Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #54

DEVASTATION
YA Romantic (Soft)Sci-Fi
Word Count: 92,500

Query:


Sixteen year old Lexa Castiel’s dad dies, she sprouts useless-ass wings, and learns she's half alien, oh, and don’t forget, her love life sucks. However, those are the least of her problems.

Lexa’s BFF, Gabe, and Nathaniel, the new guy, are hybrids too. Even though Gabe insists he’s not interested in that kind of relationship, the two hotties vie for Lexa's attention, like toddlers fighting over a Tonka toy. Oh, yeah, and they want to teach her to fly, but that ain't happenin'.  She has a puke producing fear of heights, so her feathered wings are as useless as teats on a boar hog.

Genocidal aliens bent on conquering the planet abduct Lexa for her healing DNA. She wakes up trapped in a cold, dark labyrinth. When the guys find her, she thinks she’s home free, but the confusing spaceship is filled with bizarre creatures, some helpful, others downright deadly. To top that, the ship’s taking off, so they'll have to jump from a fully functional aircraft to get away, and who the hell wants to do that? Even worse, with Gabe incapacitated and Nathaniel injured, Lexa must choose to abandon her true love to escape or end up light years from home.


First 150 Words:

Gabe waited at the door having bested me with his freakishly long legs. He held out his hand as though I’d actually give him the card key. Not. I shouldered between him and the door, shoving the card into the reader. Click. Green light. He went through to the balcony door and opened the drapes.

I followed him out. Warm wind blew through my already tangled hair as horns honked on the street below. Gabe leaned over the banister. I sidled up next to him, crossed my arms over the rail, resting my chin on them. He turned his back to the railing and hoisted himself up.

I cocked my head and frowned. “You’re gonna fall. We’re on the tenth floor, brightness.”

“Naw. It’s a’ight.” He waived his hands above his head. “Look, no hands.”

I shrugged, turning around. I hopped up to sit next to him. If he could do it, so could I.

8 comments:

Jadzia Brandli said...

I think this is really interesting. I think it's great how you establish the voice immediately and you do a good job of keeping it consistent, even in your query.

My one problem in the query is the last paragraph, which makes it sound like you're giving away the ending. In your query you need to leave us guessing and asking questions. You seem to tell us the final situation they end up in: having to jump ship and Lexa having to make a big choice. You should hint at this final conflict and not tell us what it is. Even though you don't tell us the ending, it feels like this is the final scene you're describing and I don't want to know what happens in the end from the query.

Good descriptions and details in your first 150. Typo though: 'waived' should be 'waved' I like the idea for this and you have me a little interested, but you need to hook me more and leave me asking questions with your query.

Bluestocking said...

Great sense of voice here. And your story sounds interesting, though I'm glad you labeled this as Soft SF, because the worldbulding seems to be all over the place--not in a bad way. I just think it speaks to the zany adventure story you've set up in your query.

I agree that you should hint a bit more at the final conflict, but keep the part about the spaceship since that sounds interesting.

Also, I agree that you need to do a bit more in your first 150 to hook readers -- show us that this is some crazy SF world. Right now it sounds like two kids on the balcony of a hotel room.

Kelley Harvey said...

Jadzia Brandli & Bluestocking, thank you both for the feedback! I really appreciate it. I've been wracking my brains to come up with something better.
If you'd like to see it, go to http://kelleyharveywrites.blogspot.com/p/query-please-critique.html

I'd love for anyone to go there and leave feedback for me. Thank you all!

Not that you should know this from the query, but escaping the ship isn't the end of the story.

Tamara said...

Okay...I went and looked at the other query, came back and looked at this one, and this is what I--personally--liked the best.

Sixteen-year old Lexa Castiel’s dad dies, she sprouts useless-ass wings, learns she’s half alien and, oh—don’t forget—her love life sucks.

The only change I made in that part was to take out one of the "ands" so it read smoother.

However, those become the least of her problems.

