EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

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RiayNight
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EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by RiayNight » December 30th, 2009, 4:25 pm

Alright, so let me preface this with a few words. I am the unfortunate writer of a young adult vampire novel. I say unfortunate because in most agent blogs I follow (most notably, Kristen Nelson's--she has SEVERAL posts about this issue), I'll inevitably see a post about how the YA market is overflowing with paranormal novels, and that agents are a tad weary of seeing queries for YA vampire books.

However, I have a complete manuscript on my hands that is undergoing rigorous editing at the moment, so I'm afraid I'm not going to give up that easy! This is my first query draft, and I would LOVE feedback on it. It needs to be compelling, compelling enough that an agent will ask for sample pages or read my first three chapters. I definitely don't want my query to go straight to the discard pile (who does, right?)

So, without further adieu, here is my query. Any feedback or comments that you all have would be wonderful! Thank you!

Dear [insert agent's name here],

[Personalized sentence]

Disruption. Initiation. The Unknowable. So say the Runes, the ancient Viking Oracle of marked stones ominously laid out before college freshman Riley Dawson on the eve of her departure for Lyndon State College. Leaving the sun of her California childhood for the crisp northern air of Vermont, Riley soon dismisses and forgets the Runes’ portent of the choices she would make, choices borne of her own unseen nature, a nature invisible even to herself.

Dismissed and forgotten that is, until she meets Remaunt: enigmatic, sensual, arrogant, vulnerable; a dark shadow of Adonis whose veneer of cool poise camouflages the turbulent shame of a 400 year old transgression. A shame his “sister”, the manipulative, elegant, sexy Amelia exploits for her own sinister agenda and her brother’s destruction.

Yet even as Riley tries deny her growing intrigue and fascination with her magnetically mysterious classmate, she ultimately finds that she cannot evade the truth of what he is. Remaunt is an immortal. Remaunt is a vampire.

And immortals have immortal enemies. Driven by a literal thirst for vengeance and retribution, the vampire Damien has pursued Remaunt to Lyndonville, determined to exact reprisal for a centuries’ old cruelty. And, as the spirited Riley soon finds out, Damien is not a vampire to be trifled with: He is charming, alluring, tortured, and utterly, completely relentless in his quest to annihilate Remaunt.

As Riley and Remaunt draw closer to one another, entangled in the intensity of their mutual attraction, Damien decides that Riley is the perfect instrument for his long yearned payback, the sublime method for the completion of his madness.

With the crisis of disruption activated, the mystic power of initiation summoned, and the fire and chaos of the unknowable at hand, Riley finds herself as bait between two preternatural antagonists, locked in a war of wills fueled by revenge and anguish destined to a fate not even the immortals could envision.

EUPHORIA falls into the Young Adult Paranormal category, and consists of 120,000 words. It is my first novel, and the complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Alrighty, so there it is! On one quick sidenote--my novel definitely falls into the YA category; it would never be considered an adult novel. However, it is geared towards a slightly more mature audience. Realistically, I would say from the ages of 17--24, since my main character is in her freshmen year of college. Should I find a way to work that into the query?

Thank you for any help and comments you can give!

askmonkey
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by askmonkey » December 30th, 2009, 8:41 pm

It is unfortunate timing, true, but if you are confident in you work and your writing, it is worth a shot. If you don't get anywhere, you can always sit on it for a while and try again! I think your story sounds interesting and it is clear that you have put a lot of thought into it.

Overall feedback:
1) this synopsis is too long. your query letter should fit on one page including your address and signature and everything.
2) you pack way too much detail into each of your sentences, making it difficult to understand what is going on. One clue is if you have a colon AND a semi-colon in one sentence, it is probably too long :)

close edits:

Paragraph One:

Disruption. Initiation. The Unknowable. So say the Runes, the ancient Viking Oracle of marked stones ominously laid out before college freshman Riley Dawson on the eve of her departure for Lyndon State College. Leaving the sun of her California childhood for the crisp northern air of Vermont, Riley soon dismisses and forgets the Runes’ portent of the choices she would make, choices borne of her own unseen nature, a nature invisible even to herself.


