Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#PitchWars Critique: LINKS AND LIES


My PitchWars mentor-partner Kate Karyus Quinn and I agree that we didn't read a single query that was bad - nor did we read any first pages that were unsalvageable. And honestly with as many submissions as we had, we were surprised at the quality of them. Which is why we decided to offer query and first page critiques on our blogs to everyone who submitted to us.

Quite a few people have taken us up on the offer. Through November, Kate and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Any writer can learn from these - not just the author of the material being critiqued. You'll see my comments in green. Echoes are highlighted in blue.

Query:

I am submitting for your consideration LINKS AND LIES, a 95,000-word YA science fiction novel suited for fans of Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM and Beth Revis’ ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. It is a standalone novel with series potential. You've got good comp titles here, but I always say to put this info at the bottom of the query. Anyone querying has a title, a word count, and comparisons. Put what makes you YOU first.

Seventeen-year-old Brynn anticipates being cryogenically frozen for her future spouse, Why would she have to be frozen for her spouse? Is the spouse not born yet? but after watching the brutal freezing of her best friend, she is desperate to avoid the same fate. The government’s match-making program, the Linking System, no longer seems as wonderful as she once thought. I think you'll need to explain how the Linking System does, in order for us to understand why you'd have to be frozen in the first place.

Instead of being frozen, she’s accidentally How does she know it's an accident? linked to Matthew: the first boy ever frozen, the son of the man who created the Linking System, and the poster boy for the Romantics, the rebel group fighting against the system. When he’s thawed, they commit to exposing the four-hundred-year-old mystery behind the system’s creation — the mystery Matthew’s father kept secret by cryonically silencing his own son.

When Matthew assists in a massive thawing orchestrated by the Romantics, he’s arrested for treason. With war looming between the Romantics and the government, Brynn must uncover the proof that reveals the flaws in the Linking System before the boy she’s grown to love is hanged and she’s frozen. But secrets that stay hidden for four hundred years aren’t easy to find.

This sounds really cool. I like it! But I think we need to know what the secret is in order to understand what Matthew and Brynn are fighting against. You've got a good setup here, but a query isn't meant to be coy. Let us know what the major issue / flaw with the Linking System is, so that the agent can get behind the plot.

1st Page:

I avert my gaze as Jack removes his clothing. My eyes fall on my dad, or what I can see of him beneath his cryo suit. I shiver from the cold and pull my cardigan tighter around my waist. Jack doesn’t have the same luxury inside the lab. So they're separated? She's watching through glass? Or a camera? Give us a little more of a visual on the setting.

I can’t decide if I’m glad Dad’s the one performing Jack’s freezing or if I hate that he’s bringing about Jack’s greatest fear. My side of the observation glass ok cool, but I think put this up in the first para is just as pristine as Jack’s tomb-like quarters, but it feels more spacious without the cryo chamber and monitors. If I feel boxed in, his claustrophobia must have already triggered.

Jack whimpers and I squeeze my eyes shut. He had a four in five chance of being frozen. We all do. But it’s still not fair. I force my eyes open again because he’ll need to see me calm. I place a palm on the glass and will myself to take in every detail, knowing it’s the last time I’ll see him. Ever.

Dad taps codes in the computer, ignoring the shivering boy next to him even though they’ve been neighbors for seventeen years. The newest model cryo chamber rests horizontally on an exam table, and Jack sits in its chamber, visible from his waist up.

So far, so good.  I would say make sure in the next few paragraphs that you are clarifying why Jack is being frozen - b/c of the Linking System and what it is for.

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