Sunday, March 22, 2015

Become an Agent 2015 Post #4

Title: The Eternal
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 91,000


The mystery of Elly's status as a genetic hybrid is eclipsed by the vampire prophecy that predicts her union with their most revered member. The choice between her taciturn boyfriend and this stranger put her on trial for murder.

Under the silvery light of the blue moon, Hector finds a woman naked and alone. This woman is different than any other he had ever met, even covered in blood and muck she smells of Night Blooming Jasmine, and his gift tells him that her answers to his questions are absolutely honest. She has no memories of where she came from or what happened to her. Elly is truly between worlds, genetic tests reveal that she is both Human and Eternal, not able to fit in completely with either. Hector can’t help but wonder if she could be the woman from an ancient prophecy that tells of limitless power. Despite a budding but complicated relationship with Hector, Elly is tormented when, at a party she throws to help sell a house she renovated, she meets a masked stranger with gray eyes and is so inexplicably attracted to him she feels alive in ways she never had with Hector.

When the masked stranger turns up again in remote Africa at a gathering of all the Eternal to celebrate a rare Blood Moon, Elly must choose between him and Hector. That choice plunges her into a battle for her and Hectors life, power over the vampire council of rulers, and for her prophesied birthright. Not willing to put her faith in others, she hatches a plan to save herself and Hector too.

Fist 250:

I didn’t love him.

There was something about him that I was drawn to, but I knew what I felt wasn’t love. I couldn’t bring myself to say it back to him even though I wanted to make him happy. He deserved to be happy. I desperately wanted the world to come together and bend over backwards to make that happen—but I couldn’t do that, and yet there I was, being introduced as his girlfriend and waiting to meet his father, the most powerful man in a room filled with incredibly powerful people.

“Don’t be frightened, he won’t bite.” Hector’s unease showed through, even as he tried to be as charming as possible. Notwithstanding a cheesy line like that, he was undeniably prepossessing.

My hesitance wasn’t fear. I’d been drawn inexorably to this place, to this moment, for weeks now. I knew that I needed to be here, and I wasn’t afraid. Other humans would be, but I have always been more comfortable with the Eternal than most humans. Here, at their biggest gathering in a thousand years, I was at peace in a way others could only pretend to be.

“It’s our turn. . . . Don’t worry, he isn’t as imposing as the formality makes him seem, and he is very interested in meeting you. I’ve told him everything about you.” Hector guided me through the crowd to the man of the hour, his father.

“Father, may I present my girlfriend, Miss Elliot Clay?”


  1. No.

    The writing is good, but this hits every overdone cliché for me: vampires, prophecies, love triangles, and insta-love. I'm sure this is someone's thing, but it's just not mine.

  2. Hi,
    post #9 here.
    I really like the 250. The writing's clear and flows well. If I go with the writing alone, I'd definitely want to read this book. But I have to say no because the query didn't hook me. Unfortunately, I was lost in the world building. I'd suggest starting with a clear hook. I really liked the second line in the first paragraph. You could expand on that a bit. Then, give us the obstacles and finally the stakes (assume we don't know anything of the world and allow us to get to know it). My decision here is purely subjective because, like I said, I really liked the 250. A clearer query would nail this for me.

  3. No.

    Nobody likes vampires right now. Couple that with a run-on paragraph, more than one comma splice, and a confusing opening of your 250, and this doesn't work for me.

    You did create atmosphere with your 250, so perhaps a polish pass and a big overhaul of the query might help improve things.

