Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #84


DOOMSDAY'S WAKE
ADULT SCIENCE FICTION
91,000 WORDS

Query:

Dylan's a pioneer, toiling for a new start on a frontier planet. When a renegade army threatens his team, he must risk their lives--and his secrets--to preserve both the colony and civilization.

Dylan Grosscup “knows things”, but not how to dogfight with a jetpack or turn alien weeds into weapons. He didn't plan to lead a science team through an alien paradise and an undeclared holy-war. He just wanted to fall in love, build a family, and keep his secrets. Then the fallout from the last great war set humanity careening toward destruction.

He's finally earned a second chance, but now he's lost contact with Earth, someone is attacking his friends, and the answers he needs lie amid the ashes of an alien apocalypse. He'll need courage, trust, and luck to keep his people alive long enough to unlock the past and fulfill a duty shared with an extinct civilization—before humanity repeats its mistakes.

 First 150 Words:

 Captain Dylan Grosscup stepped around something not unlike a coconut tree and paused to catch his breath. The straight and narrow had shifted again, and he was hurrying to catch up.

This was not what he had planned for. He had only wanted modest work, quiet living, and a home in which to keep his family and his secrets.

Then came the war and the end of the exemptions. Without an implant, he could either stay in the service or go compete for work against robots and illegals. He had stayed, but it had taken years to make rank and land an expeditionary assignment. If the mission were recalled now, he'd lose the captain's slot and the land grant. He'd be out of second chances.

6 comments:

T.J. said...

Dylan's a pioneer, toiling for a new start on a frontier planet. When a renegade army threatens his team, he must risk their lives--and his secrets--to preserve both the colony and civilization.

Dylan Grosscup “knows things”, but not how to dogfight with a jetpack or turn alien weeds into weapons.

The beginning of the second paragraph caught my attention before the first two lines :) Please think about swapping them around and it would definitely punch up your query.

Your first 150 words are fantastic!! I want to read the rest of it!

Liana Brooks said...

I'm not the only sci-fi entry here! Huzzah! I'll comment as I read...

---Query---
Not sure I love the name Grosscup but I'll play along. Maybe it's explained in text, or he at least gets teased (I am a mean person I guess?).

The query is a pretty generic. I'd pick the book up because I like this genre and I don't mind generic. I would like to see you rework this a little so we get a better sense of Dylan's Voice. Does that make sense?

---First 150---

Why doesn't he know the name of the tree? Does he not know the planet? Hmmm...

The first 150 is either a really good set up, or another query, and I can't decide which. It gives me the plot, but not the scene or information on the character. It's very, very telly and I'm very,very worried that the rest of the book will be likewise Telly.

I recommend getting some more of the five sense in there and leaving the info dump for later. All of this can be worked into the first chapter without you taking 3 paragraphs to debrief the reader.

---Overall---
I'd read it, but I think you need to work on integrating information into the story better. Let the personality of the book come through.

Good luck!
L

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I enjoyed the idea of the story as presented in the query. There is a hint of Murphy's law that I think would be really fun to read.

About the only difficulty I had was that it seems vague. A little more specificity would change the query from a general story to a wowzer of a story, I think. I can sense it's there!

I don't know that you need the first two lines, because they are reiterated in the next two paragraphs.

I did get taken in by your first 150 words, and would continue reading past the first 150!

Cheryl Hettick said...

I'm a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy so this really caught my eye. I think you've got a great start to your query, but you would hook me more if you were more specific and less generic. What is he pioneering? It's missing that punch - maybe something like: Dylan's a tough pioneer toiling to build a new colony on the planet Zephyr. I think you've got all the building blocks of a great query, but their not in the right order. Also, a few of your verbs are in past tense and they should really be in present tense. Here is how I would set it up:

Dylan Grosscup is a tough pioneer toiling to build a new colony on the planet Zephyr. All he wants to fall in love, build a family, and keep his secrets. He never signed on to lead a science team through an alien paradise into an undeclared holy-war.

When a renegade army threatens his team and he loses contact with Earth, he must find the courage and resources to keep his colony alive. In a race to unlock the secrets of an extinct civilization that can help his colony, Dylan must risk everything to save their civilization.

Of course this is just a suggestion and may not be an accurate account of your story, but I just wanted you to see how the stakes need to be crystal clear in order to hook the reader. I think your first 150 words are great and your story sounds like a home run, so hopefully this will help you focus your query to reflect it. Good luck and I'd love your comments on mine (I'm #80).

Cheryl Hettick said...

Sorry - hit the button too soon. I would replace the first "civilization" with another words as you don't want to repeat a word in the same sentence. Perhaps "alien race" or something to that effect?

Rebecca Enzor said...

I have to admit, I'm a little bit confused by the query. The first paragraph sounds like an elevator pitch to me, so I'm not sure you need it, because you can expand on it in the query.

I loved this line: "Dylan Grosscup “knows things”, but not how to dogfight with a jetpack or turn alien weeds into weapons." That really caught my attention, and I think it would make a great first line, if you take out the first paragraph.

Does "fallout" refer to nuclear fallout? Or just the aftermath of war in general?

It's also not clear right away that he's been sent away from Earth, or why. I think you have room to expand on Why he was sent (rather than someone else) and What is going on at the alien planet. The stakes are there (keep his people alive) but not why it's important.

For the 150 words, I like to start in the middle of the action. You've got a lot of backstory here that you could sprinkle in elsewhere as you get to the meaty bits of the story.

I do like the "not unlike a coconut tree" - that shows us right out of the gate that we aren't on Earth anymore :)

Good luck! I'm #79 if you're interested in ripping my query apart :)