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Does my query still sound like a synopsis?
nancy lopez
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:11 AM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


---When Mia Slathe received the baffling news she would be returned to her parents in Florida after twenty-two months of committing unspeakable acts ordered by a shadowy coven of Masters and Lords called the Order,  she fears for her life.  Knowing they are the bottom feeders of the world, she formulates an intellectual melee to protect her parents, find Gabriel and save herself.  

---She would not be in this situation had Gabriel not deceived her.   For a girl who had a brilliant future, the love of family, she now had nothing of a normal life. 

----She has no choice but to trust again. Her journey home bestows two elite warriors from the Order,  Rainier and Aidan Von Voss, rumored to be inhuman.  Part of the strategy gains her insight when Rainier, accepts her surrender, awakening tender confessions of the heart.  

----Time is running out;  March 6 is around the corner.  Can she convince Rainier to break his oath?  Would he kill her if Gabriel fails to show? The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs when only she can hear the surreal voices, misty shadows appear from nowhere and suddenly, her memory slowly starts to falter. When you play the game of Whirlwind, it's win or die. . .

 

**** is my debut novel for Yound Adults that follows Mia struggles at overcoming her adversities in order to protect those she loves.  This is the first book in a four-part series, completed at 119,000 words.  (Blah-blah-blah. . . )

My query clocks in at 207 words, under the 250 mark.  I appreciate any and all input. Pitching that curve ball to agents---phew! Talk about feeling intimidated. 


Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 10:10 PM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


alright, I'm not an expert, just a fellow writer having the same troubles with my queries, but here are my thoughts... ready?

1) I got lost in the first sentence. It was really quite long. My suggestion would be to keep the first part short and to the point and then elaborate on it in the next sentence: When Mia Slathe receives the news she was returning home, she fears for her life. She'd just spent 22 months commiting unspeakable acts as ordered by the coven of Masters and Lords called the Order. A shadowy cult, they are the bottom feeders of the world. To protect her parents, find Gabriel and save herself, she has to arm herself with intellect and.... (insert something here maybe?)

2) Who is Gabriel? I got caught up because his name is mentioned so often (which indicated to me that he's important) but there's no description, no hint as to what he is to her - a confidant from the Order? a lover outside of the Order? It doesn't need to be a big description, just a "Gabriel - the only man she'd trusted within the Order - was the reason she was in this bind." Or something like that?

3) She has no choice but to trust again - too bold a statement I think. though maybe it's appropriate for the query?

4) March 6th is important because?? It's around the corner, but why is that relevant? If that's the date she's moving, maybe put it higher up... if it's the big moving deadline of the story, it has importance, and should be in the first paragraph... I think (again, I'm not an expert).

5) The middle part about her journey home reads too synopsis-y... I also am not quite sure what you're saying... are the warriors after her? Or are they partnered with her? Bestows makes me think that they're given to her... as bodyguards or something.

6) Last paragraph (after the date) reads very well. Makes me want to read the story. I think that's the true plot of the story, no? Maybe focus more on that than on the background? Since the story itself will give us the background??

Again, not an expert and I might be way off base, but those are my thoughts. Hope that helps!
nancy lopez
Posted: Saturday, September 17, 2011 12:12 AM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Thank you so much, Lisa.
I liked everything you said. I am going to do this over following your suggestions.
And you're right, the warriors are bodyguards.
Once again, thank you for being clear.
I owe you,
Nancy
LilySea
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2011 1:54 AM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241


Nancy, I would agree with Lisa. Please post your revised version so we can see the improvement!

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2011 5:42 AM
In answer to your question: Yes, it’s still a synopsis. Too often you’re explaining, when you should be enticing. Think in terms of concepts, issues, and emotions not detail.

• When Mia Slathe received the baffling news she would be returned to her parents in Florida after twenty-two months of committing unspeakable acts ordered by a shadowy coven of Masters and Lords called the Order, she fears for her life.

Nothing in here has context for a reader. You have intent to guide you. But look at this from a reader’s POV:

1. Why is the news baffling, and who's giving it to her?
2. Why did she leave home and who will be “returning” her?
3. What is an unspeakable act in terms of this story?
4. Why is she not in jail?
5. What does “shadowy,” mean in terms of this story?
6. What is a “coven of masters?”
7. What do I, as someone who might be talked into reading care what the coven is called?
8. Why should she fear for her life?
9. How old is she? How old was she when she left her parents?

