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Insouciance (YA Horror)


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#1 Saints

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 10:03 AM

Hi, AQ Connect. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still querying. Please read and let me know what you think!

 

Draft #4

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn’t.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working at a downtown coffeeshop by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s long-distance dad presents her with a summer internship: a paranormal group seeks volunteers for their newest case. Their goal is to cleanse their clients’ home of a vindictive demon, before it destroys what is left of the family. To do that, they’ll need someone with insouciance.

 

Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who interacts with non-human entities. With her parents’ encouragement, she used the ability in her past to name demons. There is power in knowing the name of an entity: once named, it can be commanded back to hell and save the possessed victim’s soul. Enter Madeline, escorted into these exorcisms to point at the monster and reveal its name. Because of this some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a cat-and-mouse game. The demon evades each attempt to cleanse the home, and her failures only serve to enrage the demon. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like learning a few tricks from her new friend, Death.

INSOUCIANCE is a 74,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

Draft #3

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.



#2 smithgirl

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 11:38 AM

Hi Saints! Thanks for reviewing my query. My comments are below.

 

Dear ____ This is a business letter. Use a colon instead of period.

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here] :-)

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't. I really like this. I'm just a bit thrown by the pronoun he. It took me a second to realize he refers to the angel. Maybe other people will be clearer.

 

​The body of your query should be written in present tense. It's standard and makes your writing more immediate. Just marked first paragraph below for tense.

 

Yes, maybe it's fun was fun to  being called a child prodigy. And helping priests in exorcisms saves (avoid passive voice)  have saved countless souls. But as the years passed, Madeline finds found her  “gift” can't couldn’t save her parents’ marriage. It can't couldn’t save the house from her mother’s hoarding. And it can't couldn’t save her father from moving two hours away. I like this. Very emotional.

 

The summer before her senior year was supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That is, until Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship: volunteering for a paranormal group in upstate New York.

 

A stubborn demon is eroding what remains is left   Avoid too many prepositional phrases. of a paper-thin family colon harassing a little girl each night, killing the family cat, putting knives in the hand of a sleepwalking father. It destroys religious symbols, ignores the prayers of priests, and growls at anyone who tries to make it do otherwise. The paranormal group recruits a jaded Madeline to help put the demon in its place. But what used to come so easily for her now is a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the house, from the family. To make matters worse, something else makes contact with Madeline. Something neither demonic or angelic, something that wants to help. I think this is good, too. I just condensed a bit. My only question is how the query seems to have moved away from Madeline's personal problems. Does the other presence want to help just with the demon, or also with her family issues? It's just that the family issues seems pretty bad, but they seem to have vanished at this point, aside from the jaded reference which seemed superfluous.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself. Use an em-dash <-- Nice closing.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000-word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

As requested, I have enclosed ______.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Saints

 

Overall I really like your query. It really flows and it is very emotional. It really pulled me in. Congratulations! My two biggest comments are: always write your query in present tense, and maybe loop back around to Madeline's family situation. Good luck!



#3 theboldfox

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 12:07 PM

Dear ____,

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]  keep this sort of thing subtle.

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't. I love this!

 

Yes, maybe it was fun to be called a child prodigy. And helping priests in exorcisms have saved countless souls. But as the years passed, Madeline found her “gift” couldn’t save her parents’ marriage. It couldn’t save the house from her mother’s hoarding. And it couldn’t save her father from moving two hours away.  Though I positively love what you write here, it sounds like back story. It may not have a place in the query. 

 

[Madeline thinks her demon naming days are behind her and] The summer before her senior year was is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That is, until  Then Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship: volunteering for a paranormal group in upstate New York to  get rid of a stubborn demon that is eroding what is left of a paper-thin (paper thin might not be the adjective you want) family.

