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  1. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    32

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Amy Abig Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------
    > I'd be happy to help but I too am in the middle of
    > this process and so very lost. LOL
    >
    > Brad Mathews Wrote:
    > --------------------------------------------------
    > -----
    > > I rewrote it. What say you now? Please help.
    > >
    > > Insert editor name here
    > > Insert publisher name here
    > > Address
    > >
    > > Dear ,
    > >
    > > Divorce has taken its toll on Reggie. It has
    > > ravaged him with bad dreams and bad luck
    > Something about bad dreams and bad luck bothers
    > me. It just doesn't sound that bad. Even
    > nightmares and bad luck might be better?. nightmare=bad dream same difference
    > > Headaches and sleepless nights have forced him
    > to
    > > take prescription medications, but (and he's
    > succumbed to addiction, instead of but) he is
    > beginningthe addiction is because of the drugs, so 'but' serves the sentence well. However, this is going to change a bit anyway
    > > to succumb to addiction.
    > >
    > > The Mormon Church had once, or at one time had
    > served served as his spiritual
    > > home, but for six years, Reggie has been
    > inactive.
    > > He doesn't need redemption, but circumstances
    > > change. This last sentence seems off or
    > strange. I'm not sure what you are trying to say.
    > What about: He doesn't need redemption until his
    > circumstances change. I think you are reading too much into it. He doesn't think he needs to change, but through the events he is going through he begins to understand otherwise
    > >
    > > During a surveying trip(surveying trip, not sure
    > what that is?),a surveying trip is when you go on a trip to survey. surveying relates to studying and gathering data on land contours and property legalities. I shouldn't have to explain that. Reggie discovers an
    > > abandoned piece of furniture stained with blood.
    >
    > > The local cops employ his assistance to solve
    > the
    > > meaning of a mysterious riddle carved into the
    > > wood trim. It hints at an era (an entire era?
    > what about a day, a really bad day where someone
    > was murdered, just use day) I use 'era' because it is an 'era', hence the title. this is the culmination of 17 years of murder. Again, shouldn't have to explain.marked with
    > > torture and murder. The clues lead them nowhere.
    > I don't think we need to know that the clues lead
    > now where.)misdirection makes for a fine plot element in mysteries
    > > Evil lurks in the foresthow do we know evil
    > lurks in the forest, this is vague. Women have
    > disappeared.how do we know woman have disappeared,
    > the news, what?we know because i just told you. what, you don't believe me?
    > > In chasing the perpetrator,but I thought the
    > clues led them nowhere? now he's chasing the
    > perpetrator? yepWhere did he come from?that's why it is a mystery. no one knows Reggie is
    > finding
    > > himself. This era here is era again and that
    > makes me think of a period of time in the past
    > like the 80'sis leading him to the light in
    > > more ways than he could have imagined.leading
    > him to the light is vague to me, of course I know
    > what you mean but don't be afraid to tell us where
    > he is being lead to, his Creator, God, Jesus, the
    > one he turned his back on? Tell us!If you know what I'm saying it isn't vague
    > >
    > > Era Sinistra is a 140,000 word mystery set in
    > the
    > > rural mountains of Western Idaho. This book,
    > now
    > > finished, tells a story of reconversion to the
    > LDS
    > > gospel. I draw from my testimony for the
    > > inspiration behind this material.
    > >
    > > Thank you for your time and consideration.
    > >
    > > Sincerely,
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > P.S. I have also enclosed a SASE.
    > I don't know about the ps at the end of this
    > letter, they will see your sase, you don't need to
    > tell them about it. Take that off. Your novel
    > sounds very interesting to me and I feel like you
    > can do a lot better than this. I care about your
    > character right away, hearing that he is divorced
    > and not addicted but after that I don't really
    > seem to care about this murder he's trying to
    > solve. You really need to give us more. I hope
    > this helps.
    > Amy
    now i get to conflicting messages. I have been told this is a very important statement

    Thank you for the kind words. I obviously can't tell the whole story in the query, as it wasn't meant to be a synopsis.



  2. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    32

    Re: New qurey--better?

