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SAND AND RUST (SF Mystery) [Update: Post #34]


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#1 Oldborne

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 05:07 PM

PLEASE SEE POST #34 FOR VERSION 6

 

 

Hey guys, new to the forums but I'm gonna be critiquing queries over the next few days and weeks.

This query is my third attempt for this novel and my first time getting outside eyes looking at it. My first query got no results. My second query got one full request (and 20 odd 'no thank yous') but eventual rejection. The agent who requested the manuscript did, however, give me some notes and now, having applied those notes, I need another new query. 

Anyway, thank you in advance for your help, it's very, very appreciated.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Agent,

 

*Personalised, why I'm querying paragraph*

 

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual lands to settle. Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead, Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime awaits them there. Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and in hopes of diverting disaster Gil does something drastic: He frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder.

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff. He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks let alone lead a murder investigation. However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death.

 

But the Caravan can abide no delays and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march.

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine. I live and work in London as a video editor, and love nothing more than telling stories.

 

Sincerely,

Me   


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#2 Nessa

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 06:24 PM

Dear Agent,

 


 

*Personalised, why I'm querying paragraph*

 

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual lands to settle.​[Too vague. What time period are we in? From the beginning, we should either be introduced to the protagonist or settled in a time period & setting.] Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead, Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. ​[Is this a Western? There's not enough info in the opening to tell me what I should be expecting from this story. I also don't know a thing about Gil other than him being a traveling sheriff.]Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime awaits them there.​[This is where you introduce Sci-Fi, or at least the elements of it. It's still too vague. You can condense all of this to sentence in the veins of "Sheriff Gil Oldborne travels radioactive wastelands on the Caravan, humanity's lone surviving transport, in search of habitual lands."] Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and in hopes of diverting disaster Gil does something drastic: He frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder. ​[So it's a bad thing to keep going forth? What does Gil want? Why does he frame someone for murder? The information is disconnected.]

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff. ​[Gil is still alive though, right? Now Gil's out of the picture? Who is the protagonist? Focus on him in the query. Only him.] He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks let alone lead a murder investigation.​[You could tell a lot more about the world we're in (Are we in a SFF Western?) by saying something like "He doesn't trust himself to (detail pertinent to the setting & his occupation) let alone lead a murder investigation."] However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death.

 

But the Caravan can abide no delays and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march. ​[There's too much going on. I don't know how to make sense of the plot. First, who is the protagonist? If this has dual PoV, then make it clear that Gil is still alive and has a major PoV role. Second, what is the conflict? Is the goal of the protagonist(s) to end the march or continue it? It sounds like Gil wants to end it, and Eddwan wants to continue it. What is the reader supposed to root for? Third, what world is this? Post apoc? Western post-apoc? Is this after a world war?]

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine. I live and work in London as a video editor, and love nothing more than telling stories.

 

Sincerely,

Me   


I love dogs


#3 mkuriel

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 06:37 PM

Hey guys, new to the forums but I'm gonna be critiquing queries over the next few days and weeks.

This query is my third attempt for this novel and my first time getting outside eyes looking at it. My first query got no results. My second query got one full request (and 20 odd 'no thank yous') but eventual rejection. The agent who requested the manuscript did, however, give me some notes and now, having applied those notes, I need another new query. 

Anyway, thank you in advance for your help, it's very, very appreciated.
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Agent,

 

*Personalised, why I'm querying paragraph*

 

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual [habitable? either way, you don't really need it] lands to settle. Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead, Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime awaits them there. Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and, in hopes of diverting disaster, Gil does something drastic: He [don't hint, get to the point] frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder. [I like this paragraph and the details, it just isn't much of a hook.]

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff.[this is your hook!] He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks let alone lead a murder investigation. However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death. [I like this but you can replace that entire phrase with one word: investigate]

 

But the Caravan can abide no delays and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) [wtf!? are they traveling by snail? desert turtles scurry faster than that...] to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march. [I was really happy all the way up to this sentence. These stakes are incomprehensible to me.]

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine. I live and work in London as a video editor, and love nothing more than telling stories. [First sentence, good; cut this one and expound on the short literature and articles.]

 

Sincerely,

Me   

 

 

 

 

Hmmm...  I suggest cutting/moving the first paragraph, leading with the deputy hook, and expounding on the stakes.

 

 

 

There are a few logic errors with the concept that could kill your query (assuming an agent can reason - which should be a given or you might not want that agent)... for example:

 

How does the Sheriff know what's ahead (I'm assuming he just walked for about a week then came back)?

