Nov 4, 2009

QUERY - Black Hole Son

Dear {AGENT},

Remy wakes up on a park bench. He has no memory and no idea who he is or how he got there. But he has some pills, some money, a pink sweater, and a strange gun. And apparently, he has a psychic ability to read the history of objects.

Ash wakes up in an alley. He has no memory and no idea who he is or how he got there. But he has some pills, some money, and he can set things on fire with his mind.

Now they each must strike out on their own in a cold mega-city where pharmaceutical drugs pervade everyday life. With no memory, they must follow their instincts to protect and defend people. Remy uses his powers to save a woman from an abusive relationship, and makes friends with a spunky female cop named Tuesday. After he's pursued by agents of a private security force, he joins an "Robin Hood" black market pharmacy. Ash is assaulted and robbed when he tries to get some food. Looking for a job, he joins the White Knights, a neighborhood watchdog group and forms a relationship with Ivy, a stripper.

Throughout their individual, but strangely parallel journeys, Remy becomes an introspective guardian, while Ash becomes a reactive seeker of justice. They find out where they came from, the real reason they have these powers, and that their instincts to protect people were not far off. But what will they do when they meet and discover the real threat to society – themselves.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word near future science-fiction cyberpunk novel set in the near future. I have been previously published in The Dunesteef audio fiction magazine and the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire literary journal.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Suzan Harden said...

This is one of those interesting premises that just needs a little polish.

First of all, take a hard look at your sentence structure. There's a lot of passive verbs in this query. The protagonist(s) needs to be the actor, not the actee. Too much passivity bogs the narrative down. Granted, I have not seen your ms, but you might want to make sure there's not too many passive verbs there as well. Because that's exactly what an agent or editor will be thinking.

Second, unless there's a really strong reason, I think either Ash or Remy should be the main protagonist. I don't get an indication from the query that they become adversaries. So as a reader who's just picked up this novel at the bookstore, I'm thinking "serious padding to repeat basically the same story twice."

If there's a really supergood reason to have dual protagonists (like in a romance), make sure it sticks out in the query.

Super minor nitpick - The phrase "near future" is used twice in the first sentence of the fifth paragraph.

Like I said above, cool idea. It just needs the polish to reflect its coolness.

dolorah said...

This is an interesting storyline. I like repetition, and I like how you used it to introduce the two main characters.

So, now I need to know how (besides the obvious) these two characters are linked; what their separate journeys of self discovery (learning their powers) have to do with the other - their shared mission; and who or what is the antagoinst (the threat to society and what role each has in society's salvation/destruction).

Will one save the world, while one destroys it? Is there an outside entity working towards/against either event? Are any of the people that Remy rescues essential to the story, and by extension to the query?

BLACK HOLE SON is an interesting title, but foretells "one" hero, not two. Remy feels like the hero in this tale, and Ash, though on a similar journey, has a totally different conception of his abilities. Are these two nemisis?

In the word count paragraph, you use "near future" twice. The phrase "future science-fiction cyberpunk" is also repetitive.

Cyberpunk describes a genre that is not only sci-fi, but generally set in a near-future-but-parallel world. So "Cyberpunk" is about all the description - besides word count - that you need of you novel.

A very good query. With a little tightening up and clarification, I think you're ready for marketing.

Good luck.


AmyB said...

I like your first paragraph a lot. The one thing I'd change is to make the last sentence punchier. Your switching from simple, declarative sentences to the conversational tone of "apparently" weakens the last sentence, which ought to have the most impact of all. I suggest, "But he has some pills, some money, a pink sweater, and a strange gun. And the psychic ability to read the history of objects."

After the first paragraph, you lose me a bit. Do I need to know about Ash in the query? I'm sure he's very important in the novel, but in a query letter, it's hard enough to cover the journey of one character, and near impossible to cover two. Plus Ash's situation sounds very similar to Remy's, making the paragraph feel repetitive (and it makes me wonder if the book will be repetitive too).

The third paragraph feels like soup--all sorts of things thrown in, but none really developed. I don't think you need to tell us all the plot developments. Sometimes it works best to limit yourself to the events of the first 50 pages. The part of this paragraph that interested me the most was the phamaceutical drugs pervading everyday life. I wouldn't mind seeing that expanded on, if it's a critical piece of the story. It would need to be tied to what I already know about Remy.

The fourth paragraph is pretty generic. Again, I think it will work better if you focus the query entirely on one character (even if they are truly co-protagonists in the novel). Then you can use the existence of the other as a final hook. "What he doesn't know is that he's not the only one." Something like that. Turn it into a surprise for the query reader.