Meant To Be---another new version

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Meant To Be---another new version

Post by cheekychook » August 1st, 2010, 1:15 pm

Most recent update on December 2 (pg 5)



Okay, first there was the synopsis-ish version, then the book-blurb attempt...now there's a really short one, weighing in at only 143 words---which is usually about how long it takes me to begin a message board post ;) Hmm...first try 350 words, second try 250 words, third try 143 words...a few more goes at this and I'll be down to submitting the word "Please?" I need a nap. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance. Here it is:

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job but struggles with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference.

A penchant for good books, late night star gazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Their camaraderie fills the voids in each of their lives. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Even when events conspire to make them both available, they resist, terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they're truly MEANT TO BE.

Complete at 109,000 words MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.


Original post:


Okay, last week I completed another entire round of rewrites on my novel and sent it out to a new beta reader. I decided not to touch or even look at it for the whole week, so I started attempting query letters instead. I'm definitely at the can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees stage, so do what you all do best and show me the error of my ways. I have two different styles of queries written---one for agents who seem to want a mini-synopsis and one for agents who appear to prefer the "back of the book" kind of catchy, brief summary. I'll start with the mini-synopsis version. This is just the "meat" of the query letter---I know to personalize it to the agent and to spell their name correctly. ;) Thanks in advance for any input. I'll stop stalling now....


Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he’s always thought of himself as a bit of a dork . He loves teaching literature at his alma mater, NYU, and reading is his favorite escape. His wife, Justine, is beautiful, brilliant and beyond sexy, the kind of woman most men only dream of having, but something is missing. When Justine insists they move to New Jersey so she can be hands-on at the women’s spa she’s opened, he relents, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.

Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception. She compensates for his emotional distance by indulging her two passions, drawing and cooking. When they move into the house behind Daniel and Justine’s the four of them become fast friends. Frank and Justine can spend hours discussing business strategies and the stock market. Daniel and Marienne appreciate the simpler things in life---good books, bad movies and homemade brownies.

Daniel and Marienne soon discover they have far more significant connections. Their friendship fills the voids in their lives. An intoxicating attraction builds between them, but before either of them gives in to temptation, Marienne learns she’s pregnant.

She’s excited, but terrified she’ll be a horrible mother, like her own. Frank is turned off by her changing body and spends even less time at home. Justine is repulsed and decides motherhood isn’t for her. Daniel finds himself even more drawn to Marienne and realizes how desperately he wants children of his own.

As their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another for emotional support. Sexual tension simmers between them, but they fight it, only indulging fantasies in the privacy of their minds.

When they both wind up single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.

MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
Last edited by cheekychook on September 1st, 2011, 4:03 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by Quill » August 1st, 2010, 2:13 pm

Didn't know there are agents who prefer a lengthy plot exposition in a query.
cheekychook wrote: Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he’s always thought of himself as a bit of a dork .
Nice bright opening. Not sure about the word "dork". Don't know many men who would refer to themselves with euphemism for part of the male anatomy. Kind of stuck out for me. :)
He loves teaching literature at his alma mater, NYU,
Good. Lots of personality and info.
and reading is his favorite escape.
Might read better as, "and his favorite escape is reading." Didn't quite like ending with "escape."
His wife, Justine, is beautiful, brilliant and beyond sexy, the kind of woman most men only dream of having,
Bordering on cliche all the way. Might get away with it by eliminating one of your three B's, how about "beyond sexy"?
but something is missing.
No idea what you mean? She's got a screw loose? There's an unspoken problem between them?
When Justine insists they move to New Jersey so she can be hands-on at the women’s spa she’s opened, he relents, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.
I'm liking the flow, and I don't mind the long sentence here, but a little awkward:

1. "so she can be hands-on" doesn't pack much punch. I don't mind "hands-on" but the lead-up, all the little words... I think "be" bothers me most. Ideally find one word, like, "so she can build (or manage) the spa business she's opened."

