Query: Aussie needs international feedback

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astrogirl
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by astrogirl » February 25th, 2010, 11:33 am

Version 5 lays out a lot more about the plot - or what I assume to be the plot. The earlier versions seemed more teasing, perhaps too subtle.

Like the "right brain" quip a lot.

I reckon your query could now be sent out to a handful of agents to test the water. Best of luck.

bcomet
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by bcomet » February 26th, 2010, 12:29 pm

Re your version 5:
Dear Nathan,

I chose to submit to you because of your tastes in literary fiction and suspense, and because your blog is a consistent source of information and a pleasure to read.

Ella {what, who is Ella? adjective+ noun needed here, i.e., Ella, a new world radical; struggling writer, etc.} knows about pain and the horror of needing to kill. {After what incident? Name it. i.e., After surviving (example) a high school where the students had to carry guns to survive, Ella knows...}Ten years later she is in a new battle {First question that comes up here is: battle over what? It is okay to suspend this but I suggest you address it in the second paragraph.} with Grant { adjective + noun about Grant (relating to the story) is better than just naming him, as it give information about the character.} although this time the stakes are very different. {What are the stakes? Since they seem complicated, perhaps move them to the next paragrph - see below.}} Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going facade and either could help her cooperate with or eliminate nine other great pretenders. {I think this sentence needs to go somewhere else, so I am -for now- striking it from this paragraph.}

{Name the stakes, i.e. Ella and Grant along with eight of their former classmates have all been recruited to star in LOST/The Red Diamond/name of the contest, then what the contest is all about, i.e., a real life combat game. Then add a sentence that summarizes: The winner will receive ... but the losers will risk .... .} {Then raise the stakes, i.e. The stakes are even higher. All of the contestants have the opportunity to break through their petty desires and find love.} Huge success in a super-rich and exclusive subscriber-only contest could help all achieve fulfillment - even love - along with at least one million dollars. {Rewrite the previous sentence to fit into above suggested breakdown. Add in last sentence from first paragrph here:}Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going facade and either could help her cooperate with or eliminate nine other great pretenders.

From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists, and models to masochists, each challenge reveals deep strengths and weaknesses. The events {of the contest–that takes place} x in Australia and France, San Francisco and Praguedetermine the finalists for an international showdown like no other.

After their teenage experiences - both terrific and terrible - the five women and five men achieve new levels of self-understanding in a most exacting arena - desire.

THE RED DIAMOND {I LOVE the title!} is a novel of passion and redemption that addresses a universal theme - nature or nurture.

I have been a journalist, editor, & and publisher for 22 years in the magazine sector; webmaster & and blogger for 3 three years; and my right brain an aspiring novelist for ever.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Brian .....
Brian,
I hope these suggestions are helpful.
Your story sounds compelling!
Kind regards,
bcomet

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 1st, 2010, 12:16 pm

Well thanks again bcomet cos that really helped. Somehow I keep reading with "full knowledge" sitting in back of my brain, so don't see how much I need to explain.

Here, then, is version 5.5 which I hope helps reflect my novel in a better light.


Home-raid survivor Ella knows about pain and the horror of needing to kill. Six years later she is in a new battle although this time the stakes are very different. Former boss and lover Grant knows Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going facade; either quality could help Ella cooperate with or eliminate nine others in a challenge, including Grant.

Success in the super-rich and exclusive contest will bring new levels of fulfillment - even love - along with at least one million dollars each for the five women and five men. From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists, and models to masochists, each challenge is designed to reveal deep strengths and any weakness.

Following their teenage experiences - both terrific and terrible - the ten are pitted against each other in a most exacting arena - desire. The events, in Australia and France, San Francisco and Prague, bring the finalists to an international showdown like no other. Life gave them bad knocks and now they want to even the score.

THE RED DIAMOND is a novel of passion and redemption that addresses a universal theme - nature or nurture. 

I have been a journalist, editor and publisher for 22 years in the magazine sector; webmaster and blogger for three years; and my right brain an aspiring novelist for ever.

Serzen
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by Serzen » March 1st, 2010, 10:21 pm

StayPositive wrote: Home-raid survivor Ella knows about pain and about the horror of needing to kill. Six years later later than what? she is in a new battle, although this time the stakes are very different. Her former boss and lover Grant knows Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going façade; either quality could help Ella cooperate with or eliminate nine others in a challenge, including Grant. note 1

Success in the super-rich and exclusive contest will bring new levels of fulfillment--even love--along with at least one million dollars each for the five women and five men. From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists, and models to masochists, each challenge is designed to reveal deep strengths and any weaknesses.

