NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

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Mary-Catharine
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NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 20th, 2011, 12:12 am

Mary Edmondson
(personal information)

(Agent information)

Dear Agent,

Teenage misfit Tabitha Colquitt is certain above all things that she's a werewolf. But, no matter how Brody's human scent might be tempting, her love for him is the only thing keeping her human. What she is uncertain of is if she can stop Cole-- a werewolf that is infatuated with her, in his fight to kill Brody and any man that gets in the way of Tabitha's affection. When Cole changed Tabitha, he thought he could have her all to himself. He didn't expect Tabitha's feelings for Brody to get into the way of that, and Brody's resilience to stay by her side no matter what sort of monster she might be.

Now, Tabitha is not only the apple in the eye of a sadistic werewolf, but the target of wolf monarchs, the Munichs, who fight to prevent overexposure to their world. Since many rules were broken when Tabitha was changed by Cole, she will be placed on werewolf probation and Cole will be exiled.

If Tabitha cannot learn to hone her abilities, she will be executed or sent to Hagan Correctional Institute, a prison of dangerous hellhounds. But even with the impending trial and the risk of a prison full of volatile wolves, Tabitha’s mainly concerned with keeping Brody safe from Cole’s plot to kill him. What Tabitha doesn’t want to admit, is if she really loved Brody, she’d take him out of her new world which threatens his life. But letting go of Brody risks’ Tabitha losing what humanity she has left.

While others see Tabitha’s capability to protect her urges around the ones she loves as a gift, others see her as a ticking time bomb. Tabitha needs prove to the Munichs she’s not a danger during her trial, or it's hello Hagan. Tabitha doesn’t know if she’ll ever be accepted by the Munichs, or if she can let go of Brody to save him. And, she never would have guessed that when she discovered a world where terrifyingly skilled werewolves lived, she would end up being the delinquent to their society.


NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT is a 120,000 word Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy proving that loves bite is worse than its bark.
Last edited by Mary-Catharine on January 25th, 2011, 7:44 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by glj » January 20th, 2011, 2:18 pm

The formatting is non-standard. Intentional or haven't done it yet?

Teenage misfit Tabitha Colquitt is certain she’s a werewolf. Nice. Short, punchy, and to the point.

She is also certain she’s in love with, the human, Brody Eischen, and she’d do anything to protect him. Keep in same paragraph as the first sentence.

Especially from a Machiavellian huh? Machiavellian is normally used to denote a person who is politically astute and who creates and manipulates political schemes to get what he wants. I don't see how this works here. stalker, Cole, who plots to kill Brody. It would be helpful for the reader to get a hint of WHY Cole plans to kill Brody and what is at stake.

However, Cole would never harm Brody... Not sure why you have an ellipsis here. It is commonly used to show a delay, especially in dialog. without her permission, So is Cole also a werewolf? Seems the only reason Cole would have to have Tabitha's permission. Am I missing something? and vowed to leave Tabitha's life forever if he does. If he does what? If he kills Brody? Does the vow only matter if he doesn't get her permission to kill Brody? This needs to be clearer.

Re-reading, this seems to imply that Tabitha has a choice between Brody and Cole, and the choice of Cole comes with the death of bachelor number one. But that is only what I read into it, and nowhere else is this taken up or explained. This seems critical, if my assumption is correct. Since she likes Brody, and she can protect him, why wouldn't she choose him? Is there some compelling and competing reason for NOT choosing Brody?


She knows Brody would sacrifice his life for her, which is why she's terrified what might happen when Brody discovers Cole's promisePeriod needed here. Okay, now I'm really lost. So Tabitha fears that if Brody finds out that Cole promised that he, Cole, would only kill Brody if Tabitha gives her permission, why then Tabitha fears that Brody will . . . What? Brody might sacrifice his own life to kill Cole if he knows that Cole would kill him if anything happened to Tabitha? Arg, my head!

