Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

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bookwatcher
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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by bookwatcher » July 28th, 2010, 12:52 pm

Scribble thanks for your advice!
Here's my latest version. Also, I've decided to change the genre to YA horror.

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Sara Charles is clumsy, shy to the point of passing out and has avoided people her entire life. In the middle of her junior year she discovers the reason for her empty life--she's cursed.

Sara has a White Soul. She was born to carry all the elements, known as the Quintessence, but 700 years ago, a vengeful Native American Chief performed a ritual, severing these rare vessels from the elements, leaving anyone born as the Quintessence soul, void.

David, Sara's classmate, is a Brown Soul holding the single element of earth. His ability to calm helps Sara when the second half of the curse is discovered--the Dream Realm. While trapped in this realm, she is tortured and only David’s grounding spirit keeps her safe.

Over the last 700 years, the master of the realm has claimed every White Soul for herself. Now it's Sara's turn. With all it's cursed souls, the Dream Realm calls to her, threatening an eternity of slavery.

Tortured and broken and under a spell, Sara’s suffering is almost over, but before she can join the Dream Realm she must forfeit her innocence by sacrificing David. Her love for David is stronger than it should be, though, and it just might be enough to finally free her from the Dream Realm.

The BOOK OF THE WATCHERS is a 79,000 word YA Horror

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by wilderness » August 2nd, 2010, 2:16 pm

bookwatcher wrote:
Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Sara Charles is clumsy, shy to the point of passing out (add comma) and has avoided people her entire life. In the middle of During her junior year (add comma) she discovers the reason for her empty life--she's cursed.

Sara has a White Soul. She was born to carry all the elements, known as the Quintessence, but 700 years ago, a vengeful Native American Chief performed a ritual, severing these rare vessels from the elements, leaving anyone born as the Quintessence soul, void. Way too many clauses, and a few misplaced commas. Break up the sentence. But the explanation is good.

David, Sara's classmate, is a Brown Soul holding the single element of earth. His ability to calm helps Sara when the second half of the curse is discovered--the Dream Realm. While trapped in this realm, she is tortured and only David’s grounding spirit keeps her safe. I like the White Soul and Brown Soul explanation.

Over the last 700 years, the master of the realm has claimed every White Soul for herself. Now it's Sara's turn. With all it's (no apostrophe in possessive its) cursed souls, the Dream Realm calls to her, threatening an eternity of slavery.

Tortured and broken and under a spell, Sara’s suffering is almost over, but before she can join the Dream Realm she must forfeit her innocence by sacrificing David. Her love for David is stronger than it should be, though, and it just might be enough to finally free her from the Dream Realm. I think this last paragraph could use more clarification. "she can join the dream realm" makes it sound like she wants to. What do you mean by sacrificing David? Kill him? "her love for David" comes out of nowhere. Since when were they in love?

The BOOK OF THE WATCHERS is a 79,000 word YA Horror
This is definitely getting there...Nice job in explaining the Dream Realm. It is so much more clear and intriguing!

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by thewhipslip » August 11th, 2010, 10:46 pm

bookwatcher wrote:Scribble thanks for your advice!
Here's my latest version. Also, I've decided to change the genre to YA horror.

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Sara Charles is clumsy, shy to the point of passing out and has avoided people her entire life. In the middle of her junior year she discovers the reason for her empty life--she's cursed. Love the hook. Nice job.

Sara has a White Soul. She was born to carry all the elements I don't get what this means. How does it affect her life? What does holding the elements give her the ability to do? Or is she the source of earth,wind, fire, and water? I would explain that., known as the Quintessence, but 700 years ago, a vengeful Native American Chief performed a ritual, severing these rare vessels from the elements, leaving anyone born as the Quintessence soul, void. Still a little lost here...I think I might understand this part if I understood the first part. How does holding the elements work? And I know, the frustrating part is summarizing what I'm sure is a very cool concept into one sentence.

David, Sara's classmate, is a Brown Soul holding the single element of earth. His ability to calm helps Sara when the second half of the curse is discovered--the Dream Realm. David's description gives me the first idea of what having an element inside of you can do. Do that for Sara too.While trapped in this realm, she is tortured and only David’s grounding spirit keeps her safe. When it comes to the Dream Realm, I want to ask: Why? Why is there a Dream Realm? What's its purpose?

