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The Man from the Storm- Speculative, Super-hero fantasy


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#1 Thulsadoom

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 09:49 AM

Here's my latest draft of my current query letter. Any input appreciated.

 

Hello (AGENT)
The man from the storm; Gunnar, has no idea that he is the product of a long-defunct selective breeding and genetic engineering program begun by the Nazis many years ago. Abandoned as an infant, raised in a colossally flawed foster care system, his 22 years have been troubled and violent. Now he just wants to explore the USA on his motorcycle.  
Gunnar is an imposing guy, and it's an easy thing for him to land a gig as a bouncer in a nightclub. The trouble begins when he unwittingly angers two separate factions of organized criminals and pisses off undercover FBI agents at the same time. Special Agent Stacy Carson is repulsed by, and yet strangely drawn to the intense young man. Events quickly spin out of control. As the situation filters onto the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly, Gunnar is a wanted man in more ways than one. Just when a peaceful ending to the mayhem presents itself, a final straw drops and the result is the stuff of nightmares. There is no hell like the full unleashing of Gunnar's powers and wrath. 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript of approximately 99,000 words. In the spirit of works by Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London, and Lee Child, protagonist Gunnar will reach out from the pages and grab you by the throat. This book will appeal not only to constant readers but also that vast ocean of selective readers who read very rarely unless the story is truly enticing. 
My name is Chris Dutcher. I am 54. 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
Chris.  


#2 Springfield

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 12:36 PM

 

Here's my latest draft of my current query letter. Any input appreciated.

 

Hello (AGENT)
The man from the storm What is that meant to mean?; Gunnar, has no idea that he is the product of a long-defunct selective breeding and genetic engineering program begun by the Nazis many years ago. If it's long defunct... also when the heck is this set? Abandoned as an infant, raised in a colossally flawed foster care system, his 22 years have been troubled and violent. Now he just wants to explore the USA on his motorcycle.  That's a letdown -- also, why? There's no grounding; I've no ides when or where we are..
Gunnar is an imposing guy, and it's an easy thing for him to land a gig as a bouncer in a nightclub. The phrasing is bothering me. The trouble begins when he unwittingly angers two separate factions of organized criminals and pisses off undercover FBI agents at the same time. What? I don't get how this connects to the previous sentence or the previous graph, also, what is his problem already? Everything feels like backstory.Special Agent Stacy Carson is repulsed by, and yet strangely drawn to the intense young man. Oh, gross. Were I an agent, I'd be out right here. Events What events?? quickly spin out of control. As the situation What situation? The hell is going on at all?filters onto the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly, Gunnar is a wanted man in more ways than one. Just when a peaceful ending to the mayhem presents itself, a final straw drops and the result is the stuff of nightmares. There is no hell like the full unleashing of Gunnar's powers and wrath. You're not explaining anything. This all looks like convoluted setup. He's some selectively bred guy who gets in a bar fight; that's all I've got from this.
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript of approximately 99,000 words. In the spirit of works by Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London, and Lee Child, Use actual comps.  protagonist Gunnar will reach out from the pages and grab you by the throat. This book will appeal not only to constant readers but also that vast ocean of selective readers who read very rarely unless the story is truly enticing. Jesus don't say anything even remotely like this.
My name is Chris Dutcher. I am 54
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
Chris.  

 



#3 Thulsadoom

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 02:05 PM

Thank you very much, Springfield!

 

I'll work on it and post the result.



#4 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 02:10 PM

 

 

Here's my latest draft of my current query letter. Any input appreciated.

 