 

harassing a little girl each night, killing the family cat, putting knives in the hand of a sleepwalking father. It destroys religious symbols, ignores the prayers of priests, and growls at anyone who tries to make it do otherwise. The paranormal group recruits a jaded  Much like before, this is amazing stuff -- and I'm quite sure your book is kick ass -- but it starts getting too much into the plot. It's like back cover copy, not a seduction of an agent. 

 

As Madeline tries to help put the demon in its place, she finds that what used to come so easily for her  is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the house, from the family it harasses. To make matters worse, something else makes contact with Madeline. Something neither demonic or angelic, something that wants to help.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative - like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

As requested, I have enclosed ______.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Saints

 

Sounds very interesting. The only thing really missing is the fact that you don't get into the consequences of her success or failure. If she does X, this terrible thing happens. If she does Y, this even worse thing happens. Your writing is super, but it might be better for back cover copy or something else. Queries seem to take a very peculiar format that is less about the plot and more about the main character's chief conflict. 

If you have a moment, please take a look at my query. It's in the first post of the link in my signature below. 

 

Good karma! Please have a look at my query if you have a moment: http://agentquerycon...s-ya-dystopian/


#4 Saints

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 01:37 PM

Thank you, smithgirl and theboldfox, for both of your critiques! There's a new letter that has a combination of both your notes in the original post. Please let me know your thoughts on it.



#5 Saints

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 01:45 PM

[Brackets are what I'm unsure about keeping]

 

Draft #2

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. [Then Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group searches for volunteers.] Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now is a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. [To make matters worse, something else makes contact with Madeline. Something neither demonic or angelic, something that wants to help.]

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.



#6 CM_Fick

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 02:33 PM

 

[Brackets are what I'm unsure about keeping]

 

Draft #2

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't. (Great hook!)

 

(I'd suggest flipping this: Working as a .......... Madeline expected the summer before her senior year to be quite. But when her dad (how long has he been away?) comes to town, offering the opportunity to join his paranormal investigation as a summer intern, she (what does she do? can't help but jump at the chance? or is she more reserved?). Their goal....)  The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. [Then Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group searches for volunteers.] Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family. (this has good bones, but the flow isn't quite right)

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her(,) is now is a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. [To make matters worse, something else makes contact with Madeline. Something neither demonic or angelic, something that claims it wants to help.] (I don't know if this last sentence is worded correctly, but the information is relevant for the query)

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And wWhen that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them. (this sounds cliche and generic.)

 

 

Hi Saints, 

 

Overall this is well done. Makes me want to know more. I do feel like the flow can be tweaked in the places outlined above, but this well on it's way. Good job!

 

 

 

I also have a query up for review if you have a moment (link below). Thank you in advance. 



#7 Garrett Lemons

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:29 PM

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name--command--demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishinges he hadn't.

 

The summer before her senior year is was supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. Then Madeline’s dad presents comes to her with a unique summer internship. : a paranormal investigation group is on the hunt for needs volunteers. Their goal: to get rid of stubborn demon needs banished before it can finished destroying erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries to put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now is a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative. Like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

I hope those edits helps. Something is missing from this, I think, but I'm not sure what it is just yet. I can't place it. I have a couple questions coming to mind when I read it, but I'm not sure if they're relevant to the query so I'll hold off for just a bit while I think about it.



#8 npstanford

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:08 PM

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't. this is a great hook

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. Then Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship. Is there a reason we need to know that her dad brings the internship? One drawback is it suddenly had me wondering / confused if her dad knew about her ability.  A paranormal investigation group is on the hunt for volunteers. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now is a game of cat and mouse A bit confused here. What is the game of cat and mouse? Naming the demon? or finding it? I think it would help if we understood what "naming" is and what it would have to do with stopping a demon from terrorizing a family. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself. A great final teaser. I love it.

 

My only overarching feedback is that it is unclear throughout the query what naming is, how this power has affected Madeline's life (e.g. is she happy she has it at the beginning of the story? has she used it? do her parents know about it?). The reason this info is important is because without it, I'm not sure how to understand her taking her internship. Is this something she had done before? Is she confronting a dark part of herself? Is this like a fun summertime activity for her?

