Thursday, March 13, 2014

Face-Lift 1194

Guess the Plot

Noah's Ark

1. Earth was destroyed centuries ago, and thousands of people bought their way onto Noah's Ark, which is taking them who knows where. Sort of. Actually, the Ark is a game set on a simulated Earth, and if you lose in the game, it's game over in the real world too. Shoulda read the fine print.

2. When Noah closed the hatch before the dinosaurs boarded, God was pissed. A simple three-hour tour--A three hour tour!--turned into...well, you know the tale. What's unknown was God's plan to use dinos as population control. Now look at the mess were in. It's all Noah's fault.

3. New scientific evidence has been uncovered that confirms the historical "flood" story was more than Biblical fiction, and that while Noah had two of every creature, he reluctantly brought seven brides for his son Shem, and his six brothers.

4. Unashamed of his fetish for dressing as a furry cartoon character and having anonymous Comic-Con sex, Noah maxes out his credit cards to open the Noah's Ark nightclub, bringing down the wrath of PETA, fundamentalist Christians, and Russell Crowe in one fell swoop.

5. Writer Johnathan Springman's autistic son Noah features prominently in his columns for the New York Sun. When Noah begins talking about his collection of animals, Springman decides to investigate. That's when he finds the warehouse full of bodies. Now what?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen year old Victoria Fischman desperately regrets buying her way into the Noah's Ark. [The Noah's Ark?] 

The exclusive simulated excursion becomes a lethal game when an unanticipated attack wipes out half of the students in the area. [Not clear to me whether people have been wiped out in the game or for real.] If Victoria dies here, it’s game over for her in the real world. [Not clear if you're saying she actually dies if her character in the game dies. Sounds like it, but who would sign on for that game?] Same thing goes for her missing younger sister and best friend, and ten thousand other students. Guilt-ridden for getting her sister and friend into this, Victoria is determined to do anything to find and escape with them.

To escape, Victoria has to defeat invading alien Commanders in a cybernetic Earth, [Unsure what a cybernetic Earth was, I looked up cybernetic, which means "pertaining to communications in animals and machines." Still don't know what a cybernetic Earth is. I'm guessing a virtual Earth?] modelled after the real one that was destroyed centuries ago. Putting down her strong need for self-sufficiency to team up with military-trained Liam Ignatius, she becomes one of the strongest fighters by slaying hostilities [Hostiles?] to gain Experience Points and Levels. [Is it game over in the real world for those she slays?]

But an impossible Quest arrives, and she realizes that individual strength isn't everything when she's forced to work with Anna Drew, leader of the other survivors. [The other survivors besides her and Liam?] Her conscience screams for her to inform the others when the charismatic and cunning Anna sacrifices a few followers for information. [By "the others" do you mean Anna's other followers?] [From whom does Anna want information? If it's from a neutral party, they would want valuables, not the sacrifice of her followers. If it's from the enemy, how can she trust the information is legit?]

Now Victoria has to decide if that’s worth upsetting the solidarity of the survivors, as the fall of the town would lead to their annihilation. [The town? This is set in a town? I thought we were on a spaceship. Is the town on a planet? Is it a sim-town?] [You haven't connected upsetting the solidarity of the survivors with the fall of the town. To whom is the town in danger of falling?]

NOAH'S ARK is my debut. It is an 80,000 word YA novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards


Is Noah's Ark a computer game? If so, why can't players just turn off their computers if they want to quit?

How does Victoria know it's game over in the real world if she dies in the game? Where, exactly, are the people who are playing the game?

I don't find any of this clear.You need to ground us in the situation: When Martian colonist Victoria talks her sister and best friend into playing Noah's Ark, a computer game set on a simulated planet Earth, she has no idea Noah's Ark makes The Hunger Games look like Candyland. THEY'RE ALL GONNA DIE! FOR REALSIES!

Unfortunately, once I have that setup, even though what happens in the game is far more exciting than what happens in the real world, I'm more interested in what happens in the real world than in the game. Go figure.

If the vast majority of the book involves gaining Experience Points and Levels, I'm thinking the type of person this would appeal to is the type who would rather be playing their own games than reading about other people's games.

It sounds like you have an adventure story that might be exciting in its own right, but that you decided the story would be better if were happening on a game board rather than in real life. True, the stakes are higher than in a game of Risk, but even if I knew the winner got to kill the losers I wouldn't want to read a novel about a game of Risk. Your query needs to clearly tell us what's going on, and if most of what's going on is set in the real world, focus the query on that, rather than on the game.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Okay. So you can pay money to go on this virtual excursion, but if you die on it, you're dead in the real world.

