BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

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LSimon
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by LSimon » July 5th, 2010, 9:01 pm

I really like the new query. A query has one job to do- Present the agent with a character, a dilemma and a choice. You accomplished this. BTW I vote for Toothless for a title... but just my opinion.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by Krista G. » July 6th, 2010, 10:31 am

Thanks for the vote of confidence, LSimon. And that's not a bad idea for a title. I'll have to think about it.
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by mfreivald » July 6th, 2010, 1:53 pm

Hi Krista G.

You have my interest with the idea. I see a lot of potential in the premise.

It's worth noting that I did not read the first version, or any comments before the second version when I wrote this.
The 2046 International Biomedia Conference is, according to the pamphlet, the most prestigious event for high school students on the planet. But<--Drop "but"--<< when Seth receives an invitation to attend, the last thing on his mind is the prestige.<--I think this sentence either needs to be stronger or more particular. I lean toward the particular that would then lead into the next paragraph. Maybe something like: "Seth's invitation to attend was more poison than prestige." (stronger) or "Seth dreaded a conference devoted to the technology that torments him." (particular)--<<

Then the next paragraph seems upside down to me.


Seth hates biomedia. He hates Hermes United, the company that pioneered the industry, and he especially hates his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed. The too-smooth voices give him headaches, and he’s never found much use for a Camera that takes pictures with his eyes, or a Music Player that blasts its words and sounds straight into his brain. The truth is, he rarely clicks his Wingtooth in, even though ripping out Wingteeth is about as socially acceptable as ripping out real ones.

It might work better this way:

The unnaturally smooth voices of Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brain to the feed, give him headaches, and he has little use for a camera taking images from his eyes or music blasting straight into his brain. He'd like to rip Wingtooth from his mouth, but that would be as socially acceptable as ripping out real teeth. He hates biomedia, and he hates Hermes United, the company that pioneered the industry and gave them Wingtooth.

But his objections fall on feed-deafened ears.<--It doesn't seem to make sense that he would go willingly, so something or someone must be compelling him. I think you should say who or what, whether it's a parent or administrator or the implant itself.--<< Monday morning finds him at the conference, which gets off to a less-than-hopeful start when he slips and dumps his breakfast on the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And that’s the high point of his week. The low point hits the night of the Last Banquet, when Hermes United’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover—literally—and disable the feed.<--"Literally" would mean to me that they literally took control of the stock. I think you mean something more akin to "physically," but I personally think the "hostile takeover" verbiage is more distracting than anything else. I'd use a more direct explanation. It would also help to know why they are taking over.--<<

The Toothless rebels meant to humble their Wingtoother colleagues<--I think this explanation is unnecessary right now--<<, but they end up crippling them instead. Because the feed’s smooth-talking voices have rendered all the Wingtoothers incapable of independent thought—all except for Seth. As the last Wingtoother standing, he’s the only one who can save thousands of witless Wingtoothers and biomedia as a whole.

But is biomedia worth saving?
I feel a little like the kid trying to get his dad to let him fix the air conditioner. I probably have no business pulling it apart because I barely know what I'm doing, but in the selfish interest of trying to learn this process--here goes.

This query comes off to me as potentially interesting, but I think the natural tension of your query could be more effectively ordered. For example:
Biomedia gives Seth such incredible headaches, he frequently turns off his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed. He hates Hermes United, the company that pioneered biomedia. He hates the unnaturally smooth voices and music blasted directly into his brain, and he never wanted his eyes to feed images to a camera. He would rip the thing out of his mouth and join the toothless workers if they weren't such a persecuted underclass.

Seth's invitation to attend the prestigious 1046 International Biomedia Conference was poison to him, but his proud parents, against all his protests, insisted he go. It begins horribly when he dumps a tray of food on a beautiful girl, and it only gets worse. When Hermes United's toothless workers rebel by taking control of the company and disabling the feed, it turns to complete chaos.

