Oct 2, 2009


While every journey must come to an end, very few end- or begin for that matter- in a psych ward. My literary novel, STORIES ENDING, does both. I wrote STORIES ENDING because, after having a manic experience in my early twenties, I really wanted to really spell out manic thought process to show that it is not an instantaneous transformation, but instead reflects internal and external pressures leading up to the experience.

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. Earlier that spring, she has no idea that she is heading down a path to madness. All she knows was 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 and winds up on the doorstep of a mansion. 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. I am proposing my book to several agents, but I still appreciate very much the time you have taken to read this letter and I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.


Rick Daley said...

Thanks for submitting, I hope you find the feedback useful.

I think you can cut the first paragraph completely. It's all telling, you should be showing the agent what the story is about. A chef needn't tell a food critic what inspired her to cook; your inspiration for the novel isn't as important as the novel itself.

I think you can reduce much of the backstory on how Livie came to be at the Lake House, and more on the conflict she has with her own psyche. Why is this dream a nightmare? Who is the protagonist (who might just be the antagonist in the novel)?

Your last paragraph does not need to be more than this:

Complete at 90,000 words, STORIES ENDING explores the dark potential of the human mind, but also its remarkable potential to heal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Good luck!

RCWriterGirl said...

I agree with Rick. The story starts with paragraph two, so start your story there. Think of graf 1 as backstory, and, as such, stick it at the bottom of the query.

I thought the 2nd graf worked well. You have a couple of grammatical issues (should be: "All she knows is"; after that, you want an em-dash, which is dentoed by --). The only thing in that was a little confusing was the mansion, "Lake House." I assume this is her sister's residence, but it seemed a little disconnected when you first mention it, like she showed up at the wrong place.

Lastly, get rid of the last line about proposing your book to several agents. This is often assumed. But, if you want to be explicit, say something a little more standard, like, "I am querying multiple agents." Though many agents have said they assume multiple queries and it does not need to be explicitly stated.

Sounds like a very interesting story. Goodluck.

RCWriterGirl said...

One last thing. Your title bothers me. I don't feel like it's grammatically correct. I could be wrong, but I feel like it should either be: Story's Ending or Stories Endings. But, even the second seems like it would need an apostrophe to connotate a possessive. Is there some message I'm missing? Why did you opt for the plural of stories combined with ending without a possessive tense?

Bane of Anubis said...

The title is a bit of a mindful, but I don't think it's incorrect (e.g., multiple stories ending at the same point). Not sure how much agents will care about the title early on anyway (b/c titles frequently get changed along the way).

RE: the query, I agree with what Rick said. Either cut the first paragraph or condense it and move it to the end to show how you have personal experience with the subject matter.

As always, TWAGOS.

Julie said...

I also agree with Rick- cut the first paragraph or if you really think your personal experience will help the agenting process slip in a line at the end "Inspired by my own personal experience with mental illness"

Books and movies about Mental illness have historically been very popular- I can think of tons.

Kristy said...

Another one agreeing with Rick about the first paragraph... You also want to be careful of saying that "very few end- or begin..." Some agents think, "oh yeah? Well what about...?" and then they mentally catalogue all the books that do. At least that's what their blogs lead me to believe.

Second paragraph is a little long. Agents seem to like white space on a page so you might want to consider making it two paragraphs. And the sentences are a little hard to follow sometimes (ex: All she knows was 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.) They need to be more to the point.

Last paragraph: I've read that you don't have to tell the agent that this is a multiple submission (unless they specify a desire to knwo), and "proposing" is probably not the right word. You can probably just cut the last sentence at thanking the agent for their time.

Good luck!

FictionGroupie said...

I agree that the first paragraph should be cut--falls under too much information.

What I'm confused about is that you say the story begins and ends in the psych ward. So does the whole book take place in the psych ward? If so, then your second paragraph seems like all backstory.

Also, the first sentence in the second paragraph should be moved. You start at one point, the jump backwards in time. Just start at the start. "Livie doesn't know she's heading down the path to madness...

I agree with Rick on the last paragraph.

Sound like an interesting concept. Good luck!

Anne said...

Thank you so much everyone! Honestly I put the beginning part because I thought it added to my "expertise" (haha) and my mom really liked it :) Plus some people over at absolutewrite told me to make it more specific. But I think I'll move it back to the end.

The title refers to the ending scene in the book, in which Livie and her writing mentor/love interest discuss the best kind of ending to a (hypothetical) story. So it really does refer to plural stories and their endings... does that make sense?

The psych ward part is the climax of the story, but it also flashes forward to her predicament in the prologue and a couple of other times, so you know throughout that she is going there.
I will post a revised version. Thanks again for the comments!

Anne said...

PS: what's TWAGOS? :)