Black Hole Son - V4

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theWallflower
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Black Hole Son - V4

Post by theWallflower » August 26th, 2010, 4:49 pm

*Revised query below (revised 9/8/10)
I haven't had any luck with my latest query, which has been around the horn a few times on this forum. So I figure I'd put it under the spotlight one more time, see if I'm missing something.

Remy and Ash have no memory and no identity. They are wandering around in different parts of the city, and neither knows the other exists. The only things they have in common are psychic abilities and a powerful instinct to protect people.

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, he feels compelled to use this gift to help people. But instead of unraveling his own mystery, he helps a battered farm girl by confronting her abusive boyfriend. He joins a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, but is exiled when he's accused of stealing. Tuesday Huxley, a spunky female cop, is trying to help him, but Remy can't get in touch with her. Two men in black suits are pursuing him, and they have a secret weapon that they don't want to use--an uncontrollable psychic freak-man.

Ash steps inside a free clinic for medical help, but he loses his temper at the endless red tape, and discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. After being mugged, he joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies choke Ash's desire to serve justice. And with his stripper girlfriend getting in his face about money and a job, Ash is finding it hard not to use his pyrokinesis to make everything simpler.

Their parallel journeys lead them back to their creator--the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company--who reveals their purpose. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef".

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Last edited by theWallflower on September 10th, 2010, 5:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by elfspirit » August 26th, 2010, 6:13 pm

This is the first time I've read your query. I have a feeling that the query isn't doing justice to the story. In reading the second paragraph, I felt that the sentences didn't seem connected to each other.

What does it mean to perceive the history of objects, and how does it help people? How does Remy use this gift to help the battered farm girl? What does his gift have to do with the pharmacy. How is the female cop trying to help him? Why are the suits pursuing him?

I think you need to be more specific and have more showing and less telling. I'd also like to have more sense of how these two people feel: are they angry, panicked, desperate? I want to care about these characters, since they are clearly in big trouble, but the query doesn't give me this opportunity.

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by thewhipslip » August 26th, 2010, 7:39 pm

theWallflower wrote:I think one of your problems is that this reads more like a synopsis than a query. Queries are a brief summary, enough to hook an agent to read pages. The most important things to focus on are where the story begins, what the catalyst of the story is (the major change that sets the plot in motion), and what the character decides to do in order to deal with whatever the catalyst is. Then issue salutations and you're done. (Easy, right?)

Remy and Ash have no memory and no identity. They are wandering around in different parts of the city What city?, and neither knows the other exists The first thought I have is: why does it matter? Lots of people don't know that other people exist.. The only things they have in common are psychic abilities and a powerful instinct to protect people Here you can add specifics, more like you do in the next paragraph. What are their abilities?.

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, he feels compelled to use this gift to help people. But instead of unraveling his own mystery Which is...?, he helps a battered farm girl by confronting her abusive boyfriend Okay, that's all noble of him, but what does it have to do with the major plot?. He joins a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, but is exiled when he's accused of stealing Again, what's your plot? What is Remy's major story arc?. Tuesday Huxley, a spunky female cop, is trying to help him, but Remy can't get in touch with her How is she trying to help him? And how come they can't get in touch?. Two men in black suits are pursuing him, and they have a secret weapon that they don't want to use--an uncontrollable psychic freak-man. Why don't they want to use it?

Ash steps inside a free clinic for medical help This is the first time Ash comes in since the beginning..., but he loses his temper at the endless red tape, and discovers he can set things on fire with his mind Okay...and?. After being mugged, he joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group So Remy joins a pharmacy and Ash joins a crime patrol group? What is your book about?. But their do-nothing policies choke Ash's desire to serve justice. And with his stripper girlfriend getting in his face about money and a job, Ash is finding it hard not to use his pyrokinesis to make everything simpler.

Their parallel journeys lead them back to their creator--the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company--who reveals their purpose This is the first sentence where you give me an inkling of what the major plot is.. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves Okay, but why? Why are they such a threat?.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef".

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

As I said, this reads more like a synopsis. Here's what you need to do:

Remy has these powers. Ash has these powers. They don't know who they are or how they got the powers.

Then...catalyst happens (maybe they start to unravel who made them?)

And they decide to do this about it...i.e. go after the company that made them.


Hope this helps!
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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 26th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Two amnesiac psychics wander the city unbeknownst to each other, both helping people. Various unconnected and inconsequential things happen to each of them. Then they meet their maker. literally. A bit like BLADE RUNNER, but with psychics in place of cyborgs?

Is Remy really ‘exiled’ from the pharmacy, or just fired? Is the pharmaceutical company really ‘tyrannical’ or just its CEO?