Over the last 700 years, the master of the realm has claimed every White Soul for herself. Now it's Sara's turn. With all it's cursed souls, the Dream Realm calls to her, threatening an eternity of slavery.

Tortured and broken and under a spell, Sara’s suffering is almost over, but before she can join the Dream Realm she must forfeit her innocence by sacrificing David. Her love for David is stronger than it should be, though, and it just might be enough to finally free her from the Dream Realm. You lost me on the last sentence there. She has to sacrifice David to destroy her innocence, but she loves him, and that what's going to get her out of the Dream Realm? I think you're giving too much away there. Leave us wanting to read more. The hook that she has to kill David will do that.

The BOOK OF THE WATCHERS is a 79,000 word YA Horror
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by RebeccaB » August 13th, 2010, 9:14 am

Hi,
The title grabbed me instantly.


"Seventeen-year-old Sara Charles is clumsy, shy to the point of passing out and has carefully avoided people her entire life. In the middle of her junior year of high school she discovers there's a reason for her void life--she's cursed. I like that she is cursed, i was begining to think she was a 'Bella'.

Several hundred years ago, a Native American sorcerer severed the link between the four elements and the chosen vessels meant to carry all of them, the Quintessence. Sara is one of these vessels. Without her ability to hold any element with in her, she is empty. OK, this is where you lost me. If she cannot hold any element within her, wouldn't she be a shriveled prune of a person, as humans are made up of 90% water, an element? I think this needs clarifying.

Now the Dream Realm, with all it's cursed souls, calls to Sara through her dreams, promising her a life of slavery. This sentence seems a little awkward, it doesn't pull me forward.

"David, Sara's classmate, holds the single element of earth. The spirit of the earth flows through him, giving him the special ability to calm others with the touch of his hand. For the first time in his life, he's found a purpose for his ability, to help Sara. OK, again, I thought all the vessels were severed from their elements, so how do we have someone who holds the element of earth?

When the Dream Realm calls to Sara, David's power links him to her, bringing him in as well. His touch can keep the enslaved souls from harming her while she's there. Don't need this sentence, again it is not pulling me forward, it does not push me to want to read more.

There is one more person linked to Sara through this curse. She is the Watcher, called to record all that happens in the Dream Realm in an ancient Native American book, The Book of the Watchers. Don't need this either, can re-word the next paragraph instead.

This The Book of the Watchers holds the record of all the cursed souls from the time the curse was placed. In it, Sara learns her fate has already been determined: She will die. Unless they can unlock the key to changing her destiny and saving her life. undoing the curse.

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by bookwatcher » August 13th, 2010, 11:08 am

Thank you all for your help and feedback. I'm obviously not explaining the curse correctly if it's not understood. Maybe someone could help me find a quick way to explain it right???
The Vessel that holds the powers to the elements is inside each person. While most people hold bits of one element, the Quintessence is the vessel that holds every piece of every element-something that is very rare.
The curse was to remove the Quintessence from the soul, meaning there's no vessel with which to hold the power of any elements. Sara still has a regular body, but with out any of those "bits" of power she's left void of any of the elements which would have helped her in life.
David is also a unique individual in that he holds all of the element of earth. This is what gives him the special power to help Sara so much. His power is linked to the curse. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent curses the young princess to die, and in turn the three fairies (unable to end the curse) change it so that she will only sleep. The link of the Brown Soul was the only help "they" were able to give because they couldn't end the curse. (Although I must say there are no fairies in my book, it was only a reference used to help clarify)
Clear as mud?
I hope someone out there can help me?!
Thanks.

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by thewhipslip » August 13th, 2010, 2:21 pm

bookwatcher wrote:Thank you all for your help and feedback. I'm obviously not explaining the curse correctly if it's not understood. Maybe someone could help me find a quick way to explain it right???
The Vessel that holds the powers to the elements is inside each person. While most people hold bits of one element, the Quintessence is the vessel that holds every piece of every element-something that is very rare. I think I got it - but what powers come with having an element inside of you?
The curse was to remove the Quintessence from the soul, meaning there's no vessel with which to hold the power of any elements. Sara still has a regular body, but with out any of those "bits" of power she's left void of any of the elements which would have helped her in life. I guess what I'm not understanding is how the "element" people are different from humans? Does this mean that Sara is a human? What can the element people actually do?
David is also a unique individual in that he holds all of the element of earth Okay, so some people have only a little bit of an element - so what does that mean? That they have less power?. This is what gives him the special power to help Sara so much. His power is linked to the curse How is it linked? (This would probably be too much info for the query, by the way, but I'm just curious).. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent curses the young princess to die, and in turn the three fairies (unable to end the curse) change it so that she will only sleep. The link of the Brown Soul was the only help "they" were able to give because they couldn't end the curse. (Although I must say there are no fairies in my book, it was only a reference used to help clarify)
Clear as mud?
I hope someone out there can help me?!
Thanks.
Hope this helps!
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by bookwatcher » August 13th, 2010, 2:40 pm

Thanks thewhipslip. Let me see if I can explain better.