 

I could probably crawl farther in a day than they travel, why won't they stop?

 

If they've traveled for so long that no one knows why they do (I'm guessing at least 4 generations of ~40 year lifespans) then the caravan is self-sustaining. Which means, even if the wastelands end in black goo, they can take a day or two to stop and change course. Which means your Sheriff over-reacted and the stakes are trivial. Since there *must* be more to it than that, you might want to expound on what it is.

 

As Nessa pointed out, specific details can clear up a lot.

 

Hope that helps,

 

 

I appreciate all feedback: http://agentquerycon...ent-ao-3-25-18/



#4 Oldborne

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 02:01 AM

Thanks so much for your feedback guys, very appreciated.

To clear up a few questions:
The book is set on a devastated earth colony in the far future but the characters (and the readers) don't know that. They've only known a desert for generations. It's a twist I plan to show in the second book. 

The Caravan fluctuates between eighty and one hundred miles length-wise so when I say they moved seven miles I mean the entire Caravan has moved that far. It's a very slow hike but the Caravan is essentially a city so it's moved carefully.       

Eddwan is the main POV character but part one of the book (three short chapters) is told from Gil's perspective, which is why I've not started the query with him already dead. I don't know how an agent would react to reading a query where one of the characters is dead, only to find him alive when they read pages.

The plot is somewhat complicated (since it's a mystery) and I'm really struggled to set it up in a way that doesn't spill the beans or give information that the characters wouldn't know. 

Anyway, thanks again. I'll take a few days to digest your comments and take another crack at it. 


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#5 SnowFox23

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 06:59 AM

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual lands to settle. I can tell you are a good writer, but this sentence does not tell me much at all.

 

 

Okay, I'm back after reading your query. The good news: you have a way with words, which is half of the battle.

The bad: I have zero clue what is happening in your query, and why.

 

I know that you are good enough to come up with the goods, I can tell. Have faith in yourself and re-do this. Check this tool out, it might help you: https://www.anndayle...-Idea-Generator

 

 

If you get a chance can you look at my new query, cheers and good luck!

 

 

 

Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead, Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime cool awaits them there. Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and in hopes of diverting disaster Gil does something drastic: He frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder.

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff. He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks let alone lead a murder investigation. However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death.

 

But the Caravan can abide no delays and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march.

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.



#6 rhwashere

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 08:43 AM

A couple suggestions:

1. Cut the first paragraph and start with your MC.

2. Cut the seven miles and stick with the four days.

3. After that, elaborate on the revelations. Give us something specific to hook us in. By cutting the first paragraph, you will have more space for this.

Hope that helps! If it does, please check out mine (the link’s in my signature).

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#7 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:53 PM

Hey guys, new to the forums but I'm gonna be critiquing queries over the next few days and weeks.

This query is my third attempt for this novel and my first time getting outside eyes looking at it. My first query got no results. My second query got one full request (and 20 odd 'no thank yous') but eventual rejection. The agent who requested the manuscript did, however, give me some notes and now, having applied those notes, I need another new query. 

Anyway, thank you in advance for your help, it's very, very appreciated.
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Agent,

 

*Personalised, why I'm querying paragraph*

 

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual lands to settle. Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead semi-colon? Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime awaits them there. Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and in hopes of diverting disaster Gil does something drastic: He frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder.

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff. He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks​comma let alone lead a murder investigation. However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death. ​this sentence is far too long

But the Caravan can abide no delays and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) ​just say four days to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march. ​so this may be me, but these stakes don't seem that high, because we as the reader (given the first paragraph) know that stopping the Caravan is good. 

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine. I live and work in London as a video editor, and love nothing more than telling stories.

 

Sincerely,

Me   


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


#8 PureZhar3

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:59 PM

Thanks so much for your feedback guys, very appreciated.

