Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
User avatar
theWallflower
Posts: 81
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 10:29 am
Location: Minnesota
Contact:

Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by theWallflower » April 14th, 2010, 2:03 pm

Remy wakes up on a park bench with no memory and no identity. In another part of the city, Ash wakes up in an alley with the same condition. Neither knows the other exists and the only things they have are a powerful instinct to protect and psychic abilities.

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to feed his compulsion to help people he encounters. Like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop. But every time he gets a little closer to finding help, two black-suited agents chase him away, and he has to start over.

Ash goes to a free clinic for help, but the bureaucracy strips him of his patience, and he discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. This doesn't stop him from being mugged, which gives him a thirst for justice (and a little money wouldn't be bad either). He joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies motivate Ash to use his powers for his own crime-stopping methods.

Despite their parallel journeys, these two blank slates change dramatically as they strike out on their own. When fate leads them back to each other, they discover the greatest threat to humanity--themselves.
Two questions I have:
-In paragraph 2, is that sentence that starts with "Like" okay?
-I'm having trouble giving the black-suited agents a non-generic presence. Here's their role: They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him. How I put that in a single sentence, I don't know.
Waterworld meets The Little Mermaid
Image
MERM-8: Now available from Musa Publishing

CoachMT
Posts: 50
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by CoachMT » April 14th, 2010, 4:53 pm

Technically, the "Like" sentence isn't a sentence. It's a fragment so you probably want to change it.

I don't see that you need to embellish about the agents. I don't think they are pivotal to your query. Obviously they are a part of the story, but they don't add to the query. Maybe add the word "mysterious" or something similar to their description but if you give them too much detail, you would lose the thread, which is Remy and Ash.

JTB
Posts: 64
Joined: March 23rd, 2010, 6:52 am

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by JTB » April 14th, 2010, 5:08 pm

no the 'like' sentence is not ok - but overall this is much improved and i for one like it.

the 'like' line feels too added, take it out and see how it reads - i get the sentiment and it feels right but it doesn't add to the sing of the song

the ending line = YEAH

when i got more time i'll say more

j

GeeGee55
Posts: 173
Joined: February 19th, 2010, 11:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by GeeGee55 » April 14th, 2010, 10:05 pm

Hi, Wallflower: This is my impression:
theWallflower wrote:
Remy wakes up-cut, not necessary on a park bench with no memory and no identity. In another part of the city, Ash wakes up-cut in an alley with-should it be with or in? the same condition. Neither knows the other exists and the only things they have are a powerful instinct to protect and psychic abilities.- I'd suggest rearranging the order of this for flow and impact - Perhaps, Both have a powerful instinct to protect and newfound psychic abilities. Neither knows the other exists.

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to feed his compulsion to help people he encounters. This is not okay, it's not clear, the fragment doesn't follow the thought of the previous sentence clearly enough, I was expecting a comparison because you used the work like = the phrase such as would be better, but better still I think make a sentence of it Like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop. But every time he gets a little closer to finding help, two black-suited agents I see your problem here, because he doesn't have his memory, how would he know they're agents? Perhaps two men who are obviously tailing him or something? chase him away, and he has to s -tart over.

Ash goes to a free clinic for help, but the bureaucracy strips him of his patience this phrase is not really clear, either, maybe, he becomes impatient with the endless filling out of forms or something better you choose and he discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. This ability doesn't stop him from being mugged which gives him a thirst for justice (and a little money wouldn't be bad either). He joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies motivate Ash to use his powers for his own crime-stopping methods.

Despite their parallel journeys, these two blank slates change dramatically as they strike out on their own-this doesn't quite make sense to me, why would their parallel journeys stop them from changing?. When fate leads them back to each other, they discover the greatest threat to humanity--themselves.
I like this last sentence

Two questions I have:
-In paragraph 2, is that sentence that starts with "Like" okay?
-I'm having trouble giving the black-suited agents a non-generic presence. Here's their role: They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him. How I put that in a single sentence, I don't know.
Good luck with it Wallflower, it sounds like a really interesting read.

lachrymal
Posts: 70
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:35 am
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by lachrymal » April 15th, 2010, 6:56 am

Remy wakes up on a park bench with no memory and no identity. In another part of the city, Ash wakes up in an alley with the same condition. Neither knows the other exists and the only things they have are a powerful instinct to protect and psychic abilities.
I'm surprised you didn't take the opportunity to shorten the final sentence of this paragraph to "Neither knows the other exists. The only things they have are..." I think I agree with Geegee about making the "neither knows" sentence last to increase the impact.
Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to feed his compulsion to help people he encounters. Like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop. But every time he gets a little closer to finding help, two black-suited agents chase him away, and he has to start over.
Yeah, sorry, that sentence fragment is a problem. The other issue I have with this paragraph is that you say he's helping others, and then start that final sentence with "but every time he gets closer to finding help", as if that's what he's trying to do all along (rather than trying to help others). I could understand if that were the case, except the sentence you start with "despite" implies he's helping others instead of trying to unravel his own mystery. Does that make any sense at all?

