Friday, June 2, 2017

Query Kombat Round 1: THE NOSE KNOWS vs. THE LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

Title: The End of the World as We Know it
Entry Nickname: The Nose Knows
Word Count: 69k
Genre: Adult contemporary fantasy. Ownvoice--Latino (two of the multiple POVs)

Query:
Eddie Nezevitch has a unique gift—just like everyone else. Though his power ranks low and poses no danger, it is why he’s the best homicide detective in New York. Eddie can smell the emotional content of a crime, and knowing why is half the battle.

But his newest assignment, the scene of a dark, gory ritual, is too much for him to handle alone. He teams up with an aging crank and a not-so-doe-eyed newbie. Together they discover that not only is this murder the work of a brutal serial killer who steals his victims’ powers, but the victims turn out to be worse than the killer. The murderer is going after a crime ring that leads all the way up to the mayor and back into the department itself, and the three investigators realize they can’t trust anyone but each other.

Stuck in the middle and being played by both sides, Eddie's team has to decide between protecting the worst criminals in the city, and letting a serial killer steal so many powers he'll be able to warp the very fabric of reality. 

First 250:
The streets were wet, and the air carried the damp reminder of rain Eddie Nezevitch felt in his lungs and nostrils. The barrier in front of him shimmered like a slice of the Caribbean turned on its side, and Eddie couldn’t resist running his hand over the surface, which felt like glass but rippled like water. 

Petty scenes got tape, but the department had an officer whose power could make important locations hermetic. Even though he’d seen these seals enough to make them mundane, they remained beautiful. He touched his badge to the barrier and a hole opened to allow entry. The seal closed behind him, leaving the avenue on the other side of the crime scene wavering and distorted.

The door of the home lay open, a sinister invitation into the quiet darkness. Eddie found a light switch and shut the door behind him. The room past the foyer was well furnished, the upholstery soft, though overly stylized, with complex patterns to hide minor blemishes. The wallpaper was excessive, a deep burgundy with gold lines and shading to make it appear as if the walls too were upholstered, perhaps intending to recall eighteenth century France. It only made Eddie think of lunacy and padded cells.

He closed his eyes and mouth, drew a slow deep breath, kept his mind and lungs still, and used his own unique gift—his sense of smell. Lavender…lavender laced with...a soft decay, like mushrooms in the forest. That made no sense. Remorse and despair, for this crime? 

~ VERSUS ~ 

Title: Hanging
Entry Nickname: The Lake of Haunted Memories
Word count: 79K
Genre: Adult Horror

Query: 
Ruth’s phobias have ruled—and ruined—her life. She dropped out of veterinary school. She can't even sleep in the dark. Desperate to conquer her fears and looking for a fresh start, she relocates to Wisconsin. There, she starts a new graduate program and embarks on a field trip with three classmates. En route to Lake Chevinette, she meets Howard, a double amputee in a wheelchair.  He claims to be the sole survivor of a logging crew that were slaughtered by trees in the lakeside woods.

Arriving at the site, Ruth finds the lake has strange qualities: the water is dark, but she cannot filter out particles; the plankton net reveals no life whatsoever; and a scientific cable, at least a hundred meters long, fails to reach the bottom, then gets caught and is lost. One of the girls falls in, and, although Ruth rescues her, she vanishes when back on shore. Unable to call for help, Ruth must either abandon her missing companion and live with the guilt, or continue to search after the sun sets and the darkness she dreads falls.

First 250:
Late for class, Ruth scurried up the stairs and wondered what the animal of the day would be since it changed every practice−­certainly not another albino iguana. She would know if she had read the instructions over breakfast, as she had planned. But she had slept through her alarm again, and breakfast consisted of a glass of orange juice at the kitchen counter and a cereal bar while riding the bus.

