By repeated request we’ve started Workshop Wednesday. It will definitely play out through 2011, and beyond that we’ll just have to see. We’ve received well over 200 queries at this point, but we are choosing at random, so don’t be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.
For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that’s great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I’m leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don’t make me feel the need to change that policy.
And for those who have never “met” Query Shark, get over there and do that. She’s the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.
Dear Query Shark,
Obviously this is addressed to the wrong agent. In the grand scheme of things I don’t care about this and am sometimes amused and interested to see who else is receiving the query.
Sam Collins believed from an early age he was destined for something great — to fulfill a mission in life bigger than himself.
Which is why he wants to die.
This is a very intriguing opening. These first two sentences grab my attention and make me want to read more.
Oops. Looks to me like maybe you were in the middle of a draft and hit send. Again. It happens. I will keep reading, but make sure you proofread before sending queries. In fact, write the query without a name in the “to” section, and then when it’s sat for a bit, send after rereading a few times.
Up until now, Sam’s life has been anything but great. His father abandoned him when he was 10, his wife was killed in a car accident, and now the only thing he has to show for his life is a lousy newspaper reporter job and an addiction to alcohol and painkillers.
Good. I get an idea of who Sam is. I like this so far.
But that all changes when Sam investigates a seemingly random murder just outside of Seattle. What he discovers begins to unravel a secret society dating back centuries and spanning the globe. What comes next will change Sam’s life forever — and perhaps help him fulfill his untold destiny.
I think this is very interesting. I think you’ve written a good query and I like your voice. One big tip, though: I don’t think you brought it home. I think you’ll get a few requests based on this, but they are going to be few and far between. To bring this home you need to first bring it back to the beginning. You’ve stressed earlier that Sam felt he was destined for greatness, but his life has not been great. Now Sam finally has that chance. Spell that out in the query.
Second, you hint at the secret society and how it will change Sam’s life forever and that’s your hook, and that’s what this query is missing. One or two more sentences expanding on that will bring this home. I was thinking of it in terms of the Da Vinci Code, because your book made me think of the Da Vinci Code (Don’t mention that in your query, though). It wouldn’t bring you to the book to say that Robert Langdon got a call about a secret society that was going to change his life forever. That makes the book sound rather, eh. Instead you want to bring it home. Symbologist Robert Langdon discovers the murdered body of the curator of the Louvre and near him, a baffling cipher. While working to solve the riddle, Langdon discovers it leads to a trail of clues that could unveil the Holy Grail. In a race through Paris, London and Rome, Langdon matches wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate his every move. Unless he can solve the puzzle in time, the Holy Grail could be lost forever.
(FYI–I heavily stole from the cover flap for that, and not very well, but I’m hoping it gives you an idea of what I mean by bringing it home.)
THE GIFTER is a 70,000 word mystery/thriller novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The last few sentences and sign-off are fine. Great job.