Thursday, August 26, 2010

13 Pitch Entry: #9: Janice Foy

Title: Salvation


Genre: YA (Dystopian)

Kerry Adams is a genetically perfect seventeen-year-old whose life was mapped out before she was conceived. She has never questioned the rules that govern her future - when she turns eighteen she’ll commit to her life partner and have perfect babies to strengthen a weakened human race.

Kerry’s life is going to plan until her reckless older sister goes missing. Kerry’s search for her sister takes her beneath the streets of New York – where feral societies live their lives without rules or surveillance. It brings her into the arms of Finn Connors, who knows more about her life than he pretends and it will help her discover the truth about herself and the freedom of choice.

13 comments:

  1. The first impression I had was: Oh I want to read this. So you hit the mark there.

    I think this pitch is very well balanced. You show us who your MC is, and how she is going to go through some trouble. I am dying to see what that "wild" world is underneath NY.

    Two things caught my eye:
    "have perfect babies" => That made me think "gross" because you make her sound like a breeder or something, which I guess is klnd ok good because of the dystopian society but at the same time, an agent may read that and put it aside. I guess it's kind of a personal preference.

    Next I think you should make Kerry's conflict a little bit more clean cut. Rather than make you last sentence a statement of what will happen, make it the ultimate choice. Something like: When she falls into the arms of Finn Connors, an underworlder, she will find out more about her life than she ever wanted to. And now, she will have to choose between going back to a planned life and accepting a truth that will shatter more than her own life.

    ...something along those lines. Hope this helps :-)

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  2. Thank you so much, Stephanie.

    With the whole perfect baby thing; Kerry thinks she's going to help rebuild the human race, but in fact she will be used as a breeding machine (in this dystopia each generation is more sterile that the last.) It is gross - a bit like The Handmaid's Tale - but she doesn't know this is what her pre-planned future demands. Kerry thinks it’s going to be rose petals and romance. I could tell you more but it'd be a huge spoiler.

    Love your suggestions for the conflict - you hit the nail on the head. I’m kicking myself for not being as clear as you lol.

    Your suggestions are really helpful and very much appreciated.

    Janice

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  3. It's a very interesting premise and I would like to read it :-)

    A few little things. She sounds like she's genetically engineered, but then the phrase "a weakened human race" implies a society that might not have the ability to do genetic engineering, so maybe clear it up a little?

    Also, the last sentence is awkward and I like Stephanie's idea of making it more like a choice she has to make.

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  4. Kerry Adams is a genetically perfect seventeen-year-old whose life was mapped out before she was conceived. She has never questioned the rules that govern her future - when she turns eighteen she’ll commit to her life partner and have perfect babies to strengthen a weakened human race. (why is the human race weak if they're genetically engineering people? if it's that dire, why are they into life partners anyway?)

    Kerry’s life is going to plan until her reckless older sister goes missing. Kerry’s search for her sister takes her beneath the streets of New York – where feral societies live their lives without rules or surveillance. (cool but I don't think you need that dash.)

    It brings her into the arms of Finn Connors, who knows more about her life than he pretends and it will help her discover the truth about herself and the freedom of choice. (Cool, but I want more about her personal stakes/investment.)

    Nice job, though, this is pretty tight.

    Good luck!

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  5. Jess & Sarah, thank you for your comments. I LOVE this contest!

    Let me see if I can explain the weakened human race without spoilers. Her parents, now dead, were bio-engineers and genetically enhanced Kerry and her sister’s embryos prior to implantation. Kerry is partnered with someone as perfect she is.

    If the people of this time are matched with another perfect person then the powers-that-be are convinced they can create a master race.

    lol I guess my pitch needs more work ;)

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  6. If humans have mastered genetic manipulation, why does she need to commit to a life partner? We have very reliable artificial insemination procedures NOW, so why wouldn’t they in a future where they can perfect a person’s genes?
    But that’s not the point. I actually found this to be really interesting. I love the utopia-turned-dystopia type of book, and something about this really reminded me of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series (which I don't mean as a bad thing, I've gotten the same comment!) just in terms of it being about a teenager discovering that the perfect life for which she is destined might not be what she wants.

    I think this pitch is short and to the point, which is good, but I think you have room for a little more detail, actually. I’m always looking for the difficult choices characters make, so I want to know what Kerry gives up to go looking for her sister. Is she allowed to up and leave? Does it make her an outlaw? Does she forgo her perfect life? Will she not GET her perfect life unless she finds her sister? This is the sort of thing that really grabs me in these pitches, and I’d love to know what’s driving Kerry.

