Nathan's query "template"

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bigheadx
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Nathan's query "template"

Post by bigheadx » May 27th, 2010, 2:18 pm

Neck-deep in query composition (okay, in over my head!), I decided to apply part of Nathan's template http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html to my crime/detective novel, JOEY'S PLACE. Not sure how it might help others, but I found it useful in making me think "outside" the 300-400 word document file over which I've been sweating.

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

With a bit of fudging, I applied this to my novel and came up with....
September 1970. Heber Parkins is an outcast sheriff’s detective in Las Vegas. When he is mysteriously assigned to a high-profile gangland murder case, he must overcome corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to find the person who ordered the killing if he is to save the victim’s innocent partner.

Anyone else tried this exercise? Anyone else care to?
John

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by rainbowsheeps » May 27th, 2010, 2:26 pm

bigheadx wrote:]Neck-deep in query composition (okay, in over my head!), I decided to apply part of Nathan's template http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html to my crime/detective novel, JOEY'S PLACE. Not sure how it might help others, but I found it useful in making me think "outside" the 300-400 word document file over which I've been sweating.

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

With a bit of fudging, I applied this to my novel and came up with....
September 1970. Heber Parkins is an outcast sheriff’s detective in Las Vegas. When he is mysteriously assigned to a high-profile gangland murder case, he must overcome corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to find the person who ordered the killing if he is to save the victim’s innocent partner.

Anyone else tried this exercise? Anyone else care to?
John
I used the mad-lib formula for mine as well to totally revise mine a few weeks ago. I didn't keep it as brief and condensed as it was, but I think it sent me off on the right path.

Your mad lib version is condensed, and sounds more like a pitch to me I'd say. The only glaring problem I see with it is using the word "overcome"... "overcome corrupt authorities and murderous thugs" isn't particularly striking. If you changed that to make it more active, this would be a pretty decent line, and maybe useful for a one-sentence (though it's 3 I think) pitch. Maybe then you could use it for the other exercise Nathan posted, the one-sentence, one-paragraph, 200-word pitches: here and some more info on the one-sentence pitch specifically.

The pitch here is pretty good, though, but I'd say I miss some of the details that are missing now from your old query. It might work well with the other exercise.

I'd post my results from the template, but I don't have it on me right now.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by bigheadx » May 27th, 2010, 2:57 pm

rainbowsheeps wrote:
bigheadx wrote:]Neck-deep in query composition (okay, in over my head!), I decided to apply part of Nathan's template http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03 ... d-lib.html to my crime/detective novel, JOEY'S PLACE. Not sure how it might help others, but I found it useful in making me think "outside" the 300-400 word document file over which I've been sweating.

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

With a bit of fudging, I applied this to my novel and came up with....
September 1970. Heber Parkins is an outcast sheriff’s detective in Las Vegas. When he is mysteriously assigned to a high-profile gangland murder case, he must overcome corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to find the person who ordered the killing if he is to save the victim’s innocent partner.

Anyone else tried this exercise? Anyone else care to?
John
I used the mad-lib formula for mine as well to totally revise mine a few weeks ago. I didn't keep it as brief and condensed as it was, but I think it sent me off on the right path.

Your mad lib version is condensed, and sounds more like a pitch to me I'd say. The only glaring problem I see with it is using the word "overcome"... "overcome corrupt authorities and murderous thugs" isn't particularly striking. If you changed that to make it more active, this would be a pretty decent line, and maybe useful for a one-sentence (though it's 3 I think) pitch. Maybe then you could use it for the other exercise Nathan posted, the one-sentence, one-paragraph, 200-word pitches: here and some more info on the one-sentence pitch specifically.

The pitch here is pretty good, though, but I'd say I miss some of the details that are missing now from your old query. It might work well with the other exercise.

I'd post my results from the template, but I don't have it on me right now.
My wife also thinks I'm ending that last sentence with a prepositional phrase (which would not surprise me; my 7th grade English professor thought it more educational for our class to do a play instead of diagramming sentences!). Here is the rewrite ...
September 1970. Heber Parkins is an outcast sheriff’s detective in Las Vegas. When he is mysteriously assigned to a high-profile gangland murder case, in order to save the victim’s innocent partner he must defeat corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to find the person who ordered the killing.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by mrmerrick » May 27th, 2010, 3:02 pm

Lets see what mine looks like.

Chase Williams is an exiled demon hunter living in Stonewall, NY. When he finds out the demon hunters he grew up with plan to sacrifice his friend to summon the demon god Ithreal, Chase must enter a dark dimension to stop the hunters, rescue his friend and save the world he was born to protect.


Very interesting indeed...

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by bigheadx » May 27th, 2010, 3:12 pm

mrmerrick wrote:Lets see what mine looks like.

Chase Williams is an exiled demon hunter living in Stonewall, NY. When he finds out the demon hunters he grew up with plan to sacrifice his friend to summon the demon god Ithreal, Chase must enter a dark dimension to stop the hunters, rescue his friend and save the world he was born to protect.
Very interesting indeed...
It certainly helps see the forest for the trees, and vice versa, don't you think?
On yours, I would ask:
Can you get more specific than "dark dimension?"
Does summoning Ithreal constitute an end-of-the-world threat that validates your final 8 words? (raise the stakes)

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by J. T. SHEA » May 27th, 2010, 4:19 pm

I don't agree with your wife, Bigheadx. What about:-

September 1970. Las Vegas sheriff's detective Heber Parkins is the outcast of his department. Then, mysteriously, he is assigned to a high profile gangland murder case. He must defy corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to discover who ordered the killing and save the life of the victim's innocent partner.

