Sep 2, 2010

Query: Dead Spell

Brea Miller is straddling the social lines of small town Reston High School. On one hand, she’s caught the attention of one of its most popular boys and will have to take on an “elite” to get him. On the other, being one of the “in crowd” means betraying Harmony Wolcott, her outcast best friend of ten years whose never-ending criminal behavior has her in more trouble than out.

She is coping with the tragic loss of her Army sergeant father. Her mother's in major denial. And Harmony, the one person she can talk to, is 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 hoping to apologize and to find out why she committed suicide.

In short time, Brea's disapproving mother destroys the board leaving Brea possessed of Harmony's spirit. She 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 the good and bad boys and between living life as Brea or as Harmony. She investigates the house and its dark Wolcott history finding love and pain, acceptance and grief, and a way to help mother move on. As she experiences Harmony's fast-lane life and searches for closure, she realizes even best friends have secrets.

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

4 comments:

lexcade said...

To me the second paragraph is your hook. After reading the entire query, I’m not sure that you need the first paragraph, especially since you are promoting this as paranormal and not paranormal romance.

Also, I got confused by the jump between Brea getting Harmony's Ouija board and being possessed by Harmony's spirit. If you clarify that with maybe just a sentence, it would help. Otherwise, this looks good.

Anonymous said...

Lexcade, does this help or hurt?

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 won't leave until she's ready. 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.

Dominique said...

To me, this query reads more like a summary of the text than a query. You need to boil this down to the very basics of the characters and conflict.

The bits about the house that actually exists and her father's death don't seem to play a bigger part in the query or the conflict of the story, so I might suggest cutting them to focus on other things.

Mesmerix said...

This is getting better, but still needs to be pared down on plot. Focus on only the main plot in the query.

Here's what you have:
1) popular boy's attention
2) struggles with popular vs. unpopular crowd
3) adjusting to father's death
4) issues with mother
5) betraying best friend
6) death of best friend
7) ouija board / spirit possession
8) a "house" and "Wolcott history" (though I don't know what that means)

See what I'm saying? My assumption is #6-7 are the main plot, intricately tied together. This should be the only thing in your query.

Start with main character. How is she interesting? Why would I want to spend 5+ hours reading her when I could watch shoot 'em up movies?

Add in main conflict. What are the stakes? What choice does the MC make? How is it interesting?

Once you have those two things, go back and add setting, action, and distinction/voice to the query.

You've got all the sentences you need in there, but you have to fish them out and reorganize. I can tell you have an in-depth plot, a great coming of age story about a young girl struggling to fit in and adjust to tragic circumstances. But your plot is all over and doesn't sound like much fun. Lots of death, sorrow, tragedy. I love the bit about Brea changing, breaking down barriers. YA paranormal needs lots of fun, and when I search for it in your query, I have to dig deep.

Don't make me dig. Bring that awesomeness to the surface! I want to see this published because it could be a great read with a strong female protag. I know my critiques may seem harsh at times, but if I wasn't particularly interested in your story, I wouldn't comment.

I think this has a lot of merit, and I hope this helps you.