May 20, 2009

Query- Story for a Shipwright (Revision 3)

Click here to read the original query and sample pages.
Click here to read the first revision.
Click here to read the second revision.
Click here to read the fourth revision.

What kind of girl can spear a fish at twenty feet and behead a garter snake with the throw of a knife? Shipwright and aspiring novelist Samuel Wesley, has to wonder. Weighed down with family dysfunction and responsibilities, he has no time for himself, let alone peculiar Marlena, hired to stay on at his mother’s bed & breakfast. Samuel remains aloof, yet her preoccupation with his writing erodes his disinterest.

Finally, Marlena reveals a story of her own about a captain’s shipwreck, a pregnant woman’s survival on an uninhabited island, and a girl’s rescue. Her farfetched tales leave Samuel wondering if they are merely the imaginings of a delusional girl. What he does not realize is that her stories are true, holding the key to his family’s ancestry and intertwining their pasts.

If he risks pursuing her, he must compete with his womanizing best friend and confront suspicions over her motives. Yet Samuel’s biggest obstacle is his own emotional fallout from repressed memories and facing up to his grandfather’s dementia. If he lets her walk out of his life, he will miss out on an exceptional woman and becoming part of her astonishing story.

Ordinary life converges with extraordinary, when Marlena and Samuel, through their own unique perceptions, help each other find the home and love we are all looking for.

I am seeking representation for this novel STORY FOR A SHIPWRIGHT, a work of commercial fiction complete at 82,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.


jbchicoine said...

I hope my added description and attempt at an opening hook hasn’t gone all sideways—I simply felt I could do a better job of drawing the agent into the story. Admittedly, I could be all wet on this and hope that if I’ve gone wonky on it, someone will reel me in.

Bane of Anubis said...

I like the opening line - the 2nd line (Shipwright and...) seems a bit awkward to me, though I'm not sure how you'd convey the idea you're trying get across otherwise.

I'd like to get a few more details that connect the opening idea to the other ideas (e.g., how do your MC's family struggles relate to Marlena, her skills with a spear, her tale, etc.)... I'm not sure if that makes sense, but for me at least, there are a few too many things going on in the query to get a true sense of what the overall thrust is.

Hope this helps. Best of luck,


jbchicoine said...

Thank you for the feedback. You make some good points, and I’m just going to think aloud for a minute…

Perhaps if I change the 2nd line to ‘Shipwright Samuel Wesley has little time to wonder about the peculiar girl, Marlena, who shows up unexpectedly at his family’s bed & breakfast’, it would seem a bit less awkward.

You make a good point regarding My MC’s family struggles. Essentially, they do not directly relate to Marlena, except through the grandfather, whom she has been hired to keep track of. Perhaps I need to be more specific, finish that paragraph with ‘Weighed down with responsibilities and dealing with his grandfather’s decline, Samuel has his reservations when his mother hires her to keep track of his wandering grandfather, who makes thing up.’

The spear fishing, etc. relate directly to her autobiographical stories. I’m at quandary as to how much to give away in a query—don’t know if I should say they are simply ‘true’ or directly state that they are ‘autobiographical’, but the latter seems to connect the opening statement with her stories, the reason why she has sought out Samuel’s family…

And perhaps there is too much going on, and Samuel’s ‘emotional fallout’ is better left aside—hopefully I have already sufficiently conveyed his state of mind.

Or maybe Revision 2 will suffice…must stop obsessing…

Bane of Anubis said...


Yeah, query revising becomes a thankless, painful mobius strip.

I definitely like the rewording of the 2nd line.

I do feel like your 2nd revision has a bit smoother flow to it (but not as good a hook) and portrays the overall thrust a bit better... It's definitely a rock and a hard place deciding how much info should go into the query - I feel like revision 2 needs a little more, but revision 3 needs a little less.

Of course, as I've realized through querying agents, some agents prefer less and some prefer more, so, as you say, at some point, we need to stop obsessing (much easier said than done)

jbchicoine said...

Thanks for checking back in...I'm just going to give it a little rest for a few days and then try to make sense of it. I sincerely appreciate your input.