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Any Horror But This (Psych Thriller)


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#41 RosieSkye

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 10:42 PM

Alright--finished with my latest round of line edits on the draft so here's another hack at this thing, with a brand new hook to try out:

 

Andi can’t move, can’t scream, and he’s always there when she opens her eyes. (the wording of this is throwing me - at first I think "he" is Andi, but then I realize "she" is Andi, and I don't know who "he" is... you see what I'm getting at?)

 

Suffering from sleep paralysis, Andi is haunted each morning by hallucinations, and the worst is the incubus she calls the shadowman. Desperate to regain control of her mind, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study. The mysterious pills, electrodes attached to her skull, and sound-proofed rooms do nothing to keep the shadowman at bay, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her.

 

Unbeknownst to Andi, one of the other study subjects is running his own experiment. (since this a dual POV, I'd do a little more to introduce the second character here. Mentioning Andi straightaway in this paragraph keeps us tied to her, and makes for a bit of a rocky transition to this new guy.) Obsessed with a shadowman of his own, he’s already left three victims along the banks of the Mississippi. The fourth will show him what he’s doing wrong (I'm not sure what this means - does he not intend to kill them?). The fifth will be Andi’s best friend. (does he know this already? If so, I'd make that clear so we stay in his POV.)

 

Each night in the sleep clinic makes Andi question her sanity. Each murder brings the killer comes closer to realizing that Andi is his perfect subject.

 

Complete at 90,000 words, ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a dual-POV psychological thriller.  I completed my MFA blah blah blah

 

Hope this helps!



#42 Mezzanine

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Posted 06 June 2016 - 07:10 AM

Alright--finished with my latest round of line edits on the draft so here's another hack at this thing, with a brand new hook to try out:

 

Andi can’t move, can’t scream, and he’s always there when she opens her eyes. (Good, grabs me)

 

Suffering from sleep paralysis, Andi is haunted each morning by hallucinations, and the worst is the incubus she calls the shadowman. Desperate to regain control of her mind, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study. The mysterious pills, electrodes attached to her skull, sound-proofed rooms do nothing to keep the shadowman at bay, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her. (I like the concrete visuals. Flows well)

 

Unbeknownst to Andi, one of the other study subjects (I come from the social sciences, and some would balk at using a term other than "participant," just so you know) is running his own experiment. Obsessed with a shadowman of his own, he’s already left three victims along the banks of the Mississippi. The fourth will show him what he’s doing wrong. The fifth will be Andi’s best friend.

 

Each night in the sleep clinic makes Andi question her sanity. Each murder brings the killer comes closer to realizing that Andi is his perfect subject. (This isn't bad, but I wonder if you could tweak it to increase the suspense. Maybe something ending the sentence and paragraph with the killer getting closer, this way the reader is left with the tension of the person closing in rather than the less tense version you have now which ends on her being his perfect participant. This is of course something that's there in the content of the sentence, over all, but tweaking the structure of the sentence can pull this out even more so you end the sentence, and hence the description, with more of a punch)

 

Complete at 90,000 words, ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a dual-POV psychological thriller.  I completed my MFA blah blah blah

 

This is looking pretty good. Hope this helps in some way. Best of luck!

 

My query: http://agentquerycon...e-6#entry321292



#43 VitaCoco

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Posted 06 June 2016 - 12:04 PM

Hey! I hope I can help


Alright--finished with my latest round of line edits on the draft so here's another hack at this thing, with a brand new hook to try out:

Andi can’t move, can’t scream, and he’s always there whenever she opens her eyes, he's there.

Suffering from sleep paralysis, Andi is haunted each morning by hallucinations (em-dash) the worst being, and the worst is the incubus she calls the shadowman. Desperate to regain control of her mind, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study. The mysterious pills, electrodes attached to her skull sticky electrode patches, and sound-proofed rooms do nothing to keep the shadowman at bay, and. After ________, Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her.

Unbeknownst to Andi, one of the other study subjects is running his own experiment. Obsessed with a shadowman of his own, he’s already left three victims along the banks of the Mississippi. The fourth next one will show him what he’s doing wrong. She also happens to be The fifth will be Andi’s best friend. If Andy doesn't _________, (something terrible will happen and the killer will realize she's the perfect subject).

Each night in the sleep clinic makes Andi question her sanity. Each murder brings the killer comes closer to realizing that Andi is his perfect subject.

Complete at 90,000 words, ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a dual-POV psychological thriller. I completed my MFA blah blah blah


"You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes" (Pooh).


#44 Thrash

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 03:23 PM

Okay I really went back to the drawing board on this one. Tried to focus on character/emotional tension over the set-up for the serial killer. It's amazing how many ways you can describe a book without actually lying, right? I'm leaving out some major elements here, but hopefully this gives a clear enough picture of Andi to make agents interested in more. 

 

Andi prefers to think of herself as the rational, down-to-earth type. She even considers her work, cleaning and restoring oil paintings, to be more science than art. And yet, when she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an impossible apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, threatens to suffocate her.  