Sweat had congealed on the small of her back and it made her uncomfortable. She reached the teakwood double doors, grasped the metal pull handle, and opened one of the two panels. In the practice room, students pored over their stations; only one of those stations was free, at the back of the room. She claimed the space. On the butter-yellow counter, a rectangular glass container resembled a fish tank, although it had a closed top and, instead of water, contained something that staggered Ruth. She lurched back and away from the counter.

“It’s docile,” the instructor said, in a white coat. “We can have it restrained if you like.” 

Ruth nodded her head in reply. Apprehension clogged and cluttered not only her mind but her vocal cords. The faculty would never expose the students to a poisonous animal; nevertheless, she could barely breathe as she faced the creature. It had never occurred to her that as a veterinarian she might have to handle a patient as horrid as a snake. 

The lid of the glass tank went up, and the gloved hands of the assistant descended inside.

16 comments:

  1. Judges, please post your votes and feedback as a reply to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT:
      Query: The first paragraph sums up who your MC well! The second paragraph is pretty solid, I see what your characters are up against and the core premise of your story. The last paragraph, I feel you could expand without giving too many specifics. I would like to know who's playing Eddie's team. And how by protecting the worst criminals even an option? I was a bit confused by the stakes. I see what you are trying to convey, however, the sentence isn't getting it across in a clear and concise way. Maybe this is all in my head…haha.

      First 250: This opening pulled me in instantly. I like the idea of a detective with the ability to sense the emotion at a crime scene. And the prose is awesome. My only suggestion would be when describing a room or space, see if you can weave the details in instead of listing what you MC saw when entering. Sometimes this is needed, but if you can have your MC interacting with this surrounds, it tends to immerse the reader into your story. Fantastic!

      HANGING
      Query: Creepy! You have room to expand your query here. You do set it up nicely. But I think if you show some more creepy elements when she reaches the lake, this will intrigue the reader more. Right now we see there is something strange at the lake, but what exactly. We need more. Just a few more details.

      First 250: Overall great on this. Just a couple suggestions. Maybe instead of using a filter word "wondered", you could have her think about what animal they were going to practice on in her lab.

      For example: Late for class, Ruth scurried up the stairs of the science building. What animal do we get to practice on today? (This should be italicized.)

      Or something to that effect. Use concrete descriptions of your setting as much as possible. Ground the reader into your setting. We know she's going to class, but what class? In what building? You can weave these small details in without making it too distracting.

      I need more from Ruth. When she saw that snake, how, besides her lurching away from the counter, did it make her feel? Really showcase her phobia here. This is her limitation, and to better understand this, I would ramp up the sensory description. Good job!

      Victory to: THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

      Delete
    2. The Nose Knows

      Nice premise and hook, but it takes too long to get there. Plus, it’s a little vague. Are you saying everyone in this world has a unique gift? I think you need to spell it out a bit more. I’m also not sure how a crime ring could be worse than a serial killer.


      250: Great descriptions and nice use of senses. I love the premise and the writing style. Great job in really painting a scene and building up tension.

      Hanging

      Great and evocative query! I got a real sense of the character and what’s at stake and the character’s ARC.

      250: This reads like telling more than showing. I’m not sure we need to know what she ate for breakfast. Put us in the moment more. Maybe start with trying to lift the snake and get into how that makes her feel?

      This is a really tough match up. I think they both have a ton of potential and I’ve gone back and forth for several minutes.

      However, since it’s a Query contest, I’m going to have to go with the stronger query in my opinion.

      VICTORY to THE LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

      Delete
    3. The End of the World as We Know It

      Query: Overall, I really like this and the premise is very intriguing. For some reason “emotional content” reads a bit odd to me. Can you expand on that a little and what specifically his power allows him to do? Also, if the book is from multiple POVs, I’d love to know a bit more about the other investigators (I’m assuming that’s who we’ll be hearing from). Right now we know one is old, and the other is new but not that innocent. As well, I’d like to see you expand more on the stakes. Isn’t it possible that they could catch the serial killer AND take down the corrupt ring of criminals?