That sounds exactly like any other excursion. If you die on your tour of 17 European cities in 16 days, you're dead in the real world.

Since most people are likely to take very little interest in a novel in which characters are merely playing a game, I'd de-emphasize the game aspect in the query, or leave it out altogether. Words like "experience points" and "level" take me back to many hours spent playing D&D as a teenager, before I finally admitted I was bored out of my mind. Even the people who weren't bored (guys, mostly) wouldn't want to read a D&D game.

After all, who'd want to read these books?

Teenager Katniss Everdeen gets roped into a game where she must defeat 23 other players, using archery and every other skill she possesses. The stakes? Only her life.

Ender Wiggin may be just a kid, but he's an expert at the Game, in which he leads an army of children against another army of children and they zap each other with non-lethal guns in an anti-gravity room. The stakes? Only the survival of an intelligent alien species.

(Obviously lots of people want to read the above books. But they want to read them despite the fact that they are about a game, not because of it.)

Also, watch out for your word choice. If 10,000 teenagers can go on this excursion, it's not exclusive.

And, a final note... Noah's Ark is only your debut if it gets published. Since 10 out of 10 agents are snarky, it's better just to leave that out.

SB said...

I agree, this is a very confusing query.

Building on what AlaskaRavenclaw said, I personally find it difficult to get into these kind of books where they're inside a game, even if they die in real life if they die in the game, because I've played enough MMOs that the games in these books never seem like realistic extensions of the games we have today.

And, fundamentally, it's just not all that interesting to read about someone playing a video game, which is kind of what this sounds like (although a futuristic version).

I'd also recommend finding a title that tells the reader a little more about your book. Noah's ark already brings a certain story to mind. If your story isn't that story, or even related to that story, it would be better to find something that at least doesn't lead the reader in the wrong direction expectation-wise.

Unknown said...

I have to disagree with folks so far. At least, maybe I'm in a minority but I don't find the idea of reading about people trapped in a game boring. I really liked the game aspect in both the Hunger Games and Ender's Game. There's also Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and also TV shows etc where characters have to beat the game, but those tend to have a strong cyber-Sci-fi feel.

I think the key though is: is the fact that's it's a game crucial to your main theme or plot arc? If what fascinated you most is how your MC has to make horrible decisions when other leaders start sacrificing the "less iomportant" kids, then maybe you don't need the 'game' framework.

But if it's the MCs struggle to beat the Game itself (not just survive the Game)and outsmarting the Game and/or finding out who created the Game, how this happened to them etc is all crucial to what fascinated you into writing this book in the first place, then keep it.

That all said. The query itself makes a lot of jumps where you're forgetting that we the readers know way less than you do. Simplify and restart.

Good luck!

Evil Editor said...

The Hunger Games and Ender's Game are not analogous to this story in any way that I can see, assuming that this story is what I think it is from the query.

CavalierdeNuit said...

This does sound very similar to Katniss' and Ender's adventures, but it feels solid. What if Victoria didn't know she was on a simulated ark until it was too late? The clues for getting out could be in a Bible, and she has to fight demons. If you're going to use a Biblical reference, I would go with Christianity's superstitions. Also, is she Jewish? Fischman?

CavalierdeNuit said...

...and Tron...

Unknown said...

K. So what I got is this: Victoria is playing this exclusive game, in which she is mentally linked to an avatar--rather like Neo going into The Matrix. While there, the game is hacked by aliens, who slaughter their avatars, and also their human counterparts.

But, instead of powering down and leaving the game, they have to finish to escape the matrix, like Tron and a Hunger Games. Victoria, most probably, didn't understand this quirk in the sign on/sign out aspect, amiright?

So, now her virtual self, her avatar, is fighting for her actual life, yes? And she must cooperate with the other avatars in order to survive, yes?

It has some interesting ideas, but if my summary is accurate, I can't figure out why they can't leave the game. That part doesn't work for me.

Also, I struggle with the larger context--forcing cooperativity from what amounts to anti-social gamers. And, the big conflict between Anna and Victoria feels contrived. If I were playing Xbox live and had a bunch of allies--people I gamed with for months/years, who also turned out to be a total D-bag, I likely wouldn't have any trouble turning their attack against a newbie. Nor would I risk the newbie turning their support from me. Perhaps the lethal issues might play a role, but I have a feeling it would work opposite--strength stays with strength.