I like the one-word sentences, but the next sentence after them is really confusing. Because of the way the sentence is constructed, I couldn't tell if "the Runes" was the name of the "Viking Oracle" or the name of the "marked stones". I think you mean to say that Riley visited a "viking oracle" and when they laid out the marked stones she got three predictions (i.e. disruption, initiation, the unknowable). however, somehow this doesn't come across. the next sentence isn't much better because it is overly wordy. is it necessary to say she is leaving "the sun of her CA childhood" for the "crisp northern air of vermont"? not really. Basically you are trying to say she is too busy moving to college across country to worry about the strange predictions. Also, no need to use foreshadowing when doing a synopsis.

Basically it all boils down to:

18-year-old (or whatever) Riley Dawson visits an ancient Viking Oracle on the eve of her departure for college only to receive a strange, foreboding prediction from the Oracle's ancient marked Runes: (insert prediction).

Ok, next paragraph:

Dismissed and forgotten that is, until she meets Remaunt: enigmatic, sensual, arrogant, vulnerable; a dark shadow of Adonis whose veneer of cool poise camouflages the turbulent shame of a 400 year old transgression. A shame his “sister”, the manipulative, elegant, sexy Amelia exploits for her own sinister agenda and her brother’s destruction.

This paragraph sets up a great dark, mysterious tone, but at the expense of clarity. There are too many adjectives and too much punctuation in these 2 sentences. It basically boils down to:

Riley dismisses the Runes' prediction until she meets Remaunt, who appears to be an enigmatic, sensual young man. What she doesn't know is that under his veneer of cool poise lies the shame of a 400-year-old transgression. A shame that his sister, manipulative, elegant, Amelia exploits for her own agenda. (though I'm wondering whether it is necessary to mention Amelia since she doesn't come back in the query at all, but I haven't read your novel, so no idea how important she is. it may be that you need to mention her more rather than eliminating her)

Next paragraph:

Yet even as Riley tries deny her growing intrigue and fascination with her magnetically mysterious classmate, she ultimately finds that she cannot evade the truth of what he is. Remaunt is an immortal. Remaunt is a vampire.


i like this paragraph. might consider cutting out some descriptors, i.e. choose either "intrigue" or "fascination" and choose either "magnetic" or "mysterious".


And immortals have immortal enemies. Driven by a literal thirst for vengeance and retribution, the vampire Damien has pursued Remaunt to Lyndonville, determined to exact reprisal for a centuries’ old cruelty. And, as the spirited Riley soon finds out, Damien is not a vampire to be trifled with: He is charming, alluring, tortured, and utterly, completely relentless in his quest to annihilate Remaunt.


again, way to many descriptions. choose a few choice adjectives and move on. Also why is it a "literal" thirst? and what is this cruelty he wants revenge for? I like that you keep us guessing, but I'm wondering if this paragraph might make more sense if you just tell us what it is (if Riley knows at that point anyway). Does it tie back to the "shame" that Remaunt felt in the previous paragraph?

As Riley and Remaunt draw closer to one another, entangled in the intensity of their mutual attraction, Damien decides that Riley is the perfect instrument for his long yearned payback, the sublime method for the completion of his madness.


sentence is too long and feels a bit contrived and over-the-top because of phrases like "long yearned" and "sublime method"

With the crisis of disruption activated, the mystic power of initiation summoned, and the fire and chaos of the unknowable at hand, Riley finds herself as bait between two preternatural antagonists, locked in a war of wills fueled by revenge and anguish destined to a fate not even the immortals could envision.

what does it mean to "activate" a "crisis of disruption"? and what is the "mystic power" of the "initiation"? try to make this less vague if possible.

EUPHORIA falls into the Young Adult Paranormal category, and consists of 120,000 words. It is my first novel, and the complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Just say "EUPHORIA (120,000 words) is a YA paranormal fiction intended for an audience ranging from 17 to 24." The "falls into" is a bit strange. Kind of makes it sound like it doesn't fit in anywhere and I think agents would understand your dilemma of the college-age protagonist. Marketing the novel is their job isn't it?

