Author Topic: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction  (Read 208 times)

Offline Happyakrz

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ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« on: June 22, 2020, 05:55:35 PM »
Greetings!

This is my first time sharing a query letter with the group, and I'm excited to hear (and learn) about the suggestions you all might have to make this letter a possible success.  I've sent out a previous letter that was much different with no positive results (although, the rejections were quite nice and polite).  I'm having a really hard time switching gears from writing in my personal style to the high-energy, marketing-hype of the query letter (the concept of the 1 minute pitch just kills me).

Thanks in advance for any input you can offer!

***UPDATE:  I forgot to mention the specifics about the book -- On the Surface (Social Science Fiction) -- just under 129K words

 -----

Dear Potential Agent,

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the pursuit of life that has achieved self-awareness. With dozens of Observer Outposts stationed near primitive species across the breadth of space, each Unified post is manned by a selection of the most appropriate Leader Species. Those chosen then work in near-perfect harmony to research and assemble every bit of available knowledge about the candidates, and from this data, the Unified can ascertain the potential best timing of first contact and possible induction into the Assembly.

For those species who meet the developmental requirements, the title of Leader Species is bestowed, and a new future is offered, complete with the benefits of the Unified’s history of achievements. For the species who are deemed lacking in sociological or intellectual development, candidacy is rescinded, and a title of Support Species is bestowed, leaving the resources of the planet open to controlled collection.

In the history of the Unified Assembly, the discreet search and study of lifeforms has been the central mission that has occupied the most prized minds of the Unified species, and great pride is taken in the delicacy with which all candidates – those inducted and those rejected – have been treated fairly, and with the utmost respect … until now.

At Outpost 2917, Minister Fulcier has discovered a plot to undermine the candidacy of a new species to which he has been assigned – the planned rejection of the species in favor of the opportunity to mine a galactic fortune in mineral resources that have been discovered on the candidate planet. As he makes the life-changing decision to protect them, he develops a plan to guarantee the safety of the candidate, but it will force him to betray his oaths to the Unified, the friendships he has established at his Outpost, and ultimately, the very safety of the candidates themselves.

With the aid of a select few confidants, Fulcier must find a way to incapacitate the massive network of Unified traitors determined to reject the candidates, while at the same time building a plan to single-handedly accomplish the salvation of the innocent lives on the planet below.

----

Thanks again!

Happyakrz
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 08:06:33 AM by Happyakrz »

Offline kfcfriend

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2020, 04:14:21 PM »
Hello!

I think you have too much backstory in the query. I'd get to your main character as soon as possible.

My edits below try to give a bit of direction, but it's hard as I don't know the story.

I hope this helps a little at any rate!

======

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the pursuit of life that has achieved self-awareness. With dozens of Observer Outposts stationed near primitive species across the breadth of space, each Unified post is manned by a selection of the most appropriate Leader Species. Those chosen then work in near-perfect harmony to research and assemble every bit of available knowledge about the candidates, and from this data, the Unified can ascertain the potential best timing of first contact and possible induction into the Assembly.

For those species who meet the developmental requirements, the title of Leader Species is bestowed, and a new future is offered, complete with the benefits of the Unified’s history of achievements. For the species who are deemed lacking in sociological or intellectual development, candidacy is rescinded, and a title of Support Species is bestowed, leaving the resources of the planet open to controlled collection.

In the history of The Unified Assembly
The Unified takes great pride, the discreet search and study of lifeforms has been the central mission that has occupied the most prized minds of the Unified species, and great pride is taken in the fairness and respect delicacy with which they treat all candidate species are treated … until now.However, their moral stance has weakened[I've reworded because otherwise it reads that they no longer take pride in it, whereas really they are abandoning their moral code.

