Friday, January 31, 2014

Become an Agent #11 - WRAPPED IN DARKNESS

Title: Wrapped in Darkness
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 75,000

Dear Agent,

After being killed in a car accident, twenty-year-old Abbie Blanchard awakes in the dark and gritty realm of Purgatory.

It is a realm where deceased human beings go to await their final transition to the afterlife. At its inception, sixteen Guardians ruled the realm, but when eight revolted to become the Fallen, the remaining were imprisoned, helpless to act as the Fallen corrupted the city beyond recognition.

When she meets the outrageous Samantha, Abbie is endlessly grateful to get out of the rain and take refuge in their clubhouse. But the clubhouse has its own pitfalls, it is holding a mysterious young man named Lucas prisoner and it isn’t until Sam is kidnapped that Abbie realises Lucas is one of the Guardians, held captive for over a century.

In order to save Sam and the create a safer future for herself, Abbie bands together with Lucas, and together they embark on an epic journey to free the Guardians and overthrow the Fallen to restore balance to the realm.

Wrapped in Darkness is a new adult, urban fantasy and is complete at 75,000 words. The full manuscript is available on request.

[Author] holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of the Sunshine Coast. A self-proclaimed travel nut, she has been sighted in such exotic locations as Greece, Morocco and Thailand. In her spare time [Author] enjoys blogging; her blog has over 1,000 followers.

First 250:

Of all the places in the world I would have liked to wake up, sprawled out in a puddle of water was not one of them. The rain was pouring down from the sky, splattering against my face and all I could do was lie there and wonder how in the world I’d managed to stoop so low. Two weeks ago I’d been in college, working towards my dream of becoming a veterinarian for the big animals in Africa, and now I was soaked to the bone with a hangover from hell.

Death sucked.

If anyone had ever asked me if I was afraid of dying, I honestly could have told them, no. Death was always something that would happen after I’d graduated from college, had a successful career, found the one, and had kids. Then maybe after I’d travelled the world and witnessed the birth of my fifth grandchild, I could die peacefully in my sleep. Or that was how I’d always thought my life would pan out… dying in a car crash the week before my twenty-first birthday hadn’t exactly been on the agenda, but shit happens, right?

“Do I sense motion down there?” a voice called.

I opened my eyes to see Sam leaning halfway out the third story window of the Fifth Circle clubhouse. She looked fresh and well rested, as though she hadn’t just spent the entire night partying with me. I pushed myself slowly into a seated position; my head felt like it was about to roll off my shoulders and join my arse in the puddle.


  1. No.

    The query is missing something. I think the stakes are unclear. There's no sense of suspense; there's nothing that makes me say "I NEED to know what happens next!"

    First 250 needs to start off a bit punchier.

  2. No.

    The query is a lot of telling of events with not a lot of stakes. The first 250 read similarly. You have three big, long paragraphs which usually turn the reader off when they just start a book.

  3. (Entry #13)
    Yes. Though I agree that you need to reveal how high the stakes really are, I like this story and your first 250. I'd be more than happy to keep reading.

  4. No.

    The query was confusing. It felt like there was too much going on. Do I need to know all the backstory? Just tell what happens. Also, don't say that the full MS is available on request. Agents assume that, because you shouldn't be querying if it isn't.

    I know some agents don't like when you start with the death of the main character, but where it's integral to the plot, I'd rather see it than just get a passing reference in the third paragraph. It also throws me a little when she sees Sam and already knows her, because the query made it sound like they meet in Purgatory. I like the first 250, but not enough to read more.

  5. I think you have a good story here, but you have to find that balance between introducing us to the world while not muddying the waters with too much detail. There are a lot of character names and a lot of concepts, and in my opinion that confusion is bogging it down.

    Consider taking out the second paragraph completely and reworking that information into the rest of the query more organically. Stay with your main character as much as possible. As far as too much information, perhaps consider leaving Sam unnamed or omit her completely. It sounds like this is more a story with Lucas and Abbie as the primary characters.

    Hope that helps! I really like your first 250, but as someone already pointed out, it sounds like she just woke up in this strange place, yet she already knows one of the characters. I'm sure this is a small fix.

    Cheers, and best of luck! My vote will be No, but only because I have to. :)

    Jeannette (#6)

  6. No. You can take of the 'definition' of purgatory. That's not something too fantastical that a reader/agent won't know what it is. You do need to tell us what a Guardian is. #10

  7. #16. No. This could have been great. If you short the hook in the query, it'll be snappier. Also, "Death sucked" or some variant of that would be a great opening line. "Dying in a car crash? It really effing sucks." Seriously, open with something like that, and I think you'll get more attention. Additionally, I have never heard of a Purgatory that is either light or dark. It is in-between. Yours sounds more like hell.

  8. No.
    I found myself losing interest when reading the the query. It seemed a little long. I was also confused about how saving Sam creates a better future when she's in Purgatory, which is just an in-between she'll soon leave. I did enjoy the first 250 though.