To clear up a few questions:
a) The book is set on a devastated earth colony in the far future but the characters (and the readers) don't know that. They've only known a desert for generations. It's a twist I plan to show in the second book. 

b) The Caravan fluctuates between eighty and one hundred miles length-wise so when I say they moved seven miles I mean the entire Caravan has moved that far. It's a very slow hike but the Caravan is essentially a city so it's moved carefully. ​Take Rh's advice and eliminate the "seven miles" thing. That is the kind of detail that is trivial and confusing enough that it has no place in the query. It would take up far more space than it would provide in value. 

c) Eddwan is the main POV character but part one of the book (three short chapters) is told from Gil's perspective, which is why I've not started the query with him already dead. I don't know how an agent would react to reading a query where one of the characters is dead, only to find him alive when they read pages. ​I think they would be fine with it. They understand that you are extremely limited for space, and they want to know what the story is about, so they understand if you leave out less important things, even if those things are at the beginning. Especially if it's a murder mystery - half of those start with the victim alive. I would suggest eliminating the first paragraph, too, because it will give you more space to establish things, and it will take away (a) as an issue, as well as a ton of other questions that people are having.

d) The plot is somewhat complicated (since it's a mystery) and I'm really struggled to set it up in a way that doesn't spill the beans or give information that the characters wouldn't know. ​Haha mine too! It isn't a mystery in the traditional sense, but the antagonist has about a billion secrets and the whole point of the story is figuring out what they are, so... complicated :) BUT it will be worth sloshing through it. And some advice: be okay with letting some of the beans spill if it will strengthen your query. 

Anyway, thanks again. I'll take a few days to digest your comments and take another crack at it.


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


#9 TeaTime

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 09:10 PM

Dear Agent,

 

*Personalised, why I'm querying paragraph*

 

No one knows how long humanity’s grand Caravan has traversed the unending desert wastes, searching for habitual lands to settle. Wherever those lands may be, they aren’t ahead, Sheriff Gil Oldborne can attest to that. Only a radioactive ocean of putrid black slime awaits them there. Yet the Caravan’s navigators refuse to change course and in hopes of diverting disaster Gil does something drastic: He frames a retired navigator for murder. His murder. (I won't give any specific suggestions for this first paragraph because I agree with the others that it should be cut. Your query needs to be about your Main Character, & this first paragraph is a third of the story part of your query.)

 

Discovering the Sheriff’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a messy way to die, and he’s not ready to be the Sheriff. (Tweak this a little & it will make a great opener.) He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his own socks, let alone lead a murder investigation. However, when a vial of poison is found on Eddwan’s best friend, Garrion Gale, branding him as Oldborne’s the killer, Eddwan has little choice but to don the Sheriff’s badge and uncover the truth behind his colleague’s death.

 

But the Caravan can abide no delays (Politically?) and Eddwan’s bosses grant him just seven miles (four days) to conduct his investigation before a verdict is ruled. Caught between his duty as a lawman and his loyalty to his friend, Eddwan struggles with revelations that saving Garrion Gale’s life may herald the end of the Caravan’s march. (It's cool to not give away the whole story, but I agree with the others that I'm not sure why saving the retired guy would end the march, & what ending the march means exactly (good or bad).)

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey. (I'm not familiar with these books, but it's good to have recent comp titles)

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine. I live and work in London as a video editor, and love nothing more than telling stories.

 

Sincerely,

Me   

 

So I think focusing this query on Eddwan (assuming he's the real Main Character) will be an easy/good step to make.

 

I also think it would be cool to incorporate that no one is exactly sure what year it is. Anyway, this is a cool premise, I'm sure you'll hone this into a great query.  :smile: 


Feel Free to Check Out My Current Query Letter Here, Thank You


#10 Oldborne

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 12:20 PM

***UPDATED*** VERSION #2

 

Here's a second crack at it. I've attempted to take everyone's suggestions on board. Hopefully things are clearer now.

As always, I really appreciate any and all feedback.

*   *   *   *

 

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the Sheriff. He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming refuge against a barren, post-disaster world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Following the origin of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn in some rich fucker’s grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march. A plot Gil died attempting slow, and one Eddwan will have to kill for to divert.

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Sincerely,

Me


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#11 rhwashere

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 01:12 PM

This seems pretty solid. The only suggestion I have would be to paint a slightly clearer picture of what the Caravan actually is at the end of paragraph one. Is it a collection of ships? (The later mention of flagship vessel makes me think this). Is it a Mad Max-style convoy of land vehicles? I’d like just a touch more setting.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#12 TheBest

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 10:56 AM

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the Sheriff. (Really great opener. Establishes voice, atmosphere, and sets up some stakes.) He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He Eddwan doesn’t even trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming refuge against a barren, post-disaster world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate. (Why would the Caravan want justice for a smalltime sheriff? Maybe give a few words on why the Caravan wants this.)

 

Following the origin (Awkward. Maybe "Investigating Gil's last meal" or "Digging up Gil's last meal." ) of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn in some rich fucker’s (Good voice, but might turn some agents off. Change to "Bastard.") grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths and investigates a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march for good. A plot Gil died attempting slow, and one Eddwan will have to must kill for to divert. (Don't like divert here, but WOW, great, great stakes.) 

