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For the Love of a Child (Psychological Suspense)


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#1 pete_b

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Posted 21 March 2018 - 07:36 PM

<Current (4th) revision is post #14 -- hope I was right to continue this thread instead of starting a new one>

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it.
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had.
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with. 
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option.
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#2 ltlibrarian

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 11:02 AM

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified. Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. - made these one sentence so it's more like a standard hook, and I think the hook itself is solid
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had. - My difficulty with this paragraph is it has three separates focuses. 1) saving an unwanted child over a child that would die soon 2) saving a marriage and career and 3) wanting to help the starlet with something. I would suggest focusing on the first thing and expanding on it, and leaving the others out
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar (do you mean capture? this isn't a layman's term so you may want to switch it) will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with. 
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been turn out to be far from altruistic, and she Betty needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option.
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. - might need to check industry standards on this word count. It looks a tad long to me, but I'm not familar with this genre
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

Overall, I think this is pretty solid. The only issue for me was that second paragraph because it introduced too many things, two of which that weren't addressed later in the query. Hope that helps!


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#3 Springfield

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 01:41 PM

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. I'd attach this, not start a sentence with 'because,' and not identify one person but not the other.
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. What? They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. You can't put in this much detail without any explanation. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had. I've no idea what's going on here.
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with. Huh? Is this a romance?
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option. So this is a weird romance? I've no clue what's going on here.
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands, What girls? There was one baby. Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. This just repeats the vague from the last paragraph.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. This doesn't read suspense; it reads romance.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I don't understand what this is, what's going on, pretty much anything, honestly. Clarity, character, problem, stakes.



#4 RosieSkye

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 02:18 PM

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.  (Nice premise!)
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it.  (Who's Pearl?  I'd combine this with the previous line to make one unified hook.)
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. (These ideas seem to contradict themselves - first the child is unwanted, then the actress would not only still have the child a year later, but would be heartbroken if she died(?).  The baby wouldn't see her first birthday with the actress, but would have a storybook life with the other women?  I'm a bit lost here.)  They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had.  (Why is helping a stranger worth risking so much?) 
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with.  (I don't think you should switch POV's here.  Introduce Brandon through Betty's POV.)
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. (I'm still not clear what Pearl's scheme entails, exactly, and we know nothing whatsoever about Brandon's case, other than that it's a murder.) Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option.  (Pearl is starting to sound like the more interesting character here, while Betty is beginning to feel like a a bystander.  I'd rework this to keep Betty more in the thick of it.)
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands (so the second girl is part of the case, I'm assuming?), Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

I think you just need to be more specific overall about what's going on here.  First and foremost, who the heck is Pearl, and why has she concocted this plan?  The idea that the targeted mother is an actress plays well for your premise, but seems to disappear as we go along.  And if a big plot point is the link/similarity between Pearl's plan and the murder case, we need to know what that murder was all about.

 

Good luck!



#5 IndusiumGriseum

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 03:06 PM

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. (I would definitely start with this detail instead!)
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. (I'm so confused...are you trying to say that they're stealing the baby because they don't think the actress will be a good mother?) They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, (How would stealing the baby help her?) even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had.
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar (career?) will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with.  (I would definitely keep the focus on Betty by describing Brandon the way SHE sees him. That way, it's not jumping all over the place.)
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes that Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option. (You jump into Pearl being not what she seems rather jarringly. I'd hint to it throughout the query from the beginning to the end.)
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands (I thought there was only one), Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. (I want to know why Betty is so loyal to Pearl. Is Pearl a master convincer? Did they grow up together? Why is Betty risking everything for her?)
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, (What makes it psychological?) is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

This sounds interesting! Keep going! :)


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#6 galian84

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 03:08 PM

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified. (Great hook, I'm intrigued)
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. (Who's Pearl? Also suggest moving this up into the same line as your first sentence)
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child (eh? How do they know the child is unwanted?) a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday (I don't understand what's happening here. This strikes me as vague). They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had. (I'm really lost now. I have a vague understanding of why she'd want to help her favorite actress, but what's so important or special about her that Betty would risk her job?)
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with.  (Change in POV is jarring. Suggest sticking with Betty's POV, especially since your next two paragraphs are from Betty's viewpoint. I'd think about cutting out this paragraph entirely. It doesn't contribute much to the rest of your query and seems to be just his backstory)
 
