Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Query letter #12: fiction

Behind the façade of decent daily living, the spectre of death creeps steadily closer, stealing a wife, a mother, a lover and tearing a family apart. [Well, that certainly sets a mood. My romance fiction high just dived a little. But at least I know what sort of story this is likely to be ... don't I?]

Tessa’s life is in tatters; [I originally said that this should be a colon but a reader has told me I'm an idiot for saying this, so make up your own mind] she is killing herself [literally?] and has no power to arrest the process [I don't understand - if she's killing herself literally can't she stop it?]. On the outside she appears to have it all; [colon alert - again, make up your own mind because apparently I know nothing about spelling and grammar] an adoring husband, two amazing sons, a gorgeous home, but on the inside her soul flat lines. [Hmmm ... okay, but this is also flatlining a little bit - it doesn't sound that different.]

Adrian [who is he?] has watched her from afar for years. An illicit night together brings Tessa’s unmanageable life into focus. Forced to search for a solution, she discovers to her horror that the one thing she has to give up is the only thing which makes her life bearable. [And now I'm confused. How does the night together bring the life into focus? What does she need a solution for? And has this just become a romance novel? What does any of this have to do with the opening line?]

PUSHING UP DAISIES is a completed mss at 100k and is aimed at the fiction / women’s fiction marketplace. [As I'm still not clear what the story is - horror? thriller? romance? - you should give some indication of who you think your reader is.]

I attach the first page of the manuscript. Extracts 1 and 3 on the “Work” page of my website are further extracts from this manuscript. [Where's your URL?]

The full manuscript is available to you upon request.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand and work in a legal office as a Legal Executive. I have been a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand for the last six years. I regularly attend meetings and conferences and place in RWNZ competitions. [Good information to mention.]

Thank you for taking the time to read my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Author T

Overall: needs work. The description of the story is muddy - I really don't know what's going on, who's dying, who means what to whom et cetera. Accordingly, I can't imagine why I would want to read this story. Give me a reason to want to read your story.

What you haven't mentioned: who you think your reader is and what the genre is ('women's fiction' doesn't cut it when you raise horror elements and also mention you're a member of RWNZ).


Anonymous said...

Dear Agent Sydney,
Thank you for your constructive comments and your time in critiquing this query letter. I will take your comments into consideration when I redraft this query letter and when I draft query letters in the future.

Author T

screamish said...

Cheers for Author T for taking it on the chin...good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Screamish. It's all about the learning this writing experience. I am grateful to get some feedback. Some days it can feel as if you are working in a vacuum. That's why I love people like Agent Sydney, helping us along, coaching us in our chosen craft.

Author T

Anonymous said...

Pedantry is important in submitting but sometimes, I've got to say, this blog gets it wrong. Eg in this case there's nothing wrong with the first semicolon - it's doing exactly what a semicolon should do, grammatically speaking. Agent Sydney mightn't be a grammar fiend, which is fine - but I hope authors don't go rejigging their punctuation etc in response to this site's advice, as often it's plain wrong.
An editor-reader

Agent Sydney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.