  4. Query: Lots of intrigue with Elly, her hybrid state, and the prophecy. Not sure why the choice between the two puts her on trial for murder. When you get to Elly and the party, your query seems to switch POV. Maybe because it's in the same paragraph, the transition doesn’t feel smooth. The party about house reno might be a detail that is not needed. Makes her seem less otherworldly all of a sudden, and with no room to explore that in a query, maybe just skip to the stranger with gray eyes entering her life and leave out the “how”. Same with the second paragraph mention of stranger. Could just skip to the choice between him and Hector and the life or death stakes. Might need to know what it is that makes her want to save Hector despite not having intense feelings for him. First 250: Strong opening line. Maybe show how Hector’s father is the most powerful man in the room. Also, show the setting to ground the reader. Not quite drawn in enough to the world as it is now. I was more intrigued by the query, especially the part where Hector discovers Elly. -- No (#10)

  5. I'm sorry but this is a no.

    If I were an agent, I wouldn't be able to market this. As much as I love them, vampires aren't ready to come back yet. It would have to be something completely off the hook for a vamp story to work right now, completely. I would suggest tightening up your query to present it with more suspense, cause right now it's reading a bit like a short story. The writing on the 250 is good, but it wasn't unique enough to compete with this genre. You know what, it probably wouldn't be too hard to rewrite the vampire into a mythical fairy tale creature; then you might have something.

    Critiqued by #7

  6. Also no.

    Which is sad, because though I dislike vampires and the market is flooding with the remainders of the Twilight craze, you write very well. So consider it a market no.


  7. I'm not voting on this one, because we're friends, but I wanted to give some feedback. And we've already talked about vampires, so I'm just going to say that they have to come back at some point, right?

    In the first paragraph, when you say "their member," I don't know who you're referring to. I also don't understand how Ellie winds up on trial for murder. Give us more Ellie before you switch to Hector. The second sentence of the second paragraph is much too long, and it's a little confusing. That made me think it was told in dual POV, but then we're back to Ellie, so I'm not sure. Everything in the first paragraph is repeated in the second, and I think you can revise it to give us more about what's happening in the book. Because vampires are so overdone, you want to show us what sets this book apart. Make us desperate to read, even though it's a a saturated genre.

    Leave the stakes open. Not just that she hatches a plan, but "Ellie must save.... or...."

    The writing is good, and I like the voice. My primary concern with the first 250 is that there are a lot of I statements. Look for a way to rework some of those so you're varying the beginnings of your sentences a bit. Another layer of polish, and this could be great.

  8. I'm with Laura: write what you want, and vampires will eventually be hip again (is the word "hip" even hip again? give it time...). I think anything can sell if done right (and the writing is pretty decent here in the 250; nice opener).

    On the query though, I did pick out a few items:

    1) the opening line describes Elly as a "genetic hybrid" and seems to imply that she is part vampire. Further on though, it describes her as part human and part Eternal without ever stating whether "vampire" and "Eternal" are the same thing (I never assume anything, and in a query, since word real-estate is at a prime, I would strongly recommend sticking to one word/term per "thing," meaning I would use either vampire or Eternal, but not both).

    2) The second paragraph reads more like a synopsis to me than a query pitch.

    3) How does her choice "plunge her into a battle for her and Hectors life"? Specifics are important.

    4) Finally (speaking of specifics), phrases like "limitless power" and "inexplicably attracted," etc., feel vague and a bit cliche, like they're trying to draw me in without actually providing any concrete information. Details in a query are your friend. They're what set your query apart from the rest.

    This one is a no for me.

  9. Everyone has already commented on the market, so in that regards, it is what it is. I'm a big believer in writing what you love, so if this is it, then great!

    Sadly, the query left me very confused. I'm not very clear on how choosing between Hector and the stranger puts her on trial for murder. Then in the second paragraph it switches to something similar to a synopsis. The part about her throwing a party seemed to be out of place, and then in the paragraph after we switch to Africa (or were we in Africa already? I'm not entirely sure). I think you really need to hone down what the most important parts here are, streamline it so that we can get the basic gist of what's going to happen in this MS, and then give us specific stakes.

    I thought the 250 was well-written, but I didn't find myself grounded in the world. I'm also not sure where this scene fits in with the query. Obviously this is after Hector found her, but before the party? Or is this the party?

    Unfortunately, this a no for me.