After growing close to Brandon (How did these two end up together?), Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants (How? Does she kill somebody?), ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option. (vague. What was this murder all about? How are the two cases connected? Why would Betty get thrown in jail for Pearl's actions?)
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands (I thought there was just one baby involved?), Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. (High stakes, but unclear)
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Hi Pete! I'm no querying expert, but my $0.02 above. Unfortunately, while it sounds like it could be an interesting story (I love psychological anything), I don't understand what exactly is happening, and I left with too many questions. You've gotten some really good advice from the other critters before me. I'm still learning the whole query process myself, but it should consist of three basic parts: Who is your MC? What does he/she want, and what's stopping them from getting it?

 

Good luck! I look forward to reading your next revision.



#7 TClark

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 06:10 PM

 

Dear Dream Agent,  This made me laugh!

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, (May be personal taste but I don't like this break in the flow of the sentence. Consider re-wording the last half of the hook) but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. This line made me do a double take and re-read the first line. Pearl shouldn't be randomly introduced like this. 
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had. I still don't have a full grasp of why she would want to steal the baby? Can she not have children? Can't find a man? Lonely? Etc.
 
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with. I loved this paragraph. However, after reading the other critiques, I can see how the change in POV can be distracting. Perhaps simply rework this section from Betty's POV. 
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option. I don't like this paragraph. Suddenly alll of these relationship's are thrown together with no real connection. And how are the two incidents related? 
 
With the fate of two (two?) little girls  in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. Stakes are clear but a little cheesy. 
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

​Overall your critique is not bad. There are just a few nit picky details missing that added up to being confused with the characters motives and story details. I hope my critiques helped! 



#8 pete_b

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 07:05 PM

Dang, can I just say how much I love this site already? As painful as it is sometimes, you guys have made some of the query's failings crystal clear -- I guess it's just easier to see it after it gets pointed out, right?

 

I'll have to chew on this a bit. My past attempts were pretty poor due to being more of a synopsis than a query, but I think I might have shifted too far in the other direction and made it very difficult to understand what is going on. I'm also not sure how much of the twist to give away or hint at -- I had the understanding that it would be a bad idea, but I'm not sure how to convey everything without it. Like I said, plenty to chew on.

 

So I'll have a new try out (hopefully) soon. I wasn't sure if the etiquette is to reply to each critique separately or at once, but let me just say a big "thank you" to everyone right here. I will do my best to return the favor as soon as I can.

 

Cheers!



#9 pete_b

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 12:42 AM

Okay, going to throw a revision out there. I hope I digested all of your comments correctly. 

 

I'm still not sure how much of the "twist" at the end of my Novel to include or hint at. Basically (*spoiler alert*), the first paragraph about Pearl is a big lie in terms of what she claims will happen to the baby. But I don't know if that -- if anything -- belongs in a query. We'll see how this one goes over first.

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress. But Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified because she’s going to help steal it.
 
Betty doesn’t want to be in town any longer than it takes to settle her mother’s estate, sell her childhood home, and disappear before her past catches up with her. But plans change when her new neighbor Pearl reveals that a famous leading lady plans to give birth at the hospital where she works.
 
Pearl Louise Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan. She’ll do anything to ensure the pregnancy goes smoothly. But when she breaks the rules and runs some extra tests, she discovers the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw. She can’t tell her idol or the doctors for fear of losing her job, but she has an idea how to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t her own. 
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the baby with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give the rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess.
 
As the plan nears fruition, Pearl kills a man to keep their secret from getting out. Frightened by Pearl’s actions, Betty digs into her past and discovers that she’s been far from truthful about what she really wants.
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#10 IndusiumGriseum

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 08:39 AM

 

Okay, going to throw a revision out there. I hope I digested all of your comments correctly. 

