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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Queary for Metamorphosis

   
Author Topic: Queary for Metamorphosis
melinda.jean.lehman
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I was told I could put queries up here. I hope this doesn't disrupt anything.
Also since the first 13 lines is a common thread I will only put the first 13 lines of my query on here. If people would like to see the whole things I will post it in the comments.

Dear Agent,
With an evil being called The Fell sent to kill seventeen-year-old Raina her life of normalcy is brought to a terrifying halt. Although it’s not just Raina’s life that’s in danger, the guy she loves, Orin, and his family are also caught in the cross hairs. Raina was never supposed to find out what they were. It was supposed to be a secret. That was the law. But now the law has been broken and everyone Raina loves is in danger including her sweet eight-year-old sister Amy.
Soon after Raina first met Orin strange things started to happen. Shadows appeared in forests, Raina had terrifying dreams that feel like memories, and Amy was convinced a monster was after them; a monster that promised to leave them all begging for death long before they would have it.

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Denevius
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There's several words I would remove: evil, terrifying, sweet.

And there's several words that would probably do better with more descriptive lines: normalcy, danger, loves, strange.

There's a couple of cliches: 'life...in danger', 'find out what they were', law has been broken', 'begging for death'.

Also, shadows appearing in the forests needs great clarification, as it'd probably be a lot stranger if the forest had no shadows, since shadows are common in forests.

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Meredith
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You can put up the whole query. The thirteen-line rule only applies to the actual ms.
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melinda.jean.lehman
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Dear Agent,
With an evil being called The Fell sent to kill seventeen-year-old Raina her life of normalcy is brought to a terrifying halt. Although it’s not just Raina’s life that’s in danger, the guy she loves, Orin, and his family are also caught in the cross hairs. Raina was never supposed to find out what they were. It was supposed to be a secret. That was the law. But now the law has been broken and everyone Raina loves is in danger including her sweet eight-year-old sister Amy.
Soon after Raina first met Orin strange things started to happen. Shadows appeared in forests, Raina had terrifying dreams that feel like memories, and Amy was convinced a monster was after them; a monster that promised to leave them all begging for death long before they would have it.
But the monster isn’t the imagining of an eight-year-old, it’s real. Then a disruption in the balance of power between legendary beings and humans begins in METAMORPHOSIS, a YA fantasy of 105,941 words, and the first book of a series.
If I have been able to pique your curiosity METAMORPHOSIS is ready upon your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Gratefully,
Melinda

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extrinsic
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The core complication I see is Raina's discovery of the Fell's existence. How the law of keeping their existence secret is broken seems to me the first compelling force that upsets Raina's routine, a reversal. Discovery and reversal are core plot features related to causation. Causation: cause and effect, action and reaction, stimulus and response organize an order of circumstances.

Raina's discovery of the Fell seems to me a first cause.
How is Raina informed of the law and the penalty for her unwitting breaking of the law?

A theme lies just below the surface here, one of a secret society that does not tolerate interaction with outsiders, humans, due to some unnamed reason. This is a why question for the reason the Fell do not interact with outsiders.

Amy, Orin, and all Raina's people being also in jeopardy seems to me a much later complication than the one of Raina's discovery. And their dangers are to my thinking a distraction meant to show Raina as a self-sacrificing hero for the sake of evoking empathy. Empathy is worthwhile for creating tension, but without sufficient detail about the complication, little curiosity is evoked. Consider focusing on Raina's discovery, reversal, how she finds out what she finds out, and why the Fell are the way they are toward outsiders as Raina understands them at the moment of her discovery.

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Meredith
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What Extrinsic said.
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melinda.jean.lehman
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Wow, Extrinsic, you do seem to enjoy words [Smile] But amid all the words I'm not understanding what's not working for you.
Could you perhaps explain it to me in a more simple way?

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Meredith
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In few words, as I read it, feature the inciting incident. In this case, how Raina discovers that the Fell is real and there's a problem with loving Orin.
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melinda.jean.lehman
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Really just wanted to hear from Extrinsic. But thanks anyway Meredith.
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MAP
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First of all, The Metamorphosis is a famous short story by Franz Kafka (Maybe you already know that; please don't take offense if you do. I'm just pointing it out). My point is that the first thing I think of when seeing your title is Franz Kafka's story.

