Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

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sarahdee
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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by sarahdee » August 2nd, 2010, 4:24 am

Thank you Quill and Mark! No its not a paranormal novel and there are no actual ghosts haha. Yes, I am a Brit hence my spelling and I'm confident most UK people would get 'office junior'. My first versions were far too long and informative, now I think I went the other way and left too much out! I think in this version I beefed up para 2 sufficiently?

Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.

Now Janie returns to her hometown to confront Candice, her childhood friend and partner in deadly crime. Janie must also try and stay one step ahead of the police as they begin to unravel the mysteries of the body and realise she knows a lot more than she told them.

Janie is determined to keep her secret, no matter what the cost.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 70,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by Emily J » August 2nd, 2010, 10:16 am

sarahdee wrote:Thank you Quill and Mark! No its not a paranormal novel and there are no actual ghosts haha. Yes, I am a Brit hence my spelling and I'm confident most UK people would get 'office junior'. My first versions were far too long and informative, now I think I went the other way and left too much out! I think in this version I beefed up para 2 sufficiently?

Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; this opener is a bit generic, similar to Janie Lloyd had a problem, an opener I have seen more than once the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. <-- this information doesn't really add much On top of this, this is making it seem like the discovery of the dead body is less traumatic than heat and a migraine, I find that odd her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; this should be a colon or a dash, not a semi-colon the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.
I would try rephrasing this paragraph to cut to the chase, maybe "Janie Lloyd was already having a bad day when her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie's childhood home – a body Janie had buried seventeen years ago. Her bad day just got worse." <-- just a suggestion but I think you should get to the meat of the story a little faster

Now Janie returns to her hometown to confront Candice, her childhood friend and partner in deadly crime. "deadly crime" could just be murder right? Janie must also try and stay one step ahead of the police as they begin to unravel the mysteries of the body and realise realize? she knows a lot more than she told them. this isn't bad but I think it could be rephrased, "a lot more" is rather weak

Janie is determined to keep her secret, no matter what the cost.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 70,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by mfreivald » August 2nd, 2010, 1:18 pm

This is better.
Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat<--“hot heat” is redundant. Simply saying “heat and humidity” should work.--<< had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.<--There’s some dissonance between the first and second sentences. She’s supposed to be bored, but the discovery of the body belies that. It might work better to show some kind of transition between the two.--<<

Now<--Drop “now.”--<< Janie returns to her hometown to confront Candice<--why confront her? To threaten her to silence? To scold her for not hiding the body well enough?--<<, her childhood friend and partner in deadly crime. Janie must also try and<--drop “must also try”--<< stay one step ahead<--kind of cliche. I’d try to do better.--<< of the police as they begin to unravel<--Funny. I just saw this usage of unravel in another query, but I think you mean “unfold.”--<< the mysteries of the body and realise she knows a lot more than she told them.<--This whole sentence could be stronger. Maybe try: “Janie must outsmart the police when evidence taken from the body indicates Janie knows much more than she told them.”--<<

Janie is determined to keep her secret, no matter what the cost.
With it cut way down like this, it opens it up for careful enhancement. You might find an efficient way to add a little punch and color. For example, you might hint that Candice will be the next victim in the last sentence or add some colorful way that Janie confronts Candice. Or maybe give specificity to the way she torments the office junior.

In fact, I might enjoy the process of trying it:

Every hour of Janie Lloyd’s day slipped into a deeper ring of hell. The heat and humidity gave her a migraine, and even putting Ex-Lax in the office junior’s coffee wasn’t enough to cure her boredom. She browbeat him to sort paperclips--again--when her mother called about a body dug up near Janie’s childhood home--the body she put there seventeen years earlier.

Janie returns to her hometown to confront Candice, her childhood friend turned partner in murder, and tortures the family dog to show Candice the fate of her children if she doesn't keep her silence. When evidence taken from the body indicates Janie knows more than she told them, she must outsmart the police to keep her secret. No matter who else she must sacrifice.


Obviously needs more help. The hyperbole might be a bit much, and you would have to substitute with things appropriate for your story, but it was fun to try.

I hope that helps.

Regards,
Mark

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by Quill » August 2nd, 2010, 1:47 pm

sarahdee wrote:
Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine
Omit "hot" as redundant to heat (the hot heat).
and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.
Agree with previous poster that the paragraph sounds flip (casual), as if the migraine and boredom are more important than the body news, like the body news is just another headache (instead of the life-changer (and book subject) I think you intend it to be). This skews my image of the book into light-reading, possibly humorous, rather than psychological thriller.

Substitute em dash or comma for the semi-colon after "home".