      250: Love the prose here, you really pulled me into the story. The third paragraph, be careful starting too many sentences with “the.” You may also want to consider describing the scene and setting in a less list-like way. Maybe have the character interact with the environment? A small nitpick, but I’d recommend swapping the word “home” for “house.” Really great opening though, bravo.

      Hanging

      Query: While the premise of this story is interesting and I can tell this is going to be a creepy story, I’m struggling to piece together and understand your query. The beginning feels a bit disjointed. It sounds as though her phobias made her drop out of vet school, but can you tell us how? You mention not being able to sleep in the dark, which is an interesting factoid, but feels a bit random. Why does Ruth think she’ll be able to conquer her fears in Wisconsin? What will be different with this graduate program vs. vet school? Is Howard on the trip with them or just someone she meets in passing? If he’s not a consistent character and important to the plot, does he need to be mentioned in the query? The second paragraph here reads more like a synopsis to me—too much of a summary of what happens. You might also want to mention what the graduate program is since filtering out particles and working with plankton confused me. While it’s clear that some weird stuff is happening at this lake, I think we need more of a hint of what we’ll be getting with this book.

      250: I was a little thrown with the opening here given the query. It seems odd that she’s still in vet school when the query states she’s dropped out and moved to Wisconsin. Also, be careful with overusing the word “had.” While the thought of working with an animal she doesn’t like, or is afraid of, is an interesting opening, I wonder if this may be starting in the wrong place. And if snakes are one of her phobias, I’d love to see that played up more here. Gives us more emotion on Ruth’s part. I think this story is likely creepy and lives up to the horror genre, just let us see more of that!

      VICTORY TO THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!

      Delete
    4. From AttackCat

      The Nose Knows
      Query: Ooooh – love the idea of smelling ‘the emotional content of a crime.’ In the second paragraph, it’s initially unclear whether the two he teams up with are also detectives. May want to move that information up. In that same paragraph suggest trimming or dividing the third sentence. The stakes are strong and clear. Kind of like they have the power to let a Dexter-like character do the dirty work for their city, but at what cost?

      250: Vivid descriptions, though I felt a few could be trimmed back. This may just be me, but the ‘with complex patterns to hide minor blemishes’ stopped me. I wasn’t sure why he thought that – or if this knowledge was somehow linked to his gift? The wallpaper was excessive, a deep burgundy with gold lines and shading to make it appear as if the walls too were upholstered, per and I liked how you bring us quickly to his gift. I also liked how you showed us the differing scents of emotion.

      Hanging
      Query: The query’s a bit short, so you can flesh it out some. Like, I wasn’t sure what phobia had her drop out of veterinarian school (we find out in the 250, but I think naming her fear of snakes would be helpful). Also, I wanted to know what the purpose of their field trip is and what type of graduate program she’s in. In the 250, we learn there’s a scientific bent to the trip, but you have the room, so I’d give a bit more info here. The double amputee with his story about the trees is nicely creepy. While I get the stakes, the last paragraph is a bit unclear – three students go on the field trip – where’s the third person go after the one girl disappears? I like the idea of a woman who’s afraid of the dark needing to face that fear to help someone.

      250: I think you can trim out a few details in the description of Ruth opening the practice room door while adding in more details about the larger setting. You also may want to look at trimming/rephrasing to cut word repetitions, e.g., room, station. Also suggest rephrasing ‘…the instructor said, in a white coat.’ No need for ‘her head’ after ‘Ruth nodded.’ When Ruth faces the snake, I’d like to feel more of her reactions – does her heartbeat ratchet up, does she break out in a sweat, become nauseated? Since I’m assuming this is the incident that ends her time at veterinary school, I was a little surprised that the story starts here – as the query is focused on a later point in her life.

      Two strong entries.

      VICTORY TO THE NOSE!

