Night Butterfly - latest query draft!

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c.ska
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Night Butterfly - latest query draft!

Post by c.ska » December 18th, 2009, 4:00 pm

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO FIND REVISED VERSION NUMBER FOUR! Thanks.

I finished the book. I even wrote the synopsis. But the query, well, it has been in working progress for some time now. I'd really appreciate your thoughts! Thanks...


Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word London thriller with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her. Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Sold to Archibald Stevens, Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and someone else finds her first.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.

Sincerely,


Apart from welcoming general feedback I have a few specific points / concerns:
GENRE. What sounds most appealing...gritty suspense with romantic elements / gritty romantic thriller / as below. Or does it matter at all?
TITLE. Should I elaborate / explain?
WRITING CREDENTIALS. Would it help to include that I am a published poet, and that I have an MA in anthropology and cultural politics?

THANKS AGAIN! c.ska
Last edited by c.ska on January 5th, 2010, 8:30 am, edited 3 times in total.

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BransfordGroupie
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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by BransfordGroupie » December 18th, 2009, 4:41 pm

Hi C,

If this were a blurb on the back cover I would read the book. My only suggestion is that you might want to strengthen your hook (I could be wrong though). I've highlighted the parts that would grab me if they were in the first paragraph. Easier said than done I know.

To me the query definitely reads as a gritty suspense with romantic elements. And I think your MA studies would certainly tell the agent that you know your stuff when it comes to Valentina and Anya's cultural background. Not sure if the poetry is relevant but I'll let Nathan comment on that one.

Well that is my first attempt at query critique. Good luck finding your agent.

BG

c.ska wrote:I finished the book. I even wrote the synopsis. But the query, well, it has been in working progress for some time now. I'd really appreciate your thoughts! Thanks...


Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word London thriller with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her. Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Sold to Archibald Stevens, Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and someone else finds her first.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.

Sincerely,


Apart from welcoming general feedback I have a few specific points / concerns:
GENRE. What sounds most appealing...gritty suspense with romantic elements / gritty romantic thriller / as below. Or does it matter at all?
TITLE. Should I elaborate / explain?
WRITING CREDENTIALS. Would it help to include that I am a published poet, and that I have an MA in anthropology and cultural politics?

THANKS AGAIN! c.ska
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REVELATION: The Book of Angel - First draft complete :-)
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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by Joel Q » December 18th, 2009, 4:46 pm

c.ska wrote: NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word London thriller with romantic elements.
(I'm not sure what a "London" thiller is, unless that is just the location of the story. If that's it, you might reword this sentence. Let's see what others say
The word count, seems a bit short.)


When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya (How old is Valentina? she's the main character) goes missing, (missing? ran away, kidknapped? Go ahead and tell us even if Val doesn't know yet.) she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her. Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.
(Not sure if this means Valentina becomes a prostitue, and if so, why?)

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome.(we don't need his discription, just tell us Val love's his eyes or something) At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls. (pink & dolls... is there a serial killer thing or something going on, if so tell us.)

Sold to Archibald Stevens, Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. (how/why?) So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her,(I don't think you need this detail, but show us something about it.) and someone else finds her first.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.

Sincerely,


GENRE. What sounds most appealing...gritty suspense with romantic elements / gritty romantic thriller / as below.
(There needs to be a "ticking clock" in the plot to be a thriller)

Would it help to include that I am a published poet, (Yes, and tell the agent the detials, assuming its more than self publishing or a something very small)

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by askmonkey » December 18th, 2009, 4:50 pm

Hi! I'm new to the forum, but hope my comments can be useful! I think your story sounds interesting and I love the brevity of your query, but you have summarized to the point where it is a bit hard to follow.

Here is your query with my comments in red:

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word London thriller with romantic elements. I agree that "Thriller with romantic elements" is awkward. I like the words you suggested-- "gritty", "thriller", "suspense" in some kind of combination would be good but to me your synopsis doesn't sound romantic at all. Is this really a central part of your story?

