Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

And Then You're Gone REVISION #15 (Literary Fiction)

Fiction Literary Fiction

  • Please log in to reply
58 replies to this topic

#41 SomethingWicked

SomethingWicked

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 45 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 25 February 2016 - 01:40 AM

Dear So and So,

 

Blake Hatchett has tried to bury the remorse he feels in {for} the death of a childhood friend for a decade a decade ago. Once an amateur boxer with Olympic aspirations, he’s now a line cook, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his old portable at night. When his inability to commit causes the woman he loves to leave him, he spirals into depression plunges into a whirlpool of malaise. {This phasing is too purpley.}  Creatively blocked, mired in his past, his depression darkens suicidal. {If you're looking to shorten your query, and I agree you should, this is a thing to cut.} Desperate for solace, he quits his job and flees to Bangkok  Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he hopes.

 

Blake finds only superficial peace in his wanderings across Thailand. So he travels to {There's just no reason we need to know he went to Thailand first. It's not consequential enough for the query} In Kolkata, believing he can numb his own hurt by immersing in the pain of others, and he settles in the city as a volunteer. Contrary to expectations, his spiritual atrophy intensifies. While assisting at the Home for the Dying, lending final comfort to the city’s endless supply of starved and destitute, he becomes enthralled with Rebeca Ruiz, an eccentric volunteer and breeder of bulls. Together, they embark on a pilgrimage from India to Nepal, across the Himalayas and back again. (This is telling us the plot. We just need the set up to hook us into actually reading the book, not just have it summarized.} And when a riot in Kolkata engulfs the pair in its fiery sweep, Blake faces an opportunity for redemption {I would try to find a way to remind us about the childhood death bit here- at first I was like "why does he need redeeming" because the "feeling guilty" bit was so much earlier in the query and not referenced since}, though the cost--if he fails--will be more terrible than he can imagine. {Be specific, not vague and gesturing. What are the consequences? Agent Janet Reid of Query Shark says there are four questions you MUST answer in a query. Who's the main character? What do they want? What must they sacrifice to get it? What decision are they making? You have the first two, and possibly some hinting at the third, but you need to really flesh out the decision he's making. Will he choose THIS or THAT and what are the consequences if he chooses this, and what are the consequences if he chooses that? The whole end of the query needs work, because we're not sure why there's a riot- this comes out of nowhere- and how it's set the whole city on fire, and how or why Blake and his girl are involved, and what choice he has before him that will determine whether or not he'll have redemption. And what's the cost if he fails? "will be more terrible than he can imagine" is a cop out, we need something more than that.}

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a work of literary existentialism {I say this with all love and friendliness, "a work of literary existentialism" comes across as very pretentious- and I was a philosophy major in school so being insufferably pretentious is my game and I love to play it, but not in a query. Just say "is a literary novel".}, completed at 123,000 words, about repressed guilt, life’s transience and a poet’s search for reconciliation as he travels abroad for the first time.  Again I super recommend reading Query Shark- she's a stickler for not gesturing to themes and motifs in a query letter, and I think she's right to be. Let the work speak for itself.} An excerpt from the novel appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal and six of my nineteen published shorts feature Blake as narrator. Thank you for your time.


QUERY (Dread and Satisfaction, literary/magical realism): http://agentquerycon...agical-realism/  


#42 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 29 February 2016 - 11:49 AM

Hey all, latest draft. Hoping dearly this is sendable. Any feedback greatly appreciated

 

Dear So and So,

 

Blake Hatchett was once a boxer with Olympic aspirations; he’s now a line cook, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his old portable at night. For ten years he’s tried to bury the memory of a drowning he witnessed and the guilt he feels for not diving to the rescue. When his inability to commit causes the woman he loves to leave him, he plunges into depression. Desperate for solace, he quits his job and flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

Hoping to cure his pain by immersing in the struggle of others, he settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to the endless supply of Kolkata’s starved and destitute. Contrary to his intentions, his sorrow deepens. Terrified his pilgrimage has been in vain, an unexpected relationship alerts Blake to the potential for a new world, in which he’s come to terms with the boy he watched die and the woman he hurt so much. But first he must stop running from himself and confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else succumb to his cowardice and risk losing his chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 76,000 words. The first chapter appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal and six of my nineteen published shorts feature Blake as narrator. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#43 pcatherine30

pcatherine30

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 12 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Novella, short stories

Posted 06 March 2016 - 03:36 PM

Mike, I don't know too much about queries, newbie here. 