Hello (AGENT)
The man from the storm What is that meant to mean?; Gunnar, has no idea that he is the product of a long-defunct selective breeding and genetic engineering program begun by the Nazis many years ago. If it's long defunct... also when the heck is this set? Abandoned as an infant, raised in a colossally flawed foster care system, his 22 years have been troubled and violent. Now he just wants to explore the USA on his motorcycle.  That's a letdown -- also, why? There's no grounding; I've no ides when or where we are..
Gunnar is an imposing guy, and it's an easy thing for him to land a gig as a bouncer in a nightclub. The phrasing is bothering me. The trouble begins when he unwittingly angers two separate factions of organized criminals and pisses off undercover FBI agents at the same time. What? I don't get how this connects to the previous sentence or the previous graph, also, what is his problem already? Everything feels like backstory.Special Agent Stacy Carson is repulsed by, and yet strangely drawn to the intense young man. Oh, gross. Were I an agent, I'd be out right here. Events What events?? quickly spin out of control. As the situation What situation? The hell is going on at all?filters onto the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly, Gunnar is a wanted man in more ways than one. Just when a peaceful ending to the mayhem presents itself, a final straw drops and the result is the stuff of nightmares. There is no hell like the full unleashing of Gunnar's powers and wrath. You're not explaining anything. This all looks like convoluted setup. He's some selectively bred guy who gets in a bar fight; that's all I've got from this.
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript of approximately 99,000 words. In the spirit of works by Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London, and Lee Child, Use actual comps.  protagonist Gunnar will reach out from the pages and grab you by the throat. This book will appeal not only to constant readers but also that vast ocean of selective readers who read very rarely unless the story is truly enticing. Jesus don't say anything even remotely like this.
My name is Chris Dutcher. I am 54
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
Chris.  

 

 

Pretty much everything that Springfield said. Especially the "Jesus don't" line.

In my opinion, what you need to do is (1) focus the dramatic crisis that your hero is facing, (2) start your query with a solid "hook" that will grab the reader and entice them to keep going, and (3) put action into emotional terms, using punching words while cutting down the word count. I'm guitly of failing in a lot of those areas myself, so I feel your pain. :) Wishing you all the best!



#5 Thulsadoom

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:35 PM

All right, how about this:

 

22 year old GUNNAR is The Man from the Storm. Imagine Conan the Barbarian trying to exist in 21st century America, that's Gunnar. Abandoned as an infant, scarred in foster care, Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding and genetic engineering program.  
 
Gunnar takes an odd job in a nightclub, a hangout for the local Italian mafia. There is a fight and Gunnar gets sucked into it, wreaking unspeakable havoc. Gunnar is quickly at odds with both the Italian and Ukrainian mafia, the local outlaw biker club, and the FBI. Special Agent Stacy Carson can't decide if she wants to put Gunnar in prison, or seduce him to her bed. As more violence ensues and events filter into the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly he is a wanted man in more ways than one. 
 
Just when it appears that the mayhem might end, a final shove tips Gunnar over the edge and the result is the stuff of nightmares. Civilized society cannot comprehend the appalling violence that Gunnar, with his amazing sensory abilities and brutal instincts, is capable of. 
 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript at approximately 99,000 words. Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London and Lee Child might all buy Gunnar a beer.
 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
 
Chris Dutcher.  


#6 Springfield

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:37 PM

 

All right, how about this:

 

22 year old Autoreject. GUNNAR is The Man from the Storm. Imagine Conan the Barbarian trying to exist in 21st century America, that's Gunnar. Autoreject. Abandoned as an infant, scarred in foster care, Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding and genetic engineering program.  I'm still stuck on the defunct, but this isn't a terrible opener. 
 
Gunnar takes an odd job in a nightclub, a hangout for the local Italian mafia. Then it falls completely flat -- you need info on what the above means. There is a fight and Gunnar gets sucked into it, wreaking unspeakable havoc. Gunnar is quickly at odds with both the Italian and Ukrainian mafia, the local outlaw biker club, and the FBI. This makes no sense. Special Agent Stacy Carson can't decide if she wants to put Gunnar in prison, or seduce him to her bed. You know this will get this rejected, and hard, right? I mean it's your thing and if this is what it is, it is, and there are going to be people who don't find this offputting, but I guarantee there are going to be more who find this offensive. As more violence ensues and events filter into the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly he is a wanted man in more ways than one. You're still not actually explaining anything -- I don't know what's going on or what his problem is.
 
Just when it appears that the mayhem might end, a final shove tips Gunnar over the edge and the result is the stuff of nightmares. Civilized society cannot comprehend the appalling violence that Gunnar, with his amazing sensory abilities and brutal instincts, is capable of. 
 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript at approximately 99,000 words. Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London and Lee Child might all buy Gunnar a beer.Just use proper comps.
 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
 
Chris Dutcher.  

 



#7 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:04 PM

To be honest, this reads more like the pitch for a parody action novel than for a serious action novel.