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like (Too vague) Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Sincerely,

Me (Is this a DEH pun? Because if it is, I'm really impressed.)

 

Great query! You've really got the voice down, an I'm sure this will grab quite a few agents. Make sure there isn't any awkward wording, and explain just a tad bit more about the Caravan, and you'll have something very special on your hands. Also, consider cutting the swearing because some agents might be offended. All in all, really fantastic query. 

 

Good luck!!



#13 SnowFox23

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 12:39 AM

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the Sheriff. that's a cool opening, but damn, those names were a bit of a mouthful, I felt it slowed the urgency down because I was stumbling over names and titles. Any way you can just call him Sheriff Oldborne, or something?

 

He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. cool. He doesn’t trust himself I don't know why but I like that you said that to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming refuge against a barren, post-disaster world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate. cool beans

 

Following the origin of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel eh, I don't quite get this part assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn in some rich fucker’s grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march. A plot Gil died attempting slow, and one Eddwan will have to kill for to divert.

 

yep, I could tell you were a good writer. The voice is spot-on, and as for the swearing, I think that if you target the right agents they will adore Eddwan and his potty-mouth. good job!

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.



#14 PureZhar3

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 09:19 AM

***UPDATED*** VERSION #2

 

Here's a second crack at it. I've attempted to take everyone's suggestions on board. Hopefully things are clearer now.

As always, I really appreciate any and all feedback.

*   *   *   *
 

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the Sheriff. He’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming refuge against a barren, post-disaster world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Following the origin of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel assumes possession of the chef ​is there any way you can make it clearer what the flagship vessel is? it's confusing as is. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn in some rich fucker’s grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march. A plot Gil died attempting slow, and one Eddwan will have to kill for to divert. ​I'm not sure why, but neither of the clauses in this last sentence made sense to me. 

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Sincerely,

Me

 

This is good! I had a few comments, and I agree with most other peoples' comments, but I think if you fix those things up, this will be great.


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


#15 BadgerFox

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 01:14 PM



 

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the Sheriff. [It's a good opener, for sure. I'm possibly agreeing with the other poster that these names are a bit of an awkward mouthful in this sentence, but equally I can't see any way to phrase them differently here without referring to the characters in clunky ways throughout the rest of the query. It IS best that they be addressed as 'Gil and 'Eddwan' throughout. Maybe leave it any hope that the hookyness of the overall sentence will compensate for the awkward names situation] e’s an old brute, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming ['nomadic', maybe? Or do you prefer the alliteration of 'roaming'?] refuge against a barren, post-disaster [maybe 'post-apocalyptic'? I don't think it's using a cliched description so much as helping an agent identify genre] world [O cool, like in 'Snowpiercer'?]––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Following the origin of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn in some rich fucker’s grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march. A plot Gil died attempting [to?] slow, and one Eddwan will have to kill for to divert. [Cool premise and I didn't find myself getting stuck or confused throughout this. This feels like a foul-mouthed cross between a murder mystery and a cool post-apocalyptic SF scenario.]

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Sincerely,

Me

[I think this query is pretty close to being ready. It makes sense, and it's genuinely engaging. Um. I don't have a hell of a lot more to add than that, since there's not very much needing changed!]


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#16 Cesar Montufar

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 06:41 PM

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the next Sheriff (why caps? Had me thinking that he didn't want to be Sheriff Oldborne, which was kind of obvious, as he's a corpse.). He’s an old brute (to many ways to interpret this word without more context), a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. He doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––humanity’s last roaming refuge against a barren, post-disaster world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Following (tracing? seems like a more accurate verb) the origin of Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t often dirty themselves with the politics (why politics? is adding a whole new, and unexplained layer to the query right at the end) of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although suspicious he’s a pawn (this phrase clunks a bit; he suspects he is a pawn) in some rich fucker’s (I don't give a shit about cussing, but what if the prospective agent does? Voice is thing in a query, but a query is also a professional document, and it sets up expectations of interaction with you. People who are fine with it in a book, may not want to hear it when they do business with you.) grand scheme, Eddwan continues his investigation and unearths a plot to permanently end the Caravan’s march (and this is bad, why?). A plot Gil died attempting slow, and one Eddwan will have to kill for to divert (clunky).