But query shark says that no sentence in a query should have over twenty words. So chop down the long sentences. She says they read better. 

Hope this helps.



#44 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 07 March 2016 - 03:51 PM

Hey Everybody. Thank you all for the feedback thus far--It has proved most significant! Here is the newest draft. Wondering if this is ready. 

 

Dear,

 

Blake Hatchett was once a boxer with Olympic aspirations; he’s now a line cook, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his old portable at night. For ten years he’s tried to bury the memory of a drowning he witnessed and his guilt for not diving to the rescue. When his inability to commit causes the woman he loves to leave him, he plunges into depression. Desperate for solace, he flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

Blake settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to the endless supply of Kolkata’s starved and destitute. Contrary to his intentions, his sorrow deepens. Terrified his pilgrimage has been in vain, an unexpected relationship awakens Blake to the potential for redemption. But first he must confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his absurd flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 75,000 words. The first chapter appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#45 Veldehar

Veldehar

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest

Posted 10 March 2016 - 03:02 PM

Hmmm, this is a tricky one, but then I think queries are just tricky to begin with, LOL. I don't think I see anything technically wrong, but on the base read it feels a touch, flat is the wrong word. Tricky, without more detail, but gonna give a couple things a shot. First, we don't really have a hook line summarizing the story. To me, your first line sounds like the second paragraph's start, or a hook begging for a worm... let's see, hrrm. 

 

Anyhow, gonna take a notion and run with it, see if this jogs the brain juices for you, even though I don't really know story details. I prefer to just give suggestions, but if you're in a rut, maybe this off the cuff rehash will knock you out of it. LOL. 

 

Blake Hatchett KO'd Ivan Kane to qualify for the Athens Olympics in 2004, but a week later he witnessed a friend's drowning. Alive but stuck on the declivity of depression he flees to Kolkata to escape his troubles, but instead finds himself facing his past and discovering a road to redemption..

 

For a decade Blake has bounced from job to job, lately a line cook grilling paninis for tourists. Every day is a fight to bury the guilt of not diving to save his friend, so every night he types poems on his old portable in the pursuit of catharsis. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit to not just her, but anything, he submerges deeper into depression. Desperate... etc etc.

 

What I'm trying to do is give things just a bit more oomph, give more hints to the emotional depth I suspect your book possesses. And any way you go, think of flipping the bury the memories for bury the guilt... for some reason it works better for me. It hits straighter on the emotion than burying a memory. 

 

Well, I hope anything in that babble helps, LOL.



#46 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 10 March 2016 - 03:22 PM

Hmmm, this is a tricky one, but then I think queries are just tricky to begin with, LOL. I don't think I see anything technically wrong, but on the base read it feels a touch, flat is the wrong word. Tricky, without more detail, but gonna give a couple things a shot. First, we don't really have a hook line summarizing the story. To me, your first line sounds like the second paragraph's start, or a hook begging for a worm... let's see, hrrm. 

 

Anyhow, gonna take a notion and run with it, see if this jogs the brain juices for you, even though I don't really know story details. I prefer to just give suggestions, but if you're in a rut, maybe this off the cuff rehash will knock you out of it. LOL. 

 

Blake Hatchett KO'd Ivan Kane to qualify for the Athens Olympics in 2004, but a week later he witnessed a friend's drowning. Alive but stuck on the declivity of depression he flees to Kolkata to escape his troubles, but instead finds himself facing his past and discovering a road to redemption..

 

For a decade Blake has bounced from job to job, lately a line cook grilling paninis for tourists. Every day is a fight to bury the guilt of not diving to save his friend, so every night he types poems on his old portable in the pursuit of catharsis. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit to not just her, but anything, he submerges deeper into depression. Desperate... etc etc.

 

What I'm trying to do is give things just a bit more oomph, give more hints to the emotional depth I suspect your book possesses. And any way you go, think of flipping the bury the memories for bury the guilt... for some reason it works better for me. It hits straighter on the emotion than burying a memory. 

