Author Topic: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique  (Read 13438 times)

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2008, 01:54:26 PM »
Quote
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.

This could be used to sum up the main theme of the novel in the second paragraph of the query, but probably not suiable for the main paragraph as it neglects the plot.



luvwriting

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2008, 06:13:44 PM »
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? The killer is never caught... In the story it goes into detail that Kyrie was really suppose to be the one to die, but instead was knocked out. When she wakes up, she finds Gabriel. The town naturally went into mass paranoia, but again, he was never caught.

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?). She did go to school like normal children. The family home (she's lived there her whole life) is on the edge of the woods, practically in isolation. It's been in the family for years, so naturally she has taken it over.

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. Kyrie, Grace, Toren, and Tristan are all in there early to mid-20's... Toren is 3 years older than Tristan.

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. Toren/Tristan's mother died of natural causes about 2 years prior to this. All they had left was their father. Toren blames Kyrie's family for his dad killing himself. He has inherited the same wacked mental illness; he wants revenge for the death of the only person that understood him. The timeline is that the dad offs himself 3 months prior. Grace was only missing for 2 weeks... father was already dead by the time Grace disappeared.

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. Sorry, I was trying to be as brief as possible. Yes, he did confess it to Toren (but not Tristan) when Toren started exhibiting the same symptoms of the mental illness... he confessed so that Toren would understand the ramifications if he didn't control himself and do all that as possible to prevent it from taking over.

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? Spot on! He does hear the same voices...

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? Kyrie is very standoff-ish to the whole idea of being in a relationship. You're right again, she hasn't been close to anyone; she likes it that way. However, there is something about Tristan that captivates her... but again, she still puts up a wall.

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? Kyrie is new to all of these people. Toren finds out from the police later on that they could find no evidence of foul play... from then on, he feels very abandoned by Grace. Kyrie is the only thing that has been a distraction for him, and he clings on to her. Anything that keeps his mind of his heartbreak is what he wants.

Grace's unexpected reappearence (presumably everyone thought she was dead) breaks up the relationship between Tristan and Kyrie. - where has Grace been? She ran away without telling anyone. She thought leaving without any trace would be easier for Tristan to take, rather than to break things off. She liked the idea of starting over somewhere else, she could finally be herself. But, her guilt did get the best of her, and she came back to mend things.

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 kills Grace to frame Kyrie. It would be a "fun" way to torture Kyrie by having her to blame for it. He actually tries to convince Kyrie herself that she did it... Which in turn, causes her to doubt her sanity. Because of her control complex, it also makes her unbelievably mad to think that she might have done it without knowing (by blacking out, etc).

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. Grace was purely perfect timing. He didn't have anything against Grace, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Again, he's messed up in the head.

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. Tristan is too emotionally invested in changing Kyrie and convincing her that he is the best thing. Kyrie and Toren never get along, but he is oblivious to the subtle clues that hint Toren's real motives. Again, Tristan doesn't know about the illness that bonded Toren and his father, so any thoughts of Toren wanting to kill anyone, let alone Kyrie, are inconceivable to him.


I hope this helps you understand the story a bit better. Thanks again for this... all of your suggestions and questions are truly helping me as a writer. I need to do better at stepping back and explaining things because everything is not a "given." Thanks again :)
« Last Edit: September 30, 2008, 06:16:41 PM by musicbaby01 »

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2008, 08:36:15 PM »
Please, please, please don't take this the wrong way.  But, everytime I see a writer need to 'explain' their synopsis or query, it tells me even they know they didn't pick the right words.

You don't need to explain.  If multiple questions arise about plot, it means the synopsis or query lacks clarity ... excuse the pun.  This is especially true for a synopsis.

Just something to consider.

Wolfe

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2008, 11:47:07 PM »
No offense taken :) This was more a stream-of-conscious summary, I apologize for the need for clarifications.

I enjoyed the pun! Make it intentional, ha.

This is all very helpful though. It's pushing me to really focus on the key elements of what is truly going on. I tend to focus on the themes of things, I'm learning to be more concise and straight forward with explaining the plot. Again, this is all defintely helping! I'm going to rework the summary again to help me with a revised query :)



Young Gabriel Cintrell’s life was cut tragically short. While playing a thrilling game of hide-n-seek with his kid sister Kyrie in the woods of Lake Washington, Gabriel ventures past a boundary that should never be crossed. A crazed schizophrenic man stealthfully preys on little Kyrie, restraining her as bait to lure the boy into his fatal trap. Kyrie is knocked unconscious during the attack; when she wakes, she finds Gabriel lying in a pool of blood, dead. Resulting from this dreadfully scarring event, Kyrie fosters a belief in grim consequence: she blames Gabriel for his own death. She sees life as a game; if you break the rules, you will suffer the ultimate punishment. Meanwhile, Gabriel’s killer is never caught...

