Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

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markimedes
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Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by markimedes » July 9th, 2011, 1:45 pm

OK peeps, I'll take the plunge and open myself for ridicule...


Start--
Dear [agent],

A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must learn what it means to be evil in order to make the right choices.

In World War II London, Elizabeth “Beth” Wade is on the verge of womanhood when she discovers she is a vampire. Adopted when she was a baby, and raised a practising catholic, it appears her family have no knowledge of her heritage; but not all of them are innocent. Bill, her foster father, is part of a clandestine organisation, sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, and pulls Beth into his world of secrets and lies. Fearing her father almost as much as Beth fears herself, the line between good and evil begins to blur. But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his unwanted daughter develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must find out who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves.

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is part horror story, part historical drama. Parallels can be made with Let The Right One In and Hope and Glory (film), regarding both the emotional story and atmosphere. It reinvents vampires as being the creatures that inspired our tales of folklore, but removes the supernatural elements to develop them as a credible species. The book focuses on Beth’s self-identity, asking what makes a person good or bad, and if it’s something that is inherited or nurtured. I've meticulously researched London during the Second World War to ensure accuracy, and have developed a unique vision of vampire mythology. With strong aspects of horror and mystery, my book will appeal to a large adult audience.

As well as maintaining a blog, I’ve had articles published online, and was a site content writer in my last job. This is my first novel, and is complete at 105,000 words. Whilst the story is a powerful standalone book, I have a planned outline to take it further.

I seek representation, and will happily forward any material at your request. Thank you for your time.
--end.

Whaddaya reckon?

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by glj » July 9th, 2011, 6:23 pm

Not bad, but most of the query is written as you the author telling the agent what you think the story is and what people should see it as. Not terribly compelling. Can you write it to make me experience it through the senses of the main character? That would be far more interesting.


A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must learn what it means to be evil in order to make the right choices. As a log-line, the first part works well and catches my interest, while the second part seems dry and like some sort of classroom discussion/dissection of a novel.

In World War II London, Elizabeth “Beth Most readers should know that "Beth" is short for "Elizabeth" Wade is on the verge of womanhood when she discovers she is a vampire. Okay, but HOW does she learn this? I feel that you are wasting an opportunity to catch our interest by presenting some compelling dilemma that forces Beth to learn/confront her true nature Adopted when she was a baby, and raised a practising catholic, why is her religion important? How could her true nature go undetected in church? These could be points that catch our interest it appears her family have no knowledge of her heritage.; But not all of them are innocent. Bill, her foster father, is part of a clandestine organisation, sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, and pulls Beth into his world of secrets and lies. How? Again, this seems like a plot point that you should exploit to grab the reader's attention Fearing her father almost as much as Beth fears herself, This implies she has discovered her father is a vampire hunter, yet does not reveal why he would kill his own daughter if she were a vampire the line between good and evil begins to blur. Cliche. And you don't give any info to show this, so it has absolutely no relevance or impact. But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his unwanted daughter Whoa, wait, now she's unwanted? I'm completely confused. First you tell us she discovers that she is a vampire and no one in her family knows this either, then you tell us her father knows, and he "pulls her into his world", whatever that means, then you imply that he wants to kill her. But if he knew all along, how could she be unwanted? Why didn't he kill her as an infant? That would have been so much easier! Never let a vampire grow into maturity and develop power/skills before trying to kill it, that's what I always say. develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, But we don't know what the motives for her adoption were? Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must find out who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves.

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is part horror story, part historical drama. Parallels can be made with Let The Right One In and Hope and Glory (film), regarding both the emotional story and atmosphere. It reinvents vampires as being the creatures that inspired our tales of folklore, but removes the supernatural elements to develop them as a credible species. The book focuses on Beth’s self-identity, asking what makes a person good or bad, and if it’s something that is inherited or nurtured. I've meticulously researched London during the Second World War to ensure accuracy, and have developed a unique vision of vampire mythology. With strong aspects of horror and mystery, my book will appeal to a large adult audience. I'm not sure why you are telling us this. Agents should know that horror and mystery have large audiences. This is a waste of word count that could be better used to gain the reader's interest.

As well as maintaining a blog, I’ve had articles published online, and was a site content writer in my last job. This is my first novel, and is complete at 105,000 words. Whilst the story is a powerful standalone book, I have a planned outline to take it further. There is nothing wrong with this, but most agents seem to only want fiction credits if you are sending them fiction.

