Query: Never Remember *Revised*

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Moni12
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Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Moni12 » November 16th, 2011, 10:46 pm

The most recent version is at the end of this thread.
I'm not very far in my wip, but I want to start the query now before I bog it down with too much detail, which has been my problem in the past. Let me know what you think!

The shadows stole Devi’s memories and all efforts to retain what little she has left are futile. The only people she can remember are Bren, Dalia and Morpheus. They are the only ones able to help her, but they aren’t as human as they might seem.

In her final attempt to take back what was stolen she burns all evidence of what her life used to be. Devi climbs the watchtower of Morpheus’s library to find her answers and she is eventually led to the House of Mirrors where her memories come back to her, but it was a trap and now what she remembers is a jumble of every life she ever lived.

Devi travels to the Shadowlands where the tricksters of the world live. Everyone makes deals with them eventually and for Devi the time has come. Her options now are to remember everything or nothing. If she chooses nothing she will go the rest of her life wondering why, but if she chooses everything she could be driven mad.

NEVER REMEMBER is magic realism complete at ...words. The full manuscript is available upon request.
Last edited by Moni12 on February 9th, 2012, 12:33 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by Nicole R » November 17th, 2011, 2:16 pm

Smart idea to start drafting your query now! This is a decent initial draft, and I love the idea of stolen memories. I do think there are definitely some areas to improve, though. I felt like most of the query is actually just set-up (I'm sure part of that is because you're still in the process of writing the novel ;) ) and the overall stakes seem to be missing.

My specific thoughts are below. Good luck on this!
Moni12 wrote:The shadows stole Devi’s memories and all efforts to retain what little she has left are futile. So she continues to lose more and more memories? That's what 'futile efforts' makes me believe. The only people she can remember are Bren, Dalia and Morpheus. They are the only ones able to help her, but they aren’t as human as they might seem. I really like this concept, but I think you can condense it into 1 sentence. Something like:

In her final attempt to take back what was stolen she burns all evidence of what her life used to be. Why would she do this? And how does it help her take back what was stolen? Devi climbs the watchtower of Morpheus’s library to find her answers Don't think you need the part about the library. All it does is make me wonder why she thinks the library has her answers, and oh-by-the-way, isn't it convenient that Morpheus is one of three people she DOES remember. I think it's best to skip right to the House of Mirrors. and she is eventually led to the House of Mirrors where her memories come back to her, but it was a trap and now what she remembers is a jumble of every life she ever lived. The second half of this sentence is actually really interesting, but I feel like it need more emphasis or set-up somehow. Right now, it's a bit out of the blue that she's lived past lives.

Devi travels to the Shadowlands where the tricksters of the world live. Everyone makes deals with them eventually and for Devi the time has come. Why does everyone makes deals? This is a bit concerning because it sounds like your character's choices are being dictated to her, which makes her appear quite passive. This is where I think a better understanding/explanation of the stakes would help. Also, think about Devi's emotions. Something like "Though others have caved to the tricksters' deal, Devi is determined to stand her ground" would be more compelling. Her options now are to remember everything or nothing. If she chooses nothing she will go the rest of her life wondering why, but if she chooses everything she could be driven mad. This is a good dilemma, but it's pretty personal and internal to Devi. How will her decision affect others? That's where a lot of the action and tension will come from.

You might also want to show us at the end of the earlier paragraph how getting all her memories back affects Devi. What are the consequences? You've already told us she hates that her memories have been stolen - we need to equally see how much she hates/fears/etc. having ALL of them returned. Otherwise, her end decision seems like a pretty simple one without much driving tension.

NEVER REMEMBER is magic realism complete at ...words. The full manuscript is available upon request. You don't need to say this last part. Agents will assume that's the case - otherwise you wouldn't be querying.

Moni12
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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by Moni12 » November 17th, 2011, 4:35 pm

Thanks, Nicole! It helps to get an outside pov.

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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by Moni12 » January 8th, 2012, 10:14 pm

Here's another go. I'm beginning to realize how difficult it is to write a whole query without a complete novel. The end is already changing, but I'm trying not to get bogged down by too much detail. So, here we go!

Devi’s memories are stolen by the shadows and her job is to keep her journals to retain what little she has left and to never ever chase after the shadows. In the meantime Bren and Dalia search for a way to get the rest back. When she moves to a town far from her isolated house in the woods she meets a man called Morpheus and becomes able to remember her dreams.

With the help of Bren, Dalia and Morpheus Devi gets enough information that leads her to the House of Mirrors where she should be able to find the way to her memories, but it’s a trap. The longer Devi stays in the house the more of herself she loses to the shadows.

Devi finally decides to ignore all warnings and follows a path left by the shadows. When she follows it she has a plan for getting her memories back. However, there are more answers she expects and she’ll learn that not everyone helping her as her best interests in mind.