2. Can't help but wonder why she opens a spa in New Jersey when they obviously live in New York.

3. Odd to accept him relenting when we didn't hear him previously resisting.
Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception.
We've switched protagonists. Blink of the eyes and continue. It reads okay.
She compensates for his emotional distance by indulging her two passions, drawing and cooking.
This paragraph is almost too parallel in construction to the one above (character, personality, interests), but okay.

But then you don't intro Frank (which, in retrospect, seems a bit odd).

When they move into the house behind Daniel and Justine’s the four of them become fast friends.
Disconnect. When did Marienne become "they"? It seems it should be "When she and Frank..."

Might need a new paragraph here.

Frank and Justine can spend hours discussing business strategies and the stock market.
Omit "can". Maybe substitute it for "often."

Daniel and Marienne appreciate the simpler things in life---good books, bad movies and homemade brownies.
Very parallel construction in your query so far, but it pretty much works, possibly because it is so stylized, so obvious. And so nicely written.

Consider omitting or changing "appreciate the simpler things in life" as cliche, and also as an unneeded value judgment that seems to slow the query rather than providing quality info about the personalities. In fact their list is good, but how to intro it...
Daniel and Marienne soon discover they have far more significant connections.
Omit "far", tempting as it is to try to emphasize the connections. It will be stronger without.
Their friendship fills the voids in their lives. An intoxicating attraction builds between them, but before either of them gives in to temptation, Marienne learns she’s pregnant.
Very good.

Consider omitting "Their friendship fills the voids in their lives." You are telling what you have already nicely shown. Also, this apparently is happening with the other two, as well, but you don't say it about them.
She’s excited, but terrified she’ll be a horrible mother, like her own. Frank is turned off by her changing body and spends even less time at home.
Consider changing "Frank" to "Her husband" to a) give us her point of view more strongly, and b) to help the reader quickly identify him (we've just gotten to know these four names!)

Omit "even" from "even less time". We haven't established that he's not home much, nor do we need to.
Justine is repulsed and decides motherhood isn’t for her. Daniel finds himself even more drawn to Marienne and realizes how desperately he wants children of his own.
A nice little witch's brew you've got going here!

Again, in the interest of keeping everything clear, maybe say "Meanwhile, Justine is repulsed..." to break it slightly from Marienne's viewpoint/situation. Maybe start a new paragraph?
As their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another for emotional support.
Consider rearranging: Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another for emotional support as their marriages unravel." Starting with your principals and ending with marriage unraveling seems stronger to me.
Sexual tension simmers between them, but they fight it, only indulging fantasies in the privacy of their minds.
1. Tension -- simmers -- fight it. These don't seem mutually supporting images. Does tension (tightness, tautness) simmer? Does one fight tautness? How? Does one fight simmering? How?

2. "Indulging in fantasies."

3. Indulging doesn't seem immediate enough. Nor does privacy. If one is fighting sexual attraction, it doesn't seem one would "indulge" in fantasies, but more allow them, permit them free reign only inside. Succumb to the burning passion only in the fetid confines of one's mind, in the burning bounds of one's barely contained netherworld, in the blushing boudoir of one's...
When they both wind up single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.
Hmm. We've abandoned the other couple completely? What seemed to be a story about four is basically about these two. Not sure you've steered us to this from the beginning, and it might pay to emphasize this path a bit more clearly, rather than present such a studied, almost parallel start about two couples (and seemingly their intertwined destinies).
MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
Your query shows you can write, and I think the premise is solid. Good luck with the project!

