Feb 28, 2010

Revised Query - Absorption

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent X:

Does the hive mind on the planet Oceania threaten to devour humanity – or can Major Brett Johnson find a way to avert a bloody invasion of the home world of the woman he loves?

As a young medic, Brett Johnson saw atrocities perpetrated by the hive mind Alexander. Now the Space Force sends him to the planet Oceania where the nanotechnology Alexander was based upon was developed. Many thousands of brains are linked together by nanotechnology into the oldest and largest hive mind in existence, and the planet has derived many economic and medical benefits from it.

Major Brett Johnson’s job is to convince the Oceanians that those who voluntarily became part of the hive mind don’t fully understand the peril to their humanity, and that they must allow the nanotechnology and everything based on it to be destroyed rather than forcing the Federalist Worlds to fight a war against them. He is also to learn as much as possible about Oceanian technology to win a war if one is inevitable.

At first Brett believes in his mission. Then he rashly seduces a beautiful woman, knowing this may interfere with his task, yet wanting to distract her from giving her soul to the hive mind. With her help he learns more about Oceania than his superiors could have hoped – but begins to question what he’s been told. Is the hive mind truly a malignant entity seeking to trick humans into building the tools it needs to absorb them – or a collaborative tool enabling people to perform superhuman feats of intellect?

He can only find out by becoming part of the supermind. If he was right all along and no individual can ever leave, he will never know what he’s lost – and those who hear his report may not understand until it’s too late. If his doubts are correct, it may well be too late to convince his superiors, and the home world of the woman he loves may be wracked by a devastating and unnecessary war.

Absorption is an 80,000 word science fiction novel. I received my Masters of Library Science from the State University of New York at Albany.

Grateful Regards,

David Weisman


David F. Weisman said...

I'm still thinking about changing the title - the subject of paper towels did come up before in a previous query workshop, but it's meant to suggest assimilation (like the Borg) without being too familiar.

Piedmont Writer said...

David, The title is fine.

This, like the first query on which I commented, is still way too long and filled with way too much information. I know you think the agent "won't get it" if you don't explain, but please, less is more in some cases. Because of all this other info, you have just seriously confused me.

First sentence - opening - should not be a question if it is meant to be the hook. "The hive mind on the planet Oceania threatens to devour humanity unless Major Brett Johnson finds a way to avert a bloody invasion on (on, not of) the home world of the woman he loves."

You do not need the second paragraph at all, it's all backstory. You only need 4 things for a query; hook, conflict, motivation and goal. You have the hook.

The conflict-- He must convince the people of Oceania not to be usurped by the entity known as Alexander (the hive mind).

The motivation -- To help the woman he loves.

The goal -- to avoid war.

You need to be able to answer those three things with one sentence each. From there, you will find your query. Upon those three sentences you can use two or three more to elucidate.

What you have here is just confusing. It's too much backstory, reads like a synopsis. Simplify. simplify, simplify. 250-275 words.

Query writing is worse than writing the novel, everyone says so. Unfortunately a necessary evil in our business.

The premise of the story is good, you just need to showcase the highlights, as it were.

You also might take a look at some of your sentence structures, they're way too long. Which is, I think part of the initial confusion, you're just trying to explain too much.

And this is only my humble opinion. Good luck with the revisions and I look forward to the next.

Shelley Sly said...

Piedmont Writer summed it up well concerning length and how to condense the query, but I just wanted to add that I really like the premise of the book. Once your query is shorter and snappier, I think agents will grab onto your story in no time. Best of luck!

Falen said...

I agree 10% with Piedmont. The first thing that struck me as being an issue is your first sentence. Cut it and your Query will already read much cleaner. There's also nothing in that first sentence that you don't address later, so cutting it will also help you avoid repetition.

I don't have a problem with the title. I actually liked it.

The Query is one to two paragraphs too long. I would follow what Piedmont said and try to cut it down. Shorter is almost always better

Blee Bonn said...

I agree with the others. Definitely, definitely don't start with questions. Do a search on agents and rhetorical questions and you will see how many agents really don't like this method at all. For the query, here's the pattern I follow, courtesy of agent Janet Reid and her blog.

1. Don’t start with a rhetorical question. You’re talking to really sardonic people in New York City, and they’re not going to answer the question how you expect.
2. Get right to the main character—by name.
3. Tell who he/she is, and do it in as few words as possible.
4. Tell what happens to him or her—the initial point of conflict in the book.
5. Show two choices the main character faces as well as the consequences of those choices. The stakes must be high.

There was more to that post and I have tried to find it again but without success. I'm still searching because I've come to realize it is an awesome post.

Good luck!

Blee Bonn said...

By the way, I had saved this part of Janet Reid's post into my own query letter so I could look at it and that's why I have that section. In case you were wondering. :)

myliteraryquest said...

Ok... where to start? The good news is I can see great improvement from the first query submitted. The bad news is there is still a bit of work that needs to be done. Work on removing everything that is backstory or unnecessary explanation. I agree with everyone here. You might want to put the project away for a few days or more and then reread it with a fresh eye.

Emily said...

I think my comments are going to echo those above but here goes:

The first sentence does not make sense. The "or" construction does not work for me. Also, don't start with a question. Trust me I understand the temptation (see my first draft), but just don't. You need a stronger hook here.

Para 3 is too long. It could easily be condensed. "Brett's mission is to convince the Oceanians to allow the nanotech..."
That first sentence is quite lengthy. Condense.

Para 4 - I would cut this out completely. The woman does not seem that important, after all we don't even get her name.

Para 5 - Condense. Also I had a problem with the logic here. If he's right he will lose his humanity, but if his doubts are correct... then the hive mind is not a threat?? Seriously he's right either way? He's worse than my mother :)

One last thing, in terms of title. I am not a huge fan of the title but other commenters don't seem to mind. Honestly, I don't think the title is going to turn off any agents. Worry less about the title and more about perfecting the query since many projects change titles after an agent gets involved anyway.

So in conclusion, condense condense condense. Omit needless words. But still, it's obvious you can write and your story is interesting and sounds like it will have wide appeal. Just polish up the query.

Good luck!