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by D.S. Deshaw » August 27th, 2010, 12:32 am

I agree infinitely with thewhipslip here. You're telling us what happens but you're not making us eager to read more. I would focus on one of your main characters and introduce the other through their relationship with the first. I'd also follow thewhipslip's advice about how to arrange/revise your query into 1) catalyst, 2) conflict, 3) the stakes. I look forward to seeing what you do with it! Your book sounds very interesting :)
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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by theWallflower » September 8th, 2010, 3:33 pm

All right, try this on. This one is less synopsis-y:

The world of the future is a harsh place. Even harsher for Remy and Ash. They're brothers. They wake up in separate parts of a metropolis and have no memory.

Remy wakes up on a park bench with some pills, a sweater, and a strange gun. He knows these objects are linked to his past, and wanders off to find answers. When he picks up a book, visions flash through his head, and he realizes he can read the history of objects. Knowing he can use this power to help people, he becomes torn between discovering his identity and curing his loneliness.

Ash wakes up in an alley, also with some pills and money. When he loses his temper in a hospital, he discovers his pyrokinesis. Like Remy, he has a strong sense of justice. But as he becomes resentful of his situation, he finds it hard not to use his power to make everything simpler.

Neither knows the other exists, but their parallel journeys lead them back to the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef".

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by lachrymal » September 8th, 2010, 9:34 pm

The world of the future is a harsh place. Even harsher for Remy and Ash. They're brothers [the way you've got your sentences sequenced, I expected an explanation for why the world was a harsher place for these guys--and you seem to be telling me it's because they're brothers. Is there any way you can say something like "Unaware of each other's existence, these identical twins wake up in ..."? Rephrase it however you wish, but I think it's the absence of memory that makes things worse, right?]. They wake up in separate parts of a metropolis and have no memory ["without their memories"?].

Remy wakes up on a park bench with some pills, a sweater [do I need to know about the sweater?], and a strange gun [do I need to know the gun is strange?]. He knows these objects are linked to his past [delete the comma here] and wanders off to find answers. When he picks up a book, visions flash through his head, and he realizes he can read the history of objects. Knowing he can use this power to help people, he becomes torn [could you just say "he's torn"?] between discovering his identity and curing his loneliness [I really like this, better than previous versions.].

Ash wakes up in an alley [delete ", also"?] with some pills and money. When he loses his temper in a hospital, he discovers his pyrokinesis. Like Remy, he has a strong sense of justice. But as he becomes resentful of ["about his situation"? Does he resent the situation or the fact that he's in the situation?] his situation, he finds it hard not to use his power to make everything simpler [I like this, too].

Neither knows the other exists, but their parallel journeys --ok--here, I could use a very brief para about the challenges they face. If you skip straight to "the final confrontation", I feel like I haven't gotten enough of what actually happens. I do like the simple ways you've laid out the decisions the two make, but I'm concerned that a naive reader (I've read several versions, so have a scant sense of what goes on, to a point) would have little sense of the actual plot.

lead them back to the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company ["tyrannical" should be used to describe a sentient being--not a company.]. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves.

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by ABFTomioka » September 9th, 2010, 3:49 am

Hello!
I really like the premise of this book. The characters are believable, with real-life problems, while also clearly sci-fi. Wonderful! I hope this is your latest version of the query...I had a hard time figuring out which was which!

Remy and Ash have no memory and no identity. They are wandering around in different parts of the city, and neither knows the other exists. The only things they have in common are psychic abilities and a powerful instinct to protect people. I like this opening, but it's also tough because the three sentances don't seem to fit together somehow...They don't know about one another, yet they are linked. Maybe you could rephrase, to say something like "Their powerful protective instinct brings the two strangers together, as they discover the terrible truth about their psychic powers." Or something, to give more sense of story.

Remy can perceive the history of objects. What does this mean? Like, he can see who used the knife, and for what purpose? A bit of clarification might be good here. Despite the headaches, (why does he get headaches? Is this an essential detail to include?) he feels compelled to use this gift to help people. But instead of unraveling his own mystery, he helps a battered farm girl by confronting her abusive boyfriend. He joins a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, but is exiled when he's accused of stealing. Tuesday Huxley, a spunky female cop, is trying to help him, but Remy can't get in touch with her. Two men in black suits are pursuing him, and they have a secret weapon that they don't want to use--an uncontrollable psychic freak-man. You've listed a bunch of things that Remy does, or that happen to him, but they don't tie together. Why does he join the pharmacy? What is the cop helping him accomplish, and why can't he reach her? It isn't clear. Basically, what is the root of the story? I'd pick out the important points and stick with that, cutting out all the extra details.

Ash steps inside a free clinic for medical help, but he loses his temper at the endless red tape, and discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. After being mugged, he joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies choke Ash's desire to serve justice. And with his stripper girlfriend getting in his face about money and a job, Ash is finding it hard not to use his pyrokinesis to make everything simpler. I love the characters here, but once again these incidents seem thrown together, not linked in any way...what is the story? What does Ash do that matters to the book?