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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 1st, 2010, 8:28 pm

Thanks Quill, for the compliments and for the detailed response. I have a few comments/questions and have also posted a revised version (below) based on your suggestions.
Quill wrote:Didn't know there are agents who prefer a lengthy plot exposition in a query.
I have found quite a few who claim they want to know what happens in enough detail that they can decide whether or not they want to read the book itself---they seem to be requesting a more detailed query in lieu of a synopsis/pages. I’ve also found samples of “this is what a good query looks like” that are much more synopsis-like, so I’m assuming the agents who have posted those like to read queries that fully explain what’s going to happen in the book. Who knows? Not me.
Quill wrote: Not sure about the word "dork". Don't know many men who would refer to themselves with euphemism for part of the male anatomy. Kind of stuck out for me. :)
I chose the word “dork” for several reasons---I have male friends who use it to describe themselves in a self-deprecating fashion…and I know even more women who use it to define men who are not as nerdy or geeky as nerds or geeks usually are, but are intellectual in a non-cool-but-still-potentially-sexy way---hence the term “aDORKable”. There are too many inappropriate puns running through my mind for me to comment further. ;)

Quill wrote:
but something is missing.
No idea what you mean? She's got a screw loose? There's an unspoken problem between them?
You have more of an idea than you seem to think---the “something missing” is indeed an unspoken problem between them---Justine has a lack of warmth/compassion---she’s, well, worthy of description by words that start with the letter “b” other than the ones I initially used. ;) She’s also obsessed with success/status/career (which I substitute in the update version below).
Quill wrote:
When Justine insists they move to New Jersey so she can be hands-on at the women’s spa she’s opened, he relents, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.
I'm liking the flow, and I don't mind the long sentence here, but a little awkward:

2. Can't help but wonder why she opens a spa in New Jersey when they obviously live in New York.
She chooses NJ instead of NY because she’s hoping to franchise her spa and NJ was deemed a good location to do so---but I didn’t think it was important enough to go into that sort of detail in the query. Should I?
Quill wrote: 3. Odd to accept him relenting when we didn't hear him previously resisting.
He resisted in several previous drafts of this query---does that count? LOL Kidding. He would rather continue living in Manhattan but he gives in---that’s why I chose "relents", but I see how it doesn’t make sense without explaining---I changed it below.
Quill wrote:
Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception.
We've switched protagonists. Blink of the eyes and continue. It reads okay.

The book is third person with alternating pov---I tried to hint at the possibility of that in the query---is that sufficient?
Quill wrote: But then you don't intro Frank (which, in retrospect, seems a bit odd).


I didn’t initially intro Frank because he is a less focused on character---I have added a line about him below.

Quill wrote:Consider changing "Frank" to "Her husband" to a) give us her point of view more strongly, and b) to help the reader quickly identify him (we've just gotten to know these four names!)
It seems odd to me to identify the other three by name but refer to Frank as just “her husband”—no? I understand it’s a lot of names to keep straight….

Quill wrote:
Sexual tension simmers between them, but they fight it, only indulging fantasies in the privacy of their minds.
1. Tension -- simmers -- fight it. These don't seem mutually supporting images. Does tension (tightness, tautness) simmer? Does one fight tautness? How? Does one fight simmering? How?
Hmmm…interesting way of looking at it--- by “fight IT” I meant fight the sexual tension, not fight the simmering… and “sexual tension”, to me, is different in nature from plain old tension….(must stop before inappropriate puns tumble out)---regardless, I changed it below---better? Worse?

Quill wrote:3. Indulging doesn't seem immediate enough. Nor does privacy. If one is fighting sexual attraction, it doesn't seem one would "indulge" in fantasies, but more allow them, permit them free reign only inside. Succumb to the burning passion only in the fetid confines of one's mind, in the burning bounds of one's barely contained netherworld, in the blushing boudoir of one's...
Do you need a moment alone? I'll wait here...
Quill wrote:
When they both wind up single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.
Hmm. We've abandoned the other couple completely? What seemed to be a story about four is basically about these two. Not sure you've steered us to this from the beginning, and it might pay to emphasize this path a bit more clearly, rather than present such a studied, almost parallel start about two couples (and seemingly their intertwined destinies).
Okay, this is tricky to explain. The story is about the four of them, particularly at the beginning but, as time passes, it becomes more about Daniel and Marienne. Justine and Frank’s individual stories both come to resolutions (Daniel and Frank are involved in a car accident in which Frank is killed, leaving Marienne a single mother and widow---almost losing Daniel in the accident causes Justine to finally admits the marriage isn’t working, because she realizes she wasn’t upset enough at the prospect of him being dead---they divorce and she is uncharacteristically selfless, which allows her a bit of redemption for some of her earlier acts.) In any case, the final quarter of the novel is about Daniel and Marienne (as Frank and Justine are no longer in the picture)…the first three quarters are about the four of them… so the parallel between their lives and the description of their intertwined destinies is intentional and a realistic reflection of the actual plot line. But if it makes the query confusing I can change it.

