Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance (REVISED 9/2)

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Collectonian
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Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance (REVISED 9/2)

Post by Collectonian » August 21st, 2011, 2:00 am

Revised version below

Okay....guess I've thrown out enough advice so should take a bit of my own medicine :D Here be the query for Aisuru.
Dear [Agent Name],

At the age of ten, Sakura Takeshi was handed a prolonged death sentence at the hands of a maniac with a knife. Now eighteen and in her final year of high school, she is also in her final year of life. After years of pushing potential friends away so no one will be left mourning when she dies, her loneliness and a growing fear of dying alone leave her longing for more.

As if in answer to her unspoken prayer, a wounded demon prince named Kazuki appears in her garden on a cold, rainy night. His younger brother turned against him and attacked him near their castle, though Kazuki doesn't know what caused Yuji's anger. All he knows is that he has no desire to fight, so living with Sakura in the human realm seems the ideal way to avoid further conflict until their father returns to sort it out.

Through their growing friendship, Sakura finds herself learning to live again, dropping the cold, distant mask she'd worn for so long. Kazuki wants to save her life, but even demon magic seems incapable of curing her. And with his murderous brother still out there, Sakura's failing organs might not be the only threat to her life.

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.

Thank for your time and consideration,
Last edited by Collectonian on September 2nd, 2011, 9:02 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by skyledavis » August 22nd, 2011, 5:50 pm

Hey Collectonian,

Thanks for posting!

At first, I really liked the query. I wanted you to give more detail on this maniac and why Sakura couldn't go to the police about it, but was intrigued by the setup nevertheless. A teen dealing with certain death seems ripe for emotional writing. Though, I will say, it was all setup. No plot in the entire first paragraph.

Then came chapter two. The demon prince element completely threw me, and felt out of left field. Suddenly we're deep in the realms of Japanese paranormal, and I got lost in character name soup. And then Kazuki is hiding from his problems in the human realm? To be honest, this doesn't give me confidence that he's a great male lead (unless there's character growth, which you should demonstrate).

In the final chapter, I'm confused yet again. Failing organs? So, it's not a literal death sentence or a promised "I'll kill you one day"? Now, the plot feels more like A Walk to Remember than what was promised in the first paragraph.

I am a big fan of Japanese mythology, etc., so I think this could be very interesting. However, the way you describe it here is coming off very disjointed. You need to find out what you real plot is, and focus on that, explaining it completely and not trying to hide it in vagueness. Then, I think you'll have a much more powerful query.

Collectonian
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Collectonian » August 22nd, 2011, 7:14 pm

Thanks :-) I didn't even catch that the phrasing in the first paragraph could imply it was coming. She was attacked as a child, leaving her organs permanently damaged. The core plot is their romance, with the secondary plot being Kazuki's issues with his brother. I was worried it might sound too suspenseful, when the romance really is core. Will keep working on it :-)

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by MattLarkin » August 23rd, 2011, 9:17 am

I like the setup, though I agree that maybe working Kazuki into the first paragraph might make clear the feel of the story from the outset. The query kind of makes it seem like the maniac just disappears. Is he or she part of the story further? If not, then maybe it's enough for us to know she's dying slowly. The line initially confused me anyway, as I tried to imagine what knife wound would take years to kill her.
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Collectonian » August 23rd, 2011, 10:30 am

Thanks to both of you :-) Here is a revised version. In addition to the romance between the two characters, and Kazuki's issues with his brother, Sakura makes a few friends at school due in part to Kazuki's presence in her life. However, I'm not sure if I should try to squeeze that in, or focus mostly on the romance. Thoughts?
Dear [Agent Name],

Sakura Takeshi is in her final year of high school and, according to her doctor, the final year of her life. After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying", she'd thought she'd come to terms with it. The fear of dying alone, the loneliness from her self-imposed solitary lifestyle, the longing for the things in life she'd never have. All emotions she'd buried in her heart, until a cold rainy night when a wounded man drops into her garden out of thin air.

Kazuki claims to be a demon, the crown prince of his father's kingdom, and a friend of her late guardian. The claims are fantastical, but the evidence is hard to ignore. Though he doesn't know why, Kazuki's brother is the one who wounded him in a surprise attack. Hiding out in the human world until their father returns to sort things out seems the ideal solution. Besides, he owes Sakura for her kindness, and a prince always repays his debts.

