Aug 28, 2009

REVISED Query - Beneath the Heart of Beauty

Click here to read the original query.

Charlie Waters has secrets that even he doesn't know. He was shot in the head while on a business trip a few years earlier. The wound had robbed Charlie of his memories of that time. Nobody has a clue, including Charlie, what had happened during that fateful trip.

Charlie's present life is an unhappy one. He thinks he loves his wife, Barbara, but he has never been able to forgive her for her affair. Brief flashbacks of that mysterious business trip begin to return, including memories of a beautiful, young woman that overflow with sex, passion, and a happiness that seemed like a dream. When additional flashbacks of greed, suicide, and murder also return, Charlie struggles to understand how that dream became a nightmare.

Charlie realizes that while he was terribly upset over Barbara's affair, he apparently had his own. Barbara and he begin a complicated dance in an attempt to reconnect with each other. Charlie's disjointed memories haunt him, jarring him both emotionally and physically. He wants the relationship he used to have with Barbara, if that's possible. He also can't deny the longing for this woman he recalls only in flashbacks. He has no idea who shot him or why. Until he finds these answers to his past, Charlie is unable to move forward with any future he might have with Barbara.

BENEATH THE HEART OF BEAUTY is a literary novel with 72,000 words.

BENEATH THE HEART OF BEAUTY is my first novel, although I've had several short stories published in the past on different fiction web sites (all now defunct). I have written most of the book reviews on for the last seven years.

Thank you for your time and consideration. A completed manuscript is available.


Bill Greer said...

I just updated the plot description. I'll give some thought to the bio section once I'm happy with the rest of it.

Donna Hole said...

Good character description for Charlie. I empathize with his unhappiness and need to discover what he has lost. If you were able to bring all this out in the novel, it will be an excellent journey.

But for the query it seems like all background information. The first line "Charlie Waters has secrets that even he doesn't know" is very strong. What I don't understand is why it has taken him so many years to start exploring this past event.

Why is it suddenly a problem? Did he see the woman on the street, or someone/something else that suddenly triggered the memories?

The flashback of "a beautiful, young woman" and all the rest of that make me think this is an erotic novel, not Literary. (Not that you can't have sexy scenes in Literary.) And even in Literary, there needs to be some sort of action taken on the main character's part.

What is Charlie doing to resolve his delimmea?

Sounds like an interesting journey. I'm getting the sense that there is a murder mystery lurking beneath the literary surface. I'm intrigued.

I did read the original, though I don't think I commented on it. This is much better, more informative. Good luck with it.


Bill Greer said...

Thanks, Donna. I would love to explain all those things, but it seems impossible to fit all that in the query.

It's the returning memories (and erotic dreams about this woman) that set the plot in motion. There are erotic parts of the novel, there is the mystery of who shot Charlie and why, and the character growth with Charlie coming to grips with his past actions and deciding on the future course of his life.

Donna Hole said...


Why not begin the query with the erotic dream, give a short background for its basis in reality, state his marriage is on the rocks, and show him taking action to recover not only the memory, but to solve the cold case of his own shooting. Something along the lines of:

Charlie Waters wakes in a cold sweat in the middle of the night four years after the near fatal shooting. The doctors warned him his memories surrounding the events could suddenly return, and he suspects his recent dissatisfaction with his marriage could be the cause. Not to mention the upcoming business trip to the same city he was shot in on the last mysterious trip, and his increasing desire for an extra-marital affair while he’s away.

Checking in with the local police, Charlie finds the investigation has grown cold. But one detective shares what little information they’d gathered with him, which triggers more flashbacks. Night after night, Charlie welcomes the familiar dreams of passion, sex, and obsessive greed. With each dream, a little more of the mystery unfolds, and each day, he uses those insights to track down the woman that tried to murder him as part of a shakey business deal gone wrong, or discover himself her killer.

I’m sure the actual details of your novel are completely different than this, but maybe this will help you get to the heart of the plot. In your version, of course, you will be sure to add all the emotional turmoil that makes this a work of Literary Fiction, instead of a crime or mystery novel.

Thanks for letting me offer this bit of feedback. I hope it helps.