Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

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bunderful
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Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by bunderful » February 14th, 2010, 2:33 am

Eliora's life is shattered by a midnight phone call. Her photographer husband Micha was killed by a suicide bomber while out for a beer with some buddies after a photo shoot in Tel Aviv. Her best friend Liam from her student days in Ireland finds out via the book trading site they both belong to. Still single, and perhaps still in love with her, Liam hops on a plane Tel Aviv, not knowing what to expect, but wanting to be there for her.

He soon finds himself in a completely foreign world, as he attempts to be himself and be a friend amidst the Jewish mourning customs of her Orthodox community, and the religious lifestyle that she ascribes to.

A mother of two, Eliora soon discovers she is pregnant. Struggling just to make it through each day and live up to the expectations of her community, Liam offers a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on.

But will the culture clash, their religious differences and societal mores get in the way of the life that is just starting to grow, both within her and without? "Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory and remembrance, art and reality, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against all odds.

JL Hartfield
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by JL Hartfield » February 14th, 2010, 2:43 am

bunderful wrote:Eliora's life is shattered by a midnight phone call. Her photographer husband Micha was killed by a suicide bomber while out for a beer with some buddies after a photo shoot in Tel Aviv. This is just way too long and too much in one go. Break it up, reword it, add some punctuation. Something needs to be done with it.Her best friend Liam from her student days in Ireland finds out via the book trading site they both belong to. Still single Not needed., and perhaps still in love with her, Liam hops on a plane Tel Aviv, not knowing what to expect, but wanting to be there for her. Your sentence earlier made it sound to me like he was away from home when it happened, but in this one you tell us that they live there. Clarify. Also, "hops on a plane" is not only a cliche, but also just doesn't work. It makes me think of him literally jumping on the wing of a plane.

He soon finds himself in a completely foreign world, as he attempts to be himself and be a friend amidst the Jewish mourning customs of her Orthodox community, and the religious lifestyle that she ascribes to.
Awkward.

A mother of two, Eliora soon discovers she is pregnant. Struggling just to make it through each day and live up to the expectations of her community, Liam offers a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on.

But will the culture clash, their religious differences and societal mores get in the way of the life that is just starting to grow, both within her and without? Avoid rhetorics. "Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory and remembrance, art The only mention of art you have is that the guy was a photographer. Does this need to be here?and reality, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against all odds.
Those are my first thoughts. I'll go back through it tomorrow and add to my comments. Good luck.

CC13
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by CC13 » February 14th, 2010, 7:13 am

bunderful wrote:Eliora's life is shattered by a midnight phone call. Her photographer husband Micha was killed by a suicide bomber while out for a beer with some buddies after a photo shoot in Tel AvivAnother thing about this sentence, once you work on it, needs to be more active. "Was" is more past tense, and this should read present.. Her best friend Liam [from her student days in Ireland] not important for query finds out find sout what? about her husband dying? From a book trading site? How did that happen? If he's her best friend, wouldn't she have called and told him? via the book trading site they both belong to. Still single, and perhaps still in love with her, Liam hops on a plane Tel Aviv, not knowing what to expect, but wanting to be there for her.

He soon finds himself in a completely foreign world obviously, because he is! How about show us instead of tell?, as he attempts to be himself and be a friend amidst the Jewish mourning customs of her Orthodox community, and the religious lifestyle that she ascribes to.

A mother of two, Eliora soon discovers she is pregnant. Struggling just to make it through each day and live up to the expectations of her community, Liam offers a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on any newer way to say this? Sounds a bit cliche..

But will the culture clash, their religious differences and societal mores get in the way of the life that is just starting to grow, both within her and without? "Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory and remembrance, art and reality, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against all odds. The title seems to have some sort of voice to it that is lost in the query.
Take my comments as you will, I'm definitely no query ninja. Hope I've helped in some way!

Yoshima
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by Yoshima » February 14th, 2010, 1:45 pm

Hey bunderful! More feedback for you.


Eliora's life is shattered by a midnight phone call. (Great!) Her photographer husband Micha was killed by a suicide bomber while out for a beer with some buddies after a photo shoot in Tel Aviv (There's too much backstory stuffed in here; the conflict gets lost. I suggest cutting from "while" to the end. It's not neccesary to your plot.). Her best friend Liam from her student days in Ireland finds out via the book trading site they both belong to (is it necessary how he finds out? The important thing here is that he finds out and goes to see her. Maybe combine this sentence with the next?). Still single, and perhaps still in love with her, Liam hops on a plane Tel Aviv, not knowing what to expect, but wanting to be there for her.

