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Shattered Remnants (Historical Romance)


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#1 aworkinprogress

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 08:30 AM

I posted this on the other site months ago and have sent some out to agents and waiting for replies. Only one said it was good but it was not for them at this time, still waiting on the others, if they reply. Please read and give crits and ideas how I can pep it up. Thanks, Wanda.

Dear (Agent),

Rebecca Connors fell in love with a man she just discovered might have killed her parents. At least that’s what the kidnappers try to convince her of.

Soon after being sent to live with her grandfather in 1884 for a year in Portsmouth, England, the brutal murder of her parents happen. Learning to set grief aside, Rebecca must seek a suitable husband. Since the age of nine, she’s wanted to marry her childhood love Brantley. Circumstances begin to change with Reggie’s arrival, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia, tormented by nightmares, and trying to deal with the fear he murdered a woman; a woman he doesn’t realize is Rebecca’s mother.

Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Connors waltzes into the Ball with no idea how her life will change. As she gains the attention of the young men, Reggie is unprepared for the sight of her and the feelings she ignites in him. While still idealizing her childhood sweetheart, Brantley, she develops feelings for Reggie as they hold each other on the dance floor. After her courting resumes, she is hurt that Reggie shows no interest. The day she confronts Reggie and they share a first kiss, the man who really killed her parents kidnaps her and tries to convince her Reggie was responsible for her parents death. Reggie organizes a rescue and admits the truth his mind has unlocked. He had known her parents and tried saving her mother, but he was unsuccessful. He knew he could not allow this man to kill Rebecca too.

SHATTERED REMNANTS is a 72,000-word Historical Romance novel. I hope I have enticed you to want to read my novel. As per your requests I have include ____ following my query letter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

With Highest Regards,
Wanda David

#2 Barbara Struna

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 02:50 PM

Hello workinprogress,
Just some quick comments...ending a sentence with a preposition might be not in your best interest. (referring to first sentence.)
ALSO, MY WORDS ARE IN CAPS...

suggestion...start in the first graph with 'After the brutal murder of her parents .....she is sent to live with her grandfather.'

'Since the age of nine, she’s wanted to marry her childhood love, Brantley, but with the arrival of Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family, circumstances begin to change. (Just switched the words around.)

And I would stay away from contractions..for the 1800's, unless a very uneducated character was speaking.

'Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia AND tormented by nightmares.
(I would break up this sentence.) He fears he murdered a woman AND IT COULD BE Rebecca’s mother.
The second graf might be unnecessary, maybe try this ...'TORN BETWEEN TWO MEN, REBECCA....'

I actually would like to know more about the kidnapping, that seems more important. Besides you do not have to tell the ending of the story in your query.I like the premise of the story and would read it. Good Luck.

#3 murraypowers

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 11:54 PM

Hi Wanda, let me also suggest that you not give the entire story synopsis in this letter. These should always be like a coming attractions trailer, you should want to make readers curious as to what happens. Laying it all out is probably counterproductive...

#4 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 05:08 AM

Dear (Agent),

Rebecca Connors fell in love with a man she just discovered (who... or would it be whom? whichever one it is, the single word would make the sentence less wordy) might have killed her parents. At least that’s what the kidnappers try to convince her of.

Soon after being sent to live with her grandfather in 1884 for a year in Portsmouth, England, (this seems like an info-dump. You could move 'In 1884 to the beginning of the sentence to break it up) the brutal murder of her parents happen. Learning to set grief aside, Rebecca must seek a suitable husband. Since the age of nine, she’s wanted to marry her childhood love Brantley. Circumstances begin to change with Reggie’s arrival, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia, tormented by nightmares, and trying to deal with the fear he murdered a woman; a woman he doesn’t realize is Rebecca’s mother. (Three names in a short paragraph--it's too much. Focus more on Rebecca and less on the people she interacts with.)

Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Connors waltzes into the Ball (what ball?) with no idea how her life will change. As she gains the attention of the young men, Reggie is unprepared for the sight of her (with this, you switched focus to Reggie as the active character) and the feelings she ignites in him. While still idealizing her childhood sweetheart, Brantley, she develops feelings for Reggie as they hold each other on the dance floor. After her courting resumes, she is hurt that Reggie shows no interest. The day she confronts Reggie and they share a first kiss, the man who really killed her parents kidnaps her and tries to convince her Reggie was responsible for her parents death. Reggie organizes a rescue and admits the truth his mind has unlocked. He had known her parents and tried saving her mother, but he was unsuccessful. He knew he could not allow this man to kill Rebecca too.

