Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Query 87: Redux 2

Worldbreaker

Guardian rule demands every sixteen-year-old face their Inquest. Some go willingly, excited to have their talents unlocked and their place in society revealed. Libby Sparks is not one of those people. She knows the laws, knows the Destroyer will not be allowed to survive her Inquest. For anyone else that would not be a concern, but for Libby, who has been hiding the secret of who she truly is all her life, it is a death sentence.

Hints of her enhanced physical and mental abilities convinced Libby early in life that she was not like everyone else. When she is forced to appear for her Inquest, her seven talents are revealed and name her as the prophesied Destroyer. Guardian blades appear, and only chance keeps the first one from landing. An unexpected and terrifying visitor halts any other attempts on her life.

President Howe, leader of the vicious Guardians who now control the world, steps in and grants her a two year reprieve. Howe chooses to hold to the obscure law that she cannot be accountable for her destiny until age eighteen not out of compassion, but out of need to save his crumbling hold on the Guardians and the world. He needs an enemy for the world to hate more than they hate him, one who he is sure will slip up, use her talents, and show the world what a demon she really is. When she does, he’ll step in to end her life, painting himself as their savior and securing his cruel reign.

Death at Howe’s hands in exchange for two years of life isn’t a deal Libby wants to make, but with no other options, she accepts. Two years to live seem like a gift until everyone in Libby’s life abandons her. Miserable and alone, Libby is surprised when a grungy, secretive teen named Milo approaches her. He is someone to talk to-and maybe more-but Libby fears the secrets he is hiding are more dangerous than she is.

When Milo’s hidden past is unintentionally revealed, Guardians attack. Libby must make a choice. Save Milo, or save herself. Buryher talents deep where the neither the Guardians nor the world will ever see them, or embrace who she is and truly become the Destroyer.

WORLDBREAKER, a YA dystopia novel complete at 90,000 words, is the first book in The Destroyer trilogy where Libby must ultimately break a world already broken by lies and betrayal so it can be remade into something better. SECRET OF BETRAYAL and DARKENING CHAOS are also complete.

Thank you for your consideration.

Comments

The author has worked hard to make it clear in this revision who the antagonist is and to give a clearer summary of events, including the motivation behind Libby’s two-year reprieve. Adding this info adds some needed clarity but it also adds words to the query. A lot of words. Does the letter fit on a page? If you squeeze the contact info into the header or footer area and adjust paragraph spacing to its minimum, then yes, it does. At 428 words, though, it’s really about 100 words too long. I think agents/editors who read a lot of queries develop an expectation of length, and anything that falls outside of the sweet spot length-wise simply “feels” long – and a bit wrong. That’s important since that “feel” could be enough to tip the decision from a pass to a request.

So how to trim? The first two paragraphs can be tightened up a lot and combined, I think. Delete any extraneous words and redundancy. And clear up the contradiction between Libby not wanting to make the deal for her life but at the same time considering it a gift.

My Version

I’ve done the suggested cleanup in my version, simply editing out 100 words from what you’ve given us above.

Guardian rule demands every 16-year-old face their Inquest. Most go willingly, excited to have their talents unlocked and their place in society revealed. Not Libby Sparks. Early hints of enhanced physical and mental abilities have Libby convinced she’s not like everyone else. She knows the laws, knows the Guardians won’t allow her to survive her Inquest when it reveals her to be the thing they fear the most. Their drawn blades are proof of that. Then an unexpected visitor halts her execution.

President Howe, leader of the vicious Guardians who control the world, grants her a two-year reprieve. He cites the obscure law that puts the age of accountability at 18 not out of compassion but as part of a plan to save his crumbling hold on the presidency. He needs an enemy the world can hate more than they hate him – someone sure to slip up, use her talents, and expose herself for the demon she is. When she does, he’ll step in to end her life, become a savior, and secure his reign.

Libby doesn’t want to die, and two more years to live seems like a miraculous gift – until everyone in her life abandons her, leaving her miserable and vulnerable. So when a grungy, enigmatic teen named Milo approaches her, Libby readily succumbs to his charms. He’s someone to talk to – and maybe more – even if she does suspect the secrets he’s hiding are more dangerous than hers.

When Milo’s past is unintentionally revealed, Guardians attack. Now Libby has to choose: Save Milo or save herself. Bury her talents deep and never reveal them, or embrace who she is and become the Destroyer.

WORLDBREAKER, a YA dystopia novel complete at 90,000 words, is the first book in The Destroyer trilogy where Libby must ultimately break a world already broken by lies and betrayal so it can be remade into something better. SECRET OF BETRAYAL and DARKENING CHAOS are also complete.

Thank you for your consideration.

3 comments:

Sheree said...

thanks a bunch for the ideas on shortening this. i new it was too long, but it was hard to figure out what to cut. it's helpful to have someone else read it and pick out what they think is most important. as the one writing it, everything seems important! Thanks!!!

Ryan Mueller said...

Something you may consider to cut length.

The main conflict of the story seems to start in the third paragraph. Maybe consider trimming down the first two or even working the details in as you go.

Your biggest issue with this is the balance between focusing on your character and her story and focusing on the dystopian world.

Here's my attempt at it:

Sixteen-year-old Libby Sparks has two years to live. Such is the fate of the prophesied Destroyer under Guardian rule. President Howe, leader of the repressive Guardians, only grants her this reprieve to save his crumbling hold on the Guardians and the world. He needs an enemy more hated than him--one who will surely slip up and show the world what a demon she really is. When she does, he'll secure his reign by stepping in as the savior who conquers the Destroyer.

Deserted by her friends and family, Libby realizes two extra years is hardly the gift she had thought--until Milo approaches her. The grungy and secretive teen is someone to talk to. But his secrets are even more dangerous than hers.

When Milo's hidden past is unintentionally revealed, Guardians attack. Now Libby must choose: save Milo or save herself. Bury her talents deep where the Guardians will never see them, or embrace them and truly become the Destroyer...


I don't know if this will be helpful. Just something to consider.

Jo-Ann said...

Ok, I've had a go at rewriting it, too. My version is approx 150 words, and I think it captures the gist and gives the author scope to enhance the parts that I've slashed too harshly.

Libby Sparks faces a death sentence after her prophesised role as the Destroyer is revealed. Despite her execution being required by law, she is given an unexpected two-year reprieve by President Howe, who has a tenuous hold on power.

However, Libby is aware that the reprieve was granted to provide the population with a scapegoat - her - and to place Howe in the position of saviour when she slips and uses her fearsome ability.

Deserted by family and friends and attempting to keep her powers and prophesised role a secret, Libby unexpectedly finds an ally, Milo.

Milo has secrets of his own. His power is even a bigger threat to the ruler as her's. Libby realises she has a choice: remain safe under the radar or risk everything by unleashing her powers to smash the dictatorship.
WORLBREAKER is a 90,000-word YA Dystopia novel.