Jan 8, 2011

QUERY - ORDO ABCHAO

Dear [Agent Name],

This is year zero, the year of the invasion. Blood-thirsty aliens roam the streets of every megacity during the day, while at night backstabbing thugs known as vultures hunt, kill and scavenge the houses of the remaining survivors. The armies of the world are powerless. The end of mankind is near.

Robert "Bobby" Mensah has two weeks of food supplies left. Most of his neighbors are either dead or dying, killed or about to be killed by either angels, vultures, the army, starvation or worse. Every night on GNN, Jude Delphi and the panel discuss the daily death tolls, but Bobby's no hero, Bobby only cares about his survival.

When Bobby decides to trade for food with a local vulture, the resulting gunfight leaves him with two dead bodies in his front yard and a bag full of food supplies. But when his neighbor Julie steals the bag, she leaves him with no food, with nowhere to go, and with a gang of trigger-happy vultures hellbent on killing him. Kill or be killed, Bobby will need to kill to survive, and Bobby will need to decide how far he is willing to go to stay alive.

ORDO ABCHAO is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel complete at 58,000 words, the first of a five book series of First Person Shooter Punk (FPS-Punk). I'm the father of FPS-Punk, a convergence between video gaming and literature, and I also maintain a blog on video gaming.

Best,
Gareth Mensah.

9 comments:

Sean said...

Great idea, I love stories like this! Always a winner, but plenty of red flags to get the good old rejection form letter from every agent out there. First off, count how many times a variation of the word "kill" is used here. Way too many. Figure out how to say "kill" in other ways. Some just need to be chopped altogether.

Second, there's nothing to set this end of the world story apart from the rest, and scavenging for food isn't going to get it. Not for an agent. Without giving away too much, tell them some things Bobby is willing to do to survive. Get specific. Somewhere along the line your MC has to make a crucial choice. I don't see that here. Fighting to survive isn't a choice. It's instinct. How far will Bobby go?

Tell the agent why you picked them, insert one (two max) paragraph story tease (i.e. the back of a book jacket), making them want to find out what happens next. Then insert title & word count at end. I wouldn't mention it's the first of a 5 book series either. This book has to stand alone. And why waste time writing sequals to a book you haven't even sold yet? You can mention there could be follow ups, but glaze over that fact. When an agent sees "5 book series", all they see is a ton of work... When you sell this book, then you can concentrate on sequals, until then write something completely different after finishing this one.

Finally, 86 the stuff about being the father of a FPSP. No agent will ever care. If you have had anything published, mention that in your bio. If your career ties in with the story you can mention that also, but other than already having some real points on the board, an agent doesn't care about anything else in your bio. That goes for the blog too. Everyone has a blog. I have one and I never mention it in my query. Unpaid blogs are a dime a dozen.

Oh and btw, your word count is way too short, especially when there should be some considerable world building here - not as much as Fantasy/SF - but more that 58,000. I don't see an agent ever going after any "novel" under 75K. Google "fiction word count" and see for yourself. Also, check agent blogs and become a regular commenter. Their blogs are free classes. Hit their archives as well.

You've got an awesome premise here, and I can see it in my head, but find that unique spark to draw me in further. Make sure it flows well by reading it out loud. If it sounds choppy, it is. Good luck!

Emily J said...
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Emily J said...
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Emily J said...
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Emily J said...
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Emily J said...

This is year zero, the year of the invasion. Blood-thirsty (cliche) aliens roam the streets of every megacity during the day, while at night (comma) backstabbing thugs known as vultures hunt, kill (need serial comma here) and scavenge the houses (wait, vultures hunt and kill houses? problem with the sentence structure here) of the remaining survivors. (<-- generally that sentence is a bit long) The armies of the world are powerless. (maybe a semi-colon for variety?) The end of mankind is near.

Robert "Bobby" Mensah has two weeks of food supplies left. Most of his neighbors are either dead or dying, killed (serial comma) or about to be killed by either angels, (huh??) vultures, the army, starvation (comma) or worse. (<-- too much going on in this sentence) Every night on GNN, Jude Delphi and the panel discuss the daily death tolls, but Bobby's no hero, (I don't see how this follows logically) Bobby only cares about his survival.

When Bobby decides to trade for food with a local vulture, the resulting gunfight leaves him with two dead bodies in his front yard and a bag full of food supplies.(rations? can we get another word here?) But when his neighbor Julie steals the bag, she leaves (he's already been left with bodies, another word here?) him with no food, with nowhere to go, and with a gang of trigger-happy (cliche!) vultures hellbent on killing him. Kill or be killed, Bobby will need to kill (agree with other comment, too way "kills" in this) to survive, and Bobby will need to decide how far he is willing to go to stay alive. (stay alive is the same as survive, this feels redundant)

ORDO ABCHAO is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel complete at 58,000 words, the first of a five book series of First Person Shooter Punk (FPS-Punk). I'm the father of FPS-Punk, a convergence between video gaming and literature, and I also maintain a blog on video gaming.
____
I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, but I think we need an explanation of angels. Is that a term being used for the aliens? (I have seen that a lot in anime)

I also agree with Sean about adding a paragraph on why you are querying agent x, and about dropping the FPSP genre stuff. Unless you are someone else has been published with that genre I don't think it helps. Also be careful of word choice, you repeat some words (kill, like Sean said) be careful that the repetition does not get tedious.
Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

You named your MC after yourself? Or the other way around?

Gareth Mensah said...

thanks for the advices Sean, I agree with most, and mostly got a lot work to do :P

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I love the first paragraph. Here's the problem:

The only three things you need to put in a query are
1. what does the main character want (to survive, but I feel like there should be more to it)
2. What is he willing to do to get it (kill, I guess, but I feel like there should be more to this too)
3. What are the stakes? (there aren't any. He just kills people and eats their food)

The third paragraph feels like a random scene that doesn't further the query. I would say this: "Bobby's no hero. He only cares about survival, and he needs to decide how far he is willing to go to stay alive."

If he's making a decision, what are his choices? It feels like your whole book will be about him wandering around, looking for food and avoiding gunshots, and that isn't a story arch (beginning, middle, end). Does he consider becoming a hero, and if so, why? What happens to him that changes him, changes the story, changes the people around him?