Oct 8, 2009


Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Dear agent Blah:
I know that you are interested in representing literary fiction, so I thought that you might be interested in my literary novel, STORIES ENDING.It is not unlike Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in that some of the prose is affected by the protagonist’s mental state (in the case of my novel, manic thought patterns) while the book as a whole remains very approachable.

On September 11th 2001, while the rest of the world mourns a tragedy, twenty one year old Livie Sivadier is admitted to a psych ward. Earlier that spring, she has no idea that she is heading down a path to madness; all she knows is that she wants to escape from the confines of her home town, Irvine, and the depression that’s hung over her since her fiancĂ© called off their engagement months before.
After an argument with her controlling parents, Livie travels up the coast of California to seek out her estranged sister Darlene. While living at the hippie, communal “Lake House”, Darlene and her creative friends inspire Livie to pursue her lifelong dream of writing, but the dream turns nightmare when the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Eventually, she comes to believe that her own protagonist is real and that the precarious balance of reality will crumble if she does not do something drastic to save it, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Complete at 90,000 words, STORIES ENDING explores the dark potential of the human mind, but also its remarkable ability to heal. I appreciate very much the time you have taken to read this letter and I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.


Anonymous said...

Firstly. Can you boil your story down to one sentence?

After reading the query, it seems you're all over the place--and I am having trouble seeing what the story's about. You have your protag, but what's her antagonist? What's she trying to accomplish? What's the core conflict of the story? Her sanity?

Does 9/11 have something to do with the story? Does it play into the rest, or is it just the day? I was trying to figure out the link between that day and Livie's admittance.

Why does the argument drive her to her sister? I know you can't tell us everything, but the argument and her traveling...can't find the link.

Also, you start off with 9/11, and then you go back to that spring, right? It almost seems like your query needs to start with her trip to the lake house.

Still not understanding how she has to sacrifice her self to save her world. You say the precarious balance of reality will crumble--are you referencing HER reality?

I think you need to find the original idea of your story, boil it down to one sentence, and then build the query up from there.

If you post your original idea here online, we can all read it and get a better idea of where you are going!

Never give up hope!

Sara J. Henry said...

Rick, here's what I would advise:

Dear Agent X:

I hope to interest you in my novel, STORIES ENDING, which is complete at 90,000 words.

Livie Sivadier wants to escape the confines of her home town and the depression that’s hung over her since her fiancĂ© called off their engagement months before. She seeks out her estranged sister Darlene, who's living in a commune, and begins to write - but the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur, and Livie comes to believe that her own protagonist is real.

[If you have any writing credentials - anything publishes in newspaper or magazine, put it here.) Thank you for your time.

RCWriterGirl said...

I like the way Sara boiled down your plot to a couple of sentences. I think shorter works better.

Your opening paragraph is too much stuff the agent isn't going to read, or plans to skim for pertinent details (genre and word count, perhaps if the title is catchy--I don't think a bad title hurts, as the one you come up with is often not the one a book ends up with-- but a good one, definitely helps). I'd be more direct and give one line. The comparison only helps if the agent is familiar with the book, so I'd consider striking it.

Overall, I think the story sounds interesting, but I'd go with shortening it, as Sara suggested. The Sept. 11 phrasing is catchy, drawing a nice paralell for her world falling apart as the real world falls apart, but for different reasons. However, it's not really that tied to the story, so you may want to strike. I think brevity is good, and I think you ought to try to be brief, yet enticing. And Sara boiled your story down well in that one paragraph, so it's both. So, go for something along those lines, but in your own words.