Tabitha clings to the hope that he'll Brody? Not clear. one day have a normal, human life, if she can find the strength to let him go. Aww, just like that little baby bunny that she caught but didn't eat! Sorry about the sarcasm, but this is vague enough that my warped mind twisted it into something that I'm sure you didn't intend.

But, her love for Brody is the only thing keeping Tabitha from letting her urges be tempted by Brody’s potent scent. Pine? Licorice? Sorry, second instance of sarcasm also uncalled for. I assume you meant that she is sexually attracted to Brody, right? I hope you don't mean that she is having a hard time in keeping herself from killing and eating him? Although that could be a far cooler story, come to think of it! Does she salivate when he tans? Does she draw dashes on his skin and divide him up into Brody steaks and chops? Sorry, so sorry, I'll stop.

What Tabitha is uncertain of, is if she really loves Brody and wants to protect him, she’d take control and let go of him. Okay, let me sum up what I see as the main problem with your query. First, it seems that she is enamored of the guy. And that she could fall in love with him, but then bad things would happen to Brody (my assumption, not clear to me from the letter itself). So she has the dilemma of walking away from love and happiness by dumping him, or if she makes out with him then bad things will happen. At least, bad things will happen to Brody. It is not clear if anything bad will happen to Tabitha as a result.

What you may want to do is to establish, CLEARLY, what bad things happen if she chooses him versus what bad things happen if she doesn't choose him. The above are my assumptions, as a query letter needs conflict and suspense in the mind of the reader as to how the protagonist is going to solve her dilemma. Without that, the query has no punch and will not compell the reader to need to read more. It needs to be more than "Brody dies", however. There must be painful possibilities for Tabitha, the protagonist, too. You need to show WHY she will have such difficulty in making her decision.


Final note: I know nothing about the Stephanie Meyers series, except that it has a girl protagonist who must choose between a boy vampire and a boy werewolf. Be careful that your query doesn't sound like you are trying to write a sequel or rip-off.

NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT is a 119,000 word Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy novel proving that loves bite is worse than its bark. If love bites, great! If love barks, you're doing something wrong.

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by glj » January 20th, 2011, 3:23 pm

Mary Catharine,

I apologize in advance for my previous post. I hope it did not come across as offensive or nasty, and merely as the result of a sick mind sitting in front of a computer and avoiding doing my actual work. I hope that you find some useful bits in my post.

An additional bit of advice is to avoid using broad concluding sentences. They are not as bad as using rhetorical questions, but I would still avoid them. Yes, we are taught in grade school to wind up a letter with some vague and airy blandishment, but a wrap-up sentence like "now she must __ in order to find happiness" is so broad and vague as to do nothing for a query. An extreme example would be "And then strange things happen." I have never seen a query with anything this bad, and I make it up merely for example, but do so to illustrate my point with an extreme. You have precious few words and you need to create a strong interest in the story. Show just enough plot and character to create interest. Don't bring in anything unnecessary to that. This may be the hardest thing about a query, though, deciding what is needed and what isn't. I have struggled with this dilemma over and over and have tended to overstuff my queries, with my crit group repeatedly smacking my knuckles when I do.

GLJ

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 20th, 2011, 3:35 pm

glj wrote:Mary Catharine,

I apologize in advance for my previous post. I hope it did not come across as offensive or nasty, and merely as the result of a sick mind sitting in front of a computer and avoiding doing my actual work. I hope that you find some useful bits in my post.

An additional bit of advice is to avoid using broad concluding sentences. They are not as bad as using rhetorical questions, but I would still avoid them. Yes, we are taught in grade school to wind up a letter with some vague and airy blandishment, but a wrap-up sentence like "now she must __ in order to find happiness" is so broad and vague as to do nothing for a query. An extreme example would be "And then strange things happen." I have never seen a query with anything this bad, and I make it up merely for example, but do so to illustrate my point with an extreme. You have precious few words and you need to create a strong interest in the story. Show just enough plot and character to create interest. Don't bring in anything unnecessary to that. This may be the hardest thing about a query, though, deciding what is needed and what isn't. I have struggled with this dilemma over and over and have tended to overstuff my queries, with my crit group repeatedly smacking my knuckles when I do.