In H games, people didn't abandon the Careers because Katniss was fab. They clung to their alliances, and tried to make themselves stronger.

What strikes me as odd, from the query, how do the players/avatars know that a virtual death is a real death? They are in the game. They can't see the players dying, as they are likely inserted remotely anyhow. To me, this is the hardest to accept. Either they can enter/leave the game at will, and learn of the players actual,demise. If so, re-entering seems a colossal mistake. If not able to enter/leave, then they would only recognize the live players deaths by knowing it was a consequence of the game initially--which makes signing on in the FIRST place a colossal mistake.

You need to make it clearer what are the parameters of the game, and how much the players understand before entering. If this was unknown to only Victoria, say it. If it was known pre-game, well, the players seem TSTL, IMHO.

These are my thoughts...
Needs clarity, as others have mentioned. Might be good, but I suspect we have some plot holes needing attention.

Anonymous said...

The idea of experience points bothers me. Experience points are used in games to simulate gaining real life experiences. If the game is as futuristic as it sounds, the characters should be able to gain experiences normally. You could discuss the character learning how to control their game body versus their real body, if you want to incorporate non-human skills. As a roleplayer I try my best to link experience points to actual events in the game to avoid the awkwardness of this game mechanic.

SB said...

My guess about how they know death=death is that somehow they have communication with the real world or can see what's going on there in some way, only they can't leave.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, author here! Really appreciate everyone’s comments – lots of food for thought!

I’ve revised the query as follows:

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen year old Victoria Fischman desperately regrets buying her way into The Noah's Ark. The simulated history excursion was supposed to a welcome break from the classroom. By linking students’ brains to a central server, they'll be able to experience what Earth was like, before it was destroyed.

But shortly after entering the simulation, fellow students die in front of her eyes. Then, an announcement is made: If Victoria dies here, it’s game over for her in the real world. Same thing goes for her missing younger sister and best friend, and ten thousand other students. There’s no escape until invading alien Commanders are defeated in circumstances that mimic what occurred centuries ago.

Guilt-ridden for getting her sister and friend into this, Victoria is determined to do anything to find and escape with them. Putting down her strong need for self-sufficiency to team up with military-trained Liam Ignatius, she becomes one of the strongest fighters.

But an impossible Quest arrives, and she realizes that individual strength isn't everything when she is forced to work with Anna Drew, leader of the other survivors. Her conscience screams for her to inform the rest when Anna sacrifices a few of her followers for critical intelligence about the invaders. Also, what’s to say that Victoria wouldn’t be next?

Now she has to decide if that’s worth upsetting the solidarity of the survivors in the face of an impending assault.

NOAH'S ARK is an 80,000 word YA novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards


Yes, like Veronica Rundell said, it’s rather like Neo entering The Matrix, but unlike Redpills disconnecting their minds from the Matrix, there’s no known Exit. As avatars of other students get destroyed, the announcement is made – even though there’s no way Victoria can be certain that she’d die if she got herself killed in-game, she isn't about to test that statement for truth.

About Victoria’s conflict with Anna, I think I didn’t make it clear enough at first; it’s not only about Anna turning on the rest, Victoria’s worried that she might also be sacrificed when convenient.

Thanks for the input about the experience points, levelling, etc – that’s not really a central part of the story, so I’ve removed it. Also, I’m brainstorming alternative titles, as I see that Noah’s Ark might not be very suitable… but I’ve still not yet come up with something.

Thanks once again for all the insightful comments!

Chicory said...

I think you're still leaving us a bit in the dark about Anna. It sounds to me like Victoria can't stand her, is only gritting her teeth and putting up with Anna so she can be with the rest of the group. When she finds out Anna is willing to kill said rest of group, why would she NOT tell everyone and try to take Anna's place as leader? She has everything to gain and nothing to loose.

If Anna was a close friend I could understand the conflicting loyalties. As it stands, I'm not seeing the conflict in that part of the story at all.

Unless... is Victoria afraid Anna's followers will kill anyone who tries to leave the main group, sort of like `Lord of the Flies'? If she is, that's not coming across in the query

Evil Editor said...

I still don't see why the game is called The Noah's Ark rather than Noah's Ark. You didn't title the book The Noah's Ark.