 

 

All right, how about this:

 

22 year old GUNNAR (why all caps?) is The Man from the Storm. (As a hook sentence, I find this completely ungripping -- it provokes no curiosity and it's just not appealling.) Imagine Conan the Barbarian trying to exist in 21st century America, that's Gunnar. Abandoned as an infant, scarred in foster care, Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding and genetic engineering program.  (The more I read about your protagonist, the less interesting or appealling I'm finding him. I would have stopped reading at "scarred in foster care", because it's all a bit "dark Mary Sue"-ish.)
 
Gunnar takes an odd job in a nightclub, a hangout for the local Italian mafia. There is a fight and Gunnar gets sucked into it, wreaking unspeakable havoc. Gunnar is quickly at odds with both the Italian and Ukrainian mafia, the local outlaw biker club, and the FBI. (Mary Sue. The dark "dangerous" misunderstood kind.) Special Agent Stacy Carson can't decide if she wants to put Gunnar in prison, or seduce him to her bed. (This is the second point at which I would have stopped reading. Sexist and offensive.) As more violence ensues and events filter into the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly he is a wanted man in more ways than one. (There's no urgency here. No sense of emotional stakes. I'm just not feeling it.)
 
Just when it appears that the mayhem might end, a final shove tips Gunnar over the edge and the result is the stuff of nightmares. Civilized society cannot comprehend the appalling violence that Gunnar, with his amazing sensory abilities and brutal instincts, is capable of. (Why would I want to read about this person? He's brutish, violent, and sounds thoroughly unlikeable.)
 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript at approximately 99,000 words. Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London and Lee Child might all buy Gunnar a beer. (Cheesy. Leave it out.)
 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day! (Leave this out too. It's too chummy for a professional letter.)
 
Chris Dutcher.  

 

 

I might not be the target audience for this query (in fact, I guarantee that I'm not the target audience), so take my comments with a grain of salt. But the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know if there's any way you can dress this up -- you have to be honest about what your novel IS, after all. I wish you the best, but I'd reject this at several key points in the query.



#8 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:06 PM

One thing I will say for your query letter -- it provoked a strong reaction from me! :) And that's something it has going for it. The trick will be to find an agent or an editor for whom that strong reaction will be a strong POSITIVE reaction.



#9 Thulsadoom

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:45 PM

Autoreject.

Could you explain why? The agent wouldn't want to know the man's age?

 

Autoreject.

Some people like Conan. I'm trying to make a connection. Give me a clue. 

 

Defunct means that the program was discontinued. It no longer functions. Hence, an attempt to explain why Gunnar was abandoned as an infant and doesn't know who he is. I don't understand the problem with that word. Please explain. 

 

A fight breaks out at a nightclub involving members of Italian and Ukrainian mafia, a biker gang and undercover FBI agents. Gunnar gets involved and kicks the shit out of a lot of people. He's really good at that sort of thing. He's been genetically engineered and bred to be a fierce warrior. I don't know why that makes no sense. Help me out here. 

 

Stacy Carson is an FBI Special Agent. She is supposed to be a consummate professional. She's not fond of Gunnar's actions but she's attracted to him just the same. The heart wants what the heart wants, and all that. I don't understand why that is offensive. Help me out here.

 

I have no idea who "Mary-Sue" is. Gunnar is certainly dark, but I find him very likable, occasionally hilarious. Some people like brutish and violent. Black Sabbath has never been known as a "Don't worry, be happy" band, and yet they've sold a few albums. 

 

Please don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate your input and attention, but I find myself in the familiar position of struggling to understand how people think. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, I'm just trying to write a query letter. Perhaps I could pay someone to write it for me? Does that sort of service exist?

 

Thanks again for your input.



#10 Springfield

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:11 PM

Autoreject.

Could you explain why? The agent wouldn't want to know the man's age?

 

Well,in general, unless it's relevant, like if you were writing for an age-specific category, no. However, it's the errors -- you start off a query with a number and missing punctuation and there are plenty of agents who simply aren't going to bother reading any further.

 

Autoreject.

Some people like Conan. I'm trying to make a connection. Give me a clue. 

 

Don't break the fourth wall, especially randomly.

 

Defunct means that the program was discontinued. It no longer functions. Hence, an attempt to explain why Gunnar was abandoned as an infant and doesn't know who he is. I don't understand the problem with that word. Please explain. 