 

Well, I hope anything in that babble helps, LOL.

 

I like where you've went with this! Appreciate it very much--point of clarification: in the novel Blake is fourteen when he watches a friend drown. I'm reluctant to phrase it like this as it sounds to me like murder, and in the story it's a rogue wave that's responsible. He takes up boxing in the aftermath, then quits because he realizes no matter how strong he becomes on the surface, at heart he's a coward.


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#47 Veldehar

Veldehar

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest

Posted 10 March 2016 - 03:50 PM

I like where you've went with this! Appreciate it very much--point of clarification: in the novel Blake is fourteen when he watches a friend drown. I'm reluctant to phrase it like this as it sounds to me like murder, and in the story it's a rogue wave that's responsible. He takes up boxing in the aftermath, then quits because he realizes no matter how strong he becomes on the surface, at heart he's a coward.

 

 

Yeah the details are the devil, but the main thing with the beginning was giving it more flash, baiting the hook. If you like the angle presented, I'm sure you can bend it around to fit the details of the actual scenario of the story. Look forward to seeing the next pass.

 

Stupid brain wouldn't stop thinking, so I jotted this down...now back to my own stuff, LOL.

 

At fourteen Blake Hatchett is paralyzed by fear when a rogue wave drowns his friend. A decade later, with every facet of life still suffering from the nagging guilt of his failure to save his friend, he flees to Kolkata to escape his troubles, but instead finds himself facing his past and discovering a road to redemption.

 

And into boxing to both prove his courage, as flagellation or penitence, lover leaves him, etc.



#48 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 11 March 2016 - 03:41 PM

Hello All, so this is a tad long, I think--but then, I also think it's good (damn these query letters!). Feedback would very appreciated. Is this closing on something I can send out? 

 

Dear So and so,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead.

 

Ten years later finds Blake a debauched line cook, failed boxer and aspirant writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti at night. For ten years his life has been one futile attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in the drowning of a close friend. Paralysis afflicts him like a shadow. Not even his relationship is immune; his girlfriend lives six hundred miles away. When she can take no more of his inability to commit, she leaves him, plunging Blake into depression. Yearning for catharsis, desperate for solace, he flees to Kolkata: abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of starved and destitute. Hoping to numb his pain by immersion into the suffering of others, he is shocked when his sorrow only deepens. He befriends an eccentric Spaniard and through her uncovers a path to redemption. Together they embark on a pilgrimage across the Himalayas, where Blake must at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 75,000 words. Readers of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son will enjoy the gritty, hallucinatory realism of the voice, while those with a penchant for the stark and beautiful landscapes of Cormac McCarthy (think The Crossing) will relish the visceral clarity of Blake’s world. The first chapter was published in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.      


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#49 Veldehar

Veldehar

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest

Posted 11 March 2016 - 04:38 PM

Think you are coming close to driving that nail, but something does begin to fishtail around a bit in there. A couple of quick things that jump out: his girlfriend lives 600 miles away and then she leaves him... I'm not sure her distance matters enough to put that in here. Yearning... desperate... might feel a bit melodramatic. Not bad, but think on it. I think the "immersion" sentence could use a bit of restructure. Befriends or potential blossoming romance? If the latter, consider teasing this. 

 

Don't have time anything in depth, but maybe those quick thoughts will assist.



#50 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 11 March 2016 - 06:12 PM

Onward!

 

Dear So and so,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead.

 

Ten years later finds Blake a debauched line cook, failed boxer and aspirant writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti at night. For ten years his life has been one attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in the accidental drowning of a close friend. Paralysis afflicts him like a shadow. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit and leaves him, Blake plunges into depression. Yearning for catharsis, desperate for solace, he flees to Kolkata: abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. But his sorrow only deepens and he begins to despair his pilgrimage has been in vain. Then he meets Rebeca, and through her unexpected friendship he uncovers a potential road to redemption. They embark on a trek across the Himalayas, where Blake will at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 75,000 words. Readers of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son will relish the gritty, hallucinatory realism of the voice, while those with a penchant for the stark and beautiful landscapes of Cormac McCarthy (think The Crossing) will enjoy the visceral clarity of the many settings. The first chapter was published in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#51 Veldehar

Veldehar

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 341 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Midwest

Posted 11 March 2016 - 06:38 PM

Better, better. Only tick a quick read caused was the "begins to despair". Begins is a momentum killer and weakener of what follows. It might be cleaner to simply say "But his sorrow only deepens and he fears his pilgrimage has been in vain."