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  7. Great points, Meagan!

    Creation verses Evolution causes major problems for everyone in this time period. The Religious Wars, fifty years previously, have left everyone questioning God/civilization/right to create life – slightly controversial.

    Genetic manipulation is more of a black ops thing now – the World Coalition Government knows it’s happening, but turn a blind eye, and if things go wrong they will deny all knowledge.

    The whole Life-Partner thing is the Governments way of keeping the gene pool strong – kind of like survival of the fittest. More and more men and women are sterile; more and more children are dying from defects caused by the remnants of chemical warfare. Force Mother Nature’s hand and she’ll bite you in the a**.

    Kerry has a lot of tough decisions to make and a lot of unwanted truths to face.

    I wish I’d used the entire 175 words. I’ll know for next time.

    Thank you for your helpful critique.

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  8. I'd totally read this. Need any beta readers? ;)

    I have two qualms about the pitch--the phrase "perfect babies" sounds off to me, not in content (which is apropos) but in diction. It's just so cutesy, and your book sounds anything but! "perfect children" might be more fitting.

    My second is the last sentence; it's a bit awkward, and it's unclear if Finn is one of the underground dwellers or not. "It brings her into the arms of Finn Connors, who knows more about her life than he pretends and it will help her discover the truth about herself and the freedom of choice"--I wonder if you can just cut out the bit about him knowing about her, and instead explain a little more explicitly who he is. Something like "It brings her into the arms of Finn Connors, leader of the ferals [or whatever], who will help her discover the truth about herself and the freedom of choice."

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  9. Phoebe - Totally agree with your points. I wonder can I re-enter lol. I'm really looking forward to re-writing this query. Crazy, me?

    Perfect children sounds much better. Finn is from the underground - he's what would be called an Imperfect.

    Hmmmmm, Beta reader. I might just take you up on that ;)

    Thanks for your comments!

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  10. the story sounds great -- it's very reminiscent of MATCHED, and the idea of breaking free from the confines of society.

    the "perfect babies" thing bothered me for the same reasons it did for Phoebe. in fact, my concerns have already been touched on by others, so i don't see the need in reiterating what's already been said. but as a whole, i think the plot is intriguing and interesting -- i would only recommend making sure it can stand out from the rest of the dystopians cropping up in YA. if you have a special twist in your story, a special element that makes it stand apart from other (similar) dystopians, i'd definitely include that in the query letter.

    as it stands, the only thing holding me back from really enjoying this is the nagging voice telling me i've read a lot of books with a very similar storyline: "perfect" girl/boy living in a "perfect" society realizes he/she can make her own choices and break free from the shackles of an imposed & regulated lifestyle, etc. etc.

    so make sure you make it clear how this story will be different (and better!) than the others.

    other than that?

    great work!

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  11. Thank you so much, Tahereh - I think I have a few shocking twists, or, at least, I like to think so. ;) When I heard about Matched my heart sank, and I might shed a one or two bazillion tears. I managed to get my hands on an ARC the week after they were released. I was incredibly relieved when I read it; there's a slight theme resemblance, but overall it's very different.

    I agree about the babies, and I've reworked the pitch for when I start sending out my real-life queries.

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  12. I might be off in left field, but I liked the 'perfect babies' part. It came across as 'and life with be perfect for ever and ever' revealing to me that what Kerry pictures for her future is very innocently pristine. I'm also getting a 'Big Brother' feeling from this, which is not mentioned outright, but conveyed by the description of Finn living out from under surveillance.

    My only real quibble is that if Kerry is special (obviously she is) and genetic engineering is 'black ops' and Big Brother is watching... how does Kerry escape into the underworld to begin with? Wouldn't she be tracked and thusly lead authorities into the illicit environment?

    Overall though, I think you're pitch is very polished and concise. I'd snatch this book up in an instant! Of course, I heart dystopians... And I'm in line behind Phoebe on the beta reader thing... totally. :)

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  13. Thanks! - It's very much Big Brother. The people underground have chosen not to exist in the eyes of the Government, and as a result are non-people. They have technologies that can block/scramble/break tracking chips. The depth and intricacy of the abandoned subway tunnels allow people to disappear from existence.

    Wow! You got Kerry from that little piece - great reading between the lines.

    I'll add you to the beta list lol

    Love your comments. Thanks again.

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