I know that I wouldn't want readers thinking of that story when they read mine because it is a brilliant story far beyond what I am capable of writing.

Anyway, I think you might want to keep that in mind.

As for the query, I still think you are being to vague, and it feels like you are being purposely vague. From the other thread, I gather that you don't want to give away too much. And I'm definitely not asking you to give away the climax, just be more specific with the information you are giving.

quote:
With an evil being called The Fell (this is vague. I have no idea what the Fell is and just being evil is not interesting) sent to kill seventeen-year-old Raina (Why? give us some hint as to what makes her so special) her life of normalcy is brought to a terrifying halt. Although it’s not just Raina’s life that’s in danger, the guy she loves, Orin, and his family are also caught in the cross hairs. (I'd cut the part I italicized. It's not interesting. In the other version you indicated that Orin was involved somehow with the Fell, and that was more interesting but it was still a little too vague) Raina was never supposed to find out what they were(This is actually a bit confusing. What are they? How did she find out what they were. Were they trying to kill her before or after she found out? I think the query would be better told in chronological order). It was supposed to be a secret. That was the law. But now the law has been broken and everyone Raina loves is in danger including her sweet eight-year-old sister Amy. (this whole part feels redundant because you've already told us that she is being hunted by these Fell and that her sister and boyfriend are all caught up in it. You don't have much space to write a query letter. Do not squander that space by being redundant)
Soon after Raina first met Orin strange things started to happen (now we are going back even further in time, I think? If you put the events in chronological order, there will be less confusion. The most important part of writing anything is clarity). Shadows appeared in forests, Raina had terrifying dreams (vague again) that feel like memories, and Amy was convinced a monster (vague again. A monster could be anything) was after them; a monster that promised to leave them all begging for death long before they would have it (this sentence is awkward which difuses the impact).
But the monster isn’t the imagining of an eight-year-old, it’s real (yeah, we get that. Don't need to tell us). Then a disruption in the balance of power between legendary beings and humans begins in METAMORPHOSIS (This whole part I italicized is vague and really means nothing to me), a YA fantasy of 105,941 words, and the first book of a series.
If I have been able to pique your curiosity METAMORPHOSIS is ready upon your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Gratefully,
Melinda

I think you are making your query letter needlessly confusing by not presenting the events in chronological order. Yes, I know some writers can get a way with this, but it isn't working here IMO. Personally, I would start when Raina meets Orin and build from there. That sounds like where the novel begins. Of course I could be completely wrong and hence my confusion. [Smile]

Second problem is that you are being way too vague, IMO. There are two problems with this.

1. I believe that strong, confident writing comes from using specific details, so when you are vague, your writing comes off as weak. If you give more details, your writing will be stronger.

2. As it is, this story sounds very generic. An average girl who is something more gets pulled into a supernatural world and has to fight to save those she loves. That is essentially what I am getting from your query. There are a ton of books at amazon that match this description.

I'm not ragging on your plot. There is a reason that there are so many books like this out there, this plot sells. In fact, I'm writing one. [Smile] But the problem is that when you hold back the specific details like who the Fell are and why Raina is targeted, etc. You are holding back all the stuff that makes your story different than the all the others out there. We need a reason to pick up your book instead of one of the other hundreds. Don't hold back on what makes your story unique.

And I know from the other thread that you don't want to give away your reveals and plot twists, and I get that. But if you can't convince us to read the book, we won't see those twists anyway. So don't withold. Be specific. I think it will make your query more interesting.

This is all just my opinion. It is your story, take what works and leave the rest.

Good luck!

[ May 20, 2013, 05:23 PM: Message edited by: MAP ]

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melinda.jean.lehman
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MAP, thank you so much! Your feed back has been so to the point and incredibly helpful. It's funny because someone that I had look at my first query told me I was giving to much away and needed to cut back so I did. This is what I got and it obviously doesn't work.
Thank you so much for being specific and giving examples of how to fix the problem arias. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like now with your feedback I will be able to write a proper query.
I think I was starting to listen to people who weren't really knowledgeable about writing queries.
It may sound weird but I wish I could hug you. Again, thank you!

