Ask Daphne! About My Query XI

June 1st, 2009 • Kate

shoescynthia_1These fabulous shoes for Scott (seriously, I found them by searching for “fabulous shoes” on Google images), our next contender on About My Query. Without further delay…

Dear Daphne Unfeasible,

Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-gay man – the gayvine is the source of all information, plus a healthy dose of misinformation, within the gay community of Nashville, TN. In a strange twist of Fate (who he thinks is laughing hysterically at him), Jared suddenly finds his own life spreading throughout the tendrils of the gayvine as he struggles with the realization that his happily ever after – even for a gay man – is not so happy after all.

MARGARITA NIGHTS is a 72,000 word commercial fiction novel filled with a hearty dose of snark, plenty of margaritas, and the drama queen moments of Jared and the rest of the boyz (well, grown men desperately trying to hang on to their youth with an endearing term) as they confront their loneliness and insecurities in an often unaccepting world.

One question – do you love me? – by his partner of five years makes Jared realize that, sometimes, love is not enough. He loves his partner. He is also, perhaps unhealthily so, consumed with thoughts of a kiss – a simple peck on the lips, in greeting only – from a friend. He has somehow become a character in a Lifetime movie. He is not a happy camper. He doesn’t have a fairy godmother, though he knows a few drag queens in sparkly dresses, to wave her magic wand and fix his problems. He only has the boyz, snarky comments, and margarita nights once a month to help him figure out if even the most meaningless relationships, ironically, have meaning after all.

MARGARITA NIGHTS chronicles Jared’s struggle, and that of the boyz, adds in a healthy dose of gossip (the majority actual events cleverly concealed within fiction), and presents a realistic portrait of gay life.

My name is <>. My address is <>. My email is <>. On any given Friday night, I can be found drinking margaritas and listening, perhaps adding a tidbit or two, to the gayvine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,
Scott

Scott, I love a good parenthetical, but I think there’s just a few too many here in your query. “Though he knows a few drag queens in sparkly dresses”, for instance, though it’s set apart by commas instead of parentheses, serves the same function in its sentence as “who he thinks is laughing hysterically at him” does above. That aside, I’m not certain from the rest of your query if the gayvine is actually the point of the story. It seems as if you could almost cut most of the mentions of it from your letter to focus more on Jared and his relationships. It becomes a less pithy query letter, but perhaps hints at a deeper story. Maybe. I’m a little torn, so I’m curious to hear what other readers think about it.

Format-wise, there’s no need to waste space in your letter with “My name is <>. My address is <>. My email is <>.” All that information can be conveyed in the header or footer of your letter, without taking up space within the body. Use the rest of that paragraph to tell an agent a little more about yourself — if you don’t have writing experience to crow about, then leave it with just your bio.

Another note — is a “Lifetime movie” really the allusion you want to make? I think of Lifetime for their women-in-jeopardy stories, and Bravo or USA (ie The Starter Wife) for something a little more fabulous. While that may be a little stereotypical, you’ve pitched your query with a stereotypical tone — the “boyz”, the drag queen mentions, fairy godmothers — and think if you are going to go for it, you should go whole hog or go home.

So, over to my readers. What do you think?

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6 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query XI”

  1. Moth Says:

    My first impresssion was this query's kind of a hot mess. It just feels so all over the place. I liked the tone, though, and I think there are hints of a great voice peeking through. I loved the "He doesn’t have a fairy godmother, though he knows a few drag queens in sparkly dresses…" line. I think the writing just needs to be a bit tighter, and the thoughts more coherent. I say pick your two to three favorite, funniest interjections and keep those. Cut out all the rest of the random thoughts.

  2. Jamie Says:

    What if you went in a different paragraph order? What if you went 1,3,2 and just left out the others. Would that make it flow a little better?

    See, I like para 1 (although you could do without some of the parentheses… maybe bring it down to 1) so I think you should definitely lead with that!

    Of course, I am NO query expert lol trust me, so take everything I say with a grain of salt (or three).

  3. ChristaCarol Says:

    I do agree, while I love the voice and tone, I struggle to figure out what the main focus of the story is. The first thing you start with is the gayvine, so it makes me think the story is more group orientated versus following just Jared, or that the story's main focus is the gayvine and not Jared. But then the rest of the query is all about Jared. I like the first lines, they really show your voice, but if Jared is your main thing here, I'd introduce him and his issues, then weave in the gayvine as a supporting factor….if that makes any sense whatsoever. I also don't get a hooked sense of what his struggle(s) is/are . . . it's too vague. I think he's in a relationship but is thinking about a friend of his in a more-than-friendly way? Don't shy away from telling us exactly what his challenges are going to be in the story. Sometimes being sly can work, but I don't think it's an advantage in this query. I'm also not a query expert, but I hope I make some sense in what I've mentioned. Not a bad start though, I was smiling through most of the read.

  4. Karen Says:

    I get the idea that there is a funny, quirky story buried somewhere in there but the letter was really kinda all over the place. I think the first paragraph can go. It would be better to jump right into the story. You have a good voice so if you take heed of that Ms. Unfeasible said, you should be on the right path. Good luck!

  5. Scott Says:

    Thanks to everyone for their critiques. Trust me, I knew the letter needed work. For whatever reason, I have the hardest time with query letters . . . oh, and short stories too, which is why I don't write them.

    Thanks again.

    S

    p.s. Daphne . . . my friends are going to be so jealous about the shoes. : )

  6. jimnduncan Says:

    Agree with the all over the place comments. Really needs to be tightened up, and focus on what the conflict is. Is his five year relationship in jeopardy? I'm assuming the crux of the conflict revolves around the 'meaningless relationship' problem and perhaps the gayvine. If so, focus on that. You can still get the light, fun tone in there, but have to get that sense of what the story is about.

    Also, don't need last paragraph.

    Just cutting out wasted verbage (in my opinion of course) you'd have something like the following (which still lacks focus on the central conflict):

    The gayvine is the source of all information, plus a healthy dose of misinformation, within the gay community of Nashville, TN. In a strange twist of Fate, Jared suddenly finds his own life spreading throughout the tendrils of the gayvine as he struggles with the realization that his happily ever after is not so happy after all.

    When his partner of five years makes Jared realize that, sometimes, love is not enough, he becomes consumed with thoughts of a kiss – a simple peck on the lips, in greeting only – from a friend. He doesn’t have a fairy godmother, though he knows a few drag queens in sparkly dresses, to wave her magic wand and fix his problems. He only has the boyz and margarita nights once a month to help him figure out if even the most meaningless relationships, ironically, have meaning after all.

    MARGARITA NIGHTS is a 72,000 word novel filled with a hearty dose of snark and the drama queen moments of Jared and the rest of the boyz, as they confront their loneliness and insecurities in an unaccepting world and try to find what love really means.