Feb 8, 2011

COMMERCIAL FICTION QUERY: A HUMAN ELEMENT

Dear Agent,

I am seeking your representation of A HUMAN ELEMENT, a 120,000-word commercial mainstream dark novel in the tradition of Dean Koontz.

Laura Armstrong discovers her special powers as a child only to endure a life of tragedy as those she loves are gruesomely murdered and she must unravel her past to face the monster that stalks her and the man she loves – all bonded by a destiny they never could have imagined.

At 26 Laura can’t escape death. Her parents were burned alive, her best friend’s throat was ripped out and her boss’s head was blown off in her lap. And she doesn’t know why. Could the monster in her nightmares be the killer? Then there’s the man in black who watches her from afar. His mysterious notes tell her she must use her powers to save herself, leaving Laura with more questions than answers.

Could it all be connected to the meteor that hit her hometown lake nearly 30 years ago? Ben Fieldstone thinks so. He was there the night his parents were crushed under it and spent the rest of his life haunted by their deaths. He returns to the lake to find peace but also finds himself opening his heart to love when he meets Laura there seeking answers too. Drawn to one another, they discover they are bound by fate, confirmed by the man in black who reveals Laura’s true identity and the secret about the meteor – and that the monster who wants her dead is part of who she is.

With the escaped killer closing in fast, Laura knows only she can fight the monster with her powers and save them. But if they survive can destiny redirect itself luckily so, and can Laura give her heart to Ben knowing what she really is?

This is my first novel and I would appreciate the opportunity to send you the entire manuscript of A HUMAN ELEMENT. I am a freelance writer for an advertising agency and a former marketing communications manager.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chap 4

He swung his backpack over his shoulder then glanced back at the bare room that didn’t belong to him. He fought off self-pity. Then he slowly opened the door and listened. He heard the murmur of the television. Its ghostly light poured from Frank’s bedroom.

Ben tiptoed to the door. He saw Frank sitting in bed, his eyes shut. He had passed out. A cigarette hung from his fingers, the ash still glowing. The television flickered, canned laughter filled the room. Ben kept his eyes on that cigarette. The ash grew. And then the cigarette fell.

It seemed to hang in the air then tumbled in slow-motion onto the sheets. Nothing happened. Then the sheets smoldered. Laughter rang out again. Ben glanced at the television. Some character ran around a kitchen. Ben’s gaze returned to that fallen cigarette, eyes unblinking. Minutes passed. It seemed like hours to him.

He knew he needed to choose. Run or pick up the cigarette and prevent the certain fire? If he did nothing and Frank died, would he be a murderer? But Frank could have killed him just now. Might still kill him, or worse, if he ever caught him. He continued to stare where the cigarette fell.

The flames burst up from the sheets and fanned along the comforter framing Frank in a soft glow. They hungrily licked through the old bedspread until Frank’s image blurred. He looked so serene, so harmless. Ben felt free and safe seeing him like that.

And he knew then. He had to live. He wanted to live. He ran.

7 comments:

Faraci said...

Interesting premise.

I would scrap the first two paragraphs and start with the third. Put the word count/title/genre in the last lines with your qualifications. This way you can catch the agent with the plot and the characters right away without repeating any information. This will also help with the word count - most agents want 250 words or less for their query letters, and you are over 300.

Love the third paragraph.

The fourth paragraph can be trimmed down a bit:


Could it all be connected to the meteor that hit her hometown lake nearly 30 years ago? Ben Fieldstone thinks so. He was there the night his parents were crushed under it. [CUT: and spent the rest of his life haunted by their deaths.] [ADD: Laura finds him there when she visits the lake, searching for answers.] [CUT: He returns to the lake to find peace but also finds himself opening his heart to love when he meets Laura there seeking answers too.] Drawn to one another, they discover they are bound by fate, confirmed by the man in black who reveals Laura’s true identity and the secret about the meteor [CUT: – and that the monster who wants her dead is part of who she is.[wait, when did a monster come into this?]]

With the escaped killer closing in fast [cut or explain - who is this killer/monster fellow?], Laura knows only she can fight the monster with her powers and save them. But if they survive can destiny redirect itself [CUT: luckily so], and can Laura give her heart to Ben [ADD: if he knows] [CUT: knowing] what she really is?


A great start! I hope these suggestions help.

Anonymous said...

I thought to start at para 3 too! Thanks for the feedback and editing on para 4 - I will be incorporating. It flows much cleaner and faster now - on edge as the book is. Appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Question: Do I want to give away who the killer is in the query - as that is part of the build up...or save for synopsis?

Anonymous said...

COMMERCIAL FICTION QUERY: A HUMAN ELEMENT (2ND VERSION)

Dear Agent,

At 26 Laura Armstrong can’t escape death. Her parents were burned alive, her best friend’s throat was ripped out and her boss’s head was blown off in her lap. And she doesn’t know why. Could the evil man who chases her in nightmares be the killer? Then there’s the man in black who watches her from afar. His mysterious notes tell her she must use her special powers to save herself as she is next, leaving Laura with more questions than answers.

Could it all be connected to the meteor that hit her hometown lake nearly 30 years ago? Ben Fieldstone thinks so. He was there the night his parents were crushed under it. Laura finds him there when she visits the lake, searching for answers. Drawn to one another, they discover they are bound by fate, confirmed by the man in black who reveals Laura’s true identity and the secret about the meteor – and that the man who wants her dead is part of her destiny too.

With the killer closing in fast, Laura decides she must fight him alone using her special powers to save them. But if they survive can destiny redirect itself and can Laura give her heart to Ben if he knows what she really is?

I am seeking representation of my first novel, A HUMAN ELEMENT, a 120,000-word commercial mainstream dark novel. I would appreciate the opportunity to send you the entire manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Faraci said...

Nice. I don't think you should give away the killer's identity. It's good that you mention him to build suspense though.

Question:
Is Laura really going to fight him alone? Why wouldn't Ben be helping her, if they are in this together?

N. Blank said...

Interesting. And I agree to scrap the beginning. It's a little confusing and wordy.

Also the genre "commercial mainstream dark novel" is there anyway to trim it down some? Maybe just say mainstream dark novel? or thriller?

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the feedback and recommendation to shorten the genre title.

And to answer this: Question:
Is Laura really going to fight him alone? Why wouldn't Ben be helping her, if they are in this together?

Yes, Ben is helping her - but she decides to go it alone and disappears to fight the man herself (as she and the killer have the same powers) and she wants no more death on her hands of those she loves. Everyone she loves has died in the past.