At Outpost 2917, Minister Fulcier has been [is?] assigned to assess discovered a plot to undermine the candidacy of a newly-identified species residing in Outpost 2917However, the Unified Assembly sees to which he has been assigned – the planned rejection of the species in favor of the an opportunity to mine a galactic fortune in mineral resources that have been discovered on the candidate planet by refusing the species candidacy and subjugating them to the Unified. [maybe put that into two sentences as it's now a bit long. Maybe put more in here about how Fulcier discovers the plot and how he feels; be sure to portray how high the stakes of betraying the Unified are}Does Fulcier As he makes the life-changing decision to protect them, he develops a plan to guarantee the safety of the innocent lives of the candidate species, but it will force him to .or betray his oaths to the Unified? the friendships he has established at his Outpost, and ultimately, the very safety of the candidates themselves.

With the aid of a select few confidants, Fulcier must find a way to incapacitate the massive network of Unified traitors determined to reject the candidates, while at the same time building a plan to single-handedly accomplish the salvation of the innocent lives on the planet below.

Offline Happyakrz

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 08:45:47 AM »
Kfcfriend – thanks so much for your input. I agree with you that there is too much back story at the beginning of my query and continue to struggle with the balance of content vs. pitch the query letter needs.

I also feel, as I’m sure most authors would admit, that my story is so hard to break down into just a couple of short paragraphs.  I can certainly describe the events of the book in that manner, but when it comes to the characters, emotional/sociological reactions, and the underlying themes that I’m trying to get across as the storyteller, I find myself lost as to what should be included and what should be left out.  I can only guess at the “marketability” of the book, so I don’t have a strong feel for the aspects that will spark an agent’s interest.

There is also a “theological mirroring” in my book to which I haven’t even begun to reference (for fear of letting the cat out of the bag). On the surface, my story is a social science fiction story that I believe stands on its own merit.  Beneath the surface, I am sharing my vision of a possible SF explanation for some Biblical events – an aspect that should only come to the reader’s awareness at the very end of the book.

I don’t know if I should include this aspect in my query letter, and I also don’t want a prospective agent to pass my story by without knowing that there is a deeper meaning behind the surface story.  I feel that I’m caught in a Catch 22.

On a completely different side note … once my query letter is rewritten, should I resubmit to agents who have already politely passed from my first letter?  Is that allowed, or considered gauche?

Thanks so much for your continued input!!

Offline Happyakrz

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2020, 09:19:05 AM »
***NEW DRAFT***

Thanks to KFCFriend for their comments, and I look forward to hearing more constructive critiques.  Thank you!

-----

Dear ____

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the pursuit of life that has achieved self-awareness. As a governing body, they take great pride in the fairness and respect with which they treat all candidate species, however, a dissident faction within the Assembly has recently weakened its moral stance and is making decisions based on financial and resource interests.

When Minister Fulcier discovers a plot to undermine the candidacy of the primitive species to which he has been assigned, in favor of a galactic fortune in mineral deposits within the candidate planet, he must make a difficult decision about his future with the Unified Assembly.

Should he do everything within his power to guarantee the safety of the innocent lives of the candidates and betray his oath to the Unified, or will he turn his back on a species that holds untold promise for the future?

For Fulcier, the investment of heart and soul that he has made for the candidates proves too strong, and he embarks on a mission that will change the lives of every Unified and candidate life in the system.

"On the Surface" is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind's beginnings.

Offline kfcfriend

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2020, 03:11:40 PM »
Hi Happyakrz,

My understanding is that you can't re-query agents with a revised query letter. I'm currently touting my revised query to new agents. Like you, I also struggle in that I have underlying conceptual thoughts (people's relationships to space, among other things), which I can't bring out in the query. It's all very tricky!

Anyway, your book sounds very interesting. Here are some further thoughts:

======

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the pursuit of life [perhaps clarify this; it almost sounds as if they are trying to create life, or maybe  they are!] that has achieved self-awareness. As a governing body, they take great pride in the fairness and respect with which they treat all candidate species, however, a dissident faction within the Assembly has recently weakened its moral stance and is making decisions based on financial and resource interests.

