Oct 4, 2009


Click here to read the original query.

On September 11th 2001, while the rest of the world mourns a tragedy, twenty one year old Livie Sivadier is admitted to a psych ward. When she begins her first novel earlier that spring, she has no idea that she is heading down a path to madness. All she knows is that she wants to escape— from both the confines of her home town, Irvine, and the depression that's hung over her since her fiancĂ© dumped her two months before in a crowded coffee shop.

After an argument with her controlling parents, Livie travels up the coast of California to seek out her estranged sister Darlene. While living at the hippie, communal “Lake House”, Darlene and her creative friends inspire Livie to pursue her lifelong dream of writing, but the dream turns nightmare when the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Eventually, she comes to believe that her own protagonist is real and that the precarious balance of her own reality will crumble if she does not do something drastic.

Complete at 90,000 words, STORIES ENDING explores the dark potential of the human mind, but also its remarkable potential to heal. It is loosely based off of an experience of my own with mental illness. I appreciate very much the time you have taken to read this letter and I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.


FictionGroupie said...

This is much tighter than the last one, good job.

A couple of points:

I would take out "in a crowded coffee shop". It's unnecessary information.

It may flow better if you change "hippie, communal" to "hippie commune, Lake House." Not sure if Lake House needs to be in quotes since it's simply a proper noun. I would start a new sentence at "but the dream" so that it's not too long of a sentence. (It's okay start sentences with conjunctions.)

I would take out the adverb "eventually", it's not needed.

You need to define your genre as well. When you put in that it's loosely based on your experience, it could lead to confusing: is it mainstream fiction? memoir? etc.

In the sentence "explores the dark potential", don't repeat potential twice. For the second instance, you can use something like "ability to heal".

Lastly, I stick by my thought that you don't need to share your own experience with mental illness at this point since this isn't non-fiction and you don't need a platform for fiction. It doesn't add much, and you risk someone wondering if it's going to be difficult to work with you. (i.e. they don't know if you've moved past that part of your life,still struggling with it, etc.) They shouldn't judge you based on that, but it doesn't mean people won't. However, if you feel this is important to share, then by all means, do. This is just my own opinion.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

Martha W said...

This sounds like a very interesting concept. It would be interesting to see the twists and turns it takes. I only have a couple small things to add to FictionGroupie's comments.

Watch out for extra words like "that". It is a personal downfall of my own so I recognize it when I see it. If you can make the sentence without it, then do.

i.e. (1st para) "she has no idea that she is heading..."

This sentence works fine without it, so ditch it.

The other thing is the end of the middle paragraph. If she doesn't do something drastic... what? Is this referring to back her checking into the mental hospital or is this in reference to the ending of the book she is writing or is there something we don't know? It left me hanging out there with no where to go.

Other than that, I thought it read well. So, good luck! :)

Anne said...

Thanks FictionGroupie and Martha W! Yes, definately helpful, FG. ^_^

Fiction Groupie: I totally understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, there is prejudice out there and I may well come across someone who may judge me for my experience (which is in my past and yes I have moved past it, hence the healing messages in my novel). I have been debating whether to relate the novel back to me or not. On one hand, I don't feel like I should be ashamed of it, but I would hate someone to think that I am difficult to work with, as it is quite untrue. But if they would think that, would I really want them as my agent anyways?
The genre is literary fiction, I will add that.

Martha W:
I'm not really sure how to describe what she does. In the end she tries to jump into the reservoir even though she can't swim, so you might say it is suicide. But really she thinks that she is undergoing a test by putting her life in her character's hands, so its not truly wanting to end her life, just prove her trust. So I just left it at "something drastic". Any suggestions?

Martha W said...


Honestly just adding those couple of words did it for me.

"if she does not do something drastic to prove her trust [or loyalty may be a better word]."

That gives me the direction of her thoughts and the tone of her mindset toward the end.

=) Martha

Anne said...

I'm just afraid that adding "to prove her trust" will make it more confusing, without any context. It sounds kind of odd just phrased like that. Maybe "to save herself"? I actually really like that. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hey good stuff. The only thing that really stuck out to me was:

Eventually, she comes to believe that her own protagonist is real and that the precarious balance of her own reality will crumble if she does not do something drastic.

This is a VERY vague sentence. I think you want to pin down a little better. What does "drastic" entail? What does she have to do? Who's the villain in the story? Her own mind? The protag who's suddenly really alive? (Ala Stephen King's short!)
I think you're on the "write" track ;-)

Anne said...

The protagonist really is her own mind, Jason. Basically the story explains her delusions away as her having a mental illness. But I also try to leave it a tiny bit open ended as to what is really going on, because one of themes explored in the novel, as well as some of the lines of thought that lead her to her delusion is the idea that existance to some extent cannot be explained. But she does get diagnosed as bipolar in the end and there's definately little direct supernatural influence in the novel, you don't get to meet her character or anything. Do you have any suggestions as to how to "unvague" that part up then?