 

He exists, and he's 22, except the Nazis were defeated over 70 years ago, so calling it defunct brings up a ton of questions and it can't have been defunct very long if he exists, and etc.

 

A fight breaks out at a nightclub involving members of Italian and Ukrainian mafia, a biker gang and undercover FBI agents. Gunnar gets involved and kicks the shit out of a lot of people. He's really good at that sort of thing. He's been genetically engineered and bred to be a fierce warrior. I don't know why that makes no sense. Help me out here. 

 

You know you don't say any undercover agents are involved, right? You just make it sound as if the FBI cares about a random bar fight.

 

Stacy Carson is an FBI Special Agent. She is supposed to be a consummate professional. She's not fond of Gunnar's actions but she's attracted to him just the same. The heart wants what the heart wants, and all that. I don't understand why that is offensive. Help me out here.

 

I really don't know how to help you if you can't see why that's offensive, that the FBI agent just can't decide if she wants to put him in prison (for a bar fight? This still makes NO sense), or seduce him? She's not a professional, she a moron? She's right out of a trashy porno, with a hot cop Halloween costume, swinging her handcuffs? It's offensive, and offputting. As someone else said, if this is all supposed to be satire, like you're joking, maybe, but it doesn't read that way.

 

I have no idea who "Mary-Sue" is. Gunnar is certainly dark, but I find him very likable, occasionally hilarious. Some people like brutish and violent. Black Sabbath has never been known as a "Don't worry, be happy" band, and yet they've sold a few albums. 

 

He'd be a Gary Stu. There are tests online -- try one, because I don't necessarily disagree, though I don't know enough to peg him that way, as there's so little info.

 

Please don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate your input and attention, but I find myself in the familiar position of struggling to understand how people think. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, I'm just trying to write a query letter. Perhaps I could pay someone to write it for me? Does that sort of service exist?

 

Yes, though it's not going to help if, as I suspect, there are manuscript issues here.

 

Thanks again for your input.



#11 Thulsadoom

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:57 PM

Here's the thing: all the questions you raise about the vagueness of the query letter would be answered by reading the book, or even the synopsis. Isn't that the point? Aren't we trying to raise an interest to read the book to find out how it all plays out?

 

The random bar fight was between members of organized criminal organizations, the word mafia infers that. The federal authorities have a long history of interest in organized crime on US soil. Stacy is trashy because she is attracted to someone she knows she shouldn't be attracted to? I didn't say that she actually seduces him, it's just a reflection of her feelings. I could re-word that, thanks for the advice. She is not happy that Gunnar injured an undercover FBI agent in the fight. Again, in the book. The Nazi program was so highly classified and compartmentalized that it continued to function long after the fall of the Hitler regime. You find that out in the book. I'm simply trying to keep the word count on the letter as low as possible. My first several drafts were at least twice as long. 

 

If someone hands me a book set in modern times about a young biker guy who has been genetically modified to have awesome powers and mixes it up with federal cops, organized criminal bad guys and...pretty much everybody. I'm reading this book. Mention Conan, mafia, biker gang, FBI chick, I'm there. Of course, I'm not a literary agent. Should I go back to my original idea of providing more of a synopsis in the query letter?

 

Thanks again. Your input is invaluable.



#12 Springfield

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:05 PM

Here's the thing: all the questions you raise about the vagueness of the query letter would be answered by reading the book, or even the synopsis. Isn't that the point? Aren't we trying to raise an interest to read the book to find out how it all plays out?

 

Yes, but they have to have some idea it's worth their time to read. This right here is why a query is not the same as a blurb. A blurb is to entice someone who is looking for something to read to give it a shot. Agents are not casting about for something to read, thinking they'll give anything sounds kind of interesting a shot. They've got stacks and stacks of shit to read for the clients they already have. They get hundreds of queries a week. They're not reading something that a. they don't think they can sell, b. doesn't seem like it's well constructed, c. isn't interesting/fresh/etc., and that's ALL in the details.

 

The random bar fight was between members of organized criminal organizations, the word mafia infers that. The federal authorities have a long history of interest in organized crime on US soil.

 

Yes, but they don't get involved in bar fights with some Gotti spawn. They have a specific mandate. 

