Sunday, June 1, 2014

QK Round 1: Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down vs. Memento Mori

Entry Nickname: Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down
Title: Biohunter
Word count: 82K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction


Niobe is guilty of many things – bar brawls, affairs with married mayors, eyebrow-raising morals, and of swaggering through life like a punch-drunk cavalier. She is also the best biohunter east of the Rockies; a fact that has helped her avoid more serious censure from the Guild of Biohunters.

Orphaned at a young age, Niobe joined the Guild to help other victims of the constant, brutal biological warfare over what few resources remain in a North America devastated by climate change. Biohunters are neutral agents - part paramedic, part infectious diseases specialist, part CSI - who come to the aid of bug-bombed settlements, synthesize treatments for the pathogen, and track down the source.

The Guild is the closest thing to home and a family Niobe has had since she turned up on its doorstep as a desperate teenager. But when she is framed as the source of deadly new weapons wreaking havoc across the north-east, she faces the fight of her life to prove her innocence, avoid execution, and protect the people she has come to love, as a rising and ruthless new power shows its hand and proves it will commit unthinkable crimes to achieve its goals.

First 250 words:

The ambush came as Niobe hauled her dusty turbocycle saddle bags along the dimly-lit walkway that ran the length of the motel. It had been a long day on the road, and she really didn’t have the patience for it.

She had to credit their stealth - she didn’t hear a thing until the snub nose of an ultrasound injector pressed into the exposed flesh at the back of her neck, snuck in above the worn leather of her jacket. Her neck hairs rose in ineffectual defense, and she suppressed a shudder at the contrast of cold metal on warm sweaty skin.

Niobe growled a silent curse. “For Gaia’s sake, can’t we do this after I’ve had a shower?”

“Shut up.”

She eased her head to one side, hoping for a glimpse of her attackers. One stood just beyond the downward cone of light that lit the door to her room, too far to be holding the weapon to her neck. Two of them, then. There was a whiff of salty, smoky body odor that suggested a long time between washes. She heaved a sigh. “Fine. What do you want?”

Niobe could have answered the question for them. Most likely gold, or her comms unit - something they could sell to buy a meal or some water. Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target for someone looking for gold, or high-tech comms gear. There was precious little technology around these days, and what did exist was priced sky-high.


Nickname: Memento Mori
Title: MEM
Word Count: 77K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction


Sometimes forgetfulness is a gift, other times you have to pay for it.

In Mori’s world, memories are commodities. Ruled by MEM, a memory alteration company, the occupants of City can buy, sell, and alter their memories, remaking themselves at whim. Mori is one of a small group who has seen first-hand how the technology can be used to steal all you have and all you are. His memories were stolen from him when he was only a child. Now he works at MEM as an ethics officer, protecting others from the grasping reach of illegal techs like the ones who ruined his childhood.

When Mori takes on a case reminiscent of his own, he is gifted with an opportunity to investigate his past. That is, until one of the victims is rescued without her newborn baby and the opportunity turns into a grave responsibility to save the child. To uncover the identity of the kidnappers, he must sift through the secrets of MEM itself. MEM’s ruler, Boss, acts as Mori’s savior and guide even as he reveals his dark role in Mori’s past torments. With the help of the memories that Boss sacrifices to the cause, Mori discovers those guilty not only of the child’s kidnapping but his own and the horrific origin of MEM’s domination over City.

First 250:

Gilman sweeps his thumb along my desk, scattering digital files across the surface of the comp as they’re extracted from the small information chip embedded under his skin. “Played the game and won big time, Mori. Now you’ve gotta take the punishment.”

“Remind me later; I hate games.” I reach out my palm and pull the files towards me so I can skim the list of complaints. Instead of a screen full of data and files, I find a generalized block of luminescence before me as a yawn stretches my jaw and floods my eyes with moisture. It’s nine in the evening and all I can think of with any focus is the bed awaiting me at home. My head starts to dip without permission.

“Can’t sleep here, buddy.” Gilman slaps his hand across my shoulder, temporarily driving away my fatigue. “You’re going to be quizzed on this tomorrow.” I look at him, horror stretching my eyelids uncomfortably wide, only to recognize the snigger that causes the hairy mass on his chin to ripple.

“Very funny, Gil. Make the new man jump.”

