Jan 17, 2011

Query- Second Hand News

Dear Agent:

They both needed a way to start over again and get it right this time.

Twenty years have passed since Gail first saw Tony Cimino behind the counter of his father's pizza shop. The first time was a chance encounter she is certain he would not remember. She doesn't know yet that he is her second chance at happiness and tries to push him out of her life. But Tony, a man who knows what he wants and sees it in Gail, is not going to give up so easily.

Second Hand News is about family, the invisible older sister, the vain, status conscience mother and "pretty" younger sister; a story of fun, friendships and final vindication, woven with the antics of a feisty, hilarious Bubbie; the mortar between the bricks. Add Gail's supporting characters; the young Dominican girl who befriends her, the gun-toting ex-vet who helps her, her out of bounds girlfriends, hot dates and two people falling in love.

Chaos rules, as Bubbie escapes from assisted living, moves into her granddaughter's small apartment, and entertains the neighbors singing Ethel Merman tunes late at night in the elevator. Gail fends off dates arranged by her mother and sister, squashes a Yuppie co-op conversion, and uses her wit and talent to find a new career.

Second Hand News, complete at 80,000 words, romantic women's fiction, explores how two people find a better way to live.

I found your name (Insert pertinent agent information) I would be happy to send part or all of the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,
===================================
CHAPTER ONE

Three of us sat on a cold, wooden bench in the judge's chamber and waited. It was a long day and seven others had already finished and been escorted to the next room to sign papers and get a receipt, pending the official document.

When it was my turn, I stood to answer three questions: 1) Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, 2) Do you Gail Goldblum Silverstein wish to contest this action, and 3) Do you wish to return to your maiden name?

Nothing came out of my mouth and the girl next to me pulled the edge of my jacket and snapped, "Say something, and let's get the hell out of here."
I gulped, answered each question, and it was done.

We were alone in the room with the judge and his bailiff, who pointed, "This way, miss."
I was officially an ex-wife.

5 comments:

Dominique said...

You don't need the logline. It adds nothing and takes up words.

The paragraph that starts "Second Hand News Is" is all tell and no show, and it doesn't really tell us about the plot. In fact, I didn't really get a sense of your plot until I got to the following paragraph. In recommend cutting the "Second Hand News Is" paragraph so we can see more plot.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I'm sure you're story is great, but it sounds like you're a novice when it comes to query writing. I highly recommend doing a lot more research and reading many more queries.

I'm confused about what the story is about. "Two people falling in love" isn't enough of a plot, because that happens in most books.

Paragraph 1: This is very cliche. Also, if the chance encounter isn't important to him, it won't be important to us.

Paragraph 2: You're not supposed to say things like "This is a story of love, family, etc." Just say the plot and we'll figure it out. Also, this is a list of characters and doesn't tell us how all these characters connect, or even matter.

Paragraph 3: Chaos rules... what does that mean? This is the only interesting part of your query, but it still doesn't tall me what your story is about or how it connects to the rest of your query. By now, I've completely forgotten about Tony.

Paragraph 4: What is the "better way to live"? What does this mean?

Like I said, research, research, research.

Anonymous Author said...

I agree with the other two commenters. Lose the logline, esp. since it's in a different tense than the rest of the query.

You have character soup here. I think you're trying to make the story sound fun by adding in all these characters, but it's confusing and it obscures what the story's about. What is the story about? Think in terms of plot, not theme.

Saying your story or characters are hilarious is a bit like telling your boyfriend you're beautiful. With luck, agents, editors and reviewers will eventually tell you your characters are funny, brilliant, true-to-life or whatever. Till then, keep mum about it. Tell them about a story they can't wait to read, and then sit modestly by while they discover its brilliance for themselves.

If I were you I'd go to http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
and read every single entry.

Florence said...

Dominique, Teralyn Rose and Anon ...

I am very grateful for your thoughtful and honest feedback. It helps to have a reader cut to the chase and obviously, this query is not up to par and does not work as it should.

I am off to read more and learn more ... but like the man said ...

I will be back :)

N. Blank said...

Don't start with they. "They" is not specific enough and doesn't grab my attention.