SHATTERED REMNANTS is a 72,000-word Historical Romance novel. I hope I have enticed you to want to read my novel. As per your requests I have include ____ following my query letter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.





Okay, normally I'd go line by line and give more comments, but there's a big problem with the entire query. You're focusing too much on the details, which makes it a huge cluster-mess. I know how hard it is to summarize, but here's what I've found to help me narrow it down:

Who is your MAIN character? This is the character to focus on.
What is the climax of the book? This gives you an idea of your CENTRAL conflict.
What is the end of your book? The OPPOSITE of this gives you an idea of the stakes/consequences of failure.


Now, that doesn't hold true for every novel, but it might help to give you a way to cut out the distracting side-plots from your query. And a good query has these three key elements along with a hook.... without making an agent confused by the other situations which might be simultaneously occurring.

Good luck.

"Until the last breath leaves my body, I'll keep walking."  --Allen Walker, "D. Gray-man"


#5 aworkinprogress

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 05:38 PM

Thank you for your help. I will work all of this into a redo. I was really dreading the query-shark-like-Ashley but thank you for the helpful input ( you did it kinda friendly but still let me know I had big problems since you couldn't even slash me all the way through my query). :blush: Thank you Barbara for the exceptionally helpful areas to fix :biggrin:

#6 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 06:46 PM

Wanda, the best advice I ever got was tell what the MC wants and what stands in the way of her getting it. Then up the ante by giving her some unpalatable choices to make.

I also think Peter says Hook - in the beginning to suck the reader in. Crook???? anyway, it's more detailed paragraph but leave the reader wanting more. And Cook - any experience that you have that pertains to your work; if none, omit this part.

#7 aworkinprogress

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:35 PM

I hope this elicites better responses because I like it (but I'm too close to the story, sigh).

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie)--who may have killed her parents in Africa. At least that is what the kidnappers try to convince her of. What’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing.

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England. Now Rebecca must seek a suitable husband. Since the age of nine, she has wanted to marry her childhood love, but with the arrival of Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family, circumstances begin to change. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares.

When Rebecca Connors waltzes into the Spring Ball she has no idea how her life will change. Reggie is unprepared for the sight of her and the feelings she ignites in him as he hands her his dance card. While still idealizing her childhood sweetheart, she develops feelings for Reggie as they hold each other on the dance floor. After her courting resumes, she is hurt that Reggie shows no interest. The day she confronts Reggie and they share a first kiss, the real murderer kidnaps her. He then tries to convince her Reggie was responsible for her parents’ death. Reggie organizes a rescue and races to save Rebecca before this man, who he finally remembered killed her parents, can kill her too.

#8 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:29 PM

Thank you for your help. I will work all of this into a redo. I was really dreading the query-shark-like-Ashley but thank you for the helpful input ( you did it kinda friendly but still let me know I had big problems since you couldn't even slash me all the way through my query). :blush: Thank you Barbara for the exceptionally helpful areas to fix :biggrin:


LOL Don't dread me! Trust me, my query was horrendous at first--and I actually sent it out to an agent before I found these forums. I'm not surprised I got ignored, but I still blush whenever I think about it. My 'Query' was a two-three page synopsis, which--in my naivety--I thought was 'short.' The only reason I do Shark style at all is because I noticed how CLEAR the critique is when it's used. There's a reason no one ever asks Janet Reid 'what do you mean?'

"Until the last breath leaves my body, I'll keep walking."  --Allen Walker, "D. Gray-man"


#9 aworkinprogress

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:35 PM

LOL Don't dread me! Trust me, my query was horrendous at first--and I actually sent it out to an agent before I found these forums. I'm not surprised I got ignored, but I still blush whenever I think about it. My 'Query' was a two-three page synopsis, which--in my naivety--I thought was 'short.' The only reason I do Shark style at all is because I noticed how CLEAR the critique is when it's used. There's a reason no one ever asks Janet Reid 'what do you mean?'


Who wants her to bite you for all the world to read about your ignorance when you ask, Wuh? But really, I like the way it clarifies what needs worked on and how they suggest it.

#10 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:37 PM

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie)--who may have killed her parents in Africa. At least that is what the kidnappers try to convince her of. What’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing. (This hook still doesn't seem to be catching my attention. I think it's because it's three sentences: setup, climax, conflict instead of a one-sentence attention-getter.)

