Dec 9, 2009

QUERY: TWENTY-FIVE

Dear Ms. Super Agent,

Twenty-five. The age at which Abigail Bronsen hoped to have her life figured out. Instead, she’s a virgin stuck at a dead end job who spends her Saturday nights cleaning her apartment.

Not exactly the exciting life she planned for herself at fifteen, as she’s reminded when her sister produces a list of goals Abigail wrote in high school. Climb a mountain. Give blood. Ride a motorcycle. Write a column for a newspaper or magazine. Fall in Love. She can’t check anything off.

Abigail is certain she’s suffering from a terminal case of averageness when BAM! Mr. Right crashes into her. Ben Harris smashed her car, but boy, was he cute. He’d never be into a girl like her, would he? Actually, he would.

Within a few weeks, Abigail doesn’t recognize her own life: maybe twenty-five isn’t so bad, after all. She has a boyfriend for the first time ever. With Ben’s encouragement the list of things she hasn’t done diminishes. Within a few months, she receives a promotion.

Who is she kidding? Twenty-five is the best year of her life.

Okay, maybe not. The magazine Abigail works for wants her to move to London to write a column. But leaving the United States means leaving Ben. How can she make a choice between the man she loves and the career she wants?

She makes the wrong choice.

TWENTY-FIVE (Contemporary Romance, 98K words) is written in both Abigail and Ben’s point of views. The story will appeal to readers who loved The Notebook, by Nicolas Sparks.

The full manuscript is ready to send for your review. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Rachel Hamm

14 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

Hi, I'm new here but I'd like to comment if I may. I thought this was a pretty good query up until you said, "She makes the wrong choice." Why? I want to know and I think the agent would want to know too. Also, it is written in Abigail and Ben's point of view. No "s" on the end of view.

Rick Daley said...

Piedmont Writer- I'm glad you jumped into the mix, your feedback is indeed welcome!

This query has a lot of voice and it's very easy to read. I agree with Piedmont that you don't want loose threads. It's OK to leave them wanting more (that's actually the goal) but you don't want them to question the story itself.

And I think "points of view" is the proper way to phrase it ;-)

Dominique said...

I have to agree with Piedmont that saying "she makes the wrong choice" sort of kills the effect of the query. It feels like a let down. I'd cut it.

Otherwise, the query was pretty good.

Victoria Dixon said...

Hi, Rachel. I know this is a romance and not an epic adventure tale, but you need to show more conflict in your query. Part of that is wrapped up in your "she makes the wrong choice" sentence. Show us what decision she makes and how that complicates things. Otherwise, all we know of your story is, she's 25 and never been laid (bummer???) until she meets Mr. Perfect. Then life is perfect and she gets everything she wants. I kinda want to smack her.

Make every word count in both your novel and query. Ratchet up the tension. She wants this, but can't because why? She solves that, but then this. Will she ever find happiness?

Good luck!

Pen said...

Hi, I'd suggest tightening up the last sentence of paragraph one just a little. It read a little awkwardly to me.

You wrote:
Twenty-five. The age at which Abigail Bronsen hoped to have her life figured out. Instead, she’s a virgin stuck at a dead end job who spends her Saturday nights cleaning her apartment.

I suggest:
Instead, she's a virgin, stuck in a dead end job and spending her Saturday nights cleaning her apartment.

Small changes I know but I think it flows a little more smoothly. What do you think?

Holly said...

Hello Rachel:

First of all, good luck to you.

Here is my constructive criticism. I just did not like your beginning because the negative vibe goes on way, way too long.

You've got about 10 sentences telling us how unhappy she is, etc. before she meets Mr. Right.

I would work on one or two opening lines summing up those 10 sentences. Then with all the extra space, I would describe more about the romance, the wrong choice she makes, and the consequences of the wrong choice.

All of this below I would make into 1-2 sentences:

"Twenty-five. The age at which Abigail Bronsen hoped to have her life figured out. Instead, she’s a virgin stuck at a dead end job who spends her Saturday nights cleaning her apartment.

Not exactly the exciting life she planned for herself at fifteen, as she’s reminded when her sister produces a list of goals Abigail wrote in high school. Climb a mountain. Give blood. Ride a motorcycle. Write a column for a newspaper or magazine. Fall in Love. She can’t check anything off.

Abigail is certain she’s suffering from a terminal case of averageness when BAM! Mr. Right crashes into her."

Piedmont Writer said...

Yes, Rick Daley you're right. I thought about it all night last night, arrgh, it is points of view.

And thank you for the welcome. It's nice to be here.

gj said...

Not a comment on the query itself, but if this is comparable to Nicholas Sparks's books, it is NOT a romance. And the apparently unhappy ending (the wrong choice) confirms that it's not a romance.

If you present it as a romance, and pique a romance-representing agent's interest on the basis of its being a romance, and then the agent gets a Sparks-like manuscript with an unhappy ending, then you've wasted both your time and the agent's.

OTOH, if you present it as a mainstream love story, or women's fiction (although generally that has a happy ending these days too), you won't have such a disconnect between the expectations and the story itself.

Rachel Hamm said...

Thanks everyone! I'm going to be re-writing and sending out new queries mid-January, I hope.

gj- the book does have a happy ending. I've queried it to some agents as Women's Fiction and some as Romance. I wouldn't say it's similar to Nicholas Sparks, just that readers who enjoyed the Notebook would probably enjoy this. They are both sweet, simple love stories. An agent who pops in from time to time on The Next Big Writer, where I workshopped this novel, recommended giving an example of a book that might have a similar audience, that's why I mentioned Sparks. "Mainstream Love Story" isn't really a genre. But I could try querying it as Commercial Fiction.

Rick Daley said...

Rachel,

Take a look at this post on genre, it may help you settle on how to best classify your book.

Matt said...

Not too bad, overall. A couple minor things. First, Abigail Bronsen sounds a lot like Abigail Breslin, the actress - don't know if that's intentional or not. Second, the whole "Bucket List" plot device is a little worn out, but I think you've put a reasonably fresh spin on it. Good luck - I think you might have something here!

RCWriterGirl said...

There have been a lot of comments, so not sure if I'm adding a lot to the mix, but I'd kina like to re-emphasize Victoria's point: there's no conflict in this query. She's unhappy, then she gets everything she wants. I, too want to smack her.

Simply saying she makes the wrong choice at the end doesn't offer conflict. You've got to give us the conflict in more of an "if/then" type sentence. Give it to us in a way that shows us what's at stake. (i.e. If Abigail doesn't do X, she stands to lose Y; or if Abigail can't figure out Y, she stands to lose Z.)

Good luck. You've got the makings for a great query. It just needs a little tightening at the beginning and real good feel of what's at stake for Abigail, and it will work.

Anonymous said...

98,000 words would make it two Nicholas Sparks novels. Heck, it might even be three.

Lots of good comments already:

* Lop of 30,000 words
* Leave the end in doubt
* Don't make her such a loser upfront. I might not read far enough to get to meeting Mr. Right.

-me

Rachel Hamm said...

According to this agent's blog: http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html

my word count is in the average range for chick lit