      Delete
    5. Moonstone DragonJune 2, 2017 at 11:59 PM

      THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

      Query:

      I really found it intriguing from the first paragraph and the focus on the murder mystery with a twist works well, but I think I personally could have used a bit more world-building: OK, so everyone has a cool power in this world and a murderer is stealing powers, which can destroy the world... We know what kind of power the MC has, but what about everyone else? Why can a single person stealing the powers of others can warp the fabric of reality?

      First 250:

      I found your beginning very strong--unlike your query, it gave me a sense of your world right away. If anything, I might consider tightening the paragraph with the description of the interior of the house, because it's the only spot where I found the narrative lagging a bit.

      HANGING

      Query:

      I like that we learn about your MC's phobias right away, and how you build up to her trip and the strange occurrences at the lake. I did find the amputee very intriguing, especially the choice of words of what he survived ("slaughtered by trees" is so unique and deliciously intriguing!), so I found it a bit of a let down that he didn't come back in the next paragraph. My suggestion there would be to either not mention him at all, or bring him back in to show why he's important and why you included him in the first place. I also couldn't understand why Ruth couldn't call for/go get help after her friend disappeared--are they out of cell range? Do they have no vehicle? What about her other friends? You did mention there were three of them, plus the guy in the wheelchair, but none of them come back in the query. While there's a lot to be said for a short, snappy query, in your case, I do think yours could benefit from a little more detail.

      First 250:

      I found your opening lagged a little bit, especially in the second paragraph. I felt like there was a little too much description of the mundane--especially in the first two paragraphs. I don't think we need to know all the details on how Ruth makes it to the lab: what we need to know is that there's a 'creature' that frightens her and that she's supposed to work with, and that it's nothing but a docile snake. Cutting on the description of her arrival at the lab would also allow you to get to that part sooner, and show us a lot earlier what Ruth is up against!

      My goodness... This is such a tough choice for me! On the one hand, I'm a sucker for horror, and... "slaughtered by trees!" But... But... Shimmery magical police barriers! Gaah!

      Ok, ok... Making a choice now...

      VICTORY TO... THE NOSE KNOWS!

      Delete
    6. THE NOSE KNOWS

      Query: Very cool premise, and you do an excellent job of succinctly setting up the conflict and stakes. I think you could expound a little more about what kind of crime is flourishing that makes the ring worse than a serial killer. The last paragraph feels like it’s missing an end point—they have to make the decision before what? (I assume before the serial killer is able to warp reality, and if so I would just tweak the sentence to reflect that.) I’m also curious about how the serial killer would warp reality (rewriting history? killing even more people? mind control?)—why does he want to do that (beyond meglomania)?

      250: “…the Caribbean turned on its side” is a nice bit of imagery! I love how you incorporate all the senses into this scene. It’s intense, and I would love to keep reading.


      LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

      Query: Ooooh creepy! In the first paragraph, you don’t need to name Howard as he doesn’t show up again in the query. (Is it a new veterinary program she’s starting? I’m not familiar with veterinary medicine, but the activities at the lake would make me think she entered a different field if the 250 didn’t mention veterinarian again... Just curious.)

      In the second paragraph, the examples of what’s weird with the lake are very intriguing, but they’re not moving the plot along. (Though your query has room to expand, so you don't necessarily need to limit them.) Unable to call for help is vague. I assume you mean no cell reception, but my first thought was, “Whoa, she lost her voice?!” And what happened to these other classmates?? In the last sentence, I assume she’s not going to give up on her friend, so it could be rephrased like: Unable to live with the guilt of abandoning her friend, Ruth must ________.) And then give examples of what obstacles she has to overcome on her search (her own fears, what exactly is going on with this creepy lake).

      250: Since this horror, I would open with a scare —start with her staring at that snake!


      VICTORY TO THE NOSE KNOWS

      Delete
    7. Congratulations to both Kombatants.

      THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT
      This story is right up my alley: a detective who's also a medium, tracking a serial killer who targets criminals. Good stuff.
      That said, in this query, the logic seems flipped. You make a statement that seems contradictory (i.e. a unique power just like everyone else) and then go
      on to explain how it's accurate. I kept thinking "What? Oh, I see." I'd like it if you simplified the hook: In a world where everyone
      has a special power, Eddie's ability to smell the emotional content of a crime makes him the top homicide detective in New York City. (I added City because I assume you didn't mean the whole state). See how that
      explains the world, his power, and his job all in one?

      I love the first sentence of paragraph 2. After that, it's cliche city: the cranky veteran partner, the doe-eyed newbie (they get no more real estate
      in this query, so are they even necessary?). Then corruption goes all the way to the top, and he can't trust anyone. It's been done. Focus on what makes
      your story unique: a murderer who steals superpowers, and a list of victims that gets more dangerous as it reveals corruption up to the highest level.

      The third paragraph is outstanding! I feel it would be stronger if you cut the first clause about being stuck in the middle and played by both sides. You don't need that; it's assumed.

      The first 250 are pretty strong. I love that you're showcasing multiple superpowers right away, and the sensory detail is on point.

      HANGING
      All right, I feel like you're giving us a lot of disparate information here, and omitting some key things. Mainly: what are Ruth's phobias (other than the dark), and what is her goal?
      Running away and facing your fears are opposing goals. I'm also not sure why we meet Howard. He serves no purpose in this query. Cut him, give us more about Ruth.

      The lake has me intrigued (though I'm not sure what a "scientific cable" is). Break the long sentence about it into a few shorter ones. Tie the strangeness to Ruth's fears. Then give us the wonderful dilemma you've put her in.

      In the first 250, I strongly advise you skip the waking up and breakfast parts (cliche), and open with Ruth in her class, facing the snake. I can tell you've got a great horror story lined up here, and so...

      VICTORY TO THE LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

      Delete
    8. THE NOSE KNOWS

      The Query:

      I like the idea of a cop who uses smell to solve crimes, could get very gross in a fun way. I think the two first lines aren’t strong enough to hook a reader, and are too vague. Having “a unique gift - just like everyone else”, sounds contradictory without context. You can maybe cut the first paragraph down to one sentence: who Eddie is, what his power is and how it plays into the world.

      The stakes and obstacles are clear enough, and thanks for limiting the POV to just Eddie for the Query. If you could fit in his partners powers, however, It might be nice to know, but if that throws it off I understand.

      The first 250:

      This is really well done. I like that you used all the senses and threw in some magic powers smoothly. The descriptions of the setting and how it fleshes out Eddie as a character is great. He definitely sounds like a detective.

      I think if you hook the reader a bit stronger in the query you’d have a really solid submission here. Good job.

      THE LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

      The Query:

      I’m impressed how well you captured the mood and setting in a query. That’s hard to do. It sounds like you’ll deliver on the horror. I would say what her phobias are right away as it isn’t until later that we clearly understand she’s at least afraid of the dark. If she has other phobias, please describe.

      The second paragraph reads a little like plot summary, but I understand somewhat since it seems like a pretty small, personal story, which I like in horror. Does she develop any sort of relationship with Howard? It just says she meets him, how important is he to her story. If his back story just adds to the mystery, maybe leave it for the book.

      Also, clarify what she’s doing there exactly and maybe up the stakes by really showing how truly terrified she is.

      The first 250:

      This is great. You’re already starting with conflict and you’ve described everything super well. I can tell you have a good sense how to write horror and I’d love to read more.

      Both queries need some work, but your pages are great. This is a great matchup. I’ve been going back and forth a lot, so good luck to both of you.