As their friendship turns to love, Kazuki promises to stay with her until the end. But, when a neighboring kingdom's princess is found dead in the castle and Kazuki's brother is the main suspect, he finds himself torn between his love for Sakura and his duties to his kingdom.

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.

Thank for your time and consideration,

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by MattLarkin » August 23rd, 2011, 11:09 am

I don't think it's necessary to work that in, Collectonian. I think what you have seems the heart of the story, to me, and side plots are just likely to confuse.
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by skyledavis » August 23rd, 2011, 1:05 pm

This is a much better version. I get a much clearer idea of the concept of the novel (if not necessarily the true plot).

However, it could be tightened up further, and focused more on the central plot of the novel. Here are my notes:
Dear [Agent Name],

Sakura Takeshi is in her final year of high school and, according to her doctor, the final year of her life. After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying", she'd thought she'd come to terms with it. The fear of dying alone, the loneliness from her self-imposed solitary lifestyle, the longing for the things in life she'd never have. All emotions she'd buried in her heart, until a cold rainy night when a wounded man drops into her garden out of thin air. This entire section is very "tell," and mostly things we could guess. This is pretty lengthy too, so perhaps you could solve this by condensing this into a single phrase. Also, with the way you've punctuated it, it ends up being two fragments, so if you condense, then that'll clean that up too. ;)

Kazuki claims to be a demon, the crown prince of his father's kingdom, and a friend of her late guardian. We don't know who Kazuki is. Connect the dots for us a bit. A word or two will do. The claims are fantastical [should be "fantastic"], but the evidence is hard to ignore. Though he doesn't know why, Kazuki's brother is the one who wounded him in a surprise attack. Hiding out in the human world until their father returns to sort things out seems the ideal solution. Besides, he owes Sakura for her kindness, and a prince always repays his debts.

As their friendship turns to love [show vs. tell again], Kazuki promises to stay with her until the end. But, when a neighboring kingdom's princess is found dead in the castle and Kazuki's brother is the main suspect, he finds himself torn between his love for Sakura and his duties to his kingdom. THIS seems to be the main plot, and the rest seems all setup. If this part comes before 1/3 of the way through the novel, then THIS is the central plot, and you should get to it earlier in your query, and expand upon it thoroughly. Condense the rest. Think of this plotline in terms of goal, obstacle, stakes, etc., and then illustrate them all in the query, as soon as feasible. The way I recommend doing it is to look at Nathan's logline post, write out a logline, and then expand into a query by filling in the gaps.

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.

Thank for your time and consideration,

Collectonian
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Collectonian » August 23rd, 2011, 2:23 pm

Thanks again :-)

The central plot is Sakura and Kazuki's relationship. The murder referenced doesn't occur until nearly 3/4s into the story, so I'm thinking now I might need to drop the subplot of his brother all together from the query, and focus just on them?

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by MattLarkin » August 23rd, 2011, 2:35 pm

Collectonian wrote:Thanks again :-)

The central plot is Sakura and Kazuki's relationship. The murder referenced doesn't occur until nearly 3/4s into the story, so I'm thinking now I might need to drop the subplot of his brother all together from the query, and focus just on them?
If it occurs that late, then I'd say so. I figure if you have something at all resembling three act structure, the turning point that leads in to Act 2 might get mention. At least that was the philosophy I followed.
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Watcher55 » August 25th, 2011, 12:23 pm

I'm still not sure I'm good at this yet, but I read query shark, so...here goes nothing.
Dear [Agent Name],

Sakura Takeshi is in her final year of high school and, according to her doctor, the final year of her life. After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying", she'd thought she'd come to terms with it. The fear of dying alone, the loneliness from her self-imposed solitary lifestyle, the longing for the things in life she'd never have. All emotions she'd buried in her heart, until a cold rainy night when a wounded man drops into her garden out of thin air. Too long. Maybe something like: Afraid to feel, she's been lonely for eight years, but Kazuki drops into her garden out of thin air.
Kazuki claims to be is a wounded demon,semicolon or new sentence the crown prince of his father's kingdom, and a friend of her late guardian. The claims are fantastical, but the evidence is hard to ignore. Though he doesn't know why, Kazuki's brother is the one who wounded him in a surprise attack. Hiding out in the human world until their father returns to sort things out seems the ideal solution. Besides, he owes Sakura for her kindness,Which kindness is that? and a prince always repays his debts.

