Aug 21, 2009

Query "Stand-In" Revision 1

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent,

Kelly Jo Carter is the object of a killer’s twisted obsession. She is also a woman with a severe, yet well placed, mistrust of law enforcement. When she finds herself smack dab in the center of an investigation into the murders of several local women, she needs to decide if she can trust Detective John Broden and Special Agent Alex Darby. This time around, though, Kelly has an advantage because she has something that the lawmen want; the name of the serial killer they are hunting. Broden and Darby both realize that Kelly is no doubt the killer’s endgame so they want more than a name. They want to use Kelly as bait. Kelly is aware that she will never be safe until this particular man is off the streets, and in theory, Broden and Darby could help accomplish that. But, the last time she had sought the help of authorities where this prominent citizen was concerned, things had not gone well. Now, she fears that if she gives these new investigators the killer’s name, the entire matter will be covered up… again.

“Stand-In” is a completed 84,000-word commercial fiction thriller that will appeal to readers of John Sandford’s Prey Series as well as readers of Sandra Brown’s thrillers. “Stand-In” will be the first of at least three novels in this series; although, it is written in a way that it can stand-alone. I currently have no published works to cite, but I feel that “Stand-In” will change that.

I would be happy to send the entire manuscript or any portion of it for your review. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.




B.E. Sanderson said...

This sounds like an interesting premise. Couple suggestions for first thing in the morning...

Your first paragraph looks large enough to be daunting. It'll come across better if you can break it into two shorter ones. One place you could make the break is at "Broden and Darby both realize..."

Also, if you don't say anything about credits, they'll know you don't have them, so you can snip that part.

Hope that helps. =o)

gj said...

If the woman is the protagonist, then she should DO something. As it is, all the verbs attached to her are passive. She's the object of attention; others want her to be bait; she has something they want (but it doesn't say she DOES something with it). She's coming across as the victim sitting in the police station, while everyone around her is DOING stuff.

If she is the protagonist, then start with what her problem is -- someone wants her dead -- and then get straight into what SHE does about it, not what others want to do about it. E.g., she reports it to the police, and while they're dithering, she insists on becoming bait to catch the bad guy, once and for all.

Or whatever she DOES. Make the heroine the hero of her own story.

Of if she's not the protagonist, if the cops are, then start with them and what they want, and introduce her only as a useful witness/bait.

Kat said...

I think the second draft is an immense improvement over the first--it's now clear (not to mention much more interesting) that Kelly is the main character. I have to respectfully and slightly disagree with gj, tho. I want to find out what Kelly, as a victim, will do to prevent being victimized again...and, thus, I'd want to read the novel to find out. It's more intriguing to set out the conflict only--and then let the reader (or, in this case, agent) satisfy their curiosity by reading the whole MS. And, really, isn't that the goal of the query letter?

gj said...

What Kat said is true for back cover copy, but not so much for a query.

The agent needs to know that the protagonist does, in fact, do something over the course of the book, and isn't just batted about by others. The query doesn't need all the details of what she does, just the indication that she does do something and how doing something makes her situation even worse (in other words, the conflict of the set-up is going to escalate).

RCWriterGirl said...

I actually liked the first query better. Who is the main character? Is it Broden and Darby or Kelly Jo Carter?

I found the two cops searching for answers and the woman who doesn't want to give them more compelling than the woman who doesn't want to give answers to two cops hunting a serial killer.

Also, the first letter made it much more clear that Kelly Jo was the "Stand in."

Also, if Kelly Jo is the protagonist, she's not that sympathetic the way this is written. She knows who a killer is but won't help out?! It's not like she's so frightened, she disappears altogether. She hangs around refusing to answer these cops' questions?

I would tend to agree with GJ. If she's the protagonist, you need to be more upfront with her problems and what she does, not what she doesn't do.

Pubbed Author said...

I have to agree with GJ! I think you need to give the agent more info. I think you have all the info here, but it needs a little reorganization.

This time around, (though-SUG DELETE), Kelly has an advantage because she has something (that-SUG DELETE) the lawmen want; the name of the serial killer (they are hunting--SUG DELETE).

The way you've laid it out "This time around" makes no sense. You could reword it and move some of the stuff at the end of your query to the beginning. Just going to throw something out here...maybe it'll help

The last time Kelly Jo Carter asked the police for their help, a rich man got away with murder (or whatever). Ten year's later, a serial killer wants her dead and the authorities want to use her as bait...