Face-Lift 891: Bad Company
I am seeking representation for my science fiction novel _Bad Company_, complete at 104,000 words.
When Chev Layman gets in trouble with the law, going into hiding with his brother Matt isn't just the solution--it's an adventure. But now three troopers are dead and the brothers are on the run through Xenos's underground cities. Under Matt's watchful eye, Chev learns the gentle art of being a fugitive: the best places to hide, how to identify sympathisers, and the finer points of armed robbery.
Being on the run turns out to be wearisome. There's no adventure in bedding down in a cold store room, or always looking over your shoulder and suspecting every stranger. There's also his problems with Beth, who wants to do the icky touchy kissing thing. Plus his growing realisation that Matt's clever plans rely more on luck than logic. When Matt comes up with his most ambitious scheme ever--taking over the space station--Chev's afraid he's pushing their luck too far. Matt thinks he'll turn them into folk heroes. Chev thinks he'll get them killed. But now the police have evaded the trap set for them, they're all out of other options.
(Stuff about me)
The author mentioned in the note that accompanied this query that someone else -- after reading the MS -- suggested she clean up the language and pitch it as YA. The author, though, is concerned the 104K word count is off-putting for YA. I have to admit that this version of the query screams YA to me. I think if it were pitched to an agent or publisher who doesn't normally handle YA that it would be returned with one of those "not right for us" letters. I'd be much more tempted to take my chances with the YA crowd with this and bury the sentence with the word count at the end. Spec fic is historically more lenient where word count is concerned, even in YA.
That said, I'm not getting much of an idea of the world-building here. There are two small hints that this is a soaring adventure that follows the brothers from Xenos' cramped underbelly buried deep in the lava-eaten catacombs of a piss hole of an outback world where they're barely keeping one step ahead of the law who would love nothing more than to condemn the brothers to a lifetime of hard labor tunneling new roads through the tufa to the newly completed space station that's a critical hub of the ever-expanding galactic surveyance system and the only thing in this techno-retro sector capable of raising the boys' reputations out of mediocrity, if they can stay alive long enough to reach it and hijack it. But if you don't tell me that, I have to make it up instead. It's SF. Setting is huge. Capitalize on it.
As written, there seems to be a contradiction between P2 and P3. P2 says going into hiding "is an adventure;" P3 states "There's no adventure." Either the first reference shouldn't be a declarative sentence or the second ref should more knowingly refute the first ref. Otherwise, it looks sloppy instead of intentional.
The addition of Beth really seals the YA deal for me. Although I can't tell if she's joined up with them or is just an interlude. The way it's written, it sounds like Chev is having ongoing problems with Beth, so she's become a staple in their lives. What's her relationship to them? Are the bros hiding out in her dad's biodome?
I'm also a bit confused about the police having evaded the trap. Matt set a trap for all the police? The police are closing in and he and Chev have to get the hell outta Dodge and hitching a ride on the next service shuttle to the space station is now their only option for staying out of jail -- and it just happens to fit right in with Matt's scheme? It can be that, of course, I just think maybe tying the two together better will help cement the plot in the reader's head.
The author realizes anti-heroes are a tough sell. I think either the characters, setting or plot needs to be amped way higher than the typical hero story to be successful. The writing is solid, so what's the next best selling point here?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Query Revision 99
Face-Lift 891: Bad Company