Query -- The Color of Gothic, 2nd Try

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Joel Q
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Query -- The Color of Gothic, 2nd Try

Post by Joel Q » August 1st, 2010, 8:53 am

NEW QUERY AT THE BOTTOM.

- - - -
I had this query up here back in December, now the manuscript is finished and ready to go.
But the query still needed some work. How's this?

- - - - -

Dear “agent”

Hell has come to Gothic.

Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite society. Arrested and convicted, Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered with bloodless mortal neck wounds. Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires.

Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths, one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel continues to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. A clash he gave up on years ago.

As more miners disappear and horrific figures walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence.

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.
Last edited by Joel Q on August 26th, 2010, 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by Quill » August 1st, 2010, 1:01 pm

Joel Q wrote:- - - -


Hell has come to Gothic.
Omit as unneeded, and lacking context, meaningless. We don't know what Gothic is. A town? A boys school in Lemuria?
Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite society.
Omit. Not well-tied to sentences above or below, and seemingly unneeded for the query.
Arrested and convicted, Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.
Good starting point. Good start.

"Arrested and convicted" for what?

Change tense of "traded" to "trades".

Couldn't he run, as a third choice?

Seems kind of harsh (almost melodramatic): find one man on the face of the earth -- in a strict timeframe -- or be executed? Is this the United States? Another dimension? Where are we? What time period?
His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado.
Good. Still, is this a mythic setting? A modern one?
The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered
Sentence awkward, making chaos the subject (chaos hampers), and passive (miners are discovered).

with bloodless mortal neck wounds.
Too many qualifiers till we get to "wounds". Rewrite sentence to streamline and brighten this important plot point.

Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires.
Imprecise. Rumors and hysteria cannot turn to folklore. Persons turn to folklore.

"--vampires" feels tacked on. Turning to folklore doesn't automatically lead to finding answers. Either establish a progression from turning to, to gleaning an answer, vampires, or consider omitting the turning to, and simply say that they glean an answer -- vampires.

Finally, it seems the accurate word would be "answer" (though I think "explanation" would be a stronger and more accurate word there; answer seems more apt for a question, rather than to explain an event), rather than the plural. "Vampires" is an answer (or explanation), not answers.
Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths,
Discovers a possibility? Possibility for the deaths? I think the trouble word is possibility. Possible cause for the deaths, maybe. Also, try to avoid using "discover" twice in two sentences.

one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel continues to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. A clash he gave up on years ago.
This is out of left field. Seems it would be good to clue us to the character's previous involvement with demonic/angelic realms. As it is, I'm thinking this is a crime thriller and then adding vampish overtones, and now this. I'm having genre-confusion. It seems there needs to be a little more consistency to the query. Like maybe set up the story and the character a bit more in the beginning. Which I see you tried to do, but not quite effectively, with what comes across as enigmatic not-tied-in sentences up front.
As more miners disappear
More? Where have any disappeared, in this query?
and horrific figures walk the streets,
What horrific figures? Demons? Wounded miners? Give us a clue.
Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty
He found his man? Helluva time to tell us (pun intended). Suggest saying this further up.
and his freedom
Don't you mean his life? Didn't you say he'd be executed if he failed in his mission?
in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence.
Wouldn't the government, like, be willing to negotiate, if he, like, saved a whole one of their towns of people?

Also, what would cause him to give up his found bounty? Couldn't he plug the guy or lock him up, and then save the town?

Again, it might be good to establish who this guy is that he has the power to save them from demons. And, to reiterate, I think this query needs to establish a consistent through-line to this end by establishing the character and story from the beginning. So that we don't think it is one type of story (crime thriller) and then another (vampire) and then another (demonic/angelic).

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.
I'm thinking it would be better to work the date in above, as part of the effort to paint a clearer, more consistent picture of the story, setting, and genre of the book in this query.

I do like the elements of the book and wish you luck with the project.

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by Emily J » August 1st, 2010, 2:35 pm

Joel Q wrote:- - - -
I had this query up here back in December, now the manuscript is finished and ready to go.
But the query still needed some work. How's this?

