YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

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iBel29
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YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

Post by iBel29 » August 12th, 2013, 5:08 pm

Hey guys, I've been working on this query for a while. Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated! :)

Dear Agent,

(Reason why I'm querying them etc etc)

Sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali, one of the kamikaze cherry bombs, is programmed by her father to explode in five months.

For Zahra, staying alive means rebelling against the system that accepts or denies the action anyone tries to do. Having lost her father and sister, she’s stripped from her mother and forced into an educational camp by fearsome creatures of the skies to learn advanced skills of martial arts, dodging bullets and defying gravity. Her kind is built into a brainwashed weapon of the system.

Saddened that her sister may have died under her father’s programming, Zahra shares her sorrow with an alluring, dangerous boy, Jotham. Initially Zahra is surprised by his keen interest in her only to learn she’s a replica of the girl in his dreams. For years, Jotham’s been denied by the DreamMakers to download his dreamgirl from his dreams into their realword. Hurt that Jotham could be obsessed with her for that reason only and her dead father’s dictatorship on her life, Zahra groups with rebels to hack the very system that has hacked their brains for years hoping to find the truth.

What she finds is a monstrous simulation plan that’s plunged them into a virtual world. Her self-explosion is meant to destroy this world and kill her friends along with Jotham. Zahra must decide how to save her friends before her time-bomb goes off. The only problem is she now shares the same belief as her father: this world must be destroyed.

SATELLITE HEARTS,a Sci-Fi Fantasy Young Adult novel, is a multicultural African love story complete at 95,000 words.

HeatherMeyer
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Re: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

Post by HeatherMeyer » August 22nd, 2013, 1:09 pm

iBel, I am new here and this is actually my first critique, so forgive me if I speak out of bounds.

Dear Agent,

(Reason why I'm querying them etc etc)


Sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali, one of the kamikaze cherry bombs, is programmed by her father to explode in five months.
An interesting opening line, but a bit of a mental tongue twister.

For Zahra, staying alive means rebelling against the system that accepts or denies the action anyone tries to do. This sentence is very vague. This describes our legal system. Is it a system that applies control or restriction over some and not on others? Also 'action anyone tries to do' seems a little simplistic. Try to find a more eloquent way to say it.
Having lost her father and sister, she’s stripped from her mother (seems a little redundant. It could be tightened a little by simply saying 'ripped from her family' or something rather that a list of members). and forced into an educational camp by fearsome creatures (pretty vague) of the skies to learn advanced skills of martial arts, dodging bullets and defying gravity. Her kind is built into a brainwashed weapon of the system.

Saddened that her sister may have died under her father’s programming, Zahra shares her sorrow with an alluring, dangerous boy, Jotham. Initially Zahra is surprised by his keen interest in her only to learn she’s a replica of the girl in his dreams. For years, Jotham’s been denied by the DreamMakers to download his dreamgirl from his dreams into their realword. 'Dream' appears way too many times in this sentence. Hurt that Jotham could be obsessed with her for that reason only and her dead father’s dictatorship on her life, Zahra groups with rebels to hack the very system that has hacked Again, repeating words their brains for years hoping to find the truth.

What she finds is a monstrous simulation plan that’s (to me, this contraction seems a bit informal in a query) plunged them into a virtual world. Her self-explosion is meant to destroy this world and kill her friends along with Jotham. Zahra must decide how to save her friends before her time-bomb goes off. The only problem is she now shares the same belief as her father: this world must be destroyed.

I get the conflict in the closing paragraph, but it seems clunky. Try to tighten it up a little. You wouldn't want an agent to get the same impression.
Your description of the story itself gave me images of everything from robots to Japanese teens. It wasn't until your genre/word count line that you mentioned anything about multi-cultural African love story. This information would be so much more effective if woven into the blurb. It could be much more visually stunning by painting the setting. If it's a love story, the romance aspect should reflect heavily in the text. The only mention you make to that end is her being hurt by his true interest. If it's a love story, give us a little love/conflict there.

SATELLITE HEARTS,a Sci-Fi Fantasy Young Adult novel, is a multicultural African love story complete at 95,000 words.

