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The Fall of Banraby


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#1 anne

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:09 PM

Here is my query for my second book, which is not quite done. My first is out for review with agents but i just had to work on this one! I am excited about it. Maybe query is too long? I've been cutting it. And there might be typos because I typed on iPhone. Looking for some feedback.
Thanks!!!

The Charles Faust Home for teens, which overlooks Cape Cod bay, and sits atop a hundred foot high dune, is not your average nut house. Dr. Faust, is no ordinary run of the mill shrink either. Grandson and heir to the late Dr.Charles Faust estate, Dr Leonard Faust tends to his patients with a persistent fervor. Without delay, after just one session, he finds the correct diagnosis for his new patient, Barnaby: Disassociated Amnesia and Paranoid Personality. Barnaby's imagination has always been a tad bit off kilter, and there is a fine line between fantasy and pathology. Still, Barnaby doesn’t buy it. He swears his memory is fine and demands to go home. But then the weirdness gets to him and Barnaby starts to question the odd changes; his mother-- teary-eyed and scared; his best friend, Joe--tongue-tied; his twin sister, Mary-- absent. Barnaby writes Mars letters begging his sister to rescue him, recounting events like Salvador's odd social group meetings; Faust's strange mannerisms; Roger's freaky rages; Mel's stuttering and picking; and pretty Sandra with the foul mouth who blames it on Tourettes. Barnaby is convinced the staff has brainwashed the patients and, as he tells Mars, could even be drugging the food.

Eventually, Barnaby can't ignore the hunger pangs, or pretty Sandra's advances, and, like any hormonal, hungry fifteen-year old, Barnaby lets down his guard and resumes eating and makes out with Sandra. He even agrees to Faust's idea to try hypnosis in order to tap into the blocked memory Banraby is sure doesn’t exist. Under hypnosis, Barnaby begins encountering fragments of memories that are too painful to claim. After each session, Barnaby descends downward; he stops eating and sleeping; Bill an imaginary friend Barnaby refined and refers to now as his conscience, returns and can’t be hidden from Dr. Faust. Barnaby’s fall catapults him over the wall of his fantastical imagination. He lands on the other side where he must face and accept the truth, a new reality that is raw and blinding.

#2 Dayspring

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 04:16 AM

Hi Anne,

Before we get into the nitty-gritty with things here, a few more general suggestions: start your query with a 2-3 sentence paragraph containing just the pith of your premise and what makes it different - and start with Barnaby if he's your MC, not Dr Faust. I'm not sure what your hook is here; what makes this different from other descent-into-madness-or-is-it books like Hamlet or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

Spell out the events and characters for us. I don't know who Mars is, and I had to insinuate that Barnaby goes on some kind of hunger strike. You keep the second paragraph pretty vague - give us more plot and less psychological complexity, interesting though that sounds. But the last two sentences don't really tell us anything about the book.

Interested in seeing a second draft - I like psychological thrillers. And it's great having a teen as the MC - I think the theme of madness and being different is particularly apt for that age group.

#3 anne

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:47 AM

Dayspring, funny my original query begins with B. I've had to cut quite a bit. Mars is short for Mary, how B refers to her in letters. Hungry pangs --implied B is not eating food because he thinks it is being drugged (previous sentence and P).

I'm afraid when I add in details it becomes too long. Clarifying points, perhaps? I'll give it a go. Def themes from Cuckoo and Hamlet!! Interesting observation. I just happened to watch Cuckoo again on tv the other night and made connections as well. Hamlet is one of my favorites. Sandra could be the ophelia!!! Ha! Neat! How would I add that? Is it appropriate for me to compare my work to classics? I need to see example of it done. Btw: THANKS!!!!!

#4 Late Bloomer

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:04 AM

Adding to what Dayspring said, I'd like to see you change your post heading and tell us what genre the book is and the title (even if it is just a working title). I need to understand the tone of your story so I can judge if the tone of the query fits it. From what you have written above I get more humor than thriller. Hope that was intentional.



