Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

The Beautiful Liar


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 John Walter

John Walter

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • Literary Status:in-between agents
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:none

Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:35 PM

Hi all. This is a query I received comments on from the old site. I've altered it since and would like your input.
Thanks
John Walter




Dear Agent,

In the middle of the Great Depression, Thom Sweeney has thirty days to find a job or go to jail. The job he finds keeps him out of jail but it draws him into the Boston numbers racket and into the cross hairs of Lucky Luciano, gangland’s Boss of Bosses – who might be the father who abandoned him at birth.
Burned by Boston’s mob boss, Thom takes his revenge by swindling him out of a large chunk of racket proceeds. His success forces him to face the ugly truth of what he is becoming.

Under an older woman's tutelage, Mary Rose Adams trains as a courtesan, driven by the desire for revenge on her abusive father. When she is auctioned to Boston’s mob boss she finds a way to steal from the mob boss, too.

Not satisfied with taking the mob boss’s money, Thom risks his life by casting his eye on Mary Rose.

Lucky Luciano watches it all from a distance and steps in when all hell breaks loose.

This historical fiction, The Beautiful Liar is complete at 83,000 words.

Thank you for your time.

#2 aworkinprogress

aworkinprogress

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 111 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South
  • Publishing Experience:I have had some poetry published but am new to the novel writing and seeking publication.

Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:53 PM

Hi John. I just reworked mine and hope it works, so I know where you're at. You need to look at the posting in this section about how to format your query with 3 para (hook-minisyn-bio). That being said, you need a catchy hook to pull us in right from the start. I'm still trying to figure out what that entails myself so good luck. I remember reading this on the other site and there was one that was more appealing than this (I hate hearing that too but it's true). Formatting is the only real advice I can give right now.

#3 Litgal

Litgal

    Veteran Queen Bee -- Moderator "Here Be Historicals"

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,984 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:My debut novel, "The Sister Queens," (March 2012/NAL), was set in 13th century France and England and wove the captivating story of sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who both became queens. My next solo novel, "Medicis Daughter," (late 2015/Thomas Dunne) travels forward three-hundred years to the intrigue-riven French Valois court, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience.

    In the meantime I am one of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which releases November 4, 2014 and tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 20 September 2010 - 03:00 PM

I still INSIST that a query has to be from ONE POV. The shift to the paragraph about Mary Rose throws me completely. I understand that she needs to be in this query, but she needs to be in there AS SHE RELATES TO THOM (when Thom meets Mary Rose. . . OR WHATEVER)

NOW LET'S SEE WHAT OTHER NITS I CAN PICK:

1) HOOK:


In the middle of the Great Depression, Thom Sweeney has thirty days to find a job or go to jail. The job he finds [DELETE -- keeps him out of jail but it] draws him into the Boston numbers racket and [into the cross hairs of Lucky Luciano, gangland’s Boss of Bosses – who might be the father who abandoned him at birth.

THIS JUST ISN'T WORKING FOR ME BECAUSE IT IS TOO WORDY. SHORTER, PUNCHIER, SENTENCES WOULD BUILD TENSION BETTER. AND I AM NOT SURE THAT FINDING A JOB TO STAY OUT OF JAIL IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO BE IN YOUR HOOK (THAT CLEVER DETAIL MAY BELONG IN YOUR MINI-SYNOPSIS) I THINK YOUR HOOK IS SOMEWHERE IN THE POSSIBLE LUCKY L RELATIONSHIP

2) MINI SYNOPSIS -- AGAIN ROLL ROSE INTO THIS AND I AM NOT SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH (OR PERHAPS WHAT YOU DO HAVE IS NOT COMPELLING ENOUGH) DETAIL. BASED ON WHAT YOU DO HAVE HERE IS WHAT I PULL TOGETHER:

