Query - Far - Mainstream

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Post Reply
burnburn
Posts: 9
Joined: August 6th, 2010, 3:46 pm
Contact:

Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by burnburn » August 7th, 2010, 11:18 pm

Okay. I'll throw my synopsis into the fray here. Clearly, it's not perfect so fire away at will. :) And thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions/etc.

Under suspicion for his girlfriend's mysterious death, Nick Connolly struggles to stay sober everyday while trying not to lose his job. That's an uphill battle all its own. Truth be told, he's been phoning it in for awhile and now, with the investigation, his credibility is shot to hell. Not really surprising since he's a homicide detective. Called to the scene of a journalism student's murder, nothing seems unusual at first. Just another tragic story of a life interrupted. But this is no ordinary case of unrequited love or random violence. The student was on her way to turn in a term paper which, according to the voice mail she left just before her death, proved the innocence of a man on death row. Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - is the father he has never known and always believed was guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

(Of course, title, word count etc go here ...)

User avatar
cheekychook
Posts: 685
Joined: May 26th, 2010, 8:35 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by cheekychook » August 8th, 2010, 12:27 am

Not sure if you are intending this to be the meat of a query letter or if you have written this strictly as a synopsis. Either way, you pack a lot of information into a short amount of space (which is good) but the single paragraph style made it too confusing to absorb it all. I broke it into shorter paragraphs, which I think makes the info easier to understand. You've certainly illustrated your protagonist's quest/conflicts, which is extremely important, but the wording left me with some questions (see below in blue).
burnburn wrote:
Under suspicion for his girlfriend's mysterious death, Nick Connolly struggles to stay sober (everyday---the daily nature of this struggle is somewhat implied and the word "everyday" throws off the flow of this sentence) while trying not to lose his job. That's an uphill battle all its own. Truth be told, he's been phoning it in for awhile. Now, with the investigation, his credibility is shot to hell. Not really surprising since he's a homicide detective. (What's not really surprising? The fact that he's burned out? That he's an alcoholic? That being investigated for murder is putting a crimp in his career? Also, "uphill battle" and "phoning it in" are terms that are a bit cliche---if they really fit the tone/voice of your story, leave them in, if not, try to find more unique ways of conveying these issues.)

Called to the scene of a journalism student's murder (He's still on the job? I know nothing about law enforcement beyond what I've gleaned from watching movies and TV, but my first thought was that if he's a murder suspect himself he'd likely either be suspended or at least chained to his desk---seemed odd to me to have him out on a case---might just be me.) , nothing seems unusual at first--- another tragic story of a life interrupted. But this is no ordinary case of unrequited love or random violence. The student was on her way to turn in a term paper which, according to the voice mail she left just before her death, proved the innocence of a man on death row. (Is it common for students to write term papers in which they investigate the guilt/innocence of people on death row? Not being sarcastic---I have no idea. Whether it's common or not this struck me as odd---if she really managed to prove that a man who's about to be put to death is actually innocent it seems weird to have her heading somewhere to make sure her term paper is on time. That would be the last thing on my mind---I'd be freaking out over the evidence I uncovered and would probably be handing my term paper in to the authorities rather than my professor.)

Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - is the father he has never known and always believed was guilty (Okay, so he knew his father's identity, but has never actually met/gotten to know him because he was in prison for Nick's whole life...and Nick thought he was guilty? Something about "never known" and "always believed" makes this sentence confusing---"never known" made me think he knew nothing about him, at all....but "always believed" indicates that he has always had a firm grasp of who his father is and what he thinks of him.) . With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent. (What about proving his own innocence? Is that not an issue anymore? Or is he not innocent? And isn't it a conflict of interest for him to be handling a case that is somehow related to his father's guilt/innocence?)