Consider a tense change: JL is having a bad day; the heat has given...; is so bored, etc.
Now Janie returns to her hometown to confront Candice, her childhood friend and partner in deadly crime.
Why confront? Confront about what? Not collude with to cover up any tracks? A good place to explain a bit more.

Omit "deadly" as redundant to "killed and buried".
Janie must also try and stay one step ahead of the police as they begin to unravel the mysteries of the body
Awkward, "unravel mysteries of the body." Sounds like they're unraveling the windings on a mummy. Wouldn't it be mysteries of the crime (based on clues/evidence found with/on the body).
and realise she knows a lot more than she told them.
This could be stated more elegantly and with tension. The clause begins a long way from its subject (the police) and contains no dynamic words or images.
Janie is determined to keep her secret, no matter what the cost.
Of course she is, this seems a given, so conveys little buildup. And "no matter what the cost" contains little info. What can she do to prevent the cops from coming to their conclusions and arresting her? Run away? What are her choices? What are the costs involved? This is the place to pull us toward the edges of our seats!
DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 70,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French.

Could you say a bit more, like, "It would appeal to fans of Walters' and French's brooding internal gestalts?". To give a clue to any reader who isn't familiar with their styles? Or would all agents you query definitely know what you mean? Just a thought.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by wilderness » August 2nd, 2010, 1:59 pm

I like your new take too. I agree with Quill's comments above. In particular, I would expand on the second paragraph, but nice start!

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by sarahdee » August 2nd, 2010, 9:44 pm

Emily J wrote: this is making it seem like the discovery of the dead body is less traumatic than heat and a migraine, I find that odd
[/quote]

Quill said the same, and I see what you are getting at. Thing is, my character is a complete sociopath. Part of the 'thrillerness' of the book is the reader seeing from her eyes how she justifies all her wrong doings (think in the style of Lolita but without the perv) so to Janie the body is just an inconvenience along with the photocopier being brokene. Perhaps for the purposes of the query I should change it about though

The confrontation is complicated. The other girl thinks she is responsible (with some help from Janie), Janie really did it, Janie will guilt her into taking all the blame and leaving Janie out completley. Over most the book and several conversations, Janie wheedles, shouts, pleads and finally gets her own way just in the nick of time (as she is arrested, Candice walks into the police station and gives herself up)

The cost - well she covers up the murder at the cost of letting an innocent person be arrested for it

Walters and French are well known in the UK, Walters in particular as several of her books have been made into TV series....I guess they are unheard of in the States?

Mfreivald - might steal your paperclip bit for the book hehe

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by Quill » August 2nd, 2010, 9:56 pm

I think one of your earlier versions played up the sociopath part a bit more. Maybe some of that detail needs to get back in?

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by Aimée » August 2nd, 2010, 10:39 pm

You changed tense in the second paragraph, and there are a few missing commas, but beside that, it's pretty good. :)

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by Cara » August 2nd, 2010, 11:39 pm

I'm new but want to chime in with everyone else! I like your new version, but I agree with Quill about the comparisons being a bit more clear. Good luck!

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by mfreivald » August 2nd, 2010, 11:53 pm

might steal your paperclip bit for the book hehe
With my blessing. I probably got it from someone else.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - new version pg 3

Post by sarahdee » August 18th, 2010, 4:50 am

Yet another attempt....

I have written Candice into the query more (that gives me a character people might actually feel for) plus I have written her POV into my novel more so its perhaps appropriate she has more of a mention. Does this work better or should I go back to the original query?

Thanks for any feedback, Sarah

Dear Agent

Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.

Candice has been avoiding her past for the last seventeen years. She may have helped bury the body, but unlike Janie she is overwhelmed by grief and guilt. She still wants to avoid prison though so she meets up with Janie, her childhood best friend and partner in murder, to try and stay one step ahead of the police as they get closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

Candice is nice and mostly innocent. Janie is evil and dishonest. One of them will eventually be arrested for the murder and Janie is going to do everything she can to make sure it is not her.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 80,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - new version pg 3

Post by wilderness » August 18th, 2010, 3:52 pm

I think it's good, but very short. You might want to fill it in a little.

The only part I didn't like was this:
sarahdee wrote:
Candice is nice and mostly innocent. Janie is evil and dishonest.
It is telling (not showing) and lacks subtlety. I think you could replace this with something a bit more nuanced.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - new version pg 3

Post by elfspirit » August 18th, 2010, 8:18 pm

sarahdee wrote:Yet another attempt....

I have written Candice into the query more (that gives me a character people might actually feel for) plus I have written her POV into my novel more so its perhaps appropriate she has more of a mention. Does this work better or should I go back to the original query?

