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Ravenswood - Gothic Mystery

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#1 HBDiaz

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 06:14 AM

REVISION IN #7. I appreciate everyone's help!

 

Hi all, 

 

It's been a long while since I've posted here, so I'm a bit out of practice, but I am hoping for some feedback on a query that I'd like to start sending out to agents. Critiques will be returned, of course. I've left off my bio for simplicity's sake. Thank you! 

 

Dear [insert agent name]:

 

By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett and his daughter had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life and return home to Ravenswood Hall, where his mother died under suspicious circumstances nearly twenty years before.

 

He arrives to find that a stranger, famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau, has taken up residence in the upper rooms of the old mansion. Disturbed as much by this violation as by the singular expression of horror in her eyes at the mention of his father’s name, William vows to expose her true identity, for she may know more than she claims. When both the housekeeper’s daughter and the family doctor are found dead, and William begins to see strange apparitions in the attic, he realizes that a force much more sinister may be at work within the walls of his childhood home. 

 

Plagued by nightmares and fearing madness, William calls upon his daughter, Lottie, a nurse and amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, he is forced to face the phantoms, whether real or imagined, entirely alone. William must exhume his own past along with the ghosts of Ravenswood Hall if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Written in an epistolary style to the tune of Wilke Collin’s A Woman in White and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, RAVENSWOOD is a gothic mystery, complete at 65,000 words, which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. [Bio here] 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 


H.B. Diaz

 

Critiques much appreciated and returned.

http://agentquerycon...othic-mystery/ 


#2 Faltho

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:50 AM


Dear [insert agent name]:

 

By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett and his daughter had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life and return home to Ravenswood Hall, where his mother died under suspicious circumstances nearly twenty years before (This is a great set up. For me personally I might leave out the dead mother part, and say perhaps, his widowed father's suicide. Then bring up the suspicious death of his mother later if it's a major plot point. This is just for flow and style purposes, so feel free to ignore).

 

He arrives to find that a stranger, famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau, has taken up residence in the upper rooms of the old mansion. Disturbed as much by this violation as by the singular expression of horror in her eyes at the mention of his father’s name, William vows to expose her true identity, for she may know more than she claims(This might be better broken into a couple of sentences each with an impacting point. There's a lot of information in this single sentence and most of it gets lost in the reading for me). When both the housekeeper’s daughter and the family doctor are found dead, and William begins to see strange apparitions in the attic, he realizes that a force much more sinister may be at work within the walls of his childhood home

 

Plagued by nightmares and fearing madness, William calls upon his daughter, Lottie, a nurse and amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, he is forced to face the phantoms, whether real or imagined, entirely alone. William must exhume his own past along with the ghosts of Ravenswood Hall if he wishes to find his daughter alive(Nice stakes, and loving the voice here).

 

Written in an epistolary style to the tune of Wilke Collin’s A Woman in White and Bram Stoker’s Dracula(General rule of thumb, as far as I've ever been told, is to try and avoid comparing your work/style/anything with classic novels, or industry standards.) , RAVENSWOOD is a gothic mystery, complete at 65,000 words, which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. [Bio here] 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

 

Firstly, welcome back! I just recently came back to pitch a query as well, and have found a very different and borderline dead forum to what I was used to in ages past. So, be aware, feedback may be few and far between, with mostly people who may have never seen a query before.

With that out of the way, I can say this is a solid query in my opinion. You've set up the plot well, given me a taste of the stakes as well as a good introduction to your voice. The only thing I would say is there are a lot of very compound sentences here, which with a little restructuring, might make some of your details stick out more. So, perhaps, cutting down just a bit and expanding ideas into their own sentences might help me as a reader take it all in.



#3 HBDiaz

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 04:34 PM

Thank you so much, Faltho! This is extremely helpful! Let me know if I can return the favor! 


H.B. Diaz

 

Critiques much appreciated and returned.

http://agentquerycon...othic-mystery/ 


#4 callalilly

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Posted 27 March 2019 - 06:40 PM

HBDiaz, below are just a few thoughts -I played around with a few sentence that may help with flow. I hope they help!

 


By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett and his daughter had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life for a while (I don't know if my add on here is necessary or not -I just added it because it sounded without it like he was never returning...and maybe in your book he doesn't, but it sounds like he believes he'll return home and so by adding that little bit, I think a more ominous tone it struck. But if you don't agree ~delete it :) ) and return home to Ravenswood Hall, where his mother died under suspicious circumstances nearly twenty years before. (While I have no doubt that this line plays out in your book importantly, having read your whole query I suggest taking it -as there is no reference to it again in the query, it might be felt like unnecessary information in the query.)