He soon finds himself in a completely foreign world, as he attempts to be himself and be a friend amidst the Jewish mourning customs of her Orthodox community, and the religious lifestyle that she ascribes to. (Long sentence. Also, I have no idea what Jewish mourning customs in an Orthodox community are. It doesn't help me picture his conflict, you know? Maybe be more specific as to what gets between her and Liam.)

A mother of two, Eliora soon discovers she is pregnant. Struggling justto make it through each day and live up to the expectations of her community(again, I don't know what the expectations of her community are, so I'm not sure what the conflict is), Liam offers a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on.

But will the culture clash, their religious differences and societal mores get in the way of the life that is just starting to grow, both within her and without? (Uh-oh. This rhetorical Q didn't make me want to find out more. It made me feel like I was missing something huge, since I didn't know what the conflict was in the first place. I would try to avoid the rhetorical Q if at all possible, but if you've got the conflict neatly explained, I think with lots of tinkering it could work.)

"Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory and remembrance, art and reality, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against all odds. (Your query should tell us all that. Don't restate it.)


I think the topic--mourning customs, Orthodox community, etc--sounds really interesting, particularly because it's something I don't know much about and would like to find out more. Make sure you're clear about the conflicts, though, or I'm afraid readers who are also unfamiliar with the topic won't be hooked enough to read on. Good luck on revisions!

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aspiring_x
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by aspiring_x » February 16th, 2010, 12:55 pm

Heya bunderful,
I hope this helps a bit. But, I'm not an expert. So, just take what you like, or ignore me completely. No offense will be taken :)

bunderful wrote:Eliora's life is shattered by a midnight phone call. Her photographer husband Micha was killed by a suicide bomber while out for a beer with some buddies after a photo shoot in Tel Avivgreat for book, too much for query. Her best friend Liam from her student days in Ireland her best friend form her days as a studentfinds out via the book trading site they both belong toabout Eliora's tragedy. Still single, and perhaps still in love with her, Liam hops on a plane Tel Aviv, not knowing what to expect, but wanting to be there for her. TO Tel Aviv, in order to comfort her.

He soon finds himself in a completely foreign world, as he attempts to be himself and be a friend amidst the Jewish mourning customs of her Orthodox community, and the religious lifestyle that she ascribes to. This concept is great, but try to focus on one MC in your query. Structure the plot in the query around the MC's perception of what is happening. In the book, its cool if you switch perspectives, but you want to make the query really focused. Incorporating this idea into the above paragraph could help. But here is makes the reader stop and wonder why we started with Eliora and now we're focused on Liam. I hope that makes sense.

A mother of two, Eliora soon discovers she is pregnant. Struggling just to make it through each day and live up to the expectations of her community, Liam offers a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. I'd move this up into the big paragraph above, and make it really short... something like As Eliora strives to reconcile her grief with her rekindled feelings for Liam, she discovers the is pregnant.

But will the culture clash, their religious differences and societal mores get in the way of the life that is just starting to grow, both within her and without? rhetorical questions are met with the kiss of death"Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory and remembrance, art and reality, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against all oddsStory title- query format dictates all caps, queries are for plots not themes, agent needs word count and genre (and a thank you never hurt anyone:).

JTB
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by JTB » March 25th, 2010, 9:45 am

It';s confusing - i've had a go for you ...

When her husband is killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv, Eliora Adler’s life is shattered. A mother of two and pregnant, she struggles to make it through the day. The last thing she thinks she needs is her old friend, Catholic, Liam McCarthy to arrive on the scene. But, when he offers her a shoulder to cry on, out of the devastation and against the odds ... love blooms.

"Blown to Smithereens" is a story about memory, art, religion and love, and the attempt to find happiness against the odds.



Surnames have been added - but you get he gist. Still need to add a better sense of place and background ...

The title is a little too bold, for a love story, maybe?

sounds like an interesting story - how's it going?
Last edited by JTB on March 26th, 2010, 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

kenpochick
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Re: Critique my query please! "Blown to Smithereens"

Post by kenpochick » March 25th, 2010, 4:49 pm

You've gotten some good feedback but I would also include what genre of book it is and how long. I can't really tell by reading your query if this is a romance or if it's a thriller with romance in it?

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