Good luck and I hope this helps! I think you're off to a good start, you just need to do some revising and cutting (but then as a writer, this shouldn't be anything new.) :)

RiayNight
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by RiayNight » December 30th, 2009, 9:05 pm

Thank you for your reply! It is definitely going back to the drawing board very soon. I completely understand what you mean about the overuse of adjectives and all; that was one of my biggest concerns. I will keep in mind all of your suggestions and points as I move onto draft two!

As a sidenote--it actually does fit into one page with my signed name and address and everything, but that's without the personalized sentence at the start. I will try to cut down the length in my next revision as well! Thank you again!

Krista G.
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by Krista G. » December 31st, 2009, 1:49 pm

RiayNight wrote:Dear [insert agent's name here],

[Personalized sentence]

Disruption. Initiation. The Unknowable. So say the Runes, the ancient Viking Oracle of marked stones ominously laid out before college freshman Riley Dawson on the eve of her departure for Lyndon State College. Why is a seemingly normal college freshman using "the ancient Viking Oracle of marked stones"? (That phrase, by the way, is a bit of a mouhtful.) Leaving the sun of her California childhood for the crisp northern air of Vermont, Riley soon dismisses and forgets the Runes’ portent of the choices she would make, choices borne of her own unseen nature, a nature invisible even to herself. Those last two phrases are superfluous.

Dismissed and forgotten that is, until she meets Remaunt: enigmatic, sensual, arrogant, vulnerable; a dark shadow of Adonis whose veneer of cool poise camouflages the turbulent shame of a 400 year old (Change to "400-year-old") transgression. A shame his “sister”, the manipulative, elegant, sexy Amelia exploits for her own sinister agenda and her brother’s destruction. I don't like the adjective soup in this paragraph. Every extra adjective diminishes the impact of the previous ones.

Yet even as Riley tries (Insert "to") deny her growing intrigue and fascination with her magnetically mysterious (Do we really need an adverb and an adjective here? And the alliteration only draws attention to them.) classmate, she ultimately finds that she cannot evade the truth of what he is. Remaunt is an immortal. Remaunt is a vampire.

And immortals have immortal enemies. Driven by a literal thirst for vengeance and retribution, the vampire Damien has pursued Remaunt to Lyndonville, determined to exact reprisal for a centuries’ old (Change to "centuries-old") cruelty. And, as the spirited Riley soon finds out, Damien is not a vampire to be trifled with: He is charming, alluring, tortured, and utterly, completely relentless in his quest to annihilate Remaunt. Same adjective soup comment here.

As Riley and Remaunt draw closer to one another, entangled in the intensity of their mutual attraction (Those two phrases are redundant; pick one and go with it), Damien decides that Riley is the perfect instrument for his long yearned payback, the sublime method for the completion of his madness. What does that even mean? And does he really love her, as the beginning of this paragraph implies, or is he just using her, as the end of it suggests?

With the crisis of disruption activated, the mystic power of initiation summoned, and the fire and chaos of the unknowable at hand (All three of those phrases are high-falutin' and meaningless), Riley finds herself as bait between two preternatural antagonists, locked in a war of wills fueled by revenge and anguish destined to a fate not even the immortals could envision.

EUPHORIA falls into the Young Adult Paranormal category, and consists of 120,000 words. This is probably too long.It is my first novel, and the complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alrighty, so there it is! On one quick sidenote--my novel definitely falls into the YA category; it would never be considered an adult novel. However, it is geared towards a slightly more mature audience. Realistically, I would say from the ages of 17--24, since my main character is in her freshmen year of college. Should I find a way to work that into the query? This is going to be a tough sale - I know, because the book I'm currently querying features nineteen-year-olds. Your MCs are too old to be strictly young adult, not old enough to be adult. I've heard some rumblings of a new genre cropping up in the market called "new adult," targeted at college-age people, but it's still pretty new to be of much use yet. So you'll just have to market it for the time being however you think is best.
I want to like this, because I jumped on the TWILIGHT bandwagon with the rest of the world, but right now it sounds pretty derivative. What sets your story apart from all the other vampire stories on the market? If you can figure that out - and then highlight it in your query - you'll be all right. So tighten up the language, figure out a way to differentiate it, and you'll be in business. Good luck!
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

trini
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by trini » December 31st, 2009, 8:39 pm

Hi Riay, I cannot offer feedback on things query because I am still learning about all this myself but I really like where you are going with this.

