The Game #QueryKombat critique party

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Judy Clemens *please respond to Judy in the comments of this post.

Title: The Game

Genre: YA Thriller

Query:

When six teenagers play Tag in present day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

The three “Its” have their reasons for participating: the surgically-enhanced debutante is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; the less-skilled basketball player desires his target’s place on their school’s team; and the brainiac craves a battle against an intellectual equal.

The “Runners,” three unrelated innocents kidnaped and forced to play, want only one thing…to survive.

Once the Runners receive the “Go” on the smart watches locked onto their wrists, they race to Chicago, where their Home Bases lie. The Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to Wrigley Field. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ locations are transmitted to the Its, and their original half-hour head start diminishes. The Runners know there are only so many places to hide, even in one of the nation’s largest cities, so they must each use their unique skills to outsmart their It, whether that talent is computer hacking, brute strength, or a charismatic personality.

THE GAME is an 82,000-word YA thriller combining the life-and-death aspect of dystopian fiction with today’s locations and technology, as if The Maze Runner has caught up with Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around. Ultimately, the winners of the Game are those who discover and use their individual strengths to overcome fear and make it home alive without discarding their morality along the way.

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12 thoughts on “The Game #QueryKombat critique party

  1. Hi Judy – this sounds really fascinating. Kind of like a twist on the Amazing Race – but deadly. You made it very clear why the Its would play – but why are the innocents playing? Is there a lottery? Is there a reward?

    The whole thing reads very clear and the stakes are very obvious. It sounds like a very compelling story.

    Nitpick – kidnaped => kidnapped.

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    1. Thanks! I love the comparison to the Amazing Race. I hadn’t thought about that because I’ve never actually watched the show! (Yes, I live under a rock) Thanks! As for kidnaped…I know it can be spelled both ways, but perhaps you’re right, and I should go with the more American double p… Thanks again!

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  2. This seems a lot like “Hunger Games” meets “Divergent”, to not have them listed as comp titles. I think most people would see the parallels, so I would really try to make it clear how this book is a fresh twist on those concepts.

    BTW, I think your entry nickname, ‘Tag, You’re Dead’ would be a cool title for book.

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    1. Thanks! You know, I thought about mentioning The Hunger Games, but I’ve read that agents want to see that you know more about the genre than just the biggest titles — do you think I should go for it, anyway? Also, I would love that as the book title, as well, but there are several other books and TV shows called that, so that discouraged me from using it… Thanks again!

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  3. Hehe this book sounds fun! I love concepts like this. Working on a game-like MS myself:) question. Who is the MC? Are there multiple MCs? That’s the main thing this lacks. We connect to your concept well, but not to the characters. I get who they are from the descriptions, though. Is this story told is third person omniscient? First? Just curious. The stakes and world are relayed concisely, with your fun flair for writing, so bravo! That to me is the hardest part about query letters. Good kick in the contest!

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  4. Hi! The Game sounds VERY intense. Wow. Great atmosphere in your query. Best of luck!

    When six teenagers play Tag in present day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead. [Good hook. I don’t think tag, tagged or dead need to be capitalized]

    The three “Its” have their reasons for participating: the surgically-enhanced debutante is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; the less-skilled basketball player desires his target’s place [I think “position” might be better] on their school’s team; and the brainiac [love this word] craves a battle against an intellectual equal.

    The “Runners,” three unrelated innocents kidnaped [kidnapped] and forced to play, want only one thing…to survive.

    Once the Runners receive the “Go” on the smart watches locked onto their wrists, they race to Chicago, where their Home Bases [I’m not sure what that is] lie. [Why don’t they just go to the police and ask for help?] The Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to Wrigley Field. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ locations are transmitted to the Its, and their original half-hour head start diminishes. The Runners know there are only so many places to hide, even in one of the nation’s largest cities, so they must each use their unique skills to outsmart their It, whether that talent is computer hacking, brute strength, or a charismatic personality. [I like this. I do wonder how they would die. Will the watch kill them?]

    THE GAME is an 82,000-word YA thriller combining the life-and-death aspect of dystopian fiction with today’s locations and technology, as if The Maze Runner has caught up with Michelle Gagnon’s Don’t Turn Around. Ultimately, the winners of the Game are those who discover and use their individual strengths to overcome fear and make it home alive without discarding their morality along the way. [I don’t think you need this last sentence. I think it is clear from what you wrote above.]

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  5. Oooh wow! Sounds intense. Yes, I’m not sure about mentioning big names like Hunger Games, but the similarities are there, so maybe find a way…I agree on getting the concept loud and clear and a great concept it is! So well done. But I need to know who to follow to guide me through. i.e I need a MC or something. Well done, I like this!

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  6. This sounds really interesting! If you can clarify why anyone would want to participate, that would help. We understand the preserving your life in the race is a stake, but what happens if the Runners don’t participate? Do they have a choice? What’s in it for them? I agree with Mel, I think you need to focus on one MC to guide the reader through the query letter.

    Great job, I love it and I want to read it! Good luck!

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