- - - - -

Dear “agent”

Hell has come to Gothic. i would drop this opening sentence in favor of starting with the next paragraph. Also, Gothic is an adjective, it sounds strange to me as a place name

Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite society. Arrested and convicted, convicted of what? running away from polite society? Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. so he was a preacher in a gang? i feel this needs a bit more explanation Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon. this is good, it sets the stakes

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered with bloodless mortal neck wounds. agree with Quill, way too many modifiers here, rephrase, also are only the wounds bloodless or have the bodies been exsanguinated? could be clearer Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires. it seems odd to personify rumors and hysteria this way

Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths, one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel seems like a throwaway line for what I assume to be a major plot point/character continues to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. what does this mean exactly> God and the Devil are going to fight in Gothic? angels vs. demons? A clash he gave up on years ago. sentence fragment

As more miners disappear and horrific figures too vague, what do you mean by horrific figures? walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty "found bounty" sounds odd and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence. well, it isn't a demonic presence that is going to kill them is it? I assume it's a demon right? again, be more precise with your language

The Color of Gothic title in all caps is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s. agree with Quill that it would help set the stage better if the date were stated at the beginning of the query

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by J. T. SHEA » August 1st, 2010, 7:09 pm

A most impressive and impressionistic query, Joel Q! A little clarification could be useful, but try not to over-explain and lose the dark flavor.

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by adamg73 » August 2nd, 2010, 12:48 pm

Sounds like a good story but I think your query has some gaps. How does your main character go from pulpit to prisoner? What former gang? How does the fallen angle get involved? Is he/she always with Jon?
Joel Q wrote:As more miners disappear and horrific figures walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence.
I think this is your strongest sentence. It really grabbed me and made me want to know what Blair does.

Hope this helps. Oh, as a Colorado kid, I love the setting.

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by wilderness » August 5th, 2010, 4:16 pm

I think this is good, a little spare maybe. I'd like to know what "a clash between heaven and hell" means. And I agree with Quill to omit the first line.

I just got back from a trip to Colorado where I visited some of the old mining towns. It's a very cool setting. Good luck with it!

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by longknife » August 6th, 2010, 3:51 pm

Joel Q wrote:- - - -
I had this query up here back in December, now the manuscript is finished and ready to go.
But the query still needed some work. How's this?

- - - - -

Dear “agent”

Hell has come to Gothic. Where? Colorado? What? A mining town? Make it clear.

Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite societythis is confusing. What pulpit? and whar does polite society have to do with anything?. Arrested and convicted,for what? and why does it deserve a death sentence? Why type of death? a hanging? Make this clear! Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. confusing. what gang? Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.see above. You need to make this whole thing clear to the agent.

With the opening line, this throws me offHis quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered with bloodless mortal neck wounds. Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires. oh no! Not another one of those!

Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths, one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel continues to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. A clash he gave up on years ago.Uh? Where does this come from?

As more miners disappear and horrific figures walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence. You tell me he committed such horrific crimes he was sentenced to death and now you want me to think he's suddenly a nice guy? This needs a whole lot of explaining

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by thewhipslip » August 6th, 2010, 8:29 pm

I agree with the posts above, most especially when the demons come in I felt like I'd missed something. Also, vampires are sometimes referred to as "demons", so I thought maybe you were referring to them.

Does sound like a good book, though. Keep at it!
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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by Thermocline » August 6th, 2010, 8:46 pm

Joel Q wrote:- - - -
Hell has come to Gothic. I'd cut this and start with the next line.

Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite society. Arrested and convicted, Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gangDead or alive might work better here.. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon You could do without "instead of a pardon" since you mention Blair trading his death sentence. We assume it is for a pardon..

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered with bloodless mortal This might flow better if you keep either "bloodless" or "mortal" neck wounds. Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires.

Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths, one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel continues "Continues" surprised me more than the fallen angel. You might allude to the angel's presence somewhere earlier in your query.to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. A clash he gave up on years ago.

As more miners disappear and horrific figures walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found I'm not sure what found means here. bounty and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence.

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.Close with some polite salutation.
You've got a nice set up here. A little tightening may help it flow better. Good luck!