I seek representation, and will happily forward any material at your request. Thank you for your time.

I would suggest that you show us the basic plot points that reveal the elements leading up to whatever main conflict Beth will face. Honestly, I do not get much of a sense of what this conflict is, other than she is having issues with her family and doesn't know how she will deal with the world (which seems like just a normal teenager's dilemma).

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by markimedes » July 9th, 2011, 8:56 pm

Thanks for your feedback glj. I find this query thing so confusing.

Everything I've read and the agents I've spoken to give conflicting advice. For example, the whole "horror audience" thing is there because I've been told--by an agent's reader--that it's good to state to whom you're aiming the book. When it comes to vampires, I thought it would be a good idea to blatantly state it's NOT a YA vampire romance (and it's, like, 16 words. Hardly breaking the bank).

You've made some really good observations that I need to think about, but some silly corrections ("pulls her into his world" really? You really don't know what that means?). It was priceless when you crossed out "it appears", and then complained later when you implied I'd categorically stated "no one knew".

But thank you, and I will consider all you've said and re-draft. Just out of curiosity, how much of the story do you think you should put into the query? What I mean, is that a 1-page synopsis explains all that happens in the book, and as such should a query letter not raise so many questions that the agent wants to read on?

See what I mean about being confused? :-)

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by markimedes » July 9th, 2011, 11:02 pm

Based on feedback by glj, here is my new query. Feedback/comments/ridicule always welcome...

Dear [Agent],

A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must face her sinister legacy in order to salvage her human existence.

Adopted shortly after birth, Beth grows into an independent teenager who has to deal with her alienation on top of the war that’s raging in 1940’s London. When she starts picking up scents of blood and developing cravings she can’s justify, not even a close family connection can blind her to the changes she feels and sees within herself. Aggression; anger; violence. All are traits not synonymous with who she was, but strong relations with the woman she’s turning into.

When Bill, her foster father, unexpectedly returns from overseas and offers Beth the one thing she yearns for--blood--she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that she’s the centre of. Discovering that her foster father is part of a clandestine organisation sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, Beth puts the pieces of the puzzle together and assumes she’s more of an experiment than a daughter. But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his ”experiment” develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must discover who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves.

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is part horror story, part historical drama. Parallels can be made with Let The Right One In and Hope and Glory (film), regarding both the emotional story and atmosphere. It reinvents vampires as being the creatures that inspired our tales of folklore, but removes the supernatural elements to develop them as a credible species. The book focuses on Beth’s self-identity, asking what makes a person good or bad, and if it’s something that is inherited or nurtured. I've meticulously researched London during the Second World War to ensure accuracy, and have developed a unique vision of vampire mythology.

This is my first novel, and is complete at 105,000 words. I seek representation, and will happily forward any material at your request. Thank you for your time.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by glj » July 10th, 2011, 1:18 am

Thanks for your feedback glj. I find this query thing so confusing. As you should, I'm afraid. A good query is very hard to write. But don't get discouraged. ;)

Everything I've read and the agents I've spoken to give conflicting advice. For example, the whole "horror audience" thing is there because I've been told--by an agent's reader--that it's good to state to whom you're aiming the book. When it comes to vampires, I thought it would be a good idea to blatantly state it's NOT a YA vampire romance (and it's, like, 16 words. Hardly breaking the bank). The genre is included, but usually minimally, such as "horror," "YA," "romance," etc. I've rarely seen anyone go into detail about the genre and elaborate. But I understand that you want to differentiate from other recent vampire stories. However, if you do your job well in the query, you can show that your story is different without explaining to the reader. That is what you could try for, you can show that your's is different.

You've made some really good observations that I need to think about, but some silly corrections ("pulls her into his world" really? You really don't know what that means?).
Bill, her foster father, is part of a clandestine organisation, sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, and pulls Beth into his world of secrets and lies. Fearing her father almost as much as Beth fears herself, the line between good and evil begins to blur. But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his unwanted daughter develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, ...
You tell us he hunts her kind, but then why would he pull her into his world? That didn't mesh for me. What I thought then was that maybe he was a vampire, too, and he was taking her into vampire society (I don't know where the secrets and lies comes in), that he was recruiting her into this clandestine organization. The next sentence hints that she knows her father is a threat. But the query didn't elaborate as to why she fears him (or even whether he knows she IS a vampire), so I was left unsure how their relationship progressed except that there was something amiss. This hints at ominous developments, but also gives the reader room to jump to the wrong conclusion. It was priceless when you crossed out "it appears", and then complained later when you implied I'd categorically stated "no one knew".

