Author Topic: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)  (Read 411 times)

Offline ifihadtoloseamile

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IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« on: November 16, 2019, 01:28:38 PM »
Dear Agent,

I’m seeking representation for my YA paranormal fiction novel, IN THE SHADOWS. It is 60,000 words long.

It turns out that when schizophrenics “hear voices”, they aren’t hallucinating. Actually, they are unknowingly reading the thoughts of other schizophrenics.

When sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace discovers that the illness he has developed is really a gift, he decides to explore his powers. But as Erick delves deeper into supernatural territory, he quickly attracts the attention of the dark ones—an organization of anthropomorphic shadows who use the powers of schizophrenia for evil.

For centuries, the dark ones have intentionally suppressed schizophrenics everywhere by convincing society that they are crazy. With their psychic counterparts stuck in mental hospitals and forced to take medicine that weakens their abilities, the dark ones are free to carry out their sinister deeds unopposed.

Now that Erick knows the truth, he is the only one who can fight back. He flees from the evil shadows at first, but he continually works to improve his abilities. Soon, he will be strong enough to overthrow the dark ones’ monopoly on the occult and shed light on the truth they have hidden from the world.
 
Sincerely,
contact info
« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 01:30:37 PM by ifihadtoloseamile »

Offline JayS

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2019, 06:18:44 PM »
Dear Agent,

I’m seeking representation for my  IN THE SHADOWS It is a 60,000-word YA paranormal fiction novel. Add 2 comps and bio. Move this to the end of the query.

It turns out that[W]hen schizophrenics “hear voices”, they aren’t hallucinating. Actually,[T]hey are unknowingly reading the thoughts of other schizophrenics.

When sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace discovers that the illness he has developed is really a gift (may help to say how he discovered this), he decides to explore his powers. (may need to explain or give an example to not sound generic) But as Erick delves deeper into supernatural territory, he quickly attracts the attention of the dark ones—an organization of anthropomorphic shadows who use the powers of schizophrenia for evil. Do the shadows turn into something other than shadows?

For centuries, the dark ones have intentionally suppressed schizophrenics everywhere by convincing society that they are crazy. This is where being something more than shadows would help the reader believe they could convince society of something. With their psychic counterparts stuck in mental psychiatric? hospitals and forced to take medicine that weakens their abilities, the dark ones are free to carry out their sinister deeds (Example?)unopposed.

Now that Erick knows the truth, he is the only one who can fight back. Other mentally ill people couldn’t help him?He flees from the evil shadows at first, but he continually works to improve his abilities. Soon, he will be strong enough to overthrow the dark ones’ monopoly on the occult and shed light on the truth they have hidden from the world.
 
Sincerely,
contact info
Hopefully some others with more experience will weigh in on this.  Interesting concept.

Offline ifihadtoloseamile

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2020, 09:42:50 PM »
Is this better?:

Dear full name,

Modern medicine currently lacks a physiological explanation for the cause of schizophrenia, and sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace finally understands why. After developing schizophrenia himself and discovering that the “voices” he hears actually correspond to the thoughts of other people around him, he realizes that schizophrenia is a psychic ability: a gift, not an illness.

The truth is, everything doctors claim to know about schizophrenia is a sham—misinformation spread by a group of psychics who want society to think that anyone else with esp is crazy so that they can keep the gift to themselves. When they find out that Erick has figured out their secret, they ambush him. Thinking they want him dead, Erick evades them, although he later learns that they were trying to recruit him for their organization.

Terrified that they may catch him one day and convince him to use his powers for corrupt purposes, Erick attempts suicide. He ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Using their telepathy and ability to implant false memories, members of the league infiltrate the hospital and become part of the staff. They insert a microchip into Erick’s skull used for mind control while he is sleeping, and force him to take high doses of antipsychotics that diminish his psychic powers. They also convince Erick that he is crazy, and that all the things he thinks he has learned about schizophrenia are delusions. It will take a miracle for Erick to get out of this.

IN THE SHADOWS is a 67k word YA novel similar in nature to {insert similar title (I’m having trouble coming up with a good comparison)}. May I send you the manuscript?

Sincerely,
Contact info


Offline ryan1

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 07:32:09 AM »
The first version was much better than the new version, IMO.  I thought the premise was cool and original.  But the second loses a sense of voice...too much explanation going on.

