9.06.2006

3rd SR Crapometer #78-fully cooked

Dear Miss Snark,

I am seeking representation for my 90,000-word, young adult, science fiction novel, No Experience, in which a resourceful Martian teenager first proves himself worthy of a job and the woman he loves, then pits his experience against Mars itself by tracking his kidnapped brother into the backcountry. (if you can't say an entire sentence out loud with drawing a breath, it's too long) Hopefully, I've hidden my exhaustive research in an action-packed adventure set against the grand scenery of Mars. (i like that)

I'm an astronomer, currently teaching at XYZ College and a faculty mentor in the graduate Writing Popular Fiction program at S College. My short fiction has been published in Analog Magazine and elsewhere. I'm (a grand knight) of the (roundtable) Writers of America and, as such, work with people in all aspects of the publishing industry. (and yet, as yet, undeterred. Medic!)

I'd love to see my partial printed in your blog with comments. Thank you so much for your consideration. (your dream come true, where's that twenty dollar bill)

-------------------

Finding hidden bodies was Jay's specialty, if it could be said that he had just one talent. He sprinted down a corridor of the city's Dark Teal Sector just as the light levels dropped. Night had fallen across the face of Mars, fifty meters above, and all non-essential lighting dimmed in response. Jay careened around a corner and, in the sudden gloom, tripped on an object lying in the intersection. His back hit the knife-edged corner hard and the blow knocked him flat on his back. Jay struggled to breathe as he stared at the dark teal stripe in the ceiling, until at last his lungs unfroze from the shock.

Jay shoved his dark hair off his face as he looked down the intersecting corridors--deserted, as far as he could see in the dim light. He silently cursed the law that stated that visual enhancements weren't allowed until a person stopped growing . . . as if he could have afforded them anyway. Every time he arranged a check-up to prove he'd stopped growing, the medic found that Jay had added another couple of centimeters to his height. After nearly nine Martian years, Jay couldn't wait to be classified as an adult--to jump that magic hurdle that promised so much freedom. (you've just fallen on your keister and you stop for a medical briefing? I have a suggestion about that ...medic!)

He stretched into the shadows to find the object he'd tripped on and his hand closed around a smooth metal bar. Nice heft, he thought, as he used it to stagger upright. The staff looked silver, about two and a half meters in length. He twirled it in the constricted space of the cross corridor, noticing the black grip tape in the central zone, blunted knobs at the ends. A weapon, then. It felt good in his hands and he decided he'd look for its owner later. Much later.

Tonight, searching was taking longer than it should have and, even in the hermetically-sealed city, the darkness somehow transmitted the chill of the Martian night. Jay shivered and rubbed the sleeves of his jumpsuit, wondering why he'd been so edgy these last few hours.

Where were they? Jay had checked the top dozen places a body could hide in the public access areas of Dark Teal Sector. Gloom settled over the machinery switching station as he walked past. Shadows collected in pools under the hydroponics bay where life abounded, but no human life. He looked into the single vent duct in the sector large enough to hold a person, where darkness wadded like insulation. Running out of options, Jay propped the staff against the gateway to the communications hub and peered around the corner. Empty. Hmmm . . . maybe. Maybe not. He rubbed his stiff shoulder muscles. It may not have been easy tonight, but the end was near.

(here's your lead)
He crept out from behind the doorframe, and then lunged at a crouching, black-clad figure, tackling him to the deck. The two rolled over and over until their feet hit the far wall of the room. Jay hefted the smaller boy to his feet. He closed his hand over his brother's mouth, hissing him to silence. Jeremiah nodded twice to let Jay know he understood and agreed.

Only one brother was left to find. Jay picked up the staff and headed for the only area he had searched completely, their flat. If Jenson had listened to Jay's lectures on hiding, he'd have moved once his location had undergone a cursory search to an area that had been searched more thoroughly. Jay was counting on it.


You've got a good concept and you know how to write. You're awash in words. I'd send you a note that said I liked this but it needs SERIOUS pruning. If you can take out 20,000 words you'll have a tighter story AND something that fits the market.

Start with the action and keep it snappy. You don't need to describe everything; we'll hang in there with you to learn about the world as it unfolds. Give us a reason to want to read this--kill something, or set it on fire.

9 comments:

Angel Feathers Tickle Me said...

Love to all.....

Sherry Decker said...

"Somebody needs to have a train wreck!" Okay, just a class memory from when my teacher thought something exciting needed to happen and to forget interjecting back story.

I would prefer the word, 'thawed' to 'unfroze.'

Just nit-picking. Good set up. Good tone for teenagers. I'd keep reading.

Sam said...

Kill something ior set it on fire - How often have I heard those words?? (my mom's an editor, lol)
But she's right, and Miss Snark is right.
Bodies and explosions certainly get our attention quickly.
I really like this concept, it could be made dark and edgy too. I hope it gets published!

Kimber An said...

Yes! Do develop this! We need more good science fiction for the younger set!

Anonymous said...

Or, run naked through the police station.

xiqay said...

I was tired of his name (Jay) by the second paragraph.

I didn't follow what he ran into that hurt his back, although I understood he tripped, fell and hit something.

I don't see why we care what color his hair is. Or why the sector has to be "Dark teal"-why not just teal?

All the negativity aside--
basically, I liked this opening and would keep reading.

MaryKaye said...

I loved "dark teal" as a worldbuilding detail--it says to me that someone had a Bright Idea about how to give different parts of the complex Neighborhood Personality and didn't realize it wasn't going to scale up gracefully.

Rei said...

Prune out 20,000 words from a 90,000 SFF? Miss Snark, do you really think you could sell a 70,000 word SFF from an unknown author? Most SFF publishers I've seen are hesitant to touch anything that small unless the author is well known. I've seen some that have minimums of 100k words. The smallest requested size that I saw, if I remember the numbers right, was 80-100k.

wonderer said...

rei, it's a YA novel...doesn't that make a difference?