But thank you, and I will consider all you've and re-draft. Just out of curiosity, how much of the story do you think you should put into the query? What I mean, is that a 1-page synopsis explains all that happens in the book, and as such should a query letter not raise so many questions that the agent wants to read on? Ah, tough question. The query should give enough information to 1) give the reader a sense of the genre, 2) identify the main character and make the reader identify/sympathize with him/her, 3) give enough setting to ground the reader, and 4) show the impending conflict and what dilemma/big choice the protagonist must make. And you must do this with a minimal number of words. Simple, right? Ha.

Nathan did a post some time ago where he analyzed query letter length with respect to queries that made me request more. If I remember correctly, his sweet spot was about 250 words.
Last edited by glj on July 10th, 2011, 1:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by glj » July 10th, 2011, 1:42 am

Dear [Agent],

A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must face her sinister legacy in order to salvage her human existence. Some agents like log-lines, and some don't. I have seen agents state that the log-line is a one-sentence summary of the story, which is then re-told below in the paragraphs, so the log-line is both a repetition and reveals part of the essence of the story before the following paragraph, weakening the reveal. See Query Shark, as she ranted recently about this. But then, some like it, so it is best to research agent preferences.

Adopted shortly after birth, Beth grows into an independent teenager who has to deal with her alienation on top of the war that’s raging in 1940’s London. When she starts picking up scents of blood and developing cravings she can’s justify, not even a close family connection can blind her to the changes she feels and sees within herself. Aggression; anger; violence. All are traits not synonymous with who she was, but strong relations with the woman she’s turning into.
This is much better! This shows us that she is discovering unpleasant facts about her own nature. This makes me sympathize with her and makes me want to read more. (But "Aggression; anger; violence." seems awfully choppy, suggest you eliminate the semi-colons and incorporate into the following sentence: "Aggression, anger, and violence are not traits synonymous with who she was ..."

When Bill, her foster father, unexpectedly returns from overseas and offers Beth the one thing she yearns for--blood--she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that she’s the centre of. This sentence starts out well, but then becomes too vague to have much impact. How does she discover the secrets and lies? Does she stumble into the garage late at night to discover dear old Dad doing something nefarious? This seems like a huge point of interest, part of how Beth's previously normal life unravels. Discovering that her foster father is part of a clandestine organisation sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, Still would be better if she caught him with a wooden stake in his hand, or some other thing that would show the reader what he really is. Beth puts the pieces of the puzzle together and assumes she’s more of an experiment than a daughter. But I don't want to assume. I want a good hint at why Beth realizes this! But while Bill’s fatherly affection The "fatherly affection" throws me. You've been building up to him being the antagonist, AND you haven't shown us any fatherly affection on his part. I really don't understand why you include this. What am I missing? for his ”experiment” develops beyond the ominous motives You haven't given us any motives for her adoption, let alone "ominous" motives. for her adoption, Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must discover who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves. Sorry, but at this point I'm kinda rooting for Beth to do Daddy in, since he seems to be about to do bad things to her, right?

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is part horror story, part historical drama. From what I have gleaned, agents don't seem to like it when query letters say that the story falls in multiple genres. Agents and publishers want to know where it would be shelved in a book store. What genre is it strongest in? Parallels can be made with Let The Right One In and Hope and Glory (film), regarding both the emotional story and atmosphere. It reinvents vampires as being the creatures that inspired our tales of folklore, but removes the supernatural elements to develop them as a credible species. The book focuses on Beth’s self-identity, asking what makes a person good or bad, and if it’s something that is inherited or nurtured. I would shy away from sounding like your story has some sort of moral or English-class theme to it, as fiction readers typically want to be entertained and any tone of "you will learn ..." might turn off readers. I would suggest that it would be great if you make the reader think this, but don't whack them with it. Just my 2 cents worth. I've meticulously researched London during the Second World War to ensure accuracy, and have developed a unique vision of vampire mythology. While it is great that you have done this, I don't know if an agent will be swayed by it. I would suggest that you save word count for making the brief sketch of the story as compelling as possible (which is also MUCH harder than telling the reader what the story is about, I'm afraid).

