Jan 6, 2011

Query: Nepenthe (Second Revision)

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


Kaleen said...

Here goes again! Thanks again for everyone's input on the first two cracks at this. You've been a great help.

Florence said...

Hello Nepenthe: This is my first actuall critique here. I have been so fortunate to get great feedback, I thought it was time to "pay forward." I am unpublished and my opinions are merely of a "reader."

I enjoy different types of paranormal romance and this sounds like an intriguing plot.

However, your query is way too long and the opening still a bit off centered. Make the first sentence into two.

Try practicing describing the entire book with one, possibly two sentences and see if you can get a better handle on it that way.

Pretend you are in contract and the publisher asks you to do the backcover blurb.

I also think the length of the book itself might put off an agent. 100K is about the limit they might risk with an unknown.

Just the same practice cutting it back to one quick "hook" and then one or two short para to describe the rest.

I hope this was helpful. Queries are a real pain and it take a while to get used to them. I am still learning myself. Good luck :)

Elizabeth said...

There is a LOT going on here. It's almost as if all the explanation is backfiring on you by making it more confusing than it should be.

The story itself is intriguing enough. I like the idea of a woman having this illicit affair with a ghost, and I think him going all Fatal Attraction on her is a great twist. That said, I didn't connect with this query in a way that made me ache to read it.

First impressions:

1. It's way too long for a query.

2. The first paragraph is lacking a hook. This is a real shame, because like I said, I love the premise of a girl being stalked by her undead ex-lover.

3. Lose the stuff about the dead fiance and the guilt. That stuff is unimportant for now. Work your query around the "what" not the "why".

4. Focus. The first time I read this query, I couldn't figure out if Michael was the fiance or if he was a good guy or a bad guy or what a county fair had to do with it. Instead of bringing up individual scenes from the book, try looking at the book as a whole. What is it about? Pare it down to one sentence, and then build onto that.

5. Paranormal romance? Two things jumped out at me:

a) the word count is way high for a paranormal romance. Not an automatic deal-breaker, but it gives me pause.

b) I see the paranormal, but I don't see the romance. The only characters introduced are Michael and Kate, and Micheal doesn't seem like hero material to me. So where's the romance? If the new boyfriend is the romantic lead, his lack of mention concerns me. We don't even know his name.

I hope this helped, and good luck with your query!

Shannon said...

I'm an unpublished writer so please take what is helpful and ignore what is not.

You have an intriguing premise but it got lost in this query. I second folks advice to describe the story in one or two sentences as an exercise for yourself to help you focus. Then write your revised query. The website, Miss Snark's First Victim, had a log line contest in Nov 2010 which may help if you want to see examples and also the feedback the individual submissions received.

Some things that popped out at me.

* The first two sentences don't go together as I believe you intended. Regret (at least in my dictionary) doesn't refer to wanting to forget so to state Michael is drawn to Kate by similar feelings of regret doesn't make as much sense since you don't show Kate feeling regret.

* Query is too long.

* I don't get a good feel for why Michael is so fixated on Kate (one reviewer indicated that Michael was her ex-fiance but I thought Michael was a ghost of someone she'd never known). This may or may not be important to include in the query.

*I felt disconnected from the characters like this was a list of events but nothing to make me care or feel attached to them. I'm sure it's there in your book.

* Sentence: "Yeah Kate is really won over by Michael now." isn't necessary and took me out of the query. It's you the author stating something that is obvious. Look for other lines, words like this that you don't need. It will help you streamline the query and give it more energy.

* Why can't Kate let go of her guilt?

You have a great start and the premise is interesting, it just gets lost in the query. Queries are tough so hang in there! Thank you for sharing and I wish you the best.