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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    New Query Letter GOODBYE HUMBLE PENNY

    A HUGE thank you to everyone who commented on my last attempt. I agree that it was too vague and in my opinion boring. So I started again. I really appreciate you taking the time to read these and help me out. Okay so back to the chopping block. Please tell me what is wrong with this one! I can't believe how hard it is to write these letters.

    Dear Agent,

    Delilah did not see the ravens take suddenly to flight from the trees. Did not watch the snow field fracture and slide. She didnít hear the white trainís voice, course with ice and rock, as it roared down the mountain. Delilah was not even there when the avalanche broke free, but the force of it knocked her down.

    After the death of her finance, Humble, thirty-one year Delilah Brown attempts to overcome her grief the only way she knows how: one foot in front of the other. Delilah carries an old backpack and her troubled heart across the highways and backroads of the American West so familiar to her. Walking her old pathways she looks for a place to say goodbye to Humble, but finds that her memories of him are too tangled up with another man to just let go. Pete, Humbleís best friend, has been in love with Delilah since the beginning and in a weak moment when they turned to each other for comfort their friendship became something more. Confused by her feelings for Pete Delilah laced up her boots and fled. Now on her road to nowhere Delilah is learning lessons about strength and the funny ways of love. Everyone she encounters from her desert trailer dwelling agoraphobic aunt to her estranged jetsetting half sister to a bitter ex-boyfriend artist and an ugly stray dog help to guide Delilah to a new understanding about the desires her own heart. When Delilah discovers sheís pregnant she will have to decide if she is strong enough to return home and face the man she left behind. The man who has come to represent all that she thought was lost.

    GOODBYE HUMBLE PENNY is contemporary fiction, complete at 63,000 words.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Marika Guthrie



  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    I want to fit into this the fact that Pete was in the same avalanche as Humble and survived but is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair. His bitterness is part of what drive Delilah away but i can't figure out how to add it without making the letter too long. Help?

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
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    You're not Craig posting under another name are you? Because that's a real Craig-esque beginning to a query letter.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    You're not Craig posting under another name are you? Because that's a real Craig-esque beginning to a query letter.
    I am of course referring to this debacle: http://www.writers.net/forum/showthread.php?116868-Query-A-TAINT-IN-PUTNAM

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Mutt View Post
    You're not Craig posting under another name are you? Because that's a real Craig-esque beginning to a query letter.
    No I am not Craig. Thanks for the completely unhelpful and snide reply. I was under the impression that this website was for helping people to move forward through writing that they find difficult. I don't see why you bother to reply to my posts if they bother you so much. I am looking for constructive criticism for my query letter. Not a put down. I believe that my story is worth telling and I simply am having a hard time getting the whole thing down into a two paragraph explanation.

  6. #6
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    Marika,

    As you have probably figured out I too am struggling with queries. Here are my thoughts.

    I think you have tried too hard to find a start to your query. It has caused you to drag up a misleading piece of back story for it. No matter how hard you try you will need to do an end run of some sort to pull it back to the real story. This will always give you a query that does not flow.

    Consider instead to start from this direction.

    For six months she had not been able to reconcile the death of the man she thought was her destiny. In fact two months ago his best friend Bob had started to tangle her memories. To try and clear her mind she hoisted her old backpack and set out on the road.

    From someplace like this you can begin to explain her introspective journey. Try to keep it flowing because that is at least as important as a captivating first impression.

    On to the inbred, rabid cur who has so little life that he tries to squelch everyone else’s. If I was a psychologist I could talk about how much he reminds me of Norman Bates and how badly a mother can screw up a kid.

    His biggest claim to fame is that he got an ‘A’ on a writing assignment in third grade. I did too but I have moved on. His idea of high concept is a super villain with a magic bullet that changes super heroes into girls because girls are weak.

    Try hard to ignore these kinds of little lived people. It will thicken your skin and make you a better person.

    The original Craig

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by marikaguthrie View Post
    No I am not Craig. Thanks for the completely unhelpful and snide reply. I was under the impression that this website was for helping people to move forward through writing that they find difficult. I don't see why you bother to reply to my posts if they bother you so much. I am looking for constructive criticism for my query letter. Not a put down. I believe that my story is worth telling and I simply am having a hard time getting the whole thing down into a two paragraph explanation.
    If you read the Craig thread you can learn pretty much all there is about writing query letters. Mostly what not to do, ie everything Craig does.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Craig View Post
    Marika,

    As you have probably figured out I too am struggling with queries. Here are my thoughts.

    I think you have tried too hard to find a start to your query. It has caused you to drag up a misleading piece of back story for it. No matter how hard you try you will need to do an end run of some sort to pull it back to the real story. This will always give you a query that does not flow.

    Consider instead to start from this direction.

    For six months she had not been able to reconcile the death of the man she thought was her destiny. In fact two months ago his best friend Bob had started to tangle her memories. To try and clear her mind she hoisted her old backpack and set out on the road.

    From someplace like this you can begin to explain her introspective journey. Try to keep it flowing because that is at least as important as a captivating first impression.

    On to the inbred, rabid cur who has so little life that he tries to squelch everyone else’s. If I was a psychologist I could talk about how much he reminds me of Norman Bates and how badly a mother can screw up a kid.

