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A DARKNESS IN SPRING (dark fantasy); FINAL VERSION


Best Answer MICRONESIA , 29 May 2018 - 01:56 PM

Final version. After this, I'm dropping the mic and walking away. If anyone has any last-minute suggestions, leave them below. 

 

I can't take it anymore. Let the chips fall where they may. I'm done.  :cool:

 

 

 

After stealing twenty-grand from a broken ATM, fledgling Wiccan Cassandra Morrow ditches city life for the glades and witch-green fields of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But when a local boy is found dead in the woods, she realizes nature isn’t especially motherly in this rustic community. Every few decades, a handful of children are lured inexplicably into the wilds, only to drop dead among the wisteria and bristlemoss.

 

Desperate to prevent another tragedy—and banish her lifelong complacency—Cassandra resolves to unearth the truth. One night, she stumbles upon a pagan cult, who whisper tales of woodland portals to a paradise called Over Yonder, where the children’s souls are taken. Her panic mounts when she catches Miles, her roommate and lover, leaving offerings to nature spirits called “the Fair Folk.”

 

The spirits, she discovers, are gathering forces for a coming invasion—and dead children are only the beginning. Fed up with mankind’s abuse of nature, the Fair Folk aim to restore the planet to a verdant paradise. But in order for them to enter our world, a portal must unlock beneath a mountain. And for some reason, they want Cassandra’s help.

 

Refusing them means death, and time is running out. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a dark fantasy novel of 75,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Universal Harvester and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

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#161 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 02:40 PM

Hi all! Over the past month or so, I've sent out about a dozen queries. No requests yet (still waiting on a few), but I've gotten excellent feedback from the agents who turned me down:

 

- Pages look good. The problems lie with the premise itself.

 

- Bubbly tone doesn't match horror elements. What bubbly tone? haha - are they saying theresa's a bubbly tone in the last version of your query?

 

- Some might be put off by Jean's dilemma: her possible willingness to let thousands die in a fire. This is much more complex in the book. With the way it's said here, it makes her seem much less sympathetic (I was worried about this five months ago, haha). I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Stuff. Like. This.  I love writing characters, protagonists especially, who are not particularly sympathetic, because I feel like it makes a more interesting story.  Seems everyone wants "a conflicted protagonist" but no one actually wants to deal with anyone who can be a shit head.  People inherently suck, so why the hell can't I write about that? Why does the good guy have to have a perfect moral compass and be a saint?  Sorry, mini rant.

 

- There are confusions, especially toward the end (the "nature and society" line). 

 

- Wiccanism/witchcraft is tough to pull off in fiction. Agents are automatically wary.

 

- Agents are also automatically wary of someone writing for the opposite sex (had no idea this was a fear). ​Really? Fuuuuck.  I'm screwed haha.

 

- I've focused too much on getting the choice/conflict onto the page. I've neglected to think about what elements will SELL. Ugh, again at this point I'm so sick of "what's popular? what will sell?" can we have NOTHING different nowadays? Sorry for my mini rants, but the stuff you've written here just confirmed most of my worst fears, aha.

 

 

So... here's the rewrite I threw together today. I've posted it here and in the OP as well. I've gone for SIMPLE and NON-CONFUSING... which means I'm probably nowhere close to pulling that off yet. :p

 

Thanks for the help. I see a couple folks have critiqued me since I left. I'll return the favor ASAP.

 

 

 

Jean Miller adores her new, rural apartment—until something starts luring her into the woods at night. This doesn't draw me in enough to be an excellent hook yet.  I feel like the last part could be creepier.

 

Disoriented, Jean staggers down unfamiliar paths, enchanted by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. In the morning, Jean awakes beside her new lover, Miles, with no memory of how she got home. At first, she’s unafraid. After all, this is why she moved to the Smokies ​I'm unfamiliar with this term. in the first place—to ditch modern distractions and reconnect with nature. Then she discovers the town’s terrifying history: dozens of children lured into the wilderness to die in the elements.

 

With the help of Miles and her neighbors, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this explains why Miles leaves secret gifts on the porch at night Ok, haha, I'm so sorry, but the way this is worded makes it sound like Miles is a dog leaving "secret gifts" (aka dog turds) all over the front porch. Also, if I wasn't familiar with your synopsis, I would be wondering what the hell Miles has to do with the Fair Folk. And why the number of victims seems to be increasing.