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

 

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Sincerely, (suggest using Thank you for your time and consideration,)

Me

 
 
My critiques, though numerous, are all minor. I really like the idea put forward here, and the novel sounds interesting. The only issue that I see as a sticking point is that your stakes don't have meaning outside of the world building that you haven't done (and maybe can't) in the query. If someone figures out a way to let them stop the perpetual motion, why is that a bad thing? 
 
Best of luck to you!


#17 Oldborne

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 05:30 AM

***UPDATE VERSION 3***

 

Thank you guys for some kick-arse feedback! I've tried to incorporate all of your comments and suggestions but there're a few things I've struggled with. The names, in particular, I can't see a way around. I've tried it as Sheriff Oldborne but that creates problems further down. Not sure how to handle that one so I might just hope for the best.

Concerning the swearing: There's been some conflicting opinions in the feedback and no clear consensus. Some like it, some don't, some think it might offend agents. I've compromised by changing 'fuckers' to 'bastards' as it's milder but I'm hesitant to remove the swearing entirely. 

Anyway, thanks again for your comments. If I haven't already gotten to it (or there's an update) then please do link your own query and I'll return the critique.

Here's draft 3:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the next sheriff. He’s old muscle, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. Eddwan doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––a vagabond convoy of decrepit vehicles, and humanity’s only refuge against a post-apocalyptic world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Tracing Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel––an immense machine home to the Caravan’s elite––assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial.

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t dirty themselves with the affairs of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although he suspects he’s a pawn in some rich bastard’s grand scheme, Eddwan unearths and investigates a plot to end the Caravan’s march for good. A plot Gil died attempting to slow, and one Eddwan must kill for to divert.

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Me 


All feedback appreciated: http://agentquerycon...ust-sf-mystery/

 


#18 mkuriel

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 08:45 PM

***UPDATE VERSION 3***

 

Thank you guys for some kick-arse feedback! I've tried to incorporate all of your comments and suggestions but there're a few things I've struggled with. The names, in particular, I can't see a way around. I've tried it as Sheriff Oldborne but that creates problems further down. Not sure how to handle that one so I might just hope for the best.

Concerning the swearing: There's been some conflicting opinions in the feedback and no clear consensus. Some like it, some don't, some think it might offend agents. I've compromised by changing 'fuckers' to 'bastards' as it's milder but I'm hesitant to remove the swearing entirely. Don't, it's your character's voice. Also, use fuckers if that's how he speaks. Otherwise, an agent who would get offended by it in the query but doesn't, probably will because it's in the manuscript and so you'll end up wasting a lot of time on someone silly enough to get offended by words when they work to peddle them. And take a lesson from Howard Stern - giving offense sells.

Anyway, thanks again for your comments. If I haven't already gotten to it (or there's an update) then please do link your own query and I'll return the critique.

Here's draft 3:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Dear Agent,

 

Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the next sheriff. He’s old muscle, a one-handed illiterate, and a single father. Eddwan doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––a vagabond convoy of decrepit vehicles, and humanity’s only refuge against a post-apocalyptic world––is demandsing justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate.

 

Tracing Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. (irrelevant to query, save for synopsis) Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel––an immense machine home to the Caravan’s elite––assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial. [This whole paragraph can be distilled to a single sentence: After finding a vial of poison on the chef who prepared Gil's last meal, an envoy from the Caravan's leaders takes him into custody.]

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t dirty themselves with the affairs of their followers. Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution. Although he suspects he’s a pawn in some rich bastard’s grand scheme, Eddwan unearths and investigates a plot to end the Caravan’s march for good. A plot Gil died attempting to slow, and one Eddwan must kill for to divert. [why does this matter?]

 


 

Me 

 

 

Overall, very solid. Dial back some of the details so you can deliver more pertinent particulars - such as why the caravan is caravaning and why it should be slowed or diverted. All I really know is that apocalypse survivors travel through a desert, a sheriff dies, a one-handed man investigates, his only suspect will be hanged without trial, and rich people are bastards. Why does marching through the desert matter? Why are people plotting to divert or stop it? You claim he has to kill someone to divert the caravan, but the stakes fall flat without giving an idea for why it matters.

 

You could potentially introduce the chef as his best friend and end with the four days to save his life. Tossing on the caravan rolling plot twist is throwing sand in my eyes as I try to understand the stakes.

 

Hope that helps,



#19 rhwashere

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 10:35 PM

I second mkuriel’s edits.

