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  1. #1
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    I welcome any critique for my query attempt again THE FINAL CLUE

    Hi everyone,
    I promise this is my last one for awhile. I just want to put it out there in hopes I've improved some from my previous query's. I'm in the process, working really hard polishing up my manuscript.
    Thanks in advance for any feedback I receive.
    Cheryl



    After an explosion during a botched armed bank robbery, one of the robbers is presumed dead and his brother is deemed a life sentence. He blames the beautiful federal agent for his brother’s downfall, which ignites his quest to ruin her life. His mission unfolds in this 120, 000 word crime/romance novel THE FINAL CLUE.


    Agent Gina Russo can’t get past the heartbreak of her lifetime, so she buries herself in her work. She is known for being very successful at her job, but also for doing things her own way. Experience has taught her to trust only herself, so she prefers to work alone..

    She’s contacted by a man with a deep muffed voice who makes it clear he’s been watching her then she's challenged to solve rhyming clues for her only shot at discovering his identity and why he’s after her.

    The rugged and handsome, Federal agent Joey Zicara is assigned to assist and protect her. That changes everything, since Gina doesn’t play well with others.

    During his career, Joey has worked with some hard ass agents, but after working with Gina for just a few days he finds he is challenged beyond anything he has known. When he senses that she's blocked out something significant that could shed light on the confusing rhymes. He does whatever it takes to get to the bottom of who's trying to ruin the life of the woman he is falling for.

    It’s a race against time for Gina to learn to trust once again in order for her and Joey to try and break open the case and solve the puzzles that may change their lives forever.



  2. #2
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    OK, I’ve read the lot and I’d get rid of the lot. I have read other versions, and they were better than this one.OK, the below is going to seem harsh, but its how I see it. Feel free to ignore.

    After an explosion during a botched armed bank robbery, one of the robbers is presumed dead and his brother is deemed a life sentence (To DEEM means to consider/believe/estimate/judge … I am not sure what this means?). He blames the beautiful federal agent for his brother’s downfall, which ignites his quest to ruin her life. His mission unfolds in this 120, 000 word crime/romance novel THE FINAL CLUE.

    Is the above supposed to be a hook? A summary? What? It doesn’t work (for me) in a QL, it’s like you are trying to cheat and do a prologue/set-up.

    Here’s where your QL begins:
    Agent Gina Russo can’t get past the heartbreak of her lifetime (heartbreak of her lifetime? What is that? Did her partner die? Her dog? Did she get the sack from her dream job? Did her husband run off with the milk-maid? It’s a really, really bad cliché), so she buries herself in her work. She is known for being very successful at her job, but also for doing things her own way. (clumsy way of saying she likes things done her way) Experience has taught her to trust only herself, so she prefers to work alone.. (why the dbl period? – and I don’t really like the line anyway)

    She’s contacted by a man with a deep muffed voice (DEEP MUFFED VOICE? Do you mean MUFFLED? Also regardless, take the deep muffled voice out, it is not necessary) who makes it clear he’s been watching her (PERIOD) then she's (remove the then she’s) challenged to solve rhyming clues for her only shot at discovering his identity and why he’s after her. (I have not idea what you were trying to say here? So what someone with a voice calls her to let her know he is watching her? So what – SHE’S AN AGENT! ISN’T THAT EXPECTED???)

    The rugged and handsome (cliché – remove it and start with Federal), Federal agent Joey Zicara is assigned to assist and protect her (FROM WHAT? This makes no sense to me? She is an agent who has someone watching her. Someone so stupid that he calls her to tell her that – AN AGENT! Who has access to information, data, profiling etc. Sure Joe may be assigned to work with her, but is Agent Russo so terrible at her job that crank calls scare her? Really? God help us then because if this is the status of our Fed Agents, what hope do we have). That changes everything, since Gina doesn’t play well with others. (Another cliché, get rid of this. For a start, what does it change?) Aside from her no longer working alone. Now here’s where I have to mention the suspense of disbelief. Agents (Fed Agents/FBI/CSI etc. ALL work in teams! ALWAYS! So what are we to now believe that a Rogue Agent named Russo, who gets scared of crank calls, runs the roost in her department to the point where she can demand to work alone?)

    During his career, Joey has worked with some hard ass agents, but after working with Gina for just a few days he finds he is challenged beyond anything he has known. (Again, why???? Because she like to wear stilettos when making a chase?) When he senses that she's blocked out something significant that could shed light on the confusing rhymes. He does whatever it takes to get to the bottom of who's trying to ruin the life of the woman he is falling for. (Why on earth would he fall in love with her? She makes her own rules, doesn’t like anyone, get frightened at phone calls and seems to have no real positive aspect to her personality)It’s a race against time for Gina to learn to trust once again in order for her and Joey to try and break open the case and solve the puzzles that may change their lives forever. (Get rid of this entire paragraph. It says nothing and sounds like something I would read in a bad 1950’s back book cover)

    JMHO Feel Free To Ignore
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cheryl Morton's Avatar
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    Hi Cheryl,

    I don't feel confident enough in critiquing query letters to provide much feedback overall. I'll just make a couple observations. I would think that you would need to make sure your punctuation is pretty much spot on in a query, or the agent will be inclined to dismiss your manuscript.

    You said: She’s contacted by a man with a deep muffed voice who makes it clear he’s been watching her then she's challenged to solve rhyming clues for her only shot at discovering his identity and why he’s after her.

