Jan 9, 2010

QUERY- THE UNCOMMON ONE (third revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.
Click here to read the second revision
Click here to read the sample pages.


I've taken everyone's comments into consideration (and read a lot of the Query Shark). I hope this one does the trick. I'm ready for your worst!


Dear [Agent Name]

When Sarah Daugherty is grabbed and knocked unconscious in the parking garage of her work, she wakes up in the safety of her car unaware of how she got there. The next day she agrees to a night out with a friend just so she won’t be alone.

Sarah catches the bartender, John Pennington, staring at her and she becomes nervous. When her ex-husband shows up unexpectedly and interrupts her evening, John comes to her aid and intervenes. He impresses her with his kindness and looks good to boot, looking perfect in every way. She boldly asks him out.

What Sarah doesn’t know is that John is a vampire.

Since the night he saved her from the serial killer, John is drawn to her so he agrees to the date. Then he discovers he can’t wipe her mind and breaks it off. She tries to convince him to reconsider and he gives the only excuse he can think of: he’s allergic to the sun.

When Sarah admits defeat and leaves, John feels incomplete without her and decides she’s worth the risk. However, someone isn’t happy they are dating and expresses their opinion in a malicious way.

Sarah’s car is vandalized, her apartment is trashed, and she suspects someone is following her. John suspects it may be Maddie, a friend of his, and he feels guilty.

When Maddie reveals to Sarah that John is a vampire and proves it, her world is shaken. Sarah runs away. However, her life is miserable without him and she comes back. Since her return, there are two attempts to kidnap her. John is determined to find the perpetrator before she is taken away from him forever.

THE UNCOMMON ONE is a paranormal romance novel complete at 109,000 words. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Stacy McKitrick

15 comments:

Dominique said...

This feels like a list of the events of the book. I don't get the feeling of tension and emotion needed to really spark an interest.

Stephanie Thornton said...

This is better, but reads like a synopsis. A good query usually opens with a one line hook and at most, two paragraphs about the plot. Those paragraphs shouldn't be a run-down of events, but instead cover the conflict and the choices the protagonist must make. I'm not seeing that here.

Holly said...

Hi, Stacy.

You could improve the letter if you cut extra words and made passive sentences active.

For example, change the first sentence from passive to active:

"When Sarah Daugherty is grabbed and knocked unconscious in the parking garage of her work, she wakes up in the safety of her car unaware of how she got there."

Instead, you could say something like: "After an unseen assailant knocks Sarah Daugherty unconscious in a parking garage, she wakes up in her car with no memory of how she got there."

Good luck to you!

Holly said...

One more comment from my example. I wouldn't use "unseen" in the same sentence as "unconscious." Too many "uns".

Piedmont Writer said...

This is better than the last -- just a few suggestions.

Instead of -- "...garage of her work" how about "garage at work"

"...looks good to boot, looking perfect in every..." take out the looking

"...night out with a friend just..." take out the just

"Sarah runs away...she comes back...since her return...taken away..." This sounds ?????--


If I may --
"...her world is shaken. She breaks things off however realizes she's miserable without him and so decides to give the relationship one more chance. After two more attempts to kidnap her, John is determined to find the perpetrator before she's lost to him forever."

Good Luck.

Victoria Dixon said...

Stacy, I think this is your strongest attempt yet, but Dominique is right. This has the events, but none of the emotional draw for the characters. For instance, what on earth could tempt a mortal to date a vampire? I'm not saying focus on that, but to weave in why she's miserable without him. In about 3-5 words. This is a romance, so make us feel the passion.

gj said...

As others have noted, this might work as a synopsis, but not as a query. Pull back from the story, and find the turning points, rather than a scene-by-scene summary.

Identify the inciting event, first turning point and perhaps the black moment and final turning point. Get the story down to one sentence: Sarah is attracted to a bartender who rescues her from her ex, but when she finds out he's a vampire, she does ....., and he does .... until .... happens.

The way it's written now, the first paragraph feels like it's just a summary of the scenes in the first 50 pages of the book:

1. Scene where Sarah is abducted
2. Scene where Sarah is nervous after having woken up safely in her car.
3. Scene where friend invites Sarah out to party.
4. Scene where she meets the bartender.
5. Scene where bartender rescues her from ex.
6. Scene where she learns he's a vampire.

Etc. And then you rush through the other 350 pages of the book, not giving them the same detailed treatment that you would do in a synopsis. Aim to keep the coverage in the query more even, giving equal time to who the protagonist is (some adjective or quirk that will make her seem interesting), what her initial problem is (not sure what it is, b/c the abduction isn't really a problem, since she's rescued), what she's doing about it, and who's getting in her way. That will take you at least through the first turning point (the end of the first act) and into the next section, with foreshadowing of how the struggle is going to get worse, so the agent can infer the escalating conflict of the story.