      VICTORY:

      THE LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES

      - Outer Space Potato Man

      Delete
  2. The Nose Knows
    Query: I loved this! I was a bit confused about what exactly "emotional content" means. Does that mean he immediately knows the motive? I'd clarify that a bit. I'm also a bit confused about what the serial killer wants. He's taking out bad guys, which makes me think vigilante, but he's also planning on warping the fabric of reality...? That doesn't fit to me. But, I just want to say I love this set up. Three characters against the world and faced with a moral dilemma--I'm sold.
    250: I love the description of smell here and his confusion, but I get bogged down with all the description. However, I know that's a trope of detective novels, so you may have to keep it in.

    Lake
    Query: Very creepy! But it's also really short. I feel like it can be fleshed out. For instance, what's her relation to the student she saves? What about Howard? He just disappears in the second paragraph. I think you need a bit more!
    250: Like others said, the pages kind of lag. I don't have much to add except I find it unrealistic that a student of veterinary medicine wouldn't know she'd have to be around snakes...Also, snakes aren't poisonous, they're venomous (you bite it=poisonous, it bites you=venomous). Unless that's intentional? To show she's in way over her head?

    Good luck to both entries!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT:
    Query: Great hook—I’m not normally a fantasy reader, but even I’d consider picking up this one! Eddie’s goals/stakes and conflict are pretty clear and the premise is cool, too. Couple of things: In the genre details (under the title of your book), you mention multiple POV. If so, where are they in the query? If the query is focused on Eddie, then are multiple POVs necessary in your book? In paragraph 2, the last sentence reads like it was added as an afterthought. Is there a way to transition to that thought a little cleaner?

    First 250: Neat description of the location and how there’s a ripple/water effect that he needs to pass through! The descriptions as we're at the crime scene (I"m assuming it's a crime scene) do get to be a bit much--which is hard because you want to give us the details of where the character is at and what they're seeing...but we also want to know what in the world is going on in their head, too.


    HANGING
    Query: Poor Ruth! She is starting fresh and it sounds like she’s not having the best of luck accomplishing that! First thing I noticed is that your query is short. Nothing wrong with a short query, but you have about 300 words to play with, so you have some room to add to this. For me, I think this query could be rearranged a bit to ramp up the true horror of the novel rather than the tiny details (man in a wheelchair, dark water, etc) that I have no doubt are great in your story, but are they important to the query? With some rearrangement and some additional words, you’d have us on the edge of our seats!

    First 250: 250 words: Not a bad opening! Few thoughts: 2nd paragraph: “Sweat had congealed on the small of her back…” Congealed means to solidify (think of jell-o). Other options to consider: pooled…collected…ran down. The second to last sentence: “It had never occurred to her that as a veterinarian she might have to handle a patient as horrid as a snake.” As much as I’d like to think that a vet student wouldn’t know that—it’s not very believable. HOWEVER. I get the set up you’re going for. A way to get around that is you could edit the sentence to say something like, “Ruth knew being a veterinarian meant working on all animals. But she swore right then and there that when she opened her own practice, she was going to put a sign on the door that said, ‘four legs and feathers only.’” (that’s a little wordy, but you get the idea).


    VICTORY GOES TO: THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (aka THE NOSE KNOWS)

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Nose Knows

    Query: I definitely enjoy this query. It would definitely make me pick this book up if I saw it. The descriptions of everyone possessing powers - some powerful, some mundane - and the talk of dark rituals and conspiracies from organized crime up through the government all work together to create a gripping narrative. I think the stakes are fantastic - doing his duty and defending the scum or letting the killing do his dirty work - but I do wonder what the killer's motivation is here. Is he stealing these powers intentionally, or is it an unintended side-effect or trying to take this crime ring down? Either way, I'm as intrigued by this killer as I am the protagonist. Nicely done.

    First 250: I definitely feel the voice immediately, subtle but effective. There's a strong noir flavor that pervades the writing, and the descriptions are rich. It might be more effective to cut back a little on the description to get to the body more quickly, but at the same time, I like the note that it ends on. It leaves a tantalizing question that keeps the words in mind longer than ending on the sight of the murder. Why is there a lingering smell of regret around this murder? Makes me want to know more.



