Attempt #3 Query: Blood and Stones (4th message in)

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Attempt #3 Query: Blood and Stones (4th message in)

Post by a3writer » September 4th, 2010, 9:31 pm

It's time to try this again. The original thread can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2138

And now to the revision.

Dear Agent,

Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble. Occult Detective Matt Allen gets no power from knowing where to look in the shadows to find mystics, witches, vampires, and goths. No, goths aren't supernatural, but some like to think so, and they're more difficult for a hard-boiled PI to understand. The supernatural have real power, power enough to tenderize Matt like a slab of meat. Matt has to rely on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass.

He's hired to investigate a college kid, a goth. The glowing, mysterious rock and the kid under mind control make it Matt's case; no one else does this work. The witch Elise has reasons for pulling the kid's strings, which means keeping a private dick out of the way. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.

Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood to get the clues he needs. Putting it all together doesn't bring any comfort as Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. And a PI's honor puts the client first.

Blood and Stones is a complete detective and urban fantasy novel at 74,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

yadda yadda yadda
Last edited by a3writer on September 6th, 2010, 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by Quill » September 4th, 2010, 10:02 pm

a3writer wrote:It's time to try this again. The original thread can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2138
Not necessary or advisable to start a new thread for each version. Simply post in line and edit the thread title to say "version II" or some such.
Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble. Occult Detective Matt Allen gets no power from knowing where to look in the shadows to find mystics, witches, vampires, and goths. No, goths aren't supernatural, but some like to think so, and they're more difficult for a hard-boiled PI to understand. The supernatural have real power, power enough to tenderize Matt like a slab of meat. Matt has to rely on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass.
I like the idea of an occult detective and the whole noir-meets-supernatural idea. I think, though, that this might be a bit too much set-up (the story proper not starting until paragraph 2 might be a small problem).

Also, using the word "power" four times here is, for me, a couple too many.

I also think the semi-colon is either unneeded or misplaced. I would write it "Knowledge isn't power, it's trouble. Occult detective..." or "Knowledge isn't power, it's trouble; occult detective..."

I would also omit the semi-colon after gun and simply put a period there.

And finally, I do not know what you mean "too bad guns have more boast than brass." No idea.

He's hired to investigate a college kid, a goth. The glowing, mysterious rock and the kid under mind control make it Matt's case; no one else does this work. The witch Elise has reasons for pulling the kid's strings, which means keeping a private dick out of the way. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.
This is a very sketchy and enigmatic description of the plot. Especially since you used more words to describe the character and his milieu.

"Glowing, mysterious rock" doesn't say enough. Mysterious how?

"Pulling the kid's strings" is a cliche and doesn't tell us anything? What is the connection between the witch and kid? What gender is the kid?

In short, what is this story about? What is the main conflict?
Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood to get the clues he needs.
Seems awkward. He buys clues? Not info? Not evidence?
Putting it all together doesn't bring any comfort as Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. And a PI's honor puts the client first.
This wrap-up line would have a lot more impact if you had clued us in just a little more on what is actually going on in this case.
Blood and Stones is a complete detective and urban fantasy novel at 74,000 words.
Maybe put the "complete" after "novel"?

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by Hilary » September 6th, 2010, 10:53 am

a3writer wrote:It's time to try this again. The original thread can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2138

And now to the revision.

Dear Agent,

Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble. Occult Detective Matt Allen gets no power from knowing where to look in the shadows to find mystics, witches, vampires, and goths. No, goths aren't supernatural, but some like to think so, and they're more difficult for a hard-boiled PI to understand. The supernatural have real power, power enough to tenderize Matt like a slab of meat. Matt has to rely on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass.

He's hired to investigate a college kid, a goth. The glowing, mysterious rock and the kid under mind control make it Matt's case; no one else does this work. The witch Elise has reasons for pulling the kid's strings, which means keeping a private dick out of the way. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.

Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood to get the clues he needs. Putting it all together doesn't bring any comfort as Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. And a PI's honor puts the client first.

Blood and Stones is a complete detective and urban fantasy novel at 74,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

yadda yadda yadda

This story sounds fantastic. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot. That's priceless. Keep it in at all costs!

But I don't have any real sense of the plot here. I think you might have gone for style over substance. I'd suggest that you start over in very ordinary language and explain exactly what happens. Then, once you have it as a template, rework the language in your voice. What did the goth kid do to warrant investigation? Is Matt in danger somehow? Why? What are the stakes, and who is this friend we need to worry about?