  10. No.

    The market dilemma stands but I agree with Jamie, write what you love! The market may even be coming around in the near future

    Yet, the query was too detailed and narrative for me. It required many rereads to begin to understand the world. That's the trouble with fantasy/speculative fiction queries. The world is so vast, how to introduce it? Let the manuscript do the main introducing and keep the query hinting at the world, but focused on the story. Right now, there are too many details.

    I also was lost in the 250 because I had no grounding. It was well-written though.

    Good luck!

    Post #8

  11. I'm sorry. This is a no.

    Your first sentence of your query drops a lot on us. I need to know what she's a genetic hybrid of before I can absorb more. And why is her background a mystery? If I got that part, then I'd be ready to move on to the vampire prophecy. There is something clunky about the second sentence as well. I don't understand why she's on trial for murder.

    Even if you have two pov's in your ms, it's best to use one pov for your query (I'm quoting Query Shark on this. Her website is awesome if you haven't seen it.) Also, it's best to write the query from the pov of the first chapter. I know. Why should you have to? I'm (#11) on my second dual pov ms and I got so many knocks about the pov of the query and ms being different last time around, I'd just like to save you the pain. I think if you pick one of you're pov's, the reader will get pulled in more. As it is now, I'm still trying to get my head around Elly and we've moved on to Hector.

    I hope that helps. Best of luck with revisions and queries!

  12. This is a no. For the 250, I'm not sure you start in the right place. The only sentence that peaked my interest was the one where she said something about other humans. Otherwise, it reads as a woman not happy with her current boyfriend, but pretending she loves him for society's sake. Yawn. But here's the thing, the query shows there's a LOT going on in this book that sounds interesting. Vampires, prophecies, genetic hybrids, etc. To start in this place, for me, just doesn't work.

    For the query, I'd focus on Elly and skip Hector. There's too much on him. I don't like the first paragraph. It's too long and hard to follow. I also thing the hook could be clearer. She hatches a plan to do what exactly, and what happens if she doesn't succeed? I just think there's a lot going on in the query that needs to be tightened. Good luck!

  13. As it's written now, no, I would not request more pages. (Contestant #5)

    I really like the premise of this, vampires or not. There is something about a genetic hybrid vampire/human, that is just, well… eternal.

    You have some lovely writing in your query, with some great choice of words (love “eclipsed”) and strong imagery. However, your query has to convey voice through tight but effective writing. I see “silvery light of the blue moon” and think, that’s six words out of 250 that could have been put to better use, no matter how lovely the imagery (250 being an ideal query length – mine’s nearly 300, so I’ve got issues, too). I would suggest cutting details that aren’t necessary – for instance, the fact that Elly smells like Night Blooming Jasmine, or that she throws a party after renovating a house, or even the fact that a rare Blood Moon brings the Eternal together. What’s important in these sentences is that Elly meets the gray-eyed stranger and is strangely draw to him, and later is forced to make a choice when she sees him. When you think about what needs to be in the query, ask yourself whether someone could understand the plot and characters equally well without a certain detail – and if the answer is yes, it’s probably unnecessary. You can then put more words to use in exploring the conflict between the characters and within the plot.

    Your logline (and your novel, for that matter), are Elly first person POV, but as we read the start of your query, it’s all Hector’s POV. We are also introduced to a plot point involving Hector before we even know who he is. It may help with continuity to only use Elly’s POV. I’m going to walk through your plot to show you where I’m missing details that are needed. Elly wakes up on the beach, naked and confused. Then what? She’s found by a man who is a vampire (is he?) who thinks she’s the subject of an ancient prophecy because he discovers she’s half human / half vampire (is she?) after she undergoes genetic testing (what prompted the testing? is this even necessary to mention?) As they (…try to understand what the prophecy means for her? Try to discover who she really is and where she came from? Find out something important?) Elly develops a relationship with Hector but she is conflicted because he’s (not that handsome? Not that interesting? She hates his dad?) As the prophecy closes in on her, she encounters the Gray Eyes who (seduces her? Threatens her? Realizes she’s the one?) . This changes her relationship with Hector and causes her to… (think about running away with Hector? consider giving in to the prophecy? Fight harder to figure out her past so she can get away?). However, after Elly encounters Gray Eyes once again, she… (why does she decide to fight for Hector’s life when she’s so lukewarm about him? Why is her life at risk? Why can’t she trust anyone? And is she still trying to do this in the context of finding out who she is??)