 

Stacy is trashy because she is attracted to someone she knows she shouldn't be attracted to? I didn't say that she actually seduces him, it's just a reflection of her feelings. I could re-word that, thanks for the advice. She is not happy that Gunnar injured an undercover FBI agent in the fight.

 

I didn't say she was trashy, I said it sounds like a trashy porno.

 

Again, in the book. The Nazi program was so highly classified and compartmentalized that it continued to function long after the fall of the Hitler regime. You find that out in the book. I'm simply trying to keep the word count on the letter as low as possible. My first several drafts were at least twice as long. 

 

Yes, you need a low wc -- take away the need to ask questions, don't try to answer them all.

 

If someone hands me a book set in modern times about a young biker guy who has been genetically modified to have awesome powers and mixes it up with federal cops, organized criminal bad guys and...pretty much everybody. I'm reading this book.

 

Ok, that doesn't sound like a plot to a book; it sounds like a video game. It can't be just super strong guy gets in fights.

 

 

Mention Conan, mafia, biker gang, FBI chick, I'm there. Of course, I'm not a literary agent. Should I go back to my original idea of providing more of a synopsis in the query letter?

 

Character, problem, stakes.

 

Thanks again. Your input is invaluable.



#13 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:07 PM

 

All right, how about this:

 

22 year old GUNNAR is The Man from the Storm. Imagine Conan the Barbarian trying to exist in 21st century America, that's Gunnar. Nooooo, show us don't tell us Abandoned as an infant, scarred in foster care, Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding and genetic engineering program.  This is not really a hook.  I don't what "The Man from the Storm" means.  A better hook would be "Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding and genetic engineering program."
 
Gunnar takes an odd job in a nightclub, a hangout for the local Italian mafia. There is a fight and Gunnar gets sucked into it, wreaking unspeakable havoc. Gunnar is quickly at odds with both the Italian and Ukrainian mafia, the local outlaw biker club, and the FBI. Special Agent Stacy Carson can't decide if she wants to put Gunnar in prison, or seduce him to her bed. As more violence ensues and events filter into the news, a certain scientific community is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly he is a wanted man in more ways than one.  Way too much info crammed in here.
 
Just when it appears that the mayhem might end, a final shove tips Gunnar over the edge and the result is the stuff of nightmares. Civilized society cannot comprehend the appalling violence that Gunnar, with his amazing sensory abilities and brutal instincts, is capable of. What? This doesn't go with anything.
 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript at INSERT GENRE HERE novel, complete at approximately 99,000 words. Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London and Lee Child might all buy Gunnar a beer. (haha, I like this, but I'm not sure if an agent would :P)
 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
 
Chris Dutcher.  

 

There's way too much info here, and it's all over the place.  Instead of telling us about Gunnar, SHOW us, through the query.  Is the focus of the story about the genetic engineering program? Focus on that in the query.

I think this sounds very interesting and I'd give it a read, if the query actually told us what the story was about (wink, nudge).

 

EDIT: I just scanned over your synopsis.  Those first few paragraphs explaining the genetic engineering program? Use some of that in here!!! It has mystery and intrigue!



#14 PureZhar3

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:23 PM

​Are you aware that in your original post you say "Here's the latest draft of my current query letter", which makes people assume that the newest query version is in that post? Edit it, or you'll wind up getting old comments

All right, how about this:

 

22 year old GUNNAR is The Man from the Storm. Imagine Conan the Barbarian trying to exist in 21st century America, ***this needs either a colon or a semi-colon rather than a comma**** that's Gunnar. Abandoned as an infant, scarred in foster care, Gunnar has no idea that he is the product of a defunct Nazi selective breeding **** how is he a product of an organization that doesn't even exist anymore but only 22**** and genetic engineering program.  
 