Following their teenage experiences--both terrific and terrible--the ten are pitted against each other in a most exacting arena: desire. The events, in Australia and, France, San Francisco and Prague, bring the finalists to an international showdown like no other. Life gave them bad knocks and now they want to even the score.
1 "...in a challenge..." seems a little too vague to me. I know that you're about to reveal it, having actually read to the end, but the first time through I think I might have been better prepared if it had read "...in an upcoming challenge..."

re: the final paragraph, I'm not sure what teenage experiences have to do with the first two paragraphs. I'd like some clarity there, if I was someone reading this on a dustjacket.

Just a couple of quick things. Hopefully they're useful.

~Serzen
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 10th, 2010, 8:48 am

Hi everyone. Here is version 6 and this time I need to add Serzen to the thank you list.

Have returned to the “Nathan style” to help me stay focussed.


Dear Nathan,

I chose to submit to you because of your tastes in literary fiction and suspense, and because your blog is a consistent source of information and a pleasure to read.

Home-raid survivor Ella knows about pain and the horror of needing to kill. Six years later she faces an inner battle and her former boss and lover, Grant, knows Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going façade. Either quality could help Ella cooperate with or eliminate nine others in a new challenge, including Grant.

Following their teenage experiences - both terrific and terrible - the ten are pitted against each other in a most exacting arena - desire. Events in Australia, France, San Francisco and Prague bring the finalists together for an international showdown like no other. Life gave them bad knocks and now they want to even the score.

Participation in the super-rich and exclusive contest could help all achieve fulfillment - even love - along with at least one million dollars. From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists and models to masochists, each challenge reveals deep strengths and weaknesses. How the five women and five men use their successes raise strong questions about right and wrong.

THE RED DIAMOND is a novel of passion and redemption that addresses a universal theme - nature or nurture. It is 98,000 words.

I have been a journalist, editor and publisher for 22 years in the magazine sector; webmaster and blogger for three years; and my right brain an aspiring novelist for ever.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Brian .....

astrogirl
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by astrogirl » March 11th, 2010, 11:35 am

Your three descriptive paras now sound very tight and interesting. Each one suggets potentially great story hooks.

One question though, which maybe others can answer. Do you need to specify a genre, especially for 98,000 words?

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 13th, 2010, 2:25 am

Thanx astrogirl and I have thought about the genre too. Some comments in the forum say the genre is all-important. But others say agents will interpret genre differently, therefore let them decide based on the query.

Do others think stating a genre may pre-filter the query from some agents and so miss an opportunity?

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 19th, 2010, 8:59 am

UPDATE - PLEASE SEE VERSION 6.5 ON PAGE 1

PLEASE SKIP OVER EARLIER VERSIONS AS THE WHOLE QUERY HAS CHANGED TOTALLY

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Quill
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by Quill » March 19th, 2010, 11:19 am

StayPositive wrote:UPDATE - HERE IS VERSION 6.5 - the latest and with huge thanks to Forum members

PLEASE SKIP OVER EARLIER VERSIONS

Dear [Agent Name],

I chose to submit to you because of your tastes in literary fiction and suspense, and because your blog is a consistent source of information and a pleasure to read.
Good to personalize like this.
Home-raid survivor
What is Home-raid?
Ella knows about pain and the horror of needing to kill.
How? Has Ella killed?
Six years later she faces an inner battle that could lead to redemption.
Inner battle and redemption are unspecific. What is the issue here?
Her former boss and lover, Grant, knows Ella shields great power
What sort of power? Magic power? Psychic power? Emotional power? Give context.
and passion behind her easy-going façade, yet either quality could help Ella cooperate with or eliminate nine others in a new challenge, including Grant.
Again, couched to the point of being vague. Nine other what? Qualities? People? Loaves of bread? We lack context.
Following their teenage experiences - both terrific and terrible - the ten are pitted against each other in a most exacting arena - desire.
Unknown what we are reading about here. Does it have something to do with Home-raid?
Events in Australia, France, San Francisco and Prague bring the finalists together for an international showdown like no other.
What sort of showdown? A bicycle race in 1910? A swingers party filmed for broadcast in a futuristic society?
Life gave them bad knocks and now they have the opportunity to even the score.
Omit.
Participation in the super-rich and exclusive contest
Oh. It's a contest of sorts. What sort?
could help all achieve fulfillment - even love - along with at least one million dollars. From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists and models to masochists, each challenge reveals deep strengths and weaknesses. How the five women and five men use their successes raise strong questions about right and wrong.
Your story appears to be about some sort of contest. That's all I can surmise from your query.
THE RED DIAMOND is a novel of passion that addresses a universal theme - nature or nurture.
How does it do this?
It is 98,000 words.

I have been a journalist, editor and publisher for 22 years in the magazine sector;
Which part of the sector, specifically?
webmaster and blogger for three years; and my right brain an aspiring novelist for ever.
Omit.

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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by Ellie G » March 19th, 2010, 5:39 pm

I'm sorry, this query has me completely at sea. I can't form any idea of what the story is like: its mood or tone, its characters, its pace, its shape, etc. It feels very inaccessible to me.