Quill wrote: Your query shows you can write, and I think the premise is solid. Good luck with the project!
Thanks! :)

Update version of query:

Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he’s always thought of himself as a bit of a dork . He loves teaching literature at his alma mater, NYU, and his favorite escape is reading. His wife, Justine, is beautiful and brilliant, the kind of woman most men only dream of having, but she is obsessed with success. When Justine insists they move to New Jersey so she can oversee her new women’s spa, he reluctantly agrees, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.

Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception. Frank only wants things he can’t have, and since he already has her, his interests lie elsewhere. She compensates for his emotional distance by indulging her two passions, drawing and cooking.

When Marienne and Frank move into the house behind Daniel and Justine’s the four of them become fast friends. Frank and Justine spend hours discussing business strategies and the stock market. Daniel and Marienne share a penchant for good books, bad movies and homemade brownies.

Daniel and Marienne soon discover they have more significant connections. An intoxicating attraction builds between them, but before either of them gives in to temptation, Marienne learns she’s pregnant.

She’s excited, but terrified she’ll be a horrible mother, like her own. Frank is turned off by her changing body and spends less time at home. Justine is repulsed and decides motherhood isn’t for her. Daniel finds himself even more drawn to Marienne and realizes how desperately he wants children of his own.

Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another for emotional support as their marriages unravel. Passionate chemistry simmers between them, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their minds.

When an accident and a divorce leave them both single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.

MEANT TO BE is contemporary commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by Quill » August 1st, 2010, 8:56 pm

Oh my! The whole thing clicks so much better now.

A few nitpicks:

1. Be sure to eliminate the space between "dork" and the period of the sentence, before you send it.

2. Maybe qualify (explain) "Justine is repulsed" with a few more words.

3. Possibly join the last two paragraphs (partly to make it crystal clear who "they must decide" refers to, and partly to eliminate one break) (I think the frequent breaks are good, except maybe this one).

4. I keep thinking one or two words about the NJ setting could help round it out, like "suburban" or "in Hackensack, NJ" or some such.


As for your question about whether to explain why NJ, your current version seems to read fine without explanation. For some reason I can now picture it as just over the river no big deal. Maybe it was your revision of the "be hands-on" part.

And, still not crazy about him referring to himself as a "dork" (I'm thinking, yeah, it's more of a women's term) but if that's the in thing, go with it. It weakens the character in my mind just enough to wonder if I'd want to read about him. Probably just me, though.

Maybe I'm sensitive because a new movie opened this weekend called "Dinner for Schmucks", which I find too vulgar for millions to ask for tickets for: "Two adults and one child for "Dinner for Dicks"." :)


Nevermind. Great work. I think you'll do well with it.

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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 2nd, 2010, 11:15 am

Thanks again for your input, Quill. Very much appreciated.

I've tweaked once more, per your suggestions. Better? Worse? (I feel like an eye doctor.)

I'm sticking with the word "dork" for the time being. I agree with your "schmuck" issue, I just don't think "dork" shares quite the same connotation or negativity---will have to survey some people about it to get a general consensus.

Again, truly appreciate all your help. :)



Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he’s always thought of himself as a bit of a dork. He loves teaching literature at his alma mater, NYU, and his favorite escape is reading. His wife, Justine, is beautiful and brilliant, the kind of woman most men only dream of having, but she is obsessed with success. When Justine insists they move to Highland Park, New Jersey so she can oversee her new women’s spa, he reluctantly agrees, hoping a house will be the first step toward starting a family.