I changed "are" to become because those are pretty huge problems to have before everything else starts falling apart, so it seemed to make more sense that way.

It turns out Gabe and Nathaniel—her BFF and new-found friend, are hybrids too.

I thought the wording in the original sentence was just a little bit awkward, so I switched it around a bit.

Even though Gabe insists he’s not interested in “that” kind of relationship, the two hotties vie for Lexa's attention, like toddlers fighting over a Tonka toy. Oh, yeah, and they want to teach her to fly, but that ain't happenin'. She has a puke-producing fear of heights, so her feathered wings are as useless as teats on a boar hog.

In that part, my only change was to put quotations around that to make it stand out more and hyphenate puke-producing. I think it's a great paragraph with a TON of voice.

To top all of that, she's abducted by genocidal aliens for her healing DNA. The aliens' spaceship is a cold, dark labyrinth, fully equipped with multiple bizarre species and a blood thirsty beast. As she looks for an escape route, she learns she's capable of things she'd never have dreamed possible, physically and mentally. When the ship takes off she'll either have to use her wings to make a flying escape or end up light years from home. Lexa's suck-o-meter buries the needle.

I thought that last paragraph was really strong. As you can see, I combined the two queries. I thought you had elements in both of them that worked really well. You have a great voice! Queries are such a pain, aren't they? I felt like I re-wrote mine about a thousand times. haha

I'll talk about the 150 in my next comment, cause this one is gonna get too long.

Tamara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara said...

As far as the first 150, I really liked it. I had a few small suggestions on it, but I thought it was a good beginning.

Gabe waited at the door--having bested me with his freakishly long legs.

If you don't want to use the dash, I'd use a comma at least. The sentence needs a pause in it to read correctly. :)

He held out his hand as though I’d actually give him the card key. Not. I shouldered between him and the door, shoving the card into the reader. Click. Green light. We both headed for the balcony.

I took out the last part cause it starts to get really directional. he did. I did. He did. You know what I mean? Plus, it wasn't moving the scene forward, so it felt better to just skip to them on the balcony.

Warm wind blew through my already-tangled hair as horns honked on the street below.

I think already-tangled should be hyphenated. I'm not a hyphen addict, I swear. haha. Just any kind of descriptor like this in front of a normal word should have a hyphen.

Gabe leaned over the banister. I sidled up next to him, crossed my arms over the rail, resting my chin on them. He turned his back to the railing and hoisted himself up.

This whole part is really directional. It reads almost like a list of body movements. I thought maybe you could skip to him just hopping up. IE:

Gabe flashed me a cocky grin and hoisted himself up to sit on the narrow railing. I frowned. “You’re gonna fall. We’re on the tenth floor, brightness.”

“Naw. It’s a’ight.” He waived his hands above his head. “Look, no hands.”
I shrugged and, even as my stomach took a sickening turn, hopped up next to him. If he could do it, so could I.

I changed that last part to reflect some of the fear of heights. Also, you had her shrugging, turning around, and hopping up to sit next to him. See how I cut that down? Try to watch any kind of directional phrasing that doesn't add to the scene.
This sounds like a really fun story that would be a wild ride! :) I do have one more question. I noticed a discrepancy in the wordcount.

If it's 92,500 and you knock it down by a few more words, you could easily query it at 90,000. (They say to round to the nearest ten-thousand) If it's 98 (which is uncomfortably close to 100,000 for an agent) I'd knock it down by five-hundred words and query it at 95,000. Word count could end up being a defining factor, so I'd keep it as short as possible. :)

I'm always looking to meet new writers, so I'd love it if you'd swing by my blog and say hi. Hope I helped and good luck with this!

Kelley Harvey said...

Thanks so much for the really detailed and helpful feed back Tamara. I really appreciate the encouraging words too. I will revisit my query & I've already re-worded my first 150 as well, but I'll look again and see if I can work on that directional stuff a little more.
Thanks again!

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