When Minister Fulcier discovers a plot to undermine the candidacy of the primitive species to which he has been assigned, in favor of a galactic fortune in mineral deposits within the candidate planet, he must make a difficult decision about [can you use something a bit more dramatic?] his future with the Unified Assembly. [It's quite a long sentence, maybe split it up?]

Should he do everything within his power to guarantee the safety of the innocent lives of the candidates and betray his oath to the Unified, or will he turn his back on a species that holds untold promise for the future? [Is it possible to make this clearer? To guarantee the safety of the species under his guard, he'll have to betray the Unified. He'll be expelled and left to die in space. Or should he keep his allegiance to the Unified and  betray the species under him, but lose the promise that this new species holds for all? Something along those lines, maybe, but with whatever holds for the story, of course]

For Fulcier, the investment [not sure I like the use of "investment" here since it's slightly reminiscent of the financial interests, but this might be a purely personal thing!] of heart and soul that he has made for the candidates proves too strong, and he embarks on a mission that will change the lives of every Unified and candidate life in the system.

"On the Surface" is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind's beginnings [I really liked this!].

====

I do think the revision is loads better, by the way!

Offline Happyakrz

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2020, 09:25:04 AM »
Hello again!

KFCFriend, thank you so much for your continued interest and honest feedback -- you have been helpful beyond words!

Here is the latest version, and I feel like it's at a point where I can potentially begin to send it out. (Let me know if you think there are still revisions to be made).

----

Dear ______ ,

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the search for species that have achieved self-awareness. As a governing body, they take great pride in the fairness and respect with which they treat all candidate species, however, a dissident faction within the Assembly has recently weakened its moral stance and is making decisions based on financial and resource interests.

When Minister Fulcier discovers a plot to undermine the candidacy of the primitive species to which he has been assigned, he contemplates the drastic measures needed to protect them and the potential disruptions to his future with the Unified Assembly. The galactic fortune in mineral deposits within the candidate planet are sure to drive his adversaries to extreme measures, but Fulcier feels driven to take a stand for the innocent.

Should he do everything within his power to guarantee the safety of the candidates and betray his oath to the Unified, understanding that he will be summarily exiled to the candidate planet?  Or will he close his eyes to the injustice of the Unified and turn his back on a species that holds untold promise for the future of all intelligent life in the galaxy?

For Fulcier, the devotion of heart and soul that he has made to the candidates proves too strong, and he embarks on a mission that will change the lives of every Unified and candidate individual in the system.

"On the Surface" is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind's beginnings.

----

My synopsis gives a much more detailed outline (a page-and-a-half), and I also have a second pitch which gives a more detailed explanation about the theological ties that are embedded within the story, so I feel like it may be time to start submitting.

Wish me luck!  :)

Thanks again!

Happyakrz

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 01:17:10 AM »

Dear ______ ,

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the search for species that have achieved self-awareness. As a governing body, they take great pride in the fairness and respect with which they treat all candidate species, however, a dissident faction within the Assembly has recently weakened its moral stance and is making decisions based on financial and resource interests. [To be honest, I don't feel that this introduction grabs me. I agree that you need to set up your world, but I think this paragraph has too much telling. So I would recommend making a briefer statement about your setting, and introducing your MC sooner.]

When Minister Fulcier discovers a plot to undermine [What does this mean? It seems like the wrong word choice.] the candidacy of the primitive species to which he has been assigned, he contemplates the drastic measures [Your word choice seems too vague. What are the drastic measures? Also, "drastic measures" seems like an extreme response for his people being "undermine(d)".] needed to protect them and the potential disruptions to his future with the Unified Assembly. The galactic fortune in mineral deposits within the candidate planet are sure to drive his adversaries to extreme measures, but Fulcier feels driven to take a stand for the innocent.

