Author Topic: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique  (Read 13607 times)

Offline musicbaby01

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Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« on: September 29, 2008, 01:58:57 AM »
My first query.. Don't be gentle! I love editing help. I don't have any previous published works, not quite sure what to say about that or if I need to include something about myself.

Anything helps, thanks!!



Name of Agent
Address
City, State, Zip
Phone:
Fax:
Email:

Dear Agent:

According to Kyrie Cintrell, it's essential to remind the living of their failures to teach them who they will be when they die. Kyrieís reclusive paradise crumbles when urban-bohemian brothers, Toren and Tristan Graham, challenge her to a proverbial game of skill and wit to pursue the dazzling macabre allure of love and vengeance. If death only exists as a hiccup between human and being immortal, like a bout of hiccups, is there a sure-fire way to cure being human?

CLARITY is a 75,000 word thriller novel, comparable to the writing style of Stephenie Meyer laced with the aesthetic prowess of Quentin Tarantino. Set in the fictional town of Lake Washington, CLARITY spans over six months in 1994.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brittany Bush
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 02:28:52 AM by musicbaby01 »

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2008, 06:07:33 AM »
I don't get any clear idea of the plot, from your query. It seems to be mainly themes, and three characters. If I was an agent I would most probably like to know where it's set - contempory or historical - and what you mean by "proverbial game of skill and wit". Since you go on to say it's a thriller (no need to add novel after thriller), then that explains the reference to death, although the addition of 'immortal' to that sentence makes me wonder if this is a supernatural fantasy featurning the undead eg. vampires. The title is Clarity, but I have to be honest and say I'm pretty much left in the dark about what the novel is about.

Just to come back to this and add:
"Set in the fictional town of Lake Washington, CLARITY spans over six months in 1994." - this information should be the first line of your hook paragraph. Set at the end of the second paragraph it is too far away to register as part of the plot.



luvwriting
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 09:08:25 AM by luvwriting »

Offline bonitakale

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2008, 08:28:20 AM »
luvwriting is right -- no plot!  I would also add a couple of minor points:

Don't use "proverbial" when we have no idea what the proverb is.  Keep it for uses like, "He had the proverbial bird in the hand," where we recognize the proverb.

Don't refer to life as a hiccup and then as a bout of hiccups.  If you want to keep the first hiccup, make life a common cold or bout of the flu or something.

It seems to me there's a disconnect between the first and second sentences.  When I picture a person who reminds people of their faults to cure them, I don't think of a recluse.  No doubt the relationship is perfectly clear in your mind and in the book, but it isn't clear in this brief query.

(I had to look up Quentin Tarantino.  So the last bit is a joke, right?  Obviously, I'm not getting it, but all I know about Tarantino is that he seems to be a homely actor, which sounds as if the book is poorly written, but that can't be it.  I know I'm an idiot, but if your query gets read by another idiot....)

But the main thing is still -- no plot!

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luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2008, 09:03:45 AM »
The Quentin Tarantino reference, along with 'death' and 'immortal', made me think of After Sunset with George Clooney, and QT. If you meant it as a reference to his later movies where he was the director, I'm afraid your query did not have enough plot to invoke any of them. But looking forward to seeing a revised version. :)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 09:05:18 AM by luvwriting »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2008, 12:43:24 PM »
Thanks for the critiques!

I'm reworking it now to add more of the plot/less of the theme. As far as the Taratino reference, the book contains more of his dry humor, splintered chronology, and almost gritty visuals that are present in the movies he wrote/directed (I don't think I've even seen a movie that he's acted in... it's odd for me to think of his as a homely actor, rather than a director). That's why I said it was his aesthetics that the book is similar to.

I think I'll add a bit of that... I'll post a revision in a few :)


Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 12:57:04 PM »
Ok... I went a slightly different direction with this, focusing more on the characters themselves while staying true with the theme.



Name of Agent
Address
City, State, Zip
Phone:
Fax:
Email:

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrellís reclusive paradise crumbles when urban-bohemian brothers, Toren and Tristan Graham, challenge her to a figurative game of skill and wit to pursue the dazzling macabre allure of love and vengeance. The brothers divide their blood ties: Tristan is smitten with Kyrieís fiery spirit, while Toren seeks to extinguish the flame. Kyrie finally feels what it was like to feel wanted; but is death a more glamorous sentence than the predictability of love?