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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by theWallflower » January 19th, 2012, 2:19 pm

Devi’s memories are stolen by the shadows and her job is to keep her journals to retain what little she has left and to never ever chase after the shadows. In the meantime Bren and Dalia search for a way to get the rest back. When she moves to a town far from her isolated house in the woods she meets a man called Morpheus and becomes able to remember her dreams.
-That's a long opening sentence.
-"shadows" is not a proper noun so I'm wondering what exactly is the cause of Devi's memory loss.
-Why is it her job to keep journals? Did someone assign her this or does she do it over her own volition?
-Why not chase the shadows? What are the consequences for that?
-Who are Bren and Dalia? Her friends? Secret agents?
-Is it Devi who moves? It's not clear from the sentence. Also, why does she move?
-So did Morpheus do something to make her remember her dreams? Or is it just coincidence?
With the help of Bren, Dalia and Morpheus Devi gets enough information that leads her to the House of Mirrors where she should be able to find the way to her memories, but it’s a trap. The longer Devi stays in the house the more of herself she loses to the shadows.
-I get tired of hearing the word shadows without knowing what they are. You might as well be saying "loses to the megeggyschnidts."
-This is too much of what happens, and not enough cause and effect. This happens, so Devi does this. Which causes this. Which makes Devi or whoever act accordingly.
Devi finally decides to ignore all warnings and follows a path left by the shadows. When she follows it she has a plan for getting her memories back. However, there are more answers she expects and she’ll learn that not everyone helping her as her best interests in mind.
-What warnings?
-This paragraph is simply vague. The whole query is vague, filled with meaningless jargon. I don't know what a shadow is or a House of Mirrors.
-Plus her regaining the memories of her dreams doesn't get mentioned at all in the query.
-I don't know what the stakes are. What happens if Devi can't regain her memories? What are her friends trying to do to her, as implied by the "best interests" line.
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Moni12
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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by Moni12 » January 19th, 2012, 2:41 pm

Thanks for the input, Wallflower. I will say that since posting this query each paragraph has already been redone. Also, in this case "shadows" are meant to be taken literally. The shadows are shadows and it's the same thing with the house of mirrors. I'll get to work in incorporating your suggestions. Thanks again!

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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by Moni12 » February 6th, 2012, 12:02 pm

I'm going with a more simple approach. The problem with all the information I think is important is that it needs more info for it to make sense in the query. I'm about half way done with my wip now. Let me know what you think!


Devi can’t remember anything about her life. Her memories were stolen by the shadows and with the help of her friend Bren, she’s trying to get them back.

Her questions lead her beyond the comfort of her home in the woods and answers take her to the house of mirrors where she believes she will find her memories. But it’s a trap set by the shadows.

Devi realizes that the only way to remember is to go back to the place where her memories were first taken and in order to do that she must die.

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Re: Query: Never Remember

Post by wilderness » February 13th, 2012, 10:13 pm

Moni12 wrote:
Devi can’t remember anything about her life. Her memories were stolen by the shadows and with the help of her friend Bren, she’s trying to get them back. I like the general premise of trying to get your memories back. However, flesh out the details of your world for us. If the shadows are paranormal beings, then you should probably capitalize Shadows, and maybe give a brief description of what they look like. Does everyone know about the Shadows, or just her? How does she know her memories were stolen by these shadows? I'm not sure that mentioning her friend Bren is necessary or useful since the rest of the query doesn't mention her again.

Her questions lead her beyond the comfort of her home in the woods and answers take her to the house of mirrors where she believes she will find her memories. But it’s a trap set by the shadows. Vague. What leads her to the woods and the house of mirrors? Tell us what clues she discovers. I know you said that you think revealing too much would lead to too many questions. Unfortunately, I don't think that you've told us enough to give us a real sense of the plot. Finding the right balance of details to give can be difficult. I suggest giving us as many concrete details as you can without being vague. Maybe start by simply summarizing your opening 3 chapters. You have told us Devi's main goal, to regain her memories. However, for there to be a story, you need to tell us how she intends to go about retrieving them.
Nathan has a great post on the importance of specificity that might help here.


Devi realizes that the only way to remember is to go back to the place where her memories were first taken and in order to do that she must die.
Intriguing but we have no context for this sentence. Where were her memories taken? You should probably start with that. Tell us what Devi does and does not remember. How does she know that she must die in order to regain her memories?
Hope that helps & good luck!

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Moni12 » February 13th, 2012, 11:01 pm

Thanks, Wilderness! You've given me a lot to think about. It's always been my problem that when describing something I say too much, so to prevent that I say too little. Now I just tell people to read the back of the book/movie or look it up online. Too bad I can't do that here. Anyways, the thing with the shadows is that they're literally shadows. Also, I can't say where her memories were stolen because that would be a lot of info for a query and too much backstory. Bren, is a man (I can see where that's confusing) and he's mentioned because he's more important to what happens than he and Devi realize.

Thanks again for the help! I have checked out Nathan's things on writing queries and even tried the mad lib he had set up for it. I'm not sure it really works for NEVER REMEMBER, though.

