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ORIGINS (formerly ECHO) - YA ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER


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#1 HeatherBlue

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 10:41 PM

I'm going to first say that I am having most trouble with my hook. I'm honestly just unsure where to start this. And I kind of just need to know if her 'employer' is too vague, though he's a secret from the reader for a while in the book, so I also want to make sure I'm not making this too spoilery either. Thanks!

 

Also, I need help determining the genre. And the title is tentative at this point.

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Continuing the family business, twenty-year-old Elisa has been assassin for two years, but when she was approached by her employer when she was eighteen, she knew she had to do everything he said, or put her whole family at risk.

 

When her eighteen-year-old brother, Mason, enters the field, he poses a new problem. Though they only kill the lowest criminals out there, he still has crippling anxiety whenever he enters the field. On multiple occasions, Elisa has had to come to his rescue, risking her own life in the process. She knows if she doesn’t do exactly as her employer says, her whole family will be put at risk. But she is trying to hide the secret of her employer, and the fact that she is taking out targets for her brother.

 

As other assassins start hinting to her that they know her brother’s secret, she starts to wonder how many people are really watching her. She knows her employer always has someone on her, but she also doesn’t know which of her assassin friends she can truly trust. As the truth comes out about her brother among her friends and family, the truth about her employer starts to surface as well. Working together gets them closer and closer to finding a killer that is a threat to the population. But Elisa must learn to trust the people that love her and fight a common enemy. When they all go on a mission together, sent by her employer, she’s unsure of which of her friends will come out alive, especially when her brother shows up unexpectedly.

 

(I know how to do a closing paragraph, so I'm not going to post one)



#2 Koechophe

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 12:50 AM

I'm the type that more or less re-writes people's queries to try to show them other options as to how they can frame their story, so let's dive in!

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

Continuing the family business, twenty-year-old Elisa has been assassin for two years, but when she was approached by her employer when she was eighteen, she knew she had to do everything he said, or put her whole family at risk.

 

This hook is a bit of a hot mess, there's some glaring grammatical issues here, it's pretty clunky, and it doesn't really do much to entice me. Let me take the same idea and show you some of the ways it could be portrayed that would, in my opinion, be more grabbing.

 

"Twenty-two year old Elisa (last name here if it exists) has two problems; she's in the business of killing people, and she's being blackmailed by a man who'll kill her family if she steps out of line."

 

Or better hook (but with less information).

 

"For twenty-two year-old Elisa, killing people used to be so simple... until her family got involved." 

 

When her eighteen-year-old brother, Mason, enters the field, he poses a new problem. Though they only kill the lowest criminals out there, he still has crippling anxiety whenever he enters the field. On multiple occasions, Elisa has had to come to his rescue, risking her own life in the process. She knows if she doesn’t do exactly as her employer says, her whole family will be put at risk. But she is trying to hide the secret of her employer, and the fact that she is taking out targets for her brother.

 

This is straight telling. There's no show here, and very little dramatic tension. Assuming you used the second hook, here's how the info could be better presented:

 

"Elisa's trouble starts when Mason, her little brother, tries to follow in her footsteps. Crippled by his anxiety, Mason cowers and trembles during even the easiest jobs, making him more of a liability than an asset. She loves the kid, but some people just don't cut it as assassins. Elisa must also keep the true nature of her job a secret; that she's being blackmailed by a man who's holding her family hostage (don't know if that's accurate, that's what I deduce, but more specifics here would be good)."

 

As other assassins start hinting to her that they know her brother’s secret (what secret? His anxiety? That doesn't sound like a secret...), she starts to wonder how many people are really watching her. She knows her employer always has someone on her, but she also doesn’t know which of her assassin friends she can truly trust. As the truth comes out about her brother among her friends and family, the truth about her employer starts to surface as well. Working together gets them closer and closer to finding a killer that is a threat to the population. But Elisa must learn to trust the people that love her and fight a common enemy. When they all go on a mission together, sent by her employer, she’s unsure of which of her friends will come out alive, especially when her brother shows up unexpectedly.