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by Joel Q » August 26th, 2010, 3:34 pm

Here's the 2nd try.
- - - -

Email Subject Line: Query, historical dark fantasy

Dear Agent XXXXX

Jonathan Blair fell from the pulpit to a life of crime. Arrested and convicted for murder, Blair trades his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as dead miners are discovered with bloodless neck wounds. The townspeople turn from rumors and hysteria to folklore for answers—vampires. Blair discovers another possible cause for the deaths, one he wants to deny. Demons. A fallen angel confirms his suspicions and pushes him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell—a clash he gave up on years ago.

More miners disappear while others return possessed and hungry for blood. Blair must decide whether to join forces with the fallen angel and give up his found bounty and pardon in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demons.

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.

closing line...

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic, 2nd Try

Post by theWallflower » August 26th, 2010, 4:45 pm

Jonathan Blair fell from the pulpit to a life of crime. Arrested and convicted for murder, Blair trades his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.
There are some glaring omissions which are distracting me. Pulpit is a little vague. Was he a priest? Was he falsely arrested for murder? How in the world was he able to go from a prisoner with a death penalty to being a bounty hunter. Why two weeks?

If this is not a contemporary novel, you should note the year in the beginning. Then some of the lawlessness makes more sense (note I said "some").
His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as dead miners are discovered with bloodless neck wounds. The townspeople turn from rumors and hysteria to folklore for answers—vampires. Blair discovers another possible cause for the deaths, one he wants to deny. Demons. A fallen angel confirms his suspicions and pushes him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell—a clash he gave up on years ago.
This seems to be the start of the story, not the first paragraph. We don't really need to know Blair's past right away--that's just backstory.

Seems like rumors and hysteria and folklore all go hand in hand for superstitious nonsense. Also, I'm not sure if vampires were that popular in 1880.

I hate that last sentence. It opens up a can of worms, and leaves more questions than it does for answers.
More miners disappear while others return possessed and hungry for blood. Blair must decide whether to join forces with the fallen angel and give up his found bounty and pardon in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demons.
You need more happening. Miners disappear, miners disappear, miners disappear. That seems to be the crux of the book, and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with his primary quest--find the members of the gang. You need to tell me what the protagonist's main goal is in relation to the book, not the implicit kick-off for the plot. I want to know what happens. I want to know what he does, and what tries to stop him, and what he does to overcome those obstacles.
The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.
The last part of the sentence should be cut, or moved upwards. It's part of the book's content. This space is reserved for more meta-information about the book.
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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by thewhipslip » August 26th, 2010, 7:47 pm

Dear Agent XXXXX

Jonathan Blair fell from the pulpit to a life of crime. Arrested and convicted for murder, Blair trades his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon. Love the opening. Nice job.

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as dead miners are discovered with bloodless neck wounds. The townspeople turn from rumors and hysteria to folklore for answers—vampires I'm still having trouble distinguishing the vampires vs. demons. As I said before, vampires are thought of as demons. Do you need to mention the vampires at all? From reading the rest, I don't think you do.. Blair discovers another possible cause for the deaths, one he wants to deny. Demons. A fallen angel confirms his suspicions and pushes him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell—a clash he gave up on years ago. That Blair gave up on or the fallen angel gave up on? I would be more explicit about Blair's connection to the angels? Otherwise it seems random...he sounds like a gang lord in the first paragraph.

More miners disappear while others return possessed and hungry for blood. Blair must decide whether to join forces with the fallen angel and give up his found bounty This is the first time you mention that he found the bounty. Who is it? And what are the complications in bringing this guy in? Is he hidden away? What's the hold-up? and pardon in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demons .

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.

closing line...[/quote]

Hope this helps!
http://elenasolodow.blogspot.com/ - Submit your 250-500 word excerpt to be read out loud in a vlog post!