Without the feed to guide them, the Conference members are crippled and helpless. Only Seth, accustomed to functioning without the feed, can save the witless Wingtoothers and boimedia for the future.

But is biomedia worth saving?
It obviously needs a deep massage, but note that it starts out with tension instead of information, that the toothless threat is introduced up front, and that the invitation immediately provides more tension as a collision with his interests. Plus, it's 31% shorter.

I'm quite serious, though, when I say I'm a complete rookie at this, and my recommendations should be treated as such.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Try #2*

Post by Krista G. » July 7th, 2010, 12:44 am

Thank you, mfreivald, for your detailed feedback. I'm working on another draft now, and it's definitely given me some food for thought.

Question for the group: Several people here and elsewhere haven't liked the word "literally" attached to the phrase "hostile corporate takeover." As I understand it, the term usually describes a situation in which a company is taken over by another without the board's approval, but here, it refers to the Toothless workers' takeover of the company with actual weapons. I've used the expression "hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile" to describe it in the past, so my question is, which expression do you think is clearer? "Hostile corporate takeover, literally" or "hostile corporate takeover, emphasis on the hostile"? Or another phrase altogether?
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian

Post by HillaryJ » July 7th, 2010, 2:03 am

Krista G. wrote:CURRENT DRAFT!

All right, here's my next crack at it. Note that BOB is just a placeholder for the title, which I haven't decided on yet. Thanks again!

Dear [Agent]:

The 2046 International Biomedia Conference is, according to the pamphlet, the most prestigious event for high school students on the planet. But when Seth receives an invitation to attend, the last thing on his mind is the prestige.

Seth hates biomedia. He hates Hermes United, the company that pioneered the industry, and he especially hates his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the feed. The too-smooth voices give him headaches, and he’s never found much use for a Camera that takes pictures with his eyes, or a Music Player that blasts its words and sounds straight into his brain. The truth is, he rarely clicks his Wingtooth in, even though ripping out Wingteeth is about as socially acceptable as ripping out real ones. *These are great details, but I feel like it's too much for a short query. Too much of his negative feelings about each individual feature he doesn't like. It kind of drags the energy of the query down.*

But his objections fall on feed-deafened ears. *I don't get this? Are these his friends, parents, the world in general?* Monday morning finds him at the conference, which gets off to a less-than-hopeful start when he slips and dumps his breakfast on the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. And that’s the high point of his week. The low point hits the night of the Last Banquet, when Hermes United’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover—literally—and disable the feed. *Great, urgent turning point.*

The Toothless rebels meant to humble their Wingtoother colleagues, but they end up crippling them instead. Because the feed’s smooth-talking voices have rendered all the Wingtoothers incapable of independent thought—all except for Seth. As the last Wingtoother standing, he’s the only one who can save thousands of witless Wingtoothers and biomedia as a whole.

But is biomedia worth saving?

[BOB] is a 63,000-word YA dystopian. [Agent-specific comments]

I am a BYU graduate, a stay-at-home mom, a blogger, and one of the Toothless. [BOB] will be my first publication.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
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Krista,
I really like the premise, but I feel like the delivery is too heavy-handed. Seth sounds burnt-out, and he's just a kid. Maybe that's realistic in your world, where everyone is linked-in from an early age, but I'd like to see fewer concrete details and more voice/feeling. There is a certain kind of darkness that exists in most dystopian tales, but it shouldn't drag the energy and urgency out of the story, and I feel like that's sort of what's happening here.

The conflict is here. He's definitely going to have a big, frustrating, important job to do. I think I'd like to see slightly less of what about the Wingtooth bothers him and more about what he likes but feels he (or the whole world) is missing when stuck on the feed.
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Question*

Post by mfreivald » July 7th, 2010, 9:57 am

Krista,

Is this a legal takeover, or is this some kind of illegal capture of the building by storming employees?