“Ah, go home. I’m sure Vic’s just waiting to get her hands on her newly-made man of distinction. Go show her what it feels like to be with a man of power.” Gil throws me a wink and charges out the door, no doubt seeking out someone to impress with his own sense of empowerment.

“She’s not there,” I grumble.


  1. Judges - reply to this comment to cast your votes.

    1. Princess PrimroseJune 1, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Dear Memento Mori,

      Query: Your first line could use some grammatical tweaking, maybe like so: "Sometimes forgetfulness is a gift; other times, you have to pay for it." What might be even better would be to rewrite it with some punch. Also, do you mean "forgetting" rather than "forgetfulness"?

      The second paragraph of your query reveals the (fabulously intriguing) premise with a punch, but quickly loses that punch with the second and third lines. Those could be reworked to keep this query fast-paced and unveil Mori's backstory wound in a more striking manner.

      First 250: Not much happens in this first 250, and I found myself having to read a few sentences over and over to discern what was happening. There's a lot of new jargon thrown at the reader in the space of a few lines, which adds to the confusion. The only hint of a conflict is that Mori's lost his girlfriend, but since that wasn't mentioned at all as a plot line in the query, I was lost.

      Dear Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down,

      Query: The only issue I had with this near-perfect query was that I didn't understand why Niobe might have to protect the people she loves (members of the Guild?) when she's named as the source of the bio weapons. Other than that, loved it.

      First 250: You balance the plot/conflict with giving us a glimpse in Niobe's personality really well. You've also done an excellent job thrusting us into this futuristic world while at the same time keeping us from feeling overwhelmed. My only issue with this first 250 was when Niobe growls a silent curse. I think you could phrase that better (generally, people don't growl, and if they do, it's not silent). :) Other than that, great work!


    2. Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down

      query: You clearly have your character nailed, but you're spending a lot of time on background info (including character development) and not much time on conflict. I'd like to see the conflict moved up and the explanation of her profession integrated into the character development. It'll help you cut down on the length of the query, and give you more space to develop the stakes.

      250: Great integration of sci fi into the scene. Nice voice and immediate conflict. First sentence could be cleaned up a bit. I'd also cut "shut up" and instead use that precious word count real estate to give us a hint as to what she's going to *do* to these two guys. Maybe dialogue of her own after the description of what they want from her. As it stands, you're leaving us hanging...but without a cliff hanger that makes me HAVE to keep reading.


      Memento Mori

      query: Lots of great info here, but I'd like to see the character shine through the plot a bit more. I'd cut the first line entirely, condense the first paragraph into a few lines, then move the conflict up. You want to get to the crux of the story ASAP. I also found the lines about Boss difficult to follow, and I found myself wondering if we really *needed* to know about that part of the book, since it took the focus off the MC's own journey & sacrifice.

      250: Not much happened in these pages. A lot of time was spent on details, but it didn't feel like the story was *going* anywhere. We need to see more happen in these precious opening lines so that we'll keep reading.


    3. BIOHUNTER sounds like one of my favorite board games, "Pandemic." :) I'd use a colon in the first sentence instead of an em-dash, and no hyphen in north-east. I get a really clear picture of the world-building in this query, and yet the conflict and stakes are also very clear.

      MEM's premise rocks... I'd totally read it based on the concept alone. The last sentences about Boss lose me a bit, though -- "With the help of the memories" (whose?) "that Boss sacrifices to the cause" (which cause - Mori's or MEM's?).

      Victory to Memento Mori

    4. CAN'T KEEP A BAD GIRL DOWN: This is a nice, tight query with a very strong first line. I agree with Luna that there's a little too much "general" info about the biohunters in the second paragraph that needs to be integrated better with Niobe's character/what it means to her to be a biohunter. Else I echo what the other judges have said. I would also use a comma after "Rockies" instead of a semi-colon.
      Love the pages. You do a great job weaving us into Niobe's world and immersing us in every sense with the cold injector and the stink of her attackers. Nothing I'd want to change in the sample.

