Author Topic: SICO YA sci-fi -- REWRITTEN--  (Read 424 times)

Offline utesfanami

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SICO YA sci-fi -- REWRITTEN--
« on: June 14, 2019, 04:25:19 PM »
Hi guys, I'm getting close to getting in the query trenches for my latest project. I've been tinkering with this query letter. I've so much I'm trying to cram into this and also help it stand out. Please let me know what you think! Thank you so much!

Dear agent,

17-year-old Malcolm is a broken addict, a soldier forced to fight for the corporation Kauri Industries. His life’s numb—except whenever he slays a mechanized enemy fighter and his brainchip awards him the rush of the kill-drug, SICO. He lives only for SICO because when he’s high, he can forget his whole family’s gone.

He’s had the rush 352 times.

Everything changes when Kauri’s enemy, the Naturalists, free him. Malcolm just wants to die but they rehab him and enlist him in a scheme to save the planet from Kauri and its toxic reactors. Problem is, the Naturalists’ money is dwindling, and their soldiers are dying. They’ve one last chance to turn the war around, and super-killer Malcolm’s their hope.

Malcolm and a young team must enter Kauri’s School of Business and graduate on top. The school’s a simulated reality where students run opposing “businesses” in the 1920s gangster era. The businesses though, are often a front for something darker. With such fierce competition, many students will either become chalk-lines on diner floors, or victims of the Don, the vicious mob lord who requires weekly payments. But the biggest challenge will be the blood: the trigger for Malcolm’s murderous desires. A relapse could cost Malcolm’s closest friends their lives.

If Malcolm can overcome SICO and his business can win, he’ll be given an internship in Kauri’s HQ and have a chance to assassinate the CEO. If not, the Naturalists will fade, and the planet will never heal. Worse, neither will Malcolm.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 08:56:54 PM by utesfanami »

Offline RJP

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 05:40:22 PM »
You've got some cool scifi stuff here!

So does Malcolm kill people in the real world as a soldier? Or is he a soldier in the virtual world? Because your story might be perceived as being two unrelated concepts mashed into one. You've got this concept about soldiers who are trained like Pavlov's dog to kill people (very cool). And then one of these soldiers gets saved and reformed and sent to infiltrate a virtual business school to win a scholarship in order to assassinate their leader? Do you see how each of those might be made into its own separate story? If Malcolm was a soldier in a battle for the virtual world, the two elements would mesh better. You might want to focus your query on the meat of your story, which I think is the virtual gangster contest.

You might want to delve into the Naturalist's motive to send Malcolm on the mission. He's being sent as the muscle, right? To help one of the others win? Because a drugged-up 17-year-old is the last person you'd want to send on an important mission to win a game of Mafioso. Or to win any kind of business contest. Then, I'd also hint that maybe they underestimated Malcolm and his brains.

Maybe all the students are required to be 17? That would explain why they'd send him.

Also, I think you need to explain that Malcolm dawns a disguise. The bad guys would, of course, know who he is from his days of fighting along side them.

Which leads me to wonder: why didn't the Naturalist's send Malcolm back as a soldier to infiltrate the enemy? Malcolm was one of them already, so why would they instead hatch this scheme to win a business contest? Malcolm's status as a soldier for the enemy is never exploited by the rebels. This is a potential plot hole and goes back to what I first said about maybe having two unrelated concepts.

Anyways, those are the red flags I got from reading your query. There's so much cool stuff, though, that it might not matter. Sort of how Hunger Games has some glaring plot holes :p






Offline utesfanami

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 06:40:48 PM »
Hi RJP,

I appreciate for your thoughtful critique. There are a whole flurry of questions you're asking, and I know a query should leave questions, but not awkward ones. As far as the plot-holes are concerned, those are not really issues in the book, but it's difficult writing a query concisely and giving enough scintillating details for the reader to make them want to read on without also, leading to more awkward questions. Anyway, You've given me a few good things to think about and I'll be working on those for my next draft.

Thanks!

