Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #6


TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT: THE HIGHER ROAD
GENRE: MG contemporary, Earth-based Sci-fi – series potential
WORD COUNT 40,000

Query:
Even though UFO sightings are common, the doctors treating the unidentified, twelve-year-old girl, who survived a major traffic accident, only consider her mirrored internal organs to be an interesting anomaly until her burns, and other injuries, heal overnight; then, she might as well have been marked BIO-ENGINEERED @ ALIEN LABSTM. Suffering from almost total amnesia, kept in isolation and electronically tagged, the girl – who picks the name Thursday    is taunted by the loss of the family she can't remember, struggles with survivor guilt, and guards the secret of the boy who saved her life even when the government agents interrogate her. For the planet, this is the smaller drama as the crash initiates the release of the Universal Authority's representative – their Chancilla  from stasis. Chancilla Ethan is skilled and strong but physically underdevelopedswamped in hormones he can't control. Protocol says Ethan should avoid detection, resist interference, and get home but he can't remain impartial and clinical. Surrounded by betrayal and the fear of the alien threat, attacked in the safe house and tracked across the highlands, together Thursday and Ethan decide to persuade the species infiltrating the planet to leave Earth alone while Ethan finds a way to get home.

First 150 Words:
THE HIGHER ROAD
CHAPTER 1
BEFORE

Our headlights whitened the lines that marked the centre of A84 and made the trees look ghostly too. The moon tried to light the road for us but the shifting clouds kept crowding over it. I slid back in my tiny, personal space in the van. The roads go up a lot, I thought. Scotland. Maybe they went down too but I hadn't noticed. My stomach ached. It was nothing to do with travelling. I didn't suffer with travel sickness. I laughed.
          To keep me "presentable", my parents sent me to sit on my bed. This wasn’t usually allowed when the van was moving. It was weird. I felt like I was flying. I’d never wanted to be a fairy before, but wearing a dress – for the first time ever – and travelling up the mountain, in the top of our camp-a-van, I thought I could get the hang of it.



7 comments:

Elaine Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Brown said...

Thanks to the writer who submitted this. It's pretty interesting. So let's start with the query.

The beginning starts off with a bit of back story but it appears helpful as it establishes the sci-fi angle right away. The BIO-ENGINEERED @ ALIEN LABS trademark sort of threw this off a bit so I'd recommend this part be deleted for clean up and tighten up.
What follows makes things a bit confusing. I'm not sure how the Thursday is taunted by the loss of the family she can't remember. Perhaps she's plagued by memories of people, places and things she believes are from her past but can't truly hold on to because of her amnesia? With this happening in my head, as a reader, this may also happen with an agent and may not drive futher interest to read. Which I would hate to be the case given this story sounds awesome.
Then there is the introduction of Chancilla Ethan. It sounds like the intention is that he is something 'engineered' but it doesn't really clarify this. Also, the query further mentions that Thursday and Chancilla work together to stop something bad from happening, however, I'm not sure how the two of them got to the same point. Did their paths cross at some point, maybe at the safe house, so it can be understood how they got together.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of UFO books/movies. Good luck with this book. I think the query needs a little more info. I did a little tweaking and made some notes (also, I think you mean "haunted" not "taunted")

Even though UFO sightings are common [WHERE?], the doctors treating the unidentified, twelve-year-old girl, who survived a major traffic accident, consider her mirrored internal organs to be an interesting anomaly—until her burns, and other injuries, heal overnight.

Suffering from almost total amnesia and kept in isolation and electronically tagged, the girl – who picks the name Thursday  –  is haunted by the loss of the family she can't remember, struggles with survivor guilt, and guards the secret of the boy who saved her life, even when government agents interrogate her [ABOUT WHAT?].