 

I'm not so sure about the colon break "Kolkata: abandoning", yeah that's being nitty, but LOL. 

 

Otherwise, I'd call this damned done enough to float out as a trial balloon on some agents. That's my opinion anyhow.



#52 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 02 April 2016 - 04:04 PM

Hey all, so it's been revised and I feel this is pretty close. Feedback always appreciated. 

 

Dear,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead.

 

Ten years later finds Blake a debauched line cook, failed boxer and aspirant writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti at night. For ten years his life has been one attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in the accidental drowning of a close friend. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit and leaves him, Blake plunges into depression. Yearning for solace, he flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. His sorrow deepens and he fears his pilgrimage has been in vain. Then he meets Rebeca and through her friendship uncovers a potential road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. They embark on a trek across the Himalayas, where Blake will at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his absurd flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son), Lydia Yuknavitch (Chronology of Water) or Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). In August of 2015 the opening chapter appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.      

 

Sincerely,


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#53 apac

apac

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 69 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging, unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 02 April 2016 - 07:24 PM

Hi Mike,

 

Thanks for sharing your work. I really liked your story - great arc of a troubled and struggling protagonist. I would just add more specificity to his internal conflict and some detail as certain sentences are vague. 

if you would like to return the favor, my query is here:

 

http://agentquerycon...eper-ya-sci-fi/
 

Warmly,

 

Apac

 

Hey all, so it's been revised and I feel this is pretty close. Feedback always appreciated. 

 

Dear,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead. (not a fan of this opening - more jarring than aything else.)

 

Ten years later finds Blake a debauched  (not sure this is the right adj here) line cook, failed boxer and aspirant (aspiring?) writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti at night. For ten years his life has been one attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in (feels from I think) the accidental drowning of a close friend. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit and leaves him (what does this have to do with the drowning, I don't see the connection?), Blake plunges into depression. Yearning for solace, he flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.(seems kind of a strange place to flee too..maybe give some of his motivations as to why he picked that location?) 

 

Or so he thinks.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. His sorrow deepens and he fears his pilgrimage has been in vain. Then he meets Rebeca and through her friendship uncovers a potential road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it (this sounds nice but doesn't say much...how specifically does she affect him? Why?). They embark on a trek across the Himalayas, where Blake will at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse (by what method exactly...), or else continue his absurd (would pick diff. adj here) flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever. (why so final? Why forever?) 

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words (I don't get a sense of "literary" here...maybe add more thematic touches to the query?) . It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son), Lydia Yuknavitch (Chronology of Water) or Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). In August of 2015 the opening chapter appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.      

 

Sincerely,



#54 DaveTheRave

DaveTheRave

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 226 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand
  • Publishing Experience:The very definition of zero. You're appalled? Imagine how I feel.

Posted 10 April 2016 - 04:18 AM

Hey all, so it's been revised and I feel this is pretty close. Feedback always appreciated. 

 

Dear,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead.

A punchy opening sentence is mandatory in a query, so I totally respect what you're trying to do here, but I really think this misfires. People die every day. I don't know who Connor is and don't care. There's no intrigue to pull me to the next line. I actually prefer one of your previous iterations where Blake talked about the day he realised he was a coward.

 

Ten years later This abrupt jump into the future really sinks that already-leaking opening line for me. Somebody close to a protagonist I know nothing about dies...I don't care...and I don't need to because suddenly it's ten years in the future. I understand you're laying a seed as to why Blake's life goes sideways, but this is, unfortunately, giving me zero traction.

finds Blake is a debauched line cook, failed boxer and aspirant aspiring(I think 'wannabe' is actually better given his circumstance) writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti at night. A debauched lifestyle is cool, that intrigues me, but if you call him a "debauched line cook" it heavily implies he's carrying out sex acts with the food he is preparing. Maybe try something more like 'Ten years later sleaze has overtaken Blake, a line cook...' or whatever, or find a better adjective to describe his work existence, as I presume you don't really have him secret-saucing the hamburgers?