Could you just say something like "Despite the headaches, he uses this gift to help a demure farm girl, [continue that list]. He's also desperate to unravel his own mystery. Every time he gets close, two agents..."

About your agent problem--I guess, if you're writing this query consistently in their POV, Remy doesn't know they're agents of some corporate empire, right? "Black-suited agents" isn't a terrible literary crime. It sounds a little Matrix-y, but there are no new ideas under the sun, right? I just think that you're trying to be so careful with your words and sentences here, and you don't want to waste a single opportunity to convey how your story/query is spectacularly different and more interesting than every other query that lands in the agent's inbox that day. So "black-suited agents" isn't a killer, but it's not a winner either. If there's any way to somehow convey what makes them so kick-assedly special that the agent will be leaning forward, thinking "I've got to read this one," then that's what you should go for. Do they use special weapons (apart from the psychic monster)? Do they employ unusual methods? Does Remy have any hint of what they want? What about them makes him run instead of walking up to them and asking them to help him? Do they only show up at specific times or in certain situations, or are they shadowing him constantly? Are they attacking or just watching? Or are they guarding something and just chasing him away whenever he approaches?
Ash goes to a free clinic for help, but the bureaucracy strips him of his patience, and he discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. This doesn't stop him from being mugged, which gives him a thirst for justice (and a little money wouldn't be bad either). He joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies motivate Ash to use his powers for his own crime-stopping methods.
I wish I could set things on fire with my mind every time I have to go to the DMV. Here again, I agree with Geegee. Saying "the bueaucracy strips him of his patience" is telling rather than showing. Your sentence that starts with "this doesn't..." kind of threw me off, only because it almost sounds like his discovery is what doesn't stop him from being mugged, rather than his ability. Therefore, that sentence doesn't have as much impact as it could. I also struggle with your parenthetical statement. Something about the way that "thirst for justice (and a little money..." sentence reads makes me long for parallel structure.
Despite their parallel journeys, these two blank slates change dramatically as they strike out on their own. When fate leads them back to each other, they discover the greatest threat to humanity--themselves.
I still think the first sentence of this paragraph is a lost opportunity. I also think you might not want to start two sentences in your query with "Despite". But anyway, that sentence is strange, because why would you expect the journeys to do anything other than change them? I think it might make more sense if it was something like "These two blank slates strike out on their own. Their parallel journeys lead them back to each other, and the discovery of the greatest threat to humanity: themselves." Or however you want to word that final statement.
Best of luck.

JTB
Posts: 64
Joined: March 23rd, 2010, 6:52 am

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by JTB » April 15th, 2010, 7:23 am

more time arrived ............
Here's their role: They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him. How I put that in a single sentence, I don't know.
My take on this would be: leave it out.

Does it help sell the story, is it critical to the story? is it? I'm, not keen on 'two black-suited agents' either just 'Agents chase him away ..' reads good, sets of intirguing questions

.....

User avatar
theWallflower
Posts: 81
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 10:29 am
Location: Minnesota
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by theWallflower » April 15th, 2010, 5:11 pm

Would a semi-colon work for the "Like" sentence? Or maybe a comma?
Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to help people he encounters; like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop.
The problem is this turns it into a very long sentence.
Waterworld meets The Little Mermaid
Image
MERM-8: Now available from Musa Publishing

lachrymal
Posts: 70
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:35 am
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by lachrymal » April 15th, 2010, 5:33 pm

Semicolon no (because what comes after is not an independent phrase).
Comma yes (though that breaks your cardinal rule, my friend).

CoachMT
Posts: 50
Joined: February 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by CoachMT » April 15th, 2010, 6:39 pm

theWallflower wrote:Would a semi-colon work for the "Like" sentence? Or maybe a comma?
Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to help people he encounters; like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop.
The problem is this turns it into a very long sentence.
You could use a colon, thus: "Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to help people he encounters: a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop."

It's a long sentence, but not overly so in my opinion.

*edit: Though the second should probably be a "black market 'Robin Hood' pharmacist" not pharmacy as that's not a "person".

JTB
Posts: 64
Joined: March 23rd, 2010, 6:52 am

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by JTB » April 16th, 2010, 4:05 am

Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to help people he encounters; like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop.
a dash?

Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to help people he encounters - a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy and a spunky female rookie cop.

cjtrapp
Posts: 23
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 2:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by cjtrapp » April 16th, 2010, 7:45 am

I remember your original post, and the characters and story have stayed with me, so that is a good sign. I'm still strugglng with your query though. I think you hit on it with your question about generic. Black-suited security is a bit generic already. Can you change their appearance to something unexpected? The security agents dressed as surfers...

Also -- beginning a story with someone waking up can also be generic. May not be best to start with that in a query. An agent may be biased towards "waking" openings.

Others touched on the semicolon issue. Semi-colons have no place in fiction, in queries or MS. Be suspicious of all of them. Colons are also suspect, imo. Some feel this way about parentheses, too, but I think they can be a powerful style tool if used properly.

Some of your modifiers with clauses attached are too much. "demure farm girl in an abusive relationship" could be "battered farm girl". I think Robin Hood pharmacist is enough. The black market is implied, and it makes me say, hmm, what exactly is that? Maybe I should read more...
theWallflower wrote:They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him.
This how your query should read! You are querying about your query, and doing a better job, probably because you weren't thinking too hard!

How about starting with. "Remi and Ash both have headaches, and that's not all they have in common..."

I hope you find your groove with this query, because the story sounds strong.

Yoshima
Posts: 93
Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 4:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by Yoshima » April 17th, 2010, 1:12 pm

Hey Wallflower. More feedback for you. Hope it helps.
theWallflower wrote:
Remy wakes up on a park bench with no memory and no identity. In another part of the city, Ash wakes up in an alley with the same condition. Neither knows the other exists and the only things they have are a powerful instinct to protect and psychic abilities. (think it flows better if you list psychic abilities first.)

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, (omit comma?) and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to feed his compulsion to help people he encounters. Like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop. But every time he gets a little (cut a little) closer to finding help, two black-suited agents chase him away, and he has to start over.

Ash goes to a free clinic for help, but the bureaucracy strips him of his patience, and he discovers he can set things on fire with his mind. This doesn't stop him from being mugged, which gives him a thirst for justice (and a little money wouldn't be bad either). He joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies motivate Ash to use his powers for his own crime-stopping methods. (So...what's the outside conflict for Ash? Down below you say the agents don't know where Ash is, so there doesn't seem to be a "ticking clock" for Ash like there is for Remy; for me, that made it a little less exciting.)

Despite their parallel journeys, these (not crazy about "these." Makes them sound like commodities, not people.)two blank slates change dramatically as they strike out on their own. When fate leads them back to each other, they discover the greatest threat to humanity--themselves.
Two questions I have:
-In paragraph 2, is that sentence that starts with "Like" okay? (I'll admit, I had to read it twice. It isn't bad, but maybe not the best.)
-I'm having trouble giving the black-suited agents a non-generic presence. Here's their role: They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him. How I put that in a single sentence, I don't know. (Hmm. To me it was mostly that they didn't feel threatening enough. Do they have any weapons/powers to get Remy, or anything like that? That might make them more ominous, and would only take a few words.)

User avatar
rainbowsheeps
Posts: 72
Joined: April 4th, 2010, 8:53 pm
Location: new york.
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by rainbowsheeps » April 17th, 2010, 9:35 pm

theWallflower wrote:
Remy wakes up on a park bench with no memory and no identity. In another part of the city, Ash wakes up in an alley with the same condition. (As others have said, I don't think you should start with them both waking up. Especially in a query, it's just too passive and takes up too much space. It seems like a waste of word economy.) Neither knows the other exists and the only things they have are a powerful instinct to protect and psychic abilities. (Consider putting "psychic abilities" first.)

Remy can perceive the history of objects. Despite the headaches, and the need to unravel his own mystery, he uses this gift to feed his compulsion to help people he encounters. Like a demure farm girl in an abusive relationship, a black market "Robin Hood" pharmacy, and a spunky female rookie cop. But every time he gets a little closer to finding help (he's looking for help? Isn't he simply trying to help others? If you're saying he's close to finding answers about himself, say that instead.), two black-suited agents chase him away, and he has to start over. (This would read a lot more compelling if you said something like, "Two agents in black-suits are after him with..." The way you worded it, they're "chasing him away"... they're chasing him away from the people he's trying to help, and then what? The agents sound like old men yelling at the kid to get off their lawn right now. Make them a frightening, or at least compelling, force. Similarly, you're use of "he has to start over" reminds me of, not to offend, but an almost juvenile situation. Like someone knocked his blocks over and he has to put them together again. I think you're trying to instill tension and danger here, so consider using different phrases that will better suit the tone you want.)