Please feel free to critique my query: http://agentquerycon...51718/?p=356935


#20 BrookeJS

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 06:58 PM

***UPDATE VERSION 3***

 

Thank you guys for some kick-arse feedback! I've tried to incorporate all of your comments and suggestions but there're a few things I've struggled with. The names, in particular, I can't see a way around. I've tried it as Sheriff Oldborne but that creates problems further down. Not sure how to handle that one so I might just hope for the best.

Concerning the swearing: There's been some conflicting opinions in the feedback and no clear consensus. Some like it, some don't, some think it might offend agents. I've compromised by changing 'fuckers' to 'bastards' as it's milder but I'm hesitant to remove the swearing entirely. 

Anyway, thanks again for your comments. If I haven't already gotten to it (or there's an update) then please do link your own query and I'll return the critique.

Here's draft 3:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Dear Agent,

 

​I like this opening hook, but I'm unsure about starting with the Sheriff's name. Maybe start with saying "Deputy Eddan learns two things when discovering the corpse of his mentor and sheriff of such and such town" Discovering Sheriff Gil Oldborne’s corpse teaches Deputy Eddwan Underwood two things: Being poisoned is a shitty way to die, and he doesn’t want to be the next sheriff. He’s old muscle, a one-handed illiterate ​(what does this mean?), and a single father ​(this doesn't come up again, is it imperative to the query?). Eddwan doesn’t trust himself to change his jailhouse’s wheels after a rough mile of desert, let alone lead a murder investigation. But the Caravan––a vagabond convoy of decrepit vehicles, and humanity’s only refuge against a post-apocalyptic world––is demanding justice for Gil. Eddwan has little choice but to investigate ​(After a few reads I get major mad-max vibes which is awesome but it feels fuzzy maybe try switching things around in this portion to clear it up? The line with Eddwan not trusting him to change jailhouse wheels is awesome but it took me a minute to realize he's part of the Caravan.)

 

Tracing Gil’s last meal takes Eddwan to a chef and a vial of poison. Distraught, the chef blames Gil, claiming he poisoned the food himself and planted the evidence. Before Eddwan can probe further, an envoy from the Caravan’s flagship vessel––an immense machine home to the Caravan’s elite––assumes possession of the chef. Powerless to stop them, Eddwan relinquishes his prisoner, only to learn the chef will be hanged without trial. ​Who is the governing body? Why do these "elite" have the authority to muddle in an ongoing, official, investigation? Why does Eddwan just give up his suspect?

 

If Eddwan’s sure of one thing, it’s that the Caravan’s leaders don’t dirty themselves with the affairs of their followers ​(So why did they interfere?). Stranger still, he’s granted four days by those same leaders to prevent the chef’s execution ​This part is confusing, are these different from the people who took the chef? If Eddwan learns the Chef is innocent wouldn't he already be working to stop the execution as the chef is clearly being framed?. Although he suspects he’s a pawn in some rich bastard’s grand scheme ​(why?), Eddwan unearths and investigates a plot to end the Caravan’s march for good ​(why, what will this accomplish?). A plot Gil died attempting to slow, and one Eddwan must kill for ​in order to divert ​(I like this but as mkuriel said I agree it falls flat because there are too many unanswered questions above).

 

SAND AND RUST, complete at 95,000 words, will appeal to fans of SF Mysteries like Artemis by Andy Weir and Sand by Hugh Howey.

I have sold short literature to Shoreline of Infinity and written numerous articles for Vulture Hound Magazine.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Me 

 

Hello! Thought I would return the favor for your critique! I shall do my best and I hope you find my questions and suggestions helpful! Overall, I like your concept although I do feel a little confused. My main source of confusion is who does your MC work for? The beginning portion of the query makes it seem as if there are 2 different entities - the caravan - and somewhere else unnamed that Eddwan lives and works for/on. So, if the Caravan is the last human (moving) city in existence then I would recommend clearing that up just a touch. I agree with above suggestions to maintain the swearing if it's the character's voice but I do think "bastards" fits for the query. Using "f***ers" comes a little out of left field as the only prior swear word is "shitty", so not that I think an agent would be offended but it's jarring and I think removes you too much from getting to the nitty gritty. I like this concept, very steam-punk meets mad-max meets john wayne grizzled type (at least that's the feel I get). I'm really interested to see how you change things up because then I'll understand more what's going on! I want to hear more of Eddwan in this because right now I don't feel I see much of him. =)


If you have time I would love feedback on my query: http://agentquerycon...-back/?p=356112

If you could spare a moment I would really appreciate critiques on my synopsis: http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=355669

 





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