 

Soon, Jean begins receiving visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for. Suddenly, she understands why the Fair Folk have drawn her here, and what they have planned for humanity.

 

And then there are the other visions, the ones she can’t wrap her head around. The ones that show hordes of people dying on a blazing mountain… This sounds shoehorned in, and the wording makes it fall a little flat.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

First off, congrats (perhaps not quite the right word) on actually getting some agent feedback.  There was a thread on here a while ago where a few of us were moaning that we wished they would at least provide us with some feedback.

As for the query: I liked your old one better.  They way this one stands now, it sounds like there's a new idea for every paragraph, and it doesn't connect throughout as well as it should.  Also, because this is a first draft, the tone is kinda meh and doesn't grab me.  I do feel like this has potential, though.  I'm wondering if there's a way you could combine both queries somehow? Use different parts from each to make a simple, non-bubbly, non-confusing, conflicted-but-still-morally-sound-main-character-but-oh-never-mind-you're-screwed-because-apparently-now-we-can't-write-a-charatcer-of-the-opposite-sex query ;)



#162 MICRONESIA

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 03:12 PM

Haha. Thanks, Disgruntled! You've been HUGELY helpful throughout this whole process, and I want to take a second and make that clear.

 

Yeah, this new one sucks. They all suck at first. I spent three months working on the last one, so that's definitely better right now. Hopefully, I can get this one sparkling on the same level.

 

It's clear I have to move in a new direction, though. The old one simply wasn't working.

 

I didn't get the bubbly thing either. Here's the direct line about that: The tone of the query is quirky and upbeat, yet the quirky tone clashes with the mention of 'dead children' and the burning of innocents. 

 

Here's the line about writing for the opposite sex: Another question that comes to mind is this: why is a male writer (and please forgive me if I've assumed incorrectly) writing from a female point of view? There are many, many examples of male writers writing female characters very successfully, of course, and vice versa, but it does raise the question as to why you would choose this voice and whether or not it would feel authentic to a wide audience.

 

 

I was put off by all this too, in a way. But it was a huge wakeup call, one that we don't talk about enough here.

 

We're here to sell books.

 

Agents want what can sell. We HAVE to look at things from a marketing standpoint.

 

 

Looking at mine, it seems I need to emphasize several (marketable) elements:

 

1) showcasing it's not just a generic horror novel about a "monster in the woods"

 

2) the character's likability 

 

3) the "solving a mystery" element (betas have said they enjoy this)

 

4) romance

 

5) relevance to modern times

 

...all while being as simple and direct as possible.

 

 

Anyway, don't be dis... couraged. Maybe we're just thinking about these things the wrong way. 

 

Got a recent query I can look at?



#163 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 04:27 PM

Haha. Thanks, Disgruntled! You've been HUGELY helpful throughout this whole process, and I want to take a second and make that clear. Well thank you :)

 

Yeah, this new one sucks. They all suck at first. I spent three months working on the last one, so that's definitely better right now. Hopefully, I can get this one sparkling on the same level. I feel you.  Anytime I have to rewrite ANYTHING (query, part of a story, etc.) I know it's never a quick rewrite.  It'll be months until it's at a point where I don't want to destroy my computer everytime I read it over.

 

It's clear I have to move in a new direction, though. The old one simply wasn't working. And I do think this has potential.  Well.. you read my comments.  Give it a few drafts and I'm sure it'll start looking better :)

 

I didn't get the bubbly thing either. Here's the direct line about that: The tone of the query is quirky and upbeat, yet the quirky tone clashes with the mention of 'dead children' and the burning of innocents. I wonder if the agent just glossed it over and was confused.  There's lots of times I read a query on here, and something goes entirely over my head.  If not, goes to show how everyone's tastes are different.

 

Here's the line about writing for the opposite sex: Another question that comes to mind is this: why is a male writer (and please forgive me if I've assumed incorrectly) writing from a female point of view? There are many, many examples of male writers writing female characters very successfully, of course, and vice versa, but it does raise the question as to why you would choose this voice and whether or not it would feel authentic to a wide audience. Hmm hmm... I beg to differ.  My favourite books as a kid, Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, are both novels which features proagonsts of the opposite sex. I think this is a very narrow-minded viewpoint.

 

 

I was put off by all this too, in a way. But it was a huge wakeup call, one that we don't talk about enough here.