Thanks for any feedback, Sarah

This is my first reading of your query. Sometimes I think fresh eyes are helpful, so I purposely didn't read other versions.


Dear Agent


Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago.

I believe it's usual for a query to be written in the present tense, so you may want to follow the norm with the above para. I'm also not sure you need the first sentence. Start where the story begins, with the discovery of the body. You could add a beat by making the second sentence two. The second sentence could make the fact that Janie murdered the person stand out. I'd like to know why she did that.

Candice has been avoiding her past for the last seventeen years. She may have helped bury the body, but unlike Janie she is overwhelmed by grief and guilt. She still wants to avoid prison though so she meets up with Janie, her childhood best friend and partner in murder, to try and stay one step ahead of the police how are they doing this? as they get closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

Candice is nice and mostly innocent. Janie is evil and dishonest. One of them will eventually be arrested for the murder and Janie is going to do everything she can to make sure it is not her. I agree that this is telling and not showing. I also agree that this is a very short query. You have room to show a few of the plot twists, especially in terms of the conflict between Candice and Janie and Candice's heightening peril.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 80,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French.

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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by RebeccaB » August 19th, 2010, 4:33 am

Firstly, I like this one better. Having a main character to relate to grounds the reader.

Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the hot, humid heat had given her a migraine and she was so bored with life that even tormenting the office junior had lost its fun. On top of this, her mother called to tell her a body had been dug up near Janie’s childhood home; the body of someone Janie killed and buried seventeen years ago. Can something else happen to give her a bad day other than the tormenting office junior statement. Possibly something like; Janie Lloyd was having a bad day; the humid heat had given her a migraine, her car broke down two blocks from her apartment, and her cat threw up in her favorite purse. On top of...... Not the best examples, but you get the idea.

Candice has been avoiding her past for the last seventeen years. She may have helped bury the body, but unlike Janie she is overwhelmed by grief and guilt. She still wants to avoid prison though so she meets up with Janie, her childhood best friend and partner in murder, to try and stay one step ahead of the police as they get closer and closer to uncovering the truth. This reads a little awkwardly IMO. Need to tie this paragraph to the first, it is jarring. Possibly move the connection to Janie and the murder, before the guilt and grief.

Candice is nice and mostly innocent. Janie is evil and dishonest. One of them will eventually be arrested for the murder and Janie is going to do everything she can to make sure it is not her. Don't think you can be 'mostly innocent' it's kind of an either or thing. Possibly; Candice is the epitome of sweet and kind. Also, I don't think Janie is 'evil', from what I have read of your synopsis Janie kills him in a fit of passion, possibly; Janie is deceptive and wicked. Don't need 'eventually', with only 250 words for a query, we don't want any that taking up space and are not really needed. What is Janie going to do? Possibly; Janie does everything she can to make sure it is not her, including throwing Candice to the sharks.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 80,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French. WHY? need to state what it is about your novel that will attract the fans of these two authors. Like; It will appeal to the readers of Minette Walters with modern day settings and building suspense. Not the actual reason i am sure, but you get the idea.

Hope this helps. I think you are so much closer to getting it just right.

Happy Inking
RebeccaB

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sarahdee
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Re: Don't come to the House Tonight - edited

Post by sarahdee » August 27th, 2010, 1:11 am

Thanks for all the comments everyone

Rebecca B - would this
This reads a little awkwardly IMO. Need to tie this paragraph to the first, it is jarring. Possibly move the connection to Janie and the murder, before the guilt and grief
.
be better if I just added 'including Janie' to the first sentence - that ties it in?

I have re-written the last two paras to:

Candice just wants the whole thing to go away. Janie is determined to stay out of prison. One of them will eventually be arrested for the murder and Janie is going manipulate Candice, the police and everyone else in her path to make sure its not her.

DON’T COME TO THE HOUSE TONIGHT is a psychological thriller of 78,000 words. It would appeal to the readers of Minette Walters or Nicci French who enjoy a crime thriller with a undertone of psychological ambiance and a unexpected twist at the end.


I don't like the psychological ambiance bit but I've gone round in circles trying to make it sound right. What I want to say is primarily its a psychological thriller but its also a crime story. Both the two writers I note do this (e.g using crime but not from the usual police/private detective POV but the victim, or close family member etc) so I think its Ok to cut across two genres - they are both well know in the Uk where I am querying. I know i have to pick one genre so I've gone for the psychological. I also want to add that the end is a twist as I think that's quite important.

Any thoughts on how to say all that in a better way than I managed are greatly appreciated.

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