Thursday, August 26, 2010

7 Pitch Entry #40: Cheryl

Title: Nikko's Bond


Genre: YA sci-fi

Nikko has never left the nursery. He’s never been to the corner store, or met anyone from the outside – not even his parents. Nikko is a host, a child bred to symbiotically support a Guardian. He’s lived his entire life with a single goal: prepare for the moment when he and his symbiont become one. The emotional connection to a Guardian is deep—and most hosts do not bond with other humans—but Nikko is different. With his merge only days away, Nikko must leave the nursery and say goodbye to the person he loves as much as his symbiont, his best friend Samatia.

Unwilling to face the future without Sam, Nikko concocts a risky strategy to bring her along. His plan succeeds, but what began as a means of staying together becomes a death sentence for Sam when her symbiont dies. Torn between friendship and desire, Nikko must decide: merge with his symbiont and become truly whole, or save Sam and spend the rest of his life crippled—and a fugitive from his Guardian.

7 comments:

  1. This is a little confusing. Nikko is a child that will bond with a Guardian? What is a Guardian? Is it a human? What do they do? This makes me think of a mix between The Host by Stephenie Meyer and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

    I'd give it a glance if I saw it in stores though.

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  2. Nikko has never left the nursery. (this is YA? 'nursery' makes me think he's a little kid. give his age and clarify nursery?)

    He’s never been to the corner store, or met anyone from the outside – not even his parents. Nikko is a host, a child bred to symbiotically support a Guardian. (Cool. maybe mention that the 'nursery' is the compound that houses these hosts, or something)

    He’s lived his entire life with a single goal: prepare for the moment when he and his symbiont become one.(what happens then? does he lose his personality?)

    The emotional connection to a Guardian is deep—and most hosts do not bond with other humans—but Nikko is different. With his merge only days away, Nikko must leave the nursery (but if he's never been out of the nursery before, how does even have a friend to say goodbye to?) and say goodbye to the person he loves as much as his symbiont, his best friend Samatia.

    Unwilling to face the future without Sam, Nikko concocts a risky strategy to bring her along. (along where? to bond with his symbiont?)(oh, wait, above, do you mean when he bonds he'll have to leave the nursery, and that means saying goodbye to Sam?)

    His plan succeeds, but what began as a means of staying together becomes a death sentence for Sam when her symbiont dies. Torn between friendship and desire,(huh?) Nikko must decide: merge with his symbiont and become truly whole, or save Sam and spend the rest of his life crippled—and a fugitive from his Guardian.(huh?)

    I'm kinda confused. I think you could trim your set-up, since it sounds like all the way through to the escape is set-up? And then give us a bit more of the major conflict. Nikko's choice raises the stakes, but I guess I'm not entirely clear on the plot.

    Good luck!

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  3. Nikko has never left the nursery. He’s never been to the corner store, or met anyone from the outside – not even his parents. Nikko is a host, a child bred to symbiotically support a Guardian. He’s lived his entire life with a single goal: prepare for the moment when he and his symbiont become one. (Okay, here’s the hook. You’ve got a lot of interesting things going on in there, but this is really the hook. You need to combine it all together into one strong summing statement. Maybe like: “XXX-year-old Nikko has lived his entire host existance within the walls of the nursery with a single goal: prepare for the moment when he and his symbiont become one.” Or some such that tells me he’s a host, that he’s never left, and the purpose of his life. You can do that in one sentence.)

    The emotional connection to a Guardian is deep—and most hosts do not bond with other humans—but Nikko is different. With his merge only days away, Nikko must leave the nursery and say goodbye to the person he loves as much as his symbiont, his best friend Samatia.

Unwilling to face the future without Sam, Nikko concocts a risky strategy to bring her along. His plan succeeds, but what began as a means of staying together becomes a death sentence for Sam when her symbiont dies. Torn between friendship and desire, Nikko must decide: merge with his symbiont and become truly whole, or save Sam and spend the rest of his life crippled—and a fugitive from his Guardian. (Hmm, I like this, but I think this last part would be better if you only had one. So choose the most damning. Either the rest of his life will be crippled or he’ll be a fugitive. I’m thinking the crippled part. Then cut the other one. We don’t need both; in fact, it removes some of the impact with both, IMO.) ((Other than that, great setup and conflict!))

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  4. This sounds like an interesting story, but it needs to be developed more.

    You need to begin with a hook. Your first sentence isn’t hooky enough.
    Nursery makes him sound like a baby. How old is he?

    You’ve done a great job with the world building. That is one of the trickiest things to do with a SF and fantasy query. Kudos to you. :D

    I’ve just finished the first paragraph. Where’s the conflict? I see the story problem, but not the conflict. Kids leave their best friends all the time when they move. You need to give us a bigger reason why this is a problem.

    From the way I read this, friendship and desire fall on the same side. What’s the other option he’s been torn between? And why does it mean by his life being crippled if he doesn’t merge with his symbiont.

    Good luck with it. I know you’ll be able to make this stronger.

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  5. Okay - full disclosure: I've seen this query develop since the practice forums for WriteOnCon so I already knew I loved it.

    I agree with the suggestion to condense the first several sentences into the opener.

    I love the conflict you demonstrate - we know that becoming whole to Nikko means merging and that to save his friend he'd have to give that up. The one sentence that confused me (for some reason) is "The emotional connection to a Guardian is deep—and most hosts do not bond with other humans—but Nikko is different." -- It wasn't in earlier versions and I honestly don't think it's needed, particularly because I had to remind myself that NIKKO is the host and therefore it was saying HE was different, not his relationship to his Guardian.

    Finally, the final sentence: I actually like it ending with the fact that he'd be a fugitive from his Guardian - because you've let us know how important that relationship is to Nikko. I'd say keep it.

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  6. Evocative, but vague. What has Nikko done to prepare? What is life in the nursery like? What is a Guardian, and more specifically, why are Guardians important? I can't tell if every Guardian is needed to keep humanity safe, or it's a position of great honor, or maybe it's not really important at all, just a job. All of these (and more) are fine, but they're very different stories.

    I like the conflict in the second paragraph, though I feel like I'm piecing together a lot. Since Samatia is Nikko's best friend and her symbiont dies, I assume she's at the same nursery that he is. Maybe there is a forbidden friendship/budding romance going on here that might serve as an additional hook.

    Finally, why does saving Sam mean he can't merge with his symbiont?

    I don't mean to complain so much; this really does sound interesting, I just feel like I'm missing a bunch of cool aspects.

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  7. Wow! Thanks to everyone for the feedback! I understand what many of you are saying in terms of wanting to know more, but I'm really struggling with how to address those questions while keeping the query short. I'm going have to wrestle with this some more. *rips hair out*

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