The opening line is strong for me. That angles/curves line is hilarious.

Good luck!

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by a3writer » September 6th, 2010, 5:06 pm

All right, time for attempt 3 (at least on the forums. I think this is query incarnation 600 or so.)

Dear Agent,

Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble. Occult Detective Matt Allen knows about the supernatural, but he's an ordinary joe. He relies on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass.

Matt knows enough to recognize the glowing, mysterious rock and the college kid under mind control as his case; no one else does this work. There's no real reason why someone would want to wash and rinse the guy's head, or what part the rock plays. The roommate who hired Matt suspects the new girlfriend, Elise. The gal is certainly too classy for a poor, college, vampire-goth guy. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.

He wades into the shadows where the supernatural's mystics, witches, vampires, and goths hide. No, goths aren't supernatural, but the guy frequents a gothic club that doubles as a blood bar. Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood—supernatural sources set costly terms—to get the clues he needs.

Putting it all together makes it clear Matt's in too deep. Elise is a witch who steals power. Now Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. A PI's honor puts the client first.

BLOOD AND STONES should appeal to fans of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. It is a detective and urban fantasy novel complete at 74,000 words. The first chapter can be found on my blog at: http://www.a3writer.com/p/matt-allen.html.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Andrew Adams

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by Hilary » September 6th, 2010, 5:40 pm

a3writer wrote:All right, time for attempt 3 (at least on the forums. I think this is query incarnation 600 or so.)

Dear Agent,

Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble. Occult Detective Matt Allen knows about the supernatural, but he's an ordinary joe. He relies on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass.

Matt knows enough to recognize the glowing, mysterious rock and the college kid under mind control as his case; no one else does this work. There's no real reason why someone would want to wash and rinse the guy's head, or what part the rock plays. The roommate who hired Matt suspects the new girlfriend, Elise. The gal is certainly too classy for a poor, college, vampire-goth guy. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.

He wades into the shadows where the supernatural's mystics, witches, vampires, and goths hide. No, goths aren't supernatural, but the guy frequents a gothic club that doubles as a blood bar. Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood—supernatural sources set costly terms—to get the clues he needs.

Putting it all together makes it clear Matt's in too deep. Elise is a witch who steals power. Now Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. A PI's honor puts the client first.

BLOOD AND STONES should appeal to fans of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. It is a detective and urban fantasy novel complete at 74,000 words. The first chapter can be found on my blog at: http://www.a3writer.com/p/matt-allen.html.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Andrew Adams


Okay, for me this is getting a lot better. The second paragraph throws me. Is the roommate Matt's or the goth kid's? The way the characters relate to one another is still a bit confusing - it could use some smoothing out. I'd also like to know a bit more about this rock. What the heck is it? Is Elise trying to steal it? Does it belong to the goth kid?

Keep going! I think you're on the right track.

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by Quill » September 6th, 2010, 5:52 pm

a3writer wrote:
Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble.
I still say the semi-colon should be a comma.
Occult Detective Matt Allen knows about the supernatural, but he's an ordinary joe.
If he's an occult detective seems to me he's NOT "an ordinary joe". Hey, later you say no one else does this kind of work. That makes him unique, not ordinary.
He relies on his wits and his gun
If you mean by this to modify "ordinary joe" perhaps this is where you might put a semi-colon.
; too bad guns have more boast than brass.
There is absolutely no need for a semi-colon here, as you are not modifying the previous clause. Start a new sentence.

And again, what do you mean by "guns have more boast than brass"??? No idea.
Matt knows enough to recognize the glowing, mysterious rock and the college kid under mind control as his case; no one else does this work.
Awkward, he knows this is his case. What, no one hires him, no one tells him about the case? He just happens to run into the kid?
There's no real reason why someone would want to wash and rinse the guy's head, or what part the rock plays.
What do you mean "no real reason"? You mean none that Matt can think of? You mean it was done for no reason at all?

And, there's no real reason for the part the rock plays? That's how it is written.
The roommate who hired Matt suspects the new girlfriend, Elise.
The college kid's/guy's roommate has money to hire detectives? Is this an Ivy league school? Where are we?
The gal is certainly too classy for a poor, college, vampire-goth guy.
So the victim is poor, yet has a roommate willing and able to shell out the bucks for the world's only occult detective? How much does Matt charge?
Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot.