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.



#9 Saints

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 08:32 AM

Thank you to CM_Fick, Garrett Lemons, and npstanford for your feedback. I have updated the first post with a new draft. Please check your query posts for my critique in the next day!



#10 CM_Fick

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 12:57 PM

Dear ____:
 
[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]
 
When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, one of only a few OR the only psychic(s) who can only (here only sounds like she can't interact with anyone other than the entities) interact with non-human entities. Here's where I start to have issues. This next bit is all backstory. Thanks (Thanks seems strange here - especially since it reads that she doesn't want this ability - you can use something along the lines of: "Due to her parent's desire/drive/ambition to eliminate unwanted haunting or drive off malevolent entities she spent most of her life giving them the names of demons in order to exercise them.... or something like this that explain the exploitation.) to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents. (this last sentence is a nice transition point if you're set on leaving in the backstory)
 
The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family. (I still think that this reads choppy, although, most of the information is there)
 
As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. (If you're going to use this idiom here, you should show how it's a "cat and mouse game") The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. 
 
Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself.
 
INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them. (My previous comments remain the same on this last bit)

 

 

 
Hi Saints, 
 
The first paragraph looks like more red than it is. I've tried to explain my reasoning for the changes I've suggested, and give an example is you choose to leave it in, but the addition is a lot of backstory (as I've explained above). I understand the reason you've put it in, and the relevance it has to your character. I've struggled with this myself, and I'm not sure how to entirely go about it, so I can't exactly comment on how you could leave it out or work it in without making it sound like backstory. 

It feels like something's missing from this version, and that in the editing, you've lost some of the voice from the precious draft. 
 
I hope this helps, and thank you for your feedback on my own. Many thanks! 


#11 Linnet_Crawford

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 01:56 PM

I'm new to this thread, so I'm coming in with fresh eyes for the third draft :). Congrats on the full request!! Your story sounds awesome. 

Hi, AQ Connect. There are a few places I'm iffy about, so please tell me if anything sounds vague/awkward/dumb. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still not sure about the 3rd draft - please read and let me know what you think!

 

Draft #3

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant (maybe italicize this for emphasis?), a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities (Wait, wait. Does that mean she can't interact with humans? It think it might be a mis-wording. Or you could cut this sentence). Thanks to her parents, she's used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others whispered that she was exploited by her parents. (or something like that... just to clean up the phrasing here? I really like this hint of some conflict)

 

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family. Also Awesome!!

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. (has she not done it for a while?) The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. This is very cool. I'm getting a nice "Supernatural" vibe. I would totally read this.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself. 

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them..

 

This is a really strong query, and I think is enough to make agents interested (and obviously has!) BUT, I can't help but feel like there is something missing - what's in it for Madeline? What are the stakes for her (other than strangers getting hurt?) I was intrigued by the opening - does she want to quit her role in exorcisms? Does she crave the quiet life mentioned in paragraph two? If so, did she have to be persuaded to participate in the internship? Your opening paragraph made me care about Madeline, so now I want to know how the adventure is impacting her, and what difficult choices she has to make - is she losing her abilities? Is the demon just really strong? 

 

I think just a line here or there or a couple different word choices might be able to clarify the importance of this exorcism to the MC, and up the emotional stakes.


Any thoughts on my query are super appreciated!  Here: http://agentquerycon...ong-ya-fantasy/


#12 samlat77

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:05 PM

Hi, AQ Connect. There are a few places I'm iffy about, so please tell me if anything sounds vague/awkward/dumb. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still not sure about the 3rd draft - please read and let me know what you think!

 

Draft #3

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents. I like the first hook you had, so maybe just try and squeeze the explanation about what Madeline is into the first paragraph somewhere.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. tells her that a paranormal investigation group is hunting down looking for volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away destroys what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative—like (em dash) getting a few tricks from Death itself. Love this paragraph!