(Of course, title, word count etc go here ...)
Hope the comments/questions are helpful. Good luck to you.
Image
http://www.karenstivali.com

Passionate Plume 1st Place Winner 2012 - ALWAYS YOU
Published with Ellora's Cave, Turquoise Morning Press & Samhain Publishing

Krista G.
Posts: 192
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:47 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by Krista G. » August 8th, 2010, 12:36 am

burnburn wrote:Under suspicion for his girlfriend's mysterious death, Nick Connolly struggles to stay sober every day [two words] while trying not to lose his job. That's an uphill battle all its own. Truth be told, he's been phoning it in for awhile, and now, with the investigation, his credibility is shot to hell. Not really surprising since he's a homicide detective. How has he been phoning in his work as a homicide detective? Isn't that a bit more hands-on? Also, I think this detail would pack more punch if you introduced it earlier - say, in the first sentence. The irony of a homicide detective being suspected of his girlfriend's murder is very hook-y. Called to the scene of a journalism student's murder, nothing seems unusual at first. The subject of this sentence should be Nick, since he's the subject of the introductory clause. Just another tragic story of a life interrupted. A few well-placed sentence fragments can work well in a query, but having two so close together is a bit distracting. But this is no ordinary case of unrequited love or random violence. The student was on her way to turn in a term paper which, according to the voice mail she left just before her death, proved the innocence of a man on death row. Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - is the father he has never known and always believed was guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

(Of course, title, word count etc go here ...)
My biggest problem with this query is that it introduces a conflict in the first line that it never comes back to. Is Nick cleared of any wrongdoing in his girlfriend's death? Does her death have something to do with the larger story? Also, I wish I had a better feel for Nick. So he's a budding alcoholic - so what? That seems to be a fairly common character trait among down-and-out protagonists. What makes him more interesting?
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

User avatar
Thermocline
Posts: 24
Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:53 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by Thermocline » August 9th, 2010, 9:30 am

This is a big block of text. Breaking it up will make it easier to read, especially on a smaller screen (an agent downloading the day's queries into a Kindle, for example.) I've added some paragraph breaks, but move them around if you don't like my suggestions.
burnburn wrote:Under suspicion for his girlfriend's mysterious death, Nick Connolly struggles to stay sober everyday (Could cut everyday since sobriety is an every day kind of thing. while trying not to lose his job. That's an uphill battle all its own. Truth be told, he's been phoning it in for awhile and now, with the investigation Which investigation? , his credibility is shot to hell. Not really surprising since he's a homicide detective. I'm not clear what is surprising - that his credibility is shot to hell or that he's a homicide detective. You could move this information up to "while trying not to lose his job as a homicide detective.

Called to the scene of a journalism student's murder, nothing seems unusual at first. Just another tragic story of a life interrupted. This sentence repeats the idea of "nothing seems unusual at first." I'd suggest cutting it. But this is no ordinary case of unrequited love or random violence. The student was on her way to turn in a term paper "Turn in" makes it sound as if she's just doing this for a class assignment, not that she cares about the guy. Why didn't she contact the police with this new information before she finished her paper?which, according to the voice mail she left just before her death, proved the innocence of a man on death row. Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent We know he might be innocent because of the previous sentence. - is the father he has never known and always believed was guilty Ending with "father he has never known" is stronger. We can assume Nick believed he was guilty because A. his dad is on death row and B. he's done nothing about it so far..

With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time "Race against time" is cliche.to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.[/color]innocence.
You mentioned the girlfriend's death at the beginning, but we don't hear anything else about it. Maybe circle back around to it in your last paragraph so we know that is still in play for Nick. Good luck with your query!

burnburn
Posts: 9
Joined: August 6th, 2010, 3:46 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by burnburn » August 9th, 2010, 5:58 pm

Thanks all for your replies/thoughts/suggestions - they are all great and very much appreciated. Definitely they brought home how things that make sense in the space of a novel really don't make sense in the space of a synopsis.

I know there was a question posed as to whether journalism student's actually investigate guilt/innocence of death row convicts. Law school students and journalism students do untertake these kinds of projects. Law school students generally do this under the supervision of licensed attorneys as part of legal clinics at their schools. It's a form of getting manpower on cases that might not be given a good review otherwise. It is less common for journalism students to do so, but this is sometimes done - in fact, there 's a famous case in Chicage where the journalism students found the evidence that freed 4 men from death row. (Although I think they worked in tandem with a group of law students.) At any rate, it's not critical to the plot line that the girl who is killed is a journalism student v. law school student, so I've changed it in the synopsis and novel - hopefully, this alleviates any questions in that area that might arise on the part of an agent.

