Feb 21, 2010

Query - Avid Heights (Revision 1)

Click here to read the original query.

Dear (Agent):

Just like every other girl in the city of Avid Heights, Sailor Tulley has a crush on the local superhero, Corey Cantrell. It’s too bad she’s the sidekick of his nemesis, the city villain.

When Sailor ditches her sidekick disguise to get closer to Corey, she’s surprised to see that he returns her feelings. But when her boss mysteriously discovers her relationship with his rival the same day that Corey begins giving her the cold shoulder, she realizes it’s no coincidence. The connection between hero and villain runs deeper than she expected, and Corey may not be the hero that he says he is.

She must now decide which is more important: salvaging a relationship with her ideal man, or holding onto her irreplaceable career. Both hero and villain are lying about their identity, and the only way for Sailor to make a decision is to uncover who they really are.

AVID HEIGHTS is a work of commercial fiction complete at 60,000 words. This book can stand alone, but I also have a sequel planned.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

** Notes from the author:
1) Thank you so much to those who helped me shorten this query, and to Rick for making this possible. I welcome as many more critiques as it takes.
2) I'm trying this from a "commercial fiction" angle instead of chick lit. Does this work?

18 comments:

Emily said...

Good work on shortening the query. I know it's hard to fit everything in to just one page.

However, I think you still have a few extra words floating about. The first paragraph could read "Like every other girl... on local superhero Corey Cantrell. Too bad she's..."

In the second paragraph you start the second sentence with "But," I don't find it that distracting myself but many people frown upon starting a sentence with that conjunction. And you never know which camp an agent is in. I would chance the sentence slightly: "When her boss discovers their relationship the same day Corey gives her the cold shoulder, she realizes it’s no coincidence."

Otherwise I think the query is pretty strong. I think that this novel does fit into commercial fiction and is probably going to appeal to more labeled that way.

Piedmont Writer said...

Bravo, excellent revision. I wouldn't change a thing. I agree with Emily, no "But"'s at the beginning of sentences. This is really great. Nice job.

And yes, I think commercial fiction fits this book well.

Good Luck!!!

Shelley Sly said...

Thank you both so much for your feedback! I will revise accordingly.

Shelley Sly said...

One more question: Deleting the "But" in the second sentence in the second paragraph would leave me with two consecutive sentences starting with "When..." Is this a problem?

Should I change the first sentence of the second paragraph to "Sailor ditches her sidekick disguise to get closer to Corey, and she’s surprised to see that he returns her feelings"?

Emily said...

I think that works fine.
You could also use:
"To get closer to Corey, Sailor ditches..."
Either one works fine, but yeah it would be awkward to begin two sentences with "When..."

Shelley Sly said...

Sounds good, thanks.

Sorry to keep commenting, but how do you think agents would feel about a "However..." sentence? Because another thing I'm noticing is that the first 2 sentences in the second paragraph are conflicting (Corey falls for her; Corey gives her the cold shoulder.) So I'd need a "But"/"Yet"/"However" type word. Any advice?

M said...

I don't think the "But" sentence is a problem at all.

We're not writing grammar tomes, here. Voice is what's important, and I prefer the way "but" sounds *strongly* to "however," especially in that long sentence you've got there. Does your novel have a lot of "howevers?" It's a pretty formal word...I suspect "but" may capture the voice of your book better than "however." I'd leave it.

Ok! Now onto the rest of it: "The connection between hero and villain runs deeper than she expected, and Corey may not be the hero he pretends to be." (that's how I'd change it)

Next: "Sailor must now decide which is more important: salvaging a relationship with her ideal man or holding onto her irreplaceable career." Mouthful! Can you simplify and snappify the language? This would be a great opportunity to let the voice of your novel shine through, in how Sailor would describe a relationship with Corey and how she'd describe her career. Would she say "irreplaceable?" Would she say "one-in-a-billion"? Would she say "salvaging" or "resurrecting", or would she call Corey her "ideal man" or "a perfect hunk of man meat?" I am by NO MEANS suggesting you change out what you have for what I wrote here (especially man-meat, egads), but am just giving examples that exude voice-iness. I haven't read your novel, so I can't make that call.

