SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

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Kate_WritesYA
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SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by Kate_WritesYA » December 16th, 2011, 3:07 pm

Please tear this to shreds, then light the shreds on fire. I'm thick-skinned, promise. Thank you in advance!

Kate

Dear AGENT NAME,

The mission is simple: kill the hybrid, end the drought.

Seventeen-year-old Ty thinks there's no way he'll have the honor of being drafted to face the man-beast hybrid. He's a bastard, a nobody shunned by society and relegated to grunt work in the water factory, where every drop of water is extracted from corpses and waste.

But when Ty beats a blasphemer to death for insulting temperamental, impetuous Priestess Nia, he impresses the demigods who rule the city. As a result, Ty is among those chosen to enter the ancient subway tunnels that serve as the hybrid's subterranean lair.

The hybrid is supposedly the last remnant of the genetic engineering that provoked the wrath of the gods and started the drought. If Ty can defeat the hybrid, not only will he save the city, he'll earn security for his mother, honor, and Nia's love.

Ty has an unlikely ally in demigod Ardine, elder daughter of the King. Ardine attracts and intimidates Ty, but can he trust her? Ty will make discoveries that shatter his faith, and uncover secrets that could topple the demigods' theocracy—but only if he can escape the labyrinth to share them.

SEA OF BONE AND SAND is a Sci-Fi Young Adult novel that puts a futuristic twist on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is complete at 75,000 words, and will appeal to both male and female readers of action-oriented, character-driven novels like SHIP BREAKER.

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wilderness
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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by wilderness » December 16th, 2011, 7:50 pm

Your main character beats someone TO DEATH for insulting a girl? That totally threw me from the query. If you were doing a dark, anti-hero thing like American Psycho, it would be one thing, but this doesn't seem like that. It seems like a normal heroic quest...except the main character is a brutal killer. As written, I'm not sure this works (it definitely doesn't for me). Maybe I'm reading it wrong but I think it needs to be better justified. And hopefully it should tie in a huge internal dilemma along with the hybrid quest. Good luck.

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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by thewhipslip » December 16th, 2011, 11:40 pm

I'm with wilderness that the beating someone to death definitely removes that YA feeling. It seemed way too brutal, at least for the query. Other than that, it sounds awesome and I'd probably still look at pages to see what it's like. The world sounds great. Maybe just be a bit subtle about how he wins the gods' favor.
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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by Kate_WritesYA » December 17th, 2011, 2:49 pm

Thank you both! That's the sort of thing that is painfully obvious once someone says it. Ty has a temper, but he's not a bad or vicious guy. It's more that the world he lives in is very brutal, not him. I'm changing it to "savagely beats a blasphemer".

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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by Quill » December 17th, 2011, 5:29 pm

"Ty savagely beats a blasphemer for insulting temperamental, impetuous Priestess Nia" still sounds pretty intense, especially since you're almost insulting her yourself (with "temperamental, impetuous"). It's almost like we're wondering if insulting a seemingly unlikable authority is enough reason to administer violence, despite the roughness of the world, and more important, is this a reason to pull for the protagonist. It doesn't engender attachment in me.

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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by wilderness » December 17th, 2011, 8:19 pm

Glad to be of help, Kate! However, I agree that while changing it to a beating instead of death is a step in the right direction, we need more than that to make the character likeable. We still need better motivation and a road to redemption. The fact that he was rewarded for his violent deed just doesn't sit well. Even if the world around him is vicious, a hero should be able to rise above it. I think we need to get a sense of that in the query to care what happens to him. Similarly, I don't exactly feel excited about a romance with Nia if she endorsed the beating. Hope that helps.

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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by theWallflower » December 20th, 2011, 4:37 pm

The mission is simple: kill the hybrid, end the drought.
-This is a pretty good intro, but I'd like to know a hybrid of what? That'll add distinction to the story.
Seventeen-year-old Ty thinks there's no way he'll have the honor of being drafted to face the man-beast hybrid. He's a bastard, a nobody shunned by society and relegated to grunt work in the water factory, where every drop of water is extracted from corpses and waste.
-Again, I ask a hybrid of what? What kind of beast? A bigfoot? Nessie? Chameleon?
-I don't think you need "shunned by society". Bastard might fit that. Or substitute bastard for a synonym of "one who is shunned". I'm having trouble relating to the character. He sounds like someone from 300.
-And you don't need "water factory" when the next claus is "where every drop of water is extracted..."
But when Ty beats a blasphemer to death for insulting temperamental, impetuous Priestess Nia, he impresses the demigods who rule the city. As a result, Ty is among those chosen to enter the ancient subway tunnels that serve as the hybrid's subterranean lair.
-"tempermental" and "impetuous" mean sorta the same thing. Observe word economy in a query. Use as few adjectives and adverbs as you can.
-I'm confused if there is one hybrid or many. If one, why not capitalize it. Unless there is always a hybrid? You see what I'm getting at -- need more info about the hybrid.
The hybrid is supposedly the last remnant of the genetic engineering that provoked the wrath of the gods and started the drought. If Ty can defeat the hybrid, not only will he save the city, he'll earn security for his mother, honor, and Nia's love.
-That first sentence is long.
-What is meant by "defeat"? Kill it? Restrain it? What tools does he have to do this?
-What is the correlation between the hybrid and water?
-What kind of security does his mother need? Is she in danger?
Ty has an unlikely ally in demigod Ardine, elder daughter of the King. Ardine attracts and intimidates Ty, but can he trust her? Ty will make discoveries that shatter his faith, and uncover secrets that could topple the demigods' theocracy—but only if he can escape the labyrinth to share them.
-Why can't Ty trust her? Because she's in power?
-What does Ardine do in this story?
-What discoveries does he make? I assume it's something about the hybrid that's a "pull the wool over the eyes of the people" thing.
SEA OF BONE AND SAND is a Sci-Fi Young Adult novel that puts a futuristic twist on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is complete at 75,000 words, and will appeal to both male and female readers of action-oriented, character-driven novels like SHIP BREAKER.
-Forget the "will appeal to..." line and comparison to other novels. That's for the agent to decide.
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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by Jaligard » January 16th, 2012, 4:55 pm

