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  1. #1
    PennMom Asks

    First Paragraph of Query

    Here is the body of the query, but the first paragraph has me stumped. What am I supposed to say here that isn't already either in the bio portion of the letter?

    Dear Agent:

    My 75,000 word manuscript entitled 'Sacrifice falls' into the Contemporary Fiction genre.

    Disfigured in a fiery car accident as a child, David Talbott believes he has created a suitable life for himself working in a university library, segregated from the superficial world he believes spurned him. Growing up in foster care, he learned that rejection is inevitable and isolation is comfortable. However, David must rethink his resolve to remain in solitude when he meets Jill Major, a woman who sees the man, not the scars.

    After relocating to escape a possessive, violent ex-husband, Jill Major wasnít looking for anything except help finding a resource book. After having a brief exchange with David, she feels compelled to find out more about the man with the striking green eyes and shy smile.

    Very early in their relationship, they learn that they both have domestic violence in their backgrounds. That shared experience reinforces their new bond. Falling in love changes them in profound and unexpected ways. They discover the strength they always had, but never knew existed. Feeling strong enough to confront the past, they search for Davidís mother who abandoned him after the accident. Concurrently, they must stop Jillís abusive ex-husband who is intent on controlling Jill and destroying their relationship.

    Currently working as a Domestic Violence/Rape Crisis counselor, I understand the emotional turmoil and guilt that survivors often feel. I have also seen how the potency of the human spirit can heal emotional wounds. There is an inextinguishable hope that those who have survived great trauma possess. 'Sacrifice' shows how love, compassion and acceptance can triumph over malevolence and brutality. Sacrifice delivers a positive message--abuse does change a person, but surviving it can make the person stronger.

    I am a 1990 graduate of California State University. I have worked in the juvenile court system and dealt with social workers, foster parents and foster children. My background in the field plays an important part in 'Sacrifice' because I understand how the system works, and how the system fails. Besides being a certified counselor, I proofread and edit research papers for a graduate program at the local college. I have worked as a desktop publisher and technical writer. I have also written articles for local newspapers and newsletters.

    I would love to submit my manuscript for your review. Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Finnley Wren

    Re: First Paragraph of Query

    It's actually not bad, though it is too long to fit on the single-side of a single-page, properly formatted business letter (which is as long a query letter should be.)

    As an exercise, open up a new document and create a standard business letter (one-inch margins on all sides, your name and address, the date, the agents name and address, the salutation, etc.) This will demonstrate how much you need to cut.

    Obviously, you've made a mistake in the very first sentence with 'Sacrifice falls.'

    In terms of the content, some things I'd change that may be unnecessary to the overall feel that will also shorten it and cut to the chase quicker are: drop the "segregated from the superficial world" because between his disfigurement and his decision to work in a library, the reader can draw their own conclusion.

    I'd also drop the third and fourth sentences in the fourth paragraph ("Falling in love . . . They discover the strength. . .) just to make things shorter. Or perhaps combine them into a shorter sentence that communicates the budding romance. I'd also ratchet up the language used to describe the coming conflict with the ex, just to whet the agent's appetite.

    There's an awkwardness in there where you say "Concurrently" and then a few sentences later use "currently." I'd drop the concurrently and just say "at the same time" if you must.

    Probably too much about yourself as well. It's the story that will sell the book, but I like what I see.

    Just my two cents, and best of luck!

  3. #3
    Gary Kessler

    Re: First Paragraph of Query

    I didn't read the query, but in answer to your specific question, you could fold your first paragraph information into the next paragraph:

    In my 75,000-word contemporary novel SACRIFICE FALLS, David Talbott, disfigured in a fiery car accident as a child, . . .

  4. #4
    Cindy Kay

    Re: First Paragraph of Query


    You could use the first sentence to tell each agent why you're writing to him or her. But don't do the I-found-your-listing-in-whatever directory.

    For me, the part of the query where you talk about positive message and hope and strength doesn't work. The feel of this should be apparent in the plot description rather than pulling it out in a moral-of-the-story kind of way.

    Try to remove all "afters" and "concurrentlys" from the description. Those are red flags that you're sliding into a next-then driven description rather than character driven description.

    Hope this helps. And good luck.

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