 

We're here to sell books. Ohhhh yeah.  I totally know.  I guess I'm just frustruated.  I absouletly hate popular culture right now.  Not just in writing, but everything.  If I could move deep into the mountains and never see another selfie or ridiculous #mswl tweet again in my life I'd be content.  The reason I love writing is because I can write anything I want.  I can write somethng different.  I can write what I want to read in a story.  However, my tastes are very strange, so I know I have stacked all the odds against me if I ever want to be a published authour.  I've accepted that.  Everything nowadays is sell, sell, sell, profit, profit, profit.  We've become worse than the Ferengi in Star Trek.  I've accepeted that all, but that doesn't mean I can't get in a mood and whine about it :)

 

Agents want what can sell. We HAVE to look at things from a marketing standpoint.

 

 

Looking at mine, it seems I need to emphasize several (marketable) elements:

 

1) showcasing it's not just a generic horror novel about a "monster in the woods"

 

2) the character's likability 

 

3) the "solving a mystery" element (betas have said they enjoy this)

 

4) romance

 

5) relevance to modern times

 

...all while being as simple and direct as possible.

 

 

Anyway, don't be dis... couraged. I see what you did there... Maybe we're just thinking about these things the wrong way. 

 

Got a recent query I can look at? No query, but if you could have a gander at my first 250 words I would really appreciate it :) It too is suffering from rewrite-itis, so I need all the help I can get :P



#164 MICRONESIA

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 06:01 PM

You mean... I get to look at... some actual PAGES?

 

Will do! I'll give them a look right now.  :smile:

 

As for my new query, I'm gonna try something unorthodox. Future commenters, please see Post #1 for details.



#165 Bkrasnik

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 06:53 PM

I'm posting two queries here. Instead of performing the typical critique, please list the five elements/phrases/etc. you find most intriguing. It's not about choosing which query you prefer! I'll gladly reciprocate by completing a full critique of your query (or whatever you need).

 

 

 

Query #1:

 

Jean Miller thinks modern witchcraft is bullshit—until she casts a spell and an ATM starts spitting out cash.

 

After shoving twenty-grand into her backpack, Jean flees to the Great Smoky Mountains, hoping to start a responsible life closer to nature. But nothing in her Wiccan spellbook can ward off the Landlord, a warlock who moves through the walls of her new apartment. His astral spirit entices her with visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for.

 

He doesn’t explain why it requires killing hordes of people on a blazing mountain. Or why she has to help him do it.

 

Ravenous for this lush future, yet desperate to prevent the cost, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings of pagan cults and dead children call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this is why the apartments’ owners keep buying property on these so-called “fairy portals.” And why luminol tests reveal bloodstains under the carpets.

 

The Landlord, she learns, is gathering a coven for a massive conjuration ritual—and he craves Jean’s untapped powers. If he’s successful, the Fair Folk will reclaim the dying Earth from humanity. Nature and society will thrive again. But in order for the portal to open, twenty thousand innocents must burn on the May Eve pyre. If Jean refuses the Landlord, she will join them.

 

She doesn’t have long to decide. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the revolution will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

 

 

Query #2: 

 

Jean Miller adores her new, rural apartment—until something starts luring her into the woods at night.

 

Disoriented, Jean staggers down unfamiliar paths, enchanted by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. In the morning, Jean awakes beside her new lover, Miles, with no memory of how she got home. At first, she’s unafraid. After all, this is why she moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in the first place—to ditch modern distractions and reconnect with nature. Then she discovers the town’s terrifying history: dozens of children lured into the wilderness to die in the elements.

 

With the help of Miles and her neighbors, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this explains why Miles leaves secret gifts on the porch at night. And why the number of victims seems to be increasing.

 

Soon, Jean begins receiving visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for. Suddenly, she understands why the Fair Folk have drawn her here, and what they have planned for humanity.

 

And then there are the other visions, the ones she can’t wrap her head around. The ones that show hordes of people dying on a blazing mountain…

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Hi,

 

I was intrigued the most by all of the text I highlighted in blue. Good luck! 


Have a moment to offer up some very much appreciated feedback? :)

My Young Adult Dystopian Query: http://agentquerycon...ate-on-post-15/


#166 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 09:49 AM

I'm posting two queries here. Instead of performing the typical critique, please list the five elements/phrases/etc. you find most intriguing, and briefly help me strategize. It's not about choosing which query you prefer! I'll gladly reciprocate by completing a full critique of your query (or whatever you need).