I hope this is useful to you. Of course it's just one writer's opinion.
I wish you the best.

Literary Flamingo
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Re: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

Post by Literary Flamingo » September 5th, 2013, 5:09 pm

I think I may post my query on here sometime, but I want to pay it forward, so to speak. For that reason, I'm providing my completely unqualified opinion, based on extensive research into queries and my own writing experience. I copied your query and made comments as I read it, as if I'm an agent forming an immediate reaction. I hope this is helpful. (Also, I hope this post looks right. I'm new here.)

Dear Agent,

(Reason why I'm querying them etc etc)

Sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali, one of the kamikaze cherry bombs, is programmed by her father to explode in five months.

Okay, you have my attention. I want to know why her father programmed her to explode. I'm also very confused, but I'm still reading.

For Zahra, staying alive means rebelling against the system that accepts or denies the action anyone tries to do. Having lost her father and sister, she’s stripped from her mother and forced into an educational camp by fearsome creatures of the skies to learn advanced skills of martial arts, dodging bullets and defying gravity. Her kind is built into a brainwashed weapon of the system.

Wait, what? The first sentence doesn't make any sense, for starters. And now sky creatures just showed up. Huh? Now she's dodging bullets and defying gravity, which is cool, but the last sentence is also too vague. You say "her kind". Whose kind? And more importantly, what is "the system". I'm not an agent, but if I were, I think I might hit form reject after this. Seriously, this paragraph is going to hurt you. Revise or take it out.

Saddened that her sister may have died under her father’s programming, Zahra shares her sorrow with an alluring, dangerous boy, Jotham. Initially Zahra is surprised by his keen interest in her only to learn she’s a replica of the girl in his dreams. For years, Jotham’s been denied by the DreamMakers to download his dreamgirl from his dreams into their realword. Hurt that Jotham could be obsessed with her for that reason only and her dead father’s dictatorship on her life, Zahra groups with rebels to hack the very system that has hacked their brains for years hoping to find the truth.

Wow, okay, you just completely lost me. First off, this seems to be where the query should start. The first sentence is good, and an alluring dangerous boy seems like a nice touch. Then, you stark talking about DreamMakers and if I hadn't form rejected you after the first paragraph, I would have now. Then, the syntax gets a little repetitive (check the last sentence) and any remaining coherence takes its leave.

What she finds is a monstrous simulation plan that’s plunged them into a virtual world. Her self-explosion is meant to destroy this world and kill her friends along with Jotham. Zahra must decide how to save her friends before her time-bomb goes off. The only problem is she now shares the same belief as her father: this world must be destroyed.

Good, we've got stakes now, and conflict. This is actually pretty decent, and the last line hints at some nice moral conflict for Zahra

SATELLITE HEARTS,a Sci-Fi Fantasy Young Adult novel, is a multicultural African love story complete at 95,000 words.

Ask yourself this: what about the first few paragraphs tells me that this is a multicultural African love story? Also, it's either science fiction or fantasy, not both. (I think there is a thing called Science Fantasy, but this seems more like science fiction to me.)

You need to try again and build off of the first sentence. Start with Zahra meeting Jotham, explain what a DreamMaker is, show me that this is a multicultrual African love story (that's actually unique, which is nice), and then get into the conflict and the moral dilemma. Also, explain what the sky creatures are or just leave them out of the query. A heavy revision may be able to save this query, because you do seem to have some nice concepts in there, somewhere. Good luck.

iBel29
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Re: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

Post by iBel29 » September 12th, 2013, 1:58 pm

wow, thanks guys that gave me a lot to think about, I actually have a new version that I'm still fixing, I realize with this version it wasn't quite clear. Thanks a bunch for the suggestions

KimErickson
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Re: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy: Satellite Hearts

Post by KimErickson » October 9th, 2013, 4:18 pm

I really like this query--I remember seeing it on agentqueryconnect. But let me say this. The first line could use some work. Kamikaze is a bit strong of a word, and it gives off the idea that the rest will be about Japanese suicide. Plus, it's hard to say. Reading it in my mind, it didn't make a lot of sense. And when did these sky things come in? It's overall a bit vague. Try clearing it up, maybe?

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