Thank you Gwendolyn for sending us your query for your YA sci-fi/dystopian! Here it is:
Dear (name of person),Ten months ago, seventeen-year-old Morgan left home to escape her abusive step-father.Six months ago, Earth was attacked by Scrappers, a cyborg species with black eyes and cold hearts that came without warning.Two months ago, the Scrappers stopped killing and started taking.None of the captured have been seen again.Now, within dead cities and abandoned highways, Morgan fights to stay hidden from the Scrappers’ search for humans. She travels alone and trusts no one but herself. The unseen scars left by her step-father haunt her every day. Morgan flinches from the help of strangers, and nightmares consume her during the night, unveiling fears of her dark past and the creatures who still hunt her.But when Morgan meets a boy named Jude with a metal arm, something only the Scrappers could have given him, she chooses to trust him despite her fears telling her otherwise. Not only was Jude taken by the Scrappers, but he was also the first one to survive them.And now they want him back.STEEL HORIZON is a young adult science fiction novel, complete at 89,000 words. This is a post-apocalyptic story in a Terminator meets Book of Eli type world. STEEL HORIZON was the number one pick on Inkpop in November 2010.Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
First, the stuff I love:
- That you started with numbers, counting down to what happened. Grabbed my attention!
- The idea-- especially how she meets a boy altered by the Scrappers.
- The last line, "And now they want him back"-- very hooky! Makes me want to read. That whole paragraph about meeting Jude reads really well too-- I wouldn't change it.
- That you gave an example of what else it was like-- Terminator meets Book of Eli. Awesome!
- That it was the number one pick on Inkpop.
Stuff you can work on:
- I might shorten the first sentences to make them convey more of a sense of urgency. Like- "10 months ago 17 yr old Morgan escaped her abusive home." And then shortening the info on the scrappers in the next line. Like, "6 months ago the Earth was attacked by Scrappers." Weeding out lines like "that came without warning". That's implied when you say they were attacked. And telling us they have black eyes and cold hearts doesn't really add much at this point. You want to quickly grab the agents attention with your first lines.
- Are you in love with the name "Scrappers"? Something about it kept making me think of a little league baseball team instead of something much scarier like you intend.
- Some questions-- how many are taken? Is it mass abduction to leave the cities abandoned like you say in the next line? Because then you talk about strangers so it doesn't sound quite as abandoned.
- Some of the stuff is repetitive like trusting no one but herself and flinching from the help of strangers. Also, "unseen scars left by her stepfather haunt her every day" and "nightmares consume her during the night, unveiling fears of her dark past..." This kind of thing can be tightened up.
- Really you could probably change that whole paragraph from- "Now, within dead cities and abandoned highways, Morgan fights to stay hidden from the Scrappers’ search for humans. She travels alone and trusts no one but herself. The unseen scars left by her step-father haunt her every day. Morgan flinches from the help of strangers, and nightmares consume her during the night, unveiling fears of her dark past and the creatures who still hunt her." to "Now, within dead cities and abandoned highways, Morgan fights to stay hidden from the Scrappers’ search for humans. And fights the nightmares of her past that consume her each night."
- I would elaborate on what Inkpop is just in case the agent doesn't know right off and you don't want to make him/her google. I honestly didn't know at first. If you phrase it like this, "STEEL HORIZON was the number one pick on Harper Collins' Inkpop Writing Community in November of 2010." that sounds more official/clearer. And I went back and forth on whether or not to include the month/year. On one hand it lets the agent know exactly when you were #1 which is good. On the other hand, is the agent going to then think wow, you've been shopping this finished manuscript for over a year already? I'm going to pass too. What do you think readers?
- Finally, I really like how you set up that last paragraph-- great job! Do you have any other writing credentials you can add in there? Program you've completed? Place you've published a short story maybe?
Okay readers, what do you think about Gwendolyn's query? Did I miss anything?
Kristina, Miss Author in Action