For ten years his life has been one attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in the accidental drowning of a close friend. This sentence just lacks pep. I don't 'feel' it with him.  "His is a life gone sideways, mired with guilt over a death he failed to prevent." When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit this phrase is a massive cliche and leaves him, Blake plunges into depression I saw you use malaise in an earlier draft and it's a much more evocative word for use here. Yearning for solace(redundant), he flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles. Cool, a man striking out on a troubled, exotic road.

 

Or so he thinks. But your troubles never really leave you.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. Cool His sorrow deepens and he fears his pilgrimage has been in vain. "but he cannot heal his own pain that drove him there." Then he meets Rebeca and through her friendship boring. You need to introduce Rebecca as somebody interesting uncovers a potential road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. They embark on a trek across the Himalayas, It leads a across the Himalayas, a trek in which Blake will at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his absurd flight from himself and risk losing his chance at peace forever. Nice - grand adventure and grand stakes.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son), Lydia Yuknavitch (Chronology of Water) or Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). In August of 2015 the opening chapter appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.      

 

Sincerely,

Mike, sorry to say this as you hoped you were almost done, but I think this still needs more marination.

 

I strongly think you should start with talking about Blake's life on the slide. That's when the story starts. The incident years before is obviously the key driver of his character, but that explanation is more effective when revealed once the character is established.

 

On a site dominated by dragons and teen angst, this is one of the couple queries I've read whose subject I'd actually be interested in getting my hands on. My suggestions on phrasing are not meant to be adopted verbatim, they're just more of a push in the direction I think the word choice should go, but they of, course should be your words.

 

Good luck, I look forward to seeing the next one. In the meantime, as we seem to have the same writing proclivities, I'd really appreciate it if you'd hit me up with a critique on my rather overwritten first effort here:

 

http://agentquerycon...erary-thriller/

 

thanks,

Dave


Feedback is always appreciated on:

 

Query: http://agentquerycon...e&module=usercp

 

Opening 250: http://agentquerycon...iller/?p=317580


#55 SomethingWicked

SomethingWicked

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 45 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 10 April 2016 - 06:04 PM

Dear,

 

Blake Hatchett is wakened by a hand, running through his hair. His mother leans above his bed, eyes wet. Then she tells him: Conner is dead. {I don't like action sequences for queries. Just start off with finding out that Connor- whoever Connor is- is dead. Is Connor his brother? Say that.}

 

Ten years later finds Blake a debauched line cook, failed boxer and aspirant writer, grilling paninis by day and typing poems on his Olivetti {his what? Is this a brand name of computer? Typewriter? Don't use it. Just say "and typing poems at night"} at night. For ten years {We already know it's ten years, you told us last sentence} his life has been one attempt after the next to bury the guilt he feels in the accidental drowning of a close friend {ah, Connor is his friend. Say that earlier.}. When the woman he loves can take no more of his inability to commit and leaves him, Blake plunges into depression. Yearning for solace, he flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his troubles.

 

Or so he thinks.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. {Need a better transition between these sentences} His sorrow deepens and he fears his pilgrimage has been in vain. Then he meets Rebeca and through her friendship uncovers a potential road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. They embark on a trek across the Himalayas, where Blake will at last confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his absurd flight from himself {rephrase} and risk losing his chance at peace forever. {Hmm, forever? Forever forever? If he doesn't do it this time, does it really matter? Can't he just try again next year? Why is this so final?}

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son), Lydia Yuknavitch (Chronology of Water) or Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). {Good comp titles} In August of 2015 the opening chapter appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. Thank you for your time.      

 

Sincerely,

Best of luck! Would appreciate feedback for mine in return :) 


QUERY (Dread and Satisfaction, literary/magical realism): http://agentquerycon...agical-realism/  


#56 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 11 April 2016 - 07:06 PM

Hey all. Thank you for the feedback. I'm treating what follows as a first draft, so I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.  