    His biggest claim to fame is that he got an ‘A’ on a writing assignment in third grade. I did too but I have moved on. His idea of high concept is a super villain with a magic bullet that changes super heroes into girls because girls are weak.

    Try hard to ignore these kinds of little lived people. It will thicken your skin and make you a better person.

    The original Craig
    The blind leading the blind. LOL.

  9. #9
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Haha point taken Mutt, time to go chew someone else's leg now. :P

    You guys do have quite a bit in common with how you write, so it's very possible that you two could be a big help to one another.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Marika, I'll comment.

    Before I get to your revision, though, Wick, you're suggesting two writers struggling with Qs can be a "big help to one another." It's fine if they exchange ideas. Perhaps some good will come from it. But here's the thing. would you ask two plumbers who possess a wrench and some pipe tape bundled with an abundant lack of experience to fix your leaking faucet? That's likely a poor analogy, but...

    Okay, Marika. You know my approach. Comments will be in CAPS so they're easy to see. Not yelling at you.

    Delilah did not see the ravens take suddenly to flight from the trees. Did not watch the snow field fracture and slide. She didn’t hear the white train’s voice, course with ice and rock, as it roared down the mountain. Delilah was not even there when the avalanche broke free, but the force of it knocked her down.

    DELETE THE ABOVE. YOUR DREAM AGENT HAS NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS IN ANY BROAD CONTEXT. CONSIDER DIVING RIGHT INTO THE TALE, AS YOU'VE DONE IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH.

    THERE ARE SOME PROMISING THINGS IN THIS PARAGRAPH, ALONG WITH ELEMENTARY PUNCTUATION ERRORS AND OTHER ISSUES. BUT IT MAY BE THE PLACE TO START.

    After the death of her finance, Humble, thirty-one year MISSING WORD Delilah Brown attempts to overcome her grief the only way she knows how: I'M NOT FOND OF COLONS IN FICTION. OTHERS WILL DISAGREE. one foot in front of the other. PREVIOUS PHRASE IS BORDERLINE CLICHE, BUT I'LL TOLERATE IT FOR THE MOMENT. ALWAYS REMEMBER, YOUR Q IS PRECIOUS REAL ESTATE. Delilah carries an old SURELY YOU CAN FIND A MORE EVOCATIVE WORD THAN "OLD." THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO GIVE IT PERSONALITY/MEANING. backpack and her troubled heart TROUBLED HEART IS SORTA CLICHE, BUT I WON'T WHINE RIGHT NOW. WE'LL SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH IN YOUR NEXT VERSION. across the highways and backroads of the American West so familiar to her. Walking her old pathways COMMAS ARE YOUR FRIEND. she looks for a place to say goodbye to Humble, but finds that DELETE "THAT." her memories of him are too tangled up with another man to just DELETE "JUST." IT'S NEARLY ALWAYS "JUST" UNNECESSARY. let go. Pete, Humble’s best friend, has been in love with Delilah since the beginning BEGINNING OF WHAT? and in a weak moment when they turned to each other for comfort their friendship became something more. Confused by her feelings for Pete IS THERE A REASON YOU LOATHE COMMAS? Delilah laced up her boots and fled. Now on her road to nowhere FIRST, THE PREVIOUS PHRASE IS CLICHE. SECOND, IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADD FLAVOR. Delilah is learning lessons about strength and the funny ways of love. Everyone she encounters from her desert trailer dwelling agoraphobic aunt to her estranged jetsetting half sister to a bitter ex-boyfriend artist and an ugly stray dog help to guide Delilah to a new understanding about the desires her own heart. OKAY, MARIKA, COUNT HOW MANY WORDS ARE IN THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE. ASK YOURSELF HOW MANY CHARACTERS AND IDEAS YOU'VE CRAMMED INTO ONE SENTENCE. THAT SAID, I LIKE THAT YOU'RE INTRODUCING POTENTIALLY INTERESTING CHARACTERS. (BEFORE I FORGET, YOU REALLY, REALLY NEED TO LEARN ABOUT HYPHENS. SERIOUSLY. I WON'T TAKE THE TIME TO TRY TO FIX THAT PROBLEM.) When Delilah discovers she’s pregnant she will have to decide if she is strong enough to return home and face the man she left behind. The man who has come to represent all that she thought was lost. I'M A LITTLE HINKY ABOUT YOUR ENDING. IT'S KINDA CLICHE. DO YOU SEE WHY?

    OKAY, CAPS off. This Q still needs major work.

    Like many people writing a Q, you're trying to write the New Testament on the head of a pin. You desperately want to tell the tale in your Q. Your sole goal in a Q is to whet the agent's appetite.

    Someone above mentioned the length of your tale being too short. I agree. Keep in mind, though, in the age of e-books, your length may not be a problem. I dunno. Others may have more current opinions.

    I'll read another revision---with a caveat. Your Q suggests your writing may need work. Consider posting the first couple pages of your tale in the appropriate forum. Why, you ask? If your writing isn't stellar in pretty much every regard, you'll accumulate only misery by sending Qs.

    Mother of three under three, if you bleed ink after you accidentally cut yourself in the kitchen, writing is in your blood. If the blood is ink, keep at it. For most people, writing is a learned process. Requires practice, more practice, and an unrelenting desire to learn to self-edit.

    Keep in mind my comments are worth what you paid for 'em.

    Cur

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