I still can't tell if "the other survivors" means the others besides Liam and Victoria, or if there are two rival groups of survivors. Are her sister and friend among the "other survivors"

It seems to me the villain of the book shouldn't be Anna or the alien Commanders, but whoever is simulating the destruction of Earth at the cost of 10,000 lives. Thus that person/organization should be the villain of the query. Yet they aren't even mentioned. Who thought this simulation was a good idea?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Okay. You de-emphasized the game aspect, which is good, and it's now slightly clearer what's going on.

The writing would put me off if I were an agent. You dangle a couple of modifiers. Passive voice constructions are to be avoided. And you have a lot of what I call "National Geographic sentences." (Beginning each sentence with a dependent clause, a writer who does this too often can drive a reader nuts.)

It seems like you still haven't gotten to the heart of this story.

Unknown said...

Okay, the last statement has to go. Deciding to 'upset the solidarity of survivors' is a much lower stakes question than, say, escape alive.

The part about her strong need for self-sufficiency seems odd. Why waste words? She teams up with a prize ally to save her loved ones and escape the game--that's the point. Why does she need to also team up with Anna?

And this impossible quest raises more questions without answers in the query. Why not simply say in order to complete her mission, Victoria must ally herself with other ruthless fighters, and she's not sure she will survive the partnership...

I am totally thrown by the "defeat of invading alien Commanders" "in circumstances that mimic what happened centuries ago." I though this story was relatively contemporary...or near future at best. Who are these alien commanders? Why are they in this game? In the first query I thought they hijacked the game, but now it seems as though they are a construct of the game, thus making the game designers the evil murdering perhaps you should address this.

Maybe it's me, but when I think of Noah's Ark immediately I think of a flood. Your game sounds nothing like the biblical fable--and that's confusing.

Furthermore, lots of civilizations have risen and fallen--one could set this at any historical civilization zenith. I can't imagine he allure of the time prior to The Great Flood. Going into a simulation to see a bunch of semi-agrarian sheep farmers muddle through? Kinda not interesting. I'd rather see the gladiators in Rome, or the Inca have a ball game, or something.

What will school be like for kids 50 years from now? Maybe no buildings, no classes, everyone trains/learns at home via Interwebs. Maybe they all get jacked in to the knowledge stores and that's how all these kids got sucked into this deathscape. Just thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"But shortly after entering the simulation, fellow students die in front of her eyes. Then, an announcement is made: If Victoria dies here, it’s game over for her in the real world. Same thing goes for her missing younger sister and best friend, and ten thousand other students."

This would read better in one sentence. "But shortly after entering the simulation, fellow students die in front of her eyes. Then, an announcement is made: If anyone dies here, it’s game over for them in the real world. Now Victoria has to locate her missing younger sister and best friend before the unthinkable befalls them."

Or something like that. When I first read it, I thought "why only Victoria," and then in the second line I wondered why it was repeated.

I also have to agree with the others, the stakes have to be somehow beating the game (not just winning in the game, but breaking the rules of the game and getting out of it). In hunger games and battle royale the characters defeated the game by breaking the 'only one will survive' rule. So we need some idea on how the characters will get out of the game and stick it to whoever trapped them in there.

PLaF said...

The character development you provide for Victoria is weak. The character herself lacks personality.
You tell us she’s desperate, regretful, and guilt-ridden and give us no strong reason to care why.
What was Victoria’s original reason for buying her way into Noah’s Ark?
Is she a history buff? If so, then this is what has to help her in the long run, i.e. National Treasure.
Did she volunteer? If so, what was her motivation for doing so? This must also come into play in Act Three.
It’s fine that the game isn’t what she expects – we expect that.
A character who gives up a strong sense of self-sufficiency does not matter if we don’t originally care about the character.
Also, since she does that with Liam, it’s not as big of a stretch for her to give up her notions of individual strength to team up with Anna. Thus, no tension is increased as you, or the reader, might hope.
If the idea of sacrificing followers for intelligence is repulsive to Victoria, then this has to be the key difference between her and Anna.
So, I suggest the following:
Victoria is an avid gamer, much to the chagrin of her parents and little sister. She buys her way onto Noah’s Ark to avoid taking her final history exam. The simulation lets them experience Earth the way it was before a centuries old alien invasion decimated the planet.
It wasn’t supposed to include a simulated repeat of the invasion. It wasn’t supposed to kill her instructor and more than half of the students that went with her. Terrified, Victoria considers allowing herself to die in order to leave the simulation, but Liam, a military tactician also trapped in the simulation, tells her any death is permanent. The only way out is to complete a series of quests and earn experience points, health packs, and provisions and defeat the alien invasion by blowing up their ship.
When she and Liam team up with another band of survivors to complete a quest, Victoria is horrified when their leader Anna Drew betrays team members to obtain intelligence on the invaders. Victoria angrily tells Anna she will report her actions to the others, but Anna has another secret. The aliens have hostages: 10,000 human minds, and Victoria’s sister is among them.
Now Victoria has to decide who will outlive, outplay, and outlast this fracking game.

