Author Topic: ** UPDATED** SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter  (Read 534 times)

Offline lshauser

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Here's the first revision of my query. Thanks for the comments you've given me so far:

Samantha Wen is trapped on earth, and soon everyone on earth will die. Everyone except her, and her mother, Constance, who’ll be doing all the killing.

A century ago, Constance brought the power and wealth she’d gathered over 600 years and told the world it had one hundred years to leave the nest. Sam watched the project her mother set in motion built off-world colonies, but not fast enough.

Now, with Constance’s deadline just weeks away, the organization created to colonize space holds Sam hostage against her threats. Sam knows it’s futile: once her mother makes up her mind, nothing can change it. With the colonies closed to her, Sam would rather die than live through her mother’s apocalypse. But bitter experience has shown her dying is hard when you’re immortal.

But an unexpected encounter with Sam’s old lover, Abby, and the appearance of illegal clone reveal a long-hidden plan to help her escape earth. It will mean dodging two relentless security agents, running against Constance’s inescapable deadline, and knowing her escape means inheriting the leadership of earth’s only truly independent colony. Sam has never wanted the spotlight, much less the responsibility of uniting the remnants of traumatized humanity. By comparison, death seems easier. She’s just not sure if it would be better.

“Saint Constance” is a 98,000 word, stand-alone adult science fiction novel with series potential.

My name is Lee Hauser. I’ve worked in information technology for many years, and I’m a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Certificate in Popular Fiction program, where I studied under novelist James Thayer.



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Hi, all. I hope I’m doing this right; it’s my first query. The novel is ready to send out; please help me make my query ready as well!



Samantha Wen wants to die.

A century ago, when Sam was just out of her teens, her seven-hundred-year-old mother Constance wiped out San Francisco as part of an ultimatum to the world: colonize the solar system, or face extinction. Now, barely a month before Constance's deadline, Sam is sure the Colonization Project won't meet her mother’s goals. They're holding Sam hostage as part of their desperate attempt both to keep the populace in the dark, and renegotiate with Constance.

Disbelieving that any part of their plan will work and not wanting to watch the apocalypse, Sam only sees one way out. But death is a complicated proposition when you've inherited your mother's immortality -- and when a former lover appears out of nowhere and offers a different path.

That chance encounter might start a journey of escape to the orbital colonies. But Sam must decide if she can bear the cost of survival: leading a rebellion against the surviving Project organization. After spending much of her life in isolation, Sam has never wanted the spotlight, much less the responsibility of uniting two factions of the remnants of humanity. By comparison, death seems easier. But would it be better?

“Saint Constance” is a 99,000 word adult science fiction novel.

My name is Lee Hauser, and I have worked in information technology for many years. I’m a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Certificate in Popular Fiction program, where I studied under novelist James Thayer.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 10:58:43 AM by lshauser »

Offline Pineapplejuice

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Re: SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2019, 04:28:40 AM »
Hi, all. I hope I’m doing this right; it’s my first query. The novel is ready to send out; please help me make my query ready as well!



Samantha Wen wants to die. ( I'm crossing this out even though I think it could work if rest of query much different. Because this sentence is blunt and to the point it sort of creates an expectation of a tone and beat for the rest of the query that you don't have yet. Also it takes too long to get to the reason why she wants to die )


A century ago, when Sam was just out of her teens, her seven-hundred-year-old mother Constance wiped out San Francisco as part of an ultimatum to the world: colonize the solar system, or face extinction. ( This sentence is too long and confusing. You're kind of info dumping. Also I've read it several times and it's too hard for me to wrap my head around. Sometimes worldbuilding and history etc isn't actually necessary to convey the main plot points. Especially details like 'seven hundred year old' that just makes it harder to read, and doesn't appear to be necessary for the plot for query ) Now, barely a month before Constance's deadline, ( What is the deadline? I'm so confused already. The use of ultimatum is confusing as I don't understand how she can give 'the  world' an ultimatum etc. After reading in 7 times I think the main point you're trying to get across indirectly is you want the reader to know that the setting of this book spans the solar system and not Earth. I'd try to think of a way to convey this simply rather than give all the history ) Sam is sure the Colonization Project won't meet her mother’s goals. ( this is also confusing as I'm not sure what has happened since the ultimatum thing etc. I had assumed the goal of populating the solar system was met ) They're  ( Who? ) holding Sam hostage as part of their desperate attempt both to keep the populace in the dark, ( in the dark how? ) and renegotiate with Constance.( The point you're making here seems to be about the people...not sure which group of people, but not the MC so it gets more confusing when you step away from MC POV that you started with.

