#16 Query Corner: ‘BASIC CABLE’

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

BASIC CABLE is near-future SF novel.

When Nina, an earnest junior reporter, is offered an interview by the pope, her boss’s plan to fire her is thwarted. Nina must make a choice when the scutwork she’s assigned starts to reveal secrets that might destroy the very business Nina’s trying to make a name in.

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

This querest has a strong query, although the word count is a bit It’s pretty strong, although your word count is a bit high for a debut (although, still in the acceptable range for SF). It does seem to strike almost too close to home, but I feel the stakes say that for them, without having to spell it out for the agent. (although, great for blurb text)
A few things I might change:
 – It’s a smidge long, but not ridiculous
– There’s a lot of scene setting, the query needs to focus on the emotional stakes

Querist’s Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]


When Nina Constantinos was a kid in small-town Wisconsin, she dreamed of going to space – but now she’s a 26 year-old reporter who knows better. Life in 2034 consists of overpriced BubbleCoffee, retro doo-wop music, and internet so expensive that Netflix is a luxury for the rich. [Maybe better in a book blurb?]

Hired as a junior correspondent by Washington-based WWN, Nina moves to the city and jumps head first into the world of 24-hour cable news. Her “just the facts” reporting soon draws the scorn of ideologue editor-in-chief Priscilla Davis, who resolves to both fire and blacklist her. However, a chance meeting lands Nina the break of the century: an exclusive, sit-down interview with the newly elected pope.

Instead of getting fired, Nina becomes an overnight celebrity, and sets off a newsroom war for control of the interview. As she decides how much idealism she will compromise to keep her TV dreams alive, Nina inadvertently draws closer to information that could kill more careers than just her own. The continued dominance of cable television rests on a secret buried deep in WWN’s files, and one whistleblower could take the entire industry off-air.

Complete at 111,000 words, BASIC CABLE is my reaction to the D.C.’s pressure-cooker and what happens to the people stuck inside. Having worked around Capitol Hill politics for the last nine years, I’ve personally learned most of those lessons the hard way.

BASIC CABLE is a TV-inspired, futuristic spin on Grey’s Anatomy-style workplace-relationship dramas.  The narrative is bult for readers of contemporary office dramedies, like Camille Perri’s The Assistants, but also for fans of near-futures in the vein of John Scalzi’s Lock In. With a cast of twentysomethings who would theoretically be young children today, [unneeded] BASIC CABLE uses common TV tropes to build a future that feels lived-in – and maybe a bit too close for comfort.  



The Querest’s Revisions:

Dear [Ms/Mr. Agent Person!],

Junior correspondent, Nina Constantinos’s “just the facts” reporting draws the scorn of WWN’s ideologue editor-in-chief Priscilla Davis. Yet, before Priscilla can carry out her threats to both fire and blacklist Nina, Nina gets the break of the century: an exclusive, sit-down interview with the newly elected pope.

With Nina an overnight celebrity, a bitter Priscilla overloads Nina’s task list, but Priscilla can’t be rid of her that easily. An old task, forgotten on the backlog, leads Nina to a secret buried deep in WWN’s files. Now, Nina must decide if maintaining her reporter-integrity is worth destroying her own career, and, very possibly, the entire cable industry.

Set in 2034, the science-fiction novel BASIC CABLE is complete at 111,000 words. BASIC CABLE should appeal to fans of both Camille Perri’s contemporary The Assistants, and John Scalzi’s near-future Lock In.

I write from the DC metro area. Having worked around Capitol Hill politics for the last nine years, I’m familiar with the many ways people respond to the pressure.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



With a sinister mix of politics and cable news, this story may be almost TOO topical.

Best of luck to Q16!

And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!


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