Jul 19, 2009

QUERY: Ghosts of Innocence (version 2)

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Amazing Agent,

Shayla Carver, undercover agent and master assassin, has killed many times. That's what assassins do. Nothing to lose sleep over. But this mission is different; she's never killed a whole planet before.

She's seen it happen though, many years ago, when her own home burned on the orders of a young Emperor. And now she's ready, finally, to exact payment in kind from the whole rotten and murderous establishment.

Shayla has planned everything meticulously, except that she hasn't allowed for coming face to face with some of the two billion inhabitants she's about to slaughter. Ordinary people. Not the stereotyped strutting Imperials of her imagination, and not so readily dismissed as legitimate targets or collateral damage. And then there's the Emperor himself. An ordinary man with troubles and dreams of his own. Not the kind of man Shayla can picture giving such an order.

Now she's starting to lose sleep.

As she enslaves the destructive might of the Emperor's own fleet and launches the final stage of her plan, Shayla can no longer ignore the enormity of what she's doing. On the brink of success, she must choose: To complete her lifelong goal to rid humanity of a corrupt regime, or to heed her own misgivings and serve the man, her sworn enemy, that she's spent so many years pursuing.

"Ghosts of Innocence" is a science fiction novel complete at 95,000 words. I am also working on a sequel, "The Ashes of Home". Thank you for your time and consideration.


Wannabe Author


Regan Kirk said...

This query really grabbed me and I would definitely read this book.

A few comments:

1) The first paragraph is good, but I'd cut out the two sentences in the middle. It's strongest as just:

Shayla Carver, undercover agent and master assassin, has killed many times and she's never lost sleep over those she's killed. But this mission is different; she's never killed a whole planet before.

2) The tense is a little awkward at the beginning of the second paragraph. Instead of "she's seen it happen" it probably works better as "she saw it happen."

3) I think you want to clarify whether her original plan was to wipe out the entire empire in retribution, or whether the only way to get to the Emperor is to take out the whole planet. It's a little unclear why she can't just find some middle ground where she only kills a few people.

4) I'd get rid of the line "Now she's starting to lose sleep."

5) In the last paragraph, it's the man "whom" she's spent so many years pursuing, not "that." Also, check on the rules about capitalizing the first word after a colon--I don't think you're supposed to.

This really drew me in, so these are all nitpicks. Good luck!

Anica Lewis said...

Very strong! The book sounds fascinating. I especially like the end of the first paragraph.

I, too, have a list of minor-scale suggestions.

1. I'd like to see the first paragraph start with something like, Shayla Carver has killed many times. That's what assassins do. It would mean not repeating the word "assassin," and it would mean that each sentence builds on the sentence before - stronger than telling us that someone you've already called a "master assassin" has killed many times.

2. I actually like the tense at the beginning of the second paragraph, but I don't think you need "though" - and if you do use it, you want a comma before it as well as after. I'd also like the next sentence of that paragraph to skip the "and" - Now she's ready to exact payment . . . I don't think you need "in kind," either. We already know what kind of payment she's exacting.

3. In the third paragraph, I like "stereotyped strutting Imperials" but don't think you need "of her imagination" (which means you could also remove the "the" before "stereotyped").

4. In the fifth paragraph, I think it would be better after the colon to eliminate the infinitives and just say, complete her lifelong goal . . . or heed her own misgivings . . .. I also think I'd prefer "mission" to "goal."

5. I've heard that agents don't like for you to mention sequels when you're querying the first work. I can't really back that up, but it might be worth looking into before you send off the query.

Good luck!

Regan Kirk said...

I've heard the bit about agents not liking sequels to be mentioned, too, but forgot to mention it in my crit. I think the general idea is, there's no way of knowing whether a book is going to sell and you can't rely on people being willing to buy a sequel. The only book that matters is the one you're selling right now, and it needs to be able to stand alone, even if there are some things left open at the end.

Botanist said...

Thanks for your comments folks. After the many drastic revisions I've gone through over the last year or so it's a huge relief to get the sense that I've finally got something that "works" and I'm into the fine-tuning stage.

On the point about mentioning sequels, I've heard conflicting advice about that. For sure I've read that you should not try to *describe* other work, this is the project you're pitching so just stick to that. However I've also read that agents like to know that you have more in you than just this one story. They are usually looking for a long-term relationship rather than a one-shot deal, so it's supposedly a plus point to *mention* things like sequels.