Oct 25, 2011

Query: Possessed

Dear Agent,

Julia knew something was wrong when she woke up in a haunted forest, but she never would have guessed that her life as an eighteenth century novelist was a lie.

When Julia and two other volunteers - Caleb and Gabriel - awaken prematurely in a research laboratory, the scientists want them dead.

Barely escaping, Julia and her new friends fight to stay alive in post bombed Dallas while coming to terms with their disturbing pasts, which was why they decided to do the psychological study in the first place.

But angry scientists and a psycho stalker are the least of their worries. There are much more powerful beings after them. Physically helpless after a serious accident, Julia, Gabriel, and Caleb are brought by their demoniac pursuers into the supernatural realm. And this time, there is no way out.

Possessed is a supernatural thriller that is 60,000 words long.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Anonymous Author said...

Here's the story line I'm getting from this query:

1. Julia, an 18th century novelist, wakes up in a haunted forest.

2. Julia, a volunteer of some kind, wakes up in a lab.

3. Julia and two guys are fighting to stay alive in post-apocalyptic Dallas.

4. The three of them are injured in a serious accident.

5. Demons, scientists, and a stalker are pursuing them.

6. The demons catch them and take them into a supernatural realm.

That's four different settings. It sounds like the first one is unimportant, since it never appears again, so you should probably skip it. Skip the second one too, and cut straight to Dallas.

What's the main challenge facing your protagonist, and what must she do to overcome it?

Sara said...

Thanks for the pointers! Too many details in my query. I`ve got some work to do. :)

Anonymous Author said...

Don't try to have a log-line. I know a lot of sites (agentquery for example) say you should start your query with one, but these are so hard to come up with and so easy to get wrong.

K. L. Hallam said...

This sounds interesting. I wonder first off, what age group is this for.
Then I wondered what kind of bombing happened.

Maybe a tid-bit about why the scientists are angry (since I am peeked to know more here)
Or the psycho...was it a psycho. I get the feeling this is maybe, YA?
Intriguing premise though. I'd like to find out more.

Sara said...

Hey, thanks for the pointer about the log line.

@ Karen: The age group is for twenty-somethings. So basically "new adult". And I am glad you think it sounds interesting! :) I will add in some more details for my second draft.

Thanks guys!

Unknown said...

You had me until, There are much more powerful beings after them. Physically helpless after a serious accident, Julia, Gabriel, and Caleb are brought by their demoniac pursuers into the supernatural realm.

I liked the story before it turned supernatural with demons etc...

Wake up, part of experiment, scientists want them dead... like that.

GLJ said...

I’m not trying to sound harsh, but this log line really doesn’t work for me in multiple ways.

In her most recent post, Query Shark ranted about log lines being for movies and NOT for books. I have to agree, as they are a one-sentence summary that is followed up by a paragraph or two of summary, so they tell the reader the conflict twice.

And if not done well, they can sound stilted. Here, the found-out-her-life-as-a-novelist-was-a-lie part just threw me. It is unique, I’ll give it that, but it doesn’t make me want to read more. And the waking-up-in-a-haunted-forest-is-wrong part make me think “Well, duh?!”, which is probably not the reaction you wanted. This, condensed, could be written as “waking up to something bad upset the main character”. It is so obvious it doesn’t need to be said.

The waking-up shtick is really the mark of a newbie writer. It is generally a very bad idea to have the main character waking up to start a book or a query letter. And here you do it TWICE.

The phrase “post bombed Dallas” is grammatically incorrect and awkward.

This gives a vague sense of the conflict, but nothing specific. A specific dilemma for the MC is what draws the reader in and makes it interesting. If we knew what danger Julia faced, and preferably she faces at least two dangers that she must choose from, and we cannot think of how she will overcome the challenge, that is what creates interest. We know she’ll triumph, of course, as that is what happens in almost every book, but the best way to create interest in the reader is to present a conflict that looks essentially solvable, and the reader knows she solves it, so the reader is then curious as to HOW things work out. When you see a magician doing an escape, you know logically that he’ll be fine, but if the scenario presents enough apparent danger, you’ll watch to see if he truly does escape.

Anonymous Author said...

I agree that log-lines are generally disastrous and should be avoided unless one naturally falls into place.

However, it seems that most how-to-write-a-query articles recommend them, including the one at agentquery.com. So that's why we keep seeing them.

Sara said...


Good to know. Thanks! So, it seems like the log line hooked you. About the supernatural element, I could have worded it better for sure. It has a slight juvenile feel to it.

Sara said...

GLG, you were not too harsh at all. Thanks for the good input. :)

Sara said...

*GLJ. Sorry for the typo!

Unknown said...

This seems like four different stories -- a haunted forest, a research lab, a post-bombed Dallas, and a demon pursuit. I don't know what any of them have to do with each other. The story is schizophrenic.

I think you'd be better off if you focus on the main character and cut out the others. Start with her problem and what she wants and what she has to do to get it.