The power is subjective to what piece of element you have inside you. Most people don't realize they have power. Say for instance, someone may be a great gardener. They have a "green thumb". This is really the power from the piece of the earth element they hold. They simply see it as a gift. Make sense?
Everyone in my story is (or once was) human. I only talk about the earth element in this book. (and of course the cursed soul who has a lack of any element in them.)
(It is too much for the query, but I'm hoping that by explaining it out, someone can help me boil it down better.) The link comes from when the curse was discovered. They linked a brown soul (someone who can hold all the element of earth within them) to help ground the cursed soul from the dream realm. As long as the cursed soul is grounded, those in the dream realm have no power over her and it also helps her in the real world cope with the things she can't normally cope with, which is everyday life. Those who discovered the curse could not stop it completely, but they hoped that through the link, it could keep the cursed soul safe.
Does that help?

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by wilderness » August 13th, 2010, 9:33 pm

Maybe instead of saying that a White Soul carries all the elements you can just say a White Soul has the power or gift of all the elements? It made sense to me but I think other people are getting hung up on the vision of "carrying" or "holding" the elements -- it really just means they have a power or gift, right?

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Fantasy *revision 4*

Post by bookwatcher » August 13th, 2010, 9:50 pm

Thanks wilderness. That's exactly what it means.
So how does this sound for the second paragraph:

Sara has a White Soul. She was born with the power of all the elements, known as the Quintessence, but 700 years ago, a vengeful Native American Chief performed a ritual, severing these rare vessels from the elements, leaving anyone born as the Quintessence soul, void.

All I did was switch the word hold with power, but if that helps clarify, then of course I'm happy!

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by bookwatcher » September 23rd, 2010, 10:11 pm

I've gone back to the drawing board and I need new feedback. Is this better than what I had before, worse, the same? I don't like the middle paragraph, but I can't figure out what's missing. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Dear Agent,

My name is Sara Charles, and I am cursed. I was supposed to be special. I was born to be the Quintessence-a vessel made to carry the four elements within my soul. I should be powerful. Only the curse took that away from me. Instead I have nothing. I am empty, void.

Sara’s nightmares started when she was 17. She is tortured in her dreams by a sorceress so she'll hate her life. Each morning Sara wakes to find the wounds are real. The sorceress wants Sara’s empty soul to add to her collection and she has the scars to prove it.

Now Sara stands on the threshold between life in this world and slavery in the other. She is beaten, she is bloody, and she wants it to end. The man standing at the point of her knife was the one who helped her see she had a choice. She was told she must kill him to find peace, but she loves him. She should be incapable of it, but she does. To her, he is worth the pain and the torture. So she will do the only thing she can to save him.

She will sacrifice herself.

The Book of the Watchers is a 178,000 word YA/Horror novel.

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by stephmcgee » September 25th, 2010, 11:02 am

Dear Agent,

My name is Sara Charles, and I am cursed. I was supposed to be special. I was born to be the Quintessence-a vessel made to carry the four elements within my soul. I should be powerful. Only the curse took that away from me. Instead I have nothing. I am empty, void.If you're going to do first person in the query, you should stick to it throughout. But that's just my opinion. With the switch, it reads like you're starting over in the middle of the query. I love the voice that's coming out in this. There's a wistful quality to it with just a bite of anger and melancholy. It's lovely.

Sara’s nightmares started when she was 17. She is tortured in her dreams by a sorceress so she'll hate her life. Each morning Sara wakes to find the wounds are real. The sorceress wants Sara’s empty soul to add to her collection and she has the scars to prove it. I find this interesting as far as plot, but I'm not getting much sense of the pot of the book.

