Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

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Brian_H
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Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by Brian_H » February 19th, 2010, 6:56 pm

Okay, I have finally found the courage to post a query. It's only fair that some of you have a chance to retaliate for my efforts at critiquing your works over the last few weeks. I have no doubt that there are countless areas for improvement; please feel free to obliterate this as necessary. Thank you in advance.
-Brian
___________________________________________________________

Tod O’Villes came to America as an orphaned immigrant at the age of twelve, and quickly found himself on the wrong side of the law. The court placed him under the care of Father Murphy in hopes that Tod could be saved, but instead Tod discovered that even a man of God can do unspeakable evils.

Beaten, battered, and emotionally shattered, Tod found strength amidst the endless nightmare by holding fast to his last prospect of deliverance: Revenge. Fueled by his desire to settle the score, and with a fearlessness that comes only from having nothing to lose, Tod began to build an empire; an empire erected through relentlessly exploiting the sins of his Church.

By the age of 35, Tod had become one of the wealthiest land owners in America, and among the youngest founders of a billion dollar company in the nation’s history. His latest project involved sending a team to Palmyra, Syria, in a covert and highly illegal quest to determine the value of his next potential conquest. What he didn’t count on was that his team would uncover a secret that was buried in the sand for more than 2000 years; a secret that could change the world forever. Jesus is the Devil’s son.

Now Tod must make a choice: Tell the world of his discovery and destroy the organization he blames for his ruined childhood, or use this new found knowledge to extort untold riches from the most powerful organization in the world. Millions of souls hang in the balance of his decision, and perhaps the only thing worse than bringing this secret to light, is leaving it untold.

His discovery has not gone unnoticed, however, and while he decides the world’s fate, the forces of evil are positioning themselves to strike. Soon Tod will be engulfed by a darkness unlike anything he has ever encountered, and the ensuing battle will be for much higher stakes than his own personal vendetta.
____________________________________________________________

Dark Influence follows Tod and his friends as they take on two very powerful enemies: The Catholic Church, and the Devil. It is a standalone fiction/suspense novel.
Last edited by Brian_H on February 23rd, 2010, 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
It always seems impossible until it's done.

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Lorelei Armstrong
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by Lorelei Armstrong » February 19th, 2010, 8:29 pm

I was with you until the word count. That is a short, short book. Any chance of another 40K?

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Brian_H
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by Brian_H » February 19th, 2010, 8:44 pm

Yeah, I've addressed this in previous threads. I realize it's short. My second book is 93K, but this story really only takes 55k to tell. I suppose it's possible to add more, but I'm hoping the agent will be able to suggest what areas she'd/he'd like me to expand. Maybe it's because I'm so close to the story, or because it's my first attempt, but I like it "as is" despite it's length; or lack thereof.

Will the length alone turn off agents you think? Should I leave word count out? Do I address the length and plead my case? Your ideas about this are welcomed in addition to comments regarding content.
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Lorelei Armstrong
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by Lorelei Armstrong » February 20th, 2010, 1:41 am

Not mentioning the word count is a no-no, because if you get to the full submission stage, any agent will be VERY cranky to find out how short it is, even if they didn't auto-reject your query letter for the omission. Yes, a too-short novel is a turn-off.

Also, don't think an agent will be happy to solve a major problem for an untested writer, like a missing half of the book. These days you need to deliver a manuscript that is very near sale-ready. There are just too many manuscripts out there that are more than 95% ready. Agents and editors are not able to put in the massive hours you need to get this up to the proper length.

If you love this idea, tear it apart, find the sub-plots you need to make it the right length for the genre. If you are unwilling to do that, concentrate on the other book. Don't query this one. Wait until either (a) you solve the length problem, or (b) you are successful enough that your agent or editor will help you.

jessicatudor
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by jessicatudor » February 21st, 2010, 6:57 pm

I don't like Tod. If his choice honestly comes down to exposing this secret or not, I really don't like him because a guy who could care less about the millions of souls being misled in a quest for revenge? Small-minded AND cold.

But you lost me before I decided that because the end of the first paragraph just seems so cliche in the wake of all the ebil Catholic priest scandals we've seen.

Also, this is really delicate ground to tread. Your hook is going to make a lot of people angry, so be prepared for that kind of feedback.