Offline SincerelySinclair

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 07:13:11 PM »
Hey! You've got a cool query but I'm confused as to the plot. Is it Malcolm overcoming his killer drug use or Malcolm and his team infiltrating the school? If Malcolm is already a highly capable soldier then why is it necessary for him to go to a virtual 1920s business school? At this point, wouldn't the people monitoring his brainchip notice that he's not getting his dose of SICO?

Since he's been addicted to it for so long and he only gets it when he kills, he's not exactly anyone's first choice for business school if he's at risk for killing people to get high (this is, of course, assuming that the Kauri all talk to each other and no one finds out he's been to rehab.)

Offline greensoul

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2019, 11:01:35 AM »
I'm all in until that third paragraph "Malcolm and a young team must enter Kauri’s School...." It leads into a confusing disconnect from the beginning of the query. Try cutting out as many details as possible as it pertains to the simulated 1920's mob world, so that you get to the meat of what it is and how it can lead to him killing his friends. Additionally, I think the last sentence can be simplified to just say if he makes it through the simulator, he has a chance to kill the head of Kuari....Also, I am missing why Kuari is so evil.

Hope my notes were helpful! It's hard to compact your novel's deep world into a few short paragraphs;D Good luck!

Offline katarinabett

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2019, 11:29:54 AM »
Hi guys, I'm getting close to getting in the query trenches for my latest project. I've been tinkering with this query letter. I've so much I'm trying to cram into this and also help it stand out. Please let me know what you think! Thank you so much!

Dear agent,

17-year-old Malcolm is a broken addict, a soldier forced to fight for the corporation Kauri Industries. His life is numb—except whenever he slays a mechanized enemy fighter and his brainchip awards him the rush of the kill-drug, SICO. He lives only for SICO because when he’s high, he can forget his whole family’s gone. <-- That's the hook for me! is there a way to move that closer to the top? In the query-writing research I've done, I've found agents like the hook really high in the query.

He’s had the rush 352 times.

Everything changes when Kauri’s enemy, the Naturalists, free him. Malcolm just wants to die but they rehab him and enlist him in a scheme to save the planet from Kauri and its toxic reactors. Problem is, the Naturalists’ money is dwindling, and their soldiers are dying. They’ve one last chance to turn the war around, and super-killer Malcolm’s their hope. (i'm seeing a lot of contractions that pull me out of the flow of reading. Maybe try "Malcom is their only hope" for a more dire stakes situation?)

Malcolm and a young team must enter Kauri’s School of Business and graduate on top. The school is a simulated reality where students run opposing “businesses” in the 1920s gangster era. The businesses though, are often a front for something darker. With such fierce competition, many students will either become chalk-lines on diner floors, or victims of the Don, the vicious mob lord who requires weekly payments. But the biggest challenge will be the blood: the trigger for Malcolm’s murderous desires. A relapse could cost Malcolm’s closest friends their lives.

If Malcolm can overcome SICO and his business can win, he’ll be given an internship in Kauri’s HQ and have a chance to assassinate the CEO. If not, the Naturalists will fade, and the planet will never heal. (i feel like this is the first time we're told the planet is dying?) Worse, neither will Malcolm.

I think there's a ton of great stuff here, it just needs some restructuring. Maybe a little less with the beginning paragraph and just saying "malcom's an addict hooked on killing enemy fighters to receive a rush from a drug that helps him remember his family is gone." It might be a little easier to not name drop so many places as well. It confused me a little and hampered me from understanding the full query. Good luck - this sounds like an awesome scifi!

Offline utesfanami

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2019, 08:45:33 PM »
Hi everyone!

Thank you for your encouragement and your critiques. I'm gonna sit on it for a bit before I come back with a revision!

Offline utesfanami

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NEW VERSION!
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2019, 08:56:00 PM »
Hi everyone! I'm back with a new version.  :clap:  I've simplified the query. Hopefully it is clearer! Would love to hear your thoughts!