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing (somehow having the 14-year-old typed out like that made me think Valentina was 14 years old. I would just say Valentina L.'s teenaged sister) , she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her (the pronouns are confusing -- you use "her" to men both Val and Anya within the same sentence). Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation. I don't like the word "quest" because it sounds too fantasy novel-ish to me, but it is accurate.

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease <--(unclear sentence. it feels like some words are missing.) What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person (referring to her sister as a "person" rather than as her sister makes this sentence confusing). André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls. completely confused now--who did the raiding? who found the room? do you mean to say that the villa once held ten girls but has been evacuated before the police raid? Is this now going to be in Andre's point of view or Valentina's still? the "at least that's valentina's impression makes me think it's in Valentina's POV

Sold to Archibald Stevens, Valentina's sister Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. who is archibald stevens? either don't mention his name or elaborate. also the "death threat" doesn't feel like something you can "pick up" Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. <--awkward sentence. So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, (who is "her" anya? or Valentina? and somehow "extra-curricular" comes off as really creepy to me) someone else finds her first.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.

Sincerely,


Apart from welcoming general feedback I have a few specific points / concerns:
GENRE. What sounds most appealing...gritty suspense with romantic elements / gritty romantic thriller / as below. Or does it matter at all? see above
TITLE. Should I elaborate / explain? No, I don't think that's necessary.
WRITING CREDENTIALS. Would it help to include that I am a published poet, and that I have an MA in anthropology and cultural politics? I think it would help so the agent gets a sense of who you are but this info would be more interesting if you can tie it in to the story somehow. Did your degree or background help with the researching of this story? If not, I'd want to know whether you are from London or are Russian or have any other personal connection to the story.

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by Krista G. » December 19th, 2009, 2:14 pm

c.ska wrote:Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word London thriller with romantic elements. "London thriller" isn't really a genre. I'd go with romantic thriller, or even just thriller. I'm going to assume that it's suspenseful since it's a thriller, and since there's a male and female lead, I'm also going to assume there's some romance.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her. Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation. Rather than this generic closing phrase, I'd like to know exactly how Valentina is drawn into this world. Does she become a prostitute? If so, why does she feel she has to do that?

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s Change to girls' rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Sold to Archibald Stevens Who's he? And how does this happen? , Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. Really? A video tape? In this digital age? Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. Why? So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and someone else finds her first. Finds who first? Anya? And who is this someone else? If it's Santa Claus, I don't think we have to worry. You don't have to give everything away, but some hint as to who finds her - and why that person was looking for her in the first place - would be helpful.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.

Sincerely,


Apart from welcoming general feedback I have a few specific points / concerns:
GENRE. What sounds most appealing...gritty suspense with romantic elements / gritty romantic thriller / as below. Or does it matter at all? See above.
TITLE. Should I elaborate / explain? Nope.
WRITING CREDENTIALS. Would it help to include that I am a published poet, and that I have an MA in anthropology and cultural politics? Like several others have mentioned, if the credit is significant, include it. If not, don't mention it. The question I always ask myself when I'm reading query letter credentials is, "Does it sound like they're digging for something to say here?" And I don't think your schooling is particularly relevant - unless your area of emphasis has anything to do with the people or locales in your book.

THANKS AGAIN! c.ska
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by c.ska » December 19th, 2009, 5:06 pm

thanks everyone for taking the time n putting in the effort, I really appreciate all the comments! hopefully, revision should be a breeze! I look forward to hearing your views once I'm done. thanks again! c.ska

ps not sure how to reply to the individual posts?! help please...meanwhile I'm afraid this group reply will have to do.

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by c.ska » December 22nd, 2009, 5:56 pm

REVISED QUERY BELOW...I'd very much appreciate your feedback, thanks!

Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word gritty suspense novel with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

DI André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girls’ rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Anya escapes the Villa’s iron gates with a disc containing incriminating evidence. Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and the very men he is trying to put behind bars, find her first.

