Jan 3, 2011

Query: Nepenthe


Kate finds that turning her fear of a ghost into an adrenaline rush is a great distraction from unresolved, past issues. That is, until the ghost almost kills her.

Michael, a particularly powerful ghost, wants Kate to die and choose to stay as a ghost with him. He pulls her soul out of her body while she sleeps so she can experience what it’s like. Kate seriously considers becoming one permanently, but there are reasons to live.

One of those reasons is Ethan, who is quickly becoming more than a friend. Michael will do anything to get rid of Ethan, and Kate is kicking herself for being too bent on an adrenaline high to consider the town psychic when she warned her about Michael’s true identity. Kate’s life is no longer the only one she has to fight for.

Set in the small mountain town of Waterton, Alberta, NEPENTHE is a paranormal romance of 112,500 words. It is my first novel. The manuscript is complete, has undergone a manuscript evaluation and copy edit, and can be sent to you right away.

Thank you for your consideration,


Stephanie Lorée said...

Good start. Biggest problem with this query is that it bounces perspective and by doing so becomes confusing. I'll bullet point for you.

* P1 is cliche. The first sentence is OK insofar as a good hook, but it isn't active enough. The second line is cliche and lacks stakes, ie: she almost dies. Rewritten, it should look something like, "Kate turns her fear of ghosts into an adrenaline rush to distract her from PAST ISSUE. (Add in what her past issue is, be specific.) That is, until a poltergeist named Michael decides he wants Kate to join him in eternity."

* P2 switches perspective. Your focus on a query needs to be on one protagonist, one point of view, even if your novel swaps PoVs. In this case, your entire query should be written from Kate. P2 needs rewritten to look something like this, "Kate has an out of body experience thanks to Michael, and considers keeping her ghostly form permanently. (INSERT A SENTENCE ABOUT WHY SHE WOULD CONSIDER THIS.) But she has a reason to live: Ethan." (The last sentence is vague, of course there are reasons to live, so you need to show reasons to want to die and more specifically, why Kate wants to live.)

* P3 switches perspective again. Here we bounce back to Michael, and there's this odd mention of a psychic that doesn't need to be there. What you need to focus on here is how the conflict previously mentioned gets worse. IE: Michael wants Kate to die, and Kate wants to live, torn between an attraction for two guys. Does Michael strike at Ethan? Do the hauntings get more intense? What makes the stakes higher? Focus on Kate's perspective only.

* P4 needs tightened. No one cares where it's set, unless the setting is essential to the novel. Example: The Matrix is inside a computer, its historical fiction, etc. 112,500 is also above what most agents recommend a cut off for things like paranormal romance. You may want to try to trim it to 100k or less, though that's really up to you. Cut the bit about this being your first novel, and all the rest of the stuff about the edits. Of course you've edited, otherwise you shouldn't be querying in the first place.

Stated simply, "NEPENTHE is a paranormal romance of 112,500 words. Thank you for your consideration."

Premise looks great. Your writing and grammer seem spot on, which is rarer than you might think! I would like to know more about Kate, and I think you can include that once you focus the PoV on her and be more specific. This query is a wonderful start, just needs some toning.

Best of luck!

Scribbler to Scribe

Kaleen said...

Thank you Stephanie! Those are great, constructive suggestions. I'll get to work.

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

I like the hook. You could probably use a little more of your story's voice in the query, which is always a challenge to achieve.

The second sentence of the third para is real choppy. I'd rework that for a better flow.

First sent of last para needs to be moved up. The rest of that para should be cut. Never admit it's your first novel in a query. That will come later in a personal phone call or email from an agent (if lucky). In a query, it's a red flag. Also, the ms and copy edit info does no good w/o proper credit. Who edited? If not a big baller, leave it out.

But you've got a great premise here, just keep checking those agent blogs for query - and other - tips.

Natty B said...

I agree with a lot of the things Stephanie said. Def keep it simple and sweet at the end.

I'd also add some more detail about who Kate is, how old she is? I like that you give us the setting, now just a little bit more about the characters would be nice.

"Kate FINDS" I'd usea stronger verb, like discovers.

Where did the ghost come from? Does he come from Kate's unresolved past? If you could tie that in, I think it would make it much clearer. It seems like he wants to be with Kate, romantically I'm assuming, but why?

I think this is a good start. Maybe read it outloud to a few people and see how they react. If any of them are confused, then you need to revise and make it clearer.

Natty B said...

And Stephanie is probably the best query commenter on this site. ;-)

Kaleen said...

Query: Nepenthe Revision #1

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,

Elena Solodow said...

I'm not feeling exactly how she's getting the adrenaline rush. Can she call ghosts to her?

Explain why Kate would want to be a ghost? Is this to escape her life, or is she falling in love with Michael?

A little confused about the town psychic part. That sentence is too long. Be clear about what the warning was and what is Kate doing. 1) She's too addicted to the rush to go clean. 2) The stakes get higher when a psychic warns her about Michaels' true identity.

Cut the stuff about the copy edit, etc.

Hope this helps!

Kaleen said...

Thank you everyone for such useful feedback!

Misty Waters said...

I think your revision was MUCH better than your first. After reading the part where Michael offers to show her how to lose her memories if she dies? With that, you don't even need all that about the adrenaline rush, if you ask me. I didn't like the "rush" part in either version. Take out the rush stuff and add more about Ethan!