Dear agent,

Seventeen-year-old Malcolm, a super-soldier forced to fight for Kauri Industries, is numb—except whenever his heatblade burns into someone’s heart and his brainchip awards him the rush of the kill-drug, SICO. He lives for SICO because when he’s high, he can forget his whole family’s gone.

He’s had the rush 352 times.

Everything changes when he escapes and his brainchip gets deactivated. Malcolm finally feels something again—and it’s all rage. Rage at the company who killed his family and turned him into an unstoppable beast. And there’s no better way to get back at them than to slaughter their horrible CEO.

Problem is, the CEO never leaves Kauri Industries’ HQ. But there is a way to get inside…by graduating at the top of their “business school” and winning an internship. Even though Malcolm’s hands are for mauling, not handshakes and business cards, this is no ordinary school. It transports students to a programmed city where teams run competing “businesses,” or underground crime rings. This year, the city’s set in the 1920s gangster era where homicide, larceny, and backstabbing are as common as tommy gun bullets.

Malcolm’s talents will fit right in. But, because SICO has rushed through him so many times, he still gets an echo of the ecstasy when he kills. And that makes him go berserk like a shark in bloody water. If he’s not careful, he’ll not only hurt his competition, but his teammates too.

If he can avoid killing his own, and terminate the other businesses, he’ll get face-to-face with the CEO. But if he fails, the only thing he’ll have left to live for is the next rush.

My debut novel, SICO, is a YA sci-fi complete at 91,000 words with series potential. It combines the Holodecks of STAR TREK, the gangster warfare of THE GODFATHER, and the fierce, student-driven competition of RED RISING.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 08:58:49 PM by utesfanami »

Offline dancingdove311

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Re: NEW VERSION!
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 11:00:01 AM »
Hi everyone! I'm back with a new version.  :clap:  I've simplified the query. Hopefully it is clearer! Would love to hear your thoughts!

Dear agent,

Seventeen-year-old Malcolm, a super-soldier forced to fight for Kauri Industries, is numb—except whenever his heatblade burns into someone’s heart and his brainchip awards him the rush of the kill-drug, SICO. He lives for SICO because when he’s high, he can forget his whole family’s gone.

He’s had the rush 352 times.

Everything changes when he escapes and his brainchip gets deactivated. Malcolm finally feels something again—and it’s all rage. Rage at the company who killed his family and turned him into an unstoppable beast. I don't mind occasional use of fragments for style, but have been told to be careful with it in queries, so just make sure it's something you're doing consciously. And there’s no better way to get back at them than to slaughter their horrible CEO.

Problem is, the CEO never leaves Kauri Industries’ HQ. But there is a way to get inside…by graduating at the top of their “business school” and winning an internship. Even though Malcolm’s hands are for mauling, not handshakes and business cards, this is no ordinary school. It transports students to a programmed city where teams run competing “businesses,” or underground crime rings. This year, the city’s set in the 1920s gangster era where homicide, larceny, and backstabbing are as common as tommy gun bullets.

Malcolm’s talents will fit right in. But, because SICO has rushed through him so many times, he still gets an echo of the ecstasy when he kills--and that makes him go berserk like a shark in bloody water. If he’s not careful, he’ll not only hurt his competition, but his teammates too.

If he can avoid killing his own, and terminate the other businesses, he’ll get face-to-face with the CEO. But if he fails, the only thing he’ll have left to live for is the next rush.

My debut novel some agents see first novels as a negative, so I wouldn't mention it, SICO, is a YA sci-fi complete at 91,000 words with series potential. It combines the Holodecks of STAR TREK, the gangster warfare of THE GODFATHER, and the fierce, student-driven competition of RED RISING.

I think this is significantly clearer than your previous versions and it sounds pretty cool! I feel like I have a good sense of the plot and stakes

Offline greensoul

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi -- REWRITTEN--
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2019, 12:26:18 PM »
Yep! Much better. Good luck!

Offline utesfanami

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Re: SICO YA sci-fi -- REWRITTEN--
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2019, 06:09:51 PM »
Thanks everyone for all your help!