 

Desperate to reconcile these experiences with her no-nonsense world view, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study for sleep paralysis, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. As the nights go by, the hallucination keeps coming, more real than ever, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her.

 

As she considers leaving the study, Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured when she is kidnapped and forced to start a new experiment, which pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. To escape, Andi must face everything she’s been running from, everything she's worked to convince herself isn't real. 

 

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 



#45 Thrash

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 03:42 PM

I think I caught everyone on that last round to reciprocate feedback, but if I missed it or you'd like me to look at a second round, msg me.



#46 dogsbody

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 03:50 PM

1. This is concisely, descriptively, interestingly written.

 

2. I barely see your protagonist in it.

 

I see where she is at any given time in the query, but I'm not sure how this is a story about her, as opposed to the events happening to her. Does that distinction make sense? I don't know what her endgame is and how she's working for it, I don't see how SHE is conflicted (instead of just running into conflict), and I'm not sure what's at stake for her as an individual (instead of the general goals of living free and un-tormented).

 

I think this query shows amazing chops at the ability to produce atmosphere in plain but accessible writing (exactly what you need in a query). But overall my sense of your book is less of a story happening to a character I'm interested in, and more a vaguely sinister situation. 

 

Also: is this really a psychological thriller? It seems more supernatural or horror in nature. Maybe it's just the lack of focus on Andi, but I don't understand what's psychological about kidnapping and "weird science"-type experiments. Querying under the wrong genre is a major concern, so I'm just putting it out there how things might come across. 



#47 slappadabass

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Posted 12 July 2016 - 09:20 PM

Andi prefers to think of herself as the rational, down-to-earth type. She even considers her work, cleaning and restoring oil paintings, to be more science than art. And yet,don't start a sentence with and when she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an impossible apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, threatens to suffocate her.  

 

Desperate to reconcile these experiences with her no-nonsense world view, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study for sleep paralysis, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. As the nights go by, the hallucination keeps coming it sounds awkward, more real than ever, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her.

 

As she considers leaving the study, Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured when she is kidnapped and forced to start a new experiment,  which pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman.don't put as and when in the same sentenceThis isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived.avoid starting your sentence with this To escape, Andi must face everything she’s been running from, everything she's worked to convince herself isn't real. 



#48 Thrash

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 07:54 PM

Some tweaks: 

 

Andi thinks of herself as the rational, down-to-earth type. Her work, cleaning and restoring oil paintings, is more science than art. Yet, a condition called sleep paralysis makes her question her own sanity. When she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, nearly suffocates her. 

 

Desperate to reconcile these impossible experiences with her no-nonsense world view, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. As the nights go by, the hallucination keeps coming, more real than ever, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her. Another participant loses her grip on what’s real. Andi’s nightly dose mysteriously triples.

 

As she considers leaving the study, Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured. She is kidnapped by a man who believes the shadowman is much more than a hallucination, and she is forced to start a new experiment, which pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own.

 

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 



#49 DaveTheRave

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 08:36 PM

Some tweaks: Hey tweaker ;)

 

Andi thinks of herself as the rational, down-to-earth type. Nope - terminally boring - not just because there's no hookiness (which is hard to produce, I know), but also you've just given me a bland protagonist (which is easier to avoid). Even though I recall this is an interesting story, I've still got zero interest in reading further. Her work, cleaning and restoring oil paintings, is more science than art. Still not particularly interesting Yet, a condition called sleep paralysis makes her question her own sanity. When she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, nearly suffocates her.

 

 

Desperate to reconcile these impossible experiences don't like the phrasing here with her no-nonsense world view or here either, Andi enrolls in an experimental sleep study, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. As the nights go by, the hallucination keeps coming, more real than ever, and Andi begins to suspect the lead researcher is more interested in studying her than curing her. Another participant loses her grip on what’s real. Andi’s nightly dose mysteriously triples. None of this seems to have much voice.

 

As she considers leaving the study, Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured. She is kidnapped by a man who believes the shadowman is much more than a hallucination, and she is forced to start a new experiment, which pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own. Ditto

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 

 

Hey Trash, hope you are well. Sorry to deliver such a whiney critique, but I liked your previous effort so much more. I went back and re-read it just to double-check I was not in a bad mood this time around.

 

I get you're attempting to add characterisation (I've tried to do the same thing too), but it's very told-not-shown and just camps out the front of the query like an ambassador from the planet snooze. The re-write of the rest just seems to have stripped it of any voice.

 

To have a full overhaul shot down like this is disheartening, I know, but if this is a step in the right direction, it's disguising itself well at present.


Feedback is always appreciated on:

 

Query: http://agentquerycon...e&module=usercp

 

Opening 250: http://agentquerycon...iller/?p=317580


#50 Thrash

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:23 PM

No matter how hard Andi insists the shadowman can’t be real, he won’t let her go.