 

Dear Future Joy and Heartache,

 

Blake Hatchett was fourteen the day he lost his faith. Ten years later he sets out to find it once again, embarking on a pilgrimage that leads across the globe and into the deepest regions of himself.

 

At twenty-four, Blake is a hedonistic cook, failed boxer, poetaster. In the eighth grade he watched a close friend drown and he’s tried to forget about it ever since. A self-confessed coward, his one saving grace is Frances Marcini: the love of his life and source of its penultimate regret. When she leaves him, Blake plunges into malaise and flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his sorrows.

 

Or so he believes.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. But instead of allaying the guilt that spurred him, Kolkata only affirms his shortcomings. Then he befriends Rebeca, an eccentric traveler and breeder of bulls, adrift in the world and completely content. Through her, Blake uncovers a road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. They trek into the Himalayas, where at last he’ll confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his flight from himself and risk losing this chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) and Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). I have published nineteen short stories and am currently working on two additional projects. Portions of the opening appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal (Fall, 2015). Thank you for your time.            

 

Sincerely,


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811


#57 DaveTheRave

DaveTheRave

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 226 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationAustralia/New Zealand
  • Publishing Experience:The very definition of zero. You're appalled? Imagine how I feel.

Posted 15 April 2016 - 09:15 PM

Hey all. Thank you for the feedback. I'm treating what follows as a first draft, so I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.  

 

Dear Future Joy and Heartache, Ain't that the truth

 

Blake Hatchett was fourteen the day he lost his faith. Ten years later he sets out to find it once again, embarking on a pilgrimage that leads across the globe and into the deepest regions of himself.

 

You've used a longline. It's definitely well-written. Log-lines are controversial in queries. Some people lie Queryshark dislike them. Then again I saw a major agency website (can't remember which) which specifically requested them in its submission guidelines. Personally, I agree with Queryshark. It's just a summary of what comes immediately after, but squeezed into such a cramped form it will never do it justice. To me it's a classic elevator pitch - primed with for a situation in which you have to interest the gatekeeper in knowing anything about the work at all. In a query you already have their attention for the purpose. I think it's reasonable to expect that if the opening line is punchy and what follows pops, the agent will read the whole thing and have a better understanding of the novel than was offered by the logline. That's just my thoughts. Up to you.

 

At twenty-four, Blake is a hedonistic cook, failed boxer, poetaster. Hedonist clangs less than debauched, but the problem remains in that it sounds directly associated with his culinary work, rather than general lifestyle. The effect is heightened by the list sentence structure - adjective-noun, adjective-noun. As this is you opening line of the story i'd urge you to rework it. Also, I've never heard the word poetaster. Ever. I'd really advise against using it, not just because of its obscurity, but because you're trying to establish character and this paints no picture. What you had before on the poet thing was not perfect, but it gave me much more of an image of him, a feel of his life.

 

In the eighth grade he watched a close friend drown and he’s tried to forget about it ever since. OK, first of all I'm totally into of the fact this is the defining even of his life that explains his current state. But this sentence is dead. It's telling not showing, it gives zero intrigue or emotional impact, it explains everything and makes me feel nothing. While I'm sure you bring the incident alive in your novel, you don't have time to do it here. The important thing here is the guilt inflicted - death could have come in a fire or a car crash or a gun stunt, it makes absolutely no difference.  What is far more effective is to evoke the guilt saturating his life with a resonant line and say only it comes from a death he failed to prevent - that gives emotional struggle that draws me in and intrigue as to what happened that draws me in further.

 

A self-confessed coward, Telling not showing. I don't feel his bitterness or self-loathing. This needs to be more directly related it to the incident above. his one saving grace cliche, re-express is Frances Marcini: as she's about to disappear from the query and the novel, don't give her name the love of his life cliche, re-express and source of its penultimate regret clangs badly, i presume what you're saying is that after the guilt over the drowning, this is the subject in his life that inflicts the most emotional pain, but i really had to piece it together in my head, re-express When she leaves him, phrasing weak, gives no impact Blake plunges into a malaise (and flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his sorrows.) this is a key turn and deserves its own sentence.