 

I'm still not sure how much of the "twist" at the end of my Novel to include or hint at. Basically (*spoiler alert*), the first paragraph about Pearl is a big lie in terms of what she claims will happen to the baby. But I don't know if that -- if anything -- belongs in a query. We'll see how this one goes over first.

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress. But Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified because she’s going to help steal it. (I'm not...really a fan of this first sentence. I think you could leave out Betty's feelings about it--that'd make it seem more serious.)
 
Betty doesn’t want to be in town any longer than it takes to settle her mother’s estate, sell her childhood home, and disappear before her past catches up with her. But plans change when (This kind of distracts from the seriousness at hand.) her new neighbor Pearl reveals that a famous leading lady plans to give birth at the hospital where she works.
 
Pearl Louise Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan. She’ll do anything to ensure the pregnancy goes smoothly. But when she breaks the rules and runs some extra tests, she discovers the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw. She can’t tell her idol or the doctors for fear of losing her job, but she has an idea how to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t her own. (I'd describe Pearl through Betty's eyes since you started with her.)
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the baby with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give the rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess.
 
As the plan nears fruition, Pearl kills a man to keep their secret from getting out. (Whoa, this is jarring.) Frightened by Pearl’s actions, Betty digs into her past and discovers that she’s been far from truthful about what she really wants.
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

I like this version a lot better because you succinctly describe what is going on and why the characters are doing things. I would just ease people in to Pearl's craziness a bit more and keep a razor-sharp focus on the heist. You can do it! :)


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#11 pete_b

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 07:21 PM

Few more tweaks based on the updates:

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Inside a small hospital in rural Louisiana, Betty Favrot is conspiring to provide a famous actress with a healthy daughter — even if it isn’t her own.
 
Fellow nurse Pearl Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan, and Betty’s hardly surprised when Pearl admits she broke the rules and ran some extra tests without telling anyone. When those tests reveal the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw, Pearl can’t inform the doctors for fear of losing her job. But Pearl has an idea how they can save her idol from the heartbreak of a dying child.
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the newborn with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give a rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess, even if it means jail time if they get caught.
 
But Pearl’s increasingly erratic behavior has Betty questioning her partner-in-crime’s intentions. As the due date approaches, she digs into Pearl’s past and finds a tapestry of lies that began long before the two even met.
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#12 IndusiumGriseum

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 08:56 AM

 

Few more tweaks based on the updates:

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Inside a small hospital in rural Louisiana, Betty Favrot is conspiring to provide a famous actress with a healthy daughter — even if it isn’t her own.
 
Fellow nurse Pearl Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan, and Betty’s hardly surprised when Pearl admits she broke the rules and ran some extra tests without telling anyone. When those tests reveal the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw, Pearl can’t inform the doctors for fear of losing her job. But Pearl has an idea how they can save her idol from the heartbreak of a dying child.
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the newborn with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give a rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess, even if it means jail time if they get caught.
 
But Pearl’s increasingly erratic behavior has Betty questioning her partner-in-crime’s intentions. As the due date approaches, she digs into Pearl’s past and finds a tapestry of lies that began long before the two even met.
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

I honestly think this is the one! I was engaged, I loved how you wove Pearl's craziness in there organically, and most importantly, it's got VOICE. I'd wait to hear what other people have to say, but I think you've done an exceptional job here. :) Sorry if my lack of criticism is unhelpful.


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#13 RosieSkye

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 02:00 PM

 

Few more tweaks based on the updates:

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Inside a small hospital in rural Louisiana, Betty Favrot is conspiring to provide a famous actress with a healthy daughter — even if it isn’t her own. (The wording of this is a bit long-winded, and not very gripping.  Honesty, I'm just wondering why a famous actress is about to give birth is a small hospital in rural Louisiana.  I'd try for something more punchy - "Betty Favrot is about to deliver the baby of an A-list actress.  And then she's going to steal it."  I think you had something along those lines initially.)
 