    D K Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------
    > Brad,
    >
    > For me this QL reads pretty much the same as the
    > last one.
    >
    > - It's not clear what the relationship is between
    > the divorce, the church and the murder. Each of
    > your para's is a separate thought and you don't
    > tie them together. isn't that why they are separate paragraphs?
    > - It's not clear why the police would use your Pro
    > to help them.thanks i will clarify
    > - Can you call them clues if they don't actually
    > help. good point. Leads might go nowhere but clues I think
    > bring you to the next step.
    > - Way too many vague statements which leave your
    > reader wondering what you mean, things like:
    > 'taken it's toll' would 'transformed him into a man he hardly recognizes' be better?
    > 'ravaged him' can you think of a stronger verb?
    > 'era marked with...' maybe the word 'era' doesn't work here.
    > 'evil lurks in the forest' i'm thinking of just dumping this sentence. to me 'evil' doesn't really describe what is really going on. it is kind of the point that no one really knows.
    > - Short sentences are good for actions scenes but
    > in a QL it looks like you don't know how to write
    > a longer one. I shortened the sentences to capture interest. Now I am supposed to use long ones again?
    >
    > DK


    I thought I had an improvement. Let us not forget that some things mean exactly what they appear to mean.

    As a matter of curiosity, DK, you seem to be pretty knowledgable about queries. How many times have you done this sort of thing?

  3. #13
    Amy Lou
    Guest

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Brad Mathews Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------
    > Amy Abig Wrote:
    > --------------------------------------------------
    > -----
    > > I'd be happy to help but I too am in the middle
    > of
    > > this process and so very lost. LOL
    > >
    > > Brad Mathews Wrote:
    > >
    > --------------------------------------------------
    >
    > > -----
    > > > I rewrote it. What say you now? Please
    > help.
    > > >
    > > > Insert editor name here
    > > > Insert publisher name here
    > > > Address
    > > >
    > > > Dear ,
    > > >
    > > > Divorce has taken its toll on Reggie. It has
    > > > ravaged him with bad dreams and bad luck
    > > Something about bad dreams and bad luck bothers
    > > me. It just doesn't sound that bad. Even
    > > nightmares and bad luck might be better?.
    > nightmare=bad dream same difference
    > > > Headaches and sleepless nights have forced
    > him
    > > to
    > > > take prescription medications, but (and he's
    > > succumbed to addiction, instead of but) he is
    > > beginningthe addiction is because of the drugs,
    > so 'but' serves the sentence well. However, this
    > is going to change a bit anyway
    > > > to succumb to addiction.
    > > >
    > > > The Mormon Church had once, or at one time
    > had
    > > served served as his spiritual
    > > > home, but for six years, Reggie has been
    > > inactive.
    > > > He doesn't need redemption, but
    > circumstances
    > > > change. This last sentence seems off or
    > > strange. I'm not sure what you are trying to
    > say.
    > > What about: He doesn't need redemption until
    > his
    > > circumstances change. I think you are reading
    > too much into it. He doesn't think he needs to
    > change, but through the events he is going through
    > he begins to understand otherwise
    > > >
    > > > During a surveying trip(surveying trip, not
    > sure
    > > what that is?),a surveying trip is when you go
    > on a trip to survey. surveying relates to
    > studying and gathering data on land contours and
    > property legalities. I shouldn't have to explain
    > that. Reggie discovers an I understand what a survey trip is, thank you, but you don't tell us this is his job, so I guess we should assume he surveys for fun
    > > > abandoned piece of furniture stained with
    > blood.
    > >
    > > > The local cops employ his assistance to solve
    > > the
    > > > meaning of a mysterious riddle carved into
    > the
    > > > wood trim. It hints at an era (an entire
    > era?
    > > what about a day, a really bad day where
    > someone
    > > was murdered, just use day) I use 'era' because
    > it is an 'era', hence the title. this is the
    > culmination of 17 years of murder. Again,
    > shouldn't have to explain.marked with
    > > > torture and murder. The clues lead them
    > nowhere.
    > > I don't think we need to know that the clues
    > lead
    > > now where.)misdirection makes for a fine plot
    > element in mysteries Funny I mention this about clues and this is how you respond, someone else mentions it and you say good point.
    > > > Evil lurks in the foresthow do we know evil
    > > lurks in the forest, this is vague. Women have
    > > disappeared.how do we know woman have
    > disappeared,
    > > the news, what?we know because i just told you.
    > what, you don't believe me?
    > > > In chasing the perpetrator,but I thought the
    > > clues led them nowhere? now he's chasing the
    > > perpetrator? yepWhere did he come from?that's
    > why it is a mystery. no one knows Reggie is
    > > finding
    > > > himself. This era here is era again and that
    > > makes me think of a period of time in the past
    > > like the 80'sis leading him to the light in
    > > > more ways than he could have imagined.leading
    > > him to the light is vague to me, of course I
    > know
    > > what you mean but don't be afraid to tell us
    > where
    > > he is being lead to, his Creator, God, Jesus,
    > the
    > > one he turned his back on? Tell us!If you know
    > what I'm saying it isn't vague
    > > >
    > > > Era Sinistra is a 140,000 word mystery set in
    > > the
    > > > rural mountains of Western Idaho. This book,
    > > now
    > > > finished, tells a story of reconversion to
    > the
    > > LDS
    > > > gospel. I draw from my testimony for the
    > > > inspiration behind this material.
    > > >
    > > > Thank you for your time and consideration.
    > > >
    > > > Sincerely,
    > > >
    > > >
    > > >
    > > > P.S. I have also enclosed a SASE.
    > > I don't know about the ps at the end of this
    > > letter, they will see your sase, you don't need
    > to
    > > tell them about it. Take that off. Your novel
    > > sounds very interesting to me and I feel like
    > you
    > > can do a lot better than this. I care about
    > your
    > > character right away, hearing that he is
    > divorced
    > > and not addicted but after that I don't really
    > > seem to care about this murder he's trying to
    > > solve. You really need to give us more. I hope
    > > this helps.
    > > Amy
    > now i get to I assume you mean twoconflicting messages. I have been
    > told this is a very important statement
    >
    > Thank you for the kind words. I obviously can't
    > tell the whole story in the query, as it wasn't
    > meant to be a synopsis. Yes I realize you are not writing a synopsis and I do understand the difference. Being open to suggestions will really help this query.