Gunnar takes an odd job in a nightclub, a hangout for the local Italian mafia. There is a fight and Gunnar gets sucked into it, wreaking unspeakable havoc ***what kind of unspeakable havoc? specifics...****. Gunnar is quickly at odds with both the Italian and Ukrainian mafia ***where did the Ukrainian mafia get pulled in?****, the local outlaw biker club, and the FBI. Special Agent Stacy Carson can't decide if she wants to put Gunnar in prison, or seduce him to her bed. ***well that was sudden... it was a turn-off for me**** As more violence ensues ****why? are they all trying to capture him?**** and events filter into the news, a certain scientific community ****the Nazi one? Tell us in a straightforward way, don't make us guess**** is thrilled to discover that Gunnar exists. Suddenly he is a wanted man in more ways than one. *** I thought that four groups of people were already looking for him... pull if the agent wants to seduce him, he's definitely already a "wanted man" in more than one way :wink: :biggrin: I like what you're trying to do with this last sentence, I just think it needs to fit better***
 
Just when it appears that the mayhem might end, a final shove tips Gunnar over the edge and the result is the stuff of nightmares ****this sentence is uber vague and could apply to pretty much any book. Give us specifics****. Civilized society cannot comprehend the appalling violence that Gunnar, with his amazing sensory abilities and brutal instincts, is capable of. 
 
"The Man from the Storm" is a finished manuscript at approximately 99,000 words. Robert E. Howard, Louis L'Amour, Jack London and Lee Child might all buy Gunnar a beer.
 
Thanks so much for your attention and have a great day!
 
Chris Dutcher.  

 

 

​Definitely better than the first query. However, it is still lacking in specifics, and one of my biggest problems with it is that I don't get a great feel for the tone of the novel. I can't tell - is it a dark comedy? A violent romance? A depressing thriller? Keep working at it. Also, listen to Springfield :)

 

Problems with the last paragraph:

​1) Title in caps

2) "finished manuscript" and "approximately" are both assumed

​3) I wouldn't choose those authors, or mention them at all. They're old, classic, and (in the senses of the publishing world) more or less irrelevant

​4) you mention genre nowhere. This is particularly important because your query gave me very little sense of what kind of story this was


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#15 PureZhar3

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:37 PM

Here's the thing: all the questions you raise about the vagueness of the query letter would be answered by reading the book, or even the synopsis. Isn't that the point? Aren't we trying to raise an interest to read the book to find out how it all plays out? ​Yes and no... you want to raise questions, but only certain questions. You don't want me confused as to what is going on. You want me to understand the start of the book, enough to know if I would want to read it. That requires specifics. Think about it - when was the last time that you read "A man goes on a quest with a mentor to find the magical object. Along the way, there are sidekicks and unimaginable dangers, and he may or may not succeed" and then thought "wow! I want to read that ​book! It just makes the reader question everything... who is the man? the mentor? what is the object? They're not interested, they're simply confused. They don't want answers in a good way. However, if you say that "a dark playboy must travel across the desert with his senile wizard father. As they avoid the giant scorpions and sand parasites, they join a band of dwarven nomads who can lead them to the Ring of Beauty", people are more likely to be interested. They still have questions - what exactly does the Ring of Beauty do? Why is he travelling with his father? What are they doing in the desert? But they're not frustrating questions, they're intriguing, and people want to read the book to get even more specifics. You don't want to give the ending; but you do want to give the beginning; you want to set up high stakes so that the reader HAS to read and find out what will happen next.

 

The random bar fight was between members of organized criminal organizations, the word mafia infers that ​The word "random", however, implies that it is far from organized. Furthermore, we don't know which mafia, and we don't know Gunnar's exact role in this. The federal authorities have a long history of interest in organized crime on US soil. Stacy is trashy because she is attracted to someone she knows she shouldn't be attracted to? I didn't say that she actually seduces him, it's just a reflection of her feelings. I could re-word that, thanks for the advice. ​It isn't completely trashy if introduced right; however, it's so sudden in the query. You get the impression that she meets him and thinks "I want him in my bed", whether or not that's an accurate reflection of the story She is not happy that Gunnar injured an undercover FBI agent in the fight ​Maybe, but an agent being unhappy doesn't necessarily mean that she can do whatever she wants (i.e. arresting him). Again, in the book. The Nazi program was so highly classified and compartmentalized that it continued to function long after the fall of the Hitler regime. You find that out in the book. I'm simply trying to keep the word count on the letter as low as possible. My first several drafts were at least twice as long. 

 

If someone hands me a book set in modern times about a young biker guy who has been genetically modified to have awesome powers and mixes it up with federal cops, organized criminal bad guys and...pretty much everybody. I'm reading this book. Mention Conan, mafia, biker gang, FBI chick, I'm there. Of course, I'm not a literary agent. ​Not every reader has the same tastes as you. Some will, of course, but you have to trigger the tension/stakes, instead of relying on the reader already liking the elements in the story Should I go back to my original idea of providing more of a synopsis in the query letter? ​No. It isn't that you want a synopsis (you don't). But you do want specifics. 