Eric Graham succeeds in keeping his murderous past a secret. That is, only until 15 years later, moments before taking his own life provoked by the voices in his head; he had to pay the price. He confides in his eldest son, Toren, showing him a scrapbook of newspaper articles about Gabriel, confessing his sin. He hopes to teach Toren to control his urges; he has already exhibited early symptoms of schizophrenia. His youngest son Tristan would never understand. In a marriage of rage and disbelief, Toren finds his father’s lifeless body; he vows revenge against the only witness to the crime: Kyrie. If Gabriel & Kyrie had never crossed paths with his father – the only person to ever completely understand Toren – he would still be alive.

Three months later, Tristan’s girlfriend, Grace, mysteriously disappears. Eager to help, Toren joins the search party which leads him to Kyrie's doorstep. Although much time has passed, Toren immediately recognizes Kyrie from the pictures in the newspaper when her brother was murdered. His plans for vengeance seem more of a reality.

Days later, Tristan is introduced to Kyrie by his brother when they run into her on one of her rare outings into town. New information comes to light about Grace’s disappearance: police no longer suspect homicide, nor the fact that she may be dead. Instead, they find a lead that forces them to believe she left town on her own fruition. Feeling vulnerable and broken, Tristan becomes infatuated with Kyrie’s unique charisma. He invites her to hear him perform at an Open Mic Night in the neighboring town of Canterville to break the ice. Kyrie is very standoffish to the whole idea of being in any sort of friendship, let along relationship. Still, there is something about Tristan that captivates her...

As Tristan and Kyrie get closer, Toren uses the opportunity to plot his schemes that will torture Kyrie to the core before ultimately killing her.  She is more enticed by the loathsome challenge Toren gives her than the thought of being in a mundane normal relationship with Tristan. Hopeful still, Tristan enlists the help of friend Riley to breakdown Kyrie’s defenses.  Riley attempts to transform Kyrie using her schoolgirl charm and valor, in hopes that she will realize that it is ok to be vulnerable and trust other people. This is not so easy when someone is out to kill you, never mind the fact it’s your longing suitor’s own brother.

Just as Riley and Tristan start to make a little headway with Kyrie, Grace returns to Lake Washington.  She ran away without telling anyone; her guilt got the best of her, and she came back to mend things. Tristan is torn, while Kyrie has more dire things to worry about…

Only a few short days after her return, Toren kills Grace to frame Kyrie; his perfect twist of revenge. Poor Grace was purely a convenience; Toren did care about her, but this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He tries to convince Kyrie herself that she did it. In turn, this causes her to doubt her sanity. Toren knew all about Kyrie’s obsession with control; just the thought of not knowing if she killed Grace or not was of the utmost cruelty.

All the while, Tristan doesn't know about the illness that bonded Toren and his father, so any thoughts of Toren wanting to kill anyone, let alone Kyrie, are inconceivable to him. Toren uses this to turn Tristan against her. In a final act of insanity, Toren sets Kyrie's house on fire with her trapped inside, and she fights to get out and survive in one piece.

CLARITY embodies the rightful blend of vivid action with sarcastic and biting dialogue, all while coupling a brew of thrilling romance and danger. Challenging the popular mentality that everyone should be respectfully remembered with fanfare after they die, CLARITY proposes instead our flaws which make us human should be celebrated as much as our gifts without judgment or condemnation.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 03:30:24 AM by musicbaby01 »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2008, 04:59:03 AM »
Ok, here goes a different approach... let me know if I'm steering myself into a better direction? Thanks!!!



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

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell fixates both brothers Toren and Tristan Graham for two very different reasons. Kyrie entices the vulnerable Tristan with her fiery charisma. Toren’s obsession starts when he finds his like-minded schizophrenic father hanging from a ceiling fan, only moments after he admitted to Toren he murdered Kyrie’s brother 15 years back. Kyrie, the sole witness to his father’s original sin, must pay for the guilt that steered him to suicide.  Toren plans revenge unrevealed to Kyrie and Tristan; he uses their growing bonds to his advantage as he paves the ultimate path to vengeance. If all goes according to plan, he doesn’t have to kill Kyrie; she can do all the work…

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller/romance set in the town of Lake Washington and spans over six months in 1994. I was inspired to write this by the sensation of romanticizing death, while blurring the line between blame and self-sacrifice. With the wave of books starring vampires, werewolves, and other forms of the undead, I wanted to highlight the notion that humans are sometimes more bloodthirsty than any fang-totting monster.


Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,






« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 03:21:36 PM by musicbaby01 »

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2008, 09:12:35 AM »
The immediate problem I see with the query, is it should start with the main character, set the scene, then introduce the main antagonist. Secondary characters should not be mentioned except in passing (so, for example Tristan would be referred to as Toren's 'older brother').  From your synopsis I'm asuming Kyrie is the main protagonist and Toren is the main antagonist. Tristan and the father are secondary characters. Details like 'hanging from a ceiling fan' should be deleted or summarised in one or two words, so in this instance 'suicide' sums it up adequately.
You still have a lot of emotive words in the query that obscure the plot.
I'm not convinced it helps your query to mention werewolves, etc., but Wolfe will know more about that sort of thing.

I'm out of time right now, so I'll have to come back to it.



luvwriting
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 09:14:44 AM by luvwriting »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2008, 03:54:11 PM »
Here's another revision.... I just moved the order of how the characters are introduced.



Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell capitvates Toren and Tristan Graham for two very different reasons. Kyrie entices the vulnerable Tristan with her fiery charisma. Toren’s obsession starts when he finds his schizophrenic father hanging from a ceiling fan, only moments after he admitted to Toren he murdered Kyrie’s brother 15 years back. Kyrie, the sole witness to his father’s original sin, must pay for the guilt that steered him to suicide.  Toren plans revenge unrevealed to Kyrie and Tristan; he uses their growing bonds to his advantage as he paves the ultimate path to vengeance. If all goes according to plan, he doesn’t have to kill Kyrie; she can do all the work…

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller/romance set in the town of Lake Washington and spans over six months in 1994. I was inspired by the sensation of romanticizing death; its blurs the line between blame and self-sacrifice, as in ______'s ____________________ [I'm trying to jog my brain to find a book to compare it too... but I'm left blank, grr.].

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2008, 12:33:50 AM »
Dear Agent: [b(good)[/b]

Kyrie Cintrell capitvates (captivates) Toren and Tristan Graham for two very different reasons (telling, way too many characters introduced too fast, never ever use very, and this is no hook). Kyrie entices the vulnerable Tristan with her fiery charisma. (telling) Toren’s obsession starts when he finds his schizophrenic father hanging from a ceiling fan, only moments after he admitted to Toren he murdered Kyrie’s brother 15 years back. Kyrie, the sole witness to his father’s original sin, must pay for the guilt that steered him to suicide.  Toren plans revenge unrevealed to Kyrie and Tristan; he uses their growing bonds to his advantage as he paves the ultimate path to vengeance. If all goes according to plan, he doesn’t have to kill Kyrie; she can do all the work…

Observation:  This isn't a query.  This is a miniplot summary.  It’s overlong, rambles, and doesn't give a good sign of the main plot.  More like many subplots.  You need to focus on the main plot, theme, or conflict to gain an agent's attention.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller/romance (which is it?  A thriller or a romance?  Yes, you must choose.  If you can't it tells agents you don't know either, and that's telling them something you don't want to say) set in the town of Lake Washington and spans over six months in 1994. I was inspired by the sensation of romanticizing death; its blurs the line between blame and self-sacrifice, as in ______'s ____________________ [I'm trying to jog my brain to find a book to compare it too... but I'm left blank, grr.]. (If you don't have a comparison, it's not a bad choice.  Watch the passive voice and vague statements though)

Thank you for your time. (good)

Sincerely, (excellent)

The plot paragraph needs major work.  Remember, you want to keep it simple yet elegant.  If you ramble in your query, agents will think the novel rambles as well.  Best to watch that.  There are pieces in the plot paragraph that would make an excellent query, but you must decide which parts speak best about your novel.

Show us your choices and try again.  ;)

Wolfe
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 12:36:25 AM by Wolfe »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2008, 05:07:05 AM »
Points noted... so here is my next try!  ;D



Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell is cold, uncaring, and controlling… and Toren wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he might actually feel bad for convincing the entire town of Lake Washington that she murdered his poor brother’s ex-girlfriend – even Kyrie begins to doubt her own innocence and sanity. What began as payback for driving his father to suicide, revenge tastes much sweeter now that she’s digging her own grave…

My 75,000-word thriller, CLARITY, explores the many varied emotions that surround death – blame, sorrow, indifference, fright, anger – and exposes them with utter indecency to embrace the vein that makes us human.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.


Sincerely,

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2008, 01:33:21 PM »
Dear Agent: (good)

Kyrie Cintrell is cold (telling), uncaring (telling), and controlling (and telling)(incorrect ellipse spacing) and Toren wouldn’t have it any other way (cliché). After all (trite), he might (hedging) actually (adverbial hedging) feel bad for convincing the entire (redundant) town of Lake Washington that (wordy) she murdered his poor (telling) brother’s ex-girlfriend – (consider a long dash instead) even (hedging) Kyrie begins  (repetition word here and...) to doubt her own (self-expression redundancy) innocence and sanity. What began  (... here) as payback (cliché) for driving his father to suicide, (incorrect comma use) revenge tastes much sweeter now (cliché) that she’s digging (hidden passive gerund phrase) her own (repetition of self-expression redundancy) grave… (cliché closer)

My (As opposed to mine?  Given) 75,000-word thriller, CLARITY, (You don't want to comma-enclose your title) explores the many varied emotions that surround death – blame, sorrow, indifference, fright, anger – and exposes them with utter indecency to embrace the vein that makes us human. (This is too broad and vague.  It also goes overboard in telling)

Thank you for your time, (incorrect comma use) I look forward to hearing from you. (given)

(Incorrect spacing here)

Sincerely, (excellent)

I think the premise shows promise, but it's unfocused.  The reader cannot decide who the protagonist or antagonist is.  You need to make this clearer.  Also, watch the clichés.  That's killer.

