Jul 12, 2010

Query- Seaweeds (version 3)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

DATE

Dear AGENT,

On the shore, an unusual love triangle arises between a young man, a mermaid, and a siren in SEAWEEDS, a 65,000-word contemporary fantasy.

Sky Hunter’s twenty-third birthday brings him a boat party, strange presents, and a hook-up with sexy Melanie. An evening of pleasure turns into a night of survival when Sky falls off the boat and nearly drowns. He is rescued by a mermaid and winds up on the beach the next morning, disoriented and having no clue what saved him until he discovers a girl with violet eyes washed up nearby. She can’t talk and has trouble walking. Sky believes the girl is the mermaid. Why she is a human now bewilders him, but her charm and innocence draws him to help her. He names her Pearl and falls head over heels for her.

There’s just one problem. Melanie is livid about Sky’s new girlfriend and threatens to murder his family if he chooses to stay with Pearl. Sky refuses to give in to Melanie’s threats, certain that he can outsmart her. But when he discovers that Melanie is a siren who has to seduce a man before feeding him to the ocean, he must find a way to resist her magic long enough to save himself—and Pearl.

SEAWEEDS is The Little Mermaid meets Fatal Attraction. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

N. Blank

A few sample pages:

I knew Ronnie was going to surprise me with a party. But I didn’t know there’d be beer. I’m old enough to drink, but I prefer not to. Alcohol doesn’t get along with my stomach. And I do stupid shit when I’m drunk, like fall off a boat.
Or on that particular evening, fall off a boat while having sex with a beautiful girl.
***
“All aboard!” Ronnie surveyed the ladies as they strolled up the ramp, giggling like Paris Hilton wannabes. He twisted the side of his mouth into a lopsided grin and winked at me. “I picked a fine bunch, didn’t I?”
I rolled my eyes and set the tray of dipping snacks I was carrying on top of a table. The April wind raged without remorse; it’d be smart to put the food inside so nothing would blow away, but Ronnie wanted food and drinks to be accessible everywhere on the 32-meter yacht. He even put water bottles next to the toilet in case someone, probably me, got sick.
Best friends since the sandbox days. Ronnie and I always got along, despite our differences. I was the introvert. He was the extrovert, loud and obnoxious, always trying to be the center of attention. I preferred the sideline.
I watched from a distance as the girls promenaded in heels high enough to make my 6-feet-tall self feel midgetified. There were four girls altogether. I knew three of them; the fourth was a mystery.
She tagged behind the others, carrying a basket of cookies. I tried not to ogle, but she was like a goddess. Her eyes were green and sharp. Lengthy eyelashes, decorated with thick coats of mascara. Jet black hair glided across her shoulders effortlessly, not a tangle or curl in sight. I raked my eyes up and down her body, taking in her runway model stature. She was naturally tan; her arms seemed to glow in the sunlight. Her green cotton dress was not blatant or revealing, but fit her figure so perfectly, it made her more desirable than the other girls who were scarcely dressed.
Maybe, if luck was on my side and I didn’t say or do anything embarrassing, this girl would end up my birthday present.
In your dreams, my conscious said.

6 comments:

Michelle Massaro said...

I was waiting to see what other comments came in but I think this is much better. I'm not sure about opening the query with the clause "On the shore,". Feels a bit off to me.

I'm inferring that he is aware during his rescue that a mermaid came to his aid but that could be clearer. And a nit-pick: I'd say "speak" in place of "talk" (she can't speak).

We still don't know much about Pearl, and the line that "he names her Pearl" still makes me think she's more of his pet. Can you add a bit about her? Hint at what she's like? That would help.

Good query progress though!

Madeline said...

From the sample:

"Jet black hair glided across her shoulders effortlessly"

That line bugged me a bit. Maybe it's the "jet black" which is a little cliche, or the "effortlessly". It's awkward to say that hair would do something effortlessly. I think.

Other than that little nit-picky thing, it sounds good! I like the idea a lot, actually.

Anonymous said...

Jet black is a masculine term. Use raven to describe female.

RCWriterGirl said...

You had me up until, "Melanie ... threatens to murder his family if he chooses to stay with Pearl." Huh?!