      MOMENTO MORI: I agree with Primrose that the first line could use some tweaking to give it more punch. The concept is intriguing, but I start to get lost in the third paragraph. It seems like something is missing between its first line and "That is, until one of the victims is rescued without her newborn baby and the opportunity turns into a grave responsibility to save the child." Victims ... of what? I'm intrigued that he's taking on a case similar to his own, but what does that mean? I'm also not sure what this line means: "With the help of the memories that Boss sacrifices to the cause, Mori discovers those guilty not only of the child’s kidnapping but his own and the horrific origin of MEM’s domination over City." -- How is he sacrificing memories? How does that help them solve the case?
      For the pages, you do a good job keeping us in the moment and moving forward, but I would have liked a little more set up. I'm having trouble picturing where they are or how files are being extracted from Gilman's thumb. Onto a screen? Is the desk a screen? How big is the computer? Make sure we know exactly what kind of world we've stepped into, and what kind of tech we'll be dealing with.


    5. MRS N, the Query QueenJune 3, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down:
      Query- I like the thought of biohunters. Sorry, had to get that out there first. I really liked your query and everything was pretty clear to me. The only issue I had was with your second paragraph. I can’t quite tell you why, maybe it was too wordy. Normally queries are succinct and to the point. I really got a feel for your writing voice, which is a huge positive.
      250- I loved your first 250! You sucked me in and I could totally picture Niobe. She’s human and I liked her bluntness! She reminds me of Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I want to read more!

      Memento Mori:
      Query- Wow, awesome query and I wouldn’t change a thing! It does remind me of THE MINORITY REPORT and that is not a bad thing. I like how your stakes involve a baby aka an innocent.
      250- Yup, you write along the same lines as Philip Dick and I personally love that! I got a clear view of your MC and his boss is funny to boot. Excellent and I can’t wait to read it!

      Wow, you guys are hurting my head with all these awesome books! I don’t envy the agents next round. It was a tough decision but I am awarding VICTORY to MEMENTO MORI.

    6. Allusion AssassinJune 4, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      I totally didn't understand your query opening. Because we don't know what a biohunter is in your stories context, it doesn't have any punch. Also, I didn't think punch drunk cavalier worked.

      The second and third paragraphs seem dense and could be tightened. Additionally, I think you should consider moving the murder up, maybe even putting it in your hook. We need a compelling reason to keep reading before the last paragraph.

      In the opening paragraph of your scene, you have an "it" dangler. Does she not have patience for the long day or the ambush? Other than that, I thought the opening was terrific. I think you need to bring more of Niobe's voice in the opening scene into the query.

      I get that you have a lot to explain here, but it's bogged down in detail. We don't need to know all the back story on the City or MEM. Save that for the book. We need to understand what your plot is in simple terms - As a survivor of childhood memory theft, Mori knows better than most the risks that come with living in a city controlled by a memory altercation company. Now he works at MEM as an ethics officer, protecting others from the grasping reach of illegal techs like the ones who ruined his childhood.

      I didn't understand the connection between the kidnapping and MEM. You somehow need to make that clearer without adding more words. I think you can cut out a lot of this paragraph. It gives too much of the story away, way more than we need in a query. The queries job is to get us reading the pages. I suggest you re-frame the conflict and stakes to talk about how the kidnapping is potentially connected to MEM and cut everything about BOSS. Leave it on a vague cliff hanger - When Mori stumbles into a connection between the kidnapping and MEM he, inadvertently makes himself a target. If he can't expose MEM in time, he may not remember that he should. Not that, but again, you get the idea.

      I had a hard time following your opening. You need to be clearer about the tech stuff and agree with others that not much happens so would ask if this is really the right place for you to start. But I liked the voice and would keep reading.

      The pages were better for GIRL, but that query needs more work and the conflict/stakes felt more muddled. Plus, I liked the character of Mori. He came through more and the premise of this guy who's memories were stolen was more appealing.

      Tough one...

      Victory to MEMENTO MORI

    7. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 4, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down

      Great first line. Love a girl who is not necessarily good. I wish I knew what a Biohunter was though. At this point, since I don't know what it is, I don't think it's necessary. Explain it maybe.The first line in the second paragraph: either take out brutal or take out constant. I think you only need the one that's more important. Yes, you do explain what a biohunter is, but not until I'm already a little lost. The last line of your query is over 40 some words long. Granted it's broken up by commas, but I really suggest you break it down a little. I sort of lost interested by the time I read that last word. In the first 250. Take out 'dusty turbocycle' It makes the sentence too long.There's also a lot of back story going on in that last paragraph. At this point in time, I want to know what's happening with Niobe, nothing more. I already like her attitude and can tell she's going to be a feisty character, for sure.

