Query: Folklore

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aspiring_x
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Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 1:47 am

NEWEST VERSION (# 4) ON PAGE 3 ...
Hey guys,
I know this is really rough, but I figure that it's going to take me a long time to get it straight, and I need a break from editing. So, help please!
Thank you so much!

Dear Wonderful Agent,
Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down, stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her.
When sixteen year old Haley Martin moves to a small town in Kansas, she hopes that the small town naiveté might have some kind of wholesome effect on her family. But then she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house, and she realizes this small town is not as innocuous as she had hoped.
Beau tells Haley that his father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. He also reveals that his mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him.
Haley finds herself drawn into a battle between the society and the scraggly remnant that still resists them. Her world contorts into one where outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts, where cloaked sociopaths could be hiding behind every tree, where a ghost transports her through the flame of the candle it carries. She is torn between the romantic pursuits of two brothers on either side of the battle, and she learns that the society orchestrated her move to Linney.
Folk Lore is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!
Have a nice day!
-Vic

Ok, now let the bashing... I mean... critiquing begin.
Last edited by aspiring_x on February 13th, 2010, 12:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by johydai » February 10th, 2010, 2:09 am

This sounds very interesting. I was wondering, why did the society orchestrated Haley move to Linney? what's their motive?

Johydai

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by JustineDell » February 10th, 2010, 8:18 am

[quote="aspiring_x"]

I can't do that cool strikethrough thing, so please read through and notice where I have taken things out.

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her. EEK! My interest is peeked with this line.

When Haley discovers Beau, a homeless boy sleeping in the shed behind her house, she realizes that her small town life is not as innocuous as she had hoped. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him. (Notice I condensed two paragraphs into one. I don't think you need the info about her moving to Kansas, but that's up to you. I took about where you mentioned "He told her" because it added to many words - this makes it tighter).

Haley is drawn into a battle between the society and the scraggly remnant that still resists them. What exactly is the scraggly remnant? The townspeople? Her world contorts into one where outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts, where cloaked sociopaths could be hiding behind every tree, where a ghost transports her through the flame of the candle it carries. Whoa...this is interesting. Sounds like Halloween year round! ;-) She is torn between the romantic pursuits of two brothers on either side of the battle, and she learns that the society orchestrated her move to Linney. This last sentence doesn't do it for me. You are talking about two totally different things, so you may want to break it up. Where do the brothers come in? Is one of them Beau? Also, in the first paragraph you mention something coming after her for generations, but then don't mention it again. Is the 'thing' the society? I assume it is because your mention the society orchestrated her move to Linney, but I wasn't told that - I had to figure it out.

FOLK LORE is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!
quote]

It's a good start, but you have only given us bits and pieces so the story doesn't really flow. I don't know how Beau fits into Haley's story. I don't know who, besides the society, is after Haley. I don't know why this 'society' (btw, does it have a name?) orchestrated her move or what it has been chasing her for generations. I think you may benefit from plugging in more information to help the reader understand the premise better and then leave us with a good hook (which you don't really have right now).

~JD

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"Three things in life that, once gone, never return; Time, Words, & Opportunity"

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 9:27 am

Thanks johydai, I need to clarify that...

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 9:32 am

Justine, you are completely right. Ugh, this is so hard! Your improvements are great, by the way. Thanks a million!
If you have time, please stop by this thread again. Your opinions are appreciated!
-vic

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by Remus Shepherd » February 10th, 2010, 10:43 am

Vic, I prefer short, to the point queries. I think that makes me unusual on these forums, so take my advice with a grain of salt. :)

That said, I see a lot up there that can be trimmed.
Sixteen year old Haley Martin keeps her head down and stays out of trouble, but she doesn't know that trouble has been seeking her for generations.
As a hook, that works. You have a character, a short description of her, and a description of the problem she faces.

The rest is plot and character arcs. Just trimming a bit and eliminating duplications (like 'hope' and 'small town'):
When she moves to a small town in Kansas, Haley discovers a homeless boy sleeping in the shed behind her house, and she realizes this town is not as innocuous and wholesome as she had hoped.