This is my first novel, and is complete at 105,000 words. I seek representation, and will happily forward any material at your request. Thank you for your time.

Much better. This informs by showing us incidents from the story, instead of telling us what will happen in the story. But I think that if you can show more of the conflicts, it could be even more compelling.

Understand, I'm not trying to bust your chops. It's just that writing a great query letter is even more important than writing a great story. If your query fails, no one will read your story.

What I can discern of your story sounds kinda interesting, but you need more. It still goes from interesting details to bland vagueness at several points.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by wilderness » July 10th, 2011, 9:30 pm

markimedes wrote:
Dear [Agent],

A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must face her sinister legacy in order to salvage her human existence. I think the log-line is going out of style (I point to Query Shark for this), and this one seems too vague (what sinister legacy) to really add anything. I'd say scrap it.

Adopted shortly after birth, Beth grows into an independent teenager who has to deal with her alienation on top of the war that’s raging in 1940’s London. This is mostly all backstory. Also every teenager has to deal with alienation so I don't think it's very attention grabbing. Story starts with the next line.
When she starts picking up scents of blood and developing cravings she can’s justify, not even a close family connection can blind her to the changes she feels and sees within herself. I didn't understand the part about the close family connection? What does that have to do with her blood and cravings? Is it necessary to the query? Aggression; anger; violence. All are traits not synonymous with who she was, but strong relations with the woman she’s turning into. This last line seems a bit convoluted. How does she know it's the woman she's turning into if it's a new strange experience?

When Bill, her foster father, unexpectedly returns from overseas and offers Beth the one thing she yearns for--blood--she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that she’s the centre of. The last part is vague and unnecessary. Skip straight to him revealing that he is part of the organization. Discovering that her foster father is part of a clandestine organisation sworn to hunt and destroy her kind, Beth puts the pieces of the puzzle together and assumes she’s more of an experiment than a daughter. Why doesn't she confront him? But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his ”experiment” develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must discover who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves. Last line is really generic. Get specific. What situation is she put in where she must choose something?

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is part horror story, part historical drama. Parallels can be made with Let The Right One In and Hope and Glory (film), regarding both the emotional story and atmosphere. It reinvents vampires as being the creatures that inspired our tales of folklore, but removes the supernatural elements to develop them as a credible species. The book focuses on Beth’s self-identity, asking what makes a person good or bad, and if it’s something that is inherited or nurtured. I've meticulously researched London during the Second World War to ensure accuracy, and have developed a unique vision of vampire mythology. You're telling things that should be shown in the pitch section of the query.

This is my first novel, and is complete at 105,000 words. I seek representation, and will happily forward any material at your request. Thank you for your time.
A good start, but there's a lot of tightening up that can be done to make it stronger. Definitely check out Query Shark if you haven't already and also Nathan's great post on specificity (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/03 ... eries.html).

Also his general how write a query letter (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/08 ... etter.html) is great. It touches on the fact that you should try to convey the voice/writing style in the query itself -- not by *telling* us, as in the last paragraph, but from the pitch itself. I just watched Let The RIght One In this weekend, btw. It was great and I can see how it would inspire a different type of vampire book, subtle and stark. Show those characteristics in your description of Beth, her family, and the 1940s world.

Good luck!

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by Craig J. » July 12th, 2011, 11:49 am

Since I'm new to this and you seem to be getting some good suggestions already from the pros (nice progress by the way on the revision), I'll just leave a couple remarks.

"Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must discover who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves." I noticed that this line survived the revision, and while I agree with wilderness that it sounds fairly generic, I do like the distinction of Beth seeking who rather than what she is. As someone completely unfamiliar with vampire stories, it was something in your query that did well to steer me away from an "Oh...a vampire story..." kind of reaction. Is it possible to retain this distinction in some form while reinvigorating it by surrounding it with something less generic than battling growing rage before she kills?

I like your film comparison. I've been thinking of using that tactic in my own query. Again, not being familiar with vampire stories, I have seen Let the Right One In, and I'm familiar with it's reputation for reinventing the genre somewhat. But I also wonder if comparison to film is a more expeditious and economical way to conjure the evocative imagery that your book might contain. The memory of a film is going hit someone's mind much more visually than that of a book, which survives in the mind in a more scattered state. I wonder if film comparison will subconsciously hijack that strong visual recollection that a film retains. Actually, I'd be interested in other people's thoughts on this. The only downside I've thought of so far is that it might demonstrate to the agent a lack of familiarity with the target lit market.

