Apr 18, 2010

Query- Coming Around Again (Revised)

Click here to read the original query.

Maggie Sloan sat alone on the beach – alone being her favorite state since the death of her husband and kids four years earlier. When a young girl disappears under the waves Maggie over-rides her own instinct for self-preservation and jumps in to pull the young girl out. The incident not only brings crashing back all the feelings of grief Maggie has worked so hard to suppress but it also brings the little girl’s father to her door; and Maggie is completely unprepared for Connor McGowan.

Connor moved to the North Carolina coastal town for two reasons; to fill the position of Chief of Police and spend more time with his three kids. His life in Chicago had cost him a lot and this is his chance to turn his life around. Even before she saves his daughter, Connor is captivated by his new neighbor; she is a fascinating blend of strong and fragile and he has already decided he wants to get to know her.

As Connor pursues Maggie, she finds herself drawn in by his confidence, his strength and his dedication. Little by little she opens herself to the possibility that she may be brave enough to risk loving someone again.

Then she finds out she is pregnant. She is prepared to love a capable, grown man; but a child is another thing entirely. Uncertain she can face the risk of loving and losing again, Maggie bolts, leaving Connor behind with little explanation, certainly not that she is pregnant. But Connor is determined to live life to the fullest; and that includes Maggie. He just has to convince her.

COMING AROUND AGAIN, a contemporary romance novel complete at 90,000 words, may appeal to readers of Susan Wiggs or Barbara Delinsky. I appreciate your consideration.


gj said...

It's still too long. The substance of the query clocks in at 271 words, when the whole thing, including the bio/credits/etc. paragraphs should be in the 200-250 range.

Plus, the pacing is off. The first paragraph is, in essence, the first scene/chapter of the book -- the "cute meet" in romance parlance, or the "inciting event" in other writing circles -- but it takes up almost a quarter of the query, and is written more like a scene (at least initially with her sitting on the beach) than a query. If you used that many words to describe each scene/chapter of the book, the query would be twenty pages long!

The first paragraph should be more of a single, simple line: h/h meet when she saves his daughter from drowning. Then, show how the relationship progresses and what the struggle is. Weave in the backstory (her fear of commitment) as it becomes important to the relationship. In other words: the hero, in gratitude, asks her out to dinner, and she's reluctant, because she's sworn off relationships after losing her husband/child, but he persists, and she develops a plan/goal, and she DOES SOMETHING. No "finding herself" -- she needs to have a goal and be pursuing it, even if it's "to become a hermit and never have to talk to another human being."

You might find it works better, at least initially, to write the query entirely from the heroine's point of view. It might help simplify matters and it would force you to focus on what the heroine wants and what she does to get it, because you won't be able to skip to what the HERO wants and is doing. If it's her story, then she needs to have a goal and be pursuing it. She needs to act, not always react.

If you can get her character arc in place, and you've got some space left over, then you can add his pov back in, and show his arc (what he wants, what he does to get it and how he grows as a result). But until you've got the first arc nailed, try just using one pov -- what does the protagonist want, what's she doing to get it, what is the hero doing to oppose her, and how does she grow in the course of the struggle. Romance, with the double arcs, is hard to do, and it's easy to miss gaps in one of the two arcs when skipping between them. Telling the story (in the query, not necessarily the manuscript) from just one pov makes it easier to see those gaps. Plus, really, it's perfectly legit to query a romance from a single pov. Sometimes only one character grows, and the other one remains essentially the same, which seems to be the case here. Tell the story from the pov of the character who changes.

Delta said...

This is really very helpful, thanks. Let's see how I can make it work.