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England. Now Rebecca must seek a suitable husband. Since the age of nine, she has wanted to marry her childhood love, but with the arrival of Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family, circumstances begin to change. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares. (I wouldn't touch any of this.)

When Rebecca Connors waltzes into the Spring Ball she has no idea how her life will change. (comma) Reggie is unprepared for the sight of her and the feelings she ignites (feelings) in him as he hands her his dance card. While still idealizing her childhood sweetheart, she develops feelings for Reggie as they hold each other on the dance floor. After her courting resumes, she is hurt that Reggie shows no interest. The day she confronts Reggie and they share a first kiss, the real murderer kidnaps her (this is slightly confusing since there's been no mention of the murder outside of the hook. I'd generalize it down to 'she's kidnapped by a man who' and combine it with the following sentence.) He then tries to convince her Reggie was responsible for her parents’ death. Reggie organizes a rescue and races to save Rebecca before this man, who he finally remembered killed her parents, can kill her too.


Hope this was helpful.

"Until the last breath leaves my body, I'll keep walking."  --Allen Walker, "D. Gray-man"


#11 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:40 PM

Who wants her to bite you for all the world to read about your ignorance when you ask, Wuh? But really, I like the way it clarifies what needs worked on and how they suggest it.


LOL Good point. I'm not that good, though, since I'm still occasionally the one who's found to be ignorant. ;)

"Until the last breath leaves my body, I'll keep walking."  --Allen Walker, "D. Gray-man"


#12 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 09:28 AM

I hope this elicites better responses because I like it (but I'm too close to the story, sigh).

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie)--who may have killed her parents in Africa. At least that is what the kidnappers try to convince her of. What’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing.

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England. Now Rebecca must seek a suitable husband. Since the age of nine, she has wanted to marry her childhood love, but with the arrival of Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family, circumstances begin to change. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares.

When Rebecca Connors waltzes into the Spring Ball she has no idea how her life will change. Reggie is unprepared for the sight of her and the feelings she ignites in him as he hands her his dance card. While still idealizing her childhood sweetheart, she develops feelings for Reggie as they hold each other on the dance floor. After her courting resumes, she is hurt that Reggie shows no interest. The day she confronts Reggie and they share a first kiss, the real murderer kidnaps her. He then tries to convince her Reggie was responsible for her parents’ death. Reggie organizes a rescue and races to save Rebecca before this man, who he finally remembered killed her parents, can kill her too.



You're telling the whole story in the query. All you want to do is to intrigue an agt/ed into wanting more by showing you have a story and that you understand it. Where does your real story start? With Rebecca's parents' murders? Or with her meeting with Reggie? Use the beginning as a springboard to your query. E.g., If it's her meeting Reggie: Rebecca Connors is all set to marry her childhood sweetheart when Commodore Lord Reginald Livingston waltzes into her life. She knows he's attracted to her but can't make him admit it.

Yeah, this isn't good, but you know your story. Maybe you can see from my poor example what kind of hook you'll need to bring it to life in a query. Use a hook, tell a little about the story - just a little! - such as why Reggie is reticent to romance Rebecca because he thinks he killed her parents. Then end the blurb part on a teaser. E.g., Now Rebecca is held captive and her only hope for rescue is Reggie, who, her kidnapper asserts, killed her parents. Then go to your stats and thank you sentences.

No need to tell the entire plot in a query. Save it for the synopsis.

Sounds like a good story but if the query doesn't convey that, the pages will never get read.

Just my opinion, naturally.

#13 aworkinprogress

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 07:23 AM

Thanks CherylD and Ashley. I will TRY to rework and make it stand out. It's hard to convey the story with some sparkle because a lot of things add up to the climax. When you put one part of it then the agent may say WHAT THE??? when they read it. It's hard to pick out one thing that may work and not confuse the begeebies out of them IF they read. But then again if they read it they may like it anyway and isn't that the purpose? Now I'm siked again, thanks. :biggrin: Here come the crickets while I work some more.
Wanda

#14 aworkinprogress

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:37 PM

I tossed around some more ideas and took your advice CherlyD. I left out smaller details and I hope it is still clear but catchy. PLEASE let me know how it sounds. :blush:

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie), and now her kidnappers are saying he killed her parents in Africa, what’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing.