Should he do everything within his power to guarantee the safety of the candidates and betray his oath to the Unified, understanding that he will be summarily exiled to the candidate planet?  Or will he close his eyes to the injustice of the Unified and turn his back on a species that holds untold promise for the future of all intelligent life in the galaxy? [You shouldn't use questions in your query letter, rhetorical or not. Also, these questions don't add any new information.]

For Fulcier, the devotion of heart and soul that he has made to the candidates proves too strong, and he embarks on a mission that will change the lives of every Unified and candidate individual in the system. [Again, too vague.]

"On the Surface" is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind's beginnings.

ON THE SURFACE is a 129,000-word science fiction novel that will appeal to fans of [Author 1's comp] and [Author 2's comp]. [Add brief bio about yourself.] Thank you for your time and consideration.





You've probably already started querying, but I would suggest that you try revising your query again. Right now, it's too vague. We don't need details on everything that happens; however, you need to specifically include what makes your story unique from other science fiction and what your story is about. From this current draft, all I took away is Minister Fulcier wants to help an "undermine(d)" (still not sure what you meant by this) species, and it may cost him his job.

What specifically will Fulcier do/try to do to protect this species? What will happen if Fulcier fails? What will happen if he succeeds?

Additionally, I would watch your word choice in some areas.

Also, you should re-write your housekeeping paragraph at the end to a more standard format. I provided an example above.

And lastly, you should be aware that some agents will be weary to take on a manuscript with such a high word count (129,000 words). So if you can cut words, and get your book closer to 100,000 words, that would better your chances.


Hope this helps! Good luck! :)

Offline MICRONESIA

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2020, 09:40:36 AM »

Dear ______ ,

The Unified Assembly, a collective of hundreds of alien species from all corners of the galaxy, has spent a millennium in the search for species that have achieved self-awareness. As a governing body, they take great pride in the fairness and respect with which they treat all candidate species, Needs to be a sentence break here. however, a dissident faction within the Assembly has recently weakened its moral stance and is making decisions based on financial and resource interests. My first impression of this opener is that it's a bit... lifeless. It seems to "explain-y," too formal. Plus, it's backstory. I think you're best served starting with the character, then expanding from there. I also notice these are pretty long sentences, which can sometimes be a voice killer.

When Minister Fulcier discovers a plot to undermine the candidacy of the primitive species to which he has been assigned Here, case in point. This introductory clause is a MOUTHFUL., he contemplates the drastic measures needed to protect them Which are? and the potential disruptions to his future with the Unified Assembly. The galactic fortune in mineral deposits within the candidate planet are sure to drive his adversaries to extreme measures, but Fulcier feels driven to take a stand for the innocent. We don't know much about this guy at all: his personality, his voice, what makes him tick, etc.

Should he do everything within his power to guarantee the safety of the candidates and betray his oath to the Unified, understanding that he will be summarily exiled to the candidate planet?  Or will he close his eyes to the injustice of the Unified and turn his back on a species that holds untold promise for the future of all intelligent life in the galaxy? This doesn't seem like much of a choice. Option B is clearly the worse option for a hero we want to pull for. Also: it's best not to ask questions in a query. Many agents seem to hate it.

For Fulcier, the devotion of heart and soul that he has made to the candidates proves too strong, and he embarks on a mission that will change the lives of every Unified and candidate individual in the system. What is the mission? What does he have to DO?

"On the Surface" Title in all caps or italics. is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words This is a massive word count. Some agents will reject on this alone. with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind's beginnings. Close but hidden? Why would we want them to be hidden?


I know you'll hate hearing this (hey, we're not here to feel GOOD about ourselves  ;D), but I don't think this is ready to send out. It's too vague and a bit dry. I don't sense much voice coming through at all, and I'm not particularly clear on what KIND of book this is. Intergalactic courtroom drama? Space opera? Literary sci-fi? There's a neat story in here, but this doesn't make me excited to read it just yet.

