Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouncer Post #20

Title: NUMBERLESS
Genre: YA SF Thriller
Word count: 98,000

Query:

All her life, Eve Hayden’s either been recovering from or preparing for war.

When she was ten, her parents died in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem in front of her, and she spent years in a pediatric mental hospital where she was treated for what she was told were psychotic breaks resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder.

When she turned sixteen, she was placed in a clandestine program to teach psychically-gifted youth martial arts as part of an operation to prepare for the end of days. After information on the program leaked to the public, Eve was relocated to a pacifist religious community on the southwest coast of Wales so she could be reintegrated into society.

When she turns seventeen, she meets and falls in love with the enigmatic Dylan Rhys, who slowly reveals strange powers that suggest he’s more than just a university student studying astrophysics.

After a mysterious red rain falls, unleashing a technological plague that threatens civilization, Eve's foster parents claims it's the apocalypse. Dylan asks for her help in a war against a powerful enemy, revealing that all her life, she’s been destined to take on this role.

She agrees to help and while investigating a series of murders with him that he claims are part of the first strike, she learns just how alien he really is.

NUMBERLESS is a 98,000 word YA SF Thriller that explores the conflict between freedom and responsibility, science and religion. These themes are explored through Eve's relationship with Dylan, an alien-human hybrid sent to Earth as part of a pre-emptive strike meant to disable humanity’s defenses to prepare for an eventual invasion.

Eve's quest to uncover the truth will determine the future of her world.

First 250:

L'Abbaye De Saint-Michel, near Carcassonne, France

The night I won, twenty of us performed Nitō Ichi martial arts moves in the field beside the abbey, fighting double-sword Musashi-style. Bright overhead spotlights shone down over the field, illuminating four rows of five students with a dozen yards separating us from each other.

Although I'd lived in the abbey for a year, I knew none of their names. I'd learned the very first day not to bother trying to speak to anyone. Kevlar-suited guards patrolled the halls, cattle prods in hand, enforcing a strict code of silence. We weren't allowed to even whisper to each other without getting a club in the kidneys.

The guards referred to us only by number.

I wasn't Eve Hayden. I was number sixteen.

Full-dark, about nine o'clock at night, and we were still going through the routines, our instructor barking commands at the front of the field. With my two wooden Wakizashi swords in hand, I performed the moves, my braid tucked into my tunic and my feet bare on the cool grass.

Movement in my field of vision distracted me and I couldn't help but glance to the right. Three priests in black vestments entered through a gate, followed by three soldiers, their swords drawn. They marched to the rear of the field and a soldier stepped inside each of three rings marked out in chalk lines on the grass.

 "Eyes front!" a guard shouted, jamming his truncheon against my cheek so hard that my teeth cut my lip, drawing blood.

12 comments:

  1. Would someone take pity on this entry and let me know why it doesn't work?

    Thanks!

    Author

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm no expert but in my opinion your query has too much backstory. Cut everything about her parents, the hospital, etc. We don't need to know your character's past - start with where she is at the beginning of the book, and what conflict she faces. Hope that helps.

      Delete
  2. Alexandra CampbellFebruary 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Hey,

    To be honest, I skipped over it because the query is just so long! (and I'm too nervous/excited about this competition to linger on one entry long enough to absorb such a long query). It sounds like there's a great story here, but your query reads like a synopsis. I did enjoy your 250 though!

    Alexandra (#37)

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  3. Aw, poor abandoned entry :)

    I skimmed over it before, and looking back now I think your biggest problem is your query. It's backstory. It tells me a LOT about what has happened before, but scarcely little about this story. Focus on your MC and where she is now. Who is she? What is happening to her? What must she do? What is at stake? Why is this the most awesome story of all these entries? In your query you want to lure in the reader, make us care about the story.

    Because now that I stop to read it, I actually really like your first page. It maybe be a bit wordy at times, but the imagery is quite lovely. Not to mention the premise is very intriguing. Though to be honest, I'd love to get a better sense of character here too. The voice doesn't quite stand out for me yet. But that may improve over the next couple of pages, of course.

    Good luck with it! :)

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  4. Wow - thank you guys -- you rock! That really helps!

    Author

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you've received some good advice here. I agree with the above posters that it's a bit too much backstory in the query. It seems to more fill the reader in on your MC's past life, rather than place us in the story and give us a sense of where it's going.

    For your first 250: I would consider starting with your last three paragraphs. The first few seem to do more showing than telling. For example, it would be more exciting to have a character dodging the guards patrolling the halls instead of telling us they do. Does that make sense?

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  6. Hi, Marissa -- yes it does make sense! Thanks a zillion!

    Author

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  7. Thanks to everyone who commented. Based on your feedback, I've revised the query -- any further advice welcome!

    ------

    All her life, Eve Hayden’s either been recovering from or preparing for war. After she escapes to a pacifist colony on the coast of Wales, she thinks she’s left that life for good. When a technological plague threatens civilization, Eve's new love Dylan Rhys asks for her help in a war against a powerful enemy, revealing that she’s been destined to take on this role.

    She agrees to help and while investigating a series of murders with him that he claims are part of the first strike, she learns just how alien he really is.

    NUMBERLESS is a 98,000 word YA SF Thriller that explores what it means to be human through Eve's relationship with Dylan, an alien-human hybrid sent to Earth as part of a pre-emptive strike against humanity. Eve's quest to uncover the truth will determine the future of her world.

    ------

    Thanks again!

    Author

    ReplyDelete
  8. Have you visited Query Letter Hell at the Absolute Write forums? It's a wonderful resource. Several of the queries that have made it through were whipped into shape over there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks -- I will go there!

      Author

      Delete
  9. Re: Query help, there's also an amazing community over at YALITCHAT.org that has a ton of forums for help on queries, first pages, synopses, etc. Might check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There are also the querytracker forums: http://querytracker.net/forum/

    ReplyDelete