Haley is drawn into a battle between a murderous secret society and the scraggly remnant that still resists them. Her world contorts into one where outlandish journals about witches and ghosts are taken as historical accounts, cloaked sociopaths hide behind every tree, and a ghost with a magical candle transports her to another world. As she is torn between two brothers on either side of the battle, Haley learns that the society has orchestrated her entire life.
I tried to use your language here, but there's much that you (not I) can do to make this better. What 'scraggly remnant'? Only Beau is introduced. (I'd say 'scraggly resistance' and 'still opposes them', but I'm not sure you're implying an actual resistance movement.)

'Linney' is, I assume, the town in Kansas -- you didn't introduce that. It might be easier to say, 'the society has orchestrated her entire life', or something to that effect.

The real meat of your query, though, is that one overloaded sentence beginning with 'Her world'. It has problems. For one, I think it's passive -- nothing is acting (except the ghost at the end), every verb is a variation on 'appears to be'. It also meanders a bit and could be tighter.

I twiddled with it a bit, but there's not much I can do to improve that sentence. I don't know enough about your story to really do it justice. The point is that what I've left behind is IMHO the meat, the parts you really need. I hope this gives you an idea of how to rewrite that important piece of the query.
Folk Lore is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!
Any other writing credits? Might mention them briefly here. Best of luck!

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 10:58 am

Hey Remus!
I'm sitting here rewriting and banging my head on the computer desk. Thank you so much for your advice! I like short and sweet too, but it's really hard to sift through everything and choose what to include. I am sure going to incorporate your advice here, as I scratch to fix this!
-vic

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by Yoshima » February 10th, 2010, 11:01 am

Hey Vic! Here's my bash--er, thoughts, haha. Kidding, just a friendly critique comin' your way. :)


Dear Wonderful Agent,

Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down, stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her. (This is great! I can picture her already. I'm so reading on.)

When sixteen year old Haley Martin (Hmm. This seems like you're reintroducing us to Haley. Maybe move Haley's age up to the top and just say her first name here?)moves to a small town in Kansas, she hopes that the small town naiveté might have some kind of wholesome effect on her family (Since you didn't say her family was unwholesome earlier, this kind of made me pause. And her family isn't really mentioned much later on, so maybe just omit this part (I mean, tell us she's moving, but leave out her hopes for her family) and focus on the weird boy in the shed behind her house. That's the part of this paragraph that really kept me interested.). But then she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house, and she realizes this small town is not as innocuous as she had hoped. (Budding romance? *nudge nudge*)
Beau tells Haley that his father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. He also reveals that his mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him. (I love secret societies and such, so this makes me all giddy to read on.)
Haley finds herself drawn into a battle between the society and the scraggly remnant (This makes me unsure if you mean just Beau or if there's more rebels. Be more specific?) that still resists them. Her world contorts into one where outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts, where cloaked sociopaths could be hiding behind every tree, where a ghost transports her through the flame of the candle it carries. (I hate to say it, but these are details that don't belong in a list. We haven't been introduced to the concept of ghosts or witches yet, so putting them in a general list doesn't give them the power they should have. I know it's probably because you ran out of room to explain them (I totally feel ya on that one), so maybe just pick the most important one or two? From just a query reader standpoint, I think the first two are the most crucial to making your plot flow smoothly on here.)She is torn between the romantic pursuits of two brothers on either side of the battle, and she learns that the society orchestrated her move to Linney. (For some reason this ending sentence doesn't make the problem feel urgent enough to me. Maybe it's the romantic part; it's kind of distracting from the world building you were doing and then takes away from the mystery of why the society made her move to Linney. Maybe put the romance earlier when you're talking about Beau? Also, you didn't mention Linney being the name of the town she moved to. Just something I caught last minute. :) )
Folk Lore is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!
Have a nice day!
-Vic

Honestly I think this is a great start. It got me really interested in your story--who doesn't like witches and ghosts?--and I didn't want to stop reading at any point. The query does, however, need some more tinkering to give it a little more punch at the end especially. Keep playing with it. I'll have an eye out for your next revision, if you decide to post it. :)

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 11:22 am

Yeah! Yoshima!
You know I love your opinions! Thank you so much! A bit more tinkering, and the next version will be up.

