Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Query Critique #3

Welcome to this year's 200th (!) post of Disgruntled Bear, and the Great October Query contest.

Same rules: original is in blue; comments are in black; suggested text is red.

Dear Ms. Bear, 

A genetic mutation makes seventeen-year-old Justin Talent an outcast—it also makes his anemic blood a drug that can kill his sister’s murderer.
This is a strong opening hook.  We already have a sense of the character and the conflict. This doesn't need improving.    
A genetic mutation makes seventeen-year-old Justin Talent an outcast—it also makes his anemic blood a drug that can kill his sister’s murderer.

In a world where a vaccine-induced immortals drink blood to survive, Justin knows his days in government-sanctioned safe houses are numbered. Especially since he failed to stake Alex, the killer who snapped his sister’s neck. The one thing he wants to do before he dies is get revenge. Justin searches the human slave district, even the wilds outside the city for Alex, but the leech finds him first and decides to keep him around for his rare blood.
Starting with the phrase, "In a world" makes this sound like a movie trailer (not necessarily a bad thing, BTW), but "his days are numbered" is cliché. The second "sentence" isn't complete, and the part about Alex keeping him around struck me as strange, since you've already set up that his blood is lethal. I think you're saying that Justin's rare blood is like a recreational drug for these pseudo-vampires (I like that you never call them vampires in the query), but that an overdose is lethal (you actually do say this below, but it's a bit confusing up here). 
Justin knows that, in a world where a vaccine-induced immortals drink blood to survive, even staying in the government-sanctioned safe houses won't keep him alive. Before he dies, though, he wants to get revenge on Alex, the killer who snapped his sister’s neck. Justin searches the human slave district and the wilds outside the city for him--but the leech finds him first. 

Justin has no intention of becoming the bloodsucker’s drug dispenser. He’s got a great plan to kill Alex—overdose him with his own blood—but he’s got to figure out how to get close enough to do it without losing his own life in the process.
My main criticism with this section is word choice--I'm not thrilled with the term "drug dispenser" for some reason, although I can't pull a better one out of my head, and it's not a "great" plan yet, since Justin hasn't figured out how to live through it. I've also moved the part about keeping Justin around down here, so that the explanation of Alex's reasons is part of the reveal. I've made some assumptions in my word choices--please feel free to change or ignore them if I've guessed wrong about your novel.
Alex decides to keep Justin alive, since his rare blood--in small doses--gives the ultimate rush. But Justin has no intention of becoming the bloodsucker’s drug dispenser. He’s got a plan to kill Alex--overdose him with his own blood--if only he can figure out how to get close enough without losing his life in the process.

My YA Dystopian, TALENT'S BLOOD, is complete at 64,000 words.
I suggest adding a sentence or two of bio here, if you have anything relevant to the topic (okay, the odds of you actually having experience with blood drinkers or a dystopian future are pretty low, but it never hurts to ask). A quick word about novel-length: this is at the lower end for the YA genre, and there is an assumption that manuscripts often lose several thousand words in editing. Fortunately, that's not as much of an issue as it used to be for publishers. Speaking of publishers, I know someone from Broad Universe who publishes vampire stories with fresh twists on canon like this. When you're ready to submit this, please email me at kate at katekaynak dot com if you'd like her contact info--I know I've got her card in my office somewhere...
My YA Dystopian novel, TALENT'S BLOOD, is complete at 64,000 words.

Sincerely, 

XXX XXXX

Want to join the mauling fun?  Post your query here before October 17th.

5 comments:

aspiring_x said...

very nice! i'm SICK of vampires! but this sounds like an interesting story!
great crit too!

Deniz Bevan said...

What odd twists and turns! This sounds kind of interesting, even though it's not a genre I normally read at all.

lbdiamond said...

Thanks for your comments and suggestions! VERY helpful!

Gosh, I was hoping "drug dispenser" added some voice, LOL!

Aspiring_x & Deniz--thanks for the support. I hope it's enough of a variation on a theme to seem fresh and unique. ;)

Disgruntled Bear said...

Thanks for posting!

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