Disbelieving that any part of their plan will work and not wanting to watch the apocalypse, ( there are way too many words before the subject of the sentence, making this confusing. Try to say the same thing beginning with 'Sam' ) . Sam only sees one way out. ( of what? ) But death is a complicated proposition when you've inherited your mother's immortality -- and when a former lover appears out of nowhere and offers a different path.( I don't understand why Sam wants to die. Also ' A different path' is so vague it wastes words )

That chance encounter might start a journey of escape to the orbital colonies. ( This is also said vaguely. I have no idea why a chance encounter with her former love might start an escape to the orbital colonies. Also, you told me Sam wanted to die so now I don't understand how she thinks going to another planet is a good idea. Why didn't she think of that before? Or was the 'Sam wants to die' just Sam being melodramatic? ) But Sam must decide if she can bear the cost of survival: leading a rebellion against the surviving Project organization. After spending much of her life in isolation, Sam has never wanted the spotlight, much less the responsibility of uniting two factions of the remnants of humanity. By comparison, death seems easier. But would it be better? ( Last two sentences just have me scratching my head for the third time as to why Same is thinking death is a good idea. You've got to give us some emotion and rationale here, to understand the MC )

“Saint Constance” is a 99,000 word adult science fiction novel.

My name is Lee Hauser, and I have worked in information technology for many years. I’m a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Certificate in Popular Fiction program, where I studied under novelist James Thayer.

I think the second sentence confused me the most and I'm still not clear on what the situation. I think maybe what confused me is your wording 'ultimatum' because to fresh eyes the way your'e putting things is confusingly complicated.

Are you trying to say in your book humans are all but extinct? If that's the case say it more directly so we can understand the basic situation more easily.

I also want to get an idea of who Sam is. What does she want really? I don't think it's death...as at the end of the query she seems ready to consider leading a rebellion. So that too ( her real motives and goals ) would be good to have clearly and simply laid out

Offline litokarl

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Re: SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2019, 08:36:01 AM »
One of the biggest frustrations in writing these stupid things is how much conflicting advice you get  :)
I feel like I have the gist of what's going on pretty well, though perhaps that's just my own brain filling in the gaps in the way I want.  On my first read through I didn't notice anything that I took issue with.  I'd request pages of this.  It sounds intriguing.

But full disclosure, I'm terrible at these.

Good luck!

Offline lshauser

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Re: SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2019, 09:18:43 AM »
Thanks litokarl, I would have exactly the same reaction as you to a query like mine (and another fellow writer off this forum has demanded I send her my MS immediately...too bad she's not an agent!).

However, there's still a lot of good stuff to think about in pineapplejuice's critique, and I'm happy to have gotten it.

Offline lshauser

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Re: SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2019, 09:22:32 AM »
Hi, all. I hope I’m doing this right; it’s my first query. The novel is ready to send out; please help me make my query ready as well!



Samantha Wen wants to die. ( I'm crossing this out even though I think it could work if rest of query much different. Because this sentence is blunt and to the point it sort of creates an expectation of a tone and beat for the rest of the query that you don't have yet. Also it takes too long to get to the reason why she wants to die )


A century ago, when Sam was just out of her teens, her seven-hundred-year-old mother Constance wiped out San Francisco as part of an ultimatum to the world: colonize the solar system, or face extinction. ( This sentence is too long and confusing. You're kind of info dumping. Also I've read it several times and it's too hard for me to wrap my head around. Sometimes worldbuilding and history etc isn't actually necessary to convey the main plot points. Especially details like 'seven hundred year old' that just makes it harder to read, and doesn't appear to be necessary for the plot for query ) Now, barely a month before Constance's deadline, ( What is the deadline? I'm so confused already. The use of ultimatum is confusing as I don't understand how she can give 'the  world' an ultimatum etc. After reading in 7 times I think the main point you're trying to get across indirectly is you want the reader to know that the setting of this book spans the solar system and not Earth. I'd try to think of a way to convey this simply rather than give all the history ) Sam is sure the Colonization Project won't meet her mother’s goals. ( this is also confusing as I'm not sure what has happened since the ultimatum thing etc. I had assumed the goal of populating the solar system was met ) They're  ( Who? ) holding Sam hostage as part of their desperate attempt both to keep the populace in the dark, ( in the dark how? ) and renegotiate with Constance.( The point you're making here seems to be about the people...not sure which group of people, but not the MC so it gets more confusing when you step away from MC POV that you started with.