One paragraph and nine points of confusion. You might argue that you’re making a reader want to know, and therefore turn to the manuscript, but in general, a writer is expected to raise a question and then address it.

You have no story posted on the site, but in looking at this it appears that you might want to look more deeply into the field. Most good books on fiction writing technique can give you a lot of help in the approach to take when organizing and writing a query. You might also want to dig into queryshark.com. Lots of examples and comments to be had there.
Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2011 3:21 PM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


Glad I could help! I also think that Jay's comment is very valid. You give the query reader the answers without providing a synopsis of the story, if that makes sense. As Jay said, read some literature on query writing... and perhaps look at some movie trailers that make you want to watch a movie. They're like queries in a way... giving you enough information to make you curious without telling you the whole story. Just a thought.

Good luck and I look forward to reading your next draft!

Cheers!
Lisa
nancy lopez
Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011 9:42 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


First of all, I want to thank everyone who has gven me advice. To take the time and just read the query, let alone respond, is admirable. Book Country rocks!

I tried to follow through on all the advice. Even spent a few days at Barnes and Noble. Lisa and Jay, I even watched movie trailers, ha! So with a new spin in my heart, here goes this new version that clocks in at 245 words.

The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe when only she can hear the surreal voices as March six approaches. A deadline chosen by the Masters and the Lords of the secret order, led by powerful men seeking to uproot humanity. A date that will define if she'll remain among the living or die. Rule one: Gabriel must appear come that day and claim his young bride. Gabriel however has dissapeared when his secret mission went awry. She regrets defying her parents; too late for laments---she married Gabriel, and he, turned her over to the Order.

She just spent twenty-two months of trianing; learning about destruction next to two elite warriors from the Order; Rainier and Aidan Von Voss, who constantly are guarding and watching her, rumored to be inhuman. Rule two: They could receive instruction from these bottom feeders of the world to kill her at any time; if Gabriel fails to recover the missing Aumeros, is declared dead, or misses the deadline.

To protect her famliy and remain alive, she formulates a strategy to find Gabriel, winning Rainier over. Surprisingly, the beastly warrior accepts her surrender, returning tender confessions of the heart. But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory slowly starts to falter. Making her wonder, will she live long enough to uncover the answers in time? Rule three: When you play the game Whirlwind, its win or die.

What do you all think? better? worse? start from scratch? Its a little unorthodox in my approach with all the rules, but I was trying to set an enticing tone even though i gave a synopsy-ish background.
Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:56 AM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


holy crap! This is much much much better! I couldn't stop reading!! I also understand the plot much better than I did with the previous one and it didn't feel like I was reading a shortened version of the story. I have a few suggestions/things that snagged for me:

1) first sentence is still a bit too long for me. But it could work (see what others say)

2) do a good, solid edit - there were some spelling/grammar mistakes

3) to protect her family and remain alive, she formulates a strategy to find Gabriel, winning Rainier over -
a) formulates a stratedy to find... doesn't really fit with the language of the query... maybe To protect her family and remain alive, she has to rely on her own wits and intelligence to find Gabriel. ???
b) too much information. I think you can stop this at finding Gabriel. We don't need to know about winning Rainier over and him accepting tender confessions - that's more a spoiler I think. Keep the mistry shadows - that's intriguing!

4) Suggestion (visual) - put all of the rules on their own line:
....A date that will define if she'll remain among the living or die.

Rule one: Gabriel must appear come that day and claim his young bride.

Gabriel however has.....

That'll punch the rules into the readers mind and make it easier for them to find them. I think anyway.

Anyway, GREAT REWRITE! Will you put the book on bookcountry? I really want to read it now!

Cheers!
Lisa

nancy lopez
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 2:26 AM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hi, Lisa,

Glad to know you're still here and helping me. Sure, I would love to post the first few chapters on here. I have a few pending issues however, but by Friday, I think I'll have them ironed out. It's too long to paste the entire story here anyhow.

Please give me your input on how the visuals you suggested looks. . .

The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe when only she can hear the sureal voices. As March six approaches, the Masters and the Lords of the secret order, led by powerful men seeking to uproot humanity, will define if she'll remain among the living or die. She regrets defying her parents---too late for laments---she married Gabriel and he, turned her over to the Order.