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic

Post by Quill » August 26th, 2010, 9:05 pm

Joel Q wrote:
Jonathan Blair fell from the pulpit to a life of crime. Arrested and convicted for murder, Blair trades his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.
From priest to criminal to bounty hunter? And the government (presumably) is letting him go, to find the other members? And will kill him if he fails within a strict time frame? Not sure I buy the premise.
His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as dead miners are discovered with bloodless neck wounds.
Awkward, the chaos hampers as miners are discovered.
The townspeople turn from rumors and hysteria to folklore for answers—vampires.
Awkward, people turn from rumors and hysteria for answers, to folklore.
Blair discovers another possible cause for the deaths, one he wants to deny. Demons.
Awkward, discovering a possibility. Also, the inconsistency of your punch word in the two sentences, "answers -- vampires" vs "deny. Demons." Period, Demons, seems a bit awkward.
A fallen angel confirms his suspicions
This sounds too pat for what seems like a huge plot point. It sounds like a fallen angel just happens to come along and confirm his suspicions. Does this not wow the pants off him, to be visited by such a being? What exactly is a fallen angel? A demon?
and pushes him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell
Melodramatic, and unclear. What do you mean "a clash between Heaven and Hell"? How is he pushed towards such a clash? Where would such a clash take place? In Colorado? Why there?
—a clash he gave up on years ago.
Awkward. A clash seems like an instantaneous collision. It seems like saying "a crash he gave up on, or, a cacophony he gave up on, or an explosion he gave up on years ago.
More miners disappear while others return possessed and hungry for blood. Blair must decide whether to join forces with the fallen angel and give up his found bounty and pardon in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demons.
Awkward. This is the first we are hearing that he found his last mark.

Unclear. Why must he give up this bounty? Why can't he contact the government and have them handle the demon problem?

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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic, 2nd Try

Post by TigerGray » August 27th, 2010, 3:25 am

Joel Q wrote:NEW QUERY AT THE BOTTOM.

- - - -
I had this query up here back in December, now the manuscript is finished and ready to go.
But the query still needed some work. How's this?

- - - - -

Dear “agent”
Hey, I will come back later and give you a more thorough crit, but I just want to say that I love this opening line and I absolutely do not think you should remove it. I think the only thing I would suggest is that you add, Gothic, <state> or some other location qualifier.
Hell has come to Gothic.

Jonathan Blair ran away from the pulpit and polite society. Arrested and convicted, Blair traded his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as miners are discovered with bloodless mortal neck wounds. Rumors and hysteria keep turning to folklore for answers—vampires.

Blair discovers another possibility for the deaths, one he wants to deny—demons. But a fallen angel continues to push him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell. A clash he gave up on years ago.

As more miners disappear and horrific figures walk the streets, Blair must decide whether to give up his found bounty and his freedom in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demonic presence.

The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.
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Re: Query -- The Color of Gothic, 2nd Try

Post by clara_w » August 27th, 2010, 4:55 am

Dear Agent XXXXX

Jonathan Blair fell from the pulpit to a life of crime. Arrested and convicted for murder, Blair trades his death sentence for a job as a bounty hunter to bring in—dead or alive—the members of his former gang. Now he has two weeks left to find the last man or face execution instead of a pardon.Only thing I'd sugest here is perhaps begin with a "When Johnatahn Blair is arrested for convicted murder, he trades...", but its still good the way it is

His quest takes him to the coal-mining town of Gothic, Colorado. The chaos in the settlement hampers his search as dead miners are discovered with bloodless neck wounds. The townspeople turn from rumors and hysteria to vampires. Id just say vampires directly.folklore for answers—vampires. Blair discovers another possible cause for the deaths, one he wants to deny. Demons. As his suspicions are confirmed....cut the angel thing. He is thrown into a clash....A fallen angel confirms his suspicions and pushes him toward a clash between Heaven and Hell—a clash he gave up on years ago.

More miners disappear while others return possessed and hungry for blood. Blair must decide whether to join forces with a fallen angel, THE fallen angel is lucifer. Is your fallen angel the devil in disguise?the fallen angel and give up his found bounty and pardon in order to save the townspeople from being annihilated by the demons.

I really like this new query, I'd just sugest:

Don't listen to these people who ask for detail after detail. Be specific, not detailist. In my opinion, you are doing this fine in here.


The Color of Gothic is a 95,000-word dark fantasy in the historic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880s.

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