CLARITY is a 75,000 word thriller set in the fictional town of Lake Washington spanning over six months in 1994. Comparable to the writing style of Stephanie Meyer, CLARITY embodies the aesthetic prowess of Quentin Tarantino with biting quips, splintered chronology, and gritty visuals.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brittany Bush

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2008, 01:16:49 PM »
One more before I hit the editing again.   ;D  Just first impressions.


Dear Agent: (good)

Kyrie Cintrellís reclusive (given - morst paradises are) paradise crumbles when urban-bohemian (A what?) brothers, Toren and Tristan Graham, challenge her to a figurative game of skill and wit to pursue the dazzling macabre allure of love and vengeance. The brothers divide their blood ties: Tristan is smitten with Kyrieís fiery spirit, while Toren seeks to extinguish the flame. Kyrie finally feels what it was like to feel wanted; but is death a more glamorous sentence than the predictability of love? (Lots of vague telling, cliche hints, and a rhetorical question.  Is the conflict the boys both want her?  You can say that, you know.  ;) )

CLARITY is a 75,000(hyphen)word thriller set in the fictional (If this is fiction, it's something of a given) town of Lake Washington (and spans) spanning over six months in 1994. Comparable to the writing style of Stephanie Meyer, CLARITY embodies the aesthetic prowess of Quentin Tarantino with biting quips, splintered chronology, and gritty visuals. (Tell, tell, tell - prove it's as good as Tarantino with your query writing.  Agents don't believe a writer who says it, but will believe one who proves it.   ;D )

Thank you for your time. (good)

Sincerely, (excellent)


Lots of telling and wordiness that tells some more.  The hook also opens with telling.  But, I do like Toren's name.  Sounds more romance than thriller though.

Again, just brief observations.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 01:22:46 PM by Wolfe »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2008, 01:48:54 PM »
Thanks, I think I see where you're going with it. Wordiness has always been a problem of mine... but it's also a small part of my writing style.

Let's try this revision?



Name of Agent
Address
City, State, Zip
Phone:
Fax:
Email:

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrellís paradise crumbles when brothers Toren and Tristan ignite the macabre allure of love and vengeance. Tristan is smitten with Kyrieís fiery spirit, while Toren seeks revenge for his fatherís death. Kyrie begins her own game of survival to counter Torenís burning assault.

CLARITY is a 75,000 word thriller set in the town of Lake Washington spanning over six months in 1994, comparable to the writing style of Stephanie Meyer and the aesthetic prowess of Quentin Tarantino.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brittany Bush
 

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2008, 06:29:42 PM »
I'm sorry, musicbaby, but this still has no plot - even less so, now that you have removed the sentence saying where and when it is set. It is also getting shorter - the original length was fine, it just didn't say a lot. Please don't get into a vicious cycle of removing material and not replacing it with plot detail.

So far you've got three characters - one love interest and one looking for revenge for a father's death - and not much else.

Also I would caution against comparing your novel to QT's movies. QT conducted a lot of research amongst the novels of the 20th Century - not for nothing did he called one of them Pulp Fiction - so you should be comparing your novel with his source material, not with his movies.


luvwriting
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 06:37:16 PM by luvwriting »

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 07:50:35 PM »
Dear Agent: (good)

Kyrie Cintrellís paradise crumbles when brothers Toren and Tristan ignite (I like this verb - good, vivid choice) the macabre allure of love and vengeance (What does this mean? This is too vague). Tristan is smitten (passive) with Kyrieís fiery spirit, while Toren seeks revenge for his fatherís death (This comes from left field and don't connect to the main plot in this query). Kyrie begins (start) her own game of survival to counter Torenís burning assault. (I don't get this ender either)

Observation:  I'm keen to the fire metaphors.  But, they dance around the plot or conflict.  Still sounds more romance then thriller to me.

CLARITY is a 75,000(hyphen here)word thriller set in the town of Lake Washington spanning (and spans - gerund phrase doesn't work here) over (unneeded modifier) six months in 1994, (comma splice connecting two sentences together) comparable (Consider:  similar, akin, modeled) to the writing style of Stephanie Meyer (If you want to compare, you should use titles and not authors.  It comes off arrogant in queries.  For example, if I said I was the next Stephen King, most agents would roll their eyes and demand I prove it.  Same applies here) and the aesthetic prowess of Quentin Tarantino (Keep the comparisons to authors).

Nothing about you?

Thank you for your time. (good)

Sincerely, (excellent)

Remember, you want to be to the point in your query.  No beating around the bush.  I do like what you're going for, but be more direct.

Example:

Dear Agent,

People say Christy's a slut ... and they're right.  Yet when her parents invite a foreign exchange student to their home for the final school year, she swears it's love.  Only one problemóhe's gay.  But this never stopped Christy before...