I'd go back to the first and just tweak it, keeping in mind JayS' suggestions.

Offline EMarleene

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 08:48:42 AM »
I agree that the first version was better than the new one. First one is clearer and has a great "hooky" first line.

Some tweaks and comments:

When schizophrenics “hear voices”, they aren’t hallucinating. They are unknowingly reading the thoughts of other schizophrenics.

During xxx, sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace discovers that the illness he has developed isn't the curse he's thought, but a gift that can xxx. Set on exploring just what his powers can do, Erick learns xxxx [the big secret]. And as he delves deeper into supernatural territory, he also attracts the attention of the dark ones—an organization of anthropomorphic shadows who use the powers of schizophrenia for evil.

[this is where you lose my focus a little. you built up the story pretty clearly up to this point, but now I want to get clear stakes here. I want to know what it means for Erick that the dark ones are on to him. Share how he learns their secret, and why he feels like he must stop them. I mean, what makes him best equipped to do so, surely he can't be the only one who's realized his illness is a gift.]

For centuries, the dark ones have intentionally suppressed schizophrenics everywhere by convincing society that they are crazy.With their psychic counterparts stuck in mental hospitals and forced to take medicine that weakens their abilities, the dark ones are free to carry out their sinister deeds unopposed. [how does Erick know all of this? this feels more like your knowledge and not his.]

Now that Erick knows the truth,[how did he find out the truth?] he is the only one who can fight back[why?]. He flees from the evil shadows at first[this feels too far into the story. stop the query with the hook on why he has to fight back and what he must sacrifice to beat the villain], but he continually works to improve his abilities. Soon, he will be strong enough to overthrow the dark ones’ monopoly on the occult and shed light on the truth they have hidden from the world.[why would he want to overthrow them, what stands in his way? So far there are no stakes. You're basically telling us already that he just needs to practice a bit to become strong enough to win.
 
IN THE SHADOWS is a YA paranormal fiction, complete at 60,000 words.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 08:56:10 AM by EMarleene »

Offline EMarleene

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 09:06:39 AM »
Just a few notes here on why I think the first one is better.

Is this better?:

Dear full name,

Modern medicine currently lacks a physiological explanation for the cause of schizophrenia, and sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace finally understands why. After developing schizophrenia himself and discovering that the “voices” he hears actually correspond to the thoughts of other people around him, he realizes that schizophrenia is a psychic ability: a gift, not an illness. [you said the same thing with fewer words and with a good hook in the first version. this muddles things together more and makes it harder to see the hook.]

The truth is, everything doctors claim to know about schizophrenia is a sham—misinformation spread by a group of psychics who want society to think that anyone else with esp is crazy so that they can keep the gift to themselves. When they find out that Erick has figured out their secret, they ambush him. Thinking they want him dead, Erick evades them, although he later learns that they were trying to recruit him for their organization. [this feels a bit vague, and also information that Erick most likely doesn't know at this point. He can know that they are after him for learning a secret, but he's probably unaware of the psychics true motivation behind their lies. so putting it from Erick's POV here would probably help.]

Terrified that they may catch him one day this is vague. "one day" doesn't feel urgent enough to warrant a big quest right now.and convince him to use his powers for corrupt purposes, Erick attempts suicide. He ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Using their telepathy and ability to implant false memories, members of the league infiltrate the hospital and become part of the staff. They insert a microchip into Erick’s skull used for mind control while he is sleeping, and force him to take high doses of antipsychotics that diminish his psychic powers. They also convince Erick that he is crazy, and that all the things he thinks he has learned about schizophrenia are delusions.Here you're basically sending Erick back to where the query started, before he even knew about the truth etc. It would have been a hook if he had to infiltrate the psychiatric ward in order to reveal the truth despite the risk off losing himself to the illness again or something, but now he's just broken again. So since I don't know the story and how important this part is to the story, I can't really say much of it, but for mer, personally, this part doesn't feel like it should be in a query unless it's part of showing what a huge risk Erick has to take in order to overthrow the dark ones. It will take a miracle for Erick to get out of this. [this is a bit vague. share what he has to risk to get out].

IN THE SHADOWS is a 67k word YA novel similar in nature to {insert similar title (I’m having trouble coming up with a good comparison)}. May I send you the manuscript?

