Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Mr. Taylor,

Being tortured is just another day for Brynlee Williams.

When sixteen-year-old Brynlee got sent to the Pit as punishment for criticizing the Lords to their face, she never thought brutal interrogation would be part of that castigation. But there she was, trapped under the correctional institution she was sent to for creating chaos at the annual Lords Parade, being asked about a resistance she knows nothing about, and wondering if she’ll ever see the sun again. But when said rebels free the institution, Brynlee joins them without a second thought. After all, any chance of getting rid of the Lords is anything she can get behind.

Brynlee immediately join ranks with them and is trained by the infuriatingly calm Travis Hawley, the resistance’s top-ranked soldier. But when her first rescue operation sends her back home, Brynlee gets the worst news of her life in the form of discovering that her family was killed by order of the Lords in penance for her joining the resistance. But Brynlee has no time to grieve. She teams up with a group of genetically altered kids called the Genesis Projects and, together, they work to liberate the institutions where kids are being held for treasonous acts against the Lords. But the Lords beat them to the institutions and destroy them before they can even reach them.

During one of these missions, Brynlee loses her only friend and, in the same day, is given the news that her brother is still alive but being held prisoner in the Lords Tower in the Capital City. After she’s told that the rebels have no intention of saving him, Brynlee and Travis devise their own plan to get him. But before they find him, Brynlee is captured by the leader of the Genesis Council and is faced with the choice of being either experimented on or facing her execution, so she makes a decision that will change her entire life as she knows it.

CAGED is a young adult science fiction novel completed at 69,000 words with series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



The Pit was the worst place to end up. Anyone who had ever been thrown in it usually came out either insane or dead. I planned on being neither.

Six months ago, my friends and I were shipped to a correctional institution for treasonous children. Anyone between the ages of eight to seventeen got shipped there if they were considered traitors.
I was thrown in the Pit four months ago when the leaders of our country did their annual visit to the school. I had said some rather choice words and was immediately seized and thrown down there.

The Pit wasn’t some massive hole under the institution. Well, it was and it wasn’t.

There were no windows and no lights. It was a labyrinth of cells, all six feet long and four feet wide. They were big enough for a small cot and a toilet. The walls and floors were made of stone that were always wet. Where the water came from, I couldn’t say. It was just always there.

The only time I saw light was when a Guard brought me food. Occasionally, I got treated to a whole room full of light when they dragged me from my cell and hauled to me a room where they tried to get information out of me. But I had nothing to tell them even if I wanted to. No matter how many times I screamed that I knew nothing, they didn’t hear it.


Lm Hersch said...

The first sentence in your query definitely piqued my interest, but then I got really lost in the second. You start by saying that being tortured is just "ho-hum, every day" type ting for Brynlee, but then the second paragraph starts by saying how surprising it is for her to be brutally interrogated. Is it a surprise or is this something she's used to? If she's used to it, why? Does she live in a brutal country? What makes interrogation more brutal?

The second sentence of your second paragraph is incredibly long. I got lost. What happens first? "At the annual Lords Parade, headstrong Brynlee can't resist criticizing the pomp/excess/hautiness of the Lords. Little did she know that her actions would lead her to the Pit, an infamous dungeon of repression and torture. But Brynlee is tough. She's suffered before, and she's determined to survive the encounter alive. Only the Lords believe she's a part of the Resistance, a group she knows nothing about."

Ect. ect. ect. The plot will make more impact if you cut them up into smaller/choppier sentences. It also helps to move in chronological order. Back tracking to fill the reader in will lose them.

Hope this helps! This book sounds very fascinating!

Ben Lacy said...

I followed the start of this pretty well. The third paragraph opening sounds like it's moving into Divergent territory. You might want to be careful how you describe the love interest and how they meet. I don't know if the discussion of the Genesis project adds anything here.

I'd shorten/simplify the fourth paragraph. Is the genesis council part of the Lords group?

Minor grammar issue in this sentence in the second paragraph 'After all, any chance of getting rid of the Lords is anything she can get behind.'

The opening set up the situation fairly well and started the action quickly. My one issue is that for someone living in such a repressive dictatorship, saying that she mouthed off to them seemed kind of casual. American kids mouth off to authority, I'm less sure ones in North Korea do.

Good luck with your novel.


It sounds like you have a dynamic and interesting story here. I found myself wanting a stronger sense of the world while reading the query. The reader needs to be grounded in the world and how it works before world-specific terms are used. It looks like you've done this in your opening pages, so perhaps just some tweaks to the query to make it shine! One thing of note with your pages - I wanted a stronger sense of forward motion with the story. Your first 250 is a little exposition-heavy. Details of the pit, while intiguing, could be woven in as the story moves along. Hope this helps. Best of luck!!

catherine eastman said...

I like the opening line "Being tortured is just another day for Brynlee Williams." But, It doesn't seem to fit in with the very next paragraph, about the brutal interrogation. Is torture something she went through before before she was sent to the Pit, or does torture become a way of life after?

I'm assuming the first line is meant to be your hook or catchphrase, but I honestly think the first two sentences of your story, condensed slightly, would be a much more intriguing hook/opening. Plus, it would tie in better with the next paragraph, "When sixteen-year-old Byrnlee got sent to the Pit as punishment..."

I felt like there was too much of the plot given away in the query, as well. I almost felt like I didn't need to read the book because I had a pretty good summary of the story. I think you should condense it just a bit to leave a little more mystery for the reader.

Overall, nice job on the story. I liked the description of the Pit and made me want to read more, especially to find out what she said to the Lords to even end up in the Pit.

Good Luck!

Brent Taylor said...

There was nothing specific here to make me stop reading, but this would be one of those instances where the project just wouldn't feel like the right personal fit. Nice query!