St0n3henge said...

"Then, an announcement is made: If Victoria dies here, it’s game over for her in the real world."
This isn't adequately explained for me. Why?
Why should anyone bother to construct a huge game simulation for the specific purpose of making a bunch of teenagers hunt each other down and kill each other? This suggest not just one, but a team of really sadistic people working together for this specific purpose.
If they just wanted to kill students, they could use bombs or biological warfare.
Or perhaps the announcement is just supposed to make the students think they can die in real life when they really can't. But again, who, as a group, would be this sadistic, and why?

SB said...

Okay, now I'm getting this: someone has this "game" they created, advertised it in some way, got people psyched to try it out as a sort of virtual excursion. Once they've got everyone's money and got them trapped in the game, they decide to tell them that the game has to be played through and if they die in the game, they die for real.

So the people are now trapped by these unknown gamemasters in this deadly game.

So the conflict I'm expecting to happen is the people inside the game figuring out how to get to the people who run the game, escape the game, and punish the gamemasters for trying to kill a bunch of people. (And I'm also hoping the gamemasters' reasons for doing this elaborate sort of execution are going to be explained.)

What I'm certainly not interested in is seeing the so-called heroine do just like the gamemasters say and put all her energy into playing the game through and letting herself get distracted by the way other people are playing.

In other words, it seems to me that the heroine (and everyone else) has the wrong goal, which means that my interest in seeing her achieve it is nonexistent.

Anonymous said...

A big thank you to everyone for your helpful comments!

Let's try this again:

Dear Evil Editor and minions,

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Fischman desperately regrets buying her way into the "Noah's Ark”. The simulated history excursion to Earth was supposed to be a welcome break from her condescending history teacher and pesky bodyguards.

Instead, hackers strike, and she is trapped in the Final Days of Earth. Terrified, Victoria considers allowing herself to die to leave the simulation. But Liam Ignatius, a military tactician also trapped in the simulation, tells her any death is permanent. There’s no escape until alien Commanders are defeated in circumstances that mimic what happened when the real Earth was destroyed centuries ago. Now Victoria has to locate her missing younger sister and best friend before the unthinkable befalls them.

As the fight continues, dark secrets begin to emerge. Though the students were taught that everyone escaped during the Final Days, it’s slowly becoming clear that they’ve been lied to by the Confederation for their whole lives... but why? Victoria comes close to uncovering the hackers’ intentions, but huge waves of aliens attack, upsetting her investigations.

Eventually, she must join forces with the other students to survive. Then she discovers that Anna Drew, their leader, sacrificed some of her followers for critical intelligence, repeating the horrible atrocities that occurred in the real battle on Earth. Victoria’s conscience screams for her to tell the others, but she has to decide if it’s worth upsetting their solidarity at a time when banding together is their only hope.

NOAH'S ARK is a YA novel, complete at 79,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards


I hope it's clearer now. Thank you all so much!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

1st paragraph = great. We can tell what's going on, and we've got stakes. Rock on.

2nd paragraph = huh? What happened to our stakes and to knowing what was going on? We don't care about this. You already gave us something to care about in the first paragraph. Build on that.

IMHO said...

I'm still having a problem knowing what's historical, what's virtual, and what's real. For example, "huge waves of aliens attack." Is this part of the game, something the hackers added, or is it really happening (again)? It may be crystal clear in the book, but if it's not clear in the query, you risk losing the agent's attention.

I also need a hint of why the hackers hacked the Ark, to keep the story credible. (as it reads now, I keep thinking 'just shut the d*mn game down.') Are the hackers a powerful political group?

Finally, an inconsistency -- you mention the atrocities of the final days, but also that 'everyone escaped'. Usually atrocities = someone dies.

It sounds like a complicated plot, so it's not surprising the query is tough to write. Keep at it!

