Historical sci-fi

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Watcher55
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Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » November 28th, 2010, 2:15 am

Confession time. I joined this board because I'm days away from sending queries and kicking my child out of the house and into the world, so this is literally my first attempt at a query

You can ignore this piece of mental vomit (note the timestamp). Thanks glj

Dear Specific Agent,
After reading your bio on your agency’s web page and the interviews you did with ___ and _____, I was impressed by both your hunger and your intelligence. The title of my novel is The Ninth Addict, the first in the Back to Babel series. The finished book is approximately 75,000 words; the first 5 pages of which I have included in this email.

If someone wants to call my work Christian literature I’ll not argue, but I call it historical science fiction, as it is more an attempt to put Christianity in its historical contexts than it is to evangelize or uplift. Indeed the history of Christianity is every bit as dark, that is to say human, as the history of the pagan world in which it took root.

Ted is an addict, a war slave, captured two weeks ago during the inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. After a memory wipe and a two-week conditioning program to prepare him for his role as crown bearer for the second Babel Expedition, Ted serves as the one use engine for a ten-dimensional ‘brane and set on course for Babel. The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Through no effort of his own, Ted throws the expedition off course and after skipping like a stone across the timescape to Babel and back, his vector fields align in Rome on July 19, 64 CE; the first day of the fire that raged for nine days and devoured a third of the city.

Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what he is “gonna did” nine days later tangled time and that he had just started a war with the Pantheon. Phil convinces Ted that the best thing to do is to assume the identity of his ancestor Theodorus who is the gods’ ultimate target. After Ted suffers a second memory purge, a soldier of the Night Watch befriends him, a black woman from the nineteenth century who calls herself Atalanta beats him up, and various Olympians accuse him of murdering Apollo and Hera’s seven-year-old son, and using the rest of the gods’ own children to commit genocide. By the end of The Ninth Addict the new god learns that it will take him nine days and 3500 years to unravel the mystery of what he’s gonna did.

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

Sincerely,
Watcher
Last edited by Watcher55 on November 28th, 2010, 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by glj » November 28th, 2010, 12:16 pm

My immediate impressions are: 1) this is too complex and lengthy, and 2) you are trying too hard to impress. I would suggest a paring down of both the story summary and the extra verbage. Most agents seem to like a query letter where the body is 250-350 words.

Don't explain why you wrote the book. Don't hedge about the genre. Don't make the query sound like you are not confident about the genre or the story. Tell the agent where you would expect the book to be shelved in a bookstore.

In the body of the query, give a brief outline of 1) the protagonist, 2) the coming conflict, and 3) the choices/battles the protagonist will face. Don't reveal the ending of the conflict, that is for a synopsis. You are only trying to hook the reader.

The basic plot sounds interesting, as nearly as I can make it out. But the conflict is too vague. Make it crystal clear. Hint at what will happen if Ted fails.


Dear Specific Agent,
After reading your bio on your agency’s web page and the interviews you did with ___ and _____, I was impressed by both your hunger and your intelligence. Too much kissing up. The title of my novel Just give the title, no need for explanation is The Ninth Addict, the first in the Back to Babel series. Most agents say to sell only the FIRST book. Some suggest that the querier hint that successive books may be coming. All agents say that having a series will not be a selling point to them. The finished book is approximately 75,000 words; the first 5 pages of which I have included in this email. Again, there is no need to explain. Agents know what is commonly in a query letter. Combine the word count with the previous sentence. Include the genre with the title and word count in a single sentence. This is a business letter. Keep it succinct and professional, as if it were a resume for your manuscript.

If someone wants to call my work Christian literature I’ll not argue, but I call it historical science fiction, as it is more an attempt to put Christianity in its historical contexts than it is to evangelize or uplift. Indeed the history of Christianity is every bit as dark, that is to say human, as the history of the pagan world in which it took root. Way too much explanation. Strike all this.

Ted is an addict, Is "addict" important? a war slave, captured two weeks ago during the an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. After a memory wipe and a two-week conditioning program to prepare him for his role as crown bearer for the second Babel Expedition, Ted serves as the one use engine "One use engine"? This might cause a reader to back up and re-read, which you want to avoid. And it sounds a bit "tech-speak" for a historical fiction piece with biblical characters for a ten-dimensional ‘brane Ditto, this is too complex for a query. and set on course for Babel. The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Through no effort of his own,Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping like a stone across the timescape across time to Babel and back, his vector fields align he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE; the first day of the fire that raged for nine days and devoured a third of the city. Is the time really important? Will the reader recognize some significance of this particular day? I would suggest just "in Rome on 64CE".

Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what he is “gonna did” I understand what you are trying to say here, but consider making it easier to read (i.e., "that what he had done in the future") nine days later tangled time and that he had just started a war with the Pantheon. Phil convinces Ted that the best thing to do is to assume the identity of his ancestor Theodorus who is the gods’ ultimate target. After Ted suffers a second memory purge, a soldier of the Night Watch befriends him, a black woman from the nineteenth century who calls herself Atalanta beats him up, and various Olympians accuse him of murdering Apollo and Hera’s seven-year-old son, and using the rest of the gods’ own children to commit genocide. By the end of The Ninth Addict the new god learns that it will take him nine days and 3500 years to unravel the mystery of what he’s gonna did. Okay, this paragraph really starts to drag. Too much info and too complex a plot summary. None of this tells us what will happen in the MAIN conflict. Stick to the basics. Outline who Ted is, tell why he is chosen for the task, tell what he learns, i.e., that he is being used by one side, tell what is at stake if he goes along with his assigned task, and tell what is at stake if he does't. Leave it at that, with the reader thinking "Ooh, what happens then?"

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. Proposals are for non-fiction works. This is a query. You need to know the difference so as to not come across as an amateur I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Watcher


I hope this helps. I would suggest that you take the time to read query letters posted by agents and by writers. Don't get in a rush, the query is too important. Good luck.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » November 28th, 2010, 2:47 pm

Thanks again glj. This is what I came up with.

Let's try this.

Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. The Ninth Addict is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel about Ted, a war slave who is captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the engine for the inter-dimensional train that carries the second Babel Expedition and the docking procedure is expected to kill him.

The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE (Nero fiddled. . . .). Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what he has already done nine later has tangled time and that he has just started a war with the Pantheon.

In the course of running from the flames and the riotous stampede between the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum, Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus in order to annihilate (erase) their mistake. Later he is told that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Jews as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to pick up on is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.

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

Sincerely,
Watcher

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by glj » November 29th, 2010, 10:03 am

Hello, Watcher. Yes, this is much better! I get a much better sense of the plot in this version.


Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. The Ninth Addict The title is typically done in all caps to stand out is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel about Ted, a war slave who is captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the engine for the inter-dimensional train I'm not sure if the "inter-dimensional train" is meant literally? that carries the second Babel Expedition and the docking procedure is expected to kill him.

The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE (Nero fiddled. . . .). I would put "Nero fiddled" in directly, as the parenthetical seems like an afterthought. Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what he Here, "he" is vague and we don't know if it refers to Zeus, the last mentioned character, or Ted has already done nine days? later Or "in the future" has tangled time and that he has just started a war with the Pantheon. Okay, good, but it takes two sides to have a war. Who is the Pantheon fighting? The Procreator? I think this could be clearer.

In the course of running from the flames and the riotous stampede between saying "between" makes me think of the Circus and the Forum as living things instead of places, envisioning some kind of rumble "between" them. How about "from" and "to"? the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum, Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to annihilate (erase) I think "erase" might be better their mistake. How does running from a stampede help Ted learn of the targeting of his Patriarch? I'm not trying to be a pain, but some linkage is implied, but I don't understand it. Later he is told that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Jews as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to pick up on is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos. Good, we have some stakes here.

I understand that Ted doesn't know what is going on and is caught up in the fighting. And he should not understand, not until near the end of the book. But I do not yet have a clear picture of why the Pantheon and the Procreator are fighting. I think a hint of this would give the reader of the query letter a better understanding. And an understanding of Ted's part in it.

You are on the right track. Keep at it and don't get discouraged. Queries are very hard to do well--but very important!


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

Sincerely,
Watcher

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » November 29th, 2010, 12:17 pm

OK, I think I might have just the smallest of handles on this thing so here is draft number three.

Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel about Ted, a war slave who is captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the engine for the inter-dimensional train, actually an artificial ten-dimensional membrane, that carries the second Babel Expedition. It is expected that Ted will be killed during the docking procedure.

The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE “Nero fiddled. . . .” Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what Ted has already done nine days in the future has tangled time and that in less than an hour a state of war would exist between him and the Pantheon.

