Thursday, May 12, 2011

Drivers: Another Try

So, I have two early versions of a query. The first one I wrote just recently. It's short. (And I'm almost done with the first draft of the book.)


Ash had nothing to lose when he took the job. He wanted to die, and it sounded like a good way to go, hidden inside a supposedly driverless robotic vehicle fighting in a foreign war. Speed, guns, explosions and all that. 
But Ash is better at staying alive than he thought. Since meeting Zephyr—since falling in love with her—he also has a lot more to lose. 
And he'll lose it all unless he and Zephyr can escape from two armies, a corporate security team, and their own inner demons.  
Aside from their desperate new love of life and each other, they don't have much to work with:  Zephyr's brains, Ash's photography skills, and a cell phone with no service.

And the following is what I wrote before I wrote the actual novel. I thought that one up there ^ was much better, but this one has a lot going for it:
Ash is trapped in a dead-end job, but he’s changed his mind about dying. He’s basically a suicide bomber. Not the terrorist, strap-a-bomb-around-your-chest sort of bomber. He works for an American security contractor, driving a heavily armed vehicle on missions too dangerous for soldiers.  
Too dangerous for anyone, actually. That’s why the vehicles are supposed to be unmanned, computer controlled. No one on the outside even knows Ash and his fellow drivers are inside the armed robotic vehicles. 
Yeah. And he works for the good guys. 
Ash signed up for the suicide mission. He wanted to die, anyway. Speed, guns, and explosions sounded like a good way to go. 
That was before he met Zephyr, another driver. She understands him. She even cares about him. After they both survive their first operation, Ash wants his life back. Then he and Zephyr run up against the downside of their employee agreement. 
They can't quit. 
They know too much, and a lot of money and criminal charges ride on keeping  the company’s secrets. With a fifty percent survival rate per operation, odds aren’t good they’ll make it through another. 
Their only escape is locked inside a robot with a hair-trigger self-destruct—a mobile arsenal that everyone thinks is unmanned and will be told is out of control.

Now, if you don't mind, tell me:  Which one gets you most excited to read the book? Are there pieces of the other you'd like to see grafted into your favorite? Have you ever made a root beer float with chocolate ice cream?

9 comments:

  1. I like the pacing of the first one a lot better, but I want some of the details from the second one. Ex. the paragraph that says: They know too much... I like the voice in both. I think the first one has a better indicator of the stakes. There's my 2 bits.

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  2. Okay, I'm new at this commenting business, but I'll give it a try. I like the first one better, but I think your final paragraph doesn't quite fit the rest. I can't quite put my finger on it, tone perhaps? Maybe the last line of your query should not be a list of their assets? Anyway, the premise sounds really cool! I'm definitely excited to read it!

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  3. Ditto Kayeleen and Jared. The first one's tighter (and thus a better reflection of your voice, I think), but it lacks the character development and emotional depth of the second one. If you could work a few of the second query's details into the first query's framework, that might be best.

    This sounds really interesting, Ben - and different. If you ever need a reader, you know where to find me:) (And I take it this manuscript is targeted at the adult market, yes?)

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  4. Thanks for the comments, all. This is helpful. Queries are harder than poetry, I think.

    One thing I did differently with the first one was write it in character, with Ash's voice, and then change it to third person. I imagined how he'd sum up his problems at a certain point in the book.

    As for the market, AAAGH! I don't know! Why do I do this to myself? Ash and Zephyr are college age. So, yes. Adult. Trying not to worry about that right now.

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  5. "Ash is trapped in a dead-end job, but he’s changed his mind about dying. He’s basically a suicide bomber. Not the terrorist, strap-a-bomb-around-your-chest sort of bomber. He works for an American security contractor, driving a heavily armed vehicle on missions too dangerous for soldiers.
    Too dangerous for anyone, actually. That’s why the vehicles are supposed to be unmanned, computer controlled. No one on the outside even knows Ash and his fellow drivers are inside the armed robotic vehicles.
    Yeah. And he works for the good guys."

    I'm intrigued. Can you cut lots and pare down to the essential information?

    With a fifty percent survival rate per job, Ash is suicidally locked into his contract with his employers.
    The secret component in his otherwise robotic vehicle, etc

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  6. Ah, the tough part is deciding what's essential, Elaine. Are you suggesting to shorten those first three paragraphs, the rest of the query, or both?

    Sad that I lost the other three comments in the Great Blogger Crash. I should have had it email me all comments.

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  7. I LOVE the first one. I JUST got back from a writer's conference where all three agents said they just want a few sentences. Keep the query as short as possible. LOVE the hook a the beginning and I love that last paragraph - you're telling us what they're up against and what the tools are. Nice.

    Random question - are you related to Tara Spendlove Lemos? In Vegas?

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  8. I like the first one best too. I think it's less.... standard. It seems like shorter queries are hot right now.

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  9. Oh, also, I emailed you the thing, and I hope that was your email.

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