Sincerely,
Contact info

I think this is a very interesting premise and I think you're almost there when it comes to the query (the first version).

Offline ifihadtoloseamile

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2020, 04:40:15 PM »
Thank you guys for the help. I'll work on it some more.

Offline ifihadtoloseamile

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 11:09:47 AM »
Am I making forward progress?

Dear Agent,

When schizophrenics “hear voices”, they aren’t hallucinating. They are unknowingly reading the thoughts of other schizophrenics.

One day, when he notices at a grocery store that every single one of another customer’s actions seem to correlate to a voice he hears inside his head, sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace realizes that the schizophrenia he has developed is a telepathic ability. Wondering why the world sees schizophrenia as a disease rather than the psychic gift it really is, Erick begins to do research on its history. He finds out that society used to revere people with schizophrenia in the past, and that many cultures believed them to possess a special insight; it was only recently that the public perception changed.

Eventually, Erick’s digging attracts the attention of the dark ones—an elitist organization of psychics who are responsible for the modern stigma against schizophrenia. They confront Erick and explain that they have been spreading misinformation within the medical community over the last two centuries, ensuring that anyone whom the they perceive as unworthy of their powers can be silenced—locked away in mental hospitals and forced to take medicine that keeps them subdued. They tell Erick that he has a decision to make: cooperate with the organization, or be forced into submission as well.

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2020, 12:10:49 AM »
Am I making forward progress?

Dear Agent, [Make sure you use the agent's real name.]

When schizophrenics “hear voices”, they aren’t hallucinating. They are unknowingly reading the thoughts of other schizophrenics. [I personally don't like this opening. I know you're alluding to your MC's power, but these statements feel off since schizophrenics do in fact hallucinate (and you haven't established that we're in another world/alternate universe).]

One day, when he When sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace notices at a grocery store that every single one of another customer’s actions seem to correlate to a voice he hears inside his head, sixteen-year-old Erick Wallace he realizes that the schizophrenia he has developed is actually a telepathic ability. Wondering why the world sees schizophrenia as a disease rather than the psychic gift it really is, Erick begins to do research on its history. He finds out that society used to revere people with schizophrenia in the past, and that many cultures believed them to possess a special insight; it was only recently that the public perception changed.

Eventually, Erick’s digging attracts the attention of the dark ones— The Dark Ones, an elitist organization of psychics who are responsible for the modern stigma against schizophrenia. They confront Erick and explain that they have been spreading misinformation within the medical community over the last two centuries, ensuring that anyone whom the they perceive as unworthy of their powers can be silenced—locked away in mental hospitals and forced to take medicine that keeps them subdued. [This sentence is long; see if you can break it up.] They tell Erick that he has a decision to make: cooperate with the organization, or be forced into submission as well. [Is this his only decision? Wouldn't he also want to try and take the organization down? If not, Erick seems to only be choosing between two passive options (submit or be oppressed), which doesn't give the reader much to root for.]

Make sure you have the housekeeping paragraph, with title, age category, genre, comps, bio, etc.



I see the potential here. And overall, the query letter itself is okay.

However, I do have some concerns about the overall concept of your story. I think it would be interesting if Erick (and psychic people like him) were deemed "schizophrenic" to try and keep them from using/discovering their psychic abilities (and they are oppressed under the guise of being treated for schizophrenia). However, after reading the query, it seems as though you're implying schizophrenia as a mental illness doesn't exist, which seems off to me if we're to assume this takes place in our world. I think it has to do with the fact that magical thinking is a real symptom of schizophrenia; so for me, it seems somewhat irresponsible to say schizophrenia is not a real disorder.

Others may completely disagree with me, and maybe it's just my medical background making me feel this way. But I think this is something to consider before sharing your work with agents.


Hope this helps! Good luck! :)

 




Offline ifihadtoloseamile

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 05:03:23 PM »
@TigerAsh
I tried to make Erick an unreliable narrator so that it is ambiguous whether it is true that schizophrenia is a psychic ability, or if it is just a delusion. Do you think I should mention that in the query? Thanks so much for your help btw.

Offline ryan1

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 05:04:38 PM »
Don't mention it in the query, but show us in the query.

Offline TigerAsh

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Re: IN THE SHADOWS (YA paranormal fantasy)
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 08:52:17 PM »
I agree that you should show us in the query. Right now, it doesn't come off as ambiguous.