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

 

You are almost there! Just some tweaking and you are all set!!!



#13 Bananas

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:29 PM

Hi, AQ Connect. There are a few places I'm iffy about, so please tell me if anything sounds vague/awkward/dumb. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still not sure about the 3rd draft - please read and let me know what you think!

 

Draft #3

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. This line makes it seem like she can't interact with humans at all.  I suspect you mean that only she can talk to the non-human entities.  Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.  I like the tone of this paragraph.  I'm encouraged to read on.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down looking for volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of  a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family. case: saving a family from a dangerous and stubborn demon. 

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleaning attempt, and her failures only serve to enrage the demon.  cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

 

Draft #2

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn't.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown Port Jefferson by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. Then Madeline’s dad comes to her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is on the hunt for volunteers. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now is a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tips and tricks from Death itself.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.



#14 smithgirl

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 04:21 PM

Congrats on the full request! :-)

 

 

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Good hook!

 

I would start a new paragraph now.

 

The summer before her senior year (college or high school?) is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship colon a paranormal investigation group seeks hunting down volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to exorcise get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes Maybe stronger word? Destroys? away what remains of a family.

 

I would recommending switching the order of these two paragraphs. Start with the action, then move to background.

 

Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. How is it important to name the demons? Can they not be exorcised if not named? Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist comma who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses haunts? terrorizes? Use something stronger. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession of the whole family?.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. You should clarify this earlier. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself. I like this, I just wonder if you could explain a little more.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000-word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

I think your query is making progress! Would you like at my query again if you get a chance? Thanks! http://agentquerycon...rade-critiques/

 

 

 



#15 CarterT

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 06:05 PM

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only (Only? What about with regular folks? Maybe just remove 'only'.)interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents. - Are her parents legit demon hunters? I sort of get the feel from this paragraph that they are hucksters or small-time.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down (Hunting 'down'? Maybe hunting 'for'?) volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. - Why doesn't the demon just do this from the get-go? Does it need time to work up to it? Or, is it more fun for the demon to torment people before possessing them?

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself. - A fun addition, but where did Death come from? Maybe add something like '...getting a few tricks from her new friend, Death.' I get that angels and demons are 'things', but I think it would help to quantify Death as a 'thing' as well, not just a concept.

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them. I've read this a couple of times, and I am really not sure what 'them' is referencing. This could be clarified.

 

Giving form to angels, demons, and Death is always fun. How common are these psychics that can see them? And how do you actually pronounce that word? In-sue-see-ants? How often does the MC get involved with the exorcisms, and did she leave her parents? I kind of feel like she stopped doing it, but maybe I'm wrong?

 

Sorry, that was a whole lot of questions, and maybe they are better answered in the book itself, and not in the query. They are just things I thought of.

 

The last thing that springs to mind is that you indicated this was YA 'Horror'. I can see aspects of why it might be (demons), but I don't get the horror vibe from the query. A tad more 'darkness' could be added to get that feeling in there, so that it matches the pace of the novel itself. I think you're almost there in the 3rd paragraph, and it just needs one more small push.

 

I'm interested to see where this goes.



#16 punitrastogi

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:26 AM

There is a haunting feeling in this query, and that means it is a job well done.

 

Horror is not my genre, but I will still try and add some value to your query.

Hi, AQ Connect. There are a few places I'm iffy about, so please tell me if anything sounds vague/awkward/dumb. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still not sure about the 3rd draft - please read and let me know what you think!

 

Draft #3

 

Dear ____:

 

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. (At first I thought that the first two sentences were sufficient for your hook. But then I realized that they were too vague. You can break the para after them and try and make it a bit more about the challenges she faces. The hook can be something like "Eighteen year old MS has been living with and has honed her ability of naming and thereby controlling demons. But when her 11 year expertise fails in stopping a demon from possessing a family, she turns to learn a few tricks - from Death itself.")