I see you've also had suggested to cut the sentence about your historical research to save some of your word count. No objections from me on that one, but if you still want to highlight this maybe you could combine it with the earlier sentence "...on top of the war that’s raging in 1940’s London," making it ...on top of the war that's raging in a meticulously recreated 1940's London. Something along those lines anyway.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by ryanznock » July 13th, 2011, 11:32 am

Commenting on the second query:

[quote="markimedes"]A vampire is unwittingly raised by a human family, and must face her sinister legacy in order to salvage her human existence.
I'd just keep the first half, then stick the second half perhaps as a capstone of the plot overview. Start with the big picture, end with the point of the story.

Adopted shortly after birth, Beth grows into an independent teenager who has to deal with her alienation on top of the war that’s raging in 1940’s London. What's the timeline of the story? Does it start with her as a child, a teen, or an adult? This version implies it has child and teen. When she starts picking up scents of blood and developing cravings she can’s justify Too long. Maybe just 'when she starts to crave the scent of blood,' or better yet, give us an incredibly brief but specific example, like 'when she starts to crave the scent of blood coming from a military hospital,' or something., not even a close family connection What? can blind her to the changes she feels and sees within herself. Aggression; anger; violence. All are traits not synonymous with who she was, but strong relations with the woman she’s turning into.I don't like this last bit. Again, I'd give a brief narrative element that shows this happening, instead of telling us. How does her anger and violence manifest?

When Bill, her foster father, unexpectedly returns from overseas and offers Beth the one thing she yearns for--blood--she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that she’s the centre of. Cut out "uncovers -> centre of," and just combine the two sentences. So her dad offers her blood, and she discovers that he's part of a clandestine etc. Discovering that her foster father is part of a clandestine organisation sworn to hunt and destroy her kindDoes she identify vampires as 'her kind' yet, or does she think she's a freak? Are there other vampires tempting her?, Beth puts the pieces of the puzzle together and assumes she’s more of an experiment than a daughter. How about, "When Bill, her foster father, unexpectedly returns from overseas (from 'the war?') and offers Beth the one thing she yearns for -- blood -- she discovers that he is part of a clandestine organization that hunts vampires, and that she was not a mere orphan, but an experiment." But while Bill’s fatherly affection for his ”experiment” develops beyond the ominous motives for her adoption, Beth battles the rage that grows inside of her. Ultimately, she must discover who—not what—she is, before she hurts, or kills, the people she loves.

I kinda want to know more about the plot so I can offer better advice. I think you can manage to use more specific details and still cut down the length a bit so the whole thing is more dense with interesting hooks. The specific scene of Beth's father offering her blood is good. Include more stuff like that. Without knowing how the novel actually climaxes, I'm not sure how you should end your query, but I think the second half of the first sentence (or the second half of that sentence from the first query) are more compelling than the longer sentence you have now.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by markimedes » July 14th, 2011, 4:47 pm

Hello again.

First of all, let me thank everyone who's left feedback for the previous two abysmal queries; glj, wilderness, Craig J. and ryanznock, you've all been awesome!

I've embarrassingly come to accept that my original format just wasn't working, so I've poured over all the comments - every single one - and went to work on a new query from scratch. I really hope this is better, because I'd feel like I've wasted everyone's time if instead I've taken a step back.

Anyway, enough of the apologies etc. and on to *fingers crossed* a better query letter:
-----
Dear [agent],

While a ravaged London emerges from the Blitz, Beth–an adolescent orphan–starts to hear things before anyone else, and smells blood like it’s an overpowering perfume. Her heightened senses are soon accompanied with an unquenchable thirst, and a mysterious fatigue that worsens by the day. Growing pale, despondent and eventually collapsing, she’s close to death when her foster father, Bill, returns from war overseas and forces her to swallow blood. Improving almost immediately, Beth learns she’s a vampire, but having grown up in a human world, it’s the last thing she wants.

Bill becomes a guide for Beth as she tries to cope with her violent urges and persistent need for blood, but she grows suspicious of her all-knowing foster father. When they find a dead vampire burning away in the sun following a raid, Bill displays his expertise and quickly destroys the body, prompting Beth to demand an explanation. Bill reveals that he’s a member of a secret society of vampire hunters, and that Beth was adopted when it couldn’t be determined what she was; having the physiology of a vampire but without the weaknesses of sunlight or blood-thirst.

