May 10, 2012

Query- On the Surface

Dear [Agent Name],

Graham is a vampire; he just doesn’t know it yet. He was captured by werewolves and given a drug named, "The Cure." Now he is human and has no memory of the past two thousand years. With less than sixty vampires in existence, and Graham being one of the three original creators, his disappearance doesn't go unnoticed for long.

The wolves stationed Graham in an apartment just outside the city and as the first subject "The Cure" has successfully changed, he is closely monitored by his kidnappers. When Graham's vampire companion, Karl, discovers his location, he must find a way to get close enough to his friend to remove the drug-induced transformation.

After "The Cure" is forcibly removed and the human side effects begin to wear off, Graham must accept the creature he is, but the terrifying changes from human to vampire are enough drive him to the wolves, seeking a normal life. But the experiment he underwent has been ruined and now the werewolves want him dead.

With no other choice, Graham is forced to return to his vampire friends and attempt to go back to a world he doesn't remember yet.

My contemporary fantasy novel, On the Surface, complete at 79,000 words, is about a man striving to learn about his past and then cautiously coming to terms with the creature he turns out to be.

I received my B.A. in English writing from [omitted] and have had short, non-fiction pieces published on a locally-based website [omitted].

Thank you for offering your time to read a little about On the Surface.




Anonymous Author said...

Okay, a couple of things.

First, there are two grammatical errors in your first paragraph. (The comma after "named" and "less" instead of "fewer".) That suggests that you should probably proofread your manuscript.

Second, your query talks about things happening to Graham. Refocus it on what Graham does. Don't say he has no choice. Show him making choices. He's the protagonist; he should be acting.

I'd leave out the college. It's only worth mentioning if the agent went to the same one. Ditto the website. There are no qualifications required for writing a novel, and unless you have some prestigious, paid fiction publications to mention... it's better to say nothing.

Rick Daley said...

I like the gist behind this and the concept of Graham's being something unknown and unwanted, there's a lot of room for exploration of the character and that can make a compelling novel.

The issues I have with the query are more with how the story is presented. You begin with "Graham is a vampire; he just doesn't know it yet."...but that's not entirely true. He knew it for two-thousand years. Now he doesn't remember. That's different.

I find it odd that he would turn to werewolves when seeking a normal life.

"is forced to return to his vampire friends" strikes me as awkward...If they are friends, why the forced return? And calling them "vampire friends" gives me an impression of a novel for younger readers.

Take some time to re-think this, don't rush through a revision. Good luck!

gj said...

If the query is an accurate reflection of your story, there may be a manuscript problem, because the protagonist doesn't DO anything. He's done to.

Assuming it's not a manuscript problem, just a query problem, try starting completely from scratch, and telling it from Graham's point of view -- what he knews (not what he doesn't know), what he does about it, and how he feels when what he does makes his situation worse.

As it stands, you're on the outside, looking at Graham and all the bad stuff that happens to him. Instead, the reader wants to be inside Graham's head, experiencing what Graham experiences.

If you tell this from Graham's point of view (perhaps do a draft in first person and then change it to third), then you'll also clean up the logic holes -- he's a vampire, but, actually, he's not, because he's just been made human. He USED TO BE a vampire, and he may be again, but that's different from being a vampire and not knowing it. Start where Graham has a problem THAT HE KNOWS ABOUT, and is determined to do something about it. Not to wait and have something else do something about it for him.

Make your protagonist the hero of his own story, not its victim. Victims are boring; we read fiction for heroes (even when they're average-Joe kind of heroes or anit-heroes).

Adrian Volts said...

I think that if you start differently it may have a better impact. Something among the lines of "Something is amiss in Graham life..." basically you tell a lot in the first sentence, show him suspecting what's wrong, show his companion walking into his life and reveal that he's a vampire.

Not clear why the wolves gave him "The Cure" in the first place.

I personally don't like the bit about "human side effects" humanity sounds better to me (personal choice) same thing with "drive him to the wolves" I like " him to the wolves in search of a normal life."

I also agree with others that said to show him making choices. Just saying he doesn't have a choice is a easy way out (it's lazy writing, I'm also guilty of that:)

This bit "My contemporary fantasy novel, On the Surface, complete at 79,000 words, is about a man striving to learn about his past and then cautiously coming to terms with the creature he turns out to be." sound like you're saying "In case you didn't get it, he's a dumb-down version of the story." if the query is clear and concise you shouldn't have to give another explanation of the story. Use that space for something else, perhaps say who your book would appeal to.

Now for the standard disclaimer, I'm also just beginning to learn about queries and such so take everything I said with a grain of salt.

Happy writing.