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England in 1884, leaving Rebecca to seek a suitable husband. She is torn between her childhood love and newfound attraction for Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares. Between the nightmares, where he thinks he killed a woman, and knowing how Rebecca feels for her childhood sweetheart, Reggie steps aside. Now Rebecca is held captive and her only hope for rescue is Reggie, who, her kidnapper asserts, killed her parents.

#15 Cheryl B. Dale

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:33 AM

I tossed around some more ideas and took your advice CherlyD. I left out smaller details and I hope it is still clear but catchy. PLEASE let me know how it sounds. :blush:

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie), and now her kidnappers are saying he killed her parents in Africa, what’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing.

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England in 1884, leaving Rebecca to seek a suitable husband. She is torn between her childhood love and newfound attraction for Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares. Between the nightmares, where he thinks he killed a woman, and knowing how Rebecca feels for her childhood sweetheart, Reggie steps aside. Now Rebecca is held captive and her only hope for rescue is Reggie, who, her kidnapper asserts, killed her parents.


Still not ready. When you mention kidnappers right away, the reader will go "Huh?" This is also a run-on sentence.

I am wondering if before you start querying, you need to get someone to review your ms, for basic grammar and also the writing. The way the query is written, I suspect an agt/ed will realize you're still at the development stage of your craft and reject out of hand.

The story sounds like a good one but the craft does need work.

But of course, this is just my opinion. I hope it helps.

#16 CJ Brassington

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 01:12 PM

Hi, Wanda
I'm going to use your first post as a springboard for my suggestions simply because there was so much information to work with. I'll try to help you whittle it down for the strongest outcome. :smile:
"
HOOK:
When Rebecca Connors' parents are murdered, she must find a suitable husband, but what happens when the man she chooses to love might just have been the murderer?
=OR=
Life was simple in 1884 England for Rebecca Connors, until the murder of her parents forces her to seek a husband and her heart's choice might just be the murderer.

SUMMARY:
After being sent to her grandfather in England to [finish her education? be entered into society?], Rebecca Connors' hears that her parents have been murdered in Africa. Forced by circumstance to find a husband quickly, her childhood love seems the most likely match. But when a tormented Commodore in the Royal Navy enters the suitor scene, she is not prepared for the way in which he shakes up her mending heart. Rebecca must reconcile the Shattered Remnants of the not-too-distant past with the possibility of a life with a man who, it turns out, might have had a hand in her parents' death.
"

Now this might be too short, but think: jacket blurb. You don't want to give too much away in the query; that comes later. You just want to draw them in so that they want to read the rest. Don't worry about the kidnapping being a surprise. That is just the vehicle in which you are upping the stakes, and causing the characters to act at maximum capacity. The integral part of the story (if I understand it correctly) is the relationship between Rebecca and the man whom she ultimately doesn't know if she can trust.
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#17 RosieSkye

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 10:02 PM

A few thoughts:

I tossed around some more ideas and took your advice CherlyD. I left out smaller details and I hope it is still clear but catchy. PLEASE let me know how it sounds. :blush:

Rebecca Connors fell in love with Lord Reginald Livingston (Reggie), and now her kidnappers are saying he killed her parents in Africa, what’s worse is that Reggie’s dreams try to convince him of the same thing. Who's your main character? If it's Rebecca, we the readers should be seeing things from her viewpoint. If she doesn't know that Reggie is having these dreams about her parents at this point, then we shouldn't either.

The murder of her parents takes place a year after she is sent to Portsmouth, England in 1884, leaving Rebecca to seek a suitable husband. She is torn between her childhood love I'd nix this, as it doesn't seem to have any bearing on the main storyline and newfound attraction for Reggie, a Commodore in the Royal Navy and friend of the family. Recently returned from an African skirmish, Reggie is suffering temporary amnesia and tormented by nightmares. Between the nightmares, where he thinks he killed a womanagain getting into another character's head and knowing how Rebecca feels for her childhood sweetheart, Reggie steps aside. Now Rebecca is held captive and her only hope for rescue is Reggie, who, her kidnapper asserts, killed her parents.


I think you have a lot of great stuff here, but it's getting bogged down in more minor details. You've got a gal with murdered parents who's just been kidnapped and told the man she loves is the murderer. I'd forget the minor love triangle (maybe it's not minor in your story, but it's paling in comparison to your other story elements here.)

