Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXXII

todieforSome shoes to die for for J.G., who brings us today’s About My Query post. (Apparently, the shoes “were created by Louise Goldin for Topshop Spring Summer 2010.” via)You all know how this works by now, right? I post a query, give my thoughts, and then you chime in with your comments on other ways to improve it. Let’s do this thang!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

I am seeking representation for THE RESURRECTED, my completed 118,000 word paranormal novel with romance and suspense elements.

If she can’t stay with the family she loves, what good is cheating death?

As a reformed con-artist, Collette (35) knows she doesn’t really deserve her adoring husband and young son, but she’s devastated at losing them both when she’s murdered – and resurrected. Ripped from her perfect life, on Mother’s Day no less, she’s trapped in the schemes of a 600-year-old tyrant who intends to overthrow the Lord of immortals. Held hostage by the traitor’s mind control, she struggles to reclaim her freedom before he carries out his threat to slaughter her family. With the free will of all humanity at stake in the showdown between the men, she must decide whom to betray. Should she endanger the world by helping the tyrant destroy the Lord she trusts and admires, or will she sacrifice her family’s safety and her only chance to return home?

After more than a decade of experience in technical writing, I have focused my efforts on creative writing projects for the past three years. I graduated with High Honor from [redacted] with a B.A. from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
J.G.

Thanks for sharing, J.G.! I think there’s some good stuff here, but I have a few comments. First of all, I know how often I talk about a one-line hook, and how important they are, but this one feels like it’s in the wrong place. I think you might be better served to go right from “I am seeking representation…” to the paragraph describing your book, and save the hook for a real punch after the longer summary.

Within the description itself, I think throwing Collette’s age into a parenthetical is unnecessary. The fact that she’s reformed at something, and that she has a young son, gives enough of a hint that we’re not dealing with a teenager. If you want to include her age, I’d find a way to include it more organically, rather than just including the digits.

Nice irony with Mother’s Day, but here’s where I start getting a little confused. Collette is “trapped in the schemes” — can you explain why? I assume the 600-year old tyrant is the one who resurrected her, but does he do it for a specific reason? What makes Collette the perfect tool for his schemes? Does she already know the Lord of Immortals? It seems like she might, or that she at least has some connection with him. Otherwise, I can posit a situation where a captive prisoner like Collette would be happy to do something horrible to a person she’s never met in order to save her family. But why does the tyrant need her help anyway?

Giving us that information in the query would help remove the prose from the vaguely threatening “free will of all humanity at stake” and “sacrifice her family’s safety” for something more definitive, and therefore, hopefully, more compelling.

As I said, I’d throw the hook after the longer description of the book, and then close with your background. Readers, your thoughts?

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