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.


Sincerely,


I know I could have done more to the first half of the query, but I feel that would cut into the synopsis. Also, I want to keep it short and sweet, as that is my style...thanks again! c.ska

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Re: Night Butterfly - query revised - feedback welcomed!

Post by RebeccaKnight » December 22nd, 2009, 6:30 pm

Ooh, this reminds me of "Taken" in a good way :).

First off, this second version is much clearer and more enticing than the first--well done! I am already intrigued.

There are still a couple of things I think could be improved upon:

"The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation." How? Is she a prostitute? Is she doing this to pay for help finding her sister? I don't get this part quite yet.

"DI André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease."
I've heard agents comment on disliking physical descriptions of characters unless it has some important bearing on the story (like a mysterious scar that helps solve the crime.) In this instance, can you show their attraction without mentioning that Valentina thinks he's "above average height" and sexy? Maybe something like, "when Valentina strips for the strange man in the crisp suit, she has no idea he's actually DI Andre Johnson, on the vice squad looking for her sister." (well, that's fairly awful, but you see what I mean.)]

"Extra-curricular interest" doesn't seem to fit to me, either, although I'm not sure why. I think it just feels awkward, and can be reworded and work fine.

Other than that, I love the additions about the sister and the disc! Well done :).

Hope this helps, and good luck!
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want the most for what you want now."

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by saraho » December 22nd, 2009, 9:56 pm

c.ska wrote:REVISED QUERY BELOW...I'd very much appreciate your feedback, thanks!

Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word gritty suspense novel with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation. Cool!

DI André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. If you're "above average height", you're pretty much "tall" and even if not, "Tall, dark and extremely hansome" sounds better here At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. Did he strip for her? Did she strip for him? Okay yeah, she probably stripped for him, but I was a little confused because it never mentioned anywhere that she actually became a stripper. I'm assuming she's stripping to find her daughter somehow, but how? Maybe you should mention quickly how she becomes a stripper and how she thinks this'll accomplish her goal. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girls’ rooms this confuses me a bit just because I know the girls' rooms are probably the ones you're calling identical, but for a moment it sounded as though you meant that the girls themselves were identical which was confusingare found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Anya escapes the Villa’s iron gates with a disc containing incriminating evidence. again cool! Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, first, what do you mean by extra-curricular? The word seems a bit out of place. You could probably find a better way that he's distracted by his feelings for...I'm assuming Valentina, but the sentence is vague as to whether the "her" is referring to Valentina or Anyaand the very men he is trying to put behind bars, find her first.

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. I loved these two sentences, but I was a little bit confused because I thought they were starting a new paragraph that would describe the main conflict. I mean I know both Valentina and Andrew are looking for Anya, and Anya's trying to escape the Villa men, but I think the query is missing that sweeping 'this is the conflict, this is what the characters must do or else X, Y and Z will happen instead, which is bad' statement A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls. Very awesome.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.


Sincerely,


I know I could have done more to the first half of the query, but I feel that would cut into the synopsis. Also, I want to keep it short and sweet, as that is my style...thanks again! c.ska

Oh don't worry, I think that's usually a good idea. As they say, Quality > Quantity :D
*~Sarah O.~*

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Re: Night Butterfly - query feedback welcome!

Post by Krista G. » December 23rd, 2009, 12:43 pm

c.ska wrote:Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word gritty suspense novel with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation. Again, I'd like a few more specifics here. Just reworking that last clause to explain what Valentina does to be drawn into this world (and why) would help.

DI André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girls’ rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Anya escapes the Villa’s iron gates with a disc containing incriminating evidence. How does Anya come to be in the Villa? Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and the very men he is trying to put behind bars, find her first. This sentence is a little awkward. "Extra-curricular" doesn't make sense in describing his romantic interest in her because curricular has to do with a school's curriculum and this doesn't have anything to do with school. And I had to read "...the very men he is trying to put behind bars, find her first" several times to understand what it meant. You might try something like, "The very men he's hunting find Anya first."