For the planet [EARTH?], this is the smaller drama as the crash initiates the release of the Universal Authority's [WHO ARE THEY? FROM ANOTHER PLANET?] representative – their Chancilla – from stasis. Chancilla Ethan is skilled and strong but physically underdeveloped–swamped in hormones he can't control. [IS HE THE ONE WHO SAVED THURSDAY?] Protocol says Ethan should avoid detection, resist interference, and get home [WHERE IS HOME?] but he can't remain impartial and clinical. Surrounded by betrayal and the fear of the alien threat, attacked in the safe house and tracked across the highlands, together Thursday and Ethan decide to persuade the species infiltrating the planet to leave Earth alone while Ethan finds a way to get home [IS HE AN ALIEN? CONFUSING IS HE PART OF THE SPECIES INFILTRATING EARTH?].

I like the excerpt. One suggestion:

Our headlights whitened the lines that marked the centre of A84 and made the trees look ghostly too [DELETE “TOO” BECAUSE YOU DON’T SAY WHAT ELSE LOOKS GHOSTLY].

Cat said...

I love the setting. Scotland's my favorite place to be. ;-)
That said, you put a lot of information into the query, mostly backstory, but don't tell us what the plot is about. What's at stake for the two +-children? What's at stake for Earth? How come that a heavily guarded and supervised child can get away with an alien boy? Weren't they noticed?
I'm sure the novel will answer all these questions but will the agent have enough time to find out?

Jayme said...

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but I think it could be stated more clearly.

First, your opening sentence is really long. I think you could chop it up a bit, maybe something like: “When a twelve-year-old girl survives a traffic accident, the doctors trying to save her life consider her mirrored internal organs nothing more than an interesting anomaly. Then her injuries heal overnight, and she might as well have BIO-ENGINEERED @ ALIEN LABS stamped across her face.”

The second paragraph is a little confusing. Anonymous hit most of it. “For the planet” might need to read “For Earth,” or “For Thursday’s home planet,” depending on which is correct. I’m also confused about when/where/how Thursday and Ethan meet. Is he supposed to extract her from government control and get her home? Are the on the run? If so, why are they trying to help Earth? Is their species the one infiltrating Earth?

Your book sounds like it has a lot of potential and could be really exciting. I’m just not getting that out of the query. Maybe you could rework it and post a new version in the comments? My advice would be to try to be as specific as possible and to focus on the first 30ish pages of your book. You don’t have to tell us everything. You just have to reveal enough, clearly enough, to leave us wanting more.

Keep at it! This sounds really cool. :)

Katie Slivensky said...

In agreement with those above! This sounds like a fascinating story and the first 150 words pulled me in well, but I have to admit I was confused reading the query.

Try the suggestions in the comments above, but also in your own head try to pick out the following:

Who is the main character? (handful of relevant details to understand her)

What is her major problem? (what is driving the plot?)

Where is this story located?

When is this story set?

What happens to make her struggle almost impossible, and why does she feel she has to push through it?

You've answered many of those in your query, but they're a little difficult to pick out in its current format. I'd also recommend splitting your query into a few smaller paragraphs to make it easier on the eye to read through.

Best of luck! This sounds awesome.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Angela, Anonymous, Cat, Jayme and Katie :D

I don't think I can do this anonymously... so, here goes

THE HIGHER ROAD

The twelve-year-old girl who survives a traffic accident has mirrored internal organs, but the doctors who work to save her life just consider that to be an interesting anomaly. Unfortunately, when her injuries heal overnight they suspect her physical differences are because she’s been engineered in an alien laboratory. The evidence stacks up against the girl when metal of non-terrestrial origin is found at the crash site.

The government of Scotland acts with the UK parliament: they order agents, and scientists, to study the girl. She is kept in isolation and interrogated. The girl – who names herself, Thursday – suffers almost total amnesia. The flashes of her past are painful but she builds a memory of the boy who saved her from her sense of touch – his hand on her arm, his mouth breathing for her. She owes him her life. With courage and loyalty, in the face of constant pressure, Thursday guards her rescuer's secret. She is horrified when the boy, Ethan, is brought – willingly – to see her at the secure, secret location. This is just the beginning… two alien species are ready to infiltrate planet Earth, and Thursday is the only person who might be able to persuade Ethan to do something about that.

Thursday and Ethan learn a lot about themselves, and human nature, when one of them is suspected of being alien and the other is… not from around here.

This novel is complete in 55,000 words