Jul 17, 2009

Query - The Night Starts Here

Dear Agent,

THE NIGHT STARTS HERE is a young adult paranormal novel. It is complete at 70,000 words.

Simon Hawkins is undead. Not alive, not dead. Regardless of his condition, Simon is a walking, talking, handsome young man. He's also in love with a very much human girl named Beth. The only issue is that Beth is going to break up Simon and he knows it and he's really not actually as nice of a guy as he seems.

Because Simon believes that he can still make Beth love him, he orchestrates a car crash that kills Beth. Then on the side of the road, as she drifts out of the world, Simon does the unforgivable. He changes Beth into one of the undead.

A day later, Beth wakes up in a coffin. Buried.

Instead of throwing herself into his arms with gratitude at “saving her life” like Simon hopes, Beth runs away in fear and confusion.

While sitting alone on the side of a road one night, Beth is approached by two young men who are members of a gang that live in a mysterious city beneath the human world called the Underground. Beth goes with the two young men and joins the ranks of the gang, making some new friends and new enemies very quickly.

However, Beth's painful past resurfaces when Everyone's Favorite Psychopath Boyfriend Simon shows up Underground-- to his old gang, the exact one that Beth is now a part of. He is welcomed back, as the gang does not know the history between Beth and Simon. Simon then proceeds to blackmail Beth into silence, once again abusing his control over her helpless nature.

When the leader of the gang, Dominik, devises a plot against the evil Aristocracy (the corrupt ruling class of the Underground) that could potentially benefit all the members of the gang, they decide to go for it. Will they be able to leave the usual un-dead gang drama at home for a night and come together to bring down the powerful establishment? More importantly, will Beth be able to reveal Simon for the manipulative jerk he really is?

Thank you for your consideration,


Joshua McCune said...

Hi, take w/ a grain of salt (TWAGOS :) -- the query is a bit long (and reads more like a synopsis) -- try to boil it down using some of the queries Rick links to (i.e., Anatomy of a good query letter I & II) and perhaps some things from query shark as models for length, depth, and breadth for ideal queries...

My bigger issue w/ the query is your MC -- he comes across as a jerk (well, worse than that -- orchestrating a car crash to kill this girl)... You don't necessarily need to paint him as a sympathetic character, but you probably don't want to portray him as a vehicle of death in your query (or if you do, try to do it in a more sympathetic way).

Hope this helps.

Rick Daley said...

General comment: it's too long and more of a short synopsis. You want your query to reflect the heart of your story. Is it about Beth or Simon? If it's about Beth, then start with her.

Some specific points:
"Simon Hawkins is undead. Not alive, not dead."

This strikes me as redundant, the agents you should query will know what undead means.
"He's also in love with a very much human girl named Beth."

"a very much human girl" is awkward to me. At minimum it should be hyphenated very-much-human because the three words form a single description.
"The only issue is that Beth is going to break up Simon"

Break up with Simon?
"He changes Beth into one of the undead."

Does this heal her wounds? Death in a car crash is usually pretty hard on the body.
"the usual un-dead"

undead is hypenated here, but it isn't in your prior usage.

scott g.f.bailey said...

So by "undead" you mean "vampire"? If so, just say "vampire" and don't be coy about it.

This seems to be Beth's story, so start with her. And start with her past the back-story: "Beth WishIhadalastname is undead." Talk about Beth, if she's the protagonist, for five sentences and then stop.

"Beth is a vampire, a member of a vampire gang living in a subterranean city. When Simon, the possessive vampire who made Beth into one of the undead, joins her gang...etc." The whole Aristocracy/Dominik thing sounds like a subplot, not the real plot. What's the central conflict? Pick one and talk about that.

Madeline said...

Thanks guys!

I guess I did get carried away, it is pretty long.

Beth is the MC, it just does change through POVs so I was trying to give Simon his first bit in there, but you're right it's confusing.

I'm starting from scratch-- we'll see how this goes, thanks for the feedback.

And to Scott, they're not vampires-- more like ghosts. I know, you're so disappointed, right?

scott g.f.bailey said...

Madeline: Oh, I'll bet they don't sparkle, either. Now I feel cheated!

Ghosts are cool, and that explains why Beth had to die earlier on. You might find another word than "undead," though. Maybe call them "shadows" or something; "undead" makes me think of vampires right off.

Anyway, Simon sounds like the antagonist, so don't mention him until you've told us who Beth is; make it clearly Beth's story.

storyqueen said...

I think there is a very interesting story hidden under this query, but it is kind of confusing. You might want to post some pages.....it is the tone that I'm not sure of. It started one way (romantic, dark) then (for me as the reader) it seemed a bit tongue-in-cheek....?

Also, I just have to say this.....Beth=Bella. Names are just too close for me.

Good luck. I think there is something here.


Rick Daley said...

Zombies are also undead, that's what I thought they were.

A ghost incarnate is interesting, though.

Julie said...

When I first read the query,I assumed they were zombies. I didn't automatically jump to vampires.

The story sounds really interesting! I think it would be great if you started the query with a sentence or two about Beth's human life.

I really thought the MC was Simon based on the query.

Since he's not the MC it's probably ok to make him seem like the "bad guy" in the query.

Joshua McCune said...

Yeah, to AM2C, if Beth's the MC, write the query starting w/ her.