#5 Dayspring

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:20 AM

I think if the agent knows their literature, and I hope they do, the comparison to Hamlet will be obvious. You can bring it out more in your manuscript, though, to add a literary edge. Yes, add in some detail to the query letter - bring the word count down by removing some of the vague stuff. I know it hurts, my query had to have major surgery!

#6 C. Taylor

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:54 AM

If you go to the main page of the query forum and read the pinned threads, there's a ton of great info on writing queries and the format we normally recommend (like starting with a hook). As for what you have so far, I think it's a good start, but it could be tightened up and shortened a bit. Also, I like to stick with the main character throughout and how the conflict relates to them or what's at stake for the mc.

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#7 anne

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 01:32 PM

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#8 anne

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 01:34 PM

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#9 anne

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 01:35 PM

Barnaby never anticipated his fall down the stairwell on his way to English class at Wellfleet Academy. The slight headache is nothing compared to the horror of waking up in the Charles Faust Home—a mental health facility for teens.

Granted, Barnaby’s imagination has always been a tad bit off kilter, but Mother was always able to keep Bill—an imaginary friend who later became refined and referred to as Barnaby’s conscience— a secret. But, now, with his mother on the verge of some mysterious nervous breakdown, Barnaby is at the mercy of the men in white coats.

 The Home, which overlooks Cape Cod bay, and sits atop a hundred foot high dune is not your average nut house. And Dr. Faust is not ordinary run of the mill shrink either. Grandson and heir of the wealthy Charles Faust estate, he finds tends to his patients with obsessive fervor. After just one session, he finds the correct diagnosis for Barnaby: Disassociated Amnesia and Paranoid Personality Disorder. Barnaby doesn’t buy it. He insists his memory is fine and demands to go home. Yet, the weirdness of it all becomes an itch Barnaby can’t scratch:  his mother— teary-eyed and scared; his best friend, Jack—tongue-tied; his twin sister, Mary— absent. Barnaby writes to Mary (or Mars as he refers to her) begging his sister to rescue him, explaining how it’s a conspiracy, how the patients are brainwashed, and the food may be drugged. He recounts events:  Salvador's bizarre social meetings; Faust’s strange mannerisms; Roger’s rages; Mel’s picking at his skin until it bleeds; pretty Sandra with the foul mouth who blames it on Tourettes. When Mary doesn’t respond, Barnaby turns to Sandra for emotional support.


Desperate but still clinging to denial, Sandra convinces Barnaby to try Faust’s hypnosis. When it works, and Barnaby starts to recall fragments of an event too painful to claim, he retreats and Bill returns and the cat is out of the bag. Barnaby’s fall catapults him beyond the walls of his fantastical imagination. In order to return to the real world, Barnaby must accept a new reality, a torturous truth that is raw and blinding.

#10 Tom Preece

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 01:59 PM

WellFleet Academy? I hear ancient tremor of an old techie in force, as if a million packets wait to be routed somewhere...


Sorry Anne. I almost can't help. I had a Wellfleet router that was the bain of existence in my old computer room.

I'm not going to nit pick at the query. I think the flow of ideas is. My questions are about word choice and economy, but they're your words. For example I think I'd almost always "Never guessed" rather than "Never anticipated" Doesn't matter. I'll bet this one gets you moving.

#11 Al N

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 03:50 PM

Anne

I have many questions – is this horror (you know what is coming, but can’t do anything about it), thriller (increasing danger or close calls), or mystery (who did what to who)?

I suggest that you read the Agent Query library articles on query letters – they have excellent examples.

I am sorry – I got lost in your query – too much stuff, too many seemingly unrelated ‘facts.’

A query is to convince an agent to read your mss. You did not say whether or not the mss is available, the word count, the type of book, etc.

Good skill – it isn’t luck.

Al N

#12 JohnS

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 06:59 AM

Barnaby never anticipated his fall down the stairwell on his way to English class at Wellfleet Academy. The slight headache is nothing compared to the horror of waking up in the Charles Faust Home—a mental health facility for teens.

...