 

He arrives to find that a stranger, famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau, has taken up residence in the upper rooms of the old mansion. Disturbed as much by this violation as by the singular expression of horror in her eyes at the mention of his father’s name, William vows to expose her true identity, for she may know more than she claims (So does this mean she continues to live in the house? If so, why can't William kick her out? Is he too curious to find out what she knows to force her away?). But before William can unravel Eleanor's secrets, both the housekeeper’s daughter and the family doctor are found dead. With the death-toll up to three people in the house, William begins to see strange apparitions in the attic, quickly forcing him to realize that a force much more sinister may be at work within the walls of his childhood home. 

 

Plagued by nightmares and fearing madness, William calls upon his daughter, Lottie, a nurse and amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, he is forced to face the phantoms, whether real or imagined, entirely alone. William must exhume his own past along with the ghosts of Ravenswood Hall if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Written in an epistolary style to the tune of Wilke Collin’s A Woman in White and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, RAVENSWOOD is a Gothic mystery, complete at 65,000 words, which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. [Bio here] 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

Overall, great query -it sounds really exciting! I played around above, yet please ignore all if you don't feel it fits. I would suggest more of a concentration on Eleanor, she's brought up and then dropped and it's hard to get why she's important other than being a suspicious character in William's opinion. Best of luck, I'm excited to see where your query goes!


 ,Query I'm fighting with: http://agentquerycon...-post-22/page-2

 


#5 Derrick

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 10:04 AM

When I write a query, I try to put the "heart" of the story into the hook. Pretend that's the only thing the agent will read and that the rest of the query expounds upon it.

 

I like my hook to as much resemble a twitter pitch as possible while still being appropriate for a letter.

 

When I read your hook, I say that's the beginning of your body. I think it does a great job of setting up your story, it could be a bit tighter/ briefter:

 

By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life and return home to Ravenswood Hall.

 

But again, as the set up to your body, not your hook.

 

I read it a few times and there's a lot going on in this story, so I'll be honest, I don't know what I would say the heart of the book is. I would say the apparitions are probably the main part of the book, but ghost stories are super common. So I think to get to your hook, I'd ask the question: "What makes this different than a ghost story?"

 

I think the comps are fine, but again, you have to question how your book is different than those comps, and that's your starting point for a hook.


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#6 London C

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 10:34 AM

Hi all, 

 

It's been a long while since I've posted here, so I'm a bit out of practice, but I am hoping for some feedback on a query that I'd like to start sending out to agents. Critiques will be returned, of course. I've left off my bio for simplicity's sake. Thank you! 

 

Dear [insert agent name]:

 

By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett and his daughter had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life and return home to Ravenswood Hall, where his mother died under suspicious circumstances nearly twenty years before.[Solid opening]

 

He arrives to find that a stranger, famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau, has taken up residence in the upper rooms of the old mansion. Disturbed as much by this violation as by the singular expression of horror in her eyes at the mention of his father’s name, William vows to expose her true identity,[I'm confused—is her true Identity E. Laveau, or something else? Why is she hiding it and how does he know—this  needs more detail to work] for she may know more than she claims. When both the housekeeper’s daughter and the family doctor are found dead, and William begins to see strange apparitions in the attic, he realizes that a force much more sinister may be at work within the walls of his childhood home. 

 

Plagued by nightmares and fearing madness, William calls upon his daughter, Lottie, a nurse and[you already established that she has medical knowledge]amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, he is forced to face the phantoms, whether real or imagined, entirely alone. William must exhume his own past along with the ghosts of Ravenswood Hall if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Written in an epistolary style to the tune of Wilke Collin’s A Woman in White and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, RAVENSWOOD is a gothic mystery, complete at 65,000 words, which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. [Bio here] 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

Overall, I think this is very solid. However, I'm not sure what Eleanor Laveau has to do with the plot. My suspicion is that you can get rid of the sentences talking about her and move right to the disappearances.

 

I'm not sure, but I think 65,000 words might raise some flags for this genre. I believe for Adult fiction, that's more in the range of cozy mysteries and not much else. If you haven't already researched it, I'd verify that the length won't be undermine you. Otherwise, with just a little adjustment, I think  this is good to go. Good luck!


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#7 HBDiaz

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 04:24 PM

Thank you so much for you comments, everyone! (I'll return the favor ASAP) I've rewritten the query based on your great suggestions. London C, I agree with you on the word count. I'll work on that!

 

I think this one is a bit more succinct and gives a better impression of what the story is about. I'd love to know your thoughts! Here it goes: 

 

Dear Agent:

 

Dr. William Garrett would like nothing more than to let Ravenswood Hall rot. When he learns of his estranged father’s apparent suicide however, he must leave his successful medical practice and return home to settle the estate. Eager to be rid of it, he makes the journey through the Catskills only to find that the upper rooms have been let to famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau. She claims to have witnessed his father leap from the balcony in the throes of lunacy, but rumors in town tell a darker tale; that she drove him to it deliberately.

