Jan 19, 2010

Query- The Butterfly Key

Dear Agent,

I am respectfully seeking your representation for my novel, THE BUTTERFLY KEY, a 72,000-word work of literary fiction set within the small town of Columbus, Minnesota.

Devastated by the recent miscarriage of her baby and inundated by a constant, never-ending crush of emotions, Nicole Kuefler is embroiled in an agonizing conflict against God and his so-called providence, and regrettably, the people who love her the most – her husband and three daughters – are caught in the crossfire.

Upon reaching her breaking point on Christmas Eve, Nicole is losing her battle. With her soul fractured like a broken pane of glass, she is unable to stop the brutal despair seeping in through the cracks. Moreover, her seemingly indelible faith is at risk of erosion.

Determined to mend the shards of his wife’s shattered soul, Nicole’s husband, Drew, gathers the family together around the Christmas tree. Guided by something he could only consider extraordinary, Drew narrates to his wife and children the emotional tale of a young couple who promise each other a family, but find themselves struggling amidst the providence of God.

This is their heartrending story.

Christian Bryson is no stranger to tragedy. His mother died shortly after childbirth, his father is losing his battle to cancer. Therefore, when Abigail, his wife, discovers she is pregnant, she decides to keep it a secret from him.

Why? Because Abigail is trying to protect Christian as he deploys for war.

Unfortunately, when another terrible tragedy befalls Christian, the consequence of Abigail not telling him about her pregnancy threatens to devastate their marriage. Now Abigail must grapple with the stark realization that her husband may never come home.

When Drew finishes his story, he is still unsure if Nicole can find it in her heart to forgive God. That is until a special gift under the Christmas tree changes everything.



Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

If Nicole is "inundated by a constant, never-ending crush of emotions," then I doubt "the brutal despair [is] seeping in through the cracks." I have a feeling, in that case, it's already there.

Whose story is this? Because if it's Christian and Abigail's story (as the line "this is their story" implies) then why do we need so much about Nicole and Drew.

How is telling her a really depressing story supposed to help Nicole?

Lt. Cccyxx said...

I would say you need to choose which of these stories your book is really about. Who is the real protagonist? Right now I am confused how much is devoted to the story and how much to the story within the story. And what is the gift under the tree and how does it change everything? I would like to go through and give more specific comments, but at this point will keep it high-level.

Aimlesswriter said...

Is this a story of just Nicole and Drew or of four friends? It seems like two different stories and I don't see how they connect.
Too much about Nicole being sad although I liked the line, "with her soul fractured like a broken pane of glass". She's depressed, we get it. You could condense the second and third paragraph and cut alot out.
Abigail is protecting Christian by not telling him she's pregnant? I don't get the thought processes on that. Wouldn't the baby give him something to come back to?
Whats the tragedy that hits him again that would involve the pregancy?
I think the reason I'm a bit lost is because I don't see how any of this is connected.
This sounds like it could be a very sweet story but it's not too clear.

gj said...

With a frame, or bookend-style, story, it's probably best to focus on just one in the query. There's just not enough room in the 200 or so words to do justice to more than one story.

What happens now, in the best case scenario, is that the agent starts to get interested in the first couple's situation, and then all of a sudden, you essentially say "forget about them, let me tell you ANOTHER story," and you've lost her trust, so she's going to be less willing to let herself get involved in the second story for fear of getting the rug pulled out from under her again.

Pick the story that takes up the vast majority of the book's pages, and pitch that one. Then, when you send in the manuscript, in the synopsis (or the cover letter), you can explain that it's a frame story, so the agent won't be confused when she remembers your pitching the interior story and the book starts with a completely different story.

ali cross said...

Your writing is beautiful, and I love how it showcases the literary style of the novel.

Otherwise, my thoughts are on the same vein as the previous commenters ~ I wasn't sure WHO the story was mostly about as the inclusion of Christian's story confused me.

Good luck!

Sarah Ahiers said...

I will also add that you should watch your sentence length. The whole second paragraph is one single sentence.
I would recommend reading the query out loud to search for lengthy sentences.

Andrew D. Neudecker said...

Thank you all for your comments...

Yes, This is a frame story.. or a story within a story...

The largest part of this story is the made-up story about Christian and Abigail. I could focus on that but w/o setting up and closing with Drew and Nicole I feel like I'm serving a sandwich w/o any bread.

So my question is... is there anyway, shape or form I could state that this is a frame story in the query letter, or is this considered a no-no.

Thank you all for your comments!