Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Query Number Two

Thanks again to Rick over at The Public Query Slushpile.

Okay, here we go.

If Genna thought returning home after a long absence would be hell, she would have brought along her hand-basket. Wanting to celebrate the good news about her fabulous job offer, Genna realizes it’s time to relinquish her past demons and go home.

Not even there five minutes, it comes back to haunt her in the form of her ex-fiancĂ© and her unresolved feelings for him. What he did a decade ago still twists her heart and when he asks for forgiveness, Genna decides to let the past go and move on. However, when Genna’s cousin reveals long buried secrets about her ex- Genna wonders if she made a mistake. “People don’t change” Angie says, but Genna has seen it happen in more than one person since returning. Including herself.

Unexpectedly, she discovers a promising new love in the arms of a man she once despised. Her family is pushing her into this new relationship but as she wrestles with her feelings, she makes the unbelievable mistake of sleeping with her ex-. Keeping the two men from finding out about each other proves to be impossible as they both show up for a date on the same night.

Moreover, her new promotion grows cold as she faces a family member’s health crisis no one saw coming. She wonders if she should skip the advancement and remain where she never wanted to leave or go and live the life she always thought she wanted. Genna, torn between two worlds, her decision to remain is the only one possible. However, which love will capture her heart, old or new?

My hook; see, now here, I thought I was being clever with the hell in a handbasket line but it didn't work out that way. Everyone said it just didn't work - AT ALL. And besides it's a cliche. And what did we learn about cliches?

Second paragraph -- still going back to the romance roots. "haunt her" "twists her heart" "long buried secrets".
And here, I've taken a quote from her cousin Angie, which is relevant to the story, but the agent will ask, who the hell is Angie and why is she in this query? It doesn't make sense.

I thought the third paragraph was pretty good, pitting the two men against each other and then the little teaser "as they both show up for the same date". I thought it was slightly amusing but it didn't really fly after I finished writing so much of the book.

The last paragraph -- I like the wording in this but as I continued to write the book and Genna's atitude and that of her family changed about her future, it didn't work as well as I liked. And never NEVER EVER end a query with a question that doesn't have the answer. An agent wants to know what happens and if the query isn't strong enough to begin with, ending with a question won't make her want to request pages.

Any questions? Hope you'll stop by tomorrow for Query Number Three.


Bish Denham said...

Hmmmm, at least I as able to read through the whole letter and not just scan it. I think I can see where things could be cut that are necessary to the core of the story, which seems to be the conflict Genna has over her feelings for two different men. I think this is story that needs to be told in your query.

Liza said...

I'm intrigued to see Number #3. I can see how #2 improved, but it lack clear details...given this exercise, I know you have continued to tweak this...these posts are a real help.

Piedmont Writer said...

Bish -- Yeah, it gets a little bit better as time goes on. I hope.

Liza -- Thanks, that's what I'm trying to do here, help.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, I've rewritten my query at least 250 times. Okay, some of that had to do with a big change in the plot that occurred after my last beta reader read the novel.

Can't wait to read #3. :D

Matthew Rush said...

This is certainly an improvement and I can't wait to see how it keeps getting better. The main problem I see with this one is too many specifics, but you are probably already aware of that.

Thanks Anne!

Tara said...

Hmm - I'm the oddball today, I guess. I like the writing (voice) better in the previous. I also thought this one had TMI. I'll patiently await round 3.

Um, did you order more rain? Enough already ;)

Piedmont Writer said...

Stina -- Believe me, just because this is query number two, it's probably the best of 232 tries.

Matt -- Yeah, this is why you have to be careful who you listen to when you write them. Someone told me I didn't have enough detail, so I overcompensated.

Tara -- You know, I liked that voice too. Way too much TMI. And no, this rain is not mine. As a matter of fact, I thought it was going to be clear and cool. It's the stupid tropical depression in Florida.

Jayne said...

Is this what you would put in a query letter, or in a synopsis? I agree with all your comments at the bottom - gosh, shows how close you are getting to cracking this!

I find the learning process with queries fascinating. Just when I think I have nailed it for good, I will discover something else that I should cut out.

Piedmont Writer said...

Jayne -- Good question, I think in this version it's half query, half synop.

Patti said...

I've rewriten my query more times than I can count. Thanks for letting us look into your process. Looking forward to number 3.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

i actually liked the handbasket line. But that's just me. Excited to see where it goes tomorrow

Michele Emrath said...

I agree to take out cliches and end with a question that can be answered. I will say I haven't researched much in the way of queries, so I won't add anything else this the whole letter?

Good job!


Piedmont Writer said...

Patti -- I've written this about 8000 times!

Sarah -- I LOVED that line and didn't want to let it go. I may use it in another book.

Michelle -- It's the body of the query letter, yes. I've got other stuff to add at the bottom, title, word count, genre etc.

Anne R. Allen said...

I kinda liked the handbasket, too. But it probably takes up too much room without saying enough. This is fascinating. So glad you're doing it.

T. Anne said...

I think this reads great. Makes me want to pull out my query and polish, polish, polish...

lotusgirl said...

One of the things I've learned through writing queries is that shorter is better. If I were you I'd cut this about in half. The agents just want the essence of the story with a feel for your voice. I like Nathan Bransford's idea of the sweet spot of 250-300 words total for the query. It forces us to get right to the point.

Shelley Sly said...

Anne, I so admire you for rewriting your query letter until it sparkles. I've written queries for 3 books (only actually queried one book, though) and as you know, it is not something easy to get on your first try. But I see lots of improvement and I really appreciate you sharing!

Piedmont Writer said...

Anne -- Thanks. Yeah, I'm bummed about the handbasket too.

T.Anne -- Well, let's hope you won't be disappointed with the final version.

Lois -- This isn't the final query. I'm doing a series this week showcasing my bad working my way toward the good. My final query count is actually 238 words.

Piedmont Writer said...

Shelley -- Thanks so much. And yeah, I'd like to shake the hand of the writer who got a query right the first time, found an agent and then published the book with it.