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Super Intern Contest – WHAT THE WATER GAVE US

Wednesday, 13 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Genre: Dystopian Literary Fiction

Word count: 97,000
On a planet ravaged by a horrific virus, a family blessed with genetic immunity controls a growing empire with a treatment derived from their blood. As the virus spreads, so does their power; as their power grows so do their secrets.
To the public, the Verkovs put out a strong united front. Unity. Order. Happiness. Behind closed doors they do everything they can to undercut each other. Anton Verkov has set out to eradicate the disease. He blames it for the tragic accident that tore him and his wife apart. But when his quest threatens the power of his sadistic uncle, the Tsar Regent, Anton’s access to treatment doses is cut off.
Once hailed as a savior cleansing a diseased world of the virus and his family’s tyranny, Anton faces a new reality: having to fight a virus with an army instead of medicine. He is left with the few doses he can squeeze from his own blood, with every donation he grows weaker. Yet his most difficult task still looms ahead: eradicating the virus in the war-torn homeland of his estranged wife, Tia, a radiant beauty who hides a deep sorrow behind her delusional optimism.
Anton finds a shocking solution to the problem of who to save when you can’t save everyone, but when the local militias fight back and Tia becomes infected his solution is thrown into chaos. Tia and Anton must face the traumatic past that first tore them apart in order to save each other and the people of her homeland.
WHAT THE WATER GAVE US is a dystopian novel complete at 97,000 words.
Thank you for your time.
250-word excerpt:
“Time enslaves all in the past.”  – Ver Westarian Proverb
The two memories always bled together in Prince Anton’s mind: the oscillating dark waters of the Western Ocean surrounded by burning debris from the royal yacht his parents perished on. Elias’s large hand, which had reached down to save him now reached down to ensnare him. The scene shifted insidiously from the traumatic deluge to the bow of a dive boat moored off the southern coast of the island of Ver Westar. Beyond the dunes a tropical paradise gave way to an urban utopia. This was the safest place in the world to live, the only place truly safe from the virus.
“Come on Anton!” Elias, Anton’s uncle, encouraged. Anton, a young-looking fifteen year-old, stared up at him, terrified. He stood firmly on the dock, dive knife strapped to his leg.  An oyster bag circled his waist, a dive mask hung from his neck, and traditional leather straps covered his trembling fingertips.
“I can’t go. I’m not going!”
“Anton, it’s an important tradition. Pearl diving teaches perseverance and hard work.” Elias recited the same words he’d told Anton all week. Being the strongest swimmer in the family it was Elias’s favorite tradition.
Diving for pearls had been a rite of passage for the Verkovs long before the founding of the New Virtue Imperial Order. Before their blood immunity had rendered them powerful beyond measure simply by being born they used pearl diving as a measure of respect. An internal determination of family hierarchy.

Filed: Contests, Misc

  • Whoa, that word count is a bit high for me. I’d be worried about that. I love the title!


    I hear this first paragraph in that movie announcer guy’s voice. I would start with your protagonist right away, we need to care about your MC first. Is this planet Earth? I was a little confused at where this is taking place. There’s a lot of cool stuff in here, but dystopian is a hard one to make unique these days. Although I’m intrigued, I don’t get an idea of what actually happens in the story. The Verkovs are the solution to a virus, right? I was confused about the treatment doses, if it’s his family that has the cure in their blood, then how can he be cut off? What happens when that happens? I guess I just need it to be clearer. There’s some good stuff here though.


    There’s some great descriptions and writing in this. I like the you mention the virus straight-off. That’s important to establish, I think. Although I like these 250, I’m not really hooked. I do see where it could go. It’s so hard to tell in 250 words. I would have read the whole thing. The descriptions and the writing are good.

    Thank you for sharing your work ;o)

  • brighton says:

    Thanks for your comments. I don’t know if you answer questions, but I have two: Is the movie voice a bad thing? And, what is an acceptable word count range for this genre? I see a lot of guidelines online about various word counts but they often seem to contradict each other.

  • If you’re that close to 100K, I would be concerned, only because if you revise you may add to that word count. Check out this link http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html

    It has some good stuff on word count. I think you’re fine. Just watch and make sure you stay around what you are ;o)

    For me, I’m not a fan of the movie-voice start to a query. I want to know about the main character, but that is only my opinion. Other agents may like it and have no problem with it ;o)

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