Jun 24, 2010

QUERY - Dead Meat

Dear Agent:

In my thriller Dead Meat, Gil Becker just wants to be left alone in the abandoned brewery he calls home so he can perfect his beer recipe, but the guys who blew up the newest hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip didn’t get the memo. That’s when the call came in. His day job. Yeah, driving a thirty-foot promotional vehicle shaped like a canned ham sounds glamorous, but that’s just his cover.

See, Becker kills people. Professionally. He’s so good at it the Department of Homeland Security thought he should work for them. That’s how Becker ends up driving the Ham-ster to Vegas just in time to get shot at by an old buddy of his from the FBI who’s working for the other team. Why he goes to Colombia to get intentionally abducted by the revolutionaries who’ve taken credit for the bombing, just so he can have a little chat with their reclusive leader.

But then the bad guys try to kill Becker in his own brewery. Well, technically it belongs to the IRS, but thanks to some sleight of hand they think it belongs to Homeland Security, who believes they transferred it to the CIA, who doesn’t care. Not the point. They came into his home, and now he’s mad. Becker recognizes one of the attackers: he works (worked) for one of those private contractors, run by a pair of guys he knew from his Navy days. Mercenaries. Men afraid of losing lucrative government contracts once America reduces its presence in the Middle East. They’ve picked a fight with their own country to keep the gravy train rolling, and Becker is the one man standing in their way.

Dead Meat weighs in at 68,700 words. I received First Place in the 1,000-Word Fiction Contest at the 2007 ---- Conference, and Honorable Mention in 2008. I am a member of the ---- Writer's Association. Upon request I can send you the complete manuscript.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.



Rick Daley said...

This has a great voice and it sounds like a fun story. I enjoyed reading this query.

Jolene said...

I enjoyed it too. It's a little bit everywhere but I think it adds to the story. I'm intrigued.

RCWriterGirl said...

Wow, so I had a different take from the other commenters.

The title is interesting, and the story sounds interesting. But the query is too much. It's too long and it's too convoluted.

Focus in on what the mc's main problem is. I don't understand this thing about going to Colombia to meet with the revolutionaries' leader. Huh?

My favorite line in this query is the last one in your summary section: "They’ve picked a fight with their own country to keep the gravy train rolling, and Becker is the one man standing in their way."

To me, that's the heart of your story. Focus in on that, not all the subterfuge. A query is giving the agent a taste. Enough to whet the appetite so she wants more. This is too much and too confusing. Start with something akin to that last line--it's pithy and really sums up what this character is about. He's the wrong man to mess with. I don't care--in a query, at least--why he owns a brewery or who owns it or what have you. I care that he's a killer. I care that he drives a Ham-ster vehicle to hide that he's a professional killer. I care that people have invaded his home and he now plans to get even. I care that he is the wrong man to mess with--the "one man standing in their way." The rest is decoration--gaudy, distracting decoration.

Sounds like you've got a really interesting story here. But, be judicious in the query. Pare it down to the nuts and bolts stuff we care about. Think: who, what, when and why? Tell us what Becker wants, what his obstacle to getting it is, and what he stands to lose if he doesn't achieve his goal. The nuts and bolts.

Great story. Query...needs work. But, I think if you pare down it will be great.

Good luck

ykl said...

I agree with RC. You have a great voice - catchy and interesting but I got lost in the details. Some of it was also repetitive. What I at first thought was a great way with words showed up a few times and it started to seem like you only had a few tricks in the bag ("That's when the call came in" "that's just his cover" "That's how Becker ends up...").

The last sentence of the 2nd para doesn't make sense to me (probably b/c it's actually a question and an answer - not a sentence) and even tho you didn't use a question mark, the first half of it is phrased as a question and I *think* I read somewhere that agents don't like to see those.

I was completely lost by the 3rd para. If you could pare it down and make the meat of it more clear, I think you'd have a great query.

The Generalissimo said...

Thank you all for commenting on my query. I'm working on a revision that takes into account what you've said, and I hope to post it here in a few days. Please feel free to rip it to shreds.

Thanks again.