Query - "Annie and Will" - A Family Drama

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johnh27
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Query - "Annie and Will" - A Family Drama

Post by johnh27 » June 13th, 2011, 12:42 pm

Dear Ms. Carson,

What happens when a sixteen-year-old girl and her eighteen-year-old adopted brother fall in love? "Annie and Will", a 106,000-word novel set in the 1960's, is a family drama that follows the Gunderson family and the relationship between Annie and Will from Will's arrival as a ten-year-old orphan to his shocking and heart wrenching departure.

Will's adoptive father, Reverend Carl Gunderson, is bent on utilizing Will's sizable trust fund to his own advantage while his natural father, Duke Callahan, is forced to maintain an arm-length's relationship with the boy in order to keep the truth from his wife, Kay. Over the eight years that Will is with the Gundersons, Annie's feelings for him evolve from big brother adoration to deep love. When Reverend Gunderson realizes what is happening between Annie and Will, he seizes a lurid opportunity to try to separate Will from both his money and Annie.

"Annie and Will" should appeal to a wide audience including readers of Richard Russo and Anna Quindlen. The culture, events and music of the Sixties are woven into the story, so this work will also be attractive to many Baby-Boomers.

While this is my first novel, I have been writing technical literature in the telecommunications and scientific domain for many years and am a recipient of the Bell Labs President's Award. Recently retired, I am enjoying my foray into the world of fiction and am currently at work on the sequel to "Annie and Will". I was heartened to see that your agency took a chance on John Verdon’s first novel, “Pick a Number”, and it has been a huge success. I’m hoping you’ll give “Annie and Will” a shot at seeing the light of day.

I'd be thrilled if you would consider "Annie and Will" for representation. Thanks very much, and hope to talk with you soon.

John Hopkins

michelleimason
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Re: Query - "Annie and Will" - A Family Drama

Post by michelleimason » June 13th, 2011, 3:56 pm

Dear Ms. Carson,
What happens when a sixteen-year-old girl and her eighteen-year-old adopted brother fall in love?
I've read numerous agent posts where they say not to start your query with a question. It tempts them to come up with their own scenario as an answer.
"Annie and Will", a 106,000-word novel set in the 1960's, is a family drama that follows the Gunderson family and the relationship between Annie and Will from Will's arrival as a ten-year-old orphan to his shocking and heart wrenching departure.
The accepted form is to do your title in all caps, not quotes. Also, no apostrophe in 1960s. Is the story told from one of these character's viewpoints or is it a narrator talking about the whole family? Also, "shocking" and "heart-wrenching" are both telling instead of showing. Agents will use your query letter as an example of your writing, so try not to use too many adverbs/adjectives here. What makes it shocking? Heart-wrenching for who? Annie or the whole family?
Will's adoptive father, Reverend Carl Gunderson, is bent on utilizing Will's sizable trust fund to his own advantage while his natural father, Duke Callahan, is forced to maintain an arm-length's relationship with the boy in order to keep the truth from his wife, Kay.
Right now this sentence reads that Duke is Reverend Gunderson's natural father, so you need to fix the pronouns. And I'm confused about Will's situation. You said he was an orphan, but that's not really the right term if his father's alive. And where does the trust fund come from? His mother? What truth is his father hiding? That he has a son? I think you could clear it up by mentioning how he ends up with that family. Without knowing for sure, I'm coming up with a scenario where the mom was rich, died and somehow the kid ends up with this other family. But was there some connection or is he just in the system?
Over the eight years that Will is with the Gundersons, Annie's feelings for him evolve from big brother adoration to deep love. When Reverend Gunderson realizes what is happening between Annie and Will, he seizes a lurid opportunity to try to separate Will from both his money and Annie.
Sounds a little one-sided for Annie. Does Will feel the same way? The last statement is vague - what does he do exactly? And drop "lurid."
"Annie and Will" should appeal to a wide audience including readers of Richard Russo and Anna Quindlen. The culture, events and music of the Sixties are woven into the story, so this work will also be attractive to many Baby-Boomers.
Good way to state where the book will fit in the market.
While this is my first novel, I have been writing technical literature in the telecommunications and scientific domain for many years and am a recipient of the Bell Labs President's Award. Recently retired, I am enjoying my foray into the world of fiction and am currently at work on the sequel to "Annie and Will". I was heartened to see that your agency took a chance on John Verdon’s first novel, “Pick a Number”, and it has been a huge success. I’m hoping you’ll give “Annie and Will” a shot at seeing the light of day.
Not sure you need to mention the technical award, but I don't think it's off-putting either. I'd drop the line about enjoying the world of fiction. As for mentioning the sequel, some agents want to know that and others don't, so just make sure you check their preferences. While the last part shows that you've researched who this agency specifically represents, I don't know that you should call out that it's a first novel. I think a lot of agencies are willing to look at first-time novelists, and this makes it sound like it's out of the ordinary.
I'd be thrilled if you would consider "Annie and Will" for representation. Thanks very much, and hope to talk with you soon.

John Hopkins
The story sounds interesting. I think you just need to make Will's situation a little clearer so it doesn't bring up any questions. I'd also like to have a better sense of who is telling the story. You've obviously researched this agent well and so you're already off to a good start. Good luck!