Query #1:

Jean Miller thinks modern witchcraft is bullshit—until she casts a spell and an ATM starts spitting out cash.

After shoving twenty-grand into her backpack, Jean flees to the Great Smoky Mountains, hoping to start a responsible life closer to nature. But nothing in her Wiccan spellbook can ward off the Landlord, a warlock who moves through the walls of her new apartment. His astral spirit entices her with visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for.

He doesn’t explain why it requires killing hordes of people on a blazing mountain. Or why she has to help him do it.

Ravenous for this lush future, yet desperate to prevent the cost, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings of pagan cults and dead children call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this is why the apartments’ owners keep buying property on these so-called “fairy portals.” And why luminol tests reveal bloodstains under the carpets.

The Landlord, she learns, is gathering a coven for a massive conjuration ritual—and he craves Jean’s untapped powers. If he’s successful, the Fair Folk will reclaim the dying Earth from humanity. Nature and society will thrive again. But in order for the portal to open, twenty thousand innocents must burn on the May Eve pyre. If Jean refuses the Landlord, she will join them.

She doesn’t have long to decide. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the revolution will begin.

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.




Query #2:

Jean Miller adores her new, rural apartment—until something starts luring her into the woods at night.

Disoriented, Jean staggers down unfamiliar paths, enchanted by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. In the morning, Jean awakes beside her new lover, Miles, with no memory of how she got home. At first, she’s unafraid. After all, this is why she moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in the first place—to ditch modern distractions and reconnect with nature. Then she discovers the town’s terrifying history: dozens of children lured into the wilderness to die in the elements.

With the help of Miles and her neighbors, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this explains why Miles leaves secret gifts on the porch at night. And why the number of victims seems to be increasing.

Soon, Jean begins receiving visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for. Suddenly, she understands why the Fair Folk have drawn her here, and what they have planned for humanity.

And then there are the other visions, the ones she can’t wrap her head around. The ones that show hordes of people dying on a blazing mountain…

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

I highlighted the five phrases that resonated with me or gave me chills.

And to further complicate matters, I'm looking here at the first revsion you had of your query, and the part about all the people in her apartment complex being collected for a larger purpose.  That sounds super creepy to me.  I see how in your new version, you're straying from the Landlord to make it appeal more to agents, but I think the biggest issue I have with the newest version is that there's not much enticing about it.  The way the Fairy Folk are set up falls flat.

HOWEVER, having creepy things going on and then everyone is her apartment complex is being assembled for a greater, evil purpose sounds like everything is leading up to a big reveal.  Although, I can't recall if that's actually how the story goes down, so maybe this is just shit advice.



#167 MICRONESIA

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 10:16 AM

Thanks!

 

This is super-helpful, y'all. I'll just rebuild my Master Query from what seem to be the most enticing elements. I'm sure it will be super, super easy.  :smile:

 

I'm glad people like the old hook... but it probably has to go if I also ditch the Wicca stuff.

 

Also, it's not the "main dilemma" of the book. I'm thinking that might be something that's throwing agents as well.



#168 cmmg

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 10:38 AM

I'm posting two queries here. Instead of performing the typical critique, please list the five elements/phrases/etc. you find most intriguing, and briefly help me strategize. It's not about choosing which query you prefer! I'll gladly reciprocate by completing a full critique of your query (or whatever you need).



Query #1:

Jean Miller thinks modern witchcraft is bullshit—until she casts a spell and an ATM starts spitting out cash.

After shoving twenty-grand into her backpack, Jean flees to the Great Smoky Mountains, hoping to start a responsible life closer to nature. But nothing in her Wiccan spellbook can ward off the Landlord, a warlock who moves through the walls of her new apartment. His astral spirit entices her with visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for.

He doesn’t explain why it requires killing hordes of people on a blazing mountain. Or why she has to help him do it.

Ravenous for this lush future, yet desperate to prevent the cost, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings of pagan cults and dead children call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this is why the apartments’ owners keep buying property on these so-called “fairy portals.” And why luminol tests reveal bloodstains under the carpets.

The Landlord, she learns, is gathering a coven for a massive conjuration ritual—and he craves Jean’s untapped powers. If he’s successful, the Fair Folk will reclaim the dying Earth from humanity. Nature and society will thrive again. But in order for the portal to open, twenty thousand innocents must burn on the May Eve pyre. If Jean refuses the Landlord, she will join them.