Once Ted emerges from the Mithraeum and stands on top of the spina in the Circus Maximus his foot is set on a terrifying path. In the course of running from a giant, killing two lunatics and hiding from the riotous stampede that sweeps him to the Temple of Castor on the Roman Forum, Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to erase their mistake. He is later told that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Christians as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to pick up on is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Watcher

One thing that bothers me is that while the multiple volume work is just as much a work of serious historical fiction as it is sci-fi, I'm afraid it doesn't come out in the query. Granted the first installment is mainly devoted to world building, but I want the agents to understand that I'm handling recorded history and mythology as carefully as I can.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Jaligard » November 29th, 2010, 11:34 pm

Watcher55 wrote:After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel about Ted, a war slave who is captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the engine for the inter-dimensional train, actually an artificial ten-dimensional membrane, that carries the second Babel Expedition. It is expected that Ted will be killed during the docking procedure.

The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE “Nero fiddled. . . .” Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, he is informed by his evil doppelganger, Phil, that the crown is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman, that what Ted has already done nine days in the future has tangled time and that in less than an hour a state of war would exist between him and the Pantheon.

Once Ted emerges from the Mithraeum and stands on top of the spina in the Circus Maximus his foot is set on a terrifying path. In the course of running from a giant, killing two lunatics and hiding from the riotous stampede that sweeps him to the Temple of Castor on the Roman Forum, Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to erase their mistake. He is later told that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Christians as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to pick up on is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
I don't mean to sound mean, but I have a really tough time following this query letter.

It reads like there is a lot of interesting stuff going on, but I'm lost as to what the story is. You have six named characters and six (or seven or eight) named settings. Can you pare this down to just the important ones and concentrate on the bare bones of the story? From there, flesh it out some, but this is just a barrage. I don't ever get my feet set before I'm hit with another invading doppleganger/giant pseudo-historical person.

It sounds like you've got a very vibrant world(s), but it's too much for me to digest in such a small space. Focus on Ted and what he has to do to accomplish his goal of ________.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » November 30th, 2010, 1:26 am

That last draft was, I admit, clear as mud because I was preoccupied when I called myself proofreading. Based on my research however, there are a few assumptions I should be able to make about this particular agent. This person is familiar, and interested in representing, historical fiction and science fiction. This person expressed an interest in ancient history and mythology.

Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel about Ted, a war slave, captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the disposable vessel for the engine that powers the inter-dimensional train that carries the second Babel Expedition. Ted will die during the docking procedure; that at least, is the intention. The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis.

Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE, “Nero fiddled. . . .” Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, Phil, his doppelganger, tells him that the gold crown on his wisdom tooth is actually Zeus’ dimensional talisman and that what Ted has already done nine days in the future has tangled time. The immediate problem however is that a state of war now exists between Ted and the Pantheon.

Once Ted emerges from the Mithraeum and stands on top of the spina in the center of the already blazing Circus Maximus, his foot is set on a terrifying path. In the course of running from a giant, killing two lunatics and hiding from the riotous stampede that sweeps him to the Temple of Castor on the Roman Forum, Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to erase their mistake. He later learns that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Christians as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to understand is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.

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

Sincerely,
Watcher

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by glj » December 2nd, 2010, 12:40 am

It is getting better, but still has too much fine detail in it. I understand that you want to tell all about your story, but resist the temptation to put in details like the stampede, for example, or how Ted is to be the engine that powers the inter-dimensional train (maybe just stop at power source?). Limit it to the basic skeleton of the plot.


Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I knew I had to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel Stop here with this sentence. Then tell us about Ted in a new paragraph. You are running them together. "Ted is a slave captured during . . ." about Ted, a war slave, captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. His sole purpose is to serve as the disposable vessel for the engine that powers the inter-dimensional train that carries the second Babel Expedition. Ted will die during the docking procedure; that at least, is the intention. "What Ted doesn't know is that he will die in the final docking procedure." The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Maybe move this up before the part about Ted dying (general description before describing a specific event).

Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and after skipping across time to Babel and back, he. He ends up in Rome on July 19, 64 CE, “Nero fiddled. . . .” Upon his arrival on the floor of a subterranean Mithraeum, Phil, his doppelganger, tells him Ted that the gold crown on his wisdom tooth is actually he carries (leave this detail for the story Zeus’ dimensional talisman and that what Ted has already done nine days in the future has tangled time. The immediate problem however is that a state of war now exists between Ted and the Pantheon. Too detailed. Tell us the basic stakes.