 

Thanks again. Your input is invaluable.

​You're trying to build up to a moment of "what will happen next"? I understand that you want to keep the word count simple - I know I struggled with mine (it's still too long). However, your aim should pretty much be this:

​To write a stand-alone query

​A query that - even if the manuscript didn't actually exist - would be satisfying and intriguing to read all on its own. It should make sense, follow a logical plotline, but end with choice and tension. They should want to read the book, but they shouldn't need to read the book.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#16 Thulsadoom

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:17 PM

They should want to read the book, but they shouldn't need to read the book. (That's pretty cool.)

 

OK. All right. I'll rattle all this around in my head and see what comes out.



#17 Arait

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 12:39 AM

I think it's worth mentioning that with your earlier attempts, people questioned whether the FBI agent was making the right choice in liking him and people were wondering what she liked about him. But it was only in this last one that people started calling it offensive and blowing off the handle (just a little). It's not the conflict of does she fall for a criminal or arrest him that's offensive. It's that you depicted her (in this last query) with no valid reason to like him. And without any emotional attachment or logical reason for attraction she wanted him in bed. That's a little objectifying. We want to know why she likes him, not what she wants to do with him.

I noticed no one actually explained what a "Mary Sue/Gary Stu" is. Basically it's a character that fits every stereotype. Terrible past, particularly strong super powers, people who like them with no reason, fighting against forces much stronger than themselves and somehow winning every time. Everybody struggles to make an awesome character without them becoming a Mary Sue. The trick is to present their flaws and their challenges and their conflicts alongside what makes them awesome.

You have a great sense of humor with Conan and the authors buying your character beer. It's funny, but it doesn't belong in a query. One thing, those authors you mentioned are real people. You can't say whether a real person would like your story or not. You don't know that person. But if there's a particular book by Jack London, etc that you think is kinda similar to yours, that's how you should make the comparison. Saying "Gunnar is Conan meets 21st century America" is fine. Telling an agent to "imagine" isn't.

And there's nothing wrong with saying that your character is 22. Just makes for really boring first words. (This might be old fashioned, but if the first word of a sentence is a number, you have to spell the number. I think that's still a valid rule).

#18 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 07:50 AM

Well, to be fair... most superheroes are Mary Sues/Gary Stus by definition. It's just how they're built. :)

Now I'm going to put on my "comics industry professional" hat and say that the query letter as presented thus far doesn't give me much of a superhero vibe. It reads more like an over-the-top parody of an action hero novel... or possibly like a post-Simon Bisley version of Lobo. (I'm a huge fan of the pre-Bisley Lobo; the later versions, definitely not!)

In the comp line, if this really IS meant to be a superhero riff, why not put in some superhero titles? Like the Simon Bisley Lobo, for example, or pick a really dark and violent version of the Punisher. Gunnar might also be described as "the anti-Captain America", at least as he's being portrayed in this query.

ETA: Keeping in mind that Lobo, himself, was originally conceived as a parody of certain types of comic book characters. :)



#19 MICRONESIA

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 08:07 AM

Well, to be fair... most superheroes are Mary Sues/Gary Stus by definition. It's just how they're built. :)

 

That's true to an extent, but the interesting ones have some pretty big flaws. Cyclops is a womanizer, Iron Man is an arrogant alcoholic, Superman struggles fitting in with humanity, etc.



#20 Laurie E. Smith

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 08:14 AM

That's true to an extent, but the interesting ones have some pretty big flaws. Cyclops is a womanizer, Iron Man is an arrogant alcoholic, Superman struggles fitting in with humanity, etc.

 

Also true. :) But they're also heroes, and the stories tend to serve them and turn their flaws into advantages to a certain extent. In the real world, for example, Tony Stark would be a very nasty individual and pretty monstrous in terms of what he does (depending on which comic continuity you follow). But because his story is being told in the superhero idiom, he's, well, still a hero.

The OP's story seems to be making a lot of the same assumptions: that a brutal unlikeable character can be a hero simply because he exists in the superhero paradigm. I'm not saying that's good or bad, simply making an observation. Your mileage may vary.






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