Marienne Valeti has a history of bad relationships and her marriage to Frank is no exception. Frank is only interested in things he can’t have, and since he already has her, his interests lie elsewhere. She compensates for his emotional distance by indulging her two passions, drawing and cooking.

When Marienne and Frank move into the house behind Daniel and Justine’s the four of them become fast friends. Frank and Justine spend hours discussing business strategies and the stock market. Daniel and Marienne share a penchant for good books, bad movies and homemade brownies.

Daniel and Marienne soon discover they have more significant connections. An intoxicating attraction builds between them, but before either of them gives in to temptation, Marienne learns she’s pregnant.

She’s excited, but terrified she’ll be a horrible mother, like her own. Frank is turned off by her changing body and spends less time at home. Justine is repulsed by the realities of pregnancy and decides motherhood isn’t for her. Daniel finds himself even more drawn to Marienne and realizes how desperately he wants children of his own.

Daniel and Marienne gravitate toward one another for emotional support as their marriages unravel. Passionate chemistry simmers between them, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their minds. When an accident and a divorce leave them both single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.

MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by adamg73 » August 2nd, 2010, 12:40 pm

I think you're new version looking much improved and it sounds like a good story. For me, the thing your query is lacking is "pop". I'm not seeing what it is about your story that makes it particularly distinctive. It's a strong query but I think it needs some zest!

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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 2nd, 2010, 2:06 pm

Okay, I'm momentarily content with the above synopsis-like query version---below I'm posting the more "back of the book" styled one. Brevity and catchy phrases take me out of my comfort zone, so I'm struggling with this type. This version is 90 words shorter than the synopsis-version. Comments would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner moves from Manhattan to Highland Park, NJ he decides volunteering on the local summer theater production will be a good way to meet new people. He doesn’t expect it to change his life.

Marienne Valeti loves her freelance graphic design job, but finds it isolating. She hopes joining the theater group will give her back the sense of camaraderie she remembers from college. She finds that and more in Daniel.

A love of good books, a penchant for late night stargazing, and an obsession with her to-die-for homemade brownies combine to create a powerful bond between them. An intense attraction simmers, always threatening to surface--- the only problem is they’re both married to other people.

Daniel’s wife is so focused on her career she can’t think of anything else, least of all starting the family Daniel so desperately wants. Marienne’s husband only wants what he can’t have and, since he has her, his interests lie elsewhere. Even as their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne remain loyal to their spouses, leaning on each other for emotional support and nothing more. Their friendship strengthens them as individuals, giving them both the courage to believe in themselves in ways they never have.

When an accident and a divorce leave them single they must each decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.

MEANT TO BE is commercial fiction and is complete at 109,000 words.
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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by Quill » August 2nd, 2010, 3:24 pm

cheekychook wrote:This version is 90 words shorter than the synopsis-version. Comments would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner moves from Manhattan to Highland Park, NJ he decides volunteering on the local summer theater production will be a good way to meet new people. He doesn’t expect it to change his life.
"decides volunteering" is a stumbler. How about "decides that volunteering"? Or, maybe better, "he decides to volunteer...as a way..."?

Omit "good" from "good way" as unneeded.

Comma after "NJ".
Marienne Valeti loves her freelance graphic design job, but finds it isolating. She hopes joining the theater group will give her back the sense of camaraderie she remembers from college. She finds that and more in Daniel.
Good.

Possibly streamline to "She finds more than that in Daniel."
A love of good books, a penchant for late night stargazing, and an obsession with her to-die-for homemade brownies combine to create a powerful bond between them.
Omit "combine to" as apparent.
An intense attraction simmers, always threatening to surface--- the only problem is they’re both married to other people.
The info, which is good, in each of the three clauses can be said better.

1. "Intense" sticks out as trying too hard.

"Attraction simmers" seems to fight itself; I can't picture attraction simmering. Allure at a slow boil. I can picture attraction blossoming, I can picture lust simmering... Maybe it's just me.