 

Enchanted by her singular beauty, William permits her to remain on the premises. But, when both the groundskeeper’s young daughter and the family doctor are found dead, each poisoned and discarded among the Hemlocks, he wonders if Eleanor’s gentle charm may be little more than veneer.

 

Soon he begins to see strange apparitions in the attic of the house, visions that bear an uncanny and inexplicable resemblance to Eleanor. Fearing madness and plagued by nightmares, he calls upon his daughter, an amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, William must exhume the ghosts of Ravenswood, as well as his own past, if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Set in upstate New York in the late 1800’s, Ravenswood is a Gothic mystery complete at 70,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. My short fiction has been published by Horror Tree, Flame Tree Press, ID Press, and Post Mortem Press, among others. (etc) 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 


H.B. Diaz

 

Critiques much appreciated and returned.

http://agentquerycon...othic-mystery/ 


#8 London C

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Posted 28 March 2019 - 05:04 PM

Thank you so much for you comments, everyone! (I'll return the favor ASAP) I've rewritten the query based on your great suggestions. London C, I agree with you on the word count. I'll work on that!

 

I think this one is a bit more succinct and gives a better impression of what the story is about. I'd love to know your thoughts! Here it goes: 

 

Dear Agent:

 

Dr. William Garrett would like nothing more than to let Ravenswood Hall rot. When he learns of his estranged father’s apparent suicide however, he must leave his successful medical practice and return home to settle the estate. Eager to be rid of it, he makes the journey through the Catskills [this is a little wordy for a detail that doesn't matter. Perhaps cut it] only to find that the upper rooms have been let to famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau. She claims to have witnessed his father leap from the balcony in the throes of lunacy, but rumors in town tell a darker tale; that she drove him to it deliberately.

 

Enchanted by her singular beauty, William permits her to remain on the premises. But, when both the groundskeeper’s young daughter and the family doctor are found dead, each poisoned and discarded among the Hemlocks, he wonders if Eleanor’s gentle charm may be little more than veneer.

 

Soon he begins to see strange apparitions in the attic of the house, visions that bear an uncanny and inexplicable resemblance to Eleanor. Fearing madness and plagued by nightmares, he calls upon his daughter, an amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, William must exhume the ghosts of Ravenswood, as well as his own past, if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Set in upstate New York in the late 1800’s, Ravenswood is a Gothic mystery complete at 70,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. My short fiction has been published by Horror Tree, Flame Tree Press, ID Press, and Post Mortem Press, among others. (etc) 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

 

This is great. I have a much better sense of the plot and Eleanor's role is clear. 70k words feels on-target, too.


——————

My latest query is here. I appreciate reciprocal critiques


#9 epercak

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 11:31 AM

Thank you so much for you comments, everyone! (I'll return the favor ASAP) I've rewritten the query based on your great suggestions. London C, I agree with you on the word count. I'll work on that!

 

I think this one is a bit more succinct and gives a better impression of what the story is about. I'd love to know your thoughts! Here it goes: 

 

Dear Agent:

 

Dr. William Garrett would like nothing more than love (too wordy) to let Ravenswood Hall rot. When he learns of his estranged father’s apparent suicide however, he must leave his successful medical practice and return home to settle the estate. Eager to be rid of it, he makes the journey through the Catskills only to find that the upper rooms have been let to famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau. She claims to have witnessed his father leap from the balcony in the throes of lunacy, but rumors in town tell a darker tale; that she drove him to it deliberately. (Syntax is a little off here. Who is taking the deliberate action - the father or Laveau? If it's Laveau, the "deliberately" is unnecessary.)

 

Enchanted by her singular beauty, William permits her to remain on the premises. But, when both the groundskeeper’s young daughter and the family doctor are found dead, each poisoned and discarded among the Hemlocks, he wonders if Eleanor’s gentle charm may be little more than veneer.

 

Soon he begins to see strange apparitions in the attic of the house, visions that bear an uncanny and inexplicable resemblance to Eleanor. Fearing madness and plagued by nightmares, he calls upon his daughter, an amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, William must exhume the ghosts of Ravenswood, as well as his own past, if he wishes to find his daughter alive. A lot of information in this paragraph that is a little cluttered and convoluted. It took a few rereads. You introduce a new character who immediately vanishes, then move quickly into the reaction. If finding his daughter his key to the plot, she needs to have a stronger introduction.

 

Set in upstate New York in the late 1800’s, Ravenswood is a Gothic mystery complete at 70,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. My short fiction has been published by Horror Tree, Flame Tree Press, ID Press, and Post Mortem Press, among others. (etc) 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 

 

Pretty good job. I think it could use a little clarification as mentioned above, but it's working for the most part.

 

My query, if you have the time. 