  4. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    689

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Brad,

    As has been suggested, "era" is unlikely to be the word you intended.

    Divorce has taken its toll "TAKEN ITS TOLL" IS AN EMPTY PHRASE. ALSO IS CLICHE. GIVE YOUR DREAM AGENT A PHRASE OR TWO OF MEAT INSTEAD OF THE BONE.on Reggie. It has ravaged him with bad dreams and bad luck. Headaches and sleepless nights have forced him to take prescription medications, but he is beginning to succumb to addiction. A QUERY LETTER HAS ONLY A COUPLE SENTENCES TO GRAB THE AGENT'S ATTENTION ENOUGH TO READ THE REST. THIS DOESN' DO IT FOR THIS READER. YOU'VE USED THREE SENTENCES OF VALUABLE REAL ESTATE TO TELL ME A GUY IS UNHAPPY HE'S DIVORCED.

    The Mormon Church had served as his spiritual home, but for six years, GET RID OF THIS COMMA. (I READ IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL JUST TODAY THAT THEY'RE IN SHORT SUPPLY. NIHILISTS BLEW UP THE COMMA FACTORY IN BANGALORE. SAVE THIS ONE FOR WHEN YOU REALLY NEED IT.) Reggie has been inactive. He doesn't need redemption, but circumstances change. OKAY, I'M TWO PARAGRAPHS INTO YOUR Q. NOT A SINGLE WORD HAS BEEN SAID TO INDICATE WHAT REGGIE HAS AT STAKE. NOT A SINGLE WORD HAS BEEN SAID TO INDICATE WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE IF HE FAILS.