THE FABULOUS LIFE OF A FLOOZY is an 80,000-word humorous novel aimed at young adults.  I wrote this to spotlight the double standard on how young men receive praise for the bedtime conquests, yet young women receive a less flattering label for the same behavior.  O'Conner's The Bitch Posse inspired my novel, but I toned my work for a younger audience with a comedic twist.


Again, just about says it all for a query made-up on the spot.

Now, show us yours.  ;)

Wolfe


« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 09:35:53 PM by Wolfe »

Offline BrigidMary

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2008, 08:35:21 PM »
Yeah, I have to agree with Wolfe and Luv. You're losing me in big words and non-specifics. Being vague isn't adding intrigue -- it's telling me absolutely nothing.

Let's take it from another direction, if you don't mind humoring me for a minute. You've got three major characters, right? What does each one want?

Kylie wants ...?
Tristan wants...?
Toren wants...?
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Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2008, 01:06:04 AM »
I'm so horrible with synopsis..s... ha! Let's see if this helps: maybe by giving a short overview of the plot I will have more luck. But, me being me, the term "short" is used loosely.


Kyrie Cintrell's brother Gabriel was killed right in front of her when he was 12 (she was 7) by a man having a psychotic break in the woods. The children were playing hide-n-seek and ventured into the "bad" part of the woods, disobeying their mother. Kyrie blames him because he broke the rules, and feels like she has to pay the price with being scarred for life with that image.

Fast forward 10 years, Kyrie lives alone in their childhood home. She enjoys being a cynical recluse; people annoy her. She feels that their poor decisions effect her, causing her to have this control complex. Life is a ongoing game of skill; if you break the rules, you will suffer the consequences.

Toren enters the picture because his brother's sweetheart, Grace, goes missing. As police initially suspect foul play, Toren joins the search party - his final household to question being Kyrie's. She belives Toren is a complete stranger, little does she know that he is actually the son of the man that killed Gabriel. Toren immedately connects Kyrie with the press pictures in the newspaper when her brother was murdered.

Three months prior to this, Toren's father hangs himself when the "voices" finally overcome him when he stops taking his medication. Toren blames Kyrie's family for his father's death, citing that his father was a "good man" before he stumbled upon the siblings in the woods. Seeing as though Kyrie was the only living Cintrell, he focuses all his revenge on her.

Fast forward to their present time, Toren and Tristan run into Kyrie on one of her rare outings into town. Tristan is emotionally drained from his girlfriend's disappearance, furthered by the police's new information that no foul play was uncovered, and that she had just left out-cold with no goodbyes. Feeling vulnerable and broken, Tristan becomes infatuated with Kyrie -- she is the polar opposite of Grace.

As Tristan and Kyrie get closer, Toren uses the opportunity to because close to his mortal enemy; to plot his schemes that will torture Kyrie to the core before ultimately killing her. Being a self-proclaimed cynic, Kyrie loathes the idea of the predictibilty of being in "love" - her control issues become a massive obsticle for Tristan. She romanticizes death and murder, stating it is purely more exciting. She is more enticed by the thrill Toren gives her. Being in contant peril gives her the intoxicating adrenaline rush she craves.

Constant flashbacks of the demise of both Kyrie & Toren's parents establish the journey to their current mental states, as well as the back story of how their lives are intertwined.

When Grace is finally reunited with Toren, his happy ending is cut short. Only a few short days after her return, she is found dead in the woods next to Kyrie's house. Kyrie is framed; Toren uses this to turn Tristan against her, and as an excuse to further his vengence. Toren sets Kyrie's house on fire (with her trapped inside), and she fights to get out and survive in one piece.

Lots of action, lots of sarcastic and biting dialogue, lots of death. But it's moreso about how the tragedies of our past mixed with how we handle our human responses shape who we are and how we deal with people/situations. It also challenges the mentality that everyone is perfect after they die... that our flaws should be celebrated as much as our gifts without judgement or condemnation.

Eesh... that was a lot. I was on a roll. Brownie points & gold stars to those that actually read all of that.


Offline ma100

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2008, 04:34:28 AM »
Hi Musicbaby. I tried to break this down into potential important info but I have to admit confusion.

Quote
Fast forward to their present time, Toren and Tristan run into Kyrie on one of her rare outings into town. Tristan is emotionally drained from his girlfriend's disappearance, furthered by the police's new information that no foul play was uncovered, and that she had just left out-cold with no goodbyes. Feeling vulnerable and broken, Tristan becomes infatuated with Kyrie -- she is the polar opposite of Grace

Here you say Tristan drained by the disapearance of Grace...becomes infatuated by Kyrie.