    This needs some work. You need to add a conjunction between "her" and "then" (he's been watching her, and then she's) or make them two complete sentences. I'm also not sure about the rule regarding contractions in the past tense, but "he's" reads a little awkwardly for me. He has been watching her might work a little better.

    When he senses that she's blocked out something significant that could shed light on the confusing rhymes. He does whatever it takes to get to the bottom of who's trying to ruin the life of the woman he is falling for.

    You have two sentence fragments here. Consider: When he senses that she's (she has) blocked out something significant (significant, something that could) that could shed light on the confusing rhymes. (rhymes, he) He does whatever it takes to get to the bottom of who's trying to ruin the life of the woman he is falling for.

    I hope this helps. Good luck, Cheryl

    Cheryl

  4. #4
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    <I just want to put it out there in hopes I've improved some from my previous query's.>

    Um... what previous queries?... Did I miss something?

  5. #5
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    SaryricalRaven,
    Thank you for the eye opener. Gina is by no means afraid of the caller. I appreciate everything you said. I definitly need to start over. Not anytime soon, lol.
    Thanks again, you've been a big help about what I'm doing wrong. The way you preceived it is not the way I meant it to read.
    Sincerely,
    Cheryl

  6. #6
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    Cheryl,

    You're writing here feels like someone who's just trying to get something on paper. This is not the writing of someone who wants to entice an agent who gets hundreds of these things a month to do anything put click delete.

    I'm thinking that you are not focused. This is not some assignment from grade school in which you have 300 words to write a book report and get an A if you have all the words and spell them right. This is you, up against a whole bunch of other writers. Right?

    Look at your first graph.

    After an explosion during a botched armed bank robbery, Here you've piled on two intro clauses. Sure not terrible. But as an opening? Really? You think that two such clauses create a punch? one of the One of the? Does this strike you as powerful? robbers is presumed dead and his brother What? "his brother"? You've established no character to create a "his" off of. All you've got is a "one of the." So, now, in the first sentence you've established three dreadfully weak phrases. You know what that means, right? If, in a query, which is only a page and should feature the best of what you can do, all you can give is piled up intro clauses and non-specific characters with non-specific pronouns, any agent is going to assume your manuscript is even worse. You can't tell a sentence; how is anyone to believe you can tell a whole story? is deemed a life sentence. I suppose you
    are trying to be clever here, but there's something missing. Perhaps it only stems from the distrust you created before this phrase, but even if you got that in order, I'm pressed to see how this phrase would follow anything you've written. This whole "is deemed" bit needs a deemer and you've not provided one so your last phrase just flops because the verb clause emphasis a non-existent entity.
    He He who? The last guy you mentioned was a "his brother" who was deemed a life sentence. blames the beautiful Really? Beautiful is the shining adjective on the hill here? Is that from this one-he-his character's perspective -- yes, the one you've dedicated a graph to yet failed to name? You put this adjective into "his" time on the page, which implies that HE finds her beauty part and parcel of his blame. Suspect that's just YOU, as the author, wishing to mention something for yourself, not for this character who wouldn't give a wit about whether the bitch was beautiful or not. Feel the distrust building? federal agent for his brother’s downfall, which ignites his quest to ruin her life. Okay, so that's okay. But you realize you're making him a moron. He's not focused on getting his brother free, but would rather distract himself with some "beautiful" agent. Fine, if you're setting this idiot up as the bad guy. But there's no indication of that here. In fact your next bit implies that he's the love-interest because, next, you say this is a romance. You can't count on an agent to keep reading past your mistakes in focus to uncover that he is NOT the love interest. His mission unfolds in this 120, 000 word Weird. So you think that advertising your lack of discipline in even learning basics like compound modifiers will help you get a great agent? Maybe that works. Maybe it's like that whole Sarah-Palin-I'm-an-outsider thing. Voters and agents kinda like folks who don't read the Economist and don't know a compound modifier from a space. If that's what you're going for, perhaps you're on some cutting edge or outsider frenzy. crime/romance novel THE FINAL CLUE.

    I know this is really harsh. But, I think you're failing even to understand how strings of words impact a reader. A query needs to be the BEST of what you can do. Is this the best of what you can do? If not, stop being a slave to this new format and make it work for you. If so, if you don't even see all of these weaknesses, all hope is not lost. You could have a great plot, but you need to shore up your weaknesses in the manuscript before querying.

  7. #7
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    Hello C.K.
    Thank you for taking the time to fully explain all of this to me. If you being very harsh with me is what I need to push myself to get it right. Then I'll take harsh anytime. I will not send again until I know I've done my best.
    Thank you. again.
    Cheryl

  8. #8
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    Great Attitude Cheryl.
    QL's are tough. And it's so much tougher doing your own. It is often easy to see issues with others work but with your own, the author (myself included) is so invested that the old 'forest for the trees' was never truer.

    If this helps, read other QL's on here and on Query Shark. Google QL's in your genre and see if that gives you more focus and the toughest of all, per the wise Leslee, in one sentence, describe you entire novel. Once you've done that, trust me, it will come

    C K by the way, is a wonderful source of info and help as are many many others on here.

    Good luck.
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  9. #9
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    Cheryl,

    You bet. Good luck!

    Maybe experiment with starting your Q in an entirely different place, not with the robbery and robbers, but with your agents.

  10. #10
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    Thank you SatyricalRaven,

    Yeah, I'm having a heck of time getting the query right. I'm not going to worry about it right now as I polish the manuscript, but I will do my homework and take your advice. I would love to have a query good enough to submit by the time I complete my final re-write.
    Thanks again and thank you for being so kind,
    Cheryl

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