Burned by Boston’s mob boss, Thom EXTRACTS revenge by swindling THE GANGSTER out of a large chunk of racket proceeds. NOT SATISFIED WITH TAKING MONEY, THOM CASTS HIS EYE ON HIS BOSS'S MOLL, A COURTESAN NAMED MARY ROSE WHO TEH MOBSTER BOUGHT AT AUCTION, ONLY TO FIND SHE HAS HER OWN SCORE TO SETTLE. THEN WE NEED SOMETHING ON WHAT THE TWO OF THEM DO -- WHAT IS THE CONFLICT? WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO ACHIEVE? WHAT STANDS IN THEIR WAY? AND THEN YOU CAN MOVE ON TO LUCKY L'S INTERNVENTION BUT AGAIN AS IT RELATES TO THOM AND THE MAIN CONFLICT.
Under an older woman's tutelage, Mary Rose Adams trains as a courtesan, driven by the desire for revenge on her abusive father. When she is auctioned to Boston’s mob boss she finds a way to steal from the mob boss, too.

3) CLOSING PARAGRAPH
The Beautiful Liar is A WORK OF HISTORICAL FICTION complete at 83,000 words.

Thank you for your time.
Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#4 Pete Morin

Pete Morin

    Nut Cracker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,469 posts
  • Literary Status:agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:Some shorts published in obscure anthologies.
    Diary of a Small Fish, a first little piggy heading to market.

Posted 20 September 2010 - 03:37 PM

Hi John,

Gee, my memory isn't great on this, but I could have sworn some of your earlier stabs had more pizzazz than this.Posted Image I know, I know - it's a painful process.

Anyway, I do agree that for the subject matter you're dealing with, the hook seems rather flat. We've got two hustling street urchins and a gangster here, fercryinoutloud. This should be jumping, and IN THE VOICE OF THE CHARACTER.

I don't know about Litgal's insistence that there be one POV. I mean, I really don't know. See avatar name.

But I do admire what she's suggesting. Use tough language. Get into the mood of it.
Pete

Posted Image

Read Diary of a Small Fish
Read Uneasy Living

Blog - Pete Morin
Join me on Facebook

#5 AQCrew

AQCrew

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • 2,429 posts
  • Literary Status:industry insider
  • LocationPacific Islands

Posted 20 September 2010 - 05:42 PM

In the middle of the Great Depression, Thom Sweeney has thirty days to find a job or go to jail. The job he finds keeps him out of jail but it draws him into the Boston numbers racket and into the cross hairs of Lucky Luciano, gangland’s Boss of Bosses – who might be the father who abandoned him at birth.
Burned by Boston’s mob boss, Thom takes his revenge by swindling him out of a large chunk of racket proceeds. His success forces him to face the ugly truth of what he is becoming.


First time reading this...This is not bad at all. The bold is basically your hook, assuming this is the main conflict of your novel. It's two sentences, but they flow and we think it works.

But Litgal is right -- you need to find a way to bring in the other elements under the same POV.

Do that, and you'll have a solid query.

And then, agents won't be judging this based on the quality of the query. They'll be judging its genre and marketability, which could prove to be the tougher sell.

Along these lines, is it really historical fiction? Or is it gritty crime mafia story or maybe just commercial fiction (or even literary fiction depending on the level of prose and description) -- set during the Great Depression for atmospheric effect?

#6 joanq6

joanq6

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 90 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northwest
  • Publishing Experience:Former newspaper reporter, now writing annual reports and corporate websites.

Posted 20 September 2010 - 06:03 PM

I couldn't resist playing with this just a little. Of course, it needs to be in your voice, but there is so much to work with here. You shouldn't have trouble creating a snappier hook.

Thom Sweeney has thirty days to find a job or go to jail. At the height of the Great Depression, the job is harder to come by.

Drawn into the Boston numbers racket, Thom soon finds himself crossways with Lucky Luciano, who might be the father who abandoned him at birth. Thom exacts his revenge by swindling Boston's mob boss out of a large chunk of racket proceeds. But Thom ends up stealing more than money when he meets Mary Rose Adams -- a young woman trained as a courtesan, abused by her father, and auctioned to Luciano. Lucky watches their courtship from a distance but steps in when all hell breaks loose.

#7 Cheryl B. Dale

Cheryl B. Dale

    Veteran Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,192 posts
  • Literary Status:published, in-between agents
  • LocationUS Southeast
  • Publishing Experience:Category, ebooks, mystery

Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:45 AM

I agree with Peter. You've got gangsters and betrayal and a courtesan-in-training, but the query still sounds bland. While your first paragraph should be compelling -- Lucky Luciano could be his father???? - it isn't and I think it's because of the way it's written.

