Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #43


TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT : Glowing Shadow
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance
WORD COUNT: 79,500

Query:

Eighteen-year-old Muriel Blythe has a supernatural gift that is also a curse—she can feel everything someone else feels, or make them feel what she’s feeling. When Muriel is unable to control her gift, her sister tried to kill herself. To protect her adoptive family from her gift and learn how to control it, Muriel moves to Madrid, Spain.
In Madrid, Muriel finds a bigger curse. Shadowy creatures called Malekia want to kill her by absorbing her soul—and she doesn’t know why. Creatures of light called Luxben appear to help her, only saying that rescuing people is what they do—nothing more. While living with the Luxben Muriel starts feeling things for their leader, Dalkiel. Even when she’s certain that he isn’t totally a light like the other Luxben. He has something dark in him; his light isn’t bright and clear. It’s like a glowing shadow.
Muriel learns that rather than a curse, her gift is her only weapon to protect the ones she loves. She fights a deadly battle to discover what the Malekia and Luxben really are, and why the Malekia want her dead. But she will also find out that her profound and passionate love for Dalkiel is star-crossed, that she’s not as human as she thought, and that she will have to convince him that their love is worth everything- even the blend of good and evil.
  
First 150 Words:
            I tried to block myself from feeling, but as always I couldn't control it. I could only feel. Feel what the girl next to me in the bus felt—despair, desolation, agony. I looked at her. Dressed in all black, she held a photo in her hands of a boy that appeared around the same age she was. With each little caress she gave to the picture it became more painful to breathe. He must have died.
Life didn’t have a reason for me anymore. Tears fell down my cheeks. I knew that these weren’t my feelings, that I absorbed them from the girl, but I couldn’t stop them anyway.
All I wanted was to disappear. I stood and walked to the broken front door of the bus that never closed after I got on. I grabbed the handle in the roof and dangled one foot out of the bus. Far away I heard someone shouting.

5 comments:

Nicole Zoltack said...

Here's my stab (take what you like, ignore the rest):

After eighteen-year-old Muriel Blythe can't control her ability (more like curse) to feel what others feel or make them feel what she's feeling, her sister tries to kill herself. Overwhelmed with guilt and wanted to protect her adoptive family, she moves to Madrid.

But life there isn't any less dangerous. For some reason, shadowy creatures want to kill her by absorbing her soul. Creatures of light called Luxben claim they want to help her. Not knowing who else to turn to, she lives with them and develops feelings for their leader, Dalkiel. Unlike the other Luxben, his light isn't bright and clear. It’s like a glowing shadow.

As things between the Malekia and Luxben escalate, Muriel must use her ability to protect the ones she loves. If she fails, she'll lose Dalkiel, her soul, and her life.

Or something like that. You need to focus more on the stakes, the obstacles, her goals, and the consequences.

PatEsden said...

I think Nicole has given you some great suggestions on how to streamline your query. However, even in her example, I still get hung up on the number of times the word "feeling" occurs in the first sentence. Hmmm. Maybe something like this, but in your voice: After Murial can't control her ability to sense what others are feeling or make them experience what she's feeling...

I think you have a wonderful scene to start your story with. However I suggest you simply show the reader the scene and resist telling them about her gift at least at this point. Show her sitting next to the woman and how it physically feels to be inside Muriel's skin, then show her crying and getting up (like you already do).

I suggest you start by cutting the first two sentences in the first paragraph. Then the first sentence in the other two paragraphs.
This is very close. You're almost there!

amycavenaugh said...

I agree with the previous two comments & Nicole has great suggestions for making the query stronger. You have a wonderful premise and this is a story I would be interested in reading more of. I also think the word "feel" is overused in the firs couple of sentences. Maybe something like "Muriel Blythe has a supernatural gift that often seems more like a curse: she absorbs others' feelings and takes them on as her own emotion." Something like that, only in your own words and more effective. ;)

Jenna and Ashley said...