Beth feels like an experiment, while her emerging traits force Bill to accept the possibility that vampires are able to breed–a revolutionary concept for a society consumed by ancient beliefs. But with her abilities growing, and following displays of rage-fuelled aggression, Beth becomes a threat to those around her, and the daughter Bill’s grown to love becomes his enemy. It’s up to Beth to discover who–not what–she is, and control the monster inside of her, before Bill is left with no other option but to slay his own daughter.

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is a horror novel, complete at 105,000 words. Thank-you for your time, I will gladly send any further material at your request.
-----
That's it, it's just over 300 words.

Hit me.

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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by Megs6703 » July 14th, 2011, 5:54 pm

Ok, so I'm not an expert or anything (although I do play one in real life)- but I think your most recently posted query is excellent. I love love love the very first sentence.

Really, there's only one thing that bugs me-
But with her abilities growing, and following displays of rage-fuelled aggression, Beth becomes a threat to those around her, and the daughter Bill’s grown to love becomes his enemy.
just the blue part of the above sentence. I just think it could be worded better. The fact that her abilities are growing is implied by everything else in your query, and stating it again in this sentence just seems out of place. Either scrap it completely and start the sentence with "Following displays..." or maybe something like "As bouts of rage-fuelled aggression occur with increasing frequency, Beth becomes a threat to those around her...." or something. I really likethe last part of the sentence that you have there though- "the daughter Bill's grown to love becomes his enemy." So please don't change that. :)

But like I said- excellent. I hope I can transform my query as brilliantly as you did. It left me wanting to read your book, which is the whole point, right?
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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by glj » July 14th, 2011, 9:38 pm

Mark, glad to be of help. This is HUGELY improved! I find this compelling and gives me enough info to identify with Beth. And now I understand what is bringing Beth and Bill to the point of conflict.


Dear [agent],

While a ravaged London emerges from the Blitz, Beth–an adolescent orphan–starts to hear things before anyone else, and smells blood like it’s an overpowering perfume. Her heightened senses are soonaccompanied with an unquenchable thirst, and a mysteriousfatigue that worsens by the day. Growing pale, and despondent and eventually collapsing, she’s close to death when her foster father, Bill, returns from war overseas and forces her to swallow blood. Improving almost immediately, Beth learns she’s a vampire, but having grown up in a human world, it’s the last thing she wants. The only weakness is "it's the last thing she wants." I kinda want to see her be a bit horrified by one or more of her new powers/traits/hungers. Could she be revolted by her new desire for blood? Does she do something that she's now horribly ashamed of?

Bill becomes a guide for guides Beth as she tries to cope with her violent urges and persistent need for blood, but she grows suspicious of her all-knowing foster father. When they find a dead vampire burning awayin the sun following a raid, Bill displays his expertise and quickly destroys the body, prompting Beth to demand an explanation. Bill reveals that he’s a member of a secret society of vampire hunters, and that Beth was adopted when it couldn’t be determined what she was.; having She has the physiology of a vampire but without the weaknesses of sunlight or blood-thirst. What feels left unsaid here is whether Bill raised her to kill her, or whether he will do anything to protect her?

Beth feels like an experiment, while her emerging traits force Bill to accept the possibility that vampires are able to breed–a revolutionary concept for a society consumed by ancient beliefs. British society? Huh? But with her abilities growing, and following displays of rage-fuelledfueled aggression, Beth becomes a threat to those around her., and The daughter Bill’s grown to love becomes his enemy. It’s up to Beth to discover who–not what–she is, and control the monster inside of her, before Bill is left with no other option but to slay his own daughter.

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is a horror novel, complete at 105,000 words. Thank-you for your time, I will gladly send any further material at your request.

I made a few suggestions for trimming above. This reads so much better than before. My only complaint is that this doesn't show Beth as having some bloodlust she cannot control, which would be in conflict with her love and affection for Bill. I assume she would have some feelings for him? This query suggests that Bill is trying to do what is best for Beth. So what I think must be the conflict, is that Beth is trapped between her vampire instincts/nature, a desire for blood, and her love for the man who is her father. The competing emotions would be explosive.