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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melinda.jean.lehman, please allow me to put in a word in support of both Meredith's and extrinsic's knowledgeability regarding writing, not just of queries, but other aspects of writing as well.

One of the advantages of the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum is that there are many participants, and that makes it possible for writers to find those whose feedback helps them best, among the many.

Even if someone's feedback isn't all that helpful to you, personally, please be sure to thank them as well. After all, they did take the time to read and comment on your query.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by melinda.jean.lehman:
Wow, Extrinsic, you do seem to enjoy words [Smile] But amid all the words I'm not understanding what's not working for you.
Could you perhaps explain it to me in a more simple way?

I mean I feel there's too much going on that's unfocused in the query and given in an order that further confuses me about what the novel is about.
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melinda.jean.lehman
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury, do not think that I was disrespecting Meredith or Extrinsic in any way.
What I said in my previous comment about being told something that was incorrect about my query was not directed at anyone on this forum. I joined Hatrack so as to receive better advice.
Sometimes some peoples comments are simply more helpful than others. It's a mater of how I best learn and understand what's being given to me. And I am always grateful for any comments given to me, helpful or not, as you will also see in my previous comment.
And, truthfully, just because someone may sound like they know what they are talking about doesn't mean that they do. Just speaking from experience.
But thank you so very much for the reminder, albeit unnecessary nor warranted. [Smile]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I'm glad to hear that my reminder is unwarranted. I was just concerned that Meredith and extrinsic might have interpreted your responses as disrespecting them.

In my opinion, they are people whose feedback you want to encourage, even if you're not sure you understand it, and to study until you do understand what they are trying to tell you.

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shimiqua
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aw snap...

You keep insulting some of the nicest, most insightful people on this site. You keep going, and I'll pop some popcorn and wait until you insult one of the less patient.

Carry on.

And, by the way, here's my two cents on the query.

With an evil being called The Fell sent to kill seventeen-year-old Raina her life of normalcy is brought to a terrifying halt.Like MAP said, this is vague.What is A Fell, and why is it dangerous. Show us the stakes Although it’s not just Raina’s life that’s in danger, the guy she loves could you say boyfriend? Also what time period is this set in, Orin, and his family are also caught in the cross hairs cliche. Raina was never supposed to find out what they were. It was supposed to be a secret. That was the law. But now the law has been broken and everyone Raina loves is in danger including her sweet eight-year-old sister Amy.I'd say her little sister
Start hereSoon after Raina first met Orin strange things started to happen. Shadows appeared in forests, Raina had tense shift terrifying dreams that feel like memories, and Amy was convinced a monster was after them; a monster that promised to leave them all begging for death long before they would have it.
But the monster isn’t the imagining of an eight-year-old, it’s real. Then a disruption in the balance of power between legendary beings and humans begins in METAMORPHOSIS, a YA fantasy of 105,941 words, and the first book of a series.
If I have been able to pique your curiosity METAMORPHOSIS is ready upon your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think you need to restructure the query, and tell it as it happens... MAP is so smart, I just realized she said the same thing.

The main thing I'd want to know is what makes this story different than the gazillion others already out there.

For me, the interesting thing is her relationship with her little sister. I'd focus on that, because then it isn't just another My-boyfriend-is-an-immortal-and-a-bad-guy-is-after-us Story, it's a I-need-to-save-my-sister Story which hasn't been done to death.

I want to know about Raina, what she likes, or what her interests are, or what makes her different. I want to know more about Orin, what makes his so cool, what is different about him, and about their love story. If you can make me care about them, then I'll dig the story.

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melinda.jean.lehman
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Yes I am scraping the query. It was not very good.
And I do really like the relationship that Raina has with her sister and I think I will focus more on that.
Thank you so much for your feed back. I truly appreciate it.

Now, for whatever reason you are feeling the need to attack me. I'm not sure if I have offend your dog in another life or what. But seriously, calm down and stop acting like a child. I was having an honest discussion with these people and perhaps others felt I was to harsh but I dont mince words. This is a difficulty with having things typed out, you cant hear inflection or read facial expressions.
But from all you have said it seems like you are hunting for a fight. Unfortunately I wont be able to oblige you. I have a rather full life that requires my attention.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Hmm. Since you're scrapping the query, I'll go ahead and close this topic.
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