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by wilderness » February 13th, 2012, 11:19 pm

Hmm, for some reason I was reading this as YA up until now. Maybe it would also help to tell us a little about Devi. How old is she? What is her occupation? We need to get our footing on more firm ground. Following up on the shadows...obviously there is something more than a normal shadow, so help us out there. How are they described in the novel? Finally, Bren may be important to the novel, but if unless he will play a part in the query, it doesn't really make sense to include him. Good luck.

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Moni12 » February 14th, 2012, 10:16 am

While trying to find her memories, Devi must come to terms with the fact that she may always be nothing more than a stranger to herself. She lives in the isolation of the woods with the occasional company of Bren, but he isn’t there for nothing. He is helping her find her memories and in return when they’re found she must help him find someone he’s looking for.

As her memory gets worse she begins to waste away. She refuses to stand by doing nothing, but trying to remember when it does absolutely no good. Bren drives her to a town where she stays in a boarding house for unnatural people. There she discovers Morpheus and his library that contains every book ever written and is constantly redecorating itself.

When Morpheus tells Devi she doesn’t need her memories to know who she is she takes it to heart and goes back to the woods. But a path that has materialized outside her home is too tempting to resist and she follows it. What she finds at the end may lead to her memories or it could kill her.

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Walker » February 15th, 2012, 12:07 pm

Hi Moni12. I hope I can offer some useful comments.
Moni12 wrote:While trying to find her memories, Devi must come to terms with the fact that she may always be nothing more than a stranger to herself. She lives in the isolation of the woods with the occasional company of Bren, but he isn’t there for nothing. "he isn't there for nothing" sounds off. I take it he is not doing this from the kindness of his heart? Perhaps say that he has his reasons for helping her and segue into the next sentence?He is helping her find her memories and in return when they’re found she must help him find someone he’s looking for. I see you have removed any references to the shadows in this version, but this first paragraph doesn't let me know that this is a fantasy. I think you may want to expand on it. I know you said you sometimes say too much, so then you say too little -I understand! It is a hard line to walk. But I feel like this opening paragraph needs to clearly set the scene.

As her memory gets worse she begins to waste away. Why does this cause her to waste away?She refuses to stand by doing nothing, but trying to remember when it does absolutely no good.A confusing sentence. Maybe try "She refuses to stand by doing nothing, but trying to remember is futile." Bren drives her to a town where she stays in a boarding house for unnatural people. "unnatural" is too vague. Perhaps gifted? There she discovers Morpheus and his library that contains every book ever written and is constantly redecorating itself.It seems like that part about "constantly redecorating itself" is there to show us it is a magical place but it just sounds odd.

When Morpheus tells Devi she doesn’t need her memories to know who she is she takes it to heart and goes back to the woods.I'm curious how he convinces her, since regaining her memories seem to be her driving force. Perhaps expand a bit? But a path that has materialized outside her home is too tempting to resist and she follows it.This sentence doesn't seem to flow well with the previous one. Does Devi somehow know that this path is important to her? I thought she was content now without having her memories. What she finds at the end may lead to her memories or it could kill her.
I think you have an interesting story to tell here but we need to feel the setting more and definitely need to understand who Devi is -is she a young girl? Grown woman? Just a few details would help. Good luck with your query!

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Moni12 » February 16th, 2012, 6:38 pm

Alright, this one I focus a bit more on Devi.

Devi is a young woman without a clue as to who she is. She lives without a job and without her family in her life, not because she doesn’t want them, but because she has no memory to retain any information about them.

Sometime in her life all her memories were stolen by the shadows. Each morning begins with her waking up a blank slate. But she isn’t alone. Bren is a young man helping her under the condition that she helps him find someone after she has her memories back.

In a world where shadows steal memories, the sun and moon have a daughter on earth, and Death hits the bars, Devi believes there must be a way that she can live without her memories. But is there?


This is the middle part to Nathan's mad lib formula for queries. The rest is just intro and concluding info. I left the brackets to see what I had to insert compared to what the typical wording is.

[Devi] is a [young woman with no memory] living in [an isolated house in the middle of a forest]. But when [she can no longer keep a memory for an entire day], [Devi] must [follow the mysterious path outside her home] and [find] [the shadows who stole her memories] in order to [remember].

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by Jaligard » February 21st, 2012, 6:06 pm

I just want to look at one sentence.
Moni12 wrote:She lives without a job and without her family in her life, not because she doesn’t want them, but because she has no memory to retain any information about them.
I've highlighted the offenders in red.

You're overwriting. You're explaining things we don't need. It lengthens your sentences and steals power from them. Trim, trim, trim. Make every word pull its own weight.

This becomes: She lives without work or family, not because she doesn't want them—she just can't remember anything.

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Re: Query: Never Remember *Revised*

Post by kabbu » February 23rd, 2012, 9:41 pm

Overwriting is the best way to put it. There's a lot of information we don't need, and it's missing some of the important emotional context we do need.

Don't worry about details of the plot (like the watchtower on the library) so much as setting the tone and flow of how your story is supposed to feel.

That said, you're definitely getting closer to it in your last draft. Tone it down with the context, and turn up the tension knob a bit more.

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