Jun 25, 2014

QK Round 4: Making Boys Cry VS Girl Destroys World

Entry Nickname: Making Boys Cry
Title: Virtual Rebel
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: Science Fiction

The warrior. It's a title 18-year-old Kali Ling earned bringing men to their knees -- inside video games.

As an athletic avatar for the Virtual Gaming League, Kali's living a better life than any college kid in 2054: ultimate fame, zero responsibility, and nonstop partying in L.A.'s hottest clubs. But when her teammate Nathan overdoses and Kali is named captain -- the first female one in history -- it's time to level up to adulthood.

Objectives for Quest "Grow Up and Kick Ass" include embracing her Chinese heritage and training with her team's latest recruit (whom she can't help picturing in nothing but a strategically placed controller). But just as she's ready to lead, Kali uncovers a sickening fact behind the sport she loves. Too many hours inside a realer-than-life virtual world drives gamers to drug addiction and insanity, and the industry has been whitewashing the truth for the sake of ratings.

For ratings? Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Furious, Kali tackles a new kind of end boss: the venality of electronic sports. But the VGL unleashes its Back Down or Face Expulsion attack. As leader of her team, it's not just her future on the line, and as a female captain, thousands of girl gamers are counting on her to prove women can compete on the same level as men. But when the industry erases Nathan from its database and spits on his memory, Kali's rage jumps +20. Back down? Pffft.

Role model. Rebel. Either way, it's game over. Permanently.

First 250:

This wouldn't be the first time I died. Sure as hell wouldn't be the last, either. But while most watched this virtual world from the safe haven of reality, there was nowhere else I'd rather spend my Saturday night.

Crouched high on the tower's parapet, I overlooked a sea of wheat fields. The scent of lavender and taste of wheatgrass wove together in the air, drifting with the breeze that swept through my hair. I took a deep breath and smiled at the irony, as thick as the mountain air filling my lungs. Lavender. Wheat fields. Tranquility.

"Heaven," I whispered, chuckling to myself. "For those who'd love to fight in hell."

Movement in the fields caught my eye, down and right. A zigzag carved its way through the ten-foot tall stalks, heading straight for the tower. My smile widened. Maybe this sucker had the balls to take on Kali Ling.

The warrior.

I stilled inside. Even breaths. No fear. At the field's edge, the stalks trembled violently. The air filled with the rainstick rustling of brush and dry grass. Yes. Someone would emerge. I gripped the sword sheathed across my back and waited, muscles tight, mouth watering. Come on. Give me something. A brute. Six -- no -- seven feet tall, wielding a mace. Or an axe.

Give me anything.

A rabbit scurried out from the field. Nothing followed. The grass fluttered in the breeze. Birds chirped, nestled in the nearby sycamore trees. It was the rabbit, and only the rabbit.

For now.


Entry Nickname: Girl Destroys World
Title: MAGICK 7.0
Word count: 85,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


In fourteen-year-old Anne’s opinion, there are two kinds of quests: the kind that lead to unicorns and lollipops, and the kind that get you and everyone you love killed, horribly and painfully (possibly by zombie sharks). She knows this because her budding magick abilities have accidentally entangled her in a quest, and so far she hasn’t encountered any lollipops.

She could opt out, but then as per Paragraph 5 Subparagraph 3 of the Official Questing Regulations she’d be exiled forever and all of her friends would be tossed into a dungeon. She’d rather kiss a Steam Troll than let that happen.

Her task? Slay a silver dragon that doesn’t exist. In just three days. With only the guidance of a wizard with a platypus for an arm and a sassy holographic sparrow. It’s all pretty straightforward (“straightforward” being a relative term) until she meets Lord Oswald, a weirdo in a cryogenic chamber who wears a lab coat and comfortable loafers. As the duly licensed Antagonist, he should be trying to stop her. Instead, he swaps roles and steals her quest.

That’s when Anne learns she wasn’t on a mission to save the world, but to destroy it (so not exactly environmentally-friendly). And Lord Oswald seems more than happy to see it through to completion. With the atomic clock counting down, Anne must figure out why she’s suddenly the villain of her own quest and pray to all things platypus-related that her unstable magick can defeat Oswald’s ten-thousand-year-old “technology.”