That behavior is beyond weird. It's crazy. It's fatal attraction, let's the get the police involved behavior. It's wacko. So, it catches the reader totally off-guard and makes them think the story is going downhill. It makes sense, once you get to the part about Melanie being a siren. But, before you read that, you're really just thinking--this is crazy.

I think there's a way to get at this in the query without making it sound utterly ridiculous (I know it makes sense in the context of Melanie being a siren, but on first read, it totally makes you go, "WHOA!"). Maybe say, "Melanie is livid about Sky's new girlfriend, yet undeterred. She refuses to take Sky's no for an answer, and though he keeps saying no, Sky is still drawn to her." Then, you can go into him trying to resist her siren magic long enough to save himself and Pearl.

Also, I agree with Michelle. The line about him naming her Pearl is off-putting. You name pets, and children, not someone you want to have a relationship with. I'm usually for cutting stuff out of queries, but I would put in a little more detail about how she gets the name Pearl. Not a lot, but something that makes it seem less owner-master, and more endearing. Something like: "He calls her Pearl because he thinks pearls are the most beautiful thing in the ocean, and then falls head over heels for her." And that sounds bad and hokey, but it's better than names. If you have the ability to name someone, it's not an equal relationship, and it gives off a creepy vibe in the context of this story.

Lastly, and maybe it's just me, but I've never heard of a guy named Sky, but I've heard of several women named Sky. I think Sky tends to be a woman's name. Obviously, if you like the name for your character, you gotta go with it. This is just an FYI comment.

Good luck with your query. I think the top part looks pretty good. Work on the naming thing and a softer introduction to Melanie's creepiness.

RCWriterGirl said...

I just went back and read the original query. Removing the phrase about her killing his cat is what makes it awkward in this newest version.

The idea that someone would threaten to kill your family --and that you would believe them and take it seriously-- is ridiculous when they've done nothing but dislike your girlfriend. However, if they kill your cat, then tell you this, it becomes clear why you believe it and take it seriously.

So, if you want to keep your original phrasing, it's probably OK if you re-insert the part about Melanie killing the cat.

However, I do have a problem with the last part. While intriguing, the line about him needing to resist her magic comes out of nowhere. He seems to have resisted her magic long enough to withstand threats to murder his family and hook up with pearl, so why would her magic suddenly affect him now?

N. Blank said...

Thanks so much for all the help/suggestions! I'm liking the evolution of my query but it's hard to take in everyone's advice and make it work somehow.

But it's def there needs to be more information about Pearl.

Michelle, what isn't clear about the mermaid? Do I need to describe the rescue? How she breathed for him and got him to shore? THANKS! You've been a great help!

RCWriter, I don't know why I took out the cat part but it's back in! :-)

Here's my revisions thus far:

DATE

Dear AGENT,

An unusual love triangle arises between a young man, a mermaid, and a siren in SEAWEEDS, a 65,000-word contemporary fantasy.

Sky Hunter’s twenty-third birthday brings him a boat party, strange presents, and a hook-up with sexy Melanie. An evening of pleasure turns into a night of survival when Sky falls off the boat and nearly drowns. He is rescued by a mermaid and winds up on the beach the next morning, disoriented and having no clue what saved him until he discovers a girl with violet eyes washed up nearby. She can’t speak and has trouble walking. Sky believes the girl is the mermaid. Why she is a human now bewilders him, but her charm and innocence draws him to help her. As an aspiring writer, Sky is all about imagery so he calls her Pearl because she came from the ocean. And in a few short days, Sky falls head over heels for her.

He’s not bothered by her strange behaviors, such as hitting the car horn whenever they go for a ride or eating all his cat’s sardines. In fact, they make her all the more enjoyable to be around because he never knows what to expect. Every surprise is a good one, like when she dances at his sister’s wedding or when she comforts him after an argument with his dad. Or when her first words are: “Love. Pearl love Sky.”

There’s just one problem. Melanie is livid about Sky’s new girlfriend. She slaughters his cat and threatens to murder his family if he chooses to stay with Pearl. Sky refuses to give in to Melanie’s threats, certain that he can outsmart her. But when he discovers that Melanie is a siren who has to seduce a man before feeding him to the ocean, he must find a way to resist her advances long enough to save himself—and Pearl.

SEAWEEDS is The Little Mermaid meets Fatal Attraction. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely,

N. Blank