 

Or so he believes. As stated last time, i think this phrase is weak.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. Cool But instead of allaying the guilt that spurred wrong word, spurred comes from the acceleration of a racehorse, it's too dynamic and positive a term for somebody in descent him, Kolkata only affirms his shortcomings pedestrian phrasing - gives no impact. Then he befriends meets/encounters/stumbles across, befriending people makes me think of primary school Rebeca, an eccentric telling not showing traveler and breeder of bulls, adrift in the world and yet completely content. Good! She's jumping out as in interesting chick now, the bull thing shows not tells Through her, Blake uncovers a road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. They trek into the Himalayas, where at last he’ll confront the truth of his terrible remorse this phrase is just a micron off, his guilt/remorse is with him all the time, it's not a lie or a misunderstanding, he's either confronting his guilt or confronting the truth of what happened in the incident, he's not confronting the truth of his guilt. I know this sounds semantic but I think it's important  or else continue his flight from himself and risk losing this chance at peace forever.

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) and Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither). I have published nineteen short stories and am currently working on two additional projects. Portions of the opening appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal (Fall, 2015). Thank you for your time.            

 

Sincerely,

 

 

OK mate, still lots of blue ink, but it's mostly on word choice, not structure and there's definite progress, especially near the end. I noticed from your early drafts that we share an inclination to over-write that has been called out by our peers. I think maybe you've taken that advice a little far, in that in avoiding the instinct for flair, the occasional sentence is not just clean, but dumbed down - that's when, for me, it becomes showing not telling. I'd like to see a bit more simple evocation so I can 'feel' with Blake, without falling into our beloved larger words or turgid metaphors.

 

Your critique on my latest draft was really helpful, I hope mine was for yours. I look forward to the next one.

 

Dave


Feedback is always appreciated on:

 

Query: http://agentquerycon...e&module=usercp

 

Opening 250: http://agentquerycon...iller/?p=317580


#58 cstickle

cstickle

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 16 April 2016 - 11:37 PM

Hey all. Thank you for the feedback. I'm treating what follows as a first draft, so I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.  

 

Dear Future Joy and Heartache,

 

Blake Hatchett was fourteen the day he lost his faith. (This is where you talk about the friend drowning. Also, is this a religious thing? Like he saw his friend drown and stopped believing in god? Or is this more of a "faith in himself" type of thing? The rest of the query doesn't make it sound like it's about his belief in god.) Ten years later he sets out to find it once again, embarking on a pilgrimage that leads across the globe and into the deepest regions of himself. (I think you should merge this paragraph with the next one. Talk about the drowning and then pivot to the girlfriend. Really give us a sense of who he is.)

 

At twenty-four, Blake is a hedonistic cook, failed boxer, poetaster. In the eighth grade he watched a close friend drown and he’s tried to forget about it ever since. (His friend downing kind of comes out of nowhere and isn't really woven into the paragraph.) A self-confessed coward, (So he's a coward. Why is this relevant? To this sentence? To this paragraph? Did he refuse to commit to Frances? Is he a coward in a way that is related to her? If so, let us know.) his one saving grace is Frances Marcini: the love of his life and source of its penultimate regret. (I object to the word "penultimate" in the last sentence. Is his biggest regret related to the drowned friend? You're drawing attention to things but not explaining them, so it's hard to stay engaged.) When she leaves him, Blake plunges into malaise and flees to Kolkata—abandoning America and with it all his sorrows.

 

Or so he believes.

 

He settles in the city as a volunteer, lending final comfort to a legion of India’s starved and destitute. But instead of allaying the guilt that spurred him, Kolkata only affirms his shortcomings (Which are? This is really vague. So I'm going to guess a few things. He watched his friend drown and did nothing. He didn't commit to the love of his life, so she left him. He can't help the starved and destitute because it makes him feel bad, so he shirks his duties. Is all of that true? If your book is all about his cowardice then it should be specific in this query. If everything I just guessed is wrong, then you need to re-evaluate what's important in your query.). Then he befriends Rebeca, an eccentric traveler and breeder of bulls, adrift in the world and completely content. Through her, Blake uncovers a road to redemption, if he can muster the courage to walk it. (This sounds like another man saved by the grace of a woman narrative. You might want to re-frame that. He needs agency in his own story.) They trek into the Himalayas, where at last he’ll confront the truth of his terrible remorse, or else continue his flight from himself and risk losing this chance at peace forever. (I'm not sure why trekking into the Himalayas is where he has to confront his remorse. Was it Rebeca's idea? Does something happen to them? More specificity, please. Also, why is this his last chance at peace forever? Is this about Rebeca?)