      Memento Mori:

      Excellent first line. Right away you've got me wondering. In the first paragraph, I'm wondering if you forgot the word THE before city. Otherwise, I don't really have any concerns for the rest of the query at all. Nice work. Your first 250:"I find a generalized block of luminescence" this is confusing to me. Is he seeing this because he's tired, or is it really light. Clarify a bit better for people, like me, who don't necessarily know. I'm not exactly sure if this 'VIC' is supposed to be at home when he gets there, or what. I'd clarify that as well. Maybe you do as the first pages go on. As of now, I'm a bit lost. I like Mori's voice. He sounds like a decent guy. But I will admit the first 250 didn't really pull me in as much as I'd hoped.

      For premise alone Victory to: Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down.

    8. Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down
      Query is good. Good hook that introduces the MC and the concept. The Biohunter is explained, and the conflict laid out. But I'd somehow give the explanation of a biohunter as part of Niobe's character and plot set up, so it's not like an info dump.
      Your first sentence is very long and info filled. Try to break it into two.
      Aside from that, your 250 is good. Great tension, great set up of the world and character.

      Memento Mori
      The query is great, it is just a bit wordy and get a little hard to follow and keep grips on. If you can trim it down a little, making it more succinct, that would make for a stronger read.
      A very long first sentence. Cut it into two.
      Good set up for the world, and leaves me wondering why Vic isn't home.

      This is a close call, but I connected better with one. So Victory to Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down

  2. Hi. Fellow Kombatant here.

    These both sound intriguing. I don't read much science fiction, but I found both premises interesting. I agree with Princess Primrose that there's not too much conflict evident in Memento Mori's first page. It's clear from the query that there will be conflict, but it's not really hinted at yet. However, what a cool first line! As for Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down, I'm wondering if the first paragraph of your query is strictly necessary? I feel that we really get into the meat of the query in the second paragraph. Nice 250, though. Good job to both.

  3. Prefacing my comments by saying I love reading sci-fi, but my writing/querying focus up until now has been for YA. So hopefully I'm not spewing awful opinions here, but no promises ;)

    Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down

    Query: Fascinating character right off the bat! But I must say the 250 did more for me than the query. Two main critiques: (1) the query feels bogged down with too many details, some of them repetitive. Affairs with married mayors already tells me about her eyebrow-raising morals. The description for the biohunters being paramedic/etc/etc just felt like a lot of words thrown out too quickly, and the "who come to the aid of..." describes their duties much better. Being orphaned also repeats her showing up on the Guild's doorstep as a teenager. I would say axe some of those repetitive details in favor of buffing up the last sentence -- there are a lot of things that read as cliches here which could use more specificity - what are these "unthinkable crimes"? Fight of her life repeats avoiding execution.

    250: Fantastically visceral details - the neck hairs, the smells, the shudder throw me right into the scene with her. The attitude is in-your-face and tells me a lot about the character already. Love it!

    Momento Mori

    Query: LOVE the concept of people remaking themselves through memories. But the query loses me a bit - it seems strange to me that the technology owned by a massive, ruling company could be used illegally by techs WITHIN the own company. Unless the company's meant to be "evil", but I don't get that sense from the query. And is an ethics officer more of a detective, a cop, or a lawyer? "ethics officer" makes me think of a lawyer, but I think you intend him to be more cop-like. The victim missing her baby comes out of nowhere for me too - maybe more detail about what the case is before talking about happens during it.

    250: I found myself forcing myself to wait for an explanation for what I was reading. To me, it wasn't clear from the details - desk, digital files, complaints, screen full of data, man of distinction - what kind of job Mori has. So what I take away from the beginning is the MC is tired, recently promoted, and this Gil guy is egotistical. I think we need something more solid or vivid or engaging to grab on to.

    Not a judge, but my vote would go to Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down. I'd rather read Memento Mori, premise-wise, as it's the type of moral conflict that intrigues me, but the 250 didn't grab me like Bad Girl did.

  4. Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down: I adore the first line of your query. You set up a really dynamic, interesting character that I want to get to know. I got a little confused about bug bombing and what a bio-hunter does. Maybe try starting with world building, about what the planet is like, then get into who she is and what she does? I.e. She's had all these brawls, etc., but on a planet full of poisonous bugs, no one cares as long as she keeps them at bay. Niobe is the top of her game bio-hunter, a neutral agent etc. etc.

