where time is currency, Recondite lives are signed away to the Compounds’ [Apostrophe in wrong place.] leader, the Generational. [Since when is "generational" a noun? It sounds like a combination of "general" and "irrational."] With their every move monitored by internal tracking technology, the only way to gain their freedom is to run out of time. [You've run out of time, by which I mean the agent has moved on to the next query. But Evil Editor will forge onward.] ["Running out of time" is considered a bad thing. Gaining freedom is good. Maybe there's a clearer way to state what they must do to gain their freedom.]
Twenty-year-old Recondite Liam wants out of his servitude, but the disappearance of his sister is the crux in his escape plan. [The crux? That makes it sound like he needs her to disappear. Do you mean the snag/crimp/hitch/stumbling block ?] Riddled with guilt over wanting to leave her behind, Liam decides a trade is the only way to get her back: the Generational’s heir for his sister. [Just one problem, he has absolutely no conceivable way of acquiring the Generational's heir.]
Clueless to her inheritance, twenty-year-old heiress Sahar Ihsan awakes terrified in Liam’s home [The enslaved have their own homes?] with no recollection of how she got there. [Well, that turned out to be easier than I expected.] [Why refer to her as the heir and as the heiress? We might think they're two different people.] Desperate to return home, Sahar tries to figure out their connection. [She has to figure it out? Can't she just ask Liam?] [Also, when you've been kidnapped by a stranger it's often for ransom, and there's no "connection."] [In a world where time is currency, you'd assume a kidnapper would demand time as ransom, but because running out of time is a good thing here, the kidnapper would say, you can have your heir back, but first you have to also take all my time. It makes for a confusing negotiation, akin to a kidnapper in a money-based society paying you to take back his hostage. Which is what happens in "The Ransom of Red Chief." I haven't thought of that in decades.] When Liam is forced to unveil the horrifying secret Sahar’s community has kept hidden from her, Sahar is faced with an impossible decision: take her rightful place as heiress or help free the man she was never meant to meet. [Help free Liam? I thought she was Liam's prisoner, and had to decide whether to help him free his sister.]
RECONDITE is my debut novel. I currently reside in Philadelphia.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Put the first paragraph at the end, and shorten it to one sentence.
Is everything underground?
What do you mean by Sahar is "clueless to her inheritance"? Does she not know she's the heir, or just not know exactly what she'll inherit?
The horrifying secret Sahar's community has hidden from her is that her community has birthed a hidden society of people enslaved to a debt system where time is currency? I doubt she'd find that horrifying. I doubt she'd have any idea what it means.
Dump the whole thing. It's too recondite. Start with something like:
Twenty-year-old Liam wants out of his servitude, but his escape plan hits a snag when his sister goes missing. He decides a trade is the only way to get her back, but first he'll have to kidnap the Generalissimo's heiress.
Possibly even that leads to too many questions. Maybe start with Sahar waking in Liam's home, where he tells her in clear language what's been going on under her nose.
The important thing is to get to a main character up front. We want to read about people, not communities and societies. And get rid of "Generational" and "Recondite." They're killing you. You know a title sucks when only three people submit fake plots--and I'm not sure whether the first fake plot was supposed to be for this title or another one.