I think a great way to kill two birds with one stone - getting out of Reggie's head and providing a great cliffhanger - is to leave it open as to his intentions. Nightmares about killing someone suggest that even if he did it, it wasn't intentional or he is at least remorseful. Leave us wondering if he didn't kill her parents and enjoy it. End it with something like, "Rebecca is kidnapped and held hostage by a man who knows the truth about Reggie - and what happened to her parents." Wording it this way leaves open the idea that Reggie is in league with the kidnapper and Rebecca could be next on his hit list. (Why is she kidnapped, by the way?)

All these ideas are just my opinion, of course.

#18 Laurel Garver

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:23 AM

Hi, Wanda
I'm going to use your first post as a springboard for my suggestions simply because there was so much information to work with. I'll try to help you whittle it down for the strongest outcome. :smile:
"
HOOK:
When Rebecca Connors' parents are murdered, she must find a suitable husband, but what happens when the man she chooses to love might just have been the murderer?
=OR=
Life was simple in 1884 England for Rebecca Connors, until the murder of her parents forces her to seek a husband and her heart's choice might just be the murderer.

SUMMARY:
After being sent to her grandfather in England to [finish her education? be entered into society?], Rebecca Connors' hears that her parents have been murdered in Africa. Forced by circumstance to find a husband quickly, her childhood love seems the most likely match. But when a tormented Commodore in the Royal Navy enters the suitor scene, she is not prepared for the way in which he shakes up her mending heart. Rebecca must reconcile the Shattered Remnants of the not-too-distant past with the possibility of a life with a man who, it turns out, might have had a hand in her parents' death.
"

Now this might be too short, but think: jacket blurb. You don't want to give too much away in the query; that comes later. You just want to draw them in so that they want to read the rest. Don't worry about the kidnapping being a surprise. That is just the vehicle in which you are upping the stakes, and causing the characters to act at maximum capacity. The integral part of the story (if I understand it correctly) is the relationship between Rebecca and the man whom she ultimately doesn't know if she can trust.


I think the direction CJ is suggesting here is so much more clear and compelling. Better lean toward too short than toward including material that could potentially confuse.

A side note grammar/mechanics thing: Watch out for creating possessives of singlar nouns ending in S--singular nouns always take an 's, no matter what the ending letter of that noun. The correct possessive of her last name is Connors's (Connors' is the plural possessive of Connor). If that feels awkward, then by all means change her last name to simply Connor.

#19 Diana O.

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 01:32 PM

Hi, Wanda
I'm going to use your first post as a springboard for my suggestions simply because there was so much information to work with. I'll try to help you whittle it down for the strongest outcome. :smile:
"
HOOK:
When Rebecca Connors' parents are murdered, she must find a suitable husband, but what happens when the man she chooses to love might just have been the murderer?
=OR=
Life was simple in 1884 England for Rebecca Connors, until the murder of her parents forces her to seek a husband and her heart's choice might just be the murderer.

SUMMARY:
After being sent to her grandfather in England to [finish her education? be entered into society?], Rebecca Connors' hears that her parents have been murdered in Africa. Forced by circumstance to find a husband quickly, her childhood love seems the most likely match. But when a tormented Commodore in the Royal Navy enters the suitor scene, she is not prepared for the way in which he shakes up her mending heart. Rebecca must reconcile the Shattered Remnants of the not-too-distant past with the possibility of a life with a man who, it turns out, might have had a hand in her parents' death.
"

Now this might be too short, but think: jacket blurb. You don't want to give too much away in the query; that comes later. You just want to draw them in so that they want to read the rest. Don't worry about the kidnapping being a surprise. That is just the vehicle in which you are upping the stakes, and causing the characters to act at maximum capacity. The integral part of the story (if I understand it correctly) is the relationship between Rebecca and the man whom she ultimately doesn't know if she can trust.


Wow, I really like what CJ did here, especially the "hook" possibilities at the beginning. The summary is much more stream-lined and sometimes less really is more. Too much information can just bog the reader down, and if you have a reader scratching their head, trying to figure out the plot, they are likely to just pass on your query rather than spend more time with it.

I understand your problem--I've had the same issue writing my query. There's just so much going on in my book that I don't know what to leave in and what to leave out. I really had to get it down to the bare bones to make it as clear and concise as possible...and I'm still not 100% satisfied with it. You just have to keep taking away the minor details until the main, most striking elements of the story are left.

I'm new at this so I hope this makes some sense. I feel your pain, if that's any help!

"I dwell in Possibility." ~ Emily Dickinson

Website: Presently in the Past





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