2. "Always" sticks out for me as unrealistically general. Always, at all times, never a moment's rest, ceaslessly. And seems to have come up quickly, as written. Almost like suddenly ceaseless.

And "threatening to surface" seems a touch cerebral for the subject matter. Any way to write it more viscerally, from an emotional standpoint.

3. "The only problem is" has become a query cliche. And doesn't seem to do justice to the situation you described in the other version. (It doesn't seem to be the only problem, or maybe rather, it is only part of larger problems) as you elucidate below).

Daniel’s wife is so focused on her career she can’t think of anything else, least of all starting the family Daniel so desperately wants. Marienne’s husband only wants what he can’t have and, since he has her, his interests lie elsewhere.
This is okay, and may be necessary, but it is not well led-into by the previous line, stating that they are both married and that their potential tryst is their only problem. Any way to lay the groundwork above, alluding like in version one that there are some frictions within the relationships prior. It might create more tension.
Even as their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne remain loyal to their spouses, leaning on each other for emotional support and nothing more. Their friendship strengthens them as individuals, giving them both the courage to believe in themselves in ways they never have.
A bit generic-sounding. And telly rather than showy. Like a synopsis/ summary. I think it has more to do with the language than what you are saying. Any way to replace words like "remain" "loyal" "support" "individuals" "courage," and phrases like "even as" "leaning on each other" and "in ways they never have" with more vital verbs and nouns? To give us the difficulty in what they're doing? (if it is difficult).
When an accident and a divorce leave them single they must each decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.
Hmm. "A chance on love"? Sounds like they've already come to love each other deeply (though maybe not physically).

Hmm. Accident and divorce might be too much to give away here. Might keep more tension by saying something like, "when events conspire to make them available to each other, their love is tested..."

Not sure. In this query the tension seems in danger of dissipating to an anticlimax. Not sure the stakes seem high enough at the end. It was like they were high in the middle, and dissipated, almost due to fate. I think you need to keep tension by showing more vitally what large choice remains. What do they stand to lose? Do you need to build up their friendship more? (to have that be truly threatened by entering the next step?) What about their emotional damage/fallout from marriages ending, any of that play into it?

Interesting that this doesn't come up for me in the other version.

Hmm. Just reread that part in the other version. It could become a sticking point there, too. It reads better there for some reason, but the dynamic is the same: is the stakes/conflict/problem big enough for the query's final punch?

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Re: First query attempt---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by wilderness » August 2nd, 2010, 4:25 pm

Hi,

I haven't really heard of any agents that want a synopsis-like query, but then again your synopsis-like query is still pretty short. I didn't like the one you labeled as back-of-the-book blurb because it has too many cliches and vague statements, e.g. "changes his life" and "she finds that and more in Daniel". I also find it curious that in one version it sounds like they meet in the theater group, while in the other version they meet because they are neighbors.

Really, I think you should take the long version and shorten it and try to give it more voice. I like the first couple of paragraphs. When you introduce Daniel and Marienne, you give some nice details, especially the one about Daniel thinking of himself as a dork. But then it gets to be too much all-business, like a synopsis. I'm not getting a sense of the tone of the book. Is it funny?

You mention the 4 of them are fast friends, but unless you want to imply that Frank and Justine are having an affair, I would leave out their half of the friendship.
Passionate chemistry simmers between them, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their minds.
I think the part about them having fantasies about each other is intriguing but "Passionate chemistry simmers between them" is kind of a dry way of telling us. Maybe more "show" and less "tell" here.

Also, I find the last line too vague:
When an accident and a divorce leave them both single they each must decide if they’re willing to risk the most important relationship in their lives to take a chance on love.
Why is it a risk? I think it would be better stated that they are risking their friendship for a chance on love.

I know my thoughts are all over the place, but I hope that helped. If not, feel free to ignore. :) Good luck!