 

Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down volunteers (hunting down volunteers? this seemed a bit strange and demanded a re-read to understand better) for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her(I suggest rephrasing it to make it more dramatic) is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier at every attempt. Anger it, and another person gets hurt.(needs rephrasing) Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession (of what?).

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself.  (You can choose to keep this amazing twist in the tale at the end, or the first hook. If you choose to keep it in the beginning, you need a better conflict/challenge/dilemma at the end. If you choose to keep it in the end, you need a better hook in the beginning.)

 

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them. (nice!)

 

Hope it helps.

 

Would really appreciate it if you would take a look at my query.

The link is in my signature. :)



#17 Saints

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 08:27 PM

Special thanks to CM_Fick, Linnet_Crawford, Samlat77, Bananas, Smithgirl, CarterT, and punitrastogi for all your feedback! Wow, I feel lucky to have this many people read my silly little query and take time out of your schedule to tell me your thoughts on it. I truly appreciate it! A few things:

 

insouciance:
[in-soo-see-uh ns; French an-soo-syahns]
noun

1.
the quality of being insouciant; lack of care or concern; indifference.
 
For those of you asking about the pronunciation as well as the definition of the word. I am taking creative liberty by attributing Madeline's power (and people like her) as a person who does not feel the physical affects of being near non-human entities -- mainly, she doesn't get scared when they're nearby. She's "indifferent" to their presence, allowing her to interact with them without the side-affects. 
 
Also, I am test-driving Smithgirl's suggestion to swap the first and second paragraphs. I like introducing the volunteering opportunity before explaining insouciance; let me know how it reads with this new format. Draft #4 is now updated in post #1.
 
As always, if you have a current query to be read, look for my critique in the next 24 hours. I will do my best to get to all of them soon but just remind me if I don't reply in a few days.


#18 CM_Fick

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 11:21 AM

Draft #4

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn’t.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working at a downtown coffeeshop by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s long-distance dad presents offers her with a summer internship with a paranormal group (coming to town on a case - or that he's working with) seeks volunteers for their newest case. Their goal is to cleanse their clients’ home of a vindictive demon, before it destroys what is left of the family. To do that, they’ll need someone with insouciance an insouciant, and Madeline happens to be the only one in the area. ( I suggest tying her abilities into this paragraph - not saying that my version is any better, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. You've also used a colon twice in the above paragraph. I suggest taking the second out and rewording the sentence.) 

 

As an insouciant, Madeline is not only is an insouciant, a psychic, but can also who interact with non-human entities. With her parents’ encouragement, she used the ability in her past to name demons. There is power in knowing the name of an entity: once named, it can be commanded back to hell and save the possessed victim’s soul. Enter Madeline, escorted into these exorcisms to point at the monster and reveal its name. Because of this some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a cat-and-mouse game. The demon evades each attempt to cleanse the home, and her failures only serve to enrage the demon. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like learning a few tricks from her new friend, Death.

INSOUCIANCE is a 74,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

 

 

I like this version better than explaining insouciance just after the hook. Makes you more invested in the character imo. I've made a few suggestions above for readability and flow, but overall nice work! 



#19 CarterT

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:12 AM

 

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn’t.

 

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working at a downtown coffeeshop by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s long-distance dad presents her with a summer internship: a paranormal group seeks volunteers for their newest case. Their goal is to cleanse their clients’ home of a vindictive demon, before it destroys what is left of the family. To do that, they’ll need someone with insouciance.

 

Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who interacts with non-human entities. With her parents’ encouragement, she used the ability in her past to name demons. There is power in knowing the name of an entity: once named, it can be commanded back to hell and save the possessed victim’s soul. - I think we just need a small grammar edit here. Sounds like the demon saves the person's life. Maybe '...it can be commanded back to hell, saving the possessed victim's soul.' Enter Madeline, escorted into these exorcisms to point at the monster and reveal its name. Because of this, (Feel like a comma is needed here) some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

 

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a cat-and-mouse game. The demon evades each attempt to cleanse the home, and her failures only serve to enrage the demon it. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession. - Small suggested change here. 'Madeline knows the clock is ticking with the demon closing in on its ultimate goal: possession.' Or something like that. 