If she stops him, she might yet become a HeroTM

If she doesn’t, everyone dies (in which case, definitely no lollipops).

First 250:

At Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children they didn’t play favorites. Each orphan was treated with the same amount of disdain and neglect. They were provided with one threadbare tunic, one pair of ill-fitting shoes, and one dusty and moth-eaten overcoat. They were given a daily ration of gruel, and they were bathed exactly once per month, just before going on duty in the coal mine. This, incidentally, was consistent with the advice given in the popular self-help guide, How to Raise Orphans and Make Money.

There were three ways to leave Saint Lupin’s. The first was to get adopted. Perhaps by a nice family who would whisk you away to your long dreamed-of castle on a hill—one surrounded by forests and glens, filled with interesting and friendly people, rich with history and bright with promise and hope. The board of governors was extremely pleased with its track record in this regard as it had managed to prevent all adoptions since the Institute’s foundation.

The second way was to reach the age of fourteen and be unceremoniously kicked out on your bottom.

The third way was to embark upon a quest. Although quests were heavily regulated (so they could then be heavily taxed), there were no restrictions regarding age or background and thus anyone could apply. The secret to a successful application was first to fulfill a prophecy (also heavily taxed). At Saint Lupin’s, both of these topics, that is, quests and prophecies, were considered particularly taboo subjects of inquiry.


  1. Judges, please cast votes as a reply to this comment.

    1. Allusion AssassinJune 25, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      Nice tweaks to the query. It's come such a long way from where it started. You should consider querying as NA too. It will open some additional doors for you.

      I came in thinking I would be voting for Making Boys Cry. But I have to say, your rewrite took this a long way. You maintained a lot of the voice, but brought us an MC we can now cheer for and I now actually understand your plot. Good job.

      I'd bet it clocks in somewhere around 275 words, though. You'll need to tighten it. You could probably drop the "straightforward" line or change it to something that shows the comparison "It's all pretty straightforward (like finding the meaning of life). I think you could drop the "And Lord Oswald seems..." line from paragraph four.

      For outstanding effort in query rewrite combined with an excellent premise and voice:

      Victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD

    2. Princess PrimroseJune 25, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Why do you guys make this so hard?? :) Two extremely wonderful, high quality entries. I voted for the one I wanted to read.


    3. Wow, this is an agonizing choice (as they all are at this point!), so I'm going to make all my votes based on which entry I'd read first if I had both books in my TBR pile!

      Victory to...MAKING BOYS CRY!

    4. Both fantastic entries! Having to go with the one I'd want to read first, based mainly on the first 250 words --
      Victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD

    5. I've got to go with the Voice that pulls me so hard, but this is definitely a tough pick victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD

    6. Love both concepts, but one of them pulled me in more with its fun voice, diversity and high stakes.


    7. I'm reposting this here, as I forgot to reply to the first comment and instead posted at the bottom (please remove that one, thanks!).

      Making Boys Cry: Your query is much improved! Although your basic plot was already clear, you've added a lot more voice and worded a few elements better, and I'm much more interested in reading this now. Your first 250 are improved too, though I'm not sure the line "Heaven. For those who who'd love to fight in Hell" really adds enough to earn its spot.

      Girl Destroys World: Nice work on your query! I understand your plot *much* better now, which I think was the weak point of your last few queries. As for your first 250, I'm still a huge fan and adore the voice. Although I voted for your opponent in the last round, I'll happily admit that I'm thrilled you ended up advancing anyway. I'm so excited to see where this goes. (Hopefully, eventually into my hands so I can read the awesomeness!)

      Due mostly to the quality of voice and the fun MG fantasy plot (my personal weakness), VICTORY TO GIRL DESTROYS WORLD!

    8. MRS N, the Query QueenJune 25, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Wow, such great entries! I hemmed and hawed for a long time before coming to my decision.

      Victory goes to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD!!!

    9. I love both of these. But one made me laugh within the first paragraph, so victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD.

    10. OMG why. These are both fantastic. So creative and filled with awesome little details and I WANT BOTH OF THEM.

      The only small suggestion I have for you, Virtual Rebel, is to capitalize her title in all instances - The Warrior.