Now Sara stands on the threshold between life in this world and slavery in the other. She is beaten, she is bloody, and she wants it to end. The man standing at the point of her knife was the one who helped her see she had a choice. She was told she must kill him to find peace, but she loves him. She should be incapable of itWhat "it"? Loving him? Killing him?, but she doesDoes what?. To her, he is worth the pain and the torture. So she will do the only thing she can to save him.

She will sacrifice herself.

The Book of the Watchers is a 178,000 word YA/Horror novel.I would scrap "novel" and just give the genre as "young adult horror."

Overall, I think that the premise sounds interesting. But I'm not getting much sense of what your book is about. Where's the conflict? What does Sara want? Is it just to find a way of bringing peace to her soul? Is the sorceress her main enemy in this or is she having to defeat the one who cursed her, too? If you're calling it a horror story, show the elements of horror in the query. I love Sara's voice in the opening paragraph. Is there a way to either put all the paragraphs in first person? If not, move the first into the same perspective as the proceeding two or three and then try to tease out that voice of Sara's so it laces the query. This can only help make your story more attractive to an agent. One thing you'll see a lot on agent blogs when they talk about what grabs them in a query is a compelling or fresh voice. I hope I helped in some way.

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by arbraun » September 25th, 2010, 3:36 pm

Dear bookwatcher,
bookwatcher wrote:Please see end of the post for current query. Thanks!

I've been away for awhile because I've re-edited my story. I'm now ready to dive head first (ouch) into the query pool again. Thanks in advance for all of you who rip it apart. I want it good and my thin skin has put on a few more layers. So bring it on! :)

Dear Agent,

Seventeen-year-old Sara Charles lives in a small town with her parents and her younger sister. Her life is less than ordinary. This is too vague. I'd be more specific. It's been my experience from reading the Query Shark blog that agents want to know specifically what the protagonist is doing and what's at stake. She's clumsy, shy to the point of passing out and has carefully avoided people her entire life. She's in the middle of her junior year of high school when she discovers the reason for her void life--she's cursed. This struck me as awkward. I'd rephrase: ". . . discovers the reason for her voided life . . ." or ". . . discovers the reason for the void in her life . . ."

David is also seventeen and living in the same small town. He's tall and rib-poking skinny and avoids others, too. He has a secret, though. One he's kept since he was a child. David has the power to calm others' minds with the touch of his hand. This is an interesting turn of events.

Sara and David know each other from school, but what brought them together was a dream. A dream where they came face to face with a Native American who tells Sara he's come for her soul. I've never heard of Indians after people's souls. Original concept, but it seems a bit odd. I'd consider changing it to a demon that's after her soul.

Because of David's gift, they are pulled together into the Dream Realm where Sara's will to live is tested and broken. When she wakes up with real injuries they work together to hide their secret life from her parents. I'd insert a comma after "injuries" and be more specific about what those injuries are.

Her nightmare continues as she discovers her sister is called into the dreams as a Watcher. She's called to keep a record of everything that happens to Sara in a book called the Book of Watchers.

This ancient book carries a record of all the cursed souls from the time the curse was placed. In it, they learn their fates have already been determined: They both will die. One must sacrifice life, the other will lose their soul, forever trapped in the Dream Realm. Great plot twist and conclusion to the story part of the query.

BOOK OF THE WATCHERS is a 79,000 word YA/Teen Fantasy.

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by wilderness » September 26th, 2010, 9:44 pm

Your latest version is very, very dark, especially this part:
bookwatcher wrote:
Now Sara stands on the threshold between life in this world and slavery in the other. She is beaten, she is bloody, and she wants it to end. The man standing at the point of her knife was the one who helped her see she had a choice. She was told she must kill him to find peace, but she loves him. She should be incapable of it, but she does. To her, he is worth the pain and the torture. So she will do the only thing she can to save him.

She will sacrifice herself.
I don't know if the novel itself is this dark--since your previous query didn't seem that way--but all the violent words (beaten, bloody, slavery, kill, pain, torture, sacrifice) really make it dark. Something I personally would be hesitant to read, though I am sure there is a dark horror market. But just to be sure -- is it your intention?

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by bookwatcher » September 27th, 2010, 1:52 am

It is my intention for it to be dark. Thanks for the comments so far!

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Re: Query for Book of the Watchers-YA Horror *A new angle*

Post by wilderness » September 27th, 2010, 8:50 pm

Good to know :) My other observation is that I like the first person bit at the beginning because it has a compelling voice, but it seems a bit jarring when you switch to third person.

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