    I thought the 250 was nice and tense and said a lot about the world and how Niobe deals with pressure.

    Memento Mori:
    I really love the concept. In the query, I didn't get a sense of what kind of person your main character is, which I think would help make it a little more compelling. Is he stoic, is he hotheaded? Is this his last chance to set things right? It could be a little more visceral. The set up for the story was clear to me, and very interesting.


    I think for such a strong concept, the query could highlight this much better. Right now the stakes seemed to be contained to the third paragraph, the first two don't really add a lot IMHO. I'd rather see that space used to flush out the conflict. As a fellow SF writer, I know it's tough to limit the world building, but I;d suggest limiting it (para 2) to free up room for character development and stakes. Right now, all the stakes seemed squished into the last few lines of the query. The first line of the 250 felt a little passive to me, but the tension built from that point on. The subtle integration of world building details was well done.


    Intriguing first line of the query. The first paragraph is strong as well, but this line threw me: "That is, until one of the victims is rescued without her newborn baby and the opportunity turns into a grave responsibility to save the child." I think this transition could be a little smoother, as it stands it read somewhat abrupt to me. I had a hard time discerning what was going on in the first paragraph of the 250. I had to reread the rest to really capture what was going on - a little more detail/world building would probably make this more clear.

  6. Another nail-biter for the judges…

    Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down
    Not much to quibble with here. The query pulled me in. Really enjoyed the overall tone and setting. The whole Biohunter thing sounds very neat.

    In the 250, I think the opening line could be revamped. Right now it reads rather long. I’d try maybe rearranging the elements a bit and breaking it into two sentences. I would also suggest getting rid of the repetition of “gold, or her comms unit/gold, or high-tech comms” by changing one or the other.

    Memento Mori
    I like the opening line of the query, but should it be “forgetting” instead of “forgetfulness” (just based on the content of the rest of the query)? Everything else read very smoothly. Intriguing premise.

    I also liked the first 250, but found it packed with a lot of new information for the reader to take in. In the first sentence alone we get Gilman (whoever he is) “scattering digital files” (whatever that means) “across the surface of the comp” (whatever that is) “as they’re extracted” (by whom or what? and how?) “from the small information chip embedded under his skin” (where exactly is the chip?). Does that make sense? It’s a lot of stuff that as a reader I think I have a vague idea of what it all might mean, but I could be wrong. And there’s no follow-up to confirm my hunches (or at least, not in the 250 we have here), so I never really know. So I think I stronger opening line and a little more breathing room to let each new concept find a home might be helpful.

    Best wishes to both entries!

  7. Great job, Kombatants!

    Bad Girl
    Your query does a great job of introducing us to this tough lady with a soft spot for the people she loves. It gives us the relevant techno details of her world without being too confusing. I would like to know more specifics about the evil "goals" of the rising new power. Some of the sentences felt run on or awkward - like in the first, you have a list with the first two items are nouns and the last one is a verb. The first sentence of the second paragraph also felt clunky to me. But I like that you start the story in a scene with the MC in danger already- great hook to read on!
    Good luck!

    You describe a very intriguing story with your query. I like the specifics of your plot better than the first line, which is somewhat vague. I was confused by the mother who was "rescued" without her newborn baby- was she rescued from physical danger or from memory loss?
    Although the first 250 has great description, I got confused by all of the techie terms and files floating around. Also, I'm not sure how the scene at the computer relates to the main plot - protecting people from memory hacking.

    Both these stories have complex ideas relevant to our time- good work Kombatants!

  8. Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down:

    A fellow Adult Sci-Fi and I think you are on my “team” too. Solidarity high five!

    I wish some of the information in the second paragraph could be moved up to the end of the first. So we have an idea of what’s different about the world now before the group that is there to help it. Given to format a query has to be in you don’t have a lot of room to do that. But I think you could get away with, “a fact that has helped her avoid more grave effects of constant, brutal biological warfare and avoid more serious censure from the Guild of Biohunters.”

    Then the next line could be shuffled to read something like: Orphaned at a young age, Niobe joined the Guild to help other victims that fight over (or whatever they do, suffer, die looking for, etc) the few resources remaining in a North America devastated by climate change.