    During a surveying trip, Reggie discovers an abandoned piece of furniture stained with blood. (BTW, AS WAS SUGGESTED IN A REVIEW OF YOUR PREVIOUS VERSION, UNLESS YOUR HELICOPTER GUY HAS AMAZING BINOCS, THEY AIN'T KNOW WAY HE'S GONNA SEE AN EASY CHAIR IN A FOREST. iF YOUR TALE HAS THAT HAPPENING, BE DAMN SURE YOU'VE MADE IT BELIEVABLE.) The local cops employ his assistance to solve the meaning of a mysterious riddle carved into the wood trim. I THINK WHAT'S GOING ON HERE IS REGGIE (I HATE THE NAME, BUT THAZZ JUST ME.) IS A SURVEYOR, AND THAT'S WHY THE COPS WANT HIS ASSISTANCE. THE ONLY REASON, THOUGH, I CAN MAKE THIS GUESS IS FROM READING YOUR REPLIES TO FOLKS WHO RESPONDED TO YOUR Q. It hints at an era marked with torture and murder. The clues lead them nowhere. Evil lurks in the forest. HUH? ASK YOURSELF WHY THIS SENTENCE, ONE WITH NO CONTENT WHATSOEVER, WILL MAKE YOUR DREAM AGENT SIT UP AND SAY, "HIOLY JUMPING JESUS, I WANNA READ THIS. Women have disappeared. SAME FOR THIS SENTENCE. In chasing the perpetrator, PERPETRATOR OF WHAT? THE MISSING WOMEN? THE CARVING ON FURNITURE? Reggie is finding himself. This era is leading him to the light in more ways than he could have imagined. ANOTHER SENTENCE WITH NO CONTENT. FOR REASONS I FAIL TO UNDERSTAND, YOU'VE MANAGED TO USE "ERA" TWICE IN THIS PARAGRAPH. GET RID OF BOTH.

    Era Sinistra is a 140,000 word mystery set in the rural mountains of Western Idaho. This book, now finished, tells a story of reconversion to the LDS gospel. I draw from my testimony for the inspiration behind this material. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PARAGRAPH GIVES ME THE SHIVERS. AS I SAID LAST TIME, 140K IS LIKELY TO BE A PROBLEM FOR A DEBUT AUTHOR. THAT'S WHAT YOU ARE, DOUG. BOOKS PRINTED BY PUBLISH AMERICA ARE RARELY CONSIDERED PUBLISHED. YOU MENTION "RURAL" MOUNTAINS. DELETE RURAL. DELETE NOW FINISHED. YOUR AGENT WILL ASSUME YOU'VE FINISHED, POLISHED, POLISHED MORE. IF YOU HAVEN'T, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO BE PUBLISHED INSTEAD OF PRINTED. THEN YOU GO ON TO REFER TO THE LDS GOSPEL AND YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. UNLESS YOU'RE QUERYING ON AGENTS WHO REPRESENT RELIGIOUS NOVELS, YOU'RE HURTING YOURSELF.

    OKAY, caps off. Doug, I really wonder if your writing is at a standard ready to be considered by traditional publishers. Perhaps I'm fulla. Have been before. In any case, this reader thinks this Q is pretty much as a big a wreck as the one I commented on last night. Sorry.

    Hope this is useful. Feel free to ignore. Others may disagree with my comments.

    I note you're getting a little defensive with others who have taken time to offer their thoughts. Is there a reason for that? Yeah, your writing is being critiqued. Isn't that what you came here for?

    Cur

  5. #15
    Amy Lou
    Guest

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Wow, some really great advice, Cur

  6. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    227

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Brad,

    I'd recommend you start over following the basic structure of a QL. That is:

    1. Your hook - One or two sentences that hooks your dream agent in. Sometimes this summarizes your entire MS sometimes it doesn't. An example "For Officer Reggie, divorce pushed him to the edge of drug addiction, his next murder case will push him over." In that one line we know your Pro, his personal situation, his demons, his profession and the conflict.

    2. Your second para - a mini synopsis expanding on the info provided in your hook. I'm not going to give you an example because I don't know what your MS is about. In this para you need to show more of the conflict (e.g. serial killer), what's at stake if he doesn't solve the mystery (e.g. gives in to his addiction, loses his ex-wife forever), what's at stake if he does solve the mystery (e.g. saves his ex-wife from certain death, frees himself from addiction)

    3. Final bits about the book like name, number of words and any qualifications (ex. self publishing).

    My experience. I've read allot of them. Researched allot on them. Written my own many, many, many times. Have been successful in getting to a request on my QL. This doesn't make me an expert. The process can be very subjective and you'll get differing opinions. Pick and choose what you feel works best for you. Remember someone will always have something to pick at no matter how perfect it is.

    DK

  7. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    508

    Re: New qurey--better?

    Brad,

    I think you can solve most of your problems here by stepping back and telling the story straight.

    You've written a mystery. This weak opening about some divorced guy who becomes addicted to pills because he has headaches isn't mystery. It's not even interesting. Half of everyone is divorced, and most of us get headaches. Nothing in your opening is compelling.

    Ah, but a blood-soaked chair in the middle of nowhere...that's interesting. A blood-soaked chair with strange knife carvings, even more so. That's a mystery.