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls. I like this biographical paragraph a lot. It connects your background to events in the book, which makes you sound knowledgeable and interesting at the same time.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.
On the whole, I like this one much better (although I liked the concept when I read the first draft you posted). And I apologize for the abruptness in my previous post; I realized after I submitted it that I hadn't added any comments at the bottom to let you know that I liked it. Anyway, good luck with this.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

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Re: Night Butterfly - query revised - feedback welcomed!

Post by Bron » December 23rd, 2009, 6:14 pm

c.ska wrote:REVISED QUERY BELOW...I'd very much appreciate your feedback, thanks!

Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word gritty suspense novel with romantic elements.

When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation. I agree with others that this needs to be more specific. I'm guessing from the next paragraph that she becomes a prostitute, but I'd like a sentence here explaining why.

DI André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. The 'above average height' sounds awkward to me. Do you need his physical description? He's the love interest, I'm going to assume he's not ugly :-) At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. This sentence would be more clear on first reading with a sentence in the paragraph beforehand about how she becomes a stripper, or whatever she does, to explain why she's collecting money for a striptease.What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girls’ rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls. Do you need to mention the Villa? Or can you just go into the sentences below about how Anya has escaped?

Anya escapes the Villa’s iron gatesAgain, I wouldn't mention the Villa. I'd just say she has escaped from her captors with the disc. with a disc containing incriminating evidence. Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and the very men he is trying to put behind bars,I don't think you need this comma find her Anyafirst.

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls. This paragraph is great. When I was reading your original query I was going to advise you not to include the MA because I didn't see how it was relevant. Now that you've explained it, it really strengthens your query.

Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.


Sincerely,


I know I could have done more to the first half of the query, but I feel that would cut into the synopsis. Also, I want to keep it short and sweet, as that is my style...thanks again! c.ska

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Re: Night Butterfly - query revised - feedback welcomed!

Post by c.ska » December 28th, 2009, 7:47 am

Thanks to everyone's wonderful feedback, I now have a spankin' new draft! I really appreciate your help on this : )

Dear Agent,

(Personalised sentence)

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls.

When 14-year-old Anya Lebedeva goes missing, her older sister Valentina must leave Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

Valentina works as a stripper at Paradise Seven to get closer to the owner, Mr X, the only link to her sister’s disappearance. Meanwhile Anya is sold to Archibald Stevens, the owner of ‘the Villa’. DI André Johnson is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious Villa – finding ten girls’ rooms, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

Anya escapes her captor with a disc containing incriminating evidence. Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by his feelings for her, and the very men he is chasing find Anya first. They also take Valentina.

NIGHT BUTTERFLY is a 65,000 word gritty suspense novel with romantic elements. Please find included a synopsis and the first few pages. Many thanks for your time.


Sincerely,

So, I have mixed it up a bit, hoping the new structure is more to the point. Also, I can't make my mind up whether I should add a sentence after 'They also take Valentina'... what are your views? Is the finishing part of the query strong /clear enough? Thanks again, every thought is valued! c.ska
Last edited by c.ska on December 30th, 2009, 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Night Butterfly - third attempt - feedback welcomed!

Post by Clio » December 29th, 2009, 10:03 am

Sounds like an interesting and well thought out storyline.

I like all the changes you have made so far - to me it makes it easier to understand what is going on in your MS.

However, I'd be tempted to change around the information in your last paragraph so that it isn't as easily confused with the explanation of your text...
In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls.
I would probably start with the part about being a published poet and basing your text around research - then go onto the fact that, in Russia, many girls disappear.

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Re: Night Butterfly - third attempt - feedback welcomed!

Post by c.ska » December 30th, 2009, 6:29 am

clio, thanks! I'm glad you liked it, because, I'm starting to warm towards it myself...finally. good point made too! c.ska

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Re: Night Butterfly - third attempt - feedback welcomed!

