Monday, June 20, 2011

(screams) READ ME!

Ash is a suicide bomber. Not the kind you think. He drives an expendable armed robotic vehicle—from the inside. No one even knows he’s there. But it’s an important job and it pays well. Sure, it’s literally a dead end job, but that’s what he wanted when he took it. 
Ash turns out to be better at staying alive than anyone expected. And since meeting Zephyr—since falling in love with her—he has a lot more to lose. They don’t want to die, anymore. 
The problem now is the unwritten fine print of their employee agreement. They can’t quit. They know too much. A corporate security team, two armies, and their own inner demons will try to stop them. 
What do they have? Zephyr’s brains, Ash’s photography skills, and a couple of armed vehicles everyone thinks are unmanned and will be told are out of control.
DRIVERS is a psychological thriller for young adults, 77,000 words after the second draft. 
I told Ammii this morning that it needs to make you want to read more. Also, it needs to answer more questions than it raises, aside from obvious questions about what happens. It should not be boring, confusing, or poorly written.

So tell me, does it work for YOU? (Whether or not you're a writer yourself.) Anything I should maybe, possibly change?

(Yes, I know the second sentence isn't. A sentence, that is. Also, I wrote it for young adults, 17-23.  That puts it outside the normal "YA" range and into general fiction, so I may not mention the intended audience.)

12 comments:

  1. It sounds interesting to me although I just don't get what his photography skills have to do with anything. I'd put a "But" in front of the second sentence but that's just me. And is the word "expendable" necessary? Or- why is it expendable? I'd also take out the comma before "anymore". It sounds great though- different and intriguing. I'd want to read more if I was an agent.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my God, this is the part where I hate myself because I'm nitpicking, but don't you kind of HAVE to nitpick these things?

    "He drives an expendable armed robotic vehicle—from the inside." - That made me laugh, since don't we always drive from the inside?

    "They don’t want to die, anymore." Random comma?

    "and their own inner demons" - This is a confusing element in the list, since I would guess they really want to quit (based on the plot points you've given me thus far). Weird to introduce character nuances here... undermines their motivation, which you want to be strong in a query (unless it's the main conflict of the story. Here, I don't think it is).

    I don't think photography skills is unnecessary. It's interesting and charming.

    "and will be told are out of control." - That's disorienting... both because it's a shift in the verb tense and because it's new information at the butt-end of the query. I'd say it's stronger to leave it off, but you know more about the plot than I. (I guess you're trying to add something about what the bad guys are doing?)

    Short queries are in vogue right now...

    "after the second draft." - I feel like this is something QueryShark would cross out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great feedback, guys.

    The word expendable was an attempt to emphasize that they're intended to be destroyed, but suicide bomber does that already, doesn't it?

    I use commas like pepper. Trying to break the habit. Still.

    In my world, we don't drive robots from the inside. This is kind of a tough gap to bridge. How do I say he's a man inside an unmanned vehicle? Just like that? Does it make you think "Oh, that's not right"?

    Hmm. That could work...

    ReplyDelete
  4. It has me question how a kid got a job as a suicide bomber. If there is a good reason for that, then is sounds darn cool :)
    Good luck Ben!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ben - I think that's something that's still not clear to me -- as a layman in this arena. It's not weird to me that someone is inside a robotic vehicle. I would venture a guess and say to most people, this is a perfectly plausible thing. Hell, I didn't even know robotic vehicles actually existed until you talked about it (with the exception of the Mars rover). It absolutely works as an "unexpected thing" in a book, where you can establish society's norms, but I wouldn't make it the unexpected thing in your query. If you did, I think it would require more build-up than it's worth.

    Basically, I don't think any arrangement of facts is going to get me to think "Oh, that's not right..." regarding robotic vehicles.

    What you have right now is fine. He's driving this army truck which people think is powered by a robot. No one knows he's inside. He's a kamikaze.

    Thought: Why does he care if it pays well if he's just wanting to die?

    I think overall this is strong though. Kid wants to die, gets a job as a suicide bomber, falls in love, wants to live, wants out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Okay, so now I've taken out confusing things and replaced them with other confusing things. It feels better to me than the original. (And the comments are a funny place to do this, but oh well.)

    Ash is a suicide bomber. Not the strap-a-bomb-to-yourself kind. More like a kamikaze pilot. Except he’s sealed inside an armed robotic vehicle. No one knows he’s in there.

    Sure, it’s literally a dead-end job, but that’s what Ash wanted when he took it.

    He’s turned out to be better at staying alive than anyone expected. And since meeting Zephyr—since falling in love with her—he’s changed his mind about dying.

    The problem now is the unwritten fine print of the employee agreement. Ash and Zephyr can’t quit. They know too much. A corporate security team, two armies, and a hair-trigger self destruct say they must die.

    What’s on their side? Zephyr’s brains, Ash’s photography skills, and a sympathetic engineer.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My ability to edit this has significantly deteriorated... From what I can see, however, this makes more logical sense. Although my gut feeling is the flow isn't quite right yet. (And saying that might be unfair, since my ability to edit that has also significantly deteriorated.)

    Definitely let it rest a few weeks before you send it out. I mean, I say that having destroyed my chances with some agents by rushing out a query letter. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, though.

    I CAN say with more certainty that the ending is abrupt. Isn't quite right. God, I feel like such a nitpicker. Personally, I liked you ending on "someone will try to stop them" rather than "a character you don't know about."

    Queries queries queries.

    You know, the query I'm using at this point is one that a member in my old writing group basically wrote for me, haha. She was just like "It should be more _________" and wrote the whole thing out. And so I took it. It's not like queries showcase your writing skills anyway. Just your plot. Arranged pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not ready to query yet, so it'll have time to rest. You really only get one or two versions before you can't tell up from down with these things. It's weird.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ash is a suicide bomber. Not the strap-a-bomb-to-yourself kind. More like a kamikaze pilot. Except he’s sealed inside an armed robotic vehicle. No one knows he’s in there.
    (I'd cut "in")
    Sure, it’s literally a dead-end job, but that’s what Ash wanted when he took it.

    He’s turned out to be better at staying alive than anyone expected. And since meeting Zephyr—since falling in love with her—he’s changed his mind about dying.

    The problem now is the unwritten fine print of the employee agreement. Ash and Zephyr can’t quit. They know too much. A corporate security team, two armies, and a hair-trigger self destruct say they must die. (IF THEY LEAVE? Or at an undetermined time?)

    What’s on their side? Zephyr’s brains, Ash’s photography skills, and a sympathetic engineer. (Zeph brains, ash photo, and one sympathetic man on the inside??) I feel like sympathetic engineer almost adds a character in the last couple words, but just one guy who might be helpful doesn't. I don't know. I don't think I made sense.
    Your query rocks.
    Your books rocks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Let me ammend - I'd cut the last sentence of the first paragraph. The people he works for knows he's in there, and then you're just opening up a whole part of the plot that would be hard to cover in a query.

    Oh, and your BOOK, not books, rock. I'm building alien legos with an ADHD four year old while checking blogs, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "The people he works for knows he's in there, and then you're just opening up a whole part of the plot that would be hard to cover in a query."

    Ooooh, that's a good point.

    ReplyDelete
  12. OK, this is old stuff, and you may have already sent a query - but after reading through your original, and then all of the comments, I believe that you can peck it to death (you understand, as a keeper of chickens).

    ReplyDelete