Query Hack: Critique #20 – YA Science Fiction

Dear Query Hack,

In the land of everlasting sun, girls await the Matching and obey the godsdamned Rules, but Isa Morta is sick of walking on eggshells. She’s got a guaranteed ticket out—the ability to make the crimson desert tremble with her rage.

  • Very intriguing opening! 

Hiding behind a lifetime of pain, she finds herself in a strange land plagued by apocalyptic storms, and soon learns the truth—bazra riders exist, alternate realities are real, and the rifts that stabilize her world are failing. Perditio has come, and with it, a black hole capable of consuming everything in its path.

  • In general, you want to avoid vague conflict. “Hiding behind a lifetime of pain” and “finds herself in a strange land” aren’t specific conflicts. What pain has she experienced? Is it from the events leading up to the Matching? What is this society and culture like? What do women have to obey the rules? What are the rules? And what do you mean by apocalyptic storms? What types of storms? Hurricanes? Sand storms? Tornados? 
  • There’s so much neato information, but not enough specific conflict that ties into the main plot. Right now, I know Isa comes from a world where women are controlled and she has an ability, and I know the rifts that stabilize her world are failing. But what is this world like? Why are these stabilizers important? How do they work? Why are they failing? What is Perditio? What is the central conflict of your story? What drives Isa/what does she want as a character?

Isa’s ability to turn quantium into rift-fixing quantonium might be their only hope, but first she needs to get a handle on her volatile power, and acquire enough of the damn stuff to get the job done.

  • The reader of your query likely doesn’t know what quantium or quantonium is. I recommend explaining what they are in your query (and why they are important), along with considering whether or not giving them names in your query is important. For example: “Isa’s ability to turn rock into molten lava that can holds rifts in the desert together, preventing a black hole from consuming…”
  • How does this power relate to the rift? Why doesn’t Isa have experience? Are there no other people with abilities like hers to train her? If so, how did she get those abilities when no one else have them? Genetics? 

Undertrained and scared out of her wits, Isa is sent on reconnaissance to locate the quantium, but a traitor in her midst springs an ambush, and her courage is tested when forced to face demons from her past. If she can conquer her fear, she might be able to save the people she cares about. But if she can’t, they’ll lose the precious quantium, and any hope of survival.

The storm to end all storms is coming, and she better be ready.

  • Again, I’d like to know why quantium is important for the rift.
  • We need more specific conflict here as well. Who sends Isa on a mission? Why would she comply or be willing to go in the first place? Who is the traitor? Who are the demons from her past? What does she fear and why does she have to conquer that fear to save people? Who does she want to save? 
  • You have nice big stakes, but we need to make them more personal by weaving in more story-specific details. 

SHADOW AND BONE and THRONE OF GLASS collide with the TV show FRINGE to bring you A STORM OF LIES. Complete at 97,788, this standalone manuscript, with series potential, is a work of Young Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy.

I have a strong platform, with over 40,000 Twitter followers, and a successful blog that sees hundreds of visitors per week.

Thank you for your time and consideration.