 

this is not only extremely tell (not show) but it's also debhilitatingly vague. I read this and see a lot of generalities. The "common enemy" is someone we know nothing about. The "truth about her employer" is something that the reader can only guess at this point. There's a fine line between being secretive and just being confusing and vague. Here's a cleanup of the info in this paragraph (though more info is definitely needed to make this an effective query:

 

"Elisa's reputation among other assassins steadily declines with her brother's increasing failure. As Elisa desperately tries to hold both her family and her work together, a new threat arises; a psychopathic killer so prolific that he brings (name whatever city this takes place in) to its knees. Commissioned by her blackmailing employer, Elisa bands together with her deadly colleagues to eliminate the killer once and for all. 

 

She doesn't know who she can trust. She doesn't know how to succeed. And when her brother turns up, there's a good chance he'll either die, get Elisa killed, or both."

 

Hope that gives you some idea of how you might phrase this a bit more economically and excitingly. Here are some things that should be in the query:

-More specifics on the emlpoyer/blackmail situation. It's just far too vague at this point

-More charactariztion about Elisa, I artificially created a bit in my recommendations, but for all intents and purposes, pretend you're writing from Elisa's voice when you do the query (but keep it in 3rd person).

-More info on the killer. he's too vague to be scary.

-More stakes. Family dying is good, but it's only suggested. Really point out why elisa must succeed, not just for herself. 

My advice: Don't worry about spoiling the book. Spoiling the cool plot points is actually pretty darn necessary to write a convincing query. 

 

I critique because I care. Good luck and happy writing!



#3 Dollophead

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 10:35 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Continuing the family business, twenty-year-old Elisa has been assassin for two years, but when she was approached by her employer when she was eighteen, she knew she had to do everything he said, or put her whole family at risk. Run-on sentence. Consider starting your hook when she was eighteen, then starting at the current point (20 y/old) in the next paragraph. 

 

When her eighteen-year-old brother, Mason, enters the field, he poses a new problem. Though they only kill the lowest of criminals out there, he still has crippling anxiety whenever he enters the field you said "enters the field" in the last sentence. How about something like, "his crippling anxiety is putting everything and everyone at stake." On multiple occasions, Elisa has had to come to his rescue, risking her own life in the process. She knows if she doesn’t do exactly as her employer says, her whole family will be put at risk. But she is trying to hide the secret of her employer, and the fact that she is taking out targets for her brother. I think you can reword this sequence a little better. E.g., Mason becomes an assassin --> crippling anxiety --> botched job --> Elisa saves his butt --> starts taking out targets for Mason --> can't tell employer or whole family dead. 

 

As other assassins start hinting to her that they know learn her brother’s secret, she starts to wonder how many people are really watching her. She knows her employer always has someone on her, but she also doesn’t know which of her assassin friends she can truly trust you can replace all this with something sorta not exactly but kinda like "and her employer (name?) puts someone on her tail, paranoia begins to set in." As the truth comes out about her brother among her friends and family, the truth about her employer starts to surface as well. This sentence is very vague. I think you can do without it. Working together gets them closer and closer to finding a killer that is a threat to the population. Reword. Say stuff like, "Enlisting the help of her family, Elisa turns her hunting prowess on a mass murderer." Also, this tracking-a-killer plotline jumps out of nowhere. Weren't we just worried about her brother being found out? Unless this killer is the employer, too... then I recommend hinting at that. But Elisa must learn to trust the people that love her and fight a common enemy. When they all go on a mission together, sent by her employer, she’s unsure of which of her friends will come out alive, especially when her brother shows up unexpectedly.These last two sentences need clearer stakes. More of an oomph to make us wanna read the book. 

 

(I know how to do a closing paragraph, so I'm not going to post one) <-- sometimes it helps to do this though!



#4 HeatherBlue

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 11:05 PM

So I think this version can be condensed down, but I also think it's more clear. I'm unsure if I should include "the man she is falling for" or if it's adding too much "stuff." I feel like I possibly repeat myself in this one, so if you see that, please point it out. Let me know if anything else is unclear. Thanks for the queries!

 

I have also retitled this book ORIGINS and I'm unsure if I can change the title of my topic to reflect that, but if anyone knows how, PLEASE HELP!