Eighteen-year-old Muriel Blythe has a supernatural gift that is also a curse—she can feel everything someone else feels, or make them feel what she’s feeling. When Muriel is unable to control her gift, her sister trie(s) to kill herself. To protect her adoptive family from her gift and learn how to control it, Muriel moves to Madrid, Spain. (to repeated five times in par. 1)

In Madrid, Muriel finds (I’m not sure finds is the best word here…discovers? Accidentally stumbles upon?) a bigger curse. Shadowy creatures called Malekia want to kill her by absorbing her soul—and she doesn’t know why (I don’t think “and she doesn’t know why” is necessary to understand the story). Creatures of light called Luxben appear to help her, only saying that rescuing people is what they do—nothing more (too wordy/long, a little confusing, I had to reread twice). While living with the Luxben (add comma) Muriel starts feeling things for their leader, Dalkiel. Even when she’s certain that he isn’t totally a light like the other Luxben. He has something dark in him; his light isn’t bright and clear. (Rework and combine last three sentences, maybe: Even when she sees his light is a dark, glowing shadow.) It’s like a glowing shadow. (Don’t overuse dashes, some agents hate them.)

Muriel learns that rather than a curse, her gift is her only weapon to protect the ones she loves. She fights a deadly battle to discover what the Malekia and Luxben really are, and why the Malekia want her dead (dead twice). But she will also find out that her profound and passionate love for Dalkiel is star-crossed, that she’s not as human as she thought, and that she will have to convince him that their love is worth everything- even the blend of good and evil (last sentence too long. “she will have to convince him…” is basically repeating the star-crossed idea. Work on this last par. Really needs a punch. There is too much information here.)

I think your voice in the query needs work. You have the same problem I do—making it too much like a synopsis and not enough like a query.

I really like Nicole's suggestions!
Hope this helps.
-Jenna (going to critique your first three, since they're waiting in my email!)

Heather M Bryant said...

Nicole has done a really awesome job of getting the stakes into your query. I'm not going to attempt to rewrite but I will give you my reactions :)


Eighteen-year-old Muriel Blythe has a supernatural gift that is also a curse—she can feel everything someone else feels, or make them feel what she’s feeling [LONG SENTENCE, LOTS OF 'FEELS' AND 'FEELINGS' ETC]. When Muriel is unable to control her gift, her sister tried to kill herself [THIS COULD BE MORE EMOTIVE.]. To protect her adoptive family from her gift and learn how to control it, Muriel moves to Madrid, Spain. [HOW DOES THIS PROTECT THEM AND HELP HER TO CONTROL IT? INSTEAD OF SAYING 'TO PROTECT' MAKING SAY 'FOR THEIR PROTECTION'. OR SOMETHING.]
In Madrid, Muriel finds a bigger curse. Shadowy creatures called Malekia want to kill her by absorbing her soul—and she doesn’t know why. Creatures of light called Luxben appear to help her, only saying that rescuing people is what they do—nothing more. While living with the Luxben Muriel starts feeling things for their leader, Dalkiel. Even when she’s certain that he isn’t totally a light like the other Luxben. He has something dark in him; his light isn’t bright and clear. It’s like a glowing shadow. [THE SPECIFICS HERE ARE GOOD TO SHOW YOUR MS IS DIFFERENT BUT I THINK YOU HAVE A LITTLE TOO MUCH GOING ON. WE HAVE LUXBEN, DALKIEL, MALEKIA... I THINK YOU SHOULD EITHER NOT USE NAMES OR PAR DOWN ON WHAT YOU'RE TELLING US]
Muriel learns that rather than a curse, her gift is her only weapon to protect the ones she loves. She fights a deadly battle to discover what the Malekia and Luxben really are, and why the Malekia want her dead. But she will also find out that her profound and passionate love for Dalkiel is star-crossed, that she’s not as human as she thought, and that she will have to convince him that their love is worth everything- even the blend of good and evil. [STAR-CROSSED IS KIND OF A CLICHED TERM]


Your premise sounds pretty interesting but I'd probably have a close look at how many times you use 'her' and 'she' in your query. The repetition is a little distracting and takes away from your idea.