Jan 4, 2011

Query: Nepenthe (First Revision)

Click here to read the original query.

To distract her from guilt, Kate turns her fear of a ghost into an adrenaline rush. That is, until the ghost wants her to become one too.

After her fiancé dies in a car accident she feels is her fault, Kate meets Michael, a ghost who is drawn to her by similar feelings of regret. She not only learns to get a high from his presence, but gets to experience what it’s like to be a ghost when Michael pulls her soul out of her body while she sleeps. Kate knows Michael is lonely, but has no idea what he’ll do to keep her with him.

When Kate becomes accustomed to the adrenaline and her high wanes, Michael asks her to die and choose to become a ghost with him. If she does, Michael promises to teach her how to forget her past permanently. Memory loss and walking through walls aren’t enough to entice Kate to die. She asks Michael to leave. Determined not to lose her, Michael gives up being earthbound and binds to Kate so he haunts her specifically. She is unable to escape Michael’s volatile emotions, which can hurl objects and break glass. Yeah, Kate is really won over now.

Mostly she is worried about keeping those close to her safe from Michael’s presence. When Kate’s relationship with her mountain biking partner, Ethan, moves past platonic, Michael vows to remove him permanently. Kate’s life is no longer the only one she has to fight for.

NEPENTHE is a paranormal romance of 112,500 words. The manuscript is complete, and can be sent to you right away.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

6 comments:

N. Blank said...

It's def more specific and I can understand the storyline a lot better.

The opening sentence still needs some work.

Maybe?
To distract herself from guilt, Kate turns her fear of a ghost into an adrenaline rush until the ghost wants her dead.

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Hello again! The revision is more specific, but now we've run into the problem of wordiness. You're starting to say unneccesary things and repeating yourself. I'll bullet point for you.

P1's hook is lacking. For a hook, you need to be punchy, immediate, and active. What you've got here is wordy ("to distract from her guilt" and "until the ghost wants her to become one too"), lacks difinitive stakes, and is then repeated almost verbatim in P2. If you're going to do a hook, you should present only the character and conflict. Here's some examples of what you can do:

#1: Kate's haunted by guilt over her dead fiance and Michael, a ghost who would kill to have Kate all to himself. Forever. (This gives character, conflict, and immediate stakes.)
#2: Memory loss and walking through walls aren’t enough to entice Kate to die. (This is intriguing, mysterious, and punchy. It's not the standard hook, but it's enticing to the reader, so it works.)

P2, P3, & P4 are too detailed. You want to be specific, but without all the descriptions and words. The reader gets bored if you don't focus on action, major events. This is the hardest part of queries, and you were closer to this on your first time around. The problem with the original was the vagueness.

Focus on your major plot events: inciting incident, midpoint, climax. Sum them up quickly, leave the stakes high, and the end result in question. Cut all the telling ("Kate knows Michael is lonely, but has no idea what he’ll do to keep her with him." and "Mostly she is worried about keeping those close to her safe from Michael’s presence."). Don't tell me how she feels, tell me what she does about it.

I've found a specific format works well for those having similar problems to you.

P1: Character: basic summation of who they are and their problem.

P2: Inciting incident: where things go horribly wrong

P3: Midpoint: the point of no return, where things get horribly more wrong

P4: Climax: what the character must do (goal) to defeat the antagonist (obstacle)

I would also cut Ethan's name. 1-2 character (protag+antag) max. You can keep him as "the not-so-platonic biking partner."

Also, cut the MS being complete and can be sent. This is obvious, otherwise you shouldn't be querying.

Hope this helps! I know that querying is a pain and that my critique can sound rough, but I hope my not-so-expert advice is helpful. Best of luck!

Stacy McKitrick said...

You say this is a paranormal romance. I don't get that from this query.

Who is her romance with? Michael or Ethan? Michael sounds more like a villain.

If this isn't a romance (with a happy every after ending), then don't market it as such. Otherwise, change the query to reflect the romance.

Rick Daley said...

First, I think this is a cool concept for a novel. I loves me some paranormal!

Second, I'll second Stephanie's advice to re-work the hook.

Third, try not to say too much in a single sentence. An agent will read this quickly, and the syntax in a few sentences (like the first sentence in the second paragraph) warrants extra attention. For example, you are using pronouns before the proper noun they relate to...makes me wonder which her and she you mean. I can assume it's the same person from the preceding paragraph, but it's best to be clear.

I also think you can lose the line about the manuscript being complete (that's implied by the fact you are querying the novel). If you don't have a strong bio to provide (and no worry if you don't) just give the title, genre, and word count, and then your Thank you for your time and consideration" closing.

Good luck, I do think this sounds like a cool plot!

Kaleen said...

Thank you again for such great suggestions! I'll be doing another revision. Sometimes I think writing the novel was easier :)

Kaleen said...

Query: Nepenthe (Second Revision)

After her fiancé dies in a car accident she feels is her fault, Kate wants to forget it happened. Kate meets Michael, a ghost, who is drawn to her by similar feelings of regret. The fear based adrenaline high Kate gets from Michael is an addicting escape. Michael promises to teach Kate how to forget her past permanently if she will become a ghost with him. Memory loss and walking through walls aren’t enough to entice Kate to die.

When Kate asks Michael to leave, his volatile emotions hurl objects and break glass. When Michael walks in on Kate during a date with her new boyfriend at the county fair, the entire fun house hall of mirrors shatters.

Determined not to lose Kate, Michael gives up wandering the earth freely to haunt Kate exclusively by forming a ghost bind to her. Kate must keep her now constant, ghost companion away from her boyfriend since Michael has vowed to kill him. Yeah, Kate is really won over by Michael now.

Kate discovers that if she can rid herself of the regret that drew Michael to her, she will be able to banish him. But Kate can’t let go of her guilt. And, despite Kate’s precautions, Michael just found a way to get at her boyfriend.

Nepenthe is a paranormal romance of 112,500 words.