Fellow nurse Pearl Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan, and Betty’s hardly surprised when Pearl admits she broke the rules and secretly ran some extra tests without telling anyone. When those tests reveal the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw, Pearl can’t inform the doctors for fear of losing her job. But Pearl has an idea how they can save her idol from the heartbreak of a dying child.
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the newborn with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give a rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess - even if it means jail time if they get caught.
 
But Pearl’s increasingly erratic behavior has Betty questioning her partner-in-crime’s intentions. As the due date approaches, she digs into Pearl’s past and finds a tapestry of lies that began long before the two even met. (This is intriguing, but I think you need to take it a step further to really hook an agent's interest.  You don't have to give away major details, but at least give a hint as to the nature of the lies, so agents have a feel for what they're dealing with here.)
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. (Good!)
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

I think this is in good shape.  

 

My only critique other than the tweaks mentioned above is that it still feels like Betty is a bit of a bystander, while Pearl is the real mover and shaker.  Pearl is the mega fan, Pearl ran the tests, Pearl comes up with the plan, Pearl has the shady history.  I can see agents thinking that Betty doesn't function much as a main character.  I might tone Pearl down in the query however possible, and simultaneously pump up Betty - maybe expand the paragraph where Betty turns detective.  Having queried a story myself where the MC is the friend of a famous person, I got a lot of notes about making her stand out more against a bigger personality.

 

Hope this helps!



#14 pete_b

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 12:15 AM

Back again after a long time :) Didn't have much luck querying, so pulled back and reworked the first act of the novel as well as my query. With more reading and learning under my belt, I have a slightly different approach. Would love feedback on it, and will of course reciprocate.

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

All Betty Favrot wants is a family. But her dad passed years ago, her husband’s been replaced with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and her shoes are still soiled with the dirt she buried her mother in. 
 
Betty tries to fill the emptiness inside with new neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, a friend of her mother’s she never knew about. While bonding with the older woman, Betty learns two secrets. The first: a famous actress is going to give birth at Pearl’s sleepy little hospital. The second secret threatens to break Betty’s heart; the baby is going to die.
 
Together, Betty and Pearl conceive a plan. They’ll get Betty a job at the hospital and the two of them will switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption. At first, Betty is spooked by the threat of her ex-husband’s appearance (the one who promised to kill her if she ever left him) and the dashing private investigator sniffing around her new place of business. But after meeting the movie star in person, she realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t really hers.
 
When Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own — and is willing to kill for it — she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD is a 104,000 word psychological suspense. It was written to stand alone but has the potential for a sequel. This book will appeal to fans of Fiona Barton’s The Child and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It is my first novel.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
 


#15 Daisy

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:46 AM

 

Back again after a long time :) Didn't have much luck querying, so pulled back and reworked the first act of the novel as well as my query. With more reading and learning under my belt, I have a slightly different approach. Would love feedback on it, and will of course reciprocate.

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

All Betty Favrot wants is a family. But her dad passed years ago, her husband’s been replaced with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and her shoes are still soiled with the dirt she buried her mother in. 
 
Betty tries to fill the emptiness inside with new neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, a friend of her mother’s she never knew about. While bonding with the older woman, Betty learns two secrets. The first: a famous actress is going to give birth at Pearl’s sleepy little hospital. The second secret threatens to break Betty’s heart; the baby is going to die.
 
Together, Betty and Pearl conceive a plan. They’ll get Betty a job at the hospital and the two of them will switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption. At first, Betty is spooked by the threat of her ex-husband’s appearance (the one who promised to kill her if she ever left him) and the dashing private investigator sniffing around her new place of business. But after meeting the movie star in person, she realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t really hers.
 
When Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own — and is willing to kill for it — she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD is a 104,000 word psychological suspense. It was written to stand alone but has the potential for a sequel. This book will appeal to fans of Fiona Barton’s The Child and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It is my first novel.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

No!   :smile:  Sorry.   :blush: 

 

 

When I read your very first post up at the top of the page, your opening sentence hooked me.

This last one here doesn't. 

 

You need to go back and start with that opening.

 

I think query #9 is what you should tweak.

 

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress.
 
But Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified.
 
because sShe’s going to help steal it. kidnap the newborn. (Kidnap is stronger than Steal. Use it! LOL)  Also, "it" doesn't evoke emotions like "newborn" does.  Look at them side by side:
 
She's going to steal it
vs 
She's going to kidnap a newborn.  :wink: 
 
(I want to do the "hello, McFly" to you!  LOL)  :tongue:  :biggrin: 
 
 
 
Try to keep your sentences short, snappy, and to the point.  Hook me and then start reeling me in. So far...I'm hooked.
 
 
Betty doesn’t want to be in town any longer than it takes to settle her mother’s estate, sell her childhood home, and disappear before her past catches up with her.  Get rid of unnecessary words in your query and try and make this sound more urgent. For example, 
 
The minute Betty settles her mother's estate, she plans to disappear before the past can catch up with her.
 
 
But plans change when her new neighbor Pearl reveals that a famous leading lady plans to give birth at the hospital where she works. Again, tweaking your wording will give this more urgency. Switching it up a bit will end the sentence with yet another hook to keep your reader reading.  :smile: 
 
When new neighbor, Pearl, reveals a famous actress is about to give birth at the hospital where she works, Betty's plans change. 
 
 
 
Okay, you switch to Pearl here so I'm assuming you have two main protags?
 
 
Pearl Louise Pickett is the movie star’s biggest fan. She’ll do anything to ensure the a smooth pregnancy goes smoothly. Try not to start your sentences with X is, X was, There is, There was etc.  They're passive.  Just flip it around. For example:
 
As the actress' biggest fan, Pearl will do anything to ensure a smooth pregnancy--even break the rules to run extra tests.
 
 
But when she breaks the rules and runs some extra tests, When test results show she discovers the baby will be born with a deadly genetic flaw, Pearl... . She can’t tell her idol or the doctors for fear of losing her job, Just tighten the wording up some more.  
 
but she has an idea how to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t her own. 
 
Pearl needs Betty’s help to switch the baby with another child, one that’s unwanted and destined for adoption. Betty can’t resist the chance to save the actress from a broken heart and give the rejected little girl the chance to be raised like a princess.  :wub:  I'm still hooked.  Just tighten up your wording in the above two paragraphs.  
 
As the plan nears fruition, Pearl kills a man to keep their secret from getting out. Tweak this sentence to tie this man in a bit more. Does he almost stop them? Make that a bit clearer. Emphasize the stakes (kidnapping charges) which leads Pearl to murder. 
 
Frightened by Pearl’s actions, Betty digs into her past and discovers that she’s been far from truthful about what she really wants.  gosh!: oooh….I wanna keep reading!  Well done.
 
With the fate of the two newborns in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life.  :biggrin:
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. Don't put complete.  If you're querying your m/s, lets all assume you've completed it.  haha! :tongue: 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#16 Patomac

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:03 PM

 

Back again after a long time :) Didn't have much luck querying, so pulled back and reworked the first act of the novel as well as my query. With more reading and learning under my belt, I have a slightly different approach. Would love feedback on it, and will of course reciprocate.

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

All Betty Favrot wants is a family. [This is a little cliched, isn't it? Especially as a first line.] But her dad passed years ago, her husband’s been replaced with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and her shoes are still soiled with the dirt she buried her mother in. [Love this detail, though]
 
Betty tries to fill the emptiness inside[that's a little wordy] with new neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, a friend of her late mother’s friend she never knew about. While bonding with the older woman, Betty learns two secrets. The first: a famous actress is going to give birth at Pearl’s sleepy little hospital. The second secret threatens to break Betty’s heart; the baby is going to die. [This feels like one secret to me. It also makes me wonder how the nurse knows the baby will die and the mother doesn't?]
 
