Jun 6, 2010

Query - Bait

Nothing was more important to Aubrey than gaining her freedom, but the one man who could give it to her was the last man on Earth she could trust.

That’s the premise of my recently completed 90,000 word novel, Bait. This gritty suspense tale, reminiscent of Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown, explores murder, distrust and impossible attraction in a small Louisiana town.

Aubrey Donovan was a successful horse trainer until one tragic night took everything away from her. Wrongfully convicted of the vicious slaying of her sister Savannah, she's spent the last three years behind bars nurturing a seething hatred for the justice system and anyone associated with it.

Special Agent Levi Bishop is head of the FBI task force charged with catching a serial killer dubbed Sandman by the press. After a year of chasing shadows, the bodies of Sandman's victims are still turning up but Levi is no closer to catching him. A break in the case leads Levi to Aubrey and he realizes immediately that he's found the key to finally stopping this madman. Racing against the clock and running out of options, Levi is reluctant to use Aubrey as bait but knows it's the only way to bring Sandman to justice.

Joining forces, Levi and Aubrey fight attraction, then for their lives when everything goes according to Levi's plan and Sandman finally comes.

A Stanford University graduate with a degree in Psychology, I've researched extensively, spending time in Louisiana and visiting the actual prison that the heroine of the story is sentenced to. My writing credits include a published poem and edit of One Man Crime Wave, by Kasha Mona. I’m currently employed as a Senior Project / Account Manager. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or a completed manuscript upon request. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

9 comments:

David Greer said...

Too long. Pare it down to 250 words and try again.

wendy said...

Actually, I liked beginning with the premise as sometimes if the query begins with the action it's a touch confusing who is what to whom and why are they doing it. Straightaway I could discover the kernel of the story and what the MC wanted most - her freedom. Having said that, was the second part of that opening sentence too glib? I notice these days that this kind of clever wordplay is not used as much as it was, especially if it's not completely and utterly relevant to extracting the exact meaning of the story.

In the first sentence of the 3rd para there's another example, I think, of a clever sentence that doesn't give exact details. Might it not be better to tell us of the tragedy than to say the night was tragic? Perhaps the next sentence contains the tragedy. If so, could you say: Aubrey Donovan was a successful hourse trainer until wrongfully convicted of the vicious slaying of her sister, Savannah.

Don't forget the commas between independent phrases of a sentence when separated by 'and' or 'but'.

'Racing against the clock and running out of options, Levi is reluctant to use Aubrey as bait but knows it's the only way to bring Sandman to justice.'

Now, the above, quoted from your query is kind of a glib sentence, but it really works on two levels. Not only is it clever, but it has a breathlessness and a fast pace which is what you want for this section, and it is specific with detail.


I advise to leave the short 5th para out of the query as the previous one has nailed the plot so well and even contains the name of the story - and the main idea - in the last sentence of the plot description. Almost anything else after that is an anticlimax. Might I also suggest leaving out your current employment details mentioned in the last para?

I think you've got a terrific suspense/thriller here which I'm tempted to read even though I don't read this genre normally. I love the way you've captured the build-up of danger and suspense.

Anonymous said...

I like the beginning paragraph. Then the second paragraph was jarring; it took us out of the story. Cut that part out, put the wordcount and title in the final paragraph, and don't bother with the background info about research you did. Focus on your story. Your story has to stand on its own.

Jolene said...

I agree about cutting out the second paragraph. As hard as it might be, I also think the fifth should go, I was already hooked. Best of luck to you!

the wife said...

Thanks for the feedback, this is really helpful. There seems to be unanimous agreement on taking out the 2nd para, however I read Lisa Jackson's lecture on writing a good query and she says to clearly position your novel to agents by giving them word count, genre and examples of successful authors that I believe my voice is similar to. She says this will quickly tell the agents how marketable the book is and who to market it to. So, is it my approach - should I do this in a different way (or somewhere else in the query), or does everyone still feel that it would be a stronger query without it? I like the other proposed changes and will incorporate them into my next revision. Thanks!

Rick Daley said...

This could be a great thriller. Here's my advice for tightening up the query...

Regarding the second paragraph, I would move it to the end. You have a good hook. I think the second paragraph breaks the flow of the query where it is. Keep showing us the story once we're hooked, don't stop to tell us about it.

The rest of the story description is well-written, but I come away wondering what the connection is between Aubrey and the Sandman. That's a make-it-or-break-it plot detail. It will be tough for an agent to trust that you nailed it without having something to go on. I sense you are reluctant to give away a cool twist, but I think you should show more of your hand.

Your bio can be reduced to your publication credits. You don't need the info on your degree or your research, this is fiction. It just eats up your word count. The best analogy I've heard an agent use on this subject is the comparison to a food critic: I don't care how you made it, I just care how it tastes.

the wife said...

OK, here's version 2. I followed advice and deleted para 5,career & employment info etc. which drops the wordcount to 245 (David's advice). I moved the wordcount etc. to the end. Wendy, I thought a lot about the 2nd part of the 1st sent being too glib but couldn't come up w/ another hook. Aubrey not trusting him is the main conflict - let me know if you have any suggestions on how to better phrase it. Rick, I added one sentence which explains the connection btwn Aubrey & Sandman. Let me know what you think:

Nothing was more important to Aubrey than gaining her freedom, but the one man who could give it to her was the last man on Earth she could trust.

Aubrey Donovan was a successful horse trainer until wrongfully convicted of the vicious slaying of her sister, Savannah. Three years behind bars has left her with a seething hatred for the justice system and anyone associated with it.

Special Agent Levi Bishop is head of the FBI task force charged with catching a serial killer dubbed Sandman by the press. After a year of chasing shadows, the bodies of Sandman's victims are still turning up but Levi is no closer to catching him. A break in the case leads Levi to Aubrey, and he realizes immediately that not only was she wrongfully convicted, she was likely Sandman’s intended victim the night her sister was murdered. Racing against the clock and running out of options, Levi hates using Aubrey as bait, but knows it’s the only way to bring Sandman to justice.

That’s the premise of my recently completed 90,000 word novel, Bait. This gritty suspense tale, reminiscent of Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown, explores murder, distrust and impossible attraction in a small Louisiana town. My writing credits include a published poem and edit of One Man Crime Wave, by Kasha Mona. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or a completed manuscript upon request. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Rick Daley said...

Would you like to to put this revision up as its own post?

the wife said...

Sure, thanks.