Thursday, September 30, 2010

Query Number Three

You can read the entire context of my queries and the feedback at The Public Query Slushpile. (Under the heading Women's Fiction is the easiest way to find it.) Thanks again to Rick Daley and the amazing amount of work he does.

Here we go.

If Genna had thought going home would be hell, she would have brought along her hand basket.

Returning home to Bristol, Rhode Island for the annual Fourth of July parade for the first time in ten years, Genna is more than excited to share the great news about her fantastic promotion as executive kitchen manager at a swanky country club in Delaware. However, she isn’t home five minutes before trouble starts when she runs into her ex-fiancĂ©. Although everyone says he’s no good, Genna can’t see through her memories clearly enough to discern if they’re right.

Genna’s problems escalate as she discovers her aunt may have Alzheimer’s and no one in the family wants to deal with it. Angie is hysterical over a bad pap smear and a broken marriage. Robby completely shuts down when he finds out his plaid and pearl wearing girlfriend is pregnant. To put the icing on the cake, her beloved uncle has a heart attack.

Genna finds keeping her uncle’s diner open during the busiest time of the year is more than just hard work, it is in her blood and she questions if she should give up her new job in Delaware to stay in Bristol. And when little Petie DiCampo appears, all grown up and looking like a calendar boy, she wonders if he could be the man to finally break down the walls she’s built around herself since the night her parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a kid.

In twenty-one days, Genna figures out all the answers to her family’s problems before she heads back to Delaware. She also decides living without love is not in her future, the problem is, which man will she choose?

The Hook - Again with the hand basket line which I really really liked, however, as one person pointed out to me, even though it might be a great hook, it doesn't make any sense as you don't carry a hand basket to hell, you're already in the hand basket. As in, "I'm going to hell in a hand basket." And what did we learn about cliches?

Paragraph Two -- Details, details details. This is the feedback the last query brought so here I decided to show some of the details. Why she was going home, where she was going, what happens when she gets there. Although this is quite possibly too many details. To me, now as I read it, it seems a little stiff. Notice I got rid of the cliches and romance roots here.

Paragraph Three -- Who are all these people? Why do we care about them? Do we really need to know ALL the events of the story. No, No, and NO. This is all extraneous. Especially their names. Distracting.

Paragraph Four -- This is the meat of the story right here -- when Genna keeps the diner open and she realized maybe her dream job isn't all that. She QUESTIONS what's more important. This is her conflict. And as for Pete, another name to add to the growing pile of confusion. And now I've also thrown in the part about her parents which was never in any of the other queries. Sure it's important but it's not what's driving the story. (Well, it is but only in a minimalist kind of way.)

Final Paragraph -- I've ended the query with one decision made for Genna but then turn around and ask a question. And what did we learn about asking questions at the end of a query? In the words of Mater -- "To not to."

Any Questions? Hope you'll come back for the final installment tomorrow where we can discuss how I trimmed the fat and hopefully will have the query to entice an agent.


Clarissa Draper said...

What a great review of a query. I agree with what Matt says especially about the cliche. I didn't understand the hell in a hand-basket cliche and you don't want a publisher that doesn't either.
Great job.


Piedmont Writer said...

Clarissa -- Thanks, yeah, Matt is great. Although I really liked the handbasket line and I will use it somewhere, sometime, in another book.

Liza said...

Watching the progression...watching the improvements...a terrific lesson.

Mac said...

Impressed by your analysis. Know this will help me see my own queries differently.

Piedmont Writer said...

Liza and Mac -- Thanks.

Tara said...

You've done such a great job disecting your letters, Anne!

In the 2nd para, it reads like this is the first time in ten years they've had the *annual* 4th of July parade, lol.

Are you drowning yet? My back yard is.


Matthew Rush said...

Well this is getting really good. Looking forward to the next version!

Piedmont Writer said...

Tara -- Now see, I didn't even realize that. Good thing, this isn't the version I'm using.
Yeah, my dogs are fancy footing all over the place trying not to step in puddles.

Matt -- Thanks. Let's hope I get some interest by the 15th.

Bish Denham said...

Yes, I agree, the "hook" makes no sense and it still seems long to me. And I finally know the "meat" of the story.

Anonymous said...

I love that you can look so critically at your query, in spite of being so close to it.

I'm so sorry I missed reading and commenting on Query #2! But I can say that I definitely see improvement with each draft you post. I'm sure what you finally do send out is going to be awesome. :)

MB Dabney said...

Thanks for the advice on word count today.

Piedmont Writer said...

Bish -- Ta Da. There it is for all the world to see.

E. -- You can scroll down if you want. I'm leaving these posts up for awhile.

Piedmont Writer said...

Michael -- Not a problem.

Shelley Sly said...

Getting better, Anne! You're really getting down to what your story is about and letting the gripping drama shine through. :)

Jude said...

I really like the opening line and the first paragraph. But yea, the rest has too many details I think...

VR Barkowski said...

This is an amazing evolution, although, I admit, you lost me with the first line. There is too much detail and too many names (which you know), but the magical thing about this draft is everything is here: what the story's about, what Genna needs, her choice and what stands in her way. Can't wait to see how you narrow the focus and "trim the fat."

Piedmont Writer said...

Shelley -- I like that "gripping drama". LOL.

Jude -- Thanks, Thanks for stopping by. I still like that opening line.

VR -- Yeah, this was the last of the best of the queries over at TPQSP.