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Re: Different Version of Query---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 2nd, 2010, 5:52 pm

Thanks Wilderness and Quill. As I said, I'm not comfortable with the second version---short is not my forte, which is odd for someone my height. ;)

To answer the questions asked:

Wilderness---yes, parts are funny---if it were a movie it would be considered a romantic dramedy---some comedy, some drama, a love story. What they have at "risk" is the relationship they have built, which they've both grown to depend on. Oh, and they meet at the theater group within days of becoming neighbors---so either description is accurate.

Quill--- "A chance on love" is supposed to imply taking on chance on a romantic relationship---yes, they're already deeply in love but neither of them knows if the other thinks of them "that way". See if it comes across better in the version below---I've incorporated some of your other suggestions as well.

Overall I still prefer the other query---but this isn't about pleasing me---I already like my book. :)

I tried to up the stakes in this new attempt---we'll call it Take 2 of the back-of-the-book version....

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner moves from Manhattan to Highland Park, NJ, he decides to volunteer on the local summer theater production as a way to meet new people. He doesn’t expect it to change his life.

Marienne Valeti loves her freelance graphic design job but finds it isolating. She hopes joining the theater group will give her back the sense of camaraderie she remembers from college. She finds more than that in Daniel.

A penchant for good books, late night stargazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies create a powerful bond between them. Their friendship fills the voids in their lives. An alluring chemistry begins to simmer, often threatening to boil over, but they deny its presence because they’re married to other people.

Daniel’s wife is so focused on her career she can’t think of anything else, least of all starting the family Daniel so desperately wants. Marienne’s husband only wants what he can’t have and, since he has her, his interests lie elsewhere.

As their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne seek solace in each other’s humor and tenderness, but never cross the line. Their friendship provides them with a love and acceptance unlike anything they’ve known before. Even when events conspire to make them both available they struggle, unsure their romantic feelings are returned, and terrified to risk what they already have to take a chance on love. They must each confront their fears and insecurities to find out if they’re truly MEANT TO BE.

Complete at 109,000 words MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.
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Re: Different Version of Query---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by otherside89girl » August 2nd, 2010, 6:38 pm

cheekychook wrote: I tried to up the stakes in this new attempt---we'll call it Take 2 of the back-of-the-book version....

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner moves from Manhattan to Highland Park, NJ, he decides to volunteer on the local summer theater production as a way to meet new people. He doesn’t expect it to change his life. This looks good to me.

I think you should combine the 1st and 2nd sentences here, so you mention the theater group before Marienne's job. That might make a smoother transition from the first paragraph. Like, maybe she joins the theater group because she feels isolated at her graphic design job, or something. Marienne Valeti loves her freelance graphic design job but finds it isolating. She hopes joining the theater group will give her back the sense of camaraderie she remembers from college. She finds more than that in Daniel.

A penchant for good books, late night stargazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies create a powerful bond between them. Their friendship fills the voids in their lives. Maybe change this to: Their simmering chemistry threatens to boil over, but they have to contain it because they're married to other people. An alluring chemistry begins to simmer, often threatening to boil over, but they deny its presence because they’re married to other people.

Daniel’s wife is so focused on her career she can’t think of anything else, least of all starting the family Daniel so desperately wants. Marienne’s husband only wants what he can’t have and, since he has her, his interests lie elsewhere.

As their marriages unravel Daniel and Marienne seek solace in each other’s humor and tenderness, but never cross the line. Their friendship provides them with a love and acceptance unlike anything they’ve known before. [I liked what you had in your other short version better than this ending. I think you should include the divorce and the accident to make it more clear.] Even when events conspire to make them both available they struggle, unsure their romantic feelings are returned, and terrified to risk what they already have to take a chance on love. They must each confront their fears and insecurities to find out if they’re truly MEANT TO BE.

Complete at 109,000 words MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.
It sounds like a good story and I think you're pretty close with this query! Good luck!