For the query (and probably for the book too), her being abducted and even her waking up safely in her car is all backstory. It doesn't set anything in motion (as far as she knows, in terms of anything she DOES); she's not struggling to find the abductor or the rescuer. It's not part of her character arc; it's just a random event with no obvious consequences. If it were part of the character arc, it would be reported more like: "After Sarah is abducted, she's determined to find the hero who rescued her while she was unconscious. She runs out of leads, so she takes a break to party with her friends, and there she meets a bartender in shining armor, who rescues her from her ex, causing her to wonder why she's suddenly attracted so many heroes in her life." Otherwise, the abduction is a bit of backstory that would probably be much more effective fed to the reader in small pieces, with a revelation much later on -- the reader finds out when SHE finds out who rescued her.

gj said...

As others have noted, this might work as a synopsis, but not as a query. Pull back from the story, and find the turning points, rather than a scene-by-scene summary.

Identify the inciting event, first turning point and perhaps the black moment and final turning point. Get the story down to one sentence: Sarah is attracted to a bartender who rescues her from her ex, but when she finds out he's a vampire, she does ....., and he does .... until .... happens.

The way it's written now, the first paragraph feels like it's just a summary of the scenes in the first 50 pages of the book:

1. Scene where Sarah is abducted
2. Scene where Sarah is nervous after having woken up safely in her car.
3. Scene where friend invites Sarah out to party.
4. Scene where she meets the bartender.
5. Scene where bartender rescues her from ex.
6. Scene where she learns he's a vampire.

Etc. And then you rush through the other 350 pages of the book, not giving them the same detailed treatment that you would do in a synopsis. Aim to keep the coverage in the query more even, giving equal time to who the protagonist is (some adjective or quirk that will make her seem interesting), what her initial problem is (not sure what it is, b/c the abduction isn't really a problem, since she's rescued), what she's doing about it, and who's getting in her way. That will take you at least through the first turning point (the end of the first act) and into the next section, with foreshadowing of how the struggle is going to get worse, so the agent can infer the escalating conflict of the story.

For the query (and probably for the book too), her being abducted and even her waking up safely in her car is all backstory. It doesn't set anything in motion (as far as she knows, in terms of anything she DOES); she's not struggling to find the abductor or the rescuer. It's not part of her character arc; it's just a random event with no obvious consequences. If it were part of the character arc, it would be reported more like: "After Sarah is abducted, she's determined to find the hero who rescued her while she was unconscious. She runs out of leads, so she takes a break to party with her friends, and there she meets a bartender in shining armor, who rescues her from her ex, causing her to wonder why she's suddenly attracted so many heroes in her life." Otherwise, the abduction is a bit of backstory that would probably be much more effective fed to the reader in small pieces, with a revelation much later on -- the reader finds out when SHE finds out who rescued her.

gj said...

Sorry about the double post. Didn't realize it had gone through.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I appreciate all your comments. I tried to show what the book was about and went a little overboard. So how does this sound instead?:

When vampire, and bar owner, John Pennington saves Sarah Daugherty from the hands of a serial killer, he finds a love that makes the darkness he’s forced to live in a little brighter.

But keeping the secret from someone you’re dating is harder than he imagined. When she finds out and runs, he fears he’s lost her forever.

Sarah discovers that life without John is miserable. She misses the way he treats her – with respect and kindness. She misses the way he sets her body on fire. She’s also a little envious of all that he can do. It’s enough for her to take him back into her life and return his love.

However, someone isn’t happy with Sarah’s decision and aims to eliminate her. After two kidnapping attempts, John is determined to find the perpetrator before she is lost to him forever.

I think it's taken me longer to figure out a query than it was to write the book. I just hope I'm going in the right direction. Thanks again for all your comments!

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah -- this last post, in the comments section, I believe was pretty dang good. Sounds like you hit the nail on the head. Short, sweet and to the point. I actually like this better than anything else I've read. It flows, it's not stilted, it tells the story.

gj said...

Yep, the latest version is a big improvement. It's more the big picture and less the scene-by-scen summary. One small suggestion -- tie the "someone" who's going after her (it's the initial abductor, right?) into the earlier plot a little more. Otherwise, it feels like two sequential stories (first, the romance with her leaving and coming back; second, a suspense story that occurs after all their romantic problems are solved). They need to be woven together more intrinsically.

Tricia said...

Wow incredible improvement.

The big thing that is missing now is what makes your vampire story different and special.

Holly said...

Wow, Stacy, that's a great improvement. Just add a little sparkle now. Good luck.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Thank you! I'm glad I finally did something right. I'll figure out what little "sparkle" to add (and not make it sound like Twilight).

This sight has really been a tremendous help to me. I don't think I would have figured out a working query without it. I only hope I can help someone just as much in the future.
-Stacy