Their parallel journeys lead them back to their creator--the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company--who reveals their purpose. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves. Exciting ending! I like it a lot!

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef". What did you publish there?

I really like the premise of this book! Best of luck!

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by theWallflower » September 10th, 2010, 5:36 pm

lachrymal wrote:Neither knows the other exists, but their parallel journeys --ok--here, I could use a very brief para about the challenges they face. If you skip straight to "the final confrontation", I feel like I haven't gotten enough of what actually happens. I do like the simple ways you've laid out the decisions the two make, but I'm concerned that a naive reader (I've read several versions, so have a scant sense of what goes on, to a point) would have little sense of the actual plot.


Well, this is what I was trying to avoid. My other query was criticized for being too much like a synopsis, and now you're asking me to put it all back in. There are simply too many events to descrbe how these two separate people get led back, much of it is not relevant to the main concept. It's kind of like a road movie. And I'm afraid if I put in a laundry list of events, it won't go anywhere towards selling the novel.

There are plenty of things to advertise--strippers, black market pharmacies, and psychic fights--but I'm afraid those are going to bring up more "what is this, why is this, what does this have to do with" questions.
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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by lachrymal » September 10th, 2010, 6:10 pm

I'm certainly not saying you should offer forth a laundry list of events. However, it sounds like you've built a world, and this new query gives little sense of it. My own query is, in a very scant way, synopsis-y, so perhaps I lean in that direction. Your story sounds truly unique, and it tips the scales at a hefty 120k, so I guess I was concerned that the newest iteration of your query doesn't give enough of a sense of what's different about your story. The pharmaceutical company is interesting, as are some other things you mentioned, and I suppose I thought those things might entice an agent. Mine is only one opinion, of course.

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by Jaligard » September 10th, 2010, 7:19 pm

theWallflower wrote:All right, try this on. This one is less synopsis-y:

The world of the future is a harsh place. Even harsher for Remy and Ash. They're brothers. They wake up in separate parts of a metropolis and have no memory.

Remy wakes up on a park bench with some pills, a sweater, and a strange gun. He knows these objects are linked to his past, and wanders off to find answers. When he picks up a book, visions flash through his head, and he realizes he can read the history of objects. Knowing he can use this power to help people, he becomes torn between discovering his identity and curing his loneliness.

Ash wakes up in an alley, also with some pills and money. When he loses his temper in a hospital, he discovers his pyrokinesis. Like Remy, he has a strong sense of justice. But as he becomes resentful of his situation, he finds it hard not to use his power to make everything simpler.

Neither knows the other exists, but their parallel journeys lead them back to the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company. In the final confrontation, they discover that, despite their instincts, the greatest threat to humanity is themselves.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef".

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
I think what is missing is the plot. We have the hook: two brothers wake up in different parts of the city with no memory and starnge powers. We have who is involved in the climax: the CEO of the tyrannical pharmaceutical company We need you to connect the dots. Not in a list, but in a succinct yet rich summary. Define their quest for us.

Give each brother--at most--a one sentence description and focus on how they are different.

I think there's a great idea there, but it still needs work.

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Re: Black Hole Son - V4

Post by Write2Me » September 10th, 2010, 7:36 pm

The premise seems interesting, but you're suffering from the same problem i did, of trying to condense your great idea into 250 words or less. Now i understand why they say to write the query before the book. Doing the reverse is like trying to put a grown baby back in the womb and its no easy feat. Here's my take on your query, maybe it'll help your process.

my version:


The world of the future is a harsh place, a wasteland filled with the extremes of human excess and abject poverty. It's even harsher for Remy and Ash, two troubled brothers who wake up in separate parts of a metropolis, their minds devoid of all memories.

Waking up on a park bench, Remy opens his eyes and sees pills, a ratty sweater, and a strange gun, lying next to him. He knows these objects are linked to his past, and wanders off seeking answers. Entering a bookstore, he picks up novel, and brilliant visions flash through his head. Remy realizes he can read the history of objects, and that struggles between using that power to help people, and re- discovering his identity.

On the other side of town, Ash, wakes up in a filthy alley. Rubbing his eyes, he notices pills and a stack of money on the ground next to him. Unable to make sense of it all, he screams out of rage, and alley burst into flames- but he is unscathed. Discovering his ability to manipulate fire with his mind, he finds it difficult to prevent himself from scorching the earth and making life simple.

Neither brother knows the other exists, but their parallel journeys lead them back to the CEO of a tyrannical pharmaceutical company who is flooding the streets with an opiate that is destroying the masses. Justice demands that they take him down- but in the process, their inner demons may turn them into the gravest threat humanity will ever face.

BLACK HOLE SON is a 120,000 word cyberpunk novel. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Flash Me", "Sorcerous Signals", and "The Dunesteef"

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