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 12:09 pm

Still too rough I know, but I'm ready for round 2. (I know Remus, it's still too long! I'm trying, really!)
Thanks again, you guys!

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her.

When Haley moves to a small town in Kansas, she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him.

As Haley helps Beau and his friends try to put an end to the sinister order, her world contorts. Outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts. Cloaked sociopaths chase her as she walks home by night. And she is haunted by a spirit of one of the society’s victims.

Haley learns that a child witch helped form the society. When the child realized the evil that she helped create, she cursed them and fled the town. Since that day, the society has searched for a way to lift the curse. They orchestrated Haley’s move to town, because they believe that she is the heir of the child witch, and are determined to draw her into their ranks.

FOLKLORE is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!

-Vic

Ok, let her rip...

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by Remus Shepherd » February 10th, 2010, 3:15 pm

aspiring_x wrote:Still too rough I know, but I'm ready for round 2. (I know Remus, it's still too long! I'm trying, really!)
Dude, if I were getting results with my queries, I would be able to definitely say that yours is too long. Since I'm not getting results, you might consider that I don't know what I'm talking about, and go ahead and pad it out like other people suggest. :) Everything I say is a suggestion, and only my opinion.
Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her.

When Haley moves to a small town in Kansas, she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him.

As Haley helps Beau and his friends try to put an end to the sinister order, her world contorts. Outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts. Cloaked sociopaths chase her as she walks home by night. And she is haunted by a spirit of one of the society’s victims.
I like all of this. It's succinct and sketches Haley's situation very well. (The only thing I'd lose is the bit about the Mayor. It sounds like a plot twist, which is something I wouldn't want to telegraph in a query, and the Mayor is not mentioned again. But I cut it before and you kept it in, so you'll probably keep it. :) )
Haley learns that a child witch helped form the society. When the child realized the evil that she helped create, she cursed them and fled the town. Since that day, the society has searched for a way to lift the curse. They orchestrated Haley’s move to town, because they believe that she is the heir of the child witch, and are determined to draw her into their ranks.
This I'm not so hot on. It doesn't say the obvious -- the society wants Haley to lift the curse -- and 'drawing her in' doesn't have enough tension for the final bit of your story blurb. Maybe something like this:
Haley learns that a founder of the society, a child witch, cursed them for the evil they had become. They orchestrated Haley's move to town to force her to lift the curse, believing her to be the heir to the child witch's power. But to do that Haley must join them...and risk losing her soul.
I put the 'losing her soul' bit in because I want you to show some sense of what is at stake for Haley. I don't know if her soul is actually in danger in the story. But something is -- tell us what.

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by Yoshima » February 10th, 2010, 6:59 pm

aspiring_x wrote:Still too rough I know, but I'm ready for round 2. (I know Remus, it's still too long! I'm trying, really!)
Thanks again, you guys!

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her. (Oh Vic, must you totally and utterly hook me so? *dramatic hand to the forehead*)

When Haley moves to a small town in Kansas, she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him. (Much better. Just curious, what's the society's name? Maybe use that instead of The Mayor, since you mention the society more than his mom.)

As Haley helps Beau and his friends try to put an end to the sinister order, her world contorts. Outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts. Cloaked sociopaths chase her as she walks home by night. And she is haunted by a spirit of one of the society’s victims. (A brief exp., like three or four words or a tiny phrase, of why the ghost is haunting her would make it more powerful, me thinks. Or maybe integrate that into the sentence. Again, only tinkering with it will tell.)

Haley learns that a child witch helped form the society. When the child realized the evil that she helped create, she cursed them and fled the town (how old of a child are we talkin' here? The judgmental skills sound pretty adult to me. Maybe clarify an age?). Since that day, the society has searched for a way to lift the curse. They orchestrated Haley’s move to town, because they believe that she is the heir of the child witch, and are determined to draw her into their ranks. (Maybe set up the stakes of what would happen if she refuses. Will they burn her at stake, or kill her family? I think that will help get an agent foaming at the mouth to ask for pages. :) )

FOLKLORE is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!