It's hard to give any concrete advice when I'm this confused. After reading through the thread a few times, I tried to write out what I knew about the story, which had a lot of holes. Maybe seeing where my questions come up will be a little helpful toward reshaping the query:

Ella is emotionally damaged because of .......? that happened in her past.

She gets a chance to complete in an exclusive competition, where she will face challenges involving seduction and desire. For example ... ?

All the other participants are also damaged from their experiences. One of the participants is Ella's former boss and lover, Grant.

During the course of the challenge, Ella must ... ? (Specific actions? Specific events?)

She needs to ...... in order to heal her emotional damage/save the day/wrap up the plot .....?

And it turns out the contest is more than it originally seemed?

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 19th, 2010, 6:29 pm

Hi Quill and Ellie G

Your comments are exactly why I decided to test my query here.

First, Quill, it seems you want a synopsis rather than a query. From other posts in this forum, and other forums, there is a lot of discussion about Show versus Tell. Have more-or-less decided a Query is Show whereas a Synopsis is Tell.

The questions both Quill and Ellie G pose are valid. But the important thing is whether the questions would make them interested in the book or not. My preference is for "holes" - I'm happy with reading a book and it being a process of discovery.

THE RED DIAMOND is not a book written to a template, packaged into a defined genre and formula. Although it does follow a traditional story arc, I think the style is closer to a 3-hour movie than a 1-hour tv procedural.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

bcomet
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by bcomet » March 19th, 2010, 7:41 pm

StayPositive wrote:UPDATE - HERE IS VERSION 6.5 - the latest and with huge thanks to Forum members

PLEASE SKIP OVER EARLIER VERSIONS

Dear [Agent Name],

I chose to submit to you because of your tastes in literary fiction and suspense, and because your blog is a consistent source of information and a pleasure to read.

Home-raid survivor Ella knows about pain and the horror of needing to kill. Six years later she faces an inner battle that could lead to redemption. Her former boss and lover, Grant, knows Ella shields great power and passion behind her easy-going façade, yet either quality could help Ella cooperate with or eliminate nine others in a new challenge, including Grant.

Following their teenage experiences - both terrific and terrible - the ten are pitted against each other in a most exacting arena - desire. Events in Australia, France, San Francisco and Prague bring the finalists together for an international showdown like no other. Life gave them bad knocks and now they have the opportunity to even the score.

Participation in the super-rich and exclusive contest could help all achieve fulfillment - even love - along with at least one million dollars. From Barbies to goths, playboys to hedonists and models to masochists, each challenge reveals deep strengths and weaknesses. How the five women and five men use their successes raise strong questions about right and wrong.

THE RED DIAMOND is a novel of passion that addresses a universal theme - nature or nurture. It is 98,000 words.

I have been a journalist, editor and publisher for 22 years in the magazine sector; webmaster and blogger for three years; and my right brain an aspiring novelist for ever.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Brian .....

Hi Brian.

I think this is really getting on track. My biggest question is about the contest/competition. It is too vague, implied and hinted at but not described. I think the competition ( for it is the impetus that makes or breaks everyone, or so it seems) needs to be spelled out and clearly defined. I still don't have a clue what it is. If you can define it, I think your query will come to life!!!!

Hope this is helpful!!

Kindest regards,
bcomet

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Quill
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by Quill » March 19th, 2010, 8:08 pm

StayPositive wrote:Hi Quill and Ellie G

Your comments are exactly why I decided to test my query here.

First, Quill, it seems you want a synopsis rather than a query. From other posts in this forum, and other forums, there is a lot of discussion about Show versus Tell. Have more-or-less decided a Query is Show whereas a Synopsis is Tell.

The questions both Quill and Ellie G pose are valid. But the important thing is whether the questions would make them interested in the book or not. My preference is for "holes" - I'm happy with reading a book and it being a process of discovery.

THE RED DIAMOND is not a book written to a template, packaged into a defined genre and formula. Although it does follow a traditional story arc, I think the style is closer to a 3-hour movie than a 1-hour tv procedural.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment.
Show or tell, I just want to know more about the book, to know if I'd want to read it. You seem to imply you are being vague on purpose. I think it is good to leave out lots, but have what you say be specific.

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StayPositive
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Re: Query: Aussie needs international feedback

Post by StayPositive » March 25th, 2010, 10:21 am

Thanks again people - everyone who has commented has helped a lot. Strange thing about trying to see through other people's eyes and yet retain your own perspective.

The contest, in a way, is not overwhelmingly important in terms of the character developments. It is a culmination point, a reward almost. It is very important that the characters were successful in overcoming obstacles, etc, yet the contest is the cream on the cake. Their role as contestants is because of their life challenges - and that they were able to overcome those challenges rather than be beaten down.

Am almost wondering if I leave the contest detail out of the query all together.

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