Hyaline
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Re: Query - "Annie and Will" - A Family Drama

Post by Hyaline » June 13th, 2011, 8:04 pm

Hi John :) I'll take a stab at looking over your query--though be warned, I'm no expert :)
johnh27 wrote:Dear Ms. Carson,

What happens when a sixteen-year-old girl and her eighteen-year-old adopted brother fall in love? I feel like I see the advice "never start with a rhetorical question" fairly often--and though this leads right into the plot, it still has that flavour. I'd use a different opening to avoid immediately turning an agent off."Annie and Will", a 106,000-word novel set in the 1960's, is a family drama that follows the Gunderson family and the relationship between Annie and Will from Will's arrival as a ten-year-old orphan to his shocking and heart wrenching departure. I'm not sure this sentence works as an opener, either--it's so broad that nothing really captivates me and doesn't make me want to read further (your #1 goal in a query). One thing to really watch--with "shocking and heart-wrenching departure" you're telling the agent how a reader will feel. You can't do that--you have to show how the reader will feel.

Will's adoptive father, Reverend Carl Gunderson, is bent on utilizing Will's sizable trust fund to his own advantage while his natural father, Duke Callahan, is forced to maintain an arm-length's relationship with the boy in order to keep the truth from his wife, Kay Holy synopsis batman! That was a really long sentence with a heavy dose of name-soup. I had a read a couple times to catch up on the whole thing and get my names in order. Ask what's really important here--even if it matters in the book, it can be cut here to help the reader get the gist quickly--and think about parsing it out into a few sentences if all the info is vital.. Over the eight years that Will is with the Gundersons, Annie's feelings for him evolve from big brother adoration to deep love. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this--is this something the reader sympathizes with? Is confused by? Is unsure about? Make us cheerleaders for the protagonists here if you can! Can you show us a bit more here--or show us a little about the characters? When Reverend Gunderson realizes what is happening between Annie and Will, he seizes a lurid opportunity to try to separate Will from both his money and Annie. Can you tell us more here?

"Annie and Will" should appeal to a wide audience including readers of Richard Russo and Anna Quindlen. The culture, events and music of the Sixties are woven into the story, so this work will also be attractive to many Baby-Boomers. Many agents do like comparisons or a general feel for audience. But this feels kinda weak--too broad to really capture a good comparison or understanding. It's ok not to have one comparisons or "my work will appeal to" sections. I'd use the space to stretch out your plot paragraph, actually.

While this is my first novel, I have been writing technical literature in the telecommunications and scientific domain for many years and am a recipient of the Bell Labs President's Award. Recently retired, I am enjoying my foray into the world of fiction and am currently at work on the sequel to "Annie and Will". I was heartened to see that your agency took a chance on John Verdon’s first novel, “Pick a Number”, and it has been a huge success. I’m hoping you’ll give “Annie and Will” a shot at seeing the light of day.

I'd be thrilled if you would consider "Annie and Will" for representation. Thanks very much, and hope to talk with you soon.

John Hopkins
I feel like the bulk of this letter is in the comparison and bio sections--and I think that emphasis is misplaced. I would spend more time on the book--flesh it out a bit more or give us more of a taste for the voice. Though, as I said--I'm no professional, and this is just my opinion as a reader. Good luck!!

priya g.
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Re: Query - "Annie and Will" - A Family Drama

Post by priya g. » June 14th, 2011, 7:32 am

johnh27 wrote:Dear Ms. Carson,

What happens when a sixteen-year-old girl and her eighteen-year-old adopted brother fall in love? Wuthering heights flashback, and I dont think that should be the approach- bring a new angle to this, and a rhetorical question isnt the best way to begin "Annie and Will", a 106,000-word sometimes this word count can be a... deal breaker, but that depends on the agent/publisher you are sending it to as well novel set in the 1960's, is a family drama that follows the Gunderson family and the relationship between Annie and Will from Will's arrival as a ten-year-old orphan to his shocking and heart wrenching- this seems a dramatization of the events, partly since I havent grown to know or even like Will departure.

Will's adoptive father, Reverend Carl Gunderson, is bent on utilizing Will's sizable trust fund to his own advantage while his natural father, Duke Callahan, is forced to maintain an arm-length's relationship with the boy in order to keep the truth from his wife, Kay this is a long sentence, I am a bit lost, rephrase, shorten it up. Over the eight years that Will is with the Gundersons, Annie's feelings for him evolve from big brother adoration to deep love how? why? normally that transition isnt.. common, like say from best friends to lovers, that is understandable. this isnt natural, it isnt self explanatory. When Reverend Gunderson realizes what is happening between Annie and Will, he seizes a lurid opportunity to try to separate Will from both his money and Annie.

"Annie and Will" should appeal to a wide audience including readers of Richard Russo and Anna Quindlen. The culture, events and music of the Sixties are woven into the story, so this work will also be attractive to many Baby-Boomers.

While this is my first novel, I have been writing technical literature in the telecommunications and scientific domain for many years and am a recipient of the Bell Labs President's Award. Recently retired, I am enjoying my foray into the world of fiction and am currently at work on the sequel to "Annie and Will". I was heartened to see that your agency took a chance on John Verdon’s first novel, “Pick a Number”, and it has been a huge success. I’m hoping you’ll give “Annie and Will” a shot at seeing the light of day.this paragraph doesnt shed light on your novel, not on the plot or the characters. use this space instead to make the reader understand who Annie and Will are, why they would be liked

I'd be thrilled if you would consider "Annie and Will" for representation. Thanks very much, and hope to talk with you soon. thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon.

John Hopkins
I think your query letter isnt defining enough- the focus should either be on the plot or the characters. all-in-all, if it was me, i would draft this again using my table of contents or my basic story outline and give more details about the course of action Will's adoptive father decides to choose.

Hope i helped, and wasnt too harsh.

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