He wades into the shadows where the supernatural's mystics, witches, vampires, and goths hide.
The supernatural's entities seems awkward, like saying "where normalcy's suburbanites hang out."
No, goths aren't supernatural,
Are mystics supernatural? Are witches? How are we defining supernatural?
but the guy frequents a gothic club that doubles as a blood bar. Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood—supernatural sources set costly terms—to get the clues he needs.
What is Matt's problem, what is his mission? He follows the guy around. Is the guy missing? What is Matt looking for, what does he need?

Putting it all together makes it clear Matt's in too deep.
Putting what together? Clues? About what? Mind control, a stone? Where is the stone, how does the alleged mind control affect the victim, or play into the story? What is this story about?

Matt is in too deep into what? Too deep for what?
Elise is a witch who steals power.
This off-hand intro seems like a disconnect. Like it has little to do with Matt's depth or putting together, though following as it does, I suspect it is supposed to be directly related to these. Who is she? What part does she play? Besides being someone who steals power. Does she steal Matt's? The kid's?
Now Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. A PI's honor puts the client first.
Again, the final line should nail us, and here it doesn't, because we haven't been given enough info to care about the characters and story. Knowing what little I do, I'd say he should say to hell with "a PI's honor" and save his own life. Anyway, have you introduced the friend he's considering betraying? Since we don't know, we probably won't care about that person much.
BLOOD AND STONES should appeal to fans of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. It is a detective and urban fantasy novel complete at 74,000 words. The first chapter can be found on my blog at: http://www.a3writer.com/p/matt-allen.html.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Andrew Adams
I would strongly suggest NOT inviting a prospective agent to click over to your blog, but instead suggest pasting part of your chapter into the query email.

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Re: Revised (#2) Query: Blood and Stones

Post by thewhipslip » September 6th, 2010, 7:22 pm

a3writer wrote:All right, time for attempt 3 (at least on the forums. I think this is query incarnation 600 or so.)

Dear Agent,

Knowledge isn't power; it's trouble I'm going to agree with Quill on all of your semi-colon use. This should be an m-dash or a comma. Occult Detective Matt Allen knows about the supernatural, but he's an ordinary joe. He relies on his wits and his gun; too bad guns have more boast than brass. I get the boast/brass line, but I don't think it works. Get on with your query.

Matt knows enough to recognize the glowing, mysterious rock and the college kid under mind control as his case; no one else does this work A bit confusing here. Makes it sound like Matt did this. And speaking of 'this' - what happened? Tell us right off the bat. You don't have words to waste in a query.. There's no real reason why someone would want to wash and rinse the guy's head huh?, or what part the rock plays no real reason for the rock to play a part?. The roommate who hired Matt suspects the new girlfriend, Elise So Matt is hired? Sounded before like he wandered into the case.... The gal is certainly too classy for a poor, college, vampire-goth guy The goth guy is the dead guy?. Matt has to figure out her angles; her curves are easy to spot. Um, okay...I think your voice is getting in the way of the story here. Matt sounds like a sleeze-ball, but maybe that's just me.

He wades into the shadows where the supernatural's mystics, witches, vampires, and goths hide To find out what? What leads him there? The rock? Give us more specifics on the case.. No, goths aren't supernatural, but the guy frequents a gothic club that doubles as a blood bar OK, you've got a little more info here. But not enough.. Matt spends more than he can afford in favors, friends, and blood—supernatural sources set costly terms—to get the clues he needs .

Putting it all together makes it clear Matt's in too deep. Elise is a witch who steals power This means nothing to me. What's the threat? Be specific.. Now Matt has to make the tough call: the client's life, his own life, or giving the witch a better target by betraying a friend. A PI's honor puts the client first.

BLOOD AND STONES should appeal to fans of Raymond Chandler and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. It is a detective and urban fantasy novel complete at 74,000 words. The first chapter can be found on my blog at: http://www.a3writer.com/p/matt-allen.html. I agree that if the agent is requesting pages along with the query that it should be in the email itself.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Andrew Adams
Hope this helps. You need to give us a valid clue, where this takes Matt, and what the stakes are. Usually detective cases involve the PI getting in over his head. I'm not getting that feeling from this. I'm also not feeling like it matters if the client dies. I don't know anything about the client. And the friend Matt has to betray? Why should I care? Who's the friend?
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