 

AND THEN YOU’RE GONE is a literary novel, completed at 71,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) (There's an entire generation of writers that were inspired by Jesus' Son, so showing a preference for that book isn't very illuminating. It's kind of a cliche. You should pick someone else. And someone who wrote a book in the last five years. That's what they want. ) and Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither) (Your comp is also supposed to be something that sold well. Comps are all about marketing.). I have published nineteen short stories and am currently working on two additional projects. (Maybe list a couple of the most prestigious places.) Portions of the opening appeared as a standalone in Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal (Fall, 2015). Thank you for your time.            

 

Sincerely,



#59 MikeStrayer

MikeStrayer

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 83 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS West Coast

Posted 17 April 2016 - 01:01 PM

Hey-o Cstickle: Thank you for your feedback; many of your concerns and questions are shared by me, and many of your suppositions aren't that far off. I'll address them in order here in the hopes of striking up some kind dialogue; don't take this as argumentative, but it'll help me to articulate, I think.

 

By loss of faith it is, in a literal sense, the end of his belief in God. This is addressed in the story, but it was more meant as the onset of a kind of existentialist philosophy, a sudden understanding of his (humanity's) place in the natural world. I don't really know how to show this, either; I've been told the word existentialism is entirely pretentious and I tend to agree. He watched his friend drown and did nothing, believes he had an opportunity to save him and was too afraid to move. So I think in all senses: faith in himself, a higher power, in meaning. 

 

He did not commit to the love of his life and so she left him is partly true; their relationship was mostly long distance, which hurts her and Blake doesn't seem to mind. In the context of the story, after she is gone, he comes to see this as an extension of his standing still--a pattern beginning with his friend's death. But more and what I'm really struggling with how to handle is that the greater guilt he feels in regards to Frances is because during their relationship, while they were apart, she was assaulted. Blake initially was not supportive in his reaction; in truth it's more of a non-reaction, which then gives to self-blame. 

 

The majority of the story is about Blake trying to process the guilt he feels about this, though it is not explicitly gone into until near the end of the narrative, which is why I'm having difficulty treating it here.

 

But Blake, as has been established, is a bit of a coward and is in denial of the extent of his guilt. His various complexes lead to an inability to empathize with or care about other people, and so he finds no fulfillment in Kolkata. He doesn't shirk his duties at all; and that's his problem--his role as a volunteer isn't alleviating his hurt, and he can't figure out why.

 

I've also been worried about that whole man saved by the grace of another woman thing, because I know it reads that way and the story ultimately pans out the opposite. It's not through her that Blake is saved, but that as their temporary friendship is building he begins to truly acknowledge the reasons behind his desperate travels: i.e. (in Blake's head) the woman he loved was violated and he didn't react. He didn't react and at every opportunity prior to act he'd chosen to stand still. Trekking into the Himalaya's is Rebeca's idea; she invites Blake as a bodyguard. It isn't there he must confront his guilt; it is there he happens to be at the stage in his development when he does.

 

This leads to Blake to start making other decisions not predicated on fleeing from himself, which in turn takes him and Rebeca back to Kolkata, where he wants to try volunteering again--for himself--and where they become swept up in a riot, during the course of which Rebeca is endangered and Blake again is faced with a choice to do nothing or "jump." The forever component here being that Rebeca's life is literally at stake. 

 

Any thoughts as to how I can simplify this into a query are very welcome. I don't know if this clarifies anything for you (or any other hypothetical readers out there in the ether); but, again, thanks for the ink. It is amazing the emotional vacillations these goddamned things can generate in a body and I appreciate your time.


Query, Literary Fiction: And Then You're Gone: http://agentquerycon...tion/?p=317848 

 

And Then You're Gone, Literary Fiction, Opening: http://agentquerycon...t-250/?p=314811






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fiction, Literary Fiction

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users