Post by RiayNight » December 30th, 2009, 6:06 pm

Hey there C.ska! I'll preface this with a little disclaimer by saying that I am by no means a professional, but here are my opinions for ya!

So I read this about a week ago when I was just lurking the board. I actually found your first query very impressive--I loved the opening paragraph. However, I felt like I got a little lost in the middle of it, as far as the plot goes. I think your third query did a better job of explaining elements of the plot that the first one was missing--however, I personally like your voice better in the first one.

So my suggestion would be to find a happy medium between the third and the first. I'll tell you what I liked about each, and you can go from there! :) I'll compare paragraph by paragraph to make it easier to understand.

Firstly, I’ll start with this new paragraph at the start of the third query:

In Russia there is no city, town or village that has not seen some of its girls disappear. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty young girls became Russia’s best export. A published poet with an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics, I based NIGHT BUTTERFLY around research on this lost generation of girls.

I almost feel as though this section might be better at the end of the query. It works either way, and it is completely up to you, but I just feel that it might be more of a grab if after your personalized sentence you jump straight into the plot.

FIRST PARAGRAPHS

1st query:
When Valentina Lebedeva’s 14-year-old sister Anya goes missing, she must leave her home in a small village outside Moscow to find her. Her quest brings her to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is quickly drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

3rd query:
When 14-year-old Anya Lebedeva goes missing, her older sister Valentina must leave Russia to find her. The leads take Valentina to Paradise Seven, a strip club in London’s East End, where she is drawn into a dangerous world of prostitution, violence and exploitation.

So personally, I liked your paragraph from the first query a lot more. Seriously, when I read it for the first time I was like, 'Dang, this sounds awesome!' You still get across the same point in the 3rd version, but you omitted 'small village outside Moscow'. If you use 'Russia' it could be ANYWHERE in Russia--it's a massive country! The words 'small village' also give the reader a sense that this place might not normally be a place where people suddenly take off or go missing. To me, small village implies that it's the sort of place that you're pretty much stuck there unless you find a way out. So 'small village' really gives it a sense that what Valentina is doing is incredibly brave, and drastic. Just the impression I got.

Also, I prefer the word 'quest'. I know someone pointed out that they didn't like it, but I thought it worked very well with your sentence. Also, I think you should bring back the omitted 'quickly'--I think it helps show the reader that Valentina gets in deep at a very fast pace--she's not just cooling her heels in London for a few months, right? She goes on her search immediately, and I think 'quickly' helped get that point across.

SECOND PARAGRAPHS

1st query:

André Johnson is above average height, dark and extremely handsome. At least that’s Valentina’s first impression, collecting the customary pound for the strip tease. What she doesn’t know, is that they are looking for the same person. André is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious ‘Villa’ - where ten identical girl’s rooms are found, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

3rd query:
Valentina works as a stripper at Paradise Seven to get closer to the owner, Mr X, the only link to her sister’s disappearance. Meanwhile Anya is sold to Archibald Stevens, the owner of ‘the Villa’. DI André Johnson is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious Villa – finding ten girls’ rooms, complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.

So in the first query, you mentioned Archibald in the third paragraph, and I remember being confused as to who he was. In the third, you tell us that he’s the owner of the Villa—good job. Now in the third, you introduce Mr. X, who wasn’t in the previous query—but I like this. It helps to explain why Valentina becomes a stripper, and how she got into this dangerous scene. However, the rest of the paragraph from the third query isn’t working for me—it’s too busy with information that doesn’t quite seem to be linked together. You have two different ideas here—Valentina and her motive for stripping, and then the introduction of the Villa. I think that it might be better in two paragraphs—for instance, this would be the first paragraph:

“Valentina works as a stripper at Paradise Seven to get closer to the owner, Mr. X, the only link to her sister’s disappearance.” Great first sentence! But now I feel like you could introduce Andre in the next sentence (“One night, while working at Paradise Seven, Valentina meets Andre Johnson—above average height, dark, and extremely handsome. At least that’s her first impression upon collecting the customary pound for a strip tease. However, unbeknownst to her, they are looking for the same person: Valentina’s missing sister, Anya.”)