Rule one: Gabriel must return come that day and claim his young bride.

Gabriel, however has dissapeared when his secret mission went awry.

She just spent twenty-two months of training and learning everything about destruction next to two elite warriors of the Order. By her side, guarding and watching her constantly, are Rainier and Aidan Von Voss, rumored to be inhuman.

Rule two: They could receive instructions from these bottom feeders of the world to kill her at any time.

Gabriel cannot fail to recover the missing Aumeros, be declared dead, or miss the deadline.

To protect her family and remain alive, she has to rely on her own wits and intelligence to find Gabriel. But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory slowly starts to falter; Making her wonder, will she live long enough to uncover the answers in time?

Rule three: When you play the game Whirlwind, its win or die.

Nancy
P.S. i'll have the punctuation/grammar errors ironed out as well if this proves to be a winner among Book Country members.
There's only one major problem---when I mail out the query, all this will not fit into a single page once I type in the formal headings. I'm up for suggestions.
Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 2:50 AM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


Ok ok, I think I have a solution. Move "Gabriel cannot fail to recover the missing Aumeros, be declared dead, or miss the deadline." up to be a paragraph with "Gabriel, however has dissapeared when his secret mission went awry." and then read it through & decide if you really need that paragraph...

I think that the end of the first paragraph and Rule one perfectly explain Gabriel and why he's important (the issue I had in the first draft I'd read). And I don't know if the rest of it is helpful or "too much" if that makes sense... It's up to you...

If you do that, the Rules will be the only lines that are paragraphs on their own and the rest of your paragraphs will be visually chunky... which *should* make it work. (If you disagree with anything I suggest feel free to say so and completely disregard me!!)

I'm glad I could help and look forward to reading what you post!

(btw. First paragraph reads well now! except one stray comma in the last line - he, turned her over to ...)


nancy lopez
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:39 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hello there,
Here is the final draft after all the suggestions. Lisa, I uploaded the prologue of my novel for you. Hope it entertains you. As Always, I remain in dept to Book Country and all its members for the help.

The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old
Mia Slathe when only she can hear the sureal voices. As March six approaches, the Masters and the Lords of the secret order, led by powerful men seeking to uproot humanity, will define if she'll remain among the living or die. She regrets defying her parents---too late for laments---she married Gabriel and he turned her over to the Order.

Rule one: Gabriel must return and claim his young bride.

Gabriel, however has dissapeared when his secret mission went awry.
Gabriel cannot fail to recover the missing Aumeros, be declared dead, or miss the deadline. She just spent twenty-two months of training and learning everything about destruction next to two elite warriors of the Order. By her side, guarding and watching her constantly, are Rainier and Aidan Von Voss, rumored to be inhuman.

Rule two: They could receive instructions from these bottom feeders of the world to kill her at any time.

To protect her family and remain alive, she has to rely on her own wits and intelligence to find Gabriel. But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory slowly starts to falter; Making her wonder, will she live long enough to uncover the answers in time?

Rule three: When you play the game Whirlwind, its win or die.

Any more suggesstions to sum it up shorter, or perhaps better word it?
Jay, if you're out there floating around, come and land in my box--- how's this coming along?
Nancy
Jay Greenstein
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:05 AM
In advance I beg forgiveness, because after you worked so hard I’m going to frustrate you. But what you’re doing is thinking in terms of story. And because you are you’re focused on plot and detail. Your first paragraph is, in essence a synopsis. You know the story before you begin to read, so the words are meaningful to you. But look at it from the POV of someone who knows nothing about the story but what the words say to any given point:

• The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe when only she can hear the sureal voices.

It opens well, but from my point of view, what is “a surreal voice?” If what I get isn’t what your intent was expecting I’m likely to stop and say “Huh?” And the fact that you say “the” voices implies that I’m supposed to know which ones you mean.

You say that some people we don’t know will “define” (did you really mean decide?) if she lives, but since we don’t know what the criteria is, what can it mean? And, since we don’t already know that she DID defy her parents, and in what way she did it, how can a reader relate her being sorry for defying them to the live or die business?

What I’m saying is that there are things you take for granted, because you know the story in depth, that the reader is ignorant of, which is why we can’t boil a story down to a few paragraphs. After all, if I can tell you the plot of a novel in less than 250 words it can’t be a very complex story.