GLJ
I took all of your advice, and I agree that every word is precious. I actually laughed... to keep from crying. But, indeed, you make a valuable point, and I appreciate your honesty with me. You are very witty and a cheeky little bastard, I seriously thought about karate chopping my computer until I took a breath. Just kidding, I'm really glad that you told me this. No hard feelings. I think I wrote all of that last minute when I actually had something better, which I hope you like. However, no excuses for myself!

But seriously, dude, you bleed all over my query. I'm glad you have a sick mind. Because even though great minds think a like, bad minds must be original.

I actually have some great news! I've recently come back into contact with a writer who I met when I was in highschool, and she asked to look at my work. I was skeptical at first, then two years later I see her outside the Court House and decided to take it as a sign. I gave her my book about two months ago, and she just responded with telling me how much she liked it and I should be getting a response some time soon. Fingers crossed!

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 20th, 2011, 3:40 pm

She owns her own publishing company now. I forgot to add that part in.

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by glj » January 20th, 2011, 5:07 pm

She owns her own publishing company now. I forgot to add that part in.
The only thing better than a friend is a friend who owns a publishing company. :) Tell me that she is a brewery heiress and I will break down and cry.

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Mary-Catharine
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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 20th, 2011, 5:55 pm

She's an entrepreneur and has established herself pretty well. I'm not sure how much doe she's got. She looks well manicured. She's got an expensive weeve. If I learned anything about watching Chris Rock's documentary on weeves, then I know that good hair is pricey!!!!! So, I imagine she has some moolah.
She wrote a book that did really well and was able to start her own publishing company with that.
Awwww, don't cry!!!!!!!!!

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by glj » January 21st, 2011, 5:52 pm

Glad to see a new version of this. Keep at it!

Dear Agent,

Teenage misfit Tabitha Colquitt is certain she's a werewolf. The phrase "is certain" implies that she has deduced this and doesn't actually know it. But this makes me wonder--why is she only "certain"? Maybe you don't have room to add this, but if you could toss in a few extra words, that would be great. (Her mom buys a dog dish with Tabitha's name painted on the side?)

But, no matter how Brody's human scent might be tempting, her love for him is the only thing keeping her in control. You jump abruptly to Brody. A person with no knowledge of your story will be completely lost here. Question: does his "human scent" mean he is NOT wolfie, too?

What she is uncertain of is if she can stop Cole, Awkward wording. Simplify. "She fears she can't stop Cole, ..." a werewolf who is infatuated with her, in his fight to kill Brody and any man that gets in the way of Tabitha's affection. Okay, nit-picky comment about wording. The phrase "that gets in the way of Tabitha's affection" does NOT say that Cole kills anyone who interferes with Cole's plan to have Tabitha. Taken literally, it says that Cole kills anyone who either a) comes on to Tabitha and she doesn't want the affection of that guy, or b) anyone who Tabitha comes on to and who refuses Tabitha's attention gets his throat ripped out by Cole. How about "kill Brody or any man who seeks Tabitha's affection." Small difference, but it is best to avoid ambiguity in a query.

Now, Tabitha is not only the apple in the eye This is cliche, and just doesn't seem to fit here. of a sadistic werewolf, Who, Cole? but the target of wolf monarchs, Not "pack leaders"? This doesn't come across as very ... werewolfy. Tthe Munichs, who fight to prevent overexposure to their world. This leaves out exactly WHO the monarchs are worrying about. Who would get overexposed? (Biting back urge to fill in the blank with the first thing that pops into my twisted mind).

Since Tabitha broke many rules when she was changed by Cole, So Cole lusted after her and changed her into a werewolf, or caused it somehow? To me, this kinda implies that she was punished for what Cole did in "changing" her. she will be placed on werewolf probation. Well, at least they didn't send her to the pound. Or wolfie juvie. Oh, I see that comes later.

