Dec 10, 2009

Query - Along the Beach

A Tale of Two Queries. Some regard each as having their own strengths and shortcomings. The first has a fuller idea of the plot. The second seems more catchy and a breezier read, striving to entice with just enough to hook the agent to request the synopsis giving more of the plot. Perhaps a bit too thin though?

Should I try to merge the best of both into one?

I'm suspecting that rather than do a big rewrite of version 1 (some don't like its opening paragraph at all) I should prop-up version 2.

So that might involve taking version 2 as a base to work with, and infusing it with a bit of Version 1's fourth paragraph to fill in a bit more? Or run version 2 as-is?

nb: The query has a bio section, but it's omitted in this sample, so we can focus on the aspects in question. The issue of genre classification deserves a whole other thread (labeling it New Age vs. Paranormal vs. Fantasy Romance vs. psychic vs. mainstream or not even at all).

Thanks from Gary in Las Vegas


QUERY VERSION 1

Dear Mr./Ms. (Agent),

Soulmates. Faith. Destiny.
"Fanciful words," many would say. But not Lee Merrick.
Those words are with him day and night. Intriguing him. Haunting him. And quite possibly driving him mad.

His only hope is to find the truth behind the enchanting visions of a woman he has fallen in love with but has never met.

Along the Beach is a 108,000-word novel journeying from the outermost reaches of the globe to the inner depths of the soul.

Far away from his Los Angeles home photographing exotic shorelines, Lee is entranced by mystical visions of the "Lady in White." Could she be the woman first revealed in a prophecy foretold in his youth—that he will someday meet his soulmate along the beach? Yet a secret from long-ago compels his own mother to stop at nothing to prevent his success—even if it means having him institutionalized against his will.

On a path of self-discovery spanning a decade, Lee faces the unknown in faraway places, and will ultimately be confronted with his greatest challenge: to overcome the logic of his doubts holding back his certainty that beyond the vision of her spirit, breathes this mysterious woman somewhere in the world. For he knows that he will never be whole until he touches her hand, to unite with the one who already completes his most sacred thoughts and echoes his own heartbeat.

(bio section / closing remark / why I chose that book agent)

QUERY VERSION 2

A horde of killer bees in Borneo. An armed robbery in Los Angeles. A deadly riptide off the Pacific. Malaria in East Africa. A vision of a lady in white guiding him to safety each time. For travel photographer Lee Merrick, the extraordinary is the ordinary.

As her ethereal hands guide Lee’s at the piano to play a Chopin prelude he never knew, he wonders about the prophecy from his youth that foretells he will someday meet "Her" along the beach. But the dark secret of his mother’s own deadly prophecy compels her to sabotage his pursuit at all costs—even if it means having Lee institutionalized against his will.

Time is running out for Lee. Mounting clues beckon him toward finding this woman who pleads for him to believe that she and her love for him are real, but he may not uncover the truth before his obsession robs him of his family, friends, and freedom.

ALONG THE BEACH is a 108,000-word New Age novel.

(same bio / closing / custom comment for choosing that agent)

8 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

I really like the second one over the first. I don't think it 'need's anything. And wow, I'd really like to read this book.

Matthew Delman said...

I second Piedmont Writer's opinion. The first one is too fluffy and doesn't give a sense of the urgency inherent in the story.

And I'd go with paranormal or mainstream as a genre classification personally. Then again, I don't know enough about New Age fiction to completely throw it out the window either.

KatieGrrr said...

2nd one deff. It sounds really cool.
However, can't you think of a better title? "Along the Beach" tastes bland to me.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'm on board with the second one, also. You detail the conflict better and the stakes involved. In fact, I wasn't even sure what the book was about when I read the first one and I thought the second one was a totally different book!

I'm not familiar with new age, but if it's not a proper pronoun, do not capitalize it.

Good luck on your search for an agent.

Bane of Anubis said...

I second the second, though I'd still like more specifics.

Holly said...

The second one, definitely.

However, I was a little confused by this paragraph:

"As her ethereal hands **[WHO? A mysterious woman? A vision of a mysterious woman? Does she have a name?]** guide Lee’s at the piano to play a Chopin prelude he never knew, he wonders about the prophecy from his youth that foretells he will someday meet "Her" along the beach. But the dark secret of his mother’s own deadly prophecy **[is this different from the prophecy in the previous sentence? Can you add some specifics about the mother's deadly prophecy?]** compels her ** [compels WHO? the mother?]** to sabotage his pursuit at all costs—even if it means having Lee institutionalized against his will."

Victoria Dixon said...

Yup, second one inspired interest in me. The first one was more of a What the? response.

I think if you stick with your first paragraph until: A vision of a lady in white guiding him to safety each time forces photographer Lee Merrick to seek...

Remove anything remotely vague and get straight to your villain: The dark secret of his mother’s deadly prophecy compels her to sabotage his pursuit at all costs—even if it means having Lee institutionalized against his will.

That's pretty compelling, though it's unclear what's deadly. If it requires too much detail to explain, consider deleting it.

Good luck!

Donna Hole said...

Well, again I seem to be in the minority. I like version one because it is so intimate. It feels like Literary fiction.

The second version hints at dark secrets and a complicated plot. Can you pull off all you imply? I kinda envision grafic novel scenarios made for TV: Hercules, Watchmen, Sin City, A Scanner Darkly. Not bad images, to my mind.

The thing missing in both versions is the setting. Is this a modern fantasy, or historical? In version 2, what does the killer bees and the armed robbery have to do with the fantasy woman in white? Is there a mystical connection to his photos?

No, version 2 asks a lot of concept questions for me, where version one is strait forward; like Terry Brooks "Knights Of The Word" series. Lee must follow his innate beliefs to combat the evil of a world gone mad beyond conventional control.

Maybe you should ask yourself what motivated you to write this novel. Write a single sentence that describes the plot of your novel. The purpose; the theory you are ultimately trying to prove. What philosophy are you wanting your reader to subscribe to when they finish the novel.

Because I sense there is a philosophy behind this writing. A belief system you'd like to share.

Ah, it's late, and I'm too broke for wine, so my perceptions are probably way off.

Thanks for sharing your vision.

..........dhole