Sep 3, 2010

Query: Dead Spell (Revision 1)

Click here to read the original query.


Brea Miller is struggling with the social lines of small town Reston High School. She is coping with the tragic loss of her father. Her mother's in major denial. And Harmony Wolcott, her troubled best friend and one person she can talk to, is spiraling out of control.

When Harmony dies, Brea feels guilty about the fight that defined their last days as friends. She inherits Harmony's Ouija board and faces her fear of the supernatural to use it, hoping to apologize and to find out why she committed suicide.

Brea's disapproving mother destroys the board but Harmony has a message to deliver and keeping her away from Brea has never been easy. Harmony's spirit has already used the Ouija to possess Brea and now that the board is gone, she has no choice but to inhabit her until she's delivered it. Brea begins having nightmares of a broken down house in the woods--a house that exists in real life--and undergoes drastic physical and emotional changes that catch the attention of Adam, Harmony's former boyfriend.

Brea goes from reclusive to reckless, breaking down barriers at school and at home by asserting herself in a way only Harmony knew how. She is torn between living life as Brea or as Harmony and between the boys in each of their lives. As she investigates the house’s dark history and its tie to Harmony, she finds love and pain, acceptance and grief, and a way to help mother move on. Thrown headlong into Harmony's fast-lane life, Brea searches for closure and realizes that even best friends have secrets.

Dead Spell is a paranormal young adult novel complete at 55,000 words.

6 comments:

Dominique said...

Okay, this draft is much better. It certainly feels like you've skimmed off most of the excess. I would just suggest going back and reading for clarity in the form of unclear pronoun antecedents. Sometimes you use words like 'it' and it isn't immediately apparent what 'it' refers to. A reader can get there quickly, but it should be effortless.

Anonymous said...

Dominique,
Can you please tell me exactly where you got hung up? Thanks!

Mesmerix said...

Much better. Just some quick grammatical stuff.

1) First sentence, "social lines of small town Reston High School" reads awkwardly because High School isn't small town, but Reston is. Try, "struggling with high school's social lines in small town Reston."

2) "why she committed suicide" is not clear on the she, because you just used "her" to reference Brea. Replace she with Harmony.

3) "she has no choice" is unclear on she, followed by her, followed by she, all referencing different characters. Try, "Harmony has no choice but to inhabit Brea until..."

4) "she's delivered it" What is it? The Ouija? What does Harmony want to be delivered? Delivered doesn't seem like the verb you want to use if you're talking about the Ouija. Unsure here. Confusing.

5) "Brea begins having" should read "Brea has nightmares." Avoid things like begins/starts + gerund when you can.

6) "She is torn" could reference Brea or Harmony, because you've just mentioned both Say who.

7) "As she investigates" and "she finds love" could again reference either Brea or Harmony as you've just talked about them.

I know it's going to sound awkward if you say Brea 50 times, so you have to find some way to reword these for clarity. Go over reach sentence with a fine-tooth comb. If you've just referenced Harmony, any she pronoun is going to be confusing.

Otherwise, the content is good. Just needs cleaned up and it will be ready for submission.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mesmerix for the point-by-point crit. I've made a few minor fine-tuning changes, but otherwise I think I'll probably start submissions with this version and see what happens. Fingers crossed.

Terri Nixon said...

Just a quick comment, before you go ahead and send this out (huge improvement, btw!) I actually really liked your first version's first line; straddling the social lines is a great image. I'd recommend putting that back in.

Other than that - all the best!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Terri. I actually did that before reading your comment. I liked it, too.

This is the final, for better or worse:

Brea Miller is straddling the social lines of her small town high school. She is coping with the tragic loss of her father. Her mother's in major denial. And Harmony Wolcott, her troubled best friend and one person she can talk to, is spiraling out of control.


When Harmony dies, Brea feels guilty about the fight that defined their last days as friends. She inherits Harmony's Ouija board and faces her fear of the supernatural to use it, hoping to apologize and to find out why Harmony committed suicide.

Brea's disapproving mother destroys the board but Harmony has a message to deliver and keeping her away from Brea has never been easy. Harmony's spirit has already used the Ouija to possess Brea and now that the board is gone, she has no choice but to inhabit Brea until she's delivered that message. Brea starts having nightmares of a broken down house in the woods--a house that exists in real life--and undergoes drastic physical and emotional changes that catch the attention of Adam, Harmony's former boyfriend.

Brea goes from reclusive to reckless, breaking down barriers at school and at home by asserting herself in a way only Harmony knew how. She is torn between living life as Brea or as Harmony and between the boys in each of their lives. As Brea investigates the house’s dark history and its tie to Harmony, she finds love and pain, acceptance and grief, and a way to help mother move on. Thrown headlong into Harmony's fast-lane life, Brea searches for closure and realizes that even best friends have secrets.

Dead Spell is a paranormal young adult novel complete at 55,000 words.