As for one POV - Is Mary Rose's POV a main part of the ms? If so, I hesitate to disagree with Litgal and AQCrew, but I think you should show this in the query. Same with Lucky Luciano. Is Thom or Mary Rose aware he's watching from a distance? Or do you write chapters from Lucky's POV in the ms?

If you're writing from Thom's POV for the entire ms, then write the query that way, too. Show Mary Rose's part and Lucky L's part as Thom sees it, not from their POV's.

And of course, as always, this is only my opinion.

#8 Litgal

Litgal

    Veteran Queen Bee -- Moderator "Here Be Historicals"

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,984 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:My debut novel, "The Sister Queens," (March 2012/NAL), was set in 13th century France and England and wove the captivating story of sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who both became queens. My next solo novel, "Medicis Daughter," (late 2015/Thomas Dunne) travels forward three-hundred years to the intrigue-riven French Valois court, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience.

    In the meantime I am one of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which releases November 4, 2014 and tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:48 AM

Imo, the POV of the MS has nothing to do with the query (otherwise we would write queries for manuscripts written in the first person in the 1st person and we certainly do not do that). The query is more like a book jacket blurb. Keep a razor focus on the most exciting conflicts in your story and don't confuse the reader with POV switches.
Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#9 thrownbones

thrownbones

    Veteran Of A Thousand Wine Bottles

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,680 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationUS Northwest
  • Publishing Experience:The first Mark Mallen short story, PURE MALLEN, is out now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The second Mark Mallen novel, CRITICAL DAMAGE, is out now. The third Mark Mallen novel, INNOCENT DAMAGE, will be out April 2015.

Posted 21 September 2010 - 11:59 AM

Imo, the POV of the MS has nothing to do with the query (otherwise we would write queries for manuscripts written in the first person in the 1st person and we certainly do not do that). The query is more like a book jacket blurb. Keep a razor focus on the most exciting conflicts in your story and don't confuse the reader with POV switches.


Exactly. Words to follow. The query is VERY much like a book jacket blurb. The sole aim is to excite the reader enough to make them want to read the book. Same with queries, only their aim is to excite an agent. Everything else follows from there.

The first Mark Mallen novel, Untold Damage, is now available via Midnight Ink! Look for the second Mark Mallen novel, Critical Damage in April of 2014 (Should we all be here, natch).

UDamage_Cov_sm.jpgCrit_Damsm.jpg
 


#10 Cat Woods

Cat Woods

    Juvenile Junky and Clairvoyant Ninja

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,155 posts
  • Literary Status:published, in-between agents
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:As Cat Woods: adult short stories in SPRING FEVERS, THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE (June 2013). 2014 MG novel ABIGAIL BINDLE AND THE SLAM BOOK SCAM.

    As A.T.O'Connor: short stories in THE FALL and SUMMER'S EDGE. Fall 2013 YA novel WHISPERING MINDS.

Posted 26 September 2010 - 02:01 PM

I'm going to ditto Litgal and Bones on this--and not on principle. Simply because when I read the query as written, I thought it had great potential--until I ran into the POV switch. It totally took me out of your query.

The premise of your novel is engaging and intriguing. Like Joan said, you have soooo much to work with. Tweak a bit and make me feel the excitement and tension that is sure to be in a novel of this magnitude.

BTW, I love your hook. As a nitpick, I would just take out/change a word or two to make it more succinct.

"In the middle of the Great Depression, Thom Sweeney has thirty days to find a job or go to jail. The job he finds lands keeps him out of jail but it draws him into the Boston numbers racket and into the cross hairs of Lucky Luciano, gangland’s Boss of Bosses – who might be the father who abandoned him at birth."

Best luck as you ponder our differing opinions. Try it both ways and see what best matches the voice and style of your manuscript while packing the biggest punch.

Cat Woods
Juvenile Junction Group Moderator


Words from the Woods~ Blog for Cat Woods
From the Write Angle~ Group Blog

Whispering Minds~ Blog for A.T. O'Connor

 

SpringFeversthumb.jpg   thefall_front_cover.jpg





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users