You revision sound good to me, overall. Just a couple comments:

Why not just say “The Charles Faust home is not your average nut house.” I don’t think the phrase about where it “sits” contributes. Likewise, is “grandson and heir…” relevant in a query, or “Mars as he refers to her”?

I feel you use too many dashes that would work better with commas or sentence structure. For example, leave out the dashes & names Jack & Mary. Do we need to know these names, or would best friend & twin sister suffice, as you did with Mother.

I feel a bit overwhelmed with lists by the time I reach the end of paragraph three. Should this be streamlined or restructured & maybe some detail omitted?

I don't fully understand what this “torturous truth” is? I was left wondering, is there more?

#13 anne

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 08:10 AM

Thank you, all good advice. I'll revisit. Guess I was trying too hard to make it interesting and so included names etc. John-I had thought the torturous truth shouldn't be revealed--but now you've got me thinking. Hmm. Not sure.

#14 anne

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 05:04 PM

NEXT REVISION:

Barnaby never anticipated his fall down the stairwell on his way to English class at Wellfleet Academy, or waking up in the Charles Faust Home-a mental health health facility for teens.

Granted, Barnaby’s imagination has always been a tad bit off kilter, but Mother was always able to keep Bill—an imaginary friend who later became refined and referred to as Barnaby’s conscience— a secret. But, now, with Mother on the verge of some mysterious nervous breakdown, Barnaby is at the mercy of the men in white coats.

The Home, which overlooks Cape Cod bay, is not your average nut house. Dr. Faust with his jittery, Ichabod Cranesque mannerism is not your run of the mill shrink either. After just one session, he diagnoses Barnaby with Disassociated Amnesia and Paranoid Personality Disorder. Barnaby doesn’t buy it. He insists his memory is fine and demands to go home. Yet, the weirdness of it all becomes an itch Barnaby can’t scratch. He writes to his sister, begging her to rescue him, explaining how it’s a conspiracy, how the patients are brainwashed, and the food may be drugged. He recounts freakish happenings: Salvador's bizarre social meetings; Faust’s prying; Roger’s raging; Mel’s spinning; Sandra’s cussing; (and a partridge in a pear tree--that's a joke, disregard). When Mary doesn’t respond, Barnaby seeks the next best thing—Sandra.

Desperate but still clinging to denial, Sandra convinces Barnaby to try Faust’s hypnosis. When it works, and Barnaby starts to recall fragments of an event too painful to claim, he retreats and Bill returns and the cat is out of the bag. Barnaby’s fall catapults him beyond the walls of his fantastical imagination. In order to return to the real world, Barnaby must accept a new reality, a torturous truth that is raw and blinding.

#15 anne

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:55 AM

Dayspring, Late Bloomer and C Taylor,

I posted revision of barnaby in a new post titled the Fall of Barnaby. It's YA and I'd place it in dark comedy category.
It's not getting many hits on here, so either it's flawless or REALLY stinks. I'd appreciate any feedback. I'm trying to reciprocate but honestly many of these queries are so complex!!! I'm such a novice at this point. Thank you!!!
Anne

#16 Late Bloomer

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:04 AM

Anne - you need to delete this entire post since you started another. Most people are probably confused. I'll check out your other one.

Check with one of the "All Knowing" on how to do that. I'll not certain.

#17 Late Bloomer

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:24 AM

NEXT REVISION:

Barnaby never anticipated his fall down the stairwell on his way to English class at Wellfleet Academy, or waking up in the Charles Faust Home - a mental health health facility for teens.

Granted, Barnaby’s imagination has always been a tad bit off kilter, but Mother was always able to keep Bill - an imaginary friend who later became refined and referred to as Barnaby’s conscience - a secret. But now, with Mother on the verge of some mysterious nervous breakdown, Barnaby is at the mercy of the men in white coats.

