Apr 1, 2009

Revision 3- BROKEN

Click here to read the most recent revision.

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.
Click here to read the second revision.

Dear [agent],

When American psychologist, Alec Sumner, sees Eli Burke take down a mugger with his cane on a busy London street, he is instantly smitten, but quickly learns this potential dream man is plagued by nightmares of his lover’s murder and unable – or unwilling – to move forward and love again.

Thanks to Ilsa, a former classmate and a woman with a room for rent, Alec soon finds himself living with the heartbroken young man and two other housemates: Tony, a self-absorbed, but gifted artist and Lyle, the artist’s often exasperated best friend. Ilsa quickly presses Alec into service, urging him to use his expertise to help her friend move beyond his trauma – with one stipulation – he must not know what Alec is doing.

As Eli fights his growing attraction to his new housemate and the possibilities that would bring, Alec struggles to satisfy Ilsa’s agenda while preserving his own romantic hopes for the two of them. With the support of their small family of friends, the two men move toward one another through a maze of mistrust, passion, and betrayal.

BROKEN is a 63,000 word work of gay fiction that reminds us that no matter what scars a person may carry, there are people out there who will support you through the pain, guide you past the fear, and love you back to life ... if you’re willing to live.

I worked as a copy editor for a daily newspaper for eight years, occasionally writing personal commentary and movie reviews. The full manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Belinda Frisch said...

Wow! I like this one much better. It's a nice blend of the previous attempts and adds the bit about Ilsa's plan as a twist.

I'd remove this bit from the last para because it, to me, hurts the flow and sounds a little infomercial-ish or maybe like a Lifetime movie blurb:

"that reminds us that no matter what scars a person may carry, there are people out there who will support you through the pain, guide you past the fear, and love you back to life ... if you’re willing to live"

Otherwise, I really like the changes. We have the who, the why, the conflict, the obstructions to resolution, and the hopes of a happy ending.

Good luck!

Dawn said...

Thank you, Belinda. I appreciate your thoughts and have shortened the "Lifetime movie" bit at the end.

Marilynn Byerly said...

Yes, it is much better.

You have to be careful not to show your main character as passive, and Ilsa shoving Alec into doing what he needs to do to help Eli and win Eli comes across as passive.

Maybe that moves the plot of your novel, but it's not something I'd emphasize in the query.

ryan field said...

All these revisions are interesting to read. And I mean this in a general sense, because I know that the amount of revisions and the hard work put into writing a good query can be endless.

I have files of queries I wrote to agents over the years, and the good thing is that with each revision they always get better.

Anonymous said...

This Q is WAY too long. No need for character names.

When an American psychologist in London witnesses a mugging, [sh*t happens].

1 para max!

Also, this is a business letter, and at no point do you ever state your business--what is it that you want? Representation, I assume, but you never actually say that! That should be sentence one (I'm seeking rep. for my [genre] novel, TITLE, complete at x words. THEN do the pitch.

Rick Daley said...

Anon @ 5:07

I've read comments from several agents saying that you do not need to state you are seeking representation, this is highly subjective.

They say the fact that you are querying a literary agent is implication enough, and going to the lengths of stating that in the query letter takes up valuable word count that could otherwise be dedicated to the description of the plot or relevant details in the writer's bio.

Also subjective is whether you state the title and word count at the beginning or end, some agents say to start with the hook.

Of course, you're anonymous, so for all I know you are an agent who prefers that level of formality in your queries...

Anonymous said...

I'm not an agent. Author. And I am just 1 person with an opinion. But my Q's (from the days when I had to use them) worked by first stating I wanted them to rep me (and why-- if you like any of their authors, or maybe you at least read their blog--it lets you show them you haven't picked them at random). To leave out the stated purpose of the letter--not to ask for the sale, so to speak, does not make sense to me. You want something. Say what it is. Don't assume anything.

And putting the genre up front (along with the fact that it's completed) helps frame the pitch. Is it supposed to be funny? thrilling? Insightful? It's hard to know sometimes when you just start reading a pitch. Putting the genre/intended audience up front helps in that regard.

Rick Daley said...


Duly noted. If I were to distill a moral from our dialogue, I'm guessing "know the preferences of the agent(s) you query" would be a contender.

I never considered how starting with the genre/title/word count helps frame the hook, but that makes sense!

Thanks for sharing your opinion. It does help to know what worked for someone and why, I hope I didn't come off as too pretentious...just sharing insight from my experience.

Dawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn said...

I didn't put any agent specifics for this critique, but rest assured I research each agent and get their preferences before I query.

The basic structure of the letter I got from AgentQuery.com

They recommended:
1st paragraph...one sentence hook
2nd...150 word mini-synopsis
Also if the bio or relevant experience is sparse, they said "Yippee, more space for the synopsis." But it urged not to deviate from those three paragraphs.

Anonymous said...

Where does the genre and word count go in that little formula? And the reason for querying that particular agent? You leave all that stuff out?!

Dawn said...

@Anon 10:18 p.m.

It says to "suavely" (haha) insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.

I didn't do that. Oops.

It doesn't give specifics on where to include the reason for contacting that specific agent, but it does say to do so and to try to compare your book to others the agent has represented in the past.

Rick Daley said...


I also encourage you to look up the agent's profile on AgentQuery.com, and if they have a website, or more detailed information there, adjust your query according to their preferences.

I've seen some agencies that state they want the bio first, for example. If you follow their specific instructions (when available) you increase your chances of success.

Anon has a good point...don't forget the critical information like genre and word count. There are differing opinions on where you put it in your query, but I think there is 100% agreement that it does need to be in there somewhere.

If they don't specifically state it, assume it's a mistake on their part...

Dawn said...

Thank you, Rick. I've been busy researching agents just as you suggest. I had accumulated about 14 who rep gay fiction.
Also, thanks to Anon's comments, I was up until 5 in the morning yesterday looking up authors of gay fiction/similar books and trying to track down their representation. It really opened my eyes. So far I've added four more agents to my list.
The PQS has been a real help to me.
Thanks again.

Rick Daley said...


If you haven't used QueryTracker.net, I suggest you check it out. It has a good list of agents (searchable by genre) and tools to track your progress and report on the results of other writers who have queried that agent.

You mentioned AgentQuery.com in a comment previously, and I think that's another great resource.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I haven't read the prior revisions, but from what I read, it didn't seem necessary to even mention the two other roommates. I didn't get the sense that they were essential to the plot. Did anyone else feel that way?