Ash goes to a free clinic for help, (Again, help is used extremely vaguely. Is he going for any medical attention, like for his headaches, or for his amnesia? Why isn't he worried about being sent to a mental facility if he doesn't even know who he is?) but the bureaucracy strips him of his patience,(This is passive. If he gets annoyed waiting, say that instead) and he discovers he can set things on fire with his mind (This isn't as passive, but if you explain something specific he gets annoyed with, it might flow better if you say what he sets on fire accidentally, or otherwise, here). This doesn't stop him from being mugged, which gives him a thirst for justice (and a little money wouldn't be bad either) (This sentence also reads as passive). He joins the White Knights, a neighborhood crime patrol group. But their do-nothing policies motivate Ash to use his powers for his own crime-stopping methods. (They motivate him to use his powers for his own methods? Are you really sure you want to say methods, because it sounds like you're saying his method is to use his power for his own crime stopping method. Which is redundant and confusing.)

Despite their parallel journeys, these two blank slates change dramatically as they strike out on their own.(It seems odd to call your own characters "blank slates." I know you're referring to their memories, but that still doesn't seem like the impression you want to leave the agent or reader with of your main characters) When fate leads them back to each other, they discover the greatest threat to humanity--themselves. (The last line, the hook, is good. I think it should come earlier and be expanded upon a little bit.)
Two questions I have:
-In paragraph 2, is that sentence that starts with "Like" okay? Technically, it's not a sentence, it's a fragment. It doesn't read that bad, but I think there's bigger issues to worry about than that.
-I'm having trouble giving the black-suited agents a non-generic presence. Here's their role: They are "private security agents" (in this world, they're like cops that work for corporations) that are trying to get back Remy and Ash. They only know where Remy is, but he keeps escaping because he's scared. So they eventually set a "psychic monster" on him. How I put that in a single sentence, I don't know. I think it's one of the golden rules of literature is that if your story has a psychic monster, you mention the psychic monster in the query. Who doesn't want to read about a psychic monster? No one, that's who. The agents need a more commanding presence. They're the source of tension for Remy's part of the story, but they don't feel threatening. And seriously, you should probably slip the psychic monster in there.
I apologize if my comments seem really critical or were offensive at all. I don't feel like it would be helpful to you if I were to lie, though. The story sounds interesting, but it doesn't seem like the query is doing it justice. Despite the fact both of them have superpowers, amnesia, and a desire to help, the passive way they're described really cuts their characterizations at the knees.

If there's any aspects of their personalities that sets them apart and makes them appear as less of a "blank slate," and more of a complex character that deserves our sympathy. I might suggest including that. Briefly mentioning the ways Remy tries to help people, and making us feel like he's in real danger. For Ash, is he more impulsive or impatient than Remy? Does he have a bad temper, as hinted at by his outburst at the clinic, and possibly even his power itself? He doesn't have the agents after him, and his desire to go out and fight crime isn't as exciting as Remy's story, as someone else pointed out.

Hopefully this has been helpful, or at least wasn't offensive. I think the story sounds promising, but the query needs to be more active on selling it. Good luck!

User avatar
theWallflower
Posts: 81
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 10:29 am
Location: Minnesota
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by theWallflower » April 21st, 2010, 11:19 am

One of the problems I'm running into is that including all this information is making the query too long. I'm trying to keep the meat of the query under 250 words, as convention teaches us. Is there anything in the query that seems unnecessary that I can eliminate?

Also, how okay are spoilers? The threat to humanity thing is the climax of the book, and I don't want to blow that surprise if the agent requests the manuscript.
Waterworld meets The Little Mermaid
Image
MERM-8: Now available from Musa Publishing

lachrymal
Posts: 70
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 7:35 am
Contact:

Re: Black Hole Son (New Approach) (Draft 2)

Post by lachrymal » April 23rd, 2010, 6:16 am

I think you could do without:
the list of people Remy helps
"which gives him a thirst for justice (a little money wouldn't be bad either)"

I think the very first paragraph could be condensed a little--I think some of that repetition is due to the way you structured your original query, in which you told their stories in separate paragraphs from the beginning.

I've already commented on some of the generic/general stuff here. I think that if you changed some of that to be more unique and specific, you'd be able to convey more, possibly with only a few more words. Right now, like I've said, you've got some wasted opportunities.

About the end, I think your ending hook is one of the most alluring things about this query. I would hate to see it cut out. You don't give any details about it, or say how specifically they are the threat to humanity, so I don't see it as a horrible spoiler, just something that might intrigue an agent. In some cases, it's boring or disappointing when you read the end of the book in the query, but here, I think it really works. Just my amateur opinion.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests