Query Hack: Critique #9 – YA Science Fiction

Dear Query Hack,

An anonymous SOS is sent out to the secret hideaway of the last rebel group, Safe Haven, who are in a fight for their lives against the tyrannical New Government. Two important details on the SOS catch their attention: one of their leaders, Paul, has been captured, and a cure has been found for the virus that has contaminated almost two thirds of the Earth’s population. At the end of the SOS are the coordinates to an unknown location a few miles off the east coast of North America and a warning: SEND HELP NOW.

  • I think this story concept is super interesting, but after reading the plot summary, I still don’t know who your protagonist is in the story or what he/she wants. Remember—plot summaries should be told from your protagonist’s perspective and how they play a role in the ultimate story. 
  • I noticed there are extra commas that aren’t needed. Keep an eye out for those!

Perseverance is told from the view of Paul, a twenty something year old with more responsibility and guilt on his shoulders than one person is capable of handling. As the co-leader of Safe Haven, he’s done the one thing he vowed would never happen to him: he got caught. Even worse he accidentally took an innocent female civilian along with him for the ride. Now Paul has to decide between saving the life of this innocent woman, and appeasing his inner demons, or risk the life he built for himself, and everyone else, at Safe Haven. There’s only one catch: the longer Paul takes to make a decision, the more time his enemy has to carry out the final step of his plan to take away the free will of every remaining human on the planet.

  • Don’t forget to put your manuscript title in ALL CAPS. 
  • There’s our protagonist! I recommend having Paul right at the beginning of your plot summary. Also, you’ll want to tell the plot summary from Paul’s perspective without outright saying “the story is told from Paul’s point of view.” 
  • Don’t forget your hyphens in Paul’s age description.
  • Be careful with vague vs. specific conflict (“with more responsibility and guilt on his shoulders than one person is capable of handling”). Whenever possible, swap vague conflict with specific conflict (such as: Paul is in charge of training the rebel troops and then show how he’s overwhelmed). 
  • I LOVE your second sentence.
  • Don’t forget to show us who kidnapped/arrested Paul. We need to know who your antagonist is, too!
  • More unnecessary commas in this paragraph.
  • I love the stakes you have at the end, but I think it’s important, in order for those stakes to be high, that we see what Paul has built for himself at Safe Haven. (Usually you’d describe this in your first paragraph.) Is Safe Haven a place where the rebels are preparing for war? Are they simply hiding out and trying to make a life for themselves? In addition, I think more details about who the antagonist is and what they’re doing in this world is necessary to clarify the stakes. 

Perseverance was originally written as the sequel to Existence (published by Netherworld Books in August 2016), but it is able to stand-alone as a novel with series potential. It is complete at 73,000 words for young adults who enjoy horror, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and paranormal fiction that reflects a plot and tone similar to that of THE BANE (book one in the EDEN TRILOGY) by Keary Taylor and ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill. Perseverance also blends the tension of the Triwizard Tournament trials in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE with the exploration of the maze in THE MAZE RUNNER to keep the reader on his/her feet wondering how the protagonist will make it out of The Facility alive.

  • I’m seeing a few unnecessary hyphens in this paragraph. 
  • Make sure to state a single primary genre (horror, science fiction, or paranormal fiction). You can say “science fiction with elements of horror and paranormal fiction.”
  • I recommend limiting your COMP titles to only two.