Aug 14, 2009

QUERY - DARK VISIONS

Dear Agent:

Psychic Jasmine Winters is about to find out which is harder: saving a woman she hates from a headline-making serial killer, or learning someone she loves might be that killer.

DARK VISIONS, my 97,000-word mystery, opens with Jasmine’s vision of her nemesis’ murder. While she’d like to let Marissa meet her end, there’s one problem: Marissa is married to Jasmine’s best friend, Mark. So, she spills all to Mark, who insists Jasmine meet with police. A reluctant Jasmine has instant chemistry with Det. Eric Mathers, a lead investigator on the case. Despite ridicule from colleagues, Eric asks Jasmine to help with the investigation.

Eric and Jasmine grow close as she recounts her visions of future and past murders by the serial killer. Things are looking up as one of Jasmine’s visions leads to a breakthrough in the case, and she and Eric become further enmeshed. But the rosy outlook doesn’t last long. Jasmine witnesses signs of mental instability in Mark and begins having disturbing visions of Eric’s violent past.

When Jasmine sees evidence connecting Mark to the killer’s unique calling card and hears the venom he has toward his wife, she’s not sure what to think. She’s even less sure after she has a vision of Eric’s past violence ending in a murder. She’s got a feeling one of these men is connected to the serial murders. She’d be less concerned if she could see her own future, but those are the visions that never come to Jasmine. So, now she’s got to piece this puzzle together herself before it’s too late.

DARK VISIONS is my first novel. However, I have written professionally about crime. I covered crime and spot news for The Kansas City Star. I also wrote for Campus Crime, a trade publication focused on crime and policing techniques on college campuses.

I’d love to send you the complete Dark Visions manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Signature

[to blog viewers: thanks in advance for your feedback]

6 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I must say this is clear and easy to follow. It is also compelling with both the problem and the stakes up front. I'm intrigued by the main character and the plot, and I would want to read a partial or full. But I am not an agent or expert, so I will be interested to see the other comments.

gj said...

Little stuff first:

Nemesis's (not Nemesis') is the more commonly accepted possessive in most copy-editing books, I believe.

No need to say it's your first novel.

With respect to the substance, it's a bit long, and the set-up takes up too much of the query, with names that either don't matter (the victim's) or are confusing (Mark's) to the rest of the query. Jump straight to the meeting of the protagonist and the detective, summarizing the rest in a single phrase, e.g., When Jasmine LASTNAME has a vision of her best friend's wife's murder, she reports it to the police, even though the wife is her nemesis. Detective Eric LASTNAME, despite ridicule from colleagues ....

Okay, that's not great, just showing that it can be done without the people's names, and then you can focus on the two names that matter -- protagonist and detective. Or since it's sort of a triangle story, use descriptive nouns for both men -- the detective and the best friend (if he was an ex-lover, that term would work even better).

Also, keep in mind that story is about struggle, about things going wrong, so any time you have things going well ("Things are looking up "), it's a red flag for a dragging plot or at least things that should be skipped in the query. Focus on things going wrong, not going right, e.g., despite some breakthroughs, they can't quite seem to identify the killer, and the anticipated victim's husband is showing signs of mental instability from the stress over the danger to his wife's future, and then she sees problems with Detective Eric, too.

JD

Rick Daley said...

I think you have a great hook, and the formatting for the hook, then the facts of the book, then the description resonates with me.

The description doesn't flow for me though. There are too many characters mentioned, and it is positioned more like a play-by-play synopsis than a concise summary.

That being said, the hook would have had me asking for pages. Of course, I'm not an agent, so take that for what it's worth ;-)

storyqueen said...

It is clearly written. I like the voice. I'd ask for pages.

(Again, too bad I'm not an agent.)

Shelley

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback. Rick, I'll try to work on flow. I felt at times it was a little too stilted myself.

JD, I'll try to tighten the query a bit, and seriously consider removing Marissa's name. I thought about that myself earlier, but felt it would involve too many confusing pronouns. But, I'll look at the issue again.

Thanks Tricia and Storyqueen for the positive reviews. If only you were agents! :)

RJC

TLH said...

I would just suggest cutting out some of the character mentions and it would be very a tight letter. I have three main characters and I ended up just not mentioning two of them make it more concise.

I would also definitely ask for more, if I were an agent! Very interesting story concept!

~Tara