    The Lake of Haunted Memories

    Query: Maybe it's just because I've been reading a lot of Lovecraft lately, but this definitely strikes me with that same subtle sense of uncanny, lingering horror that's so lacking these days. I really like that the stakes directly ties into her feelings of guilt and self-loathing at always being afraid. Conquering fear in a case like this would be hard enough for anyone, let alone someone who's let fear rule their life. While we do get an immediate sense of what the protagonist's life has been like and why she has made this sudden move, I don't get that strong a sense of identity from her though, what her personality is. I think maybe adding her reaction to Howard's claims to being mauled by trees would be a good opportunity. I'm definitely intrigued to find out the secret of this lake!

    First 250: The opening here doesn't quite strike me with the type of writing I was hoping for with the type of horror promised in the query. The first paragraph seems irrelevant, and the story could very well open with her staring at the snake and feeling the rising sense of panic. Even then, however, it doesn't particularly feel like the inciting incident or in any way relevant to the query. If the idea is to establish the idea that the protagonist is someone for whom fear is an ever-present part of her life, it falls a bit flat since I think most people would be alarmed at the idea of handling a snake. I think you may want to consider opening the story in a different place.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Nose Knows:
    Q: I really enjoyed this! I’d love to more about the powers and their ranks, and why they’re being stolen. I’d also take a look at the order of the first sentence and try to get his actual power mentioned faster vs it being low on the ranks, since that’s what matters more to the rest of the plot. But other than that, I really love your crime setup and this dark and dangerous world you’ve painted!

    First 250: This was so dark and creepy! So fun! I also really enjoyed the other magical elements present and thought you did a great job with all the world details. I would keep an eye on any filter words – he thought, felt, saw, heard, smelled, as those can hindrance your ability to show vs telling. But great job overall!


    The Lake of Haunted Memories
    Q: Great job setting up the horror and the world, and your details describing the lake were fantastic! But I feel like I’m missing a big part – what was the phobia? Was it her fear of the dark? I would’ve liked more clarification on that, and why it affected her dropping out of veterinary school. As well, maybe a mention of what she’s studying as a grad student – is she still going to be a vet? I’m also unsure if there’s a magical or fantasy element in this from the logging crew being slaughtered by trees and all the creepy stuff going on at the lake . . . but I’d be more than willing to read more to find out! Very nice job!

    First 250: Awesome entry! You start with a great sense of urgency, though I worry that being late for class is a very familiar opening. As well, your descriptions of the classroom bustle might work better if closer to the opening - I’m not quite sure what she had for breakfast is as important ;) On a whole, I’m a little concerned that the voice is coming off quite young and more high school than grad school, and that as a veterinary student, she never considered she’d have to work with snakes. I would try to work in some details that paint her age and maturity in this stage of her life, maybe show her adult world as well as her student world, and that way we’re clear about the character we’re meeting.

    Great job to both entries!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Nose Knows:
    I really love that this is a fantasy/police procedural crossover. It totally sounds like something I'd love to read and your materials present it really well!

    I think I'd like it if your query stated his power up-front. At the moment it feels sort of buried behind the explanation that it helps make him a great detective, and I found myself skimming to find out what his power was before going back to read the whole query.
    I don't really understand why he's "stuck in the middle"--I assume it has something to do with the government's involvement in this conspiracy and it meaning he might lose his job or something, but I'd like to know for sure.

    I'll admit, I thought your page needed a bit more love. You've got a nice tone and rhythm, but you use a lot of similes and filter words ("felt like" is used a couple times, for example). Also this sentence "The door of the home lay open, a sinister invitation into the quiet darkness," is a good example of not using adjectives very judiciously. I think if you went through a made your verbs do more of the work, that it would help your page sing a lot more.