  9. No,
    I found myself being confused, there were some unnecessary details, getting out of the rain. I didn't get the clubhouse or assumed she was on the wrong side. I didn't understand why they took Sam. I found myself confused about the stakes but i liked the overall premise.

    The first 250 could be pared down. I liked #16 comments for the opening line to hook the readers.
    I liked your voice though the first 250 also confused me as you said you met Sam in purgatory in the query but you had been partying the night before with her in the first 250. That completely confused me. I am a complete newb though! and i didn't even clarify the stakes in my own query but good luck! (entry #18)

  10. This seems like a pretty cool concept, but I am going to have to pass. There was so much going on in the query that I got a little confused. I wasn't sure what to think about Sam, what she had to do with the story. Also, with my experience, you want to avoid words like 'outrageous'. You could use that space to give us a little more information about Sam, if you absolutely need to mention her. As a rule, you don't really want to name more than two characters, so that the reader doesn't get confused. Lastly, with the 4th paragraph of the query, it says "In order to save Sam and the create a safer future," make sure you don't have any typos in there. And maybe take out the first and and change to "In order to save Sam, then create a safer future." Just a suggestion :)

    With the 250, it is pretty good, but like some others have said, how does she already know Sam? I know that it's hard to figure out a decision from just the first 250 words and it would probably become clear after reading more.

    I hope this helps :)


  11. No. I echo some of the other comments here in that the reference to Sam is confusing - and that the query itself is too long. The important elements to remember: hook, stakes, what's preventing her from getting what she wants. Your query narrates the beginning of your story rather than summarizes the catalyzing event as part of the hook. What makes Abby decide to band together with Luke? Why would she risk it? Is she in love or does she think she can get out of Purgatory?
    Also - the bio information most agents seem to want has more to do with publishing than with education and hobbies. The part about your blog is great, but consider losing the college and travel info. And definitely lose the "available on request" part. I've seen agents tweet mockingly about that phrase!!!
    Your first 250 are overall good, but again, a bit wordy and a bit heavy on the "tell" and not the "show".
    You might consider starting with "Do I sense motion down there" - not a a way to introduce Sam, but as a way to wake Abby and help her realize she's dead. I love the musings about how she expected to die, but I think it's too long.
    I love Abby's voice - she shines through nicely, and is funny. I liked her. With polishing, this can be great - good luck!

  12. Yes. I really like Abbie's voice in the opening 250. I love The Fifth Circle clubhouse and I feel like you have some really smart stuff going on. I would definitely try to streamline the query, but I think you've gotten some good advice so far. Good luck! #17

  13. Query:
    I only have two points for you: A) outrageous is not really a characteristic I’d use to describe a person (a bright orange care maybe) and B) what in Sam’s kidnapping leads Abbie to the conclusion that Lucas is a Guardian.

    Oh, wait, I missed a mistake the first three times reading your query. The sentence “but the clubhouse has its own pitfalls, it is…” is not grammatically correct. Make the comma a period.

    Overall, I understand what’s happening and I know who the main characters are. I know what they have to do, too, and what the stakes are. Great query!

    First 250:
    Great opening line. Actually, great opening paragraph. It’s humorous, we know where the character is now and we know where she’s been.

    I think you could shorten the paragraph after “Death sucked”. It does include a lot of voice and is pretty funny, but I think you should get to Sam and where the MC is in more detail faster. We already know she’s dead and didn’t expect to die. The exact details can come at us more slowly.

    I was confused at the introduction of Sam, mainly because the query led me to believe we would start with Abbie waking up in Purgatory and she would meet Sam within the first three chapters. I don’t have any problem with her being introduced where she is (it’s well-written), but you should rework the query to avoid the confusion.

    Verdict: Yes.

    I love the voice and I would definitely read more. Your query and first 250 are well-written and I was intrigued.

    Good luck!
    -Tiff (#3)

  14. No, but this was a tough no. I loved the first 250, but the query itself is poorly written.

  15. Thank you all so much for your comments.

    I have revised/re-written my query and would appreciate any feedback:

    Dear Agent,

    I am writing to seek representation for my novel, Wrapped in Darkness.

    Two weeks ago Abbie Blanchard was in college, working towards her dream of becoming a veterinarian for the wildlife in Africa. Fast forward a week and she’s in Purgatory, struggling to adapt to a life on the streets where crime runs rampant and a gang, known only as the Fallen, rules with an iron fist.

    When Abbie meets Lucas, she assumes he’s nothing more than a political prisoner being held by the Fallen. But Lucas is no mere prisoner, he’s an ex-Fallen and hell-bent on rounding up his fellow exiles to take control of the city.

    Intoxicated by Lucas’s view of the future, he and Abbie band together to embark on an epic journey to free his fellow exiles and overthrow the Fallen to restore balance to the realm. That is, if Abbie can get it together long enough to be more of a help than a hindrance.

    Wrapped in Darkness is a new adult, urban fantasy and is complete at 75,000 words. The full manuscript is available on request.

    [Author] holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of the Sunshine Coast. In her spare time [Author] enjoys blogging; her blog has over 1,500 followers.