Once Ted emerges from the Mithraeum and stands on top of the spina in the center of the already blazing Circus Maximus, Too detailed, keep this more general, i.e., sketch out the conflict that Ted is drawn into. We don't need to know any minor details or minor characters in the query his foot is set on a terrifying path. In the course of running from a giant, killing two lunatics and hiding from the riotous stampede that sweeps him to the Temple of Castor on the Roman Forum, No, too specific again Ted learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to erase their mistake. Make this "mistake" clearer, as it appears to be the main motivation for the conflict. Show us WHY they will start a war to cover up a mistake. It must have been a big mistake. He later learns that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Christians as he has to just to kill her. The "Matron" doesn't seem to be needed What Ted fails to understand is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.

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

Sincerely,
Watcher
One thing that bothers me is that while the multiple volume work is just as much a work of serious historical fiction as it is sci-fi, I'm afraid it doesn't come out in the query. Granted the first installment is mainly devoted to world building, but I want the agents to understand that I'm handling recorded history and mythology as carefully as I can.
Do you have any credentials that might add to this? If you are an expert in history, it might give you a boost in credibility. Of course, your writing will still have to sell the story, but any advantage helps.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » December 2nd, 2010, 9:54 am

YAAAH! I never thought it would be so hard to get back into the "writing for the professor" mode. I showed the letter to my sisters and some friends and they told me why it sucks too, but I'm supremely confident that this draft isn't ready either.

Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I decided to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel. Ted is a slave captured during an inter-dimensional invasion launched by the Procreator and led by Zeus. The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis. Ted’s sole purpose is to serve as the disposable vessel for the engine that powers the inter-dimensional membrane that carries the Olympians and their families. What Ted doesn't know is that he will die upon his arrival at Babel.

Ted accidentally throws the expedition off course and skips across time to Babel and back. His arrival in Rome, in 64 CE, apparently sparks the great fire and kills Castor and Pollux. Phil, his doppelganger, tells Ted that he carries Zeus’ dimensional talisman and that what Ted has already done nine days in the future has tangled time and created the state of war that now exists between Ted and the Pantheon.

Once Ted emerges from the Mithraeum and stands on top of the spina in the center of the already blazing Circus Maximus, his foot is set on a terrifying path. He learns that the pantheon is targeting his Patriarch, Theodorus, in order to erase Ted. He later learns that his Matron, a Jewish Christian, is in greater danger since Zeus is willing to kill as many Christians as he has to just to kill her. What Ted fails to understand is that if the Pantheon succeeds and/or he fails, three universes will be torn apart and cast into Chaos.

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

Sincerely,
Watcher

As far as creds go and highlighting the historical nature of the work go, I'm afraid there's not much there
* I have a BA in History
* I taught high school for 10 years
* I read too much
* I just always really, really, really wanted to be a writer. OK, that was uncalled for; sometimes I go too far when I make fun of myself. And I really appreciate y'all. The truth is I'm a writer and I'm just finding out that, published or not, I can't be anything else. This work has been a burden for 30+ years.

I wonder if I should stop worrying about that part and let the story sell itself and hope I have a chance to unpack the rest further into the process (?)
Anybody? anybody?

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by courtney » December 2nd, 2010, 10:32 am

Hi Watcher,
Here's my two cents, for what it's worth. I think the biggest problem here is you are doing too much world-building in the query. You are bogging us down with details and unknown words that don't add to what your STORY is. Give us plain words and maybe throw in an original concept here and there, but sentences like this:
"The Procreator’s goal is to unify memory and event and give birth to homo universalis."
might as well be greek to me.
What does it mean to unify memory and event? What is homo universalis and how is birth going to be given? (Is what you mean here that Procreator wants to create a new race of beings? If so, please just say that.)
In fact, who is the Procreator and why is he a bad guy or a good guy as far as our protag Ted is concerned?

I'd say back up. Slow down. Just summarize the human drama unfolding in your story in plain terms. Save the world-building terms for your book, where you have time to acclimate the reader and define the terms. You only have a few paragraphs in a query to hook someone. I'm not hooked here. I'm confused.

I'd consider getting rid of these words and instead using clearer language:
inter-dimensional invasion and inter-dimensional membrane (it may take more words to get your idea across, but I promise it is worth it to explain the concept rather than clumping these words together and hoping we understand what they are and their significance)
Mithraeum
spina
Circus Maximus
Why are there three universes?...you can't just throw that concept in at the last bit. Explain if it's important, or just remove it.
Why is "Chaos" capitalized? Is it a specific place?
Patriarch / matron --these words mean something to you in context of your story, but not to me at the query stage. If patriarch is a father figure, just say that. If matron was his schoolteacher, just say that. Use language that has no room for ambiguity.