 

Andi tries to be rational, sensible. Her work, restoring oil paintings, is more science than art, and she is the voice of reason for her impulsive brother. Yet, a condition called sleep paralysis makes her question her grip on reality. When she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, nearly suffocates her. 

 

Desperate to reconcile these impossible experiences with her no-nonsense world view, Andi enrolls in a sleep study, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep.

 

Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured. She is kidnapped by someone who believes the shadowman is much more than a hallucination, and she is forced to start a new experiment—one that pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own.

 

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 

 

(Went back to my old hook for this one)



#51 JP1994

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:07 PM

No matter how hard Andi insists the shadowman can’t be real, he won’t let her go. (Nice hook.)

 

Andi tries to be rational, sensible. Her work, restoring oil paintings, is more science than art, and she is the voice of reason for her impulsive brother. (You only mention him once in the pitch, and his presence doesn't seem salient. Omit.) Yet, a condition called sleep paralysis makes her question her grip on reality. When she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe as the shadowman, an apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, nearly suffocates her. 

 

Desperate to reconcile these impossible experiences with her no-nonsense world view, Andi enrolls in a sleep study, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. (Interesting. If this sleep study coincides with their battle with the shadowman and the encounter with the kidnapper, elaborate a little on what it achieves for the patients. It seems like an important plot detail.)

 

Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured. She is kidnapped by someone who believes the shadowman is much more than a hallucination, (This is the core conflict. You can't afford to get too vague about it. Rewrite this line and disseminate a sample of the kidnapper's intentions) and she is forced to start a new experiment—one that pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own. (Nice stakes.)

 

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 

 

(Went back to my old hook for this one)

 

Overall, it's a damn good query. The conflict as a whole needs further emphasis, but aside from that, you seem to be close to the finish line.

 

Please consider taking a look at mine, if you get a chance.



#52 julialynn

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 11:19 PM

No matter how hard Andi insists that the shadowman can’t be real, he won’t let her go. 

 

Andi tries to be rational, sensible. [This is too vague; Remember to show, don't tell] Her work [deleted comma] restoring oil paintings [deleted comma] is more science than art [how is this detail that she restores oil paintings important to the query? What does it tell me about her character?], and she is the voice of reason for her impulsive brother. [I agree about taking out the brother unless he's important to the story, or her character arc. Instead of "science than art," I'd show something like: "Andi's work, restoring oil paintings, requires deep concentration and study."] --> Yet, Yet she experiences nightly sleep paralysis, often forcing her to question her grip on reality. When she opens her eyes each morning, she can’t move, can’t scream, and can hardly breathe. The shadowman, an apparition that feels as real and as heavy as her own body, nearly suffocates her. 

 

Desperate to reconcile these impossible experiences [does she know she has sleep paralysis? If so, is she aware that these experiences are in her mind? I feel like "impossible" isn't the right word] with her no-nonsense world view [hmm, if she has a no-nonsense world view, wouldn't she just sort of shrug off the hallucinations? And exactly HOW is she no-nonsense? What is unique about her sleep paralysis?], Andi enrolls in a sleep study, where she meets other participants with similar experiences. Each night they take medicine with no name, attach electrodes to their scalps, and lie in sound-proofed rooms to sleep. [This is sort of implied with "sleep study," and this sentence doesn't tell me anything to further the plot. It's not a bad detail, don't get me wrong, it's visual and you might want to keep it, but you need to keep moving the story forward. Right now we're one paragraph deep and the story is: Andi gets sleep paralysis so she enrolls in a sleep study. Okay, but what is the main conflict? What about her sleep paralysis is so awful and haunting, she just has to get this checked out? How is it affecting her daily life? Be specific.]

 

Andi learns that not everyone with the condition wants it cured. [Vague, doesn't really tell me anything] She is kidnapped by someone who believes the shadowman is much more than a hallucination [during the study? Be as specific as possible], and she is forced to start a new experiment—one that pushes Andi into more and more intense encounters with the shadowman. [THERE is your story! Andi gets kidnapped and is forced to live out her worst fears over and over. This is where you need to hook me] This isn’t the kidnapper’s first experiment, and his other subjects haven’t survived. [Again, too vague. Who is this person? If it's an integral character, tell me their name and explain how they kidnapped her] To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own. [Way too vague]

 

ANY HORROR BUT THIS is a psychological thriller complete at 90,000 words. 

 

(Went back to my old hook for this one)


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#53 Tanja

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 08:50 AM

your story sounds very interesting. My honest opinion. Work from the version you had on #38. It was a lot more compelling. It was down to the core. Your latest version was vague in a lot of ways and you got lost in too much unnecessary details, which led to confusion.

 

However, I liked the hook and I liked the stakes: To escape, Andi must play along with the kidnapper’s delusions, at the risk of falling deeper into her own.


Query:  10 DAY BETRAYAL

             10 DAY CONSPIRACY

             RABBIT 76 (NEW PROJECT)

 

Twitter: @tccorrey





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