Jan 19, 2010

QUERY: THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS - Second Revision

Click here to read the original query.

Click here to read the first revision.

Dear Agent.

November 28th, 2012. As the Mayan Calendar draws to an end, the world is plunged into a global frenzy when news of an entity heading towards the planet is leaked. Mechanical equipment and technology begin to abruptly fail, triggering fears of an impending attack. In the ensuing chaos, The Continuity of Government Plan is implemented removing the President and his Cabinet from DC.

Howard Andersen, a political appointee, noted for his ability to “influence” policy, is unexpectedly appointed to head FEMA - most other senior members are presumed dead. He faces contempt and hostility from his boss, the Homeland Security Secretary who wants him out. Howard’s investigations swiftly allow him to conclude that the disasters affecting the planet are indeed linked to the approach of the craft.

The ship lands on Mars beside a mountain that eerily resembles a human face. Religious beliefs vie against military dogma. Is this a divine sign or the staging post for an invasion? Howard gambles that it is an invasion, and unconventional action by him prevents the military coalition formed to defend the planet from fracturing. But, it also gives his boss the leverage needed to oust him.

Back on the outside, Howard watches helplessly as an Al Qaeda detonates a bomb in Las Vegas, pulling everyone’s attention from the skies and back to earth. It prompts a severe response that swiftly pushes the planet towards nuclear warfare. To save lives, Howard will have to release the cynicism and bitterness within and embrace the good that is hidden deep within his soul.

THESE ARE THE END OF DAYS is a completed manuscript of 115,000 words. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely
Lenworth Wesley

3 comments:

Dominique said...

This is definitely better. It's certainly a clearer idea of what's happening in the story.

Some minor issues.

"Howard Andersen, a political appointee, noted for his ability to “influence” policy, is unexpectedly appointed to head FEMA - most other senior members are presumed dead."

In this sentence, you might need to clear up why everyone's decided the FEMA guys are dead. Otherwise, it might imply that I could look around my office, realize my coworkers are absent, and presume they are dead. If the FEMA folks all died in an accident, it might help to know that.

Also, the phrasing is a tad awkward. You might want to try a more chronological order. "When the FEMA bosses are presumed dead after a massive avalanche destroys their convention center, Howard Anderson finds himself appointed to take their place."

Weronika Janczuk said...

Some feedback from an intern in publishing:

I started to comment on the specific paragraphs, but there are some overarching issues with this query.

First of all, queries aren't synopses. Most agents say that your query should cover what happens in the first fifty pages of the manuscript (everything through that first plot trigger) - you want the reader to request the manuscript and not feel like they know the story already.

On that note, the focus on the story in a query should be two paragraphs maximum. Cut out the excess and get to the heart of the story.

I suggest something like this:
One sentence to introduce the global conflict (an entity heading toward Earth) - very short, very concise. One sentence to introduce the main character (I assume it's Howard) and his conflict - What does his appointment have to do with anything? Why are we focusing on Howard? What does he have to lose? What is his goal? Why can't he reach it? Be brief but concise. What is the plot? Something about to hit the planet isn't a plot.

Off the top of my head here is my suggestion:
"When on November 28th, 2012, news of an entity heading towards Earth is leaked, the President and his Cabinet are removed from D.C. In response, Howard Andersen, a political appointee, is appointed to head FEMA, and . . . "

Definitely throw out the paragraph about the ship landing on Mars and the one following. Unnecessary. Like aforementioned, you need to get to the heart of the story. "Howard, once a bitter cynic, finds himself reevaluating his mindset and political motivations," or something like that.

You need to focus on Howard's role and importance. By the end of the letter, I have no clue why we care about Howard and what's at stake for him. Also, you make it seem as if he's the only character - no sidekicks? A wife/family? How does it all play out?

Weronika Janczuk said...

Okay, I looked at past drafts, and I'm going to pull out what was effective in them to help you get a better idea of what worked before.

First letter:
"Howard is faced with contempt and hostility as he tries to find his footing within the political corridors of power. As he scrambles to solve the mystery, he discovers an entity travelling towards the planet."
I don't understand why he's faced with contempt and hostility - and you need to establish that - and we don't know what the mystery is - but this gives us a better hint of what the conflict is for Howard.

Second revision -
"...by his boss, the Homeland Security Secretary who wants him out."
Why does he want him out? Where's the conflict/the stake?

One thing that I see consistently is your focus on the conflict as a whole. Like I said in my first comment, first fifty pages! What triggers the conflict, and how will that unfold?

Good luck! I look forward to seeing the next draft.