She doesn’t have long to decide. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the revolution will begin.

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.




Query #2:

Jean Miller adores her new, rural apartment—until something starts luring her into the woods at night.

Disoriented, Jean staggers down unfamiliar paths, enchanted by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. In the morning, Jean awakes beside her new lover, Miles, with no memory of how she got home. At first, she’s unafraid. After all, this is why she moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in the first place—to ditch modern distractions and reconnect with nature. Then she discovers the town’s terrifying history: dozens of children lured into the wilderness to die in the elements.

With the help of Miles and her neighbors, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this explains why Miles leaves secret gifts on the porch at night. And why the number of victims seems to be increasing.

Soon, Jean begins receiving visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for. Suddenly, she understands why the Fair Folk have drawn her here, and what they have planned for humanity.

And then there are the other visions, the ones she can’t wrap her head around. The ones that show hordes of people dying on a blazing mountain…

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

From the first query, one element I like was the focus on action (though I was sort of confused at times about the motivation and characterization of Jean.) Conversely, in what is perhaps one of the most supremely unhelpful things I could say, I really liked in the second query the explanation and focus on characterization (though the action seemed a little lackluster.) The other element I liked in the second query was that the introduction of the Fair Folk made sense. It felt more an integral, focused part of the query.

 

I hope those five elements help.

 

I have no idea how you'd blend them, I guess. The other thing is I like the first line of the query 1, but I don't think it fits with the other elements of the query. I think you're main issue (which you may know) is going to be getting in some clearly explained focused action, with a consistent voice. Looking at these queries, you have a lot of events here, and I think you could definitely cut some and expand. In query one, you could cut some action and add more explanation, for example. I don't know if that's what you meant by strategize.

 

As an aside, you're in a really difficult position with your query's being just different but similar quality. BUT if agents are responding saying you're pages are good, that's good! I mean, you've only sent your query to like 12 agents and even if you expect a 20% response rate, you can imagine that just be stochastic chance, you didn't get them.

ALWAYS, the thing about men writing female characters isn't really about people writing different genders than they are, in general. It seems from the comments and recent media, it's more about how there have been a TON of men who have written women REALLY badly, and these really horrible representations are being brought to the forefront more and more lately. Obviously, there's a lot of non-awful, non-sexist men out there, but even if you assume 50% of all men aren't sexist (which can be generous given the statistics of some genres of books, and limiting given other genres) that's still a guess for an agent. If you have did a lot of research and had a lot of female beta readers, I wouldn't worry, I think anyone who requests pages will see you do fine.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#169 MICRONESIA

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:24 PM

DANG, cmmg! I just saw what you've done here and on my synopsis.

 

Simply masterful. You've struck close to the heart of my problem: the MC herself, or at least how she comes across. SHE is the key, along with her dilemma.

 

And, of course, all the other things you've mentioned.  :cool:

 

I almost think it's better to rewrite the SYNOPSIS first, then take ya'll's suggestions and rebuild the query from there.

 

Cmmg, I'll look at your query pronto. Thanks again for the HUGE amount of help you've given me. I want to keep things even -- two critiques for two. I couldn't find a synopsis, though. Do you have something else I can critique?



#170 Sataris

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 12:31 PM

 

So... here's the rewrite I threw together today. I've posted it here and in the OP as well. I've gone for SIMPLE and NON-CONFUSING... which means I'm probably nowhere close to pulling that off yet. :p

 

Thanks for the help. I see a couple folks have critiqued me since I left. I'll return the favor ASAP. I guess it's hard for me to say at this point with all the different versions I've read but I did find the below pretty simple and easy to follow

 

 

 

Jean Miller adores her new, rural apartment—until something starts luring her into the woods at night. nice

 

Disoriented, Jean staggers down unfamiliar paths, enchanted by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched this made me think of thatched roofs etc - and it's a nice line, but it seems to contrast with aiming for simple language leaves. In the morning, Jean awakes beside her new lover, Miles, with no memory of how she got home. At first, she’s unafraid. After all, this is why she moved to the Smokies in the first place—to ditch modern distractions and reconnect with nature. Then she discovers the town’s terrifying history: dozens of children lured into the wilderness to die in the elements. 

 

With the help of Miles and her neighbors, Jean ransacks the countryside for answers. Her findings call to mind legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits with a deep hatred for modern man. Maybe this explains why Miles leaves secret gifts on the porch at night. And why the number of victims seems to be increasing.