A problem is that we don't know earlier in the letter what the relationship is between Tabitha, Brody, and Cole. This discusses them as if the reader already knows who they are. This is not surprising, as I'm sure they've been in your head for a long time. But I have no idea how they are tied together, or why Tabitha has to choose between them. Please note, I am not trying to be stupid here, it is effortless for me.

If she’s found inadequate to live in their society, This doesn't tell us what Tabitha must achieve. Here is where you should reveal the stakes for Tabitha. She is turned into a werewolf, discovers it is pretty cool, as she can get even with the mean girls who called her a dog and wouldn't let her be a cheerleader, but then she finds out that the werewolf society has all these rules and stuff, too, ya know? Gawd, why do I hafta get up early and do my hair now if I'm a werewolf? And there are tests? Crap! I just want to sleep in, chase a few cars, and scare the bejeebers out of the snotty rich kids. Dress code? WTF? I'm covered in fur now! she will be executed or escorted to Hagan Correctional Institute, a prison for wolves who haven’t developed management skills. Uh, management skills? Management of what?! God, please tell me they aren't gunning to be corporate middle managers, or I swear I'll put a silver bullet in my own head!

But even with the impending trial and the risk of a prison full of volatile wolves, Tabitha’s mainly concerned with keeping Brody safe from Cole’s plot to kill him. Hmm, I don't know if the whole "she's gonna get punished by werewolf society" really adds much. It sounds like the Cole-Brody conflict could easily be enough to make readers interested. You might try playing this up. What you have so far makes Cole creepy, so the reader might go "eww, stay away from him!" And Brody comes across as an easy choice (except that he is human and she isn't, which isn't played up enough). I would humbly suggest that you make the choice of Cole vs. Brody much less cut-and-dried, with competing reasons for her choosing either of them. And hint at dark secrets that indicate she shouldn't pick either of them, if that makes any sense. Try to show her as having a genuinely tough decision, a decision that isn't optional, so that readers want to see how she gets out of the corner she's been backed into.

She knows that Brody's life hangs in the balance in her world, still hoping that he'll one day have a normal, human life, if she can just find the strength to let him go. Yeah, go on, unbuckle his leash.

While others see Tabitha’s ability to protect her urges Um, this doesn't make sense to me. Don't you mean "ability to protect the ones she loves"? around the one’s no apostrophe needed she loves as a gift, You already said "ability", so "gift" is redundant. others see her as a ticking time bomb waiting to detonate like a werewolf H-bomb. People tend to do this all the time, try to end with a vague and broad sentence that hints that all hell is going to break loose if the protagonist fails. The problem is that it doesn't present a real and immediate danger to the protagonist. To illustrate with a ridiculously extreme example: "If she doesn't learn to control her new powers, bad things will happen." A reader will respond with "What? What happens? Tell me what dire consequences are looming for Tabitha!" (Hint: rabies shot). Readers might feel frustrated that a query that started out going somewhere is abruptly slammed into park.

But the only reason she hasn't been able to transition is because she's afraid of losing control in front of the one she loves, and unless she proves that to The Munichs during her triall, it's hello Hagan.

Tabitha never would have guessed that when she discovered a world where terrifyingly skilled werewolves lived, she would end up being the delinquent to their society. Nice image, but as stated above, this conflict of her versus werewolf society doesn't seem to be the main conflict or main selling point. Just my opinion, however. Unrelated question: Was Tabitha a deliquent in her former life as a human? Should she expect to be of the same social status in werewolf land, or is she surprised that she was popular as a human, but a loser as a werewolf?


NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT is a 120,000 word Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy proving that love's bite is worse than its bark.
How does your title tie in?

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by ajcattapan » January 21st, 2011, 7:16 pm

Mary-Catharine,

Ask and you shall receive. :) Since you emailed asking for my opinion, I thought I'd take a stab at revising your query. Here's how I think I'd write it if I were you:

Dear Agent:

Teenage misfit Tabitha Colquitt is having a difficult time changing into a werewolf.

