May 31, 2009

QUERY: A DARKER DAWN

A revision of this query has been posted. Click here to read it.
Click here to read the second revision.

Dear Mr. /Ms. Agent:

When four childhood friends accidentally kill a school bully, they make a pact of silence – never meet each other again and never talk about their crime to anyone, but someone knows their secret, and decades later the four friends confront their past one final time.

Growing up in a small town of India, twelve-year old best friends Dev, Avi, Anita and Jeet come from broken families. Bullied relentlessly by older boys and abused by a school teacher, their friendship is the only wonderful thing in their lives.

The town has a violent history of religious and political tensions. One day, after a bomb explodes in front of an old mosque, a riot erupts between the Hindus and Muslims and the four friends are trapped. Tormented by the carnage they witness, their rage at the bullying Bappa, who assaults them, turns fatal.

Torn by guilt, they go their separate ways. Over their unfulfilled lives, the memory of the death grows stronger, like a festering wound. Twenty years later, an unknown man sends them a message – it’s time for atonement.

They return to the town as strangers to each other, their friendship forgotten. When Avi is assaulted and beaten near death, they know the man who called them back wants them to atone with their lives. The four friends have nothing but their old friendship to save themselves.

My 84,000 word literary fiction, A DARKER DAWN, explores how one terrible mistake can destroy many lives, and how friendship survives when all other relationships desert.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind Regards,

Rohit Gore

6 comments:

Laura Martone said...

Rohit -

Thanks for sharing your query with us! I was really riveted by your story, though I feel like the query is missing something...

While the query is a good length (260 words), it feels like too much time is spent on the whole story. I know nothing about you, the author, so perhaps you could add one sentence about your connection to this material. Also, you should add a line about how the agent can contact you for the entire manuscript.

While the query flows pretty well, it could certainly be tweaked in places. For instance, I would split the first paragraph into two sentences - it would be more impactful if the second sentence began with "But someone knows their secret..." Also, some of the sentences are structured awkwardly: The phrase "Bullied relentlessly by older boys..." should refer to them, not their friendship... perhaps it could be rephrased as follows:

"Bullied relentlessly by older boys and abused by a school teacher, they find their only solace in their mutual friendship."

I noticed little things, too - like hyphens. It should be "twelve-year-old" and "84,000-word".

As I said earlier, though, it sounds like a very riveting story - intriguing, poignant, and topical. Good luck!

Rohit Gore said...

Laura,

Many thanks for the lovely comment! :-)
I am so glad that you like it.
Your suggestions are spot-on and I will surely incorporate them in the enxt draft.

Thanks,
Rohit

folksinmt said...

Nice job. Your book sounds interesting. I agree with Laura...you need to change the first paragraph into two sentences.

I thought that maybe some things in the query were redundant though. Since you tell us up-front about the bully being killed, do you really need to go into the details about it later? Maybe the query would be more powerful if you focused on the story of them confronting the past than the actual backstory.

Good luck!

John said...

I agree that this sounds very promising. Building on folksinmt's comment on redundancy, my suggestion would be to drop the first paragraph entirely. The important points are covered later, and you'd be left with a smoother logical and chronological flow.

One thing to watch out for: Friends keeping a pact of secrecy over a crime they got away with (especially a killing) and then having a mysterious stranger dredge it up is something of a stock plot in horror movies (e.g., I Know What You Did Last Summer). Although yours is not a horror story, I think you'll need to make extra effort to show how your plot is fresh. The psychological, historical and cultural angles will be critical. I wish I could offer more advice than that....

Scott said...

Rohit -

This is a strong effort. I would tighten it up a bit ... I think you should be able to get the gist across in three solid paragraphs.

I would leave the first graph alone - it really draws the reader in. I would condense the next four graphs into two.

Rohit Gore said...

Thanks folksinmt, John and Scott!
Great to know that you find the story interesting. The query needs roughly 200 more rewrites ;-)

Cheers
Rohit