 

Soon, Jean begins receiving visions of a greener, more sustainable Earth: the future she’s always longed for. Suddenly, she understands why the Fair Folk have drawn her here, and what they have planned for humanity.

 

And then there are the other visions, the ones she can’t wrap her head around. The ones that show hordes of people dying on a blazing mountain… the last two paragraphs seem to conflict a little - she knows what the fair folk have planned for humanity, but doesn't seem to understand the deaths on the mountain

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

I really like the way you've woven Miles into the story - my favorite detail by far is the gifts he's leaving and what that might imply. I think it might help if you spelled out her choice a bit more at the end, though I can see why you've left it more open to avoid the deaths thing as per agent feedback.

 

I know this is a fresh draft, but I'd probably try to get rid of some of the colons or em dashes that are functioning as colons where possible just to avoid repetition. also for what it's worth, it seems like a really good sign that you're getting feedback.


No current query.


#171 MICRONESIA

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 10:29 AM

Hi, Sataris! I hope you're doing well. Any luck with your own query? It looked pretty dang strong, last I recall.

 

 

 

NEW QUERY IN POST #1



#172 JDSmith

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 04:48 PM

Nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains to seek transcendence, but instead finds the demons of spring.

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming.

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s history of children lured into nature to their death. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls.

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

I really liked the version with her blowing up an ATM machine, but I guess that didn't give off that Horror feeling you were looking for. This version works really well. It's mysterious and captivating. If this is how Jean was originally supposed to be portrayed then I'm sold! Great work as always. I didn't think this query letter could get better, but this is better!


I'd really appreciate help with my query: Iris Mjolnir Spawn of War

 

First 250 words here: Woooo

 

Write on!


#173 cmmg

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 05:08 PM

Nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains to seek transcendence, but instead finds the demons of spring.

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming.

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s history of children lured into nature to their death. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls.

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

I think this definitely combines the best aspects of the previous attempts.

 

The only criticism (besides minor wording things) is the beginning is a little slow, scenic compared to the tone you're going for, so it might not read horror  right away, but I liked it.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

synopsis


#174 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 06:42 PM

Nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains to seek transcendence, but instead finds the demons of spring. Nice hook!

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming.

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s history of children lured into nature to their death. This could be slightly punchier. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of thatched leaves. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls.

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin. Ooh, nice ending.  Like how you managed to incorporate the final line from the original query.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

This is so much better than the "new" new version.  I just have that one line that I think could be a bit more dramatic.  Seems like you managed to fix all the "problems" agents had with the other version nicely.



#175 MICRONESIA

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:43 PM

Thanks, y'all. There are still some things that concern me, but it's nice to know I have a solid baseline. I'll have a look at your own queries right now. Disgruntled: am I still looking at your intro?

 

Also, I just had an idea for a new hook. Does this work? Or is it confusing?

 

Nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains to reconnect with her earthly roots. But then the roots won't let go.



#176 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:31 PM

Can I have both, haha? Me likey the roots part, how the beginning it makes it sound all hippy-ish, but then quickly gives way to horror.  But I also loved the end of your other hook when it says "finds the demons of spring" because 1.) it sounds creepy as hell, and 2.) was a nice callback to the title of your book.



#177 rhwashere

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:05 PM

Welcome back, and thanks for your feedback on mine! Here are a couple of my thoughts:

I liked your previous opener about the cash grab better, but I understand that your going for a less Wicca-heavy query, so maybe it’s best to change it. However, your current opener isn’t as interest-rousing as it could be.

Not a fan of the “voice of thatched leaves” bit. Fine for the novel, but it feels too flowery for the query. That might just be me, though.

I think this might work better if you focused more on the mystery of missing children and secret gifts on the porch, and only hint at (without naming) the Fair Folk. There are a lot of great mystery vibes I’m getting with this version and I’d like to see more!

EDIT: I just realized I was looking at your first query after coming back and not your most recent one. However, I would still like more of those little mysterious details. Also, I like the bit about the roots not letting go.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#178 MICRONESIA

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:08 PM

Just pieced together a new version. I altered the hook (yeah, I like the "roots" stuff too), ditched the thatched leaves, and worked Miles' secretiveness back into it. Rhwashere: I almost feel like I HAVE to name the monster in the query. An agent said something similar to my Critique Partner, whose book is about a special type of zombies that weren't properly clarified in her query. In other words: agents seem to like things spelled out. "So is it the TREES that are after her? I'm confused!"