Forget about story and think in terms of what the story is about. And by that I mean in concept, and in the problems that must be resolved. You can build a query around that. When it comes to details, think in more universal terms. Below is the blurb from Posse, which I’m collecting rejections for now. I’m not presenting it as an example of a great query, but as an example of telling about the story in general terms rather then telling the story, itself:
- - - - - - - - - - -
Ted Blackwell has run away from big city life to train cutting horses at his childhood home, a ranch in rural Arizona. His plans for the future went no further than that, but the retiring lawman of that tiny hamlet said, “Offer the job to Blackwell, he’s the only one dumb enough to take it.” As it turned out, he was right.

Now Ted has Joy, a profane fourteen-year-old runaway living in his house and planning to marry him. Three of the four personalities inhabiting the woman he loves want him dead, and a group of unknown people seem bent on killing him and taking his land. In a period of days his horse is dead, his truck has been dynamited with a good friend inside, his nearest neighbor has been murdered, and he’s had to shoot the three men he found attacking Joy.

But things are about to take a turn for the worse, and before he can find peace, Ted must rescue Joy from the people who have kidnapped her, understand why he is the center of a plot involving millions of dollars and a virtual ocean of water, and unravel the mystery of why the woman he loves murdered her father on her fourteenth birthday.
- - - - - - -
Notice that I’ve covered the important points, that Ted’s girlfriend has multiple personality, that Joy is a handful, that Ted’s an inept Cop, and that there’s a plot to take Ted’s land. I’ve defined the mysteries, which are why people are after Ted, what the key is to helping his lady, and the danger Joy is in. I mentioned the deaths to show that there’s some excitement in the story. And that’s it. The idea is to make the reader want to read the manuscript, not inform them of what’s in it. Entice not inform.

I’m not trying to discourage you, but as an outside observer, it seems your approach to this is more factual than emotional, which usually carries over into the story. If your preparation for fiction writing is like most people’s, which is a love of reading and the writing training we all acquire in school, I would strongly suggest you spend a bit of time with Deb Dixon (www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com/home/gmc.htm). It won’t make a published writer of you, but it will give you some amazing tools, and the knowledge of how to use them.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.
nancy lopez
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:03 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hi, Jay,

As they say, winners never quit! So here I go again.

The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe. Life took a dismal turn when she married Gabriel---the 'betrayer'. As she heads back home to her parents in Miami, she realizes that her plan to protect her family based on wits and intelligence is not enough. Twenty-two months of lying about being in college was about to put the charade she was forced to tell to the test.

Her plan cannot backfire, except, she isn't alone in this journey home. The two elite warriors who guard and train her on destruction, the Von Vosses, rumored to be inhuman, could receive instructions to kill her at any time. When News surfaces that Gabriel has officially been declared missing, and knowing he might no longer be viable to ensure her survival, she needs to finish the job: Locate the missing Aumeros, find Gabriel, and why her, all by March 6. A date the Masters, wealthy bottom feeders seeking to uproot humanity, will decide if she'll remain among the living or die.

But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory starts to falter. Timing couldn't be worse just when her strategy took off and, with a little too much personal interest with a warrior. With so many unanswered riddles, will she live long enough to uncover the answers?

When you play with a Whirlwind of trouble, its win or die.

Okay, I think i am getting closer. By the way Jay, you're so funny, you have books for everything! Just like my mom has a vanity of pills that can knockout any ache known to mankind. That's so fuuny. I travel to this box for advice and to her vanity for the pills! Lol.....

Nancy
Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 5:38 PM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


Me again!

I think that you're definitely closer with the structure, as per Jay's suggestions. I can understand what he meant about the emotion needing to be part of the query. However, I find that now there are many run on sentences that tend to drag. The second paragraph for instance.. I feel like there's just a huge info dump there and I can't quite work out what's important. Maybe try:

When news surfaces that Gabriel is missing, she knows she has to finish his mission or risk losing her life. Her time is limited - on March 6 the Masters, powerful men seeking to uproot humanity, will decide if she lives or dies. Her plan cannot backfire, except, she isn't alone in this journey home. The Von Vosses, elite warriors who guard and train her in the ways of destruction, are with her every step of the way. She can't trust them; they could receive instructions to kill her at any time.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

Lisa


nancy lopez
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 6:41 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hi, Lisa,

You're right! I was just rereading this. Oh my, you're good at getting to the bottom line. I'm going to try your paragraph out right now and see how-together-it looks like.. I really likes our version but i do get what he said. And i'm not kidding about the miagraine pills! Lol, I just took one. Hell, i'm up to three!