    That gives you a whole bad girl saving the day vibe. I can’t claim that it’s actually wrong how you have it, but I think if you painted the world as a bit more f-ed up, people will buy more into the Guild’s cause harder.

    I think the third paragraph is great. (Well maybe not for Niobe!) You go from bad girl, good cause, to the “heroes” aren’t so grand after all. My only concern with it is you don’t mention who is unleashing this bio warfare. Is it the currently the governments fighting, is it left over from an event, is it this unknown group you mention at the very end. If she is the one being framed for it maybe the Guild of Biohunters is actually trying to make sure they had job security. I don’t think you really did to overhaul the query for it since something as simple as “But when she is framed as the source of deadly new weapons (that has been) wreaking havoc across the north-east.” That way can still keep the ominous ‘who done it’ feel you are liking going for without being to revealing.

    All I have to day about your 250 words is thank you for not spoon feeding the tech. 
    Both: Oh heyy, it’s you again/still So, I’ve read all of the comments on this page and my co-writer and I believe that Adult Sci-fi seems be really roughly judged. Unless I otherwise mentioned above I do not believe that is a reflection on you or your work, and your tone/wordage, etc fit the genre you are writing.

  9. Memento Mori: AHH! More Adult Sci-fi. My brethren!

    Query: A+ first line. Your query as a whole actually makes me think my own story which is exciting. Not because I wrote something just like it but more same sort-of could be the world thing.

    I think you can combine third and fourth sentence to streamline it. “--steal all you have and all you are, since his memories were stolen from when he was only a child.” It’s minor enough that it likely doesn’t matter but I think it flows a little better and makes the sentence harder hitting without the pause.

    In the second paragraph you can apply a similar logic and nix the “he is” Adding the extra pronoun disconnects the ideas that are completely wrapped up in each other. Instead of the second opportunity, spice it up with a different word. And his new chance, or something similar. That way you can show that this shot was really important instead of simply and only an opportunity.

    Why is Mori helping this mother? Is it for her, is it for the kid, does he feel like if he saves the kid’s childhood it will help his own? Is he simply that ethical and nice? You can show us a bit of voice and personality right here.

    I feel like that the “sifting through secrets of MEM” part is a little distracting where it is. Plot wise it might be totally correct but I think from an outsider pov Boss ‘guiding him’ first then ‘with the help; of him, then finally Mori discovering those guilty…. But after sifting through the secrets of MEM itself he learns their horrific origin and domination over the city, would be a better order. That way it logically read as he solved his goal (of helping the mother, saving the kid) with the help us x, BUT drama here that you’ll have to pick up the book to see.

    First 250: I like your first line and as I tech I get it. But I think you can up sale the visuals on it a tiny bit. Gilman sweeps his thumb along my desk, scattering digital files across the surface of the comp (visual here) as they’re extracted from the small information chip embedded under his skin. You can compare it to water, you are compare it to paper files that could have toppled over. Really lean into whatever your system looked like or maybe symbolism you personally like and didn’t use a lot.

    “Remind me later; I hate games.” I think he should groan or drag his fingers across the table to be like urg w/e man I don’t want to do that.

    “Instead of a screen full of data and files, I find a generalized block of luminescence before me as a yawn stretches my jaw and floods my eyes with moisture.” This sentence is just messy my unknown friend. No matter how I picture the first computer and can’t figure how he then is looking at the information now. Also combing it with yawn/stretch/eyes watering oddly poetically it making it a blocky and uneven line.

    “temporarily driving away my fatigue.” (with a jolt) I’m all for your character being sleepy at the start if that’s what you want but need to feel with him a little bit more.

    Oh hey, in the next line you do exactly that. But still the query doesn’t tell us about his personality let it shine in the actual start. I can’t see if there is more of a reaction after the I grumble because that’s likely it cuts off. But if there isn’t more there should be. I grumbled to the now empty room, I grumbled glad I got out of dumb games.

    Both: Oh heyy, it’s you again/still So, I’ve read all of the comments on this page and my co-writer and I believe that Adult Sci-fi seems be really roughly judged. Unless I otherwise mentioned above I do not believe that is a reflection on you or your work, and your tone/wordage, etc fit the genre you are writing.