#10 Derrick

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Posted 29 March 2019 - 12:13 PM

Thank you so much for you comments, everyone! (I'll return the favor ASAP) I've rewritten the query based on your great suggestions. London C, I agree with you on the word count. I'll work on that!

 

I think this one is a bit more succinct and gives a better impression of what the story is about. I'd love to know your thoughts! Here it goes: 

 

Dear Agent:

 

Dr. William Garrett would like nothing more than to let Ravenswood Hall rot. When he learns of his estranged father’s apparent suicide however, he must leave his successful medical practice and return home to settle the estate. Eager to be rid of it, he makes the journey through the Catskills only to find that the upper rooms have been let to famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau. She claims to have witnessed his father leap from the balcony in the throes of lunacy, but rumors in town tell a darker tale; that she drove him to it deliberately.

Again, I feel like this isn't a hook. I think the above is almost like the start of the body. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I'm not getting the sense that this is the hooky premise of your book. I'm striked through things I think could go or be worked into the below body. But the first paragraph should be the hook. It should be the premise. Is the premise that he has to figure out what's going on to get his daughter back? If so, I'd put it up here.

 

The hook doesn't have to be chronological to the body. Tell me the best part of the book in the first paragraph. Then through the body come back in and bring me up to speed on the details I need to know.

 

Enchanted by her singular beauty, William permits her to remain on the premises. But, when both the groundskeeper’s young daughter and the family doctor are found dead, each poisoned and discarded among the Hemlocks, he wonders if Eleanor’s gentle charm may be little more than veneer.

 

Soon he begins to see strange apparitions in the attic of the house, visions that bear an uncanny and inexplicable resemblance to Eleanor. Fearing madness and plagued by nightmares, he calls upon his daughter, an amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. When she suddenly vanishes, William must exhume the ghosts of Ravenswood, as well as his own past, if he wishes to find his daughter alive. This, what I put green, is what sounds to me is the hook. I could be off, because I don't know the actual book, but to me this is the most interesting sentence in the query. It very quickly gives me conflict, character, and stakes.

 

What if you gave me a something like this at the top:

 

Dr. William Garrett would like nothing more than to let Ravenswood Hall rot. But Ravenswood isn't done with him. Forced to return, he'll have to exhume it's ghosts, as well as his own past, or he'll lose his daughter.

 

Idk, I'm trying to figure out the hook myself. I think what you have here sounds great. I think it works as a body of a query. I think you're just missing that thing that pops in the beginning, and it leads into the body chronologically, so for me, it just feels like the first paragraph to the body.

 

Set in upstate New York in the late 1800’s, Ravenswood is a Gothic mystery complete at 70,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. My short fiction has been published by Horror Tree, Flame Tree Press, ID Press, and Post Mortem Press, among others. (etc) 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 


Would you do me the kindness of critiquing my query?


#11 Joseph Isaacs

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 05:37 PM

REVISION IN #7. I appreciate everyone's help!

 

Hi all, 

 

It's been a long while since I've posted here, so I'm a bit out of practice, but I am hoping for some feedback on a query that I'd like to start sending out to agents. Critiques will be returned, of course. I've left off my bio for simplicity's sake. Thank you! 

 

Dear [insert agent name]:

 

By the winter of 1898, Dr. William Garrett and his daughter had built a respectable medical practice in Baltimore, Maryland, but when he learns of his father’s suicide, he must leave his successful life and return home to Ravenswood Hall, where his mother died under suspicious circumstances nearly twenty years before. awkward and clunky, good stuff in here but all strung together with no flow. read aloud

 

He arrives to find that a stranger, famed French painter, Eleanor Laveau, has taken up residence in the upper rooms of the old mansion.much better Disturbed as much by this violation as by the singular expression of horror in her eyes at the mention of his father’s name,out of nowhere needs transition, just leaves me feeling like a sentence has been cut that needed to be there William vows to expose her true identity, for she may know more than she claims. When both the housekeeper’s daughter and the family doctor are found dead, and William begins to see strange apparitions in the attic, he realizes that a force much more sinister may be at work within the walls of his childhood home. good

 

Plagued by nightmares and fearing madness, William calls upon his daughter, Lottie, a nurse and amateur spiritualist, to join him at Ravenswood. i feel like i have heard Ravenwood used before as the name of a haunted house in somethign else. maybe a board game? When she suddenly vanishes, he is forced to face the phantoms, whether real or imagined, entirely alone. William must exhume his own past along with the ghosts of Ravenswood Hall if he wishes to find his daughter alive.

 

Written in an epistolary style to the tune of Wilke Collin’s A Woman in White and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, RAVENSWOOD is a gothic mystery, complete at 65,000 words, which will appeal to fans of Susan Hill and Daphne Du Maurier alike. cool, potential overall but still needs some work imho[Bio here] 

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. Hi mine is Soul Hosts, if you wouldn't mind returning the crit please

http://agentquerycon...irection/page-2







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