Oh, I pasted one of your books to my log, can't wait to start reading.

Nancy

P.S. Thanks for staying tune in.
nancy lopez
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 6:54 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe. Trying to protect her family and remain alive based on wits and intelligence is no longer enough. Life took a dismal turn when she married Gabriel. As she heads back home to her parents in Miami, she realizes that her twenty-two months charade about being away in college would be put the test.

When news surfaces that Gabriel is missing, she knows she has to finish his mission or risk losing her life. Her time is limited - on March 6 the Masters, powerful men seeking to uproot humanity, will decide if she lives or dies. Her plan cannot backfire, except, she isn't alone in this journey home. The Von Vosses, elite warriors who guard and train her in the ways of destruction, are with her every step of the way. She can't trust them; they could receive instructions to kill her at any time.

But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory starts to falter. Timing couldn't be worse just when her strategy took off and, with a little too much personal interest with a warrior. With so many unanswered riddles, she doubts she'll live long enough to uncover the answers as to why her?

Sorry for the typo's, not kidding, got a migraine , have the lights off, shades pulled closed and wearing sunglasses . . .ha ha ha

Lisa Hoekstra
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:38 PM
Joined: 5/10/2011
Posts: 89


oh no, I hope you feel better soon! Migraines are not fun. Not at all.

I look forward to your comments on my work!! I think you've got a lot of talent, especially since you have such versitality in your writing (ie. the difference between your first draft of this query, the draft we worked on and this one) not a lot of people can pull off a directional change like that!

As for this draft - the third paragraph caught for me. Specifically this part: Timing couldn't be worse just when her strategy took off and, with a little too much personal interest with a warrior. With so many unanswered riddles,

Maybe try: Timing couldn't be worse - her plans were just starting to show results and an unexpected, confusing relationship might be forming between her and one of the warriors. As she tries to find the answers,

After that, I suggest taking a step back... Sit on it for a day and then reread it and make sure that everything you think should be there is there... and maybe by then Jay will have come back with some feedback on this new draft.

I don't want to lead you completely astray again!

nancy lopez
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:43 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hi, Lisa,

Trust me when i say, you're not leading me astray. You're trying to help, and I appreciate it. Hopefully I can return the favor. if you were in Miami i would treat to starbucks. Oh, and Jay of course. He seems to be floating around here every so often. Lol, the keys are blurring---I think I spelled that wrong.

Yeah, that last part, needs time to marinate. Let's see what he has to say, maybe i'll clip his wings and keep him in here until i get it right, Lol. . .By that time, we'll all have a migraine.

I'm off to read your novel now.
Once again, a million and one thanks. Talk to you soon,
nancy
nancy lopez
Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2011 11:23 PM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hi, everyone,

Here I go again. And Karen, better late than never! Thank you for the help. This one clocks in at 242 words, though i think i can tighten it.

The line between illusion and reality quickly blurs for seventeen-year-old Mia Slathe. Trying to protect her family and remain alive based on wits and intelligence is no lnoger an option that guarantee survival. When she married Gabriel, life took on a distinc, inhuman meaning. Her return home to Florida, twenty-two months after plotting a college excuse for her own exile, is futile to her plan. Her life depends on it, except, she isn't alone in this.

Death is nothing new. It's a everyday companion. Knowing the Von Voses, the elite warriors of the secret order are by her side, guarding and watching her, escaping would be impossible. She must succumb to these bottom feeders and overlook the resentment and demons that plagues her mind, accept her fate and willingly submit her soul to the Masters. There just might be a slight ray of hope to prolong the day of her death sentencing. She needs to find Gabriel who went missing on a mission. Finish his assignment whatever it was, and locate the lost Aumeros. Then there is that traitor who's leaking information to the press that the Order would do anything to kill the infiltrate.

But when misty shadows appear from nowhere trying to lure her into her own death, her memory slowly starts to falter. Making her wonder, will she live long enough to uncover the answers in time? When you play Whirlwind, its win or die.

----How about it, am i getting better pitching the arc of the story to wet the pique?
Nancy