    To be fair, this isn’t a synopsis, it’s a query. Not every plot point has to be presented in detail and neatly tied up with a bow. But (from what I’m told) agents are going to want a high level sense of the plot, and I hope this shows you where, from my reading, I’m missing things.

    1. This is really long already (so long I couldn't even post it all at once!), but I’ll touch on your 250.

      The first line has a lot of punch, I like it a lot. The writing flows very nicely. However, this scene feels like it’s about 1/3rd of the way through the novel, when we are invested enough to care about Hector’s happiness and feel bad that Elly doesn’t love him. It does a great job of piquing interest about why she’s human yet comfortable with the Eternals, but be careful about dropping lingo on the reader they have no reference point for. The problem with a first 250 is that, well, it’s such a small section. I’m worried that if you are starting at a point where it seems like a chunk of plot has already taken place, your early pages are going to be mired in backstory catching us up. However, if I was an agent, I would keep reading based on some of the mysterious elements you’ve introduced. You’re just going to have to be really adept at weaving in backstory!

      You’ve developed a very interesting story, a plot line with great potential for conflict, and intriguing characters. With some reworking, your query is going to be really compelling, because the pieces are all there. Good luck!

  14. I'm #6.

    This is a no for me. I feel like other people have commented on market saturation, but there's not a lot here for me that feels fresh. The first line of the query feels really packed with information, and the second line (for me) raises more questions than it answers. It might be good to go back in and restructure this. Instead of starting with a longline focus on Elly and what she wants, and needs to overcome, because from the query it seems like Hector's story, not Elly's. It might be good to think about what makes the MS unique and refocus the query so it's a little more streamlined.

  15. I know you are getting a lot of no I want to say one thing before I give you another one. :(
    Your writing is good and I think it is awesome that you write what you want to write. I agree with the others, markets always change. I have a portal fantasy sitting in my files waiting for the market to open back up. So, just hang in there.

    Now...for your work....the query confused me a bit. I had to read that first bit over to try to understand it. I think starting with some of the info in paragraph 2 might help a bit more.

    For your 250, I wanted to role my eyes at Elly for hanging out with a guy that she wasn't in love with. She makes me angry instead of pulling me in. I don't like reading about women who are hanging on the arm of a guy they don't love just because they aren't sure about where they really want to be. Now...I bet that Elly really isn't truly that person later in the story. AND I could handle that info a bit later in the MS, but right at the beginning like just makes me want to grab her by the shoulders and say "quit wasting your time and his!" So, maybe start a bit differently?

    Your writing is solid! So, clean up this project and keep writing, then pull this one out when the vampire market starts to rebound. Good luck!

  16. No.

    As other commenters have described in detail, the query is all over the place. First we’re talking about Elly, then suddenly about Hector. Then back to Elly again. Then there’s something about a house renovation and we glimpse the other guy (I think). Then we’re in Africa. It’s not made clear if the Eternals are vampires or not.

    There’s so much going on here that I’m having trouble figuring out what the book is about. Is it a love triangle? Is it a vampire hybrid story? Is it a murder mystery? How does it get to be a murder mystery? It can be all of these things but the different elements are currently fighting each other rather then combining into a complete story that feels unique enough to get an agent’s attention.

    At the moment you’re not going to be able to sell this purely on uniqueness given the glutted vampire market, so you need to make sure your storytelling or your voice, or both, are absolutely spot on.

    Good luck!


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