-Vic

Ok, let her rip...
Getting warmer! :)

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by Serzen » February 10th, 2010, 7:51 pm

aspiring_x wrote: Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her. Nice and tight. I would probably lose the comma here and replace with an ellipsis.

When Haley's family moves to a small town in Kansas she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society and now they are after him.

As Haley helps Beau and his friends try to put an end to the sinister order, her world contorts. Outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts. Cloaked sociopaths chase her as she walks home by night. And She is haunted by a spirit of one of the society’s victims.

Haley learns that a child witch helped form the society. When the child realized the evil that she helped create, she cursed them and fled the town. Since that day the society has searched for a way to lift the curse. They orchestrated Haley’s move to town because they believe that she is the heir of the child witch, and are determined to draw her into their ranks.

FOLKLORE is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time! Exclamation marks are the sign of a deranged mind ;)

-Vic

Ok, let her 'er rip...
Very nicely written. I removed some extra commas that I didn't feel like taking the time to do proper markup on. You'll probably see which are gone.

Second paragraph, made it clear that Haley didn't up and head to Kansas on her own. Leave no room for doubt. While we're on the second paragraph, allow me to say that I REALLY like "The Mayor" as an implied title and name for the mother. It sounds more secretive/menacing than other forms I can think of off the top of my head.

Third paragraph, last sentence, just tried to match the same style as the two previous sentences. Also, previous sentence: dig cloaked sociopaths, they're the best villains this side of, erm, uncloaked sociopaths, maybe. Seriously, classily done.

Nice piece. Well done.

~Serzen
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by TheShadow » February 10th, 2010, 8:57 pm

Hi aspiring_x! hope my comments help
aspiring_x wrote:Still too rough I know, but I'm ready for round 2. (I know Remus, it's still too long! I'm trying, really!)
Thanks again, you guys!

Dear Wonderful Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Haley Martin doesn’t like conflict. She keeps her head down and stays out of trouble. She doesn’t know that trouble has been seeking her for generations, and now it has found her. Great opening

When Haley moves to a small town in Kansas, she discovers Beau, a homeless boy, sleeping in the shed behind her house. Could go with "...discovers a homless boy named Beau sleeping in..." to clear up the commas, if you want. Beau's father and sister were murdered by a secret society that has controlled the town since its inception. His mother, The Mayor, is the leader of the society, and now they are after him.

As Haley helps Beau and his friends try to put an end to the sinister order, her world contorts. This sounds funny to me, I Imagine a face contorting, a body contorting, it's a strange image. Maybe something like her world or life becomes complicated? Outlandish journals about witches and ghost stories are taken as historical accounts. Cloaked sociopaths chase her as she walks home by night. And she is haunted by a spirit of one of the society’s victims.

Haley learns that a child witch helped form the society. When the child realized the evil that she helped create, she cursed them and fled the town. Since that day, the society has searched for a way to lift the curse. They orchestrated Haley’s move to town, because they believe that she is the heir of the child witch, and are determined to draw her into their ranks.

FOLKLORE is a 99,000 word YA Paranormal Fiction work. I sincerely appreciate your time!

-Vic

Ok, let her rip...
Very nice query. I don't think it's at all too long at 4 paragraphs.
What dark dreams lay in dormant minds?

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Re: Query: Folklore

Post by aspiring_x » February 10th, 2010, 11:11 pm

Remus Shepherd wrote:
Dude, if I were getting results with my queries, I would be able to definitely say that yours is too long. Since I'm not getting results, you might consider that I don't know what I'm talking about, and go ahead and pad it out like other people suggest. :) Everything I say is a suggestion, and only my opinion.Hee hee. I was just kidding, well mostly. And that is quite possibly the first time I've ever been called "Dude!" I feel so honored! Never been cool enough to garner such a title...

The only thing I'd lose is the bit about the Mayor. It sounds like a plot twist, which is something I wouldn't want to telegraph in a query, and the Mayor is not mentioned again. But I cut it before and you kept it in, so you'll probably keep it. :) I'm still on the fence about this one...

I don't know if her soul is actually in danger in the story. But something is -- tell us what.This is excellent advice!
Thanks a whole bunch Remus!

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