As their friendship turns to love, Kazuki promises to stay with her until the end. But, when a neighboring kingdom's princess is found dead in the castle and Kazuki's brother is the main suspect, he finds himself torn between his love for Sakura and his duties to his kingdom.

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.



Thank for your time and consideration,
Great premise, but there's no sense of stakes and consequences. What stands between the couple and their budding romance? Kazuki must be preparing to meet his brother. What do he and Sakura have to do, and what if they don't?

Collectonian
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Collectonian » August 25th, 2011, 8:20 pm

Thanks :-) I'm working on a rewrite to better focus on the core story versus the side plots.

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance

Post by Collectonian » September 2nd, 2011, 9:01 am

Probably still a little rough, but want to see if I'm going in the right direction here. Took out most of the subplot mentions and focused on the story's core, the romance.
Dear [Agent Name],

Sakura Takeshi is in her final year of high school and, according to her doctor, the final year of her life. After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying", she'd thought she'd come to terms with it, until a wounded man drops into her garden out of thin air. He says he is a demon and a prince to boot. The claims are fantastical, but the evidence is hard to ignore.

Kazuki came to the human realm to escape a family dispute. But the old friend he hoped to see was long dead, leaving his adopted daughter Sakura alone. She treats Kazuki's wounds, but the effort to help him leaves her extraordinarily exhausted. Though she tries to hide her illness, it is clear that she is struggling to take care of herself and her house.

Agreeing to allow him to stay, Sakura is surprised at how quickly Kazuki becomes a part of her life. As their friendship grows into love, he promises she will never be alone again, but troubles at home are threatening the peace of his kingdom. As the situation worsens, Kazuki is torn between his promise to the woman he loves and his duties to his people.

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.

Thank for your time and consideration,

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance (REVISED 9/2)

Post by MattLarkin » September 2nd, 2011, 3:30 pm

The line:
After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying",

Is not working for me. I think because it starts out with a strong metaphor in the specter, and then has "you're dying" in quotation marks like a colloqial statement. Would "living under the specter of death" or "specter of her fate" sound better to you?
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Collectonian
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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance (REVISED 9/2)

Post by Collectonian » September 2nd, 2011, 9:25 pm

specter of death would work :-)

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Re: Query: Aisuru, To Love - YA Paranormal Romance (REVISED 9/2)

Post by AllieS » September 5th, 2011, 5:36 pm

Sakura Takeshi is in her final year of high school and, according to her doctor, the final year of her life. Great first line. I'd like for you to mention her illness, though. After eight years living under the specter of "you're dying", I agree that "specter of death" sounds bettershe'd thought she'd come to terms with it, until a wounded man drops into her garden out of thin air. He says he is a demon and a prince to boot. The claims are fantastical, but the evidence is hard to ignore. Since you don't actually give us any evidence (apart from appearing out of thin air), I'd cut this line

Kazuki came to the human realm to escape a family dispute. But the old friend he hoped to see was long dead, leaving his adopted daughter Sakura alone. This line really confuses me. A: What dispute, which realm is he from, and who is the old friend he was hoping to see? B: How old is he if he has a daughter, and does his daughter really have the same name as Sakura? I just feel like his realm and the dispute should be better explained.She Sakura treats Kazuki's wounds, but the effort to help him leaves her extraordinarily exhausted. Though she tries to hide her illness, it is clear that she is struggling to take care of herself and her house.
Why is this important? You make it seem here as though helping him will make her much sicker, and that something bad will happen, but that doesn't actually happen in here.

Agreeing to allow him to stay, Sakura is surprised at how quickly Kazuki becomes a part of her life. As their friendship grows into love, he promises she will never be alone again, This is all very vague.but troubles at home are threatening the peace of his kingdom. What troubles! Gimme some details! It sounds like it's probably pretty interesting. As the situation worsens, Kazuki is torn between his promise to the woman he loves and his duties to his people. Here you change the focus completely from Sakura to Kazuki. Is the main conflict of the story Sakura's illness, or Kazuki's other-realm troubles? Also, where is Sakura's family? Is she an orphan? There are details you need to put in here, but once you do I think you'll have a really interesting query. Looking forward to the changes!

Set in Hokkaidō, Japan, AISURU, TO LOVE is a 60,000 word young adult paranormal romance.

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