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Re: Different Version of Query---Meant To Be---Commercial Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 3rd, 2010, 1:28 pm

Thanks adamg73 and otherside89girl---appreciate the input.
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Re: New super-short version of Query---Meant To Be---Comm. Fic

Post by cheekychook » August 6th, 2010, 10:35 pm

Okay, first there was the synopsis-ish version, then the book-blurb attempt...now there's a really short one, weighing in at only 143 words---which is usually about how long it takes me to begin a message board post ;) Hmm...first try 350 words, second try 250 words, third try 143 words...a few more goes at this and I'll be down to submitting the word "Please?" I need a nap. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance. Here it is:

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job but struggles with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference.

A penchant for good books, late night star gazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Their camaraderie fills the voids in each of their lives. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Even when events conspire to make them both available, they resist, terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they're truly MEANT TO BE.

Complete at 109,000 words MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.
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Re: New super-short version of Query---Meant To Be---Comm. Fic

Post by burnburn » August 6th, 2010, 11:08 pm

cheekychook wrote:Okay, first there was the synopsis-ish version, then the book-blurb attempt...now there's a really short one, weighing in at only 143 words---which is usually about how long it takes me to begin a message board post ;) Hmm...first try 350 words, second try 250 words, third try 143 words...a few more goes at this and I'll be down to submitting the word "Please?" I need a nap. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance. Here it is:

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, This is confusing to me. If the wife is career-obsessed, why is she convincing him to move to the suburbs? I know there are great careers available in/commuting from the suburbs, but if she's career-obsessed, it seems like the city is where she would prefer to be. Also, if she's career-obsessed and convincing him to move, it seems that it would be for a job so I'm not sure how that would make Daniel hope that i's a first step to starting a family. Just what first came to mind when I read this.he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design jobbut struggles with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. I'm not sure her job is important to this sentence.

A penchant for good books, late night star gazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Their camaraderie fills the voids in each of their lives. We know why Marienne has a void in her life, but should you perhaps add a sentence to further defines the void in Daniel's life? I guess I can assume it's from his wife being career-obsessed, but when they first moved he hoped it would lead to starting a family. Should there be a sentence to let the reader know what happened to squash that hope and leave him with a void?Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Is seclusion the best word? I see where you're going with this, but is it more of a secrecy or privacy issue rather than seclusion? Not sure.Even when events conspire to make them both available, This seems a little passive "event conspire to make them" ... could you make this more active?they resist,I know you're paring down, but I might add something after resist - resist temptation, etc terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they're truly MEANT TO BE.I like having the title as the last words - cool.

Complete at 109,000 words MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm completely new to querying so ... take everything I say with the appropriate grain of salt.

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Re: New super-short version of Query---Meant To Be---Comm. Fic

Post by Leonidas » August 6th, 2010, 11:43 pm

cheekychook wrote:Okay, first there was the synopsis-ish version, then the book-blurb attempt...now there's a really short one, weighing in at only 143 words---which is usually about how long it takes me to begin a message board post ;) Hmm...first try 350 words, second try 250 words, third try 143 words...a few more goes at this and I'll be down to submitting the word "Please?" I need a nap. Any and all comments welcome. Thanks in advance. Here it is:

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead he meets his neighbor, Marienne Valeti, who loves her freelance design job but struggles with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference.

A penchant for good books, late night star gazing, and Marienne’s to-die-for homemade brownies, sparks a powerful bond between them. Their camaraderie fills the voids in each of their lives. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, giving in only in the seclusion of their own minds. Even when events conspire to make them both available, they resist, terrified to risk the friendship they’ve grown to depend on to discover if they're truly MEANT TO BE. I don't really like using the title like this. It seems like a gimmick. Go ahead and keep it if you want, but I wouldn't capitalize it like you do the full title, since you haven't introduced it yet as the title of the book.

Complete at 109,000 wordspretty sure you need a comma here, but I might be wrong MEANT TO BE is a work of commercial fiction.
I like it! Good job on condensing everything! That's something very difficult and you did it well. I would just add in a little of bio or writing credits if you have any at the end, and you should be pretty damn good with this query otherwise.

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