      Wow, this is the hardest choice I've made yet. But going with my gut--


    11. MAKING BOYS CRY: A very strong contender. I like the gamer jargon mixed throughout. As someone familiar with that, I appreciated the wink. Especially if you're going to write something like this. But it still felt accessible enough for non-gamers. Big build ups are fun. Loved that. At the end though, role model and rebel. I think those should have question marks. But that could just be me.

      GIRL DESTROYS WORLD What a unique premise. From the first 250 to the query, I felt like I was looking at something new and intriguing. I was thrown out of your world though by the environmentally friendly joke. It's funny, don't get me wrong. But it felt out of place. Just sort of random. And while you do have other random things, this one disconnected me. Also you probably should make your line about in three days connected to the previous sentence by a colon. Then no fragments and you get to use a colon. Correctly! (I googled it to confirm, not that I know this stuff that well.)
      In your first 250, you need a comma after you bit about at the blah blah blah, they don't discriminate. Or whatever it was. (I'm not too lazy to look, i'm too lazy to retype it. :D) I know its a little thing, but we're in round 4 and honestly, that's the ONLY reason I'm not picking yours .It is so very good. But a comma error implies errors throughout. (not always, but its a tight choice.)


    12. Girl with the Golden PenJune 25, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Making Boys Cry- I really do like the strength of this entry and the intensity of the prose. You condensed your query nicely and it reads a lot better now. Good job :)

      GIRL- Oh my gosh, this is my first time reading this one. It was so wonderfully quirky and funny. I laughed out loud multiple times. This is just my kind of humor.

      Simply because of how the query, concept and pages made me feel, I have to go with the quirky entry though its a tough choice!


    13. Wow! Both such great entries! I can see how much work you have both put into refining your queries through the competition. Good work to you both.
      So basically it came down to my personal preference, because you have both done so well.

      Victory to Making Boys Cry.

    14. Guest Judge Green Velvet here. Victory to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD. I found the voice very engaging and humorous, with intriguing suggestions as to plot twists. The query was too long though.

    15. These are both amazing entries and I would read happily read both in a heartbeat. That makes my decision VERY hard. I love the idea of a virtual warrior in MAKING BOYS CRY but the voice in GIRL DESTROYS WORLD has had me since the beginning.

      Victory to...GIRL DESTROYS WORLD.

    16. Ack! Good stuff, writers! Making Boys Cry, great revisions! I read your entry in round one. But I gotta say that Girl Destroys World had me at unicorns, lollipops, and a platypus armed wizard. VICTORY to GIRL DESTROYS WORLD.

  2. Two great entries. Best of luck to both of you. Because of zombie sharks and all things platyus-related, though, I have to give....


  3. Girl: I love the last line of your query. "definitely no lollipops" cracked me up. I still love your entry, and every rewrite has only made me love it more.

    Making boys cry: I've somehow missed your entry in every other round. It was a pleasant surprise :) I love your premise. Your query has me totally hooked!

    Both of these entries are amazing. I don't envy the judges this round.

  4. Oh lordy... This is getting really tough!

    While the query has improved (nice work!), you lost me a bit. It's quite lengthy. If you could tighten it up - cut the erroneous details, you'll be golden.
    As for your 250, I'm loving that you aren't keeping the fact she's in a video game from us anymore. It better supports your beautiful words and while still mysterious, we are less confused as to what is going on. As before, I'd keep reading on, it's a great premise.

    Still one of your biggest fans! My only critique is that, while your query is great, and has improved, it's still pretty long. Cutting it a bit to make it shorter would only strengthen it. As for your 250, I just eat up your words and want to keep reading this story so badly!!!

    Well done, both of you!


  5. Two great entries make it hard to choose, but I'd be more inclined to read the first one, because of the premise and the high stakes

    Victory to MAKING BOYS CRY

  6. Mrs. Malcolm ReynoldsJune 26, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Yikes -- I knew this part would come! I love both these entries.

    Girl Destroys World - I love this concept and the query has grown so much since the last round. I still think it could be tighter. It's an amazing world you've created - make sure the query reflects that! The first 250 are very engaging.

    Making Boys Cry - I've loved watching this entry grow and change over the past few rounds. You've made the query tighter and really brought me in to this world in the first 250.

    Tough call, but I'm going with my gut on this one. VICTORY TO MAKING BOYS CRY