Apr 27, 2011

Query- Absorption

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Click here to read the second revision.

After completing my manuscript, polishing it, workshopping it, and polishing my query, I’ve queried several agents. Nobody even requested a partial, so I’d like to try again. I tried to include my revised opening but blogger said it was too long.

Dear Editor:
Brett Johnson healed a child mutilated by the hive mind Alexander, and held her as she cried. Then he joined a task force targeting the oldest hive mind, creator of all the others.
They cannot prove direct responsibility, and a bloody war will split the Federalist Worlds. The expedition must do everything possible to convince the hosts to surrender the technology on which the hive mind is based.
During negotiations, Brett meets a beautiful woman named Ariel Lilac who believes he would not fear the hive mind if he understood it. He disagrees, but desires her greatly. Brett doesn’t discuss his feelings since they may soon be on opposite sides of a war, but cannot resist spending time with her learning about the hive mind Oceania, named after the world on which it resides. He sees her on the verge of joining the hive mind herself. Resolved to distract her however he can, he seduces her.
Diplomacy is not working, but they find joy together in the face of impending calamity. Ariel shows Brett how the brain computer interface that powers the hive mind can also be used for other things, such as simulating body exchanges while making love.
Brett falls more deeply for Ariel, and comes to suspect his people have really misunderstood this technology. Yet he also fears passion has prejudiced him, and he may postpone action against a danger to humanity until too late.
Absorption is an eighty thousand word science fiction manuscript.


Shallee said...

I think you've got an interesting premise here, and I'm a big fan of sci fi. The main issue I have with the query is I think you're trying to cram in too much information, and it makes it confusing. In a query, you only need to cover four things: 1. a character, 2. a conflict 3. a choice 4. the consequences of that choice.

I've found it helps to boil the story down to one sentence first, and include those four things. Then, you can add carefully chosen details to show how your story is unique.

Here's me being a bit prescriptive, but you could probably sum this up as something like, "When Brett Johnson (character) is sent to destroy the oldest hive mind in the universe (conflict), he must decide if that's really what's best for humanity (choice) before the planet of the woman he loves is destroyed (consequences)."

That's a little clunky, but you get the idea. I hope this helps, and good luck with your manuscript! I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Blogger blows. I'm yankinfrance....

One problem I find with all three iterations of your query is that the writing is very flat. Lifeless, even. There's a matter-of-factness to it all, which might be fine for a textbook, but seems hardly inspiring for a sci-fi novel.

If the entire novel shares this voice, then that's another, bigger problem. Otherwise, try to bring the voice of the novel into the query.

Shallee's given you a great place to start for the next iteration.

Before you start, however, I suggest you read through the entire Query Shark archive. There's a lot to learn there.

One of the most important things I learned is that the query writing process is not the chore I once thought it was -- it's a creative challenge in its own right.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the concept is interesting. However I do think the voice of the query is very flat. It sounds more like a cover letter and while queries and cover letters share some similarities you can be more creative in queries.

There is a lot of information but not really the info I want. For example what the hell is a hive mind? I'm not sure. So I would amend the first comment and say 1. set stage (briefly) then character, conflict, etc.

It really does sound like an interesting concept so I hope the query gets to the point where you start getting some bites. I also like the title :)

Joy D. Fanning said...

I agree with everyone. I came away from it slightly confused but wishing I was able to figure it out. You got something good there so don't give up! Explaining the hive mind more might help, but you have so many details its hard to follow. Keep it simple and I think you'll find it will come off a lot better.

glj said...

Is a hive mind made up of human minds, or aliens? The lack of this detail bothered me when I read the query.

The first paragraph seems unnecessary. I realize you are trying to make us like the MC and identify with him, but it did nothing for me.

The flatness is in the writing, written as a summary of past events. With no emotions of the MC.

Write the query at the point in time where MC meets woman, and give us his thoughts. Reveal the conflict by him pondering the dilemma. This is rough, but I hope it gives the picture.

Brett is on a mission when he encounters Ariel, a mission to destroy the hive mind _. Brett believes in his mission, having seen the chaos caused by hive minds, collections of computer-connected humans who live and interact only as simulacrums generated by their hive mind. It is unnatural. But Ariel insists that the hive minds are something else completely, promising to show him __. Despite this, Brett proceeds to seduce her, telling himself it is for the good of the human race. But she is having an effect on him. When she tells him that _, he is intrigued. Worse, he doesn't know who to believe. He can cling to what he has been told, or he can plunge into a strange new world with beautiful, mysterious Ariel.

The difference (I hope) is that this presents the story essence as if it is happening right now. And it doesn't need all that setup.

The Cardboard Crafter said...

Have you looked at queryshark.blogspot.com? It might help.