Just a thought.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by bigheadx » May 27th, 2010, 4:24 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:I don't agree with your wife, Bigheadx. What about:-

September 1970. Las Vegas sheriff's detective Heber Parkins is the outcast of his department. Then, mysteriously, he is assigned to a high profile gangland murder case. He must defy corrupt authorities and murderous thugs to discover who ordered the killing and save the life of the victim's innocent partner.

Just a thought.
I like that! And what I continue to like about this shorthand query is how it clears my head when I return to the full-length query. In fact, I'm trying this approach now...

September 1970. Las Vegas sheriff’s detective Heber Parkins is the department’s pariah but he's mysteriously assigned a high-profile gangland murder case. To discover who ordered the killing and save the victim’s innocent partner, Heber must defy corrupt authorities, murderous thugs, and the Syndicate.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by JustineDell » May 27th, 2010, 7:06 pm

I'm ashamed of myself. I've never tried Nathan's template!

I really like the way yours turned out. Let me give it shot:

Samantha is a washed up novelist living in New York city fighting daily battles with her rampant OCD and anger issues. But when her grandmother's near death sends her packing back home, Samantha must overcome the rage that's been ruling her life. To top it off, she must work alongside the man who stole her virginity and pushed her aside like moldy meatloaf in order to put her broken self back together.

Whew...that's not too shabby. Well, it doesn't totally suck. ;-) I had to make it three sentences, otherwise I had one massive run-on at the end.

Thanks for reminding me of this template!

~JD

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by Poisonguy » May 28th, 2010, 5:53 am

BigHeadX, I like J.T. Shea's version better. The flow is smoother to my deaf-tone ears.

And, mmmmmm, moldly meatloaf.

Here's mine (after a little finessing too):

After he decides to have a baby with his girlfriend, Dragan Sakic, an ER doctor, retreats into his protective shell when thoughts of his childhood molestation get the better of him. But when he is framed for the complex poisoning of Salt Lake City’s district attorney, he must confront his troubled past and become a cunning poisoner himself if he is to bring the real killer to justice.

Guilty. I had fun. Good call, y'all.
Last edited by Poisonguy on May 29th, 2010, 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by deepsesh » May 28th, 2010, 7:55 am

Hmmm... my try.

Eve is a dreamy teenager living in Reading, England. But when she falls in love with Christopher, a man 15 years older than herself, she must go through a series of tasks to convince the families of their love and has to survive a revenge plot of an old friend-turned-enemy, Derek.

OR

Eve is a dreamy teenager living in Reading, England. But when she falls in love with Christopher, a man 15 years older than herself, she doesn’t realize the series of tasks she would have to go through to convince the families and how it would also lead to a near-death experience.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by bigheadx » May 28th, 2010, 1:32 pm

Thanks, Poisonguy! Reading these shorthand forms really clears my mind and makes me want to go back and revisit several of my screenplay premise lines. ;)

Poisonguy wrote:BigHeadX, I like J.T. Shea's version better. The flow is smoother to my deaf-tone ears.

And, mmmmmm, moldly meatloaf.

Here's mine (after a little finessing too):

After he decides to have a baby with his girlfriend, Dragan Sakic, an ER doctor, retreats into his protective shell when thoughts of his childhood molestation consume him. But when he is framed for the complex poisoning of Salt Lake City’s district attorney, he must confront his troubled past and become a cunning poisoner himself if he is to bring the real killer to justice.

Guilty. I had fun. Good call, y'all.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by J. T. SHEA » May 28th, 2010, 2:55 pm

Thanks, Poisonguy, but 'pariah' and 'the Syndicate' are interesting additions.

Regarding your own mad-lib, some readers will ask exactly what the connections are between Dragan Sakic's childhood molestation, his having a baby, and his being framed. But it may not be possible to answer such questions within the limits of a query.

Justine Dell, not too shabby at all! Or moldy. Are you going to call it MOLDY MEATLOAF? And you're right to divide long sentences. Many queries seem to have paragraph-length sentences, turned back-to-front and modified by various clauses.

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by JustineDell » May 28th, 2010, 5:15 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:
Justine Dell, not too shabby at all! Or moldy. Are you going to call it MOLDY MEATLOAF? And you're right to divide long sentences. Many queries seem to have paragraph-length sentences, turned back-to-front and modified by various clauses.
Thanks! I never thought about calling MOLDY MEATLOAF. I'll mull that over for awhile ;-)

And yeah, I have a thing about long sentences. I'm a clipped, short, to the point kind of girl. Most of the time anyway lol :o)

~JD

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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by shadow » May 29th, 2010, 3:41 pm

I actually like your first one bigheadx! I have been suffering with my query and I have not given this template a try. Here goes...

Vitiosus is a Lassertian prince living in Seramia. But when an old warrior tells him of his real half-human identity that the king despises him for, Vitiosus must fight for the rights of his throne and bring the king's cruel tyranny to justice in order to attain peace in his kingdom.

What do you guys think?
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Re: Nathan's query "template"

Post by lexcade » May 30th, 2010, 12:30 am

not bad, shadow, not bad at all!

let's see here...

protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

janelle is a scientist living in 22nd century Phoenix. When she becomes a victim of her own experiment, Janelle must survive the lab's grueling tests, find a way to control the panther DNA fused to hers, and outwit lead scientist Frederick James to discover the reasons he chose her and if the change can be reversed.

argh. i'm way too long-winded for this.
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