 

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like learning a few tricks from her new friend, Death. - The references to 'you' in here are confusing, especially when it's 'her new friend'. I think you can simply remove the 2 'you's (and maybe an and) and it still works grammatically. Or, you can reference Madeline more directly in there. 

INSOUCIANCE is a 74,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

 

Seriously liking this version more than the earlier one. A lot of the questions I had from reading that query are either answered in this, or don't come up because of the way you steer the reader. 

 

The first paragraph after the hook, especially, has really been tightened up. 

 

Well done!



#20 JeffJustWrites

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:36 PM

Hi, AQ Connect. UPDATE: I have received my first full request from an agent! But I am still querying. Please read and let me know what you think!

Draft #4

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishing he hadn’t.

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: barista at a downtown coffeeshop by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s long-distance dad presents her with a summer internship; a paranormal group seeks volunteers for their newest case. Their goal: cleanse their clients’ home of a vindictive demon, before it destroys what is left of the family. To do that, they’ll need someone with insouciance.

I've been told that your query should try to read like a jacket blurb disguised as a business letter. I just tweaked it a little bit to help it flow, but I really like how this first paragraph ends with the title of the book. Very clever :)

Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who interacts with non-human entities. With her parents’ encouragement, Madeline has used this ability in the past, escorted into exorcisms, pointing at the monster and revealing its name. There is power in knowing the name of an entity: once named, it can be commanded back to hell and save the possessed victim’s soul. Because of this some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

I think this one is a TAD disjointed...maybe it's just me. I tried to give it a better balance by moving one of the sentences up.

This time, however, Madeline tries put the demon in its place and finds what used to come so easily for her is now a cat-and-mouse game. The demon evades each attempt to cleanse the home, and her failures only serve to enrage the demon. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

Nice. Suspenseful.

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like learning a few tricks from her new friend, Death.

This is probably what got you the full request!


INSOUCIANCE is a 74,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.

Draft #3

Dear ____:

[shameless begging and mild stalking of agent revealed here]

When Madeline Schofield was seven, an angel taught her how to name demons. Now she’s eighteen, and wishes he hadn't. Madeline is an insouciant, a psychic who can only interact with non-human entities. Thanks to her parents, she used the ability all her life to give the names of demons during exorcisms. Some called her gifted; others, exploited by her parents.

The summer before her senior year is supposed to be a quiet one: working as a barista in downtown by day, hanging around her cousin’s pool hall by night. That changes when Madeline’s dad presents her with a unique summer internship. A paranormal investigation group is hunting down volunteers for their most recent case. Their goal: to get rid of a stubborn demon before it erodes away what remains of a family.

As Madeline tries put the demon in its place, she finds what used to come so easily for her is now a game of cat and mouse. The demon evades each cleansing, each spiritual healer, each demonologist who tries to rip it away from the family it harasses. Fail to cleanse the house, and the demon becomes angrier. Anger it, and another person gets hurt. Madeline knows that the longer it takes, the closer the demon gets to its final act: possession.

Know a demon’s name, and you know how to command it. And when that doesn’t work, you get creative -- like getting a few tricks from Death itself.

INSOUCIANCE is a 77,000 word young adult horror story about angels, demons, and the mortals who try to live their lives despite them.


Congrats on your first full request! (Jealous by the way haha)

Love Draft 4, it's concise. Hope you don't mind me having a little fun with it anyway :) Feel free to have a go at my query, DARIUS CARLYLE.

JJW

My Perpetually Metamorphosing Query

 

At vahrai u ihlókéon. At u Atavithion. 





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