Unknown said...

Take the sister and BFF out of the query. It's enough to have Victoria fight for herself.

WHEN are we? Where are we? On a colony? A ship? Why does this teenager require bodyguards? That's a lot of questions.

I think you need to cut Liam, too. sorry. He's a distraction, and how HE knows the secret of their mortal destruction only muddies things.

How does Victoria get any handle on the hackers intentions? This doesn't seem a plausible plot point. Unless, does she break out of the game and overhear them discussing their nefarious plot? Because going back to digital-death seems plain dumb after she was free...

Look, I'm sure this is a good story. You've just gotta get the points across better. Most of this reads like setup, to me. And I don't follow the political linkages with Anna's behavior.

Keep trying!

Unknown said...

I was also confused about what was Earth's history as the MC knew vs. what actually happened vs. what's happening in the game, and how the MC could know the hackers' intentions from inside the simulation.

Also the bodyguards. I kept waiting for the MC to turn out to be the President's daughter and this whole trap-your-children-in-a-game a way to blackmail the most important people in the Confederation or something...but then that didn't happen.

I have a different take on whether or not to include the sister and friend than Veronica, although I agree with the general idea of streamlining. If the sister is trapped too, then that better be really important to the MC's motivation, in which case I wouldn't take it out of the query. I would actually expect it to be MORE in the query. But right now, the sister and the BFF are written in like an afterthought.

It makes total sense to prune small subplots out of the query--but if saving your little sister is only a small subplot for this character, then I don't much like this character. If that's true better not just to take the sister out of the query--take her out of the book. Fighting for her own life and the lives of the other ragtag teammates she's come to care about might be stakes enough.

(And if the BFF in danger is only meant to raise the stakes in the exact same way having a family member in danger does, then the BFF's role in the novel is redundant.)

It sounds like a story I want to read. Take that as great encouragement! But the logical steps to the story just aren't coming through yet.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. This sounds suspiciously like that Sword Art Online anime series. Also Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. See also a ton of other stuff...

Anonymous said...

Author here again! Thanks to all for your valuable feedback, I've been really encouraged by some of your comments :')

Dear Evil Editor and minions,

Victoria Fischman, seventeen-year-old heir of the Confederation’s Genomics Institute, desperately regrets bribing her headmaster for places on the “Noah’s Ark”. The simulated excursion to Earth was only supposed to be a welcome break for her and her sister from their condescending history teacher and pesky bodyguards!

Instead, hackers strike, and there’s no escape for Victoria or any of the ten thousand children of the Confederation’s top cadre. Victoria and the others have to defeat virtual alien Commanders in circumstances that mimic what happened when the real Earth was destroyed centuries ago, before the hackers will let them go.

The hackers’ reveal their intention as the fight continues. Though the students were taught that everyone escaped during the Final Days of Earth, they were lied to by the Confederation for their whole lives. The hackers want revenge for the whitewashing of history – and they’re going to hit the Confederation where it hurts the most.

Now it's up to Victoria to stop them, with the outside world seemingly unaware of their predicament. She’d do whatever it takes to save her sister, even if it means playing by the hackers’ rules.

NOAH'S ARK is a YA novel, complete at 79,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards


I've pruned out some of the smaller plot arcs, to make the more important points stand out. I hope it makes the plot clearer now.

Thank you all once again for all your help, I really, really appreciate it. You guys rock!

Evil Editor said...

I still think "the" Noah's Ark sounds wrong. If you're gonna add "the" I think you should say the Noah's Ark computer simulation of... I also think it should be "in" rather than "on." She's not getting a place on a boat, but rather in a game.

Do really need to bribe someone to play a game that has at least 10,000 players? And if so, how is it the headmaster of your school is in charge of who gets into this game? What did she offer him? What's the point of the bribery? Why not just have her enter the game?

I think you can do without "the conderations's top cadre," whatever that means. Just say there's no escape for her or the other players.

I'd like to know if all the players are in one building or on one spaceship or on one planet.

Not clear how this game hits the confederation where it hurts. If the kids succeed, nothing bad happens to anyone? If you want to hit someone where it hurts, you don't leave open an option where nothing bad happens.

Not clear what you mean by the outside world is seemingly unaware what's going on. Are they aware or not? Is the confederation part of the outside world? Because if they don't even know what's happening, this isn't hitting them where it hurts.

Tk said...