It appears to me that you are using "hostile takeover" figuratively, in which case it's distracting to me, and makes it unclear what you really mean. If it is an actual legal takeover, where they replaced the board and had them turn off the feed, then I think "literally" only distracts and confuses, and something specific, e.g. ". . . their newly elected board disables the feed," is necessary to show that's what you really mean.

Mark

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Question*

Post by Krista G. » July 7th, 2010, 11:43 am

Thanks, Mark. I think I get what our disconnect is. The term "hostile corporate takeover" already has a meaning assigned to it - namely, the meaning you described - but to me, that meaning is more figurative than literal. In an actual hostile corporate takeover, no one comes in with guns blazing (although, to me, that seems like the more literal interpretation of the phrase); the "hostile" refers to the fact that the company doesn't want it to happen.

So yes, this isn't a legal takeover - it's a shoot-'em-up kind of thing. Maybe a word like "coup" would better communicate that point...
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Question*

Post by mfreivald » July 7th, 2010, 6:37 pm

I think a more descriptive approach would be better, e.g. "A rebel group of toothless workers storms Hermes United, takes control, and disables the feed." It's only one more word than what you have (". . . Hermes United’s Toothless workers launch a hostile corporate takeover—literally—and disable the feed."), and you might cut it further.

"Coup" doesn't sound quite right, but it might be okay.

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Question*

Post by Krista G. » July 8th, 2010, 12:34 pm

It's not a bad idea, Mark. Sometimes you have to stop trying to be cute and just say it like it is.
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » August 14th, 2010, 11:32 am

CURRENT DRAFT!

Here's the pitch I've been tinkering with the past few days. I'd love to hear what you think and/or whether you prefer this version or the one at the bottom of the first page. Thanks for your input!

The 2046 International Biomedia Conference is the most celebrated event for high school students on the planet. But when Seth receives an invitation to attend, the last thing he wants to do is celebrate.

Seth hates biomedia, especially his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the Stream. The too-smooth voices give him headaches, and he’s never found much use for a Camera that takes pictures with his eyes or a Music Player that blasts its sounds straight into his brain. His parents, though, are less concerned about his health than they are about his chance to meet Marvin Hermes, the industry’s reclusive founder. He has to go.

Not ten minutes off the shuttle, Seth introduces himself to the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen by accidentally dumping his breakfast on her. Worse, the girl, Adair, is Toothless, part of the recession-ravaged class unable to afford Wingteeth, and probably took the dumping as an insult. Little does Seth know that wearing his breakfast on her sleeve is the least of Adair’s concerns.

Ever since her mother died in an overcrowded Wingtooth factory, Adair and her father have been plotting a takeover. Their plan is simple: Shut down the Stream, assassinate Marvin Hermes, and make the whole thing look like an accident. Then install one of the Toothless as chairman of the board. But their plan takes a complicated turn when Adair doesn’t go through with the assassination--and when shutting down the Stream leaves the Wingtoothers unable to think or talk or even eat for themselves.

Now Seth and Adair are biomedia’s last hope. But do they really want to save the thing that turned Seth’s parents into nothings? And if they want to save Seth’s parents and everybody else, do they have any other choice?
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Holly » August 14th, 2010, 12:54 pm

Krista, I really like this version. You've given us more info about Adair, which is good, plus connected her to Seth, and given us the entire big picture. I don't see any nitpicks at a fast glance. I need to get ready to go to a funeral, so this has to be a drive-by post. Good luck!

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 14th, 2010, 12:59 pm

This latest draft is indeed clearer and more direct, Krista G.

My one concern is that the second last paragraph now gives the impression Adair and her father plan to more or less take over the world by themselves. In present day terms, a bit like a girl and her father trying to turn off the Internet!

I know from your earlier drafts that many others are involved in their plot. You might give some indication of those others' involvement in this latest draft.

BTW, I love the title!

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by RebeccaB » August 14th, 2010, 6:50 pm

Hi Krista,

I

The 2046 International Biomedia Conference is the most celebrated event for high school students on the planet. But when Seth receives an invitation to attend, the last thing he wants to do is celebrate. This is good, it's clear and sets the scene well.