 

 

Dear Agent,

 

When Elisa Kearney was eighteen, she was officially crowned an assassin by her family - and she is the only one who knows that they could all go to prison if she doesn’t do exactly what her employer says.

 

As the now twenty-year-old assassin tries to hide this from her family, her eighteen-year-old brother, Mason, enters the world as a killer himself. Though they only kill the lowest criminals out there, his crippling anxiety has kept him from taking out his targets. On multiple occasions, he’s sat trembling in corners, texting his sister to come to his rescue as his target sits just feet away from him. Elisa is unsure if Mason is going to cut it as an assassin, and knows there’s no way her family can find out about this. At the same time, she’s being blackmailed by a man who has the power to imprison her whole family; he works for a secret government organization and knows exactly what her family does.

 

Though he calls himself Crane, she knows it’s not his real name. As she sees more and more of his employees around her family, she wonders if there is anyone she can trust. Elisa continues to work for Crane, all while falling in love with a fellow assassin, covering for her brother, and hiding this secret from her family. As a new threat arises - someone Crane has known about for a while, someone all of the assassins have been climbing their way up to, killing targets to find this one crime boss - Elisa is finally fully recruited on to the black operations team. Crane calls the team together, which includes the man she is falling for, and sets them out to find this killer and eliminate them once and for all. But when her brother shows up on the mission, there’s a chance that not only one of the assassins could die, but that Mason is risking his life as well.

 

*I feel like the hook could also be (if I want to reveal more earlier), that she is the only one who knows the government is watching, or something like that. Let me know what is preferable. Thanks!



#5 HeatherBlue

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 01:35 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Raised as an assassin by her family, twenty-year-old Elisa Kearney always knew she’d grow up to be a killer.

 

But when her brother, Mason, turns eighteen, it turns out that his crippling anxiety keeps him from doing his job as an assassin. On multiple occasions, he’s sat trembling in corners, texting his sister to come to his rescue as his target sits just feet away from him. Elisa knows she’s doing the right thing as an assassin, killing only the lowest criminals that are a threat to the population. As one of her assassin friends takes her on surveillance multiple times, she is just waiting to get her hands on the next target - a hidden face that has been sending out their employees to murder women.

 

Elisa wants to help her brother, but she also has her employer to answer to, the one that she has been hiding from her family since she turned eighteen. Crane works for a secret government organization, threatening to throw Elisa’s family in prison unless she does exactly what he says. As he reveals that he always has people watching, she starts to suspect everyone around her. When she follows her friend on one of his missions, they find out he’s been given bad information and gets shot right in front of her. Elisa joins Crane’s team to eliminate the killer once and for all - and to find out who the mole is in their midst. But when her brother shows up at the killer’s warehouse, there’s not only a chance one of the assassins could die, but that Mason could be killed as well.

 

Told through multiple perspectives, ORIGINS is a something-word young adult action/adventure novel or thriller? This is a multiple submission. I am querying you because… Thank you for your time and consideration.

​(closing paragraph is unfinished because I need more info before I finish it, but this is the gist of it)



#6 Dollophead

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 03:00 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Raised as an assassin by her family, twenty-year-old Elisa Kearney always knew she’d grow up to be a killer. Reading this hook a couple times, I think it might actually be more powerful if you subvert it. Assuming that she saves somebody--Mason, her family?--during the book, maybe hinting at this could lead a little more directly into your theme. E.g., "Raised as an assassin by her family, twenty-year-old Elisa Kearney never thought she would be anything other than a killer."  

 

But when her brother, Mason, turns eighteen, it turns out that his crippling anxiety keeps him from doing his job as an assassin. On multiple occasions, he’s sat trembling in corners, texting his sister to come to his rescue as his target sits just feet away from him. I see this through Mason's POV. Try it through Elisa's: "On multiple occasions, she's come to his rescue to find him trembling in a corner, his target just feet away from him." Elisa knows she’s doing the right thing as an assassin, killing only the lowest criminals that are a threat to the population. Maybe you can put this sentence first. As one of her assassin friends takes her on surveillance multiple times, she is just waiting to get her hands on the next target - a hidden face that has been sending out their employees to murder women.