Together, Betty and Pearl conceive a plan. They’ll get Betty a job at the hospital and the two of them will switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption. At first, Betty is spooked by the threat of her ex-husband’s appearance (the one who promised to kill her if she ever left him) and the dashing private investigator sniffing around her new place of business. But after meeting the movie star in person, she realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t really hers. [This feels a little out of order. Explaining Betty's motive for kidnapping should probably come before raising the stakes via ex-husband and introducing the possibility of romance]
 
When Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own — and is willing to kill for it — she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life. [I'm a little confused. Which two families? In what way is Pearl planning on getting a perfect child?]
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD is a 104,000 word psychological suspense. It was written to stand alone but has the potential for a sequel. This book will appeal to fans of Fiona Barton’s The Child and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It is my first novel.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

I didn't look at the previous versions of the query, so you've got fresh eyes here. Also, I think you've told us a lot about your MC and your plot, which is great. I was a little confused in places, though, so I marked them for you. 



#17 HarlequinWriter

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:36 PM

Dear Dream Agent,

 

All Betty Favrot wants is a family. But her Her dad passed years ago away, her husband’s been replaced with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and her shoes are still soiled with the dirt she buried her mother in. I love the imagery here.
 
Betty tries to fill the emptiness inside with new neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, a friend of her mother’s she never knew about. While bonding with the older woman, Betty learns two secrets. The first: a famous actress is going to give birth at Pearl’s sleepy little hospital. The second secret threatens to break Betty’s heart; the baby is going to die. The second: the baby is going to die.
 
Together, Betty and Pearl conceive a plan. They’ll get Betty a job at the hospital and the two of them will switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption. At first, Betty is spooked by the threat of her ex-husband’s appearance (the one who promised to kill her if she ever left him) and After reading the query, it seems her ex isn't important enough to the plot to keep him in your letter the dashing private investigator sniffing around her new place of business. But after meeting the movie star in person, she realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t really hers. 
 
When Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own — and is willing to kill for it — she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life. You could really make this query more interesting by expanding more on the antagonist and what makes her so dangerous and formidable. Since you mention Betty losing her freedom, you should also delve into the investigator's role in the plot a little more. 
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD is a 104,000 word psychological suspense. It was written to stand alone but has the potential for a sequel. This book will appeal to fans of Fiona Barton’s The Child and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It is my first novel. If you don't have any prior publishing experience, don't mention it. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#18 Dollophead

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 09:38 PM

All Betty Favrot wants is a family. But her dad father passed years ago, her husband’s been replaced with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and her shoes are still soiled with the dirt she buried her mother in. 
 
Betty tries to fill the emptiness inside with new neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, a long-lost friend of her mother’s she never knew about. While bonding with the older woman, [Betty learns two secrets. The first: a famous actress is going to give birth at Pearl’s sleepy little hospital. The second secret threatens to break Betty’s heart; the baby is going to die.] I think you can combine these bracketed sentences for a little more conciseness.
 
Together, Betty and Pearl conceive a plan. They’ll plan to get Betty a job at the hospital and where they two of them will switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption. At first, Betty is [spooked] mm different word please by the threat of her ex-husband’s appearance (the one who promised to kill her if she ever left him how about you change to "Betty is unsettled when her estranged ex-husband's appears after (however long he's been giving) death threats.") and the dashing private investigator sniffing around her new workplace of business.[But after meeting the movie star in person, she realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t really hers.] This last sentence feels disconnected from the rest of the paragraph. Maybe start it with, "But despite [all the stuff she's now putting up with], she realizes she'll do whatever it takes..."
 
When Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own — and is willing to kill for it — she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life. GREAT LAST SENTENCE
 
Thanks for your feedback on mine. You've got a strong format here. Keep it up!


#19 pete_b

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Posted 21 September 2018 - 10:11 PM

Sorry I disappeared for a bit, real-world intrusions and all that. Just wanted to thank everyone for the eyes, and I'll be popping around after I post this to try and return the favor. After taking much of the advice here, an editor I follow had a special on quick query reviews -- so I took what I built with your help and had her take a look at it. I'm posting here what we ended up with. It probably could be improved even more, but it's a lot better than I started with, so thanks to you all. 

 

@Daisy -- I get where you are coming from, but that version of the query did not go over well with what few professionals took a look at it. The feedback was that it was too much of a back-cover blurb rather than a query. It might work for some agents, but I decided to go down the "safer" path for now.

