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Reincarnation novel query
KatSheridanKupanoff
Posted: Monday, May 30, 2011 4:43 AM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 12


Hi everyone!

I haven't gotten any bites for my query yet. I reformatted it several times, and this is the most recent version. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Dear ________: 

Reincarnation addict Dom wants to kick the habit and move on to the afterlife.

His three serial reincarnating friends – Sophie, Grace and Peter – want him to go back to Earth with them one more time. But when Dom agrees, he’s born into a life where he doesn’t remember his past lives. When the four return to Limbo after their deaths, they learn that only Sophie remembers their past lives. Scared and confused, Sophie wants to stay in Limbo instead of going back for another lonely life on Earth, but Dom left unfinished business behind before he died. Against Sophie’s wishes, they return to Earth together. All for one, right?

But when their blank minds result in one of them committing murder on Earth, Dom can’t move on to the afterlife just yet. He has to go back with the group to help reconcile the aftermath.

Otherwise, one of them will go straight to Hell.

THE TRAVELERS is an urban fantasy with romance, mystery and history, told over the span of three lifetimes: pre-World War II Midwestern America, early 21st century New York City and post-nuclear Brazil. It is complete at 110,000 words and available for consideration.

Thank you,

(Personal information)




Jay Greenstein
Posted: Monday, May 30, 2011 8:59 PM
One problem I see right off the bat is a lack of context from a reader’s point of view. You know what a reincarnation addict is, but the reader has no clue. And I don’t know what a “serial reincarnating friend” is because I don’t know the options. Surely the alternative to serial isn’t parallel?

I think you need to back away from the details of the story and focus on concept. There’s too much the reader would have to understand, otherwise. For example, you dismiss the “life,” the protagonist was talked into experiencing as happening in an eye-blink, and tell me that Sophie wants to stay in limbo, but at the start the alternative was reincarnation or afterlife. And who’s Sophie to me but a name? As far as I'm concerned there's no downside to staying in limbo, and I don't know her well enough, yet, to care what she does.

You might begin by reducing the story to its basics and stating what it’s about. By that I mean the theme not the plot. It could be learning to trust, or growing up, but it must have one or it’s not a unified story, it’s a series of events.

Once you know what the story is about, think of the problem the protagonist faces that’s related to that theme, and which drives it. Now write the pitch with both in mind, at a problem and theme level rather then a fact level.

Nefasti
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 3:37 AM
Joined: 5/5/2011
Posts: 24


Hi Kat.

Sounds like a cool concept.

Dear ________:

Reincarnation addict Dom wants to kick the habit and move on to the afterlife.

- I like this hook. I find it clear and intriguing. However, reading further in the query makes me think it isn't the true hook of the story.

His three serial reincarnating friends – Sophie, Grace and Peter – want him to go back to Earth with them one more time. [how? why do they want to go back instead of moving on?]

But when Dom agrees, he’s born into a life where he doesn’t remember his past lives. [Why is this important?]

When the four return to Limbo after their deaths, they learn that only Sophie remembers their past lives. [Wait, what? Did they just live a whole life and die again?]

Scared and confused, Sophie wants to stay in Limbo instead of going back for another lonely life on Earth, but Dom left unfinished business behind before he died. Against Sophie’s wishes, they return to Earth together. All for one, right? [And now Dom's the one convincing others to go back?]

[- You lose me in the second graph. It's pretty dense and switches from Dom to Sophie and from being born into a life to dying and going into limbo. Not getting a sense of what happens. Is this all set up?]

But when their blank minds result in one of them committing murder on Earth [why would not knowing you are reincarnated result in committing murder? This line confuses me.], Dom can’t move on to the afterlife just yet. [why not?]

He has to go back with the group to help reconcile the aftermath. Otherwise, one of them will go straight to Hell. [The one who committed the murder? but if they reconcile the aftermath the person who committed murder won't go to hell?]

THE TRAVELERS is an urban fantasy with romance, mystery and history, told over the span of three lifetimes: pre-World War II Midwestern America, early 21st century New York City and post-nuclear Brazil. It is complete at 110,000 words and available for consideration.Thank you,


For me, the query raises a lot of Huhs? Hope this helps.


KatSheridanKupanoff
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 5:25 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 12


Thank you to both of you for taking the time to read and offer your thoughts. I appreciate it! I think one problem I've had in rewriting and revising this query is that so many people who've reviewed it already know the main plot because of the revisions that we no longer see what info is necessary!

This definitely needed some fresh eyes to see what information was missing. I'll keep your thoughts in mind as I rewrite.

Cheers!
Matthew Chan
Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:30 AM
Joined: 6/13/2011
Posts: 6


My suggestion is that if what you're doing isn't working for you, try tackling it from a different angle.

It's hard to relate to characters without context, and its hard establishing context in a one page letter. So my suggested strategy is to try addressing the agent/publisher directly. Something along the lines of "Imagine, after an untimely death, you were to discover that you were granted as many reincarnations as you desire. How many would it take before you became bored of life? Two? Five? Twenty? This is the question Dom poses to himself in my book The Travelers. What will happen to him when his friends convince him to go for one more round?"

I think that in itself (or preferably a more refined version, I just came up with that on the spot so it's a little rough) is enough plot synopsis for your letter. The rest of the letter should go into what you are trying to accomplish with your book beyond just the mechanics of the plot. What themes are you exploring? What is the reason for this book to exist? I think your letter, as constructed, is looking at the story with a magnifying glass instead of as a whole piece of art.

Just for some context, I actually made this same sort of change to my own query letter recently, and the response from publishers has been far more positive than before. I can send you a copy of it if you think it would give you some ideas (just send me a message).
KatSheridanKupanoff
Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 5:34 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 12


Hi Matthew -

Thank you so much for offering! I'd love to read it. Do you know how to DM on here? I thought Colleen said it wasn't available right now...?
Matthew Chan
Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 6:35 PM
Joined: 6/13/2011
Posts: 6


Hmm, I didn't realize there's no DM on this site. I guess you can just email me directly (i_am@matthew-chan.com) if you're cool with that.