 

 

 

When nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains, she hopes to reconnect with her earthly roots.

 

She doesn’t expect the roots to clutch so tightly.

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming.

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s history of children lured into the wilderness to die. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of daffodils and bristlemoss. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls.

 

It also might explain the secret offerings Miles leaves beneath the back porch.

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.



#179 Preston Copeland.Biz

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 12:35 PM

Just pieced together a new version. I altered the hook (yeah, I like the "roots" stuff too), ditched the thatched leaves, and worked Miles' secretiveness back into it. Rhwashere: I almost feel like I HAVE to name the monster in the query. An agent said something similar to my Critique Partner, whose book is about a special type of zombies that weren't properly clarified in her query. In other words: agents seem to like things spelled out. "So is it the TREES that are after her? I'm confused!"

 

​Hello there,

 

When nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains, she hopes to reconnect with her earthly roots.

 

She doesn’t expect the roots to clutch so tightly. ​I'd move this sentence up. Not sure why it's dropped. Also, you have a good hook developing here, maybe say something a little more to what the roots actually do. Roots we're from. Roots that snag, and so on is a pretty old cliché, but I am a nature lover, too. 

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming. ​I like how you threw in that sentence with the mojito dude, without over saying everything. Very nice!

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s history of children lured into the wilderness to die. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of daffodils and bristlemoss. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls. ​ This paragraph is badass, but I didn't like this last sentence, JMO. I felt you could keep up that suspense of the NOW, not her recollection. 

 

It also might explain the secret offerings Miles leaves beneath the back porch. ​Ha-ha, creepy, creepy, Love it!

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

​Dude, this is one of the best queries I've read on this forum. You had me hooked, indeed. i'd request. I deleted this last sentence, didn't feel it did anything, because it was too spelled out. Keep the mystery going, that is the query's edge... I thought the stakes above are great. I thought your big weakness is only your hook. Tweak it!

 

​Well done, good sir!

 

Please reciprocate at http://agentquerycon...-book/?p=356810

 

​Oh, and I know I gave compliments, but don't take it easy on my query, if you feel it's not working.

 

Thanks

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and the culling will begin.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.


Preston Copeland

Website: prestoncopeland.biz

Twitter: @pcopeland2345

Email: pcopeland2345@gmail.com


#180 rhwashere

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 02:43 PM

Please take the following with a grain of salt. I wanted to play around with the ordering of things to give the query more of a mysterious feel. Feel free to take or discard any of it.

 

When nature worshiper Jean Miller moves to the Great Smoky Mountains, she hopes to reconnect with her earthly roots.

 

She doesn’t expect the roots to clutch (I don't like the word "clutch" so much. Maybe grip?) so tightly.

 

At first, Jean adores her backwoods apartment complex. Miles, her lover and roommate, is quickly proving to be Mr. Dependable, and the cute single father next door keeps inviting her for mojitos. Most thrillingly, the green hills and shadowed wilds seem to sing her soul’s homecoming. (I feel like this is redundant, since you've already talked about how Jean adores the place) (No paragraph break here)

 

But when a local boy is found dead of hypothermia in the woods, Jean discovers the town’s has a history of children lured inexplicably wandering into the wilderness to die. Soon, she finds herself wandering the midnight woods, enticed by a springtime presence that sings with the voice of daffodils and bristlemoss she doesn't understand. She can’t help but recall legends of the Fair Folk: nature spirits that steal people’s souls. More and more doesn't add up, she even catches Miles leaving secret offerings beneath the back porch for something he calls "Fair Folk".

 

It also might explain the secret offerings Miles leaves beneath the back porch.

 

Gradually, Jean and her neighbors uncover the find that they've been gathered here for a higher purpose for which they’ve been gathered here. The truth will challenge test not only her growing love for Miles, but her very ideals themselves. She will learn how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the Earth she loves so dearly—or for the human race in the process of destroying it.

 

The struggle might be a short one. Because soon the mountain will open up, and For the Fair Folk are real, and the culling will begin has already begun.

 

A DARKNESS IN SPRING is a horror/fantasy novel of 70,000 words. Within, the elemental demons of The Ocean at the End of the Lane stalk the whispering backwoods of Universal Harvester. In 2010, I received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Thank you for your consideration.

 

I hope you find something in there you can use!


Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935





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