I like the premise. A centuries old feud between two powerful immortals, a mortal girl from a magical line (or something similar I am guessing), Vampires who are sexy, dangerous and manipulative...as long as they are not sparkly, chaste, vegetarians I am guaranteed to keep reading. Although I am not certain why Raumont is at college. Is he looking for something there, hiding out?

I like the Runes, very cool and not at all out of the ordinary for a California teen. Divination tools are commonplace items in many homes. I have three Tarot decks and a set of Runes myself and my daughter has a set of her own.

I agree with many of Krista's points. She has offered some strong editorial feedback and I particularly liked her phrase "adjective soup", you do need to tidy that up. As for being derivative I am not sure that is necessarily fair. I am not a Twilight fan. As far as I can tell, that is pretty damn derivative. I think if you can take an idea and do a MUCH better job then its just evolution.
"It was a dark and stormy nightmare..."

WIP: Graphic Novel...sex, death and rock and roll.

RiayNight
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by RiayNight » December 31st, 2009, 9:18 pm

First off, thank you Krista G. and Trini for your feedback! Tomorrow I'm not going to be working on editing, so the plan is to attempt a revision of the query.

There are a lot of aspects that make my manuscript completely and utterly different from a book like Twilight; however, the difficult part is deciding what to put into the query--after all, 120K is a lot to crunch into three or four paragraphs, haha. I'll do my best though, and see what the revision brings!

I understand all the comments about the query being too wordy. I originally contrived this about four months ago with a fellow writer friend who is familiar with the ins and outs of my manuscript, and together we made the mistake of being too generous with adjectives! I'll work on eliminating the ones that are extraneous.

Trini, thanks for your praise! I'm glad that you detected the differences between my sort of vampires and the type that have been dominating the headlines lately (sparkly, chaste, vegetarian--haha). As far as the Runes go, I wanted to ask you if my description of them in the query made sense to you since you own a set? It seemed to be unclear to my other reviewers (thank you both for pointing it out, by the way), which could mean my description is only going to make sense if someone is familiar with them--and I don't expect all agents to be, haha. As for now, I just can't think of a better way to put it!

Also, to answer your question, there is a definitive reason that Remaunt is in college, and it is explained during the course of the novel. So no worries! He's not there simply for the sake of 'blending in' or whatever, haha. Thank you again for your comments, I really appreciated them--I think that they'll help me decide on what to keep and play up in my revision! :)

trini
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by trini » December 31st, 2009, 9:54 pm

Yes I did understand what you meant in your description of the Runes. But as you say, that is because I am familiar with them.

You could say something like
Disruption. Initiation. The Unknowable. So say the Runes, marked stones of divination based on the system of the ancient Norse. Their ominous portent laid out before freshman Riley Dawson on the eve of her departure for college.
I think there may be a punctuation issue in my paragraph but you catch my drift.
"It was a dark and stormy nightmare..."

WIP: Graphic Novel...sex, death and rock and roll.

c.ska
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by c.ska » January 3rd, 2010, 7:55 am

RiayNight, please find below my thoughts: )

Dear [insert agent's name here],

[Personalized sentence]

Disruption. Initiation. The Unknowable. So say the Runes, the ancient Viking Oracle of marked stones ominously laid out before college freshman Riley Dawson on the eve of her departure for Lyndon State College. yes you do need some further clarification as mentioned by someone else. it will strengthen the opening, which i already LOVE. Leaving the sun of her California childhood for the crisp northern air of Vermont, (too much description for a query, BUT i still love it...it paints the picture somehow) Riley soon dismisses and forgets the Runes’ portent of the choices she would make, choices borne of her own unseen nature, a nature invisible even to herself. ok, so i'd shorten this first paragraph, in order for it to flow better and make a clearer and more instant impression! all the ingredients are there...

(abrupt first sentence...) Dismissed and forgotten that is, until she meets Remaunt: enigmatic, sensual, arrogant, vulnerable; (too much description, i get lost...) a dark shadow of Adonis whose veneer of cool poise camouflages the turbulent shame of a 400 year old transgression. A shame his “sister”, the manipulative, elegant, sexy (again too much, can easily be left out) Amelia exploits for her own sinister agenda and her brother’s destruction.

