Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

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matt
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Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by matt » April 8th, 2011, 10:43 am

I welcome your critique of my query letter.

Dear Agent Person,

Fifteen-year old Lazarus is hunting with his dad when the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. All this after his family had been assured the Earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony, after all.

Lazarus is taken to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety, of course. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town to go after his sister. They are too afraid of the Leaf-hairs. If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to do it alone.

Over the next several years, Lazarus struggles to keep a promise to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. Plus, he has his own task to complete: he’s going to kill every last one of the Leaf-hairs he can get his hands on.

Since he can’t get the other colonists to help him, he enlists the aide of a grumpy tiger who can communicate with him telepathically. Oh, and one of the Leaf-hairs too. Maybe Lazarus will let this one live.

As the body-count rises, Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word mean more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs he hates so much. Besides, he’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory.

One question nags at him as he nears his goal and learns more of his sister’s situation and her captors. Will she even want to be rescued?

PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Joel Q
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by Joel Q » April 8th, 2011, 2:05 pm

matt wrote:
Matt,
A solid first draft on here.
I think you can cut some things and tighten it up
Here are a few suggestions.
JQ


Fifteen-year old Lazarus is hunting with his dad when (we don't need to know that) the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. (does he have a mom?, not that we need to know for the query, but you just mention sister and dad) All this after his family had been assured the Earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony, after all.

Lazarus is taken to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety, of course. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town to go after (rescue/find??) his sister. They are too afraid of the Leaf-hairs.If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to do it alone.

Over the next several years,(to me, that kind of throws the pace of the query off, why does it take so long, etc...) Lazarus struggles to keep a promise to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. Plus, he has his own task to complete: he’s going to kill every last one of the Leaf-hairs he can get his hands on.

Since he can’t get the other colonists to help him, he enlists the aide of a grumpy tiger who can communicate with him telepathically. Oh, and one of the Leaf-hairs too. Maybe Lazarus will let this one live. You could cut this entire paragraph and not hurt the query.

As the body-count rises, Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word mean more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs he hates so much. Besides, he’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory.

One question nags at him as he nears his goal and learns more of his sister’s situation and her captors. Will she even want to be rescued? (nice conflict here, kind of like The Searchers)

PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Mark17
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by Mark17 » April 9th, 2011, 2:09 am

This sounds really cool. The one thing I'd suggest is losing most of the asides, the of courses and after alls. It makes it seem like your trying too hard when the story can stand on it's own

[quote="matt"]I welcome your critique of my query letter.

Dear Agent Person,

Fifteen-year old Lazarus is hunting with his dad when the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. All this after his family had been assured the Earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony, after all.

Lazarus is taken to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety, of course. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town to go after his sister. They are too afraid of the Leaf-hairs. If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to do it alone.

Over the next several years, Lazarus struggles to keep a promise to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. Plus, he has his own task to complete: he’s going to kill every last one of the Leaf-hairs he can get his hands on. This sentence is kind of awkward either make it 'he's going to kill every last one of the Leaf-hairs' or 'he's going to kill every leaf hair he can his hands on.'

Since he can’t get the other colonists to help him, he enlists the aide of a grumpy tiger who can communicate with him telepathically. Oh, and one of the Leaf-hairs too. Maybe Lazarus will let this one live. Maybe here say something about the Leaf-hair, how Lazarus found him, why he's saved.

As the body-count rises, Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word mean more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs he hates so much. Besides, he’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory.

One question nags at him as he nears his goal and learns more of his sister’s situation and her captors. Will she even want to be rescued? This kind of comes out of nowhere, we haven't really seen any reason for this question to come up. I agree with the previous poster that it's a good plot twist but honestly the query might work better without this last paragraph, even if the sister's reluctance to leave is a major plot point. If the sister's reluctance is what you want to go with in the query letter you might want to re-focus the query away from him arbitrarily killing the hated Leaf-hairs.

PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel. Also since the Lazarus is 15 is this YA Sci-Fi? You should probably say that.



If you cut out the extraneous words you could put another sentence or two to describe the plot even more. They story sounds good, put it on display.

matt
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by matt » April 9th, 2011, 9:18 pm

Thanks for the input, guys. This is incredibly helpful.

I actually thought about The Searchers a few times while I was writing the thing. I need to watch that movie again.