Plus, you have a cast of Thousands here. Just list the main characters. I'd say maybe your protag, your antag, and one other important character like the Matron. That's it. I don't need to know about Castor, Pollux, Phil, Theodorus, or the Pantheon at the query stage.

Imagine you are telling your grandmother the basic gist of the story. Use the language you would use with her. People care about people...less so about ideas. Make me care about Ted. Tell me about something about him (shy, brilliant, ambitious) and his inner/outer goal (survival, search for identity, love, protection of his family) and why it is his goal (what is his ultimate wound he needs closure on) and why is Ted the only one who can succeed where others would fail. Tell me what choice he faces and what will happen if he chooses one way or the other. Tell me more about the Matron, why she's important to Ted and why Zeus wants her dead so badly. Make Ted a real person to me...without the lofty ideals and confusing terms.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by glj » December 2nd, 2010, 12:56 pm

One of the pieces of advice I've heard is to tell a friend or relative about your story, and recording it at the same time. Your verbal description should be 2-3 minutes. Then write down what you said. With luck, it will be the basic concept, including the main characters and the main plot.

I agree with Courtney--you are still too caught up in the world building. I understand this, as my query for my first manuscript kept getting bigger and bigger, while people who read it kept saying to cut it down. But there were so many things that I wanted the agent to know that I just couldn't do it. Long story short, I didn't get a single nibble on the query letter and that manuscript is in storage.

Curiously, for my current manuscript, I wrote the basic query letter long before I had the rough draft even one-quarter of the way done. It was a snap. At that time, I had only the basic concept in my head, and it was easy to write the query without dragging in various minor things. Did that original query letter last? Yes, although I have tweaked it many times since, but have been able to resist larding it up, fortunately.

Keep at it. Remember, it should be simple enough that you can tell a total stranger about it in no more than a minute, were someone to ask you about it. And friends and relatives will, so you can practice on them. They should be good for something, after all!

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Margo » December 2nd, 2010, 6:39 pm

courtney wrote:I think the biggest problem here is you are doing too much world-building in the query.
I agree with this. I think you could save a lot of what's in the query for the synopsis. Have you considered writing the pitch of your query like a back cover blurb? You could try this. It actually doesn't take that long (so you're not wasting much time if you don't like how it turns out), though it's usually easier if you do it before you write the novel or all the novel details try to squeeze their way inside. (I think I got most of this from a Nathan blog post, but I'm not positive.)


[name of character] is [three or four statements pertinent to who the character is at the beginning of the story and what's about to be endangered]

But when [three or four sentences about the complications and resulting dangers]...

Now [character] must [how he must go about saving the day] or [the worst possible consequence of failure].



It's a GREAT exercise to try to limit yourself to 10-12 sentences.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Watcher55
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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » December 2nd, 2010, 7:43 pm

Dang, y'all act like I'm supposed to describe the wall and not the bricks - DOH.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious FIVE times before it started to sink in.

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Margo » December 2nd, 2010, 8:15 pm

Watcher55 wrote:Thanks for pointing out the obvious FIVE times before it started to sink in.
That rate makes you a fast learner in this industry.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Historical sci-fi

Post by Watcher55 » December 2nd, 2010, 11:10 pm

<Watcher sends the query by thread-mail and stands in the corner nonchalantly biting his fingernails and sweating bullets>

Dear Specific Agent,

After reading your interviews with _____ and ______ I wanted to query you first. THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word historical science fiction novel.

Ted is a 17-year-old boy. At six feet tall, with his straight nose, dark green eyes and jet-black eyebrows, he resembles an emaciated wolf. Most 17 year olds gifted with his intelligence know things – like their name. The gods took Ted’s away from him after they took him from his own time in their effort to create a species of man whose body is an entire universe.

Ted escapes, but finds himself in Nero’s Rome at the flashpoint of the infamous nine-day fire that claimed a third of the city. Ted finds he has the power of Zeus and it frightens him to the edge of madness. He doesn't want power, he just wants to go home, but the gods have declared war on him and, he’s told, they are willing to murder thousands in order to kill either of Ted’s ancestors. If the gods succeed and Ted ceases to exist, he can’t ruin the gods’ original plan by doing something he’s apparently already done. What neither the gods nor Ted know is that if Ted fails, for any reason, the universe will rip itself apart and drift into Chaos.

I hold a BA in History from Freed Hardeman University, and after fifteen years of research in preparation for this work, I can say that First Century Rome is more like 21st Century Western Civilization than we might care to admit. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Watcher

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