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 ;)