Seth hates biomedia, especially his Wingtooth, the tooth-shaped implant that links his brainwaves to the Stream. The too-smooth voices give him headaches, and he’s never found much use for a Camera that takes pictures with his eyes or a Music Player that blasts its sounds straight into his brain. His parents, though, are less concerned about his health than they are about his chance to meet Marvin Hermes, the industry’s reclusive founder. He has to go. I like that we are immediately told what a wingtooth is, It is a little hard to believe that a teenage boy, even with the headaches, would not like having one in. Is there any other reason? Maybe if there was a little more about who this MC is, I would not doubt his view on the wingtooth subject.

Not ten minutes off the shuttle, Seth introduces himself to the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen by accidentally dumping his breakfast on her. Worse, the girl, Adair, is Toothless, part of the recession-ravaged class unable to afford Wingteeth, and probably took the dumping as an insult. Little does Seth know that wearing his breakfast on her sleeve is the least of Adair’s concerns. This PG is great, nothing is unclear, and it makes me want to know more.

Ever since her mother died in an overcrowded Wingtooth factory, Adair and her father have been plotting a takeover. Their plan is simple: Shut down the Stream, assassinate Marvin Hermes, and make the whole thing look like an accident. Then install one of the Toothless as chairman of the board. But their plan takes a complicated turn when Adair doesn’t go through with the assassination--and when shutting down the Stream leaves the Wingtoothers unable to think or talk or even eat for themselves. This PG leaves me thinking that it is just Adair and her father that are going to takeover. Possibly; Ever since her mother died in an overcrowded Wingtooth factory, Adair and her father have been part of a 'group?' hell bent on taking over. A plan has been devised and Adair is one of it's crucial players. But their plan takes a turn when Adair doesn’t go through with the assassination--and when shutting down the Stream leaves the Wingtoothers unable to think or talk or even eat for themselves. ' JUST A SUGGESTION!

Now Seth and Adair are biomedia’s last hope. But do they really want to save the thing that turned Seth’s parents into nothings? And if they want to save Seth’s parents and everybody else, do they have any other choice? This sentence reads a little muddled for me. I think maybe there are too many names, 'Seth, Adair, biomedia, seths parents, seths parents. Are they really biomedias last hope, or the people who are connected to its last hope? Also, think maybe that they would be finding a way to help those disconnected, Is fixing biomedia the only option?

Hope this helps,
I think the story is original and intriguing. I wish you all the best in the future.

Cheers,
RebeccaB

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by elfspirit » August 14th, 2010, 8:54 pm

I read some of your earlier versions, and this answers the questions they raised. Very smooth job of inserting the technical and necessary information. Telling is the great danger in a query, and you told quite well.

This query did raise a new question for me. I may have missed something, but so might the agent who reads this, so it's worth mentioning. If shutting down the Stream disables Wingtoothers, how will your hero function to save things?

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Re: BOB - NOT the official title:) - YA dystopian *Take #3*

Post by Krista G. » August 15th, 2010, 12:58 am

Holly, thank you. I hope the funeral turned out all right (as well as funerals can turn out, anyway).

J.T. Shea and RebeccaB, you make a good point about the fourth paragraph. They aren't the only ones involved, of course, but they are the masterminds. I should make that clearer. And RebeccaB, I think you're right about the last paragraph as well - I can come up with better sentences than those.

Elfspirit, you make a valid point. Seth hardly uses his Wingtooth, so he's able to function without one because he isn't so dependent on it. But that was clearer in the second draft. Now I just need to find a way to insert that information without adding too many words...

I also want to let you guys know that I'll be hosting a Bob-naming contest on my blog next week. The contest kicks off next Tuesday, August 17, and the prizes up for grabs are query and first-page critiques from four agents. I plan to post an announcement thread the day the contest starts, but I just thought I'd give you guys a heads-up, since you took the time to give me this awesome feedback. Thank you so much!
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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