Nov 17, 2009

QUERY - HEART IN SEOUL (revision)

Click here to read the original query.

After praying the sinner’s prayer for the first time in her life, Melanie Hines doesn't feel right about sleeping with her boss anymore. She breaks up with Luke and accepts a six-month project in Seoul, Korea.

Brandon Stiegal, an international business consultant, is not amused at his client company's choice for the new system project leader. Despite his warning about the male-dominated business culture, the blond bombshell decides to stay and complete the project. Melanie's Iowa sweetness and admirable determination wins him over, and he wants to help her acclimate to Korea and keep her from stepping into any cultural potholes.

Luke might have sent her to Seoul as a punishment for breaking up with him, but Melanie intends to take full advantage of her stay by working hard and playing harder. As she clashes with the IT manager, Mr. Yee, who takes offence at a female project leader, Brandon is there to advise her. When she’s out at an exclusive night club with a wealthy young Korean man, Brandon cautions her. His uptight naggings should annoy her; instead her attraction for him intensifies.

Depressed about work and confused about her growing feelings for Brandon, she takes a weekend trip to China to do some sight-seeing and to get away from her problems. There, Melanie happens upon a North Korean restaurant, and out of curiosity, she enters, unaware of strange activities around her. When she returns to Seoul, a man in dark suit stalks her. The only person she can trust is Brandon.

The South Korean government suspects her of being a messenger for the North Korean spies. Brandon and Melanie flee to keep her from taken into the custody of the South Korean secret service while the American Embassy tries to prove her innocence from any espionage activity. Through the ordeal, their love for each other grows even as their faith is test. Can they trust God with all of their heart and soul?

HEART AND SEOUL, a Christian contemporary romance, is complete at 82,000 words. I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and have been active in its critique groups since 2008.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work.

7 comments:

RCWriterGirl said...

I like the first part of this query. It sounds good for a romance novel. But, I kinda felt the story fell apart with the whole Korean spy thing. Maybe it works in the story, but as it's described here, it sounds very convoluted. (You've got people stalking her, the US embassy trying to clear her [I'm not even sure they do that] and her fleeing the law with this guy [which to me, it seems would stop the embassy from trying to help her,as she's a fugitive].)If I were an agent, I think I might stop there.

I'm not saying your book doesn't work. I am saying, your query gives that impression based on what you've included. I think you'd do better getting rid of so much information about the espionage. As it's described here, it doesn't make a lot of sense (you walkl into a restaurant, so now people think you're a spy).

Maybe get rid of this paragraph about the trip, and say somethin more innocuous, like, "Melanie takes a trip to get away and ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Authorities accuse her of espionage, and she only has Brandon to turn to for help. The two grow closer as Brandon tries to help her prove her innocence." Or something like that.

On a small note, in the last paragraph about the story, it should read: "as their faith is tested."

Good luck.

Victoria Dixon said...

Hi, Gina. 1. I think since Luke is a speed bump in this query, you should probably just call him "her boss." There are lots of names here and his isn't really needed. 2. I'd remove your second sentence in the second paragraph. It doesn't advance the telling of the story and I got confused over who the blond bombshell was. You can combine the 1st and 2nd sentences, though it will make for a long paragraph/sentence. 3. You've got two missing words in the 5th paragraph. from BEING taken (I know it's passive, but what's there doesn't make sense). Also, faith IS tested. 4. I'd like to feel the "THIS is the climax" scene where Melanie must choose between her desires.
All that said, this is much tidier and closer. Good rewrite!

Gina Logue said...

Oops, thanks for catching my mistake.

Victoria, I know what you mean about the climax, but this query is getting too long. If I include Melanie's final choice, then I have to add Luke back into the query.

Because of the limited space, I think I can only include one thread of the story and yet without the other parts, it feels incomplete. Oh what to do, what to do.

Thank you both for giving me much to think about.

Victoria Dixon said...

In that case, less may be better and what RC suggests may be a God-send. In that case, you'd want to focus more of your query on the romance plot. Good luck!

gj said...

Story is about things going BADLY and the protagonist struggling against the tide anyway.

Look at how often you soothe away your protagonist's hurts -- she's in a place she doesn't want to be (Yay! Tension inflating!, but it doesn't bother her (Ah, so it was a false alarm, and the tension is now gone). She clashes with Mr. Yee (Yay! Tension!), but the hero fixes that (Disappointment again: tension gone, and not by the protagonist's doings, either). She makes mistakes (tension), but the hero fixes them (tension gone, and again, not her own doing even).

Focus on what goes WRONG, and how it keeps getting worse. Stop deflating the tension and stepping on your own story! If the relationship is progressing swimmingly, there's no story. If someone else is fixing her problems, there's no story. The hero should be making things worse for her, in some way (emotionally, at least), not better.

For instance, escalation is like this: She makes a mistake in her old job, and prayer gets her sent to a new job in a strange place. Good, that's a problem, made worse by her own struggle (saying a prayer). She gets there, and makes mistakes, which the hero points out, which makes her annoyed with him (or somehow makes her internal issues worse), so she struggles to prove herself without him, only she makes worse mistakes, and when the hero tries to help, he just causes her to push him further away, and so on.

Try doing this SOLELY from the protagonist's point of view, mentioning the hero only insofar as he makes her life more difficult, not from his own point of view. It might clarify the core of the story. As it is, the query jumps back and forth, diluting the impact and making the protagonist appear passive. Sticking to her POV will make it more obvious when the tension is flagging and the protagonist is passive.

Rick Daley said...

Boil the story down to one sentence and build up from there. that's the best way to control the length of the query. When you start long and whittle down you will inevitably leave loose ends, but when you build up you are more certain each word is used judiciously.

Stay away from subplots and focus on the protagonist, the antagonist, and the dilemma each poses to the other.

Gina Logue said...

Thanks for all of your great comments.

gj - you are right. I think I'll stick to Melanie's POV and her conflict.

Great advice Rick. I'm going to write one sentence with Melanie's problem and expand from there.

Thanks all.