    You just need to position your revelation of the story in terms of what's appropriate for the kinds of folks who sell mysteries.

    Let's just try a version that focuses on the mystery.


    Reggie Harper made the final ridge and jerked his surveying equipment up behind him. Three days in the godforsaken hinterlands of northern Utah; Reggie cursed his employers, his ex-wife, his ex-god, and his throbbing head. He shook out another pill -- thank god for the pills -- and saw it. An armchair. An armchair in the middle of a hundred square miles of land that hadn't even been surveyed, let alone furnished. For a moment, he questioned his sanity; he'd been doing enough of that since Beth left and plenty more since the pills had become his best friend.

    But this chair held more than his questionable sanity could have conjured -- bloodstains on the upholstery and strange carvings on the wooden arm scrolls. He almost called on his old god, the God he'd been raised to trust and worship. The old god he'd abandoned with all his heart six years ago when his life went to ****.

    Twenty-four hours later, Reggie -- the surveyor, ex-Mormon, ex-husband, ex-non addict -- is leading a regiment of law enforcement officers to the site. Twenty-six hours later, he knows about the six women who have gone missing in the last twenty years. Thirty-six hours later, he figures out what the strange carvings mean.

    Thirty-seven hours later, he realizes no one believes him.

    He hasn't got much -- five pills left; a mind he no longer trusts, and god he's abandoned. Not much to fight the sick creature who sits in the armchair. But God has always called the weak for the toughest work, right? Reggie is about to find out what sort of strength may have been brewing in his weakness. He looks up into a pale Utah sky. "Truce," he says. He swears he hears a voice: About time. Let's bring this animal down.

    Seat of Evil, a 140,000-word mystery, is about the curse of faith, the failings of redemption, and, ultimately, about getting the bad guy no matter what you believe. Set in the wilderness of Utah, it's a bit Mormon Dirty Harry and a bit ????. I am a ????. I've struggled with my faith, often in the worse of circumstances and often in the barren wilderness of Utah. I'm a fan of [agent's client you love] and have read [fave of that author's books] four times.

    I hope the story intrigues you and that you request the whole dern thing.

    Sincerely,

    [signature]


    So that's just a toss-off, knowing nothing more than what you posted here. But you see how you can lead with movement and action and feed the pathetic-ness of your protagonist into the mystery. You can do much better if you try re-entering your Q from a mystery perspective.

    On the Mormon stuff. If you aren't intending to submit to LDS publishers, I'd keep the focus on faith, which has far wider range that agents/readers can identify with. Thinking you DO want to bring up the Mormon stuff, because that adds a layer of "other" and mystique and so forth, but I'd consciously sublimate it to faith. Kind of what I tried to do here, although there are probably missteps. You want to use the Mormon stuff as allure and setting, but keep the faith stuff prominent. Does that make sense? I would NOT include any bits like: tells a story of reconversion to the LDS gospel. I draw from my testimony for the inspiration behind this material. Unless you're approaching LDS publishers. It's limiting; you seem limited; your book seems limited. If you don't want only Mormons to read this, don't go this route. Of course, maybe I don't know anything about it. Food for thought.

    Love the image of a chair in the wilderness. Don't like much else in how you've presented your story. Hope something here helps.

    Oh, a P.S., if you agree with the take I'm taking on your Q, you'll probably want to look at your manuscript as well. Muddling through the Q process often alerts us to weakness in the manuscript. I think I read in maybe your other Q attempt, that R sees the armchair first from a helicopter. That's just a poor scene planning, I'm thinking. If the encounter with the armchair needs to be visceral, a helicopter ain't gonna do the trick. The mechanics and perspective of a scene need to match the gut stuff you want/need. You know? The amazing thing is that when the emotional content of a scenes is already on the page, it's weirdly easy to nix the accouterments -- choppers -- and put your guy on two feet. Same thing if you start with R's pill popping, divorced life. A pathetic guy isn't interesting; a pathetic guy way out in the wilderness, lugging surveying equipment and cursing snakes, god, bad shoes, and bugs is. Opening image, in Q or manuscript, is everything at this stage in the road to publication. You know that classic bit about starting the story when the baseball breaks the window rather than when the boy is going out to play? If you open with poor R being poor R, you may well have opened poor. Certainly in the Q, probably in the manuscript.

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