 

You know what, try it like this: "Elisa knows she’s doing the right thing as an assassin, killing only the lowest criminals that are a threat to the population. She can't wait to get her hands on the next target - a hidden face that has been sending out their employees to murder women. But when her brother, Mason, turns eighteen, his crippling anxiety keeps him from doing his job. On multiple occasions, she's come to his rescue to find him trembling in a corner, his target just feet away from him."

 

Elisa wants to help her brother, but she also has her employer to answer to; the one that she has been hiding a secret kept from her family since she turned eighteen. Crane works for a secret government organization, threatening to throw imprison Elisa’s family in prison unless she follows his commands. does exactly what he says. As she learns of his invasive surveillance methods, he reveals that he always has people watching, she starts to suspect everyone around her. [When she follows her friend on one of his missions, they find out he’s been given bad information and gets shot right in front of her. Elisa joins Crane’s team to eliminate the killer once and for all - and to find out who the mole is in their midst. But when her brother shows up at the killer’s warehouse, there’s not only a chance one of the assassins could die, but that Mason could be killed as well.The last 3 sentences lost me. I thought the main problem was going to be Crane discovering that Elisa kills for Mason, and that the stakes were that her whole family could go to jail. Suddenly there's a killer who is a double agent? and what does Mason have to do with it?

 

I'm having trouble understanding how the plot of Elisa's friend getting shot --> teaming up with Crane --> sniffing out a double agent has to do with the plot of Elisa killing for Mason. Try to connect those a little better and I'll check back in when I see your next post. 

 

Told through multiple perspectives, ORIGINS is a something-word young adult action/adventure novel or thriller? to me it sounds more like a thriller. This is a multiple submission. Most agents know you're not solely querying them. I am querying you because… Thank you for your time and consideration.

​(closing paragraph is unfinished because I need more info before I finish it, but this is the gist of it)

 

It was just the last part that confused me. Good luck!



#7 mbal

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 05:27 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Raised as an assassin by her family, twenty-year-old Elisa Kearney always knew she’d grow up to be a killer. This is a great hook.

 

But when her brother, Mason, turns eighteen, it turns out that his crippling anxiety keeps him from doing his job as an assassin. On multiple occasions, he’s sat trembling in corners, texting his sister to come to his rescue as his target sits just feet away from him. I would tighten these two sentences up and combine. Some of these details aren't necessary. All we need to know is that Mason is having a hard time adjusting to life as an assassin. And I'm not sure if we even need to know that. I would focus on just one thing that you're trying to get across in the query, your main plot point. Adding in other minor plots gets confusing. Elisa knows she’s doing the right thing as an assassin, killing only the lowest criminals that are a threat to the population. As one of her assassin friends takes her on surveillance multiple times, she is Elisa is just waiting to get her hands on the next target - a hidden face that has been sending out their employees to murder women.

 

Elisa wants to help her brother, but she also has her employer to answer to, the one that she has been hiding from her family since she turned eighteen. Crane I'm guessing Crane is her boss? This is confusing though aren't the whole family assassins? Why is Crane a secret? works for a secret government organization, threatening to throw Elisa’s family in prison unless she does exactly what he says. As he reveals that he always has people watching, she starts to suspect everyone around her. When she follows her friend on one of his missions, they find out he’s been given bad information and gets shot right in front of her. Elisa joins Crane’s team to eliminate the killer once and for all - and to find out who the mole is in their midst. But when her brother shows up at the killer’s warehouse, there’s not only a chance one of the assassins could die, but that Mason could be killed as well.

 

Told through multiple perspectives, ORIGINS is a something-word young adult action/adventure novel or thriller? This is a multiple submission. I am querying you because… Thank you for your time and consideration.

​(closing paragraph is unfinished because I need more info before I finish it, but this is the gist of it)

 

Your hook is great but I think too many things are going on in the query. Focus on one, maybe two major plot points to get across and focus on making them clear. adding in a lot of extra details isn't helpful, it's not supposed to read like a synopsis. you just want to hook the agent into reading more. Hope this helps






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