If you don't mind, please have a look at my own query: https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=24282.0.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 09:44:41 AM by MICRONESIA »

Offline Happyakrz

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2020, 11:54:06 AM »
Many thanks to TigerAsh & Micronesia!

I'm continuing to work on the query letter, and your input has been very helpful!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Happyakrz

Offline agrabowski

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2020, 04:01:04 PM »
I hate to dogpile on to what other people have already said, but I agree that the first paragraph doesn't do a good job of selling the story. I think you'd be much better off starting the story with Fulcier. Maybe something like: "Minister Fulcier has always taken great pride in his job working for the Unified Assembly..." Or just something giving us an idea of who this guy is and why he's doing what he's doing. In a query letter, you only have so many words, and that means that the most important elements have to stand out. Who is your MC? What do they want? What is standing in their way?

Offline Happyakrz

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2020, 11:15:00 AM »
So many thanks to all of you who have been offering input and giving feedback!  It's helping me get to a much more focused query, and I am so appreciative.  Here's the latest attempt -- with some of the ingredients of the previous version, but taken from a slightly more personal perspective on the main character.

Let me know what you think of this one!  And again, Thanks!

Happyakrz

------

Greetings, Agent Name,

Minister Fulcier had always been a dedicated and trusted member of the Unified Assembly, a collection of alien species from hundreds of star systems who seek out sentient life to observe, and if possible, welcome into the galactic community. But when he discovers a plot by some of the members in the assembly to vote against the candidacy of the species he has been observing for decades, in favor of the mining rights to the mineral resources of the planet upon which they live, he is forced to face a grim future.

In a race against the clock, Fulcier builds a plan that will throw him into the heart of the conflict, causing him to sacrifice his entire career while at the same time allowing him to ensure the safety and security of the candidates for whom he has been entrusted. With a handful of trusted collaborators, Fulcier sets in motion a series of countermeasures which ultimately land him on the surface of the candidate planet, literally running for his life as he races to finish developing a chemical compound that, when introduced, will heighten the awareness of the candidates, placing them outside of the realm of danger from the Unified Assembly.

As the hunt for Fulcier begins on the candidate planet, an investigation begins within the Unified by a trusted friend of the minister, and the true nature of Fulcier’s actions and their causes begin to come to light.  While the shock of what Fulcier is attempting begins to dawn on the Unified hierarchy, his actions on the surface move closer to shifting the future of every life in the system.

In the end of this chase, a new beginning is created for the candidates, and Fulcier’s decisions and actions have created a new world for him to discover as home.

“On the Surface”, is a social science fiction novel of approximately 129K words with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind’s early days.

----

My name is Todd XXXXXXX, and I am writing to you today in the hopes that I might submit my recently completed novel, On the Surface, for your review, and hopefully gain your representation. I am a previously unpublished writer but have a degree in English with directed studies in fiction and have hopes of continuing the story in this book, developing it into a series.

My contact information is as follows:

[address, email, phone]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Todd XXXXXXXX

Online auraesque

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Re: ON THE SURFACE - Adult Science Fiction
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 10:12:19 PM »
Oh, this is lovely. Much improved from the previous versions, and I really like your opening.

Quote
With a handful of trusted collaborators, Fulcier sets in motion a series of countermeasures which ultimately land him on the surface of the candidate planet, literally running for his life as he races to finish developing a chemical compound that, when introduced, will heighten the awareness of the candidates, placing them outside of the realm of danger from the Unified Assembly.

That is a lot. I know you want to get all this information out, but is there any way to simplify it, or perhaps split into two sentences?

"With the help of a handful of trusted collaborators, Fulcier sets in motion a series of countermeasures which ultimately land him on the surface of the candidate planet. Before his plot is discovered and he is apprehended, Fulcier races finish developing a chemical compound that will protect the candidates from the Unified Assembly."

Quote
with close, but hidden, ties to theological stories of mankind’s early days

I would state what the ties were and lose the "but hidden." Call out the creation myths you're referencing, particularly if they are stories other than Prometheus.