Quote
When Grace is finally reunited with Toren, his happy ending is cut short. Only a few short days after her return, she is found dead in the woods next to Kyrie's house. Kyrie is framed; Toren uses this to turn Tristan against her, and as an excuse to further his vengence. Toren sets Kyrie's house on fire (with her trapped inside), and she fights to get out and survive in one piece.

Here you say Grace is finally reunited with Toren. ???

Perhaps it's me reading it wrong and the closeness of the two names which I think could be confusing.

I will come back when I got my thinking head on. :)
Ma

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2008, 11:49:52 AM »
Ok, let me get this straight:
7yr old Kyrie witnesses her older brother's murder in the woods. - Is the murderer is caught? locked away in a psychiatric ward? never traced?

10years later - what happened to Kyrie's parents? - loner Kyrie is living alone and isolated (in the family home?) occassionally venturing into town (has she ever gone to school?).

When a teenaged girl goes missing, family, freinds and local police conduct house to house enquires, and Kyrie is interviewed by the brother of the missing girl's boyfriend.

The two brothers were orphaned(?) a few months previously when their psychotic father committed suicide. - I think you may have missed a trick here. If the father kills himself after the girl goes missing then it leaves the question open as to whether he was responsible for the girlfriend's disappearence - this is a thriller afterall. But if he killed himself 3months previously, then why? You've used it to motive Toren into blaming Kyrie, but this seems a little weak.

Also how does Toren know his father was the murderer? - he would have been pretty young at the time. Presumably he knows because the man was caught and tried for the crime, or because his father confessed to him. However, you haven't mentioned either of those possibilities.

Toren blames Kyrie for his father's suicide - does that mean Toren is also unbalanced? I can't see the logic as to why he would obsess like this unless he is psychotic - maybe hearing voices like his father?

Tristen (older brother?) starts a relationship with the loner, Kyrie. (I'm sorry but "self proclamed cynic" is a pretty meaningless phrase.) However, if Kyrie is a loner then why would she start a relationship with one of these brothers? Presumably Kyrie hasn't been close to anyone since her brother's death, so why change now?

Although it is Tristan who is having the relationship with Kyre, it is Toren who becomes obsessed with her, and wants to kill her. - why does Tristan start a relationship with Kyrie when his girllfriend has been missing for only a short time? Did Kyrie know Grace? Were they freinds?

Grace's unexpected reappearence (presumably everyone thought she was dead) breaks up the relationship between Tristan and Kyrie. - where has Grace been?
But then shortly afterwards she is found dead in the woods - the father is already dead so we know he didn't do it, which only leaves his obsessive son, Toren. As it's a thriller, I would assume this is a red herring and it's Tristan who killed her, for reasons known only to himself.

Toren frames Kyrie for the murder - so you're as good as saying he killed Grace, although there is no clear motive for him doing so - and tries to burn her alive by setting fire to her house.

I'm still left with a lot of questions - aside from the ones already stated above.
What does Tristan think and feel about all this - he has been a shadowy figure through the whole of the synopsis.
What age are the brothers? I'm assuming the same age as Kyre.
What happens at the end.

This synopsis, like the query, is full of feelings and themes, which obscure the main plot thread and the element of suspense and twists and turns that go to make up a thriller.



Luvwriitng
« Last Edit: September 30, 2008, 01:49:26 PM by luvwriting »

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2008, 12:51:11 PM »
Musicbaby, I think you have a good deal of information in the following paragraph that, with a bit of rewording, could go a long way to improving your query.

Lots of action, lots of sarcastic and biting dialogue, lots of death. But it's moreso about how the tragedies of our past mixed with how we handle our human responses shape who we are and how we deal with people/situations. It also challenges the mentality that everyone is perfect after they die... that our flaws should be celebrated as much as our gifts without judgement or condemnation.

Maybe something along the lines of:

Clarity is filled with action, sarcastic and biting dialogue and death. It explores how the tragedies of our past influences our responses in the present as well as how we deal with various situations and people.

I'm not sure I would include the part about "the mentality that everyone is perfect after they die" because it sounds as if you are stating that everyone thinks that way and I'm not at all sure that is the case. Perhaps you could less 'all encompassing' wording to convey that idea.

Please know that I'm not an expert on writing queries, these just my thoughts on what I've seen.
 
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