 

So here's where I ended up, and thanks again to everyone:

 

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Beleaguered nurse Betty Farvrot lost her father years ago, replaced her husband with a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and still has stains on her shoes from the dirt she buried her mother in. She returns to the house she grew up in, trying to come to terms with the unpreventable moment that shattered her storybook life.
 
Betty bonds with neighbor and fellow nurse Pearl Pickett, an old friend of her mother’s, who shares two secrets: a famous actress plans to give birth at her sleepy little hospital, and the baby is going to die. 
 
Pearl ran clandestine tests and discovered the child carries a deadly genetic defect, but she can’t tell anyone without losing her dream job. She conceives a plan to switch the actress’s child with one up for adoption but needs Betty’s help to pull it off.
 
After meeting the movie star and seeing her happiness, Betty realizes she’ll do whatever it takes to keep the starlet from facing a life of tragedy like herself. She’ll help Pearl provide the starlet with a healthy baby girl—even if it isn’t really hers. But when Betty discovers her partner-in-crime is really after a “perfect child” of her own—and is willing to kill for it— she must fight to put two families back together without losing her career, her freedom, or her life.
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD is a 104,000 word psychological suspense. It was written to stand alone but has the potential for a sequel. This book will appeal to fans of Fiona Barton’s The Child and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It is my first novel.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.


#20 jpfranco

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Posted 24 September 2018 - 08:37 AM

 

<Current (4th) revision is post #14 -- hope I was right to continue this thread instead of starting a new one>

 

Dear Dream Agent,

 

Most nurses would be over the moon at the opportunity to deliver the baby of their favorite actress, but Betty Favrot is absolutely terrified. Great hook
 
Because she and Pearl are going to steal it. Rather than name Pearl here, I think you should tell who she is. That info never finds it's way into the query. She could be anyone.
 
Pearl’s plan makes sense. The two of them can give an unwanted child a storybook life are they going to raise her together? are they a couple? How will they explain the sudden appearance of a baby? and save a movie star from the heartbreak of a daughter who’d never reach her first birthday. There's not enough information here. Give us a little more. At least tell us why she's unwanted, or why she wouldn't make it to her first birthday. As is, it kind of sounds like Mommy will murder her. They might just be saving the starlet’s marriage and career at the same time. After meeting the Hollywood icon in person, Betty wants nothing more than to help her, even it it means risking the best job she’s ever had. But stealing the baby isn't really helping, is it? I'm assuming the actress isn't in on it
Private Investigator Brandon Forstall doesn’t know anything about babies and actresses. He’s sniffing around the hospital trying to solve a murder. Plagued with feelings of inadequacy after losing a leg in service to his country, Brandon hopes a successful collar will prove to everyone — including himself — he’s still a man to be reckoned with. Your query veers off in another direction here, and the connection between Brandon and Betty is a stretch. 
 
After growing close to Brandon, Betty discovers that his case and Pearl’s scheme have shocking similarities. That is way too vague. Betty realizes Pearl’s motives have been far from altruistic, well they are stealing a baby. That's never altruistic (I'm thinking of Raising Arizona. Awesome movie) and she needs to find a way to set things right without getting herself thrown in jail. But after Pearl shows she’s willing to kill to get what she wants, ending up in prison might be Betty’s safest option. But what does Pearl want? We haven't a clue. 
 
With the fate of two little girls in her hands, Betty has to decide if stopping Pearl is worth her career, her freedom, and possibly her life. Great stakes, but who is the second little girl? 
 
FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD, a psychological suspense, is complete at 99,500 words. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Query writing is such a pain. It sounds like you've got something really interesting here, but your query is muddled. Brandon doesn't make it into the stakes at all, so maybe you can leave him out entirely, to avoid that tangent in the query. Even if he's crucial to the plot, you can still leave him out of the query. You switch POV with his paragraph, too. If the book is from Betty's POV, keep the query in hers. If it's dual, the general rule is to keep the query from one perspective. (disclaimer: my own current query doesn't follow that rule)

 

Just saw that this isn't the current version  :wacko: 






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