Joel Q
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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by Joel Q » July 15th, 2011, 3:48 pm

markimedes wrote:
You have a great story idea, but I don't think it comes out in the query.
Too many 'cool' details hide the conflict of the story.
JQ



While a ravaged London emerges from the Blitz, Beth–an adolescent orphan–starts to hear things before anyone else, and smells blood like it’s an overpowering perfume. Her heightened senses are soon accompanied with an unquenchable thirst, and a mysterious fatigue that worsens by the day. Growing pale, despondent and eventually collapsing, she’s close to death when her foster father, Bill, returns from war overseas and forces her to swallow blood. Improving almost immediately, Beth learns she’s a vampire sorry but that was obvious, I think you wasted a lot of space with that transformation in the first paragraph here. , but having grown up in a human world, it’s the last thing she wants.

Bill becomes a guide for Beth as she tries to cope with her violent urges and persistent need for blood, but she grows suspicious of her all-knowing foster father. When they find a dead vampire burning away in the sun following a raid,(what kind of raid? who is raiding who?) Bill displays his expertise and quickly destroys the body, prompting Beth to demand an explanation. Bill reveals that he’s a member of a secret society of vampire hunters, and that Beth was adopted when it couldn’t be determined what she was; having the physiology of a vampire but without the weaknesses of sunlight or blood-thirst.

Beth feels like an experiment, while her emerging traits force Bill to accept the possibility that vampires are able to breed–a revolutionary concept for a society consumed by ancient beliefs.
(that's good stuff maybe start with that )

But with her abilities growing, and following displays of rage-fuelled aggression (Those two phrase don't flow for me.), Beth becomes a threat to those around her, and the daughter Bill’s grown to love becomes his enemy. It’s up to Beth to discover who–not what–she is, and control the monster inside of her, before Bill is left with no other option but to slay his own daughter.
(that's good stuff again. I think you need to rework the query using those story lines as the focus instead of her transformation.)

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is a horror novel, complete at 105,000 words. Thank-you for your time, I will gladly send any further material at your request.

Punctuation... your hyphens that should be m-dashes need to rework because it causes confusion. First & third paragraphs
-----
That's it, it's just over 300 words.

Hit me.

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wilderness
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Re: Query: NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS (horror)

Post by wilderness » July 15th, 2011, 10:09 pm

markimedes wrote: Dear [agent],

While a ravaged London emerges from the Blitz, Beth–an adolescent orphan–(Hmm, I would replace the dashes with commas, but also they should be m-dashes) starts to hear things before anyone else, and smells blood like it’s an overpowering perfume. Her heightened senses are soon accompanied with an unquenchable thirst, and a mysterious fatigue that worsens by the day. Growing pale, despondent and eventually collapsing, she’s close to death when her foster father, Bill, returns from war overseas and forces her to swallow blood. Improving almost immediately, Beth learns she’s a vampire, but having grown up in a human world, it’s the last thing she wants.

Bill becomes a guide for Beth as she tries to cope with her violent urges and persistent need for blood, but she grows suspicious of her all-knowing foster father. When they find a dead vampire burning away in the sun following a raid, Bill displays his expertise and quickly destroys the body, prompting Beth to demand an explanation. Bill reveals that he’s a member of a secret society of vampire hunters, and that Beth was adopted when it couldn’t be determined what she was; having the physiology of a vampire but without the weaknesses of sunlight or blood-thirst. Wow, this is so much clearer than your previous version!

Beth feels like an experiment, while her emerging traits force Bill to accept the possibility that vampires are able to breed–a revolutionary concept for a society consumed by ancient beliefs. But with her abilities growing, and following displays of rage-fuelled aggression, Beth becomes a threat to those around her, and the daughter Bill’s grown to love becomes his enemy. It’s up to Beth to discover who–not what–she is, and control the monster inside of her, before Bill is left with no other option but to slay his own daughter.. Awesome last line

NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS is a horror novel, complete at 105,000 words. Thank-you (no dash in thank you) for your time, I will gladly send any further material at your request.
Remarkable improvement! I think this is great. My only thought is that the first paragraph may not seem that unique -- I mean it's kinda obvious that she's exhibiting traits of a vampire. So I'd say either condense it or add some more unique details. I think you could maybe incorporate the setting a bit more -- you did a little, but more maybe. I do like your descriptions though, so it's hard to say what exactly to tweak there.

Overall, I think this is a very strong query. Great job on getting more specific about the plot. I have to disagree with Joel above, the "cool details" are what make a query stand out. Agent Kristin Nelson has often said: "Every story under the sun has already been told. We just have to find new ways of telling them."

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