Give it another try.  ;)

Wolfe
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 01:37:13 PM by Wolfe »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2008, 02:31:15 PM »
Oh but cliche's are fun, ha. Hmmm... ok. Let's see what words I can replace...

Grr, I'm drawing a blank.  :(

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2008, 03:25:21 PM »
Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell believes life is a game; if you break the rules, you will suffer the ultimate punishment. But when she meets Toren Graham, she comes face-to-face with the realization that winners don’t always play fair. He convinces the town of Lake Washington she murdered his brother’s ex-girlfriend – payback for igniting his father’s suicide – driving Kyrie to doubt her own innocence and sanity.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller which explores the many varied emotions that surround death – blame, sorrow, indifference, fright, anger – and exposes them with utter indecency to embrace the flaws which makes us human.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2008, 04:23:23 PM »
I started writing a reply (below) to your earlier version then got distracted and I see you've put up a new version in the meantime. I'll post what I was going to say, anyway, in case it's any help, before I take a look at the new version.

Quote
Kyrie Cintrell is cold, uncaring, and controlling… and Toren wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he might actually feel bad for convincing the entire town of Lake Washington that she murdered his poor brother’s ex-girlfriend – even Kyrie begins to doubt her own innocence and sanity. What began as payback for driving his father to suicide, revenge tastes much sweeter now that she’s digging her own grave…

Despite Wolfe tearing it to shreds, this version is a lot better, musicbaby.
I have no problem with 'telling' - queries are telling, it's only when the author is trying to be too clever that it should be avoided. (see Nathan Bransford's Query letter samples and you'll see 'tells', like those in your opening sentence, too).
I would replace the first set of elipses with dashes.
 
his poor brother’s ex-girlfriend - this needs simplifying. As it's written, it's along the lines of 'his brother's brother's brother' - ie., you soon loose the thread. The only way you could probably do this is avoid mention of his brother, and reduce the ex-girlfriend to 'missing teenager' - oh, one thing I've just remembered, in your earlier synopsis, you had her whitnessing the murder at 7, and then said 10years later, but then said the 2 characters are in their twenties. Assuming i've remembered that right, it may need sorting out.

doubt her own innocence and sanity - just pick one. 'doubt's her own sanity' may be cliched, but it's easily understood.

father to suicide, revenge tastes, this sentence is clunky. It sounds like two sentences chopped short and joined by a comma.  It would flow better if you lengthened it to make two sentences.
Also, 'much' and 'that' are redundant and can be deleted.:

What began as payback for driving his father to suicide..... - add something.
Revenge tastes sweeter now she’s digging her own grave. - I think it works as a hook.

It's still a bit skinny on the plot. Maybe giving the brother and his girlfriend a sentence of their own might help, or it might not. Try it and see.

 
luvwriting

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #28 on: October 03, 2008, 04:28:16 PM »
Quote
Kyrie Cintrell believes life is a game; if you break the rules, you will suffer the ultimate punishment. But when she meets Toren Graham, she comes face-to-face with the realization that winners don’t always play fair. He convinces the town of Lake Washington she murdered his brother’s ex-girlfriend – payback for igniting his father’s suicide – driving Kyrie to doubt her own innocence and sanity.


believes life is a game; if you break the rules, you will suffer the ultimate punishment
comes face-to-face with the realization that winners don’t always play fair.


- now this is the sort of thing i would class as an authorial tell. The phrases don't really help to explain the plot or the character. Personally I would keep the previous opening, as it tells us far more about Kyrie's character and in fewer words.

The other parts of the query I've already covered in my comments on the previous version.


luvwriting

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #29 on: October 03, 2008, 06:15:10 PM »
Here's a mashup of the two most recent queries... How about this?



Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell is cold and uncaring, yet thoroughly enticing – Toren wouldn’t have it any other way. If she had a heart, he might feel bad for convincing the town of Lake Washington she murdered a missing teenager. Kyrie doubts her sanity; Toren’s payback for igniting his father’s suicide has barely begun. Revenge tastes much sweeter when she’s digging her grave.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller which explores the many varied emotions that surround death – blame, sorrow, indifference, fright, anger – and exposes them with utter indecency to embrace the flaws which makes us human.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,