Kate_WritesYA wrote:The mission is simple: kill the hybrid, end the drought.
The problem with this opening is that I have no context to figure out what the heck you mean. Whose mission? What kind of hybrid? A Prius? What drought? Beginnings are tricky. You only have one chance at them and they need to inspire trust. This just confuses.
Seventeen-year-old Ty thinks there's no way he'll have the honor of being drafted to face the man-beast hybrid. He's a bastard, a nobody shunned by society and relegated to grunt work in the water factory, where every drop of water is extracted from corpses and waste.
That's a better opening. It builds the context as it goes.
But when Ty beats a blasphemer to death for insulting temperamental, impetuous Priestess Nia, he impresses the demigods who rule the city. As a result, Ty is among those chosen to enter the ancient subway tunnels that serve as the hybrid's subterranean lair.
Impetuous is the adjective you want. Never use two when one will do. As for the rest of this, I can think you can pare it down to one sentence.
The hybrid is supposedly the last remnant of the genetic engineering that provoked the wrath of the gods and started the drought. If Ty can defeat the hybrid, not only will he save the city, he'll earn security for his mother, honor, and Nia's love.
This should be attached to the previous paragraph.
Ty has an unlikely ally in demigod Ardine, elder daughter of the King. Ardine attracts and intimidates Ty, but can he trust her? Ty will make discoveries that shatter his faith, and uncover secrets that could topple the demigods' theocracy—but only if he can escape the labyrinth to share them.
Don't introduce so much information here. You should be building to a climax of tension. New information throws that off. I end up wondering who Ardine is and how that affects things with Nia when I should be wondering how the hell he's going to defeat a hybrid, which, now that I think about, seems kind of inevitable. I don't know anything about the hybrid and Ty's already killed a blasphemer. Maybe build up why Ty shouldn't succeed.

You're on the right track. Trim, trim, trim.

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Re: SEA OF BLOOD AND SAND (YA Sci-Fi)

Post by madmcgee » January 16th, 2012, 10:38 pm

The mission is simple: kill the hybrid, end the drought.
This is a tagline, not an introduction. I would seriously cut this out or include it at the end.

I also think the structure of the query is off. Too many unanswered questions are introduced in the first true paragraph. You start with Ty, but we really don't know much (except how old he is, which is actually a minor detail masquerading as a character trait). There's setting introduced (water factory). Plus this man-beast hybrid, which goes unexplained for another two paragraphs. Try to break the paragraphs in such a way that each of these factors is introduced and *explained* at the same time.
Seventeen-year-old Ty thinks there's no way he'll have the honor of being drafted to face the man-beast hybrid. He's a bastard, a nobody shunned by society and relegated to grunt work in the water factory, where every drop of water is extracted from corpses and waste.
This first section feels really clunky. Stick to answering questions about Ty. Combine the character elements with the action that propels Ty forward on his heroe's journey. For example: "Ty has been shunned his whole life; after almost two decades spent in isolation reclaiming water from corpses, he does not have much hope [that he'll be special, that he can become someone important, of becoming a hero, etc.]."
But when Ty beats a blasphemer to death for insulting temperamental, impetuous Priestess Nia, he impresses the demigods who rule the city.
Only after I had firmly established Ty's character and "why he is the way he is" would I introduce the man-beast thingy.
The hybrid is supposedly the last remnant of the genetic engineering that provoked the wrath of the gods and started the drought. If Ty can defeat the hybrid, not only will he save the city, he'll earn security for his mother, honor, and Nia's love.
Now, we have the protagonist introduced, a brief explanation of the world he lives, and his major dilemma. This is a good time to then flesh it out with some of the action.
Ty has an unlikely ally in demigod Ardine, elder daughter of the King. Ardine attracts and intimidates Ty, but can he trust her? Ty will make discoveries that shatter his faith, and uncover secrets that could topple the demigods' theocracy—but only if he can escape the labyrinth to share them.
Work on the structure as if you were writing a short rather than summarizing a novel. Give each element of this (incredibly interesting) plot a moment to shine by itself, rather than jumbling everything together. By the way, I want to read this once it is published!

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