It seems everyone is in agreement about the of courses and after alls.

Lazarus is 15 in the first quarter of the book, 17 in the second quarter, and 20 for the last half. I'm not sure it's YA whatever his age, but would being 20-years-old for half the book eliminate it from YA regardless?

Thanks again,

Matt

matt
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by matt » April 12th, 2011, 11:09 am

Here's the latest draft taking into account some of the suggestions. Is it too short now? Does it reveal enough about the plot?

****

Dear agent,

Lazarus is fifteen years old when the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. All this, after his family had been assured the earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony.

After that night, Lazarus is taken to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town to help him rescue his sister his sister. If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to find help elsewhere.

Lazarus struggles to keep a promise to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. He has his another task to complete too: he’s going to make the Leaf-Hairs pay for what they’ve done to him and his family.

As the body-count rises, Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. Especially since a Leaf-Hair has become his one true friend. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word mean more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs. He’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory.

PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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alienbogey
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by alienbogey » April 12th, 2011, 7:13 pm

My comments:
matt wrote:
****

Dear agent,

Lazarus is fifteen years old when the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. All this, after his family had been assured the earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony. (This strikes me as unnecessary - is it important (especially to the query) to know why the earth was chosen? To me the previous sentence is intriguing and the last one takes some of its shine off.)

After that night, (Not needed - he obviously was taken away for his own safety after the attack) Lazarus is taken to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town to help him rescue his sister his sister. If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to find help elsewhere.

Lazarus struggles to keep a promise (Promise to whom? This is kind of left dangling) to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. He has his another task to complete too: he’s going to make the Leaf-Hairs pay for what they’ve done to him and his family.

As the body-count rises, Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. Especially since a Leaf-Hair has become his one true friend. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word means more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs. He’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory once he rescues his sister.

PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

fishfood
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by fishfood » April 13th, 2011, 12:57 am

matt wrote:Here's the latest draft taking into account some of the suggestions. Is it too short now? Does it reveal enough about the plot?

****

Dear agent,

Lazarus is fifteen years old when the Leaf-haired freaks come out of the forest. They burn the family farm, kidnap his sister, and murder his dad. All this, after his family had been assured the earth was uninhabited in this timeline. That was the reason it had been chosen for the colony. I'd cut all of this.

After that night,Lazarus is taken ("is taken" sounds passive to me, can you say, he's rescued and by whom?) to live in the nearby town and prevented from leaving—for his own safety. No amount of arguing will convince the people of the town (if you explain briefly who rescues him, then you can just replace this with "them") to help him rescue his sister his sister. If she’s going to be saved, he’ll have to find help elsewhere.

Lazarus struggles to keep a promise to find his sister, no matter what the cost—to himself or anyone else. He has his another task to complete too: he’s going to make the Leaf-Hairs pay for what they’ve done to him and his family. I agree with the previous poster, this is redundant and unecessary.

As the body-count rises (cliche), Lazarus begins to feel conflicted about the measures he must take just to stay alive. ?? Huh? I thought he was just staying alive by being confined to live inside the colony? This sort of comes out of nowhere. Especially since a Leaf-Hair has become his one true friend. I'm not sure you should put this in because it leaves us to wonder how he befriended a leaf-hair. But loyalty to his family, and keeping his word mean more to him than the lives of the Leaf-hairs. He’ll have time for regrets when he gets his sister out of Leaf-hair territory.

I'm feeling lost as to what the true conflict in the story is. He wants to escape from the colony to rescue his sister from the Leaf-hairs and kill them. But somehow he managed to make friends with a Leaf-hair how? Can you say he'll rescue his sister at any cost, even if it means killing his Leaf-hair friend? It sounds like there is a conflict you're not describing, such as the Leaf-hairs aren't all that bad and maybe his sister isn't in danger? I don't know...hopefully my confusion can lead you in the right direction.
PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS is a science-fiction novel complete at just over 87,000 words. It is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sounds interesting! Hopefully my comments helped somewhat and didn't make you pull your hair out in frustation!

matt
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Re: Query: Plowshares into Swords - science fiction

Post by matt » April 13th, 2011, 2:04 pm

Thanks for all the replies. This is good stuff.

I'm going to work on it over the next couple of days and report back. I hope what I produce isn't worse than the original.

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