Yet even as Riley tries deny her growing intrigue and fascination (you don't need both words) with her magnetically (cut...mysterious is enough, and in fact you don't even need that) mysterious classmate, she ultimately finds that she cannot evade the truth of what he is. Remaunt is an immortal. Remaunt is a vampire. love the end to this paragraph! though i may be tempted to use his name only once : Remaunt is an immortal. A vampire.

And immortals have immortal enemies. (not sure about the first sentence...) Driven by a literal thirst for vengeance and retribution, the vampire Damien has pursued Remaunt to Lyndonville, determined to exact reprisal for a centuries’ old cruelty. And, as the spirited Riley soon finds out, Damien is not a vampire to be trifled with: He is charming, alluring, tortured, and utterly, completely relentless in his quest to annihilate Remaunt.

As Riley and Remaunt draw closer to one another, entangled in the intensity of their mutual attraction (i do like the sound of that...), Damien decides that Riley is the perfect instrument for his long yearned payback, the sublime method for the completion of his madness.

With the crisis of disruption activated, the mystic power of initiation summoned, and the fire and chaos of the unknowable at hand (you could cut out 'at hand'), Riley finds herself as bait between two preternatural antagonists, locked in a war of wills fueled by revenge and anguish destined to a fate not even the immortals could envision. exciting!

EUPHORIA falls into the Young Adult Paranormal category, and consists of 120,000 words. It is my first novel, and the complete manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration. Not sure you need to mention it is your first novel...


Alrighty, so there it is! On one quick sidenote--my novel definitely falls into the YA category; it would never be considered an adult novel. However, it is geared towards a slightly more mature audience. Realistically, I would say from the ages of 17--24, since my main character is in her freshmen year of college. Should I find a way to work that into the query?

Thank you for any help and comments you can give![/quote]

Sum up:

- your voice really comes through. great work. i get a sense / taste of the actual book. your query also shows me you care about the 'writing' not just the story, which i find important.

- a note on repetitions. i love them, use them...etc etc! but i'm not sure you need so many of them in the actual query. they take up space and limits flexibility. if that makes any sense at all? ex: last sentence first paragraph. in a query i'd limit the use of repetitions, for effect, if you see what i mean?

- while i love all the descriptions, as well as the creative writing style, i feel it complicates the query. i'd sacrifice some it for a better 'flow'.

- the reason why i've made quite a few suggestions here is that i can somehow relate. i see where you're coming from... so, despite the slightly negative tone, i am actually intrigued. i'd love to read EUPHORIA. it sounds original, and written with creative flair. thanks for sharing and best of luck! c.ska

Madaboutstories
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by Madaboutstories » January 3rd, 2010, 8:11 pm

I love your voice. Try to cut down all the adjectives (less is more). And try to incorporate how the sister tries to destroy her brother. (She's mentioned and then drops from the query-I know it's hard when you have complicated characters who are intertwined like they are, to explain it all succinctly. Also, I don't know peternatural means (if it's part of the genre I apologize), as an agent, I might not look it up. Sometimes simpler words are better. The story is intriguing and I'd want to read more as an agent.
Hope all goes well!
To read a story is to breathe life into society-real or imagined, yet the imagined comes out of the truth.

Laura Hyatt

RiayNight
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Re: EUPHORIA-- 1st query attempt!

Post by RiayNight » January 3rd, 2010, 8:25 pm

Thank you so much C. ska and Madaboutstories for your replies! They were very helpful!

As of now, I haven't taken it back to the drawing board yet--ideas are still tumbling around in my mind. I feel like this is a good rough draft for my query, but the replies really helped me realize what plot points I should really hit upon, and which characters need to be included in the query, as well as the ones that don't have a place in it. It also helped me realize that it is way too wordy (something I was already thinking myself).

Thanks again C. ska for your suggestions on which adjectives I could possibly cut! That was very helpful :)

I can't promise that i'll have a second draft in the next week or anything, but know that I am very grateful for everyone's replies and critques. I'm taking everything into consideration as I do the edit!

Thanks!

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