And, as everyone else has said, this needs another revision to add at least 15k.
'The world is but canvas to our imaginations.' - Thoreau

kansaswriter
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by kansaswriter » February 21st, 2010, 7:30 pm

There is A LOT going on in the brief summary in your query. This story feels like the kind of thing epics are made of. So I, too, am amazed at the word count.

Perhaps the query doesn't quite reflect it accurately, but from my perspective, it doesn't feel like you have a strong hero - just a bunch of bad guys. Tod is a bad guy. The Priest is a bad guy. Jesus is a bad guy. And then there is the evil about to take over the world. I still saw Tod as the victim with a misguided sense of revenge until I got to the part where he is seeing his discovery as a way to make a buck. He just seems like he's not going to grow. If that's not accurate, then the query letter needs some adjusting to reflect that his discovery is a call to action, the thing that causes him to change his outlook.

Good luck!

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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by KaylingR » February 21st, 2010, 10:08 pm

Brian- this sounds like a real page turner! As always, take what's of use, and ignore the rest.
Jesus is the Devil’s son.
Tie this in a sentence with your protagonist and this is is your hook. Everything that comes before is backstory, which you correctly put in the past tense. You just don't have much room for set up in a query. Start here.
Now Tod must make a choice: Tell the world of his discovery and destroy the organization he blames for his ruined childhood, or use this new found knowledge to extort untold riches from the most powerful organization in the world.
His moral dilemma is between revenge and greed? Both seem pretty self serving...
the most powerful organization in the world.
Maybe once upon a time maybe, but not anymore.

Hope something in here helps!
-K.

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Brian_H
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Re: Query: Dark Influence - Adult Fiction

Post by Brian_H » February 23rd, 2010, 11:40 am

Thank you for your comments so far. I have found a place to add some material. Though I'm not sure it makes the book stronger, it will make it closer to the standard length and I don't think it "weakens" the story any. Let's assume for now that the length will get fixed, so I will remove the word count from the query until I know for sure how long it will be.

I did expect a bit of controversy about the subject matter, and although I do not want this thread to trun into a religious, political, or ethical debate, I will address a couple of things you commented on in hopes that it will clear things up and we can return to helping me write a good query.

Tod is not a hero, he's just the main character. Frankly, I don't like him either. He's bitter, selfish, and morally ambiguous. There are other people in this book who act as his consoius and ethical dvining rod, but they are not the main focus of this story so I left them out.

The reason it took me a while to query this is because I realize the hook is going to turn some people off. I would, however, like to point out that this is a fiction novel, I'm not trying to turn anyone away from their beliefs or start my own cult. Also, if it makes you feel any better, what he found in the desert is a carefully crafted hoax. There's only so much I can say in a query, but essentially the devil planted false documents, kept them hidden until he felt the world was ready to believe, manipulated my main character into "discovering" them, and then sat back and watched the fireworks.

As far as my timing being cliche based on the recent events of the Catholic Church; I agree. That's kind of the point. Not to get into a long debate regarding our society today, but the underlying argument of this book (in a nutshell) is this: As a whole, modern society has become addicted to instant information. Regardless of how inaccurate this form of media can be, we tend to accept it as truth rather than do our own investigating and form our own opinion. We have become a society that is willing to believe the last thing we see on the news, despite whatever we've known to be true in the past. How many of us have forwarded emails about some scam or epic event, only to find out later it was fake? Generally, people have stopped asking questions and just started accepting things. So much so that I think even the most revered and respected soul to ever walk the Earth can be made into a villian if you have a cool enough YouTube video or make the national news stream. Despite centuries of history, millions of followers, countless historical documnets, I think it would only take one small booklet that could be readily scrutinized and tested by today's scientits to convince the world that Jesus was a bad guy. So I'm not knocking Jesus, I'm critisizing us.

Hope this puts things in a different light. You may think I'm full of crap, I usually am, but hopefully you understand that my beef is with everyday people, and not with God. Part of my problem with writing this query is it has to be interesting enough to make the person want to read it, but if it makes people angry enough to boycot it without picking it up, then it defeats the purpose. -Then again, in a way that's my point.
It always seems impossible until it's done.

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