The Home, which overlooks Cape Cod Bay, is not your average nut house. Dr. Faust, with his jittery, Ichabod Cranesque mannerism is not your run of the mill shrink either. After just one session, he diagnoses Barnaby with Disassociated Amnesia and Paranoid Personality Disorder. Barnaby doesn’t buy it. He insists his memory is fine and demands to go home. Yet, the weirdness of it all becomes an itch Barnaby can’t scratch. (not sure I would use that wording here) He writes to his sister, begging her to rescue him, explaining how it’s a conspiracy, how the patients are brainwashed, and the food may be drugged. He recounts freakish happenings: Salvador's bizarre social meetings; Faust’s prying; Roger’s raging; Mel’s spinning; Sandra’s cussing; (and a partridge in a pear tree--that's a joke, disregard). When Mary doesn’t respond, Barnaby seeks the next best thing - Sandra. (perhaps you should give us just a little something more about Sandra - unless she is his sister. If so, then just let us know that)

Desperate but still clinging to denial, Sandra convinces Barnaby to try Faust’s hypnosis. When it works, and Barnaby starts to recall fragments of an event too painful to claim, he retreats and Bill returns and the cat is out of the bag. Barnaby’s fall catapults him beyond the walls of his fantastical imagination. In order to return to the real world, Barnaby must accept a new reality, a torturous truth that is raw and blinding.



Anne: I know I'm probably not being much help here. It all sounds pretty good to me. The hook is perhaps still a little weak - not quite grabbing enough. But I''m not certain what to suggest either. At first I was going to suggest that you take out the recounts of events and the joke part near the end, but then I thought - no, leave it in, it shows your distinct voice. Sorry, but that's the best I can offer at this point.

It does sound good. A few more opinions and suggestions - a little more tweaking and you'll be there.


#18 anne

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:59 AM

Late bloomer
Oh no! Joke is a joke. I couldn't resist. An agent would write me off as a lunatic if I kept that! Funny.
Thank you for comments--very heloful!! Sandra is patient so I should add clarification--but I tried to show a touch of incest between barnes and his twin sister.
Thanks so much again. This book, again, is my back up and I'm not entirely finished. But, unlike Q, I have it all prewritten in my head.

#19 anne

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:46 PM

3rd REVISION:

Barnaby's last memory is falling down the stairwell at Wellfleet Academy. He wakes, indignant and dizzy, demanding to know why he's been admitted to the Charles Faust Home-a posh mental health facility for teens. Everyone in North Truro knows the Faust Home is the last stop, a loony bin for the crazies. And Barnaby is sure he's not one of those. 

Granted, Barnaby’s imagination has always been a tad bit off kilter, but Mother was always able to keep Bill—an imaginary friend who later became refined and referred to as Barnaby’s conscience— a secret. But, now, with Mother on the verge of some mysterious nervous breakdown, Barnaby is at the mercy of the men in white coats.

The Home, which overlooks Cape Cod bay, is not your average nut house. Dr. Faust with his jittery, Ichabod Cranesque mannerism is not your run of the mill shrink either.  After just one session, he diagnoses Barnaby with Disassociated Amnesia and Paranoid Personality Disorder. Barnaby doesn’t buy it. He insists his memory is fine and demands to go home. Yet, the weirdness wears on him. And Barnaby writes to his sister, begging her to rescue him, explaining how it’s a conspiracy, how the patients are brainwashed, and the food may be drugged. He recounts freakish happenings:  Salvador's bizarre social meetings; Faust’s prying; Roger’s raging; Mel’s spinning; Sandra’s cussing; When Mary doesn’t respond, Barnaby seeks the next best thing—cussing Sandra, the pretty patient.


Desperate but still clinging to denial, Sandra convinces Barnaby to try Faust’s hypnosis. When it works, and Barnaby starts to recall fragments of an event too painful to claim, he retreats and Bill returns and the cat is out of the bag. Barnaby’s fall catapults him beyond the walls of his fantastical imagination. In order to return to the real world, Barnaby must accept a new reality, a torturous truth that is raw and blinding.

#20 anne

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 12:45 PM

Ok--I guess this query must be close to perfect, so I'll cast my line. Thanks to those few who helped me. I did try to reciprocate but stayed away from complicated queries with lots of replies.




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