Now, I don’t know your novel, so that was just a really rough example that you can elaborate upon if you want. I just really liked your “What she doesn’t know is that they are looking for the same person.” That sentence just read a little awkward for some reason, so I changed it a bit, but you don’t have to listen to my version or anything—it was just for the purpose of getting my point across. But the revelation that they are looking for the same person really had me going, “Oooo! This is getting good!”

So now, for the second idea that was in your second paragraph of the third query: Archibald and the Villa. It could go a little something like this:
“André is a DI that is part of the vice squad raiding the notorious “Villa”, [insert description of Villa here—I feel like you need a little blurb on it, whether it be ‘an underground brothel’ or whatever you deem fitting—I just think you need to make it clear to the reader that it is a place that is involved in the sex slavery trade], owned by Archibald Stevens. [Here, a sentence indicating that Anya was sold to Archibald would be nice—like I said, I don’t know your novel, but maybe something like, ‘All the leads indicate that Anya was sold to Archibald, but when Andre and his squad raid the Villa, they find ten girls’ rooms—complete with pink wallpapers and Barbie dolls, but no girls.”

And, onto the third and final paragraph of your query:

THIRD PARAGRAPHS

1st query:

Sold to Archibald Stevens, Anya picks up three things: a cocaine addiction, a death threat, and a video tape. Her survival outside the Villa relies on the latter. So does André’s chance of a conviction. Valentina is André’s only hope of finding Anya, but he is distracted by an extra-curricular interest in her, and someone else finds her first.

3rd query:
Anya escapes her captor with a disc containing incriminating evidence. Getting hold of that disc is André’s only chance of exposing the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery. Valentina is André’s best bet of finding Anya, but he is distracted by his feelings for her, and the very men he is chasing find Anya first. They also take Valentina.

Okay, so in these paragraphs there are three very important main ideas: Anya escapes with a tape that incriminates Archibald (I’m assuming), Andre develops feelings for Valentina, and Valentina is captured, along with Anya. It’s tricky to decide how best to put this into writing, but I think you can keep it simple and fit it all into one final paragraph to keep the query length ideal. You could begin with explaining that Anya escapes with a video tape that is vital to convicting Archibald, and then maybe explain that Andre and Valentina embark out to find Anya, and then say that Andre quickly becomes distracted because he develops feelings for Valentina. End with the drama of Valentina and Anya being captured.

I think that it is a very dramatic and engaging end to a query to say that they both were captured, but neither of those last sentences really hit me hard. I think that it would be good if you crafted an ending line that is a little more dramatic that will really hit the agent in the face! In a good way, of course.

And lastly, I think that there should be one more paragraph to wrap up the query, much like there would be on the back of a book. Something like, ‘Now, it is a race against time for Andre to obtain the evidence he needs to put an end to the cruel practices of the key players involved in London’s brutal underworld of sex slavery, and to save the woman he has feelings for (or loves, I don’t know if Andre loves her though since I didn’t read the book, haha)’. That was just a really crude paragraph to get my point across and to explain the sort of wrap up I was talking about—hopefully it makes sense!

Alright, so I know this was one LONG, MASSIVE reply here, and for that I apologize. I didn’t want to simply give my opinion on the third query alone, because I felt like the first had a lot of wonderful qualities that didn’t make their way into the third. And please know that while I gave a few example paragraphs, it was just to get my points across, and it wasn’t an attempt to change your writing style. I think you have an amazing few query drafts, and that you can easily make them into one stupendous query! And your book seriously sounds AWESOME, I really hope I get to read it one day! I really hope my comments help you out! 

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