    Lake of Haunted Memories:
    I really enjoyed both your query and your first page. I don't read horror really, but you made me want to read more!

    Your query has some really evocative imagery and nice specific details. My only thought is that it seems to skip some details. Like, you mention that she join a graduate program, but don't mention what type of program it is, so when you later talk about her filtering particles I find myself wondering what sort of experiments she's doing rather than feeling engrossed in the story. Also the line about getting attacked by trees felt a bit throwaway--can you give us her feelings on his story, or something to make that visual last a little longer?

    I'd cut the "Late for class," part of the first line. It weakens the sentence. Just start with her running--we'll figure out that she's late. Also saying that the hands "descended" into the tank makes it sound like the hands are moving of their own accord. I think you can tweak the language here and there to make it feel more active and present.

    Both of these sound really creepy and fun. Good luck to both of you!

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  7. END OF THE WORLD: I liked the query. The premise is very interesting. I thought you could flesh out more the gifts angle and what kind of gifts people had and why Eddie’s is ranked low. You may want to consider whether/what you can say about why the crime ring is worse than the serial killer. Good job with the final stakes lines.
    The first 250 were good. I like how it immediately thrusts us both into the crime scene and into the world you’re building. One thing that stood out to me was “The door of the home lay open, a sinister invitation into the quiet darkness.” Love the line, but consider whether it’s both telling and showing? Maybe “The door of the home lay open, a sinister invitation.” or “The door of the home lay open revealing the quiet darkness.” The former is a great telling, the latter implies something creepy? Just a thought.

    LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES: Good query. Very creepy. Some questions: what graduate program is she starting in Wisconsin? I also was confused about Howard, you introduce him by name, but then he does not come back. Nor do the trees seem to play a further role. Also, the query mentions that three classmates plus Ruth start the trip, but the second paragraph implies that it’s just Ruth and another girl. Love the stakes, though. I’m very interested in what happens at the lake.
    You do a good job in the first 250 establishing Ruth’s fear. But not knowing that, as a vet, she would have to deal with snakes seemed odd. You also in the first two paragraphs paint (at least for me) a very vivid image of the character as someone on the edge of functional. But again, too close to the edge of debilitating phobias makes me wonder how she managed to survive to this point.

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  8. THE NOSE KNOWS
    I love the opening line of this query, it has a Monty Python sort of vibe to it. ("We are all individuals!" "I'm not!") This and your turn of phrse in the rest of the query sets me up for a book that's going to be clever, even as it goes to some dark places. Great stakes, too.

    I had to pick apart this sentence: "Petty scenes got tape, but the department had an officer whose power could make important locations hermetic." Having reread and become familiar with the world, it makes sense, but on first read it was rough. Your third paragraph goes from close third to a more omniscient form--is that really Eddie making assumptions about why the walls are upholstered? Would his character do that? Is the book meant to be close or distant? I like the ending line, it's just enough of a hook. It could be even stronger if we knew something more of what "this crime" is. A hint of blood, or the way other officers are behaving would give us the clue that this is way beyond petty.

    LAKE OF HAUNTED MEMORIES
    This query feels like a list of stuff that happens, rather than linking things with but/so/therefore/etc. I want to see the connections between each step. And I want to know more about Ruth's phobias, which are presented up front as very important, but then not mentioned again. You've got room to paint a mini-picture of Ruth's fears going into her first on-site trip. If she's meant to face her fears, I'd like to see that in the stakes.

    Starting with the early morning is tricky, because it's so overdone. Is the fact that she's late important? If not, I would jump over that first paragraph and backfill info like not reading the assignment in advance. I'm curious to know how far she is into her vet program, because I would expect her to realize she has to care for reptiles pretty early on. Could we get some of her thoughts as well as the sensations she feels? I think introducing the creepy snake is a good way of foreshadowing that things will get hairy later.

    These are fresh takes on the mystery/procedural sort of story that I don't usually go for. These, I would pick up. Good luck!

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