When sadistic werewolf Cole began Tabitha's transformation, he did it for love. Cole wanted her all for himself, but Tabitha isn't interested. She's got the hots for human Brody [last name], who has no idea she now spends her nights howling at the moon.

To make matters worse, the monarchs of the werewolf world bring Tabitha to trial for breaking some of their rules. If she’s found guilty, she will be executed or escorted to Hagan Correctional Institute, a prison for wolves who haven’t developed management skills. {I think I’d pick either executed or escorted—make the bad consequence clear.}

[Now I’m stuck because I’m still not sure what Tabitha really wants. Does she want to be accepted by the werewolf community? Does she want to be with Brody? Does she (can she even) turn away from her werewolf side? Or is her goal simply to survive the trial? Once you’ve made it clear what Tabitha’s goal is, you can then state what bad thing would happen if she fails.]

NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT is a 120,000 word Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy proving that love's bite is worse than its bark.


---------------

I'm not sure if that helps, but I'm flattered you asked for my advice. Best of luck to you!

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 21st, 2011, 7:26 pm

I'm definitely going to keep it simple by doing just the Brody-Cole dynamic, like you said, since that is the main focus of the story. Thank you, once again! The title ties in because Brody gives Tabitha a superhero alias: Nightframe. I'm going to take a week, and really try to get this right. I'm going to write, let it sit, write, and I'll be back to you guys then! Thank you so much. Once again glj, you've made me laugh and want to slap myself in the face all at the same time.

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by clara_w » January 22nd, 2011, 11:03 am

I really liked this version Mary! I agree that you should let us know what Tabitha wants (recognition in the werewolf community etc) but asides that, this is quite interesting, since I love dark, evil romantic interests as well! lol

Im hoping everything works out with your publishing friend! Crossing my fingers!! =D

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Falls Apart » January 22nd, 2011, 2:08 pm

. . . Wow . . . I really want to read this book . . .

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 22nd, 2011, 6:25 pm

Why thank you, Falls Apart and clara_w!!!!!

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Holly » January 24th, 2011, 11:10 pm

Mary-Catharine, thanks for looking at my query. I've been wrestling with it for days, so I know how tough they are to write.

The biggest issues I see with your query:

(1) Length: aim for one or at most two paragraphs, approximately 100 words or so total. I went to the drugstore this week and bought a paperback to study the back cover. It had six sentences. The first four sentences were about the first chapter. The last two sentences gave the main conflict. I tried to use that format and came up with my best query to date. Seriously, give it a try.

(2) Content: the query is a beast, and if you try to cram your entire novel in it, you'll end up with a bad query. Don't try. The point of the query is just to entice us to read the story. Enticement, not explanation. Use the synopsis to tell us the whole thing.

Best of luck to you! Your story sounds really fun.

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Re: NIGHTFRAME: IN THE RED OF THE KNIGHT Query II

Post by Mary-Catharine » January 25th, 2011, 7:40 am

Holly wrote:Mary-Catharine, thanks for looking at my query. I've been wrestling with it for days, so I know how tough they are to write.

The biggest issues I see with your query:

(1) Length: aim for one or at most two paragraphs, approximately 100 words or so total. I went to the drugstore this week and bought a paperback to study the back cover. It had six sentences. The first four sentences were about the first chapter. The last two sentences gave the main conflict. I tried to use that format and came up with my best query to date. Seriously, give it a try.

(2) Content: the query is a beast, and if you try to cram your entire novel in it, you'll end up with a bad query. Don't try. The point of the query is just to entice us to read the story. Enticement, not explanation. Use the synopsis to tell us the whole thing.

Best of luck to you! Your story sounds really fun.
Are you looking at the one at the top or the one in the middle? Because the one I've redone recently is pretty lengthy-- not at all economized. I definitely like the two chapter main conflict thing!

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