Oct 5, 2010

Query- Second Hand News

Dear Agent:

Gail Goldblum is a New York City woman on the edge. She comes out of a lousy marriage into her grandma Bubbie's two-room apartment in Washington Heights.

Her family arrange blind dates and trick her into meeting men, and Gail rebelling, reunites with old schoolmates, dates two wild "boys" from Princeton and uses her wit and talent to find a new career and survive her family's attempts to marry her off again.

Tony Cimino, the youngest of six children is left behind to run the neighborhood pizza business, though he will not abandon the dream of being his own boss. He doesn't remember Gail, yet there is something about her he needs to know more about.

The first time she knew she loved him, she was in the fourth grade and he was in Junior High School. Twenty years pass, but when she walks up to the counter, time freezes. Second Hand News, an 80,000 word, humorous romance is about starting over. How after twenty years two people find each other and fall in love.

I found your name the first time on Chuck Sambuchino's Blog; A Guide To Literary Agents, read your blog every day, and I believe my work meets your criteria. I would be happy to send part or all of the completed manuscript. Thank you for your consideration and time.

Thanks one and all. Look forward to your feedback.


Danielle said...

The basic premise sounds good, if somewhat standard for a romance. But honestly, I love romance stories, so if it's well-written, it doesn't matter.

Watch your verb agreements and tenses - it should be "her family arranges."

It feels like you're trying to tell two different stories here, rather than one. The first bit is about Gail, but the transition to the bit about Tony feels like it came out of nowhere. I wish I could give you a suggestion about how to ease that, but nothing is coming to me.

It's a good starting point, though! You're further along than a lot that I've seen.

Mesmerix said...

Hello there! The content of the query is pretty good, but there are some grammatical problems that worry me. You need to make sure these problems don't carry over into your manuscript as well.

1) 2nd paragraph, verb is incorrect. Should read, "Her family arranges blind dates and tricks her into..."

2) 2nd paragraph is all one long, run-on sentence. Break it into two. First tell what her family does, period, then, "Gail rebels, reuniting with old schoolmates..." Or something along those lines. Definitely break between Family and Gail's actions.

3) "yet there is something about her he needs to know more about." is a weak description. You need to come up with something more unique. What is it about Gail that Tony is specifically drawn to? It can be something like the way she laughs at his dumb jokes, or superficial like her long legs, so long as you specify something different.

4) "Twenty years pass, but when she walks up to the counter, time freezes." Reads incredibly awkward to me. I get what you're going for, but it doesn't read right, mostly due to the first clause of "Twenty years pass," and the jump from past tense in the previous sentence to present in this one.

5) 2nd comma should be AFTER romance in paragraph 5. When making an interuption clause like that, you can doubkle check it by cutting it all out and seeing if it still reads right. Example, yours would currently read, "Second Hand News humorous romance is about..." Understand?

6) "How after twenty years two people find each other and fall in love." Is another weak descriptor. It's every romance novel out there. What about adding some humor? Something like, "How finicky pizza dough and an annoying family can bring two people together." Or whatever, just something different than every other romance.

7) Last paragraph, don't say "I believe," you should know. State it as a fact, "and my work will compliment your current client list." Also, cut the bit about being happy to send the MS, of course you will. If you weren't, you shouldn't be querying. This sentence is just wasted words.

I hope this helps you. This is a really good starting query. The plot is clear, characters are clear, and I like the premise for this romance novel. I think if you clean up the things I have previously mentioned, you'll have yourself a winner.

Best of luck!

Scribbler to Scribe

gj said...

Where's the conflict?

What you've got here is good -- nice character details and background -- but it's more of a cast list (with motivation, which is solid), than a story.

Everything in the query is set-up: woman starting over resists family matchmaking, and finds her own date: a guy she went to high school with.

That's all done nicely. But then: she falls in love at first sight, and he's got the hots for her.

So, what's the problem? What happens in the remaining 350 pages?

There's got to be a problem that involves the two of them. She's got baggage (ex husband, matchmaking family), and he's got baggage, but they're in love at first sight. What's the problem?

Cut back on the setup, and establish the basics: who's the protagonist (you might find it good practice to use just one protagonist, describing the other in her point of view, until you've covered all the basics, and then if you haven't run over the word count for a query, you can add in the second protagonist's arc), what does she want, what's she doing to get it, and who's getting in her way?

As it is, I know who she is, but not what she wants or what she's doing to get it, and if I don't know what she wants, I can't figure out who the antagonist is.

Florence said...

Yeesh, this is great and also gives me so much to think about and "fix."

Danielle: I am struggling with the first person, present tense of the book and transferring the tense to the query. I forever slip up on these.

Mesmeriz: What can I say? All of the above and more. You are as always, thorough. I can incorporate your corrections and suggestions.

GI: Yes, you have a very strong point. I am doing a romantic comedy about two people who actually find each other during the hilarious blind dates, twists and turns of her family's dilemas, her satirical way of handling her work and ...

gosh ... I don't actually mention any of that. It is satire and often a bit of slap-stick and I see the query is not even a tenth of the humor I gave the book.

Drat, I hate these damn things.

Went back to the drawing boards and will go back again.

Thanks for your help and thanks for this blog. Love it and how much it helps me.

As the man said: I will be back!

Dominique said...

This query feels like a mix of summary and backstory. I can't find out what the real conflict of the story is. How is their desire to be together interfering with either personal goals (you mention his desire to be his own boss, so I'm assuming that's related) or other characters (you mention her parents so I'm guessing they're related to the conflict)?

Florence said...

Hello Dominique ... thanks for your time. I have done a rewrite and hopefully, it makes more sense that this one.

So help me, the book is better than the critique makes it sound. It is a skill we all have to learn to master and I am so thankful this place is here to help.

Later, fOIS

gj said...

I think you know this, but just in case: romantic comedy still needs conflict. The protagonist still needs a goal, action toward that goal and a SINGLE, over-arching antagonist to tie the whol story together, so it's not a "string of pearls" plot (like "perils of Pauline," where Pauline is tied to the train tracks and is saved, and then is tossed off a cliff and is saved, and then is thrown into a well and is saved, etc., with each of the events unrelated to each other, except that they all happen to poor, passive Pauline).