"Both hero and villain are lying about their identity, and the only way Sailor can..." (make the decision of her life, or something snappy and high stakes) "is to uncover who they really are."

Everything else is great! Very strong query, you're almost there!

Guinevere said...

Shelley, I love this query! I don't see anything I'd change; I want to read this now! I think you're safe using a "However..." here.

Shelley Sly said...

M --
Thank you for this advice. I agree that voice is important. I'll work on tweaking this so that it reflects the kind of writing that I use in the novel.

I was concerned with starting with "But" because I *know* there are agents who would frown upon that. The more I think about it, though, if they're that type, they'll frown upon my whole novel, because it's written in more of a conversational tone (which might be my downfall, we'll see.)

Guinevere --
Thank you! I appreciate it.

Suzan Harden said...

Shelley, this sounds great! I wouldn't worry about the 'but.' It didn't pull me out of the query.

The only thing I'd add is be flexible on that sentence about a sequel. Some agents/editors want to know; some don't.

Best wishes on your submissions!

Lisa Amowitz said...

I agree with all the comments about shortening and using the character's voice, particularly the ones M made. Still wondering a bit about the genre, though. It sounds, I don't know, comic bookish? I guess commercial fiction is a broad venue. It's not urban fantasy, is it? Cause to me, that's a bit what it sounds like.

Shelley Sly said...

Suzan --
Thank you, and thanks for the advice about the sequel line. I've been wondering about that myself, and I may even take it out to be safe.

Lisa --
I know, it is a little comic bookish. I'm not sure if it's urban fantasy, since that makes me think of supernatural powers, and this story has none. It's just futuristic and maybe kind of dystopian at most.

Shelley Sly said...

I made some revisions, but I'm still stuck on the last sentence. I'm not sure about "choose the path of her life" -- is that too wordy?

I appreciate all your help.


Like every other girl in the city of Avid Heights, Sailor Tulley has a crush on local superhero, Corey Cantrell. Too bad she’s the sidekick of his nemesis, the city villain.

When Sailor ditches her sidekick disguise to get closer to Corey, she’s surprised to see that he returns her feelings. But then her boss mysteriously discovers her relationship with his rival the same day that Corey begins giving her the cold shoulder, and she realizes it’s no coincidence. The connection between hero and villain runs deeper than she expected, and Corey may not be the hero that he pretends to be.

She must now decide which is more important: winning back the hunk of her dreams, or holding on to her one-of-a-kind career. Both hero and villain are lying about their identity, and the only way for Sailor to choose the path of her life is to uncover who they really are.

AVID HEIGHTS is a work of commercial fiction complete at 60,000 words.

Jason A. Myers said...

Hey Shelley,

She must now decide which is more important: winning back the hunk of her dreams, or holding on to her one-of-a-kind career. Both hero and villain are lying about their identity, and the only way for Sailor to choose the path of her life is to uncover who they really are.

This paragraph bothers. The rest of the query rocks the house.
It bothers me because, you're not giving us her real choice. It's not, keep her job or keep her man. It's deeper than that, from what you've said above. You need to have something in there that says "She has to decide whether she wants to keep her man, keep her job, or keep her life." Seems as if she's on the cusp of discovering something that would blow open the whole hero gig for her boss, and would then undermine all heroes in your world. It's bigger than what you're saying here. Her very life may be in jeopardy when she is about to unmask her job as not the hero he pretends to be.

Shelley Sly said...

Jason, good point. I will try to work that in there. Thank you!

Dominique said...

I like it. It's concise but gives me all the necessary information. Plus, there's nice voice.

Stephanie said...

I like this idea. I'd want to read this.

I didn't pick up that this was chick-lit-ish at all. I thought it was urban fantasy ;)

Shelley Sly said...

Thank you, Dominique and Stephanie. :)