Latecomer, so I only read the last version to come to it fresh. The bribing is to show V's agency, yes? I wouldn't take it out.

The part that confuses me is playing by the hackers rules, since the implication is clear (well, this is what I took from it) that the hackers plan for all the kids to die. I'm left with an impression of a really dark story if so - not just children dying but the heroine not caring as long as she saves one person. Which may be realistic, but disturbing. If V does manage to save everyone I wish you'd find a way to hint at her potential heroism.

Otherwise I thought its tightly-written with decent rhythm (some mouthful sentences at the beginning!), stakes, protagging, all the good stuff.

Evil Editor said...

Not sure what you mean by agency, tk; I think if V merely talks her sister into doing the Rrk game, she'll feel just as guilty as if she bribed someone to get into the game. Bribing the headmaster sounds like an unlikely occurrence that was included because the author needed it for some reason. If it became known a headmaster could be bribed kids would bribe him for all A's and threaten to blow the whistle if he refused. He'd be finished.

Mister Furkles said...

I think it is stronger if it isn't a computer simulation but a simulator. Singer-Link makes simulators for aircraft and DoD vehicles. I'm thinking it is, or should be, something like the old movie Westworld (1970s). That makes it a physical simulation rather than a simple computer game. If that is the case, you need to make it clear in the query.

I like the setup better than before but it is still too long and there is little specific in the rest of the plot. I recommend you drop the following from the query: the Confederation, Victoria's sister (10000 dead kids is enough), the bribery, and the headmaster. You might change the name to Earth's Ark. Changing the name removes the coincidence of the movie Noah. Also, in the Biblical story, Noah's ark was to escape a disaster—so the parallel isn't there.

You should remove extraneous words and some of the modifiers too.

The setup paragraphs can read as follows:

“Seventeen-year-old heiress Victoria Fischman regrets joining Earth's Ark, a simulator excursion to experience the final days of Earth. She wants a break from condescending teachers and annoying bodyguards.
“Hackers take control of the simulator and block escape. Victoria and ten thousand children must combat virtual aliens in the reenactment Earth's final days of destruction.”

Then give a load of specifics: What does V try to do? What prevents her? What are the risks of failure? If possible, say why the hackers did it or what they are trying to accomplish.

If it's all because the history books have lies, find a better reason. Almost all school history books are filled with simplifications, distortions, and lies. It's no reason to kill anybody.

SB said...

My reading of the "hit them where it hurts" part is that if the kids fail, then the ruling class have just had all their kids die. If the kids succeed and make it out of the game, then they do so after learning the real truth of whatever happened, which presumably is meant to turn them against their parents/ancestors in some way. Of course, if the hackers are the descendants of the people who were wronged by the rulers' decisions which the game hack is meant to reveal, then I can't imagine this scenario would succeed in making the kids sympathetic to the injustice. I'd expect the kids who survived, even knowing what the hackers showed them, to come out of it thinking that those people deserved whatever it was they got and that the annihilation should have been more thorough (so that the hackers would not have been around to do that to them).

Regarding the title, I still think it needs to change. For one thing, like someone said, the ark was the one place of safety meant to protect people/animals from the destruction going on everywhere else. This is the opposite of that. But mostly it's because I still think that if I were to pick up a story called "Noah's Ark" it would be in some clear way related to the actual story of Noah's ark. So finding out it's not even thematically related would probably annoy me, which isn't really the emotion you want someone to have when they start reading your book.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

If nothing else, at least get rid of that extraneous apostrophe.

Evil Editor said...

By which she means the one in "The hackers' reveal..."

Unknown said...

Does it have to be 10,000 children? I feel like taking a dozen of the most powerful families' kids might be as effective, and seem less like you're raising the number just to make sure we get it that this is REALLY BAD.

If we care about the characters, readers will think their lives are high enough stakes whether there's two or twenty thousand of them.

I echo others' comments about not clearly understanding the hackers' overall goal. Just killing the kids for revenge is an option, but a fairly unsophisticated one. Also then there's gotta be an easier way of killing them them giving them an opportunity to win the game and have some of them escape? And I'm not sure how killing most of them will make them take the 'history lesson' to heart. Just make sure the hackers aren't really dumb, because then they're pretty lame antagonists.

My only other encouragement, amid all these suggestions, is to remember to keep your voice coming through. No one can tell you exactly what that looks like, but just make sure that in the process of trying to take all our constructive criticism that your query doesn't lose all it's colour.

Best of luck.