Oct 26, 2009

Query for Butter and Margarine (Revision #1)

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent,

It takes the right man remembering her for Sunny Cumberledge to realize she could still be remarkable.

Until Justin Reinhart came back into her life, Sunny had resigned herself to a margarine existence, a life hardly worth spreading on weekday toast. That’s what her family wants from her, for her to be the conventional Cumberledge sister. Her father, in particular, wants one daughter willing to exist as insularly as he has since his only son died eleven years ago. So for eleven years, Sunny has done just that, lived her small life as close to home as possible, certain she was doing the right thing for the family she loves in the most fiercest, gut- squeezing way.

However, as she moves forward in her relationship with Justin, Sunny realizes that being twenty- one and insignificant hasn’t helped her family; it’s only hurt her. She can’t be afraid to stand up and live for herself. She has to be the fiery, interesting woman Justin sees in her, the one he never forgot, even though Sunny was sure she wasn’t worth recalling. But more than anything, she has to live as big as she can, as both an example for her family, and for the brother who never got his own chance. Sunny has gotten by on merely existing so far; now, it’s finally time for her to live fantastically.

Butter and Margarine is a women’s fiction novel complete at 81,000 words. [Personal Information]. Thank you for your consideration of my work, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Saison Williams


Calla said...

Hi Saison,

My first instinct to to wonder about Sunny and Justin's past together. I'm guessing you don't want to give it all away in the query, and I'm definitely not suggesting you do, but a little bit about them and what circumstances came to show him that "fiery" side of her would help clear up the stakes.


Donna Hole said...

Much better read without all the metaphors.

This still strikes me as more of a character study than a query, however. This is emotionally compelling; I can see her personality and motivation for changing herself, but the journey itself is missing.

I'm not seeing obstacles, or what exactly forced this girl to suddenly want to start living her life. In several different ways you repeat that Sunny is ordinary and content, but you're not showing what Justin's return has to do with her sudden dissatisfaction.

And, if she's been so ordinary for the last eleven years, how does Justin see her as a "fiery, interesting woman". If the event that changed Sunny into the "margarine existence" is the death of her brother, perhaps you want to start your query there.

A line or two about how vibrant impulsive Sunny was, then the unexpectedly violent death of her brother changed her and her father. Then the introduction of Justin, and what they meant to each other eleven years ago, and what she is willing to do to recapture that vitality, and what may be the stakes for her and Justin if she doesn't succeed.

All Sunny's inner thoughts and feelings about herself and her situation will come out as your story unfolds, but is not needed in the query.

Sounds like an interesting piece of literary fiction. Good luck.


Gina said...

Hi Saison,

I was gonna leave a longer post, but then I saw that I agree with absolutely everything Donna already said, pretty much word for word.

The only thing I´ve got to add is this: the first few times I read the query I came to the same conclusion as Donna and presumed that Sunny met Justin before she turned timid and her life became mundane. But then I realized that when this happened she was ten! So she certainly can´t have been a fiery and interesting ´woman´ at that point. Upon re-reading the query I saw that at it is actually not mentioned at which point exactly she meets Justin.
I therefore presume that it was sometime during her teens, so I would suggest that it might be an idea to change the ´fiery, interesting woman´ to a ´fiery, interesting young woman/girl´ as you´re aiming this at a women´s fiction audience and not YA (and a more mature readership mightn´t be so ready to accept a teen as a fully formed ´woman´).

But I have to say that overall the age issue, combined with the fact that we don´t find out here when she actually meets Justin, confused me no end, and that might be the same for an agent.

I like the central idea - of how you won´t help anyone by denying your true self - a lot though, got a similar MC!

Best of luck!

Donna Hole said...

Gina, and Saison:

The thing I cut out of my feedback was my feeling that Justin was much older than Sunny. After Gina's feedback however, I wonder if I should have mentioned it.