Disbelieving that any part of their plan will work and not wanting to watch the apocalypse, ( there are way too many words before the subject of the sentence, making this confusing. Try to say the same thing beginning with 'Sam' ) . Sam only sees one way out. ( of what? ) But death is a complicated proposition when you've inherited your mother's immortality -- and when a former lover appears out of nowhere and offers a different path.( I don't understand why Sam wants to die. Also ' A different path' is so vague it wastes words )

That chance encounter might start a journey of escape to the orbital colonies. ( This is also said vaguely. I have no idea why a chance encounter with her former love might start an escape to the orbital colonies. Also, you told me Sam wanted to die so now I don't understand how she thinks going to another planet is a good idea. Why didn't she think of that before? Or was the 'Sam wants to die' just Sam being melodramatic? ) But Sam must decide if she can bear the cost of survival: leading a rebellion against the surviving Project organization. After spending much of her life in isolation, Sam has never wanted the spotlight, much less the responsibility of uniting two factions of the remnants of humanity. By comparison, death seems easier. But would it be better? ( Last two sentences just have me scratching my head for the third time as to why Same is thinking death is a good idea. You've got to give us some emotion and rationale here, to understand the MC )

“Saint Constance” is a 99,000 word adult science fiction novel.

My name is Lee Hauser, and I have worked in information technology for many years. I’m a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Certificate in Popular Fiction program, where I studied under novelist James Thayer.

I think the second sentence confused me the most and I'm still not clear on what the situation. I think maybe what confused me is your wording 'ultimatum' because to fresh eyes the way your'e putting things is confusingly complicated.

Are you trying to say in your book humans are all but extinct? If that's the case say it more directly so we can understand the basic situation more easily.

I also want to get an idea of who Sam is. What does she want really? I don't think it's death...as at the end of the query she seems ready to consider leading a rebellion. So that too ( her real motives and goals ) would be good to have clearly and simply laid out

Thanks, pineapplejuice. It's been a hard story to summarize from the beginning, and trying to create a "teaser" has always been a problem. I'd hoped the gaps and uncertainties in the query would make someone want to read more. A lot to chew on here! 

Offline litokarl

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Re: SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2019, 12:05:55 PM »
Thanks litokarl, I would have exactly the same reaction as you to a query like mine (and another fellow writer off this forum has demanded I send her my MS immediately...too bad she's not an agent!).

However, there's still a lot of good stuff to think about in pineapplejuice's critique, and I'm happy to have gotten it.

Oh, for sure.  I definitely defer to Pineapplejuice.  I always appreciate a thorough set of notes.  Cheers!

Offline Smellerby

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Re: ** UPDATED** SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2019, 03:17:29 PM »
Here's the first revision of my query. Thanks for the comments you've given me so far:

Samantha Wen is trapped on earth, and soon everyone on earth will die. Everyone except her, and her mother, Constance, who’ll be doing all the killing.

A century ago, Constance brought the power and wealth she’d gathered over 600 years and told the world it had one hundred years to leave the nest. Sam watched the project her mother set in motion built off-world colonies, but not fast enough.

Now, with Constance’s deadline just weeks away, the organization created to colonize space holds Sam hostage against her threats. Sam knows it’s futile: once her mother makes up her mind, nothing can change it. With the colonies closed to her, Sam would rather die than live through her mother’s apocalypse. But bitter experience has shown her dying is hard when you’re immortal.

But an unexpected encounter with Sam’s old lover, Abby, and the appearance of illegal clone, reveal a long-hidden plan to help her escape earth. It will mean dodging two relentless security agents, running against Constance’s inescapable deadline, and knowing her escape means inheriting the leadership of earth’s only truly independent colony. Sam has never wanted the spotlight, much less the responsibility of uniting the remnants of traumatized humanity. By comparison, death seems easier. She’s just not sure if it would be better.

“Saint Constance” is a 98,000 word, stand-alone adult science fiction novel with series potential.

My name is Lee Hauser. I’ve worked in information technology for many years, and I’m a 2015 graduate of the University of Washington Certificate in Popular Fiction program, where I studied under novelist James Thayer.


Despite my lack of comments, I don't like this query. I had to read it twice to fully understand it. Comparatively, the previous version was much stronger, in my opinion. That said, your story sounds really intriguing! Sorry for not being of more help.

Offline lshauser

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Re: ** UPDATED** SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2019, 04:48:03 PM »
Thanks, Smellerby. That’s 2-1 for the original, which maybe just needs a little tweaking.

Offline greensoul

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Re: ** UPDATED** SAINT CONSTANCE - Science Fiction - Query Letter
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2019, 06:55:07 PM »
 :clap: I like the 2nd query (May 18th). To me, it was uncluttered and easy to follow. Good luck!