Other than that, I've taken a lot of the suggestions and revised the query below. Although I don't think it's there yet, hopefully it's a bit better?

Dear ....

Homicide detective Nick Connolly is called to the scene of a law school student's murder. At first, nothing seems unusual. Just another robbery gone bad. But things take a turn when Nick learns that the student was on her way to hand over evidence proving the innocence of a man on death row. The only problem - the evidence and all her research has disappeared.

Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - is the father who was jailed before he was born and who Nick has always believed was guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

But it won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's mysterious death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(title, genre etc here)

Thoughts?

Emily J
Posts: 250
Joined: March 31st, 2010, 2:20 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by Emily J » August 9th, 2010, 11:07 pm

burnburn wrote:Thanks all for your replies/thoughts/suggestions - they are all great and very much appreciated. Definitely they brought home how things that make sense in the space of a novel really don't make sense in the space of a synopsis.

I know there was a question posed as to whether journalism student's actually investigate guilt/innocence of death row convicts. Law school students and journalism students do untertake these kinds of projects. Law school students generally do this under the supervision of licensed attorneys as part of legal clinics at their schools. It's a form of getting manpower on cases that might not be given a good review otherwise. It is less common for journalism students to do so, but this is sometimes done - in fact, there 's a famous case in Chicage where the journalism students found the evidence that freed 4 men from death row. (Although I think they worked in tandem with a group of law students.) At any rate, it's not critical to the plot line that the girl who is killed is a journalism student v. law school student, so I've changed it in the synopsis and novel - hopefully, this alleviates any questions in that area that might arise on the part of an agent.

Other than that, I've taken a lot of the suggestions and revised the query below. Although I don't think it's there yet, hopefully it's a bit better?

Dear ....

Homicide detective Nick Connolly is called to the scene of a law school student's murder. At first, nothing seems unusual. Just another robbery gone bad. be careful of this, it feels cliched But things take a turn i feel like something is missing, usually it's "things take a turn for the worse" this feels like an incomplete cliche when Nick learns that the student was on her way to hand over evidence proving the innocence of a man on death row. The only problem it's not the only problem, there's a dead law student right? - the evidence and all her research has disappeared.

Nick's life is completely cut completely, unnecessary adverb upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - be careful of over using dashes is the father who was jailed before he was born and who Nick has always believed was guilty. this sentence feels overstuffed, it should be at least 2 sentences I think With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time race against time = cliche to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

But it won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's mysterious death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(title, genre etc here)

Thoughts?
This isn't bad but be careful of using cliches. Also, while this describes the plot it feels a little dry to me. It could use a bit more imagery, more color if that makes sense.

gilesth
Posts: 149
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 2:54 pm
Location: Denver, CO
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by gilesth » August 10th, 2010, 1:25 pm

burnburn wrote: Dear ....

Homicide detective Nick Connolly is called to the scene of a law school student's - remove. Too wordy for this sentence murder. At first, nothing seems unusual everything seems normal - try to stay positive until the situation gets bad. Just another robbery gone bad consider removing.. But things take a turn when Nick learns that the law student was on her way to hand over turn in... hand over sounds off... evidence proving that proves the innocence of a man on death row. The only problem - But the evidence and all her research has - remove disappeared.

Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row inmate or convict - who might just be innocent - this is a bit jarring. It doesn't flow well - is the father - what father? Nick's father who was went to jailed before he was born End the sentence here and who Nick has always believed was guilty Nick always believed he was guilty.. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent. Too wordy. Try chopping into two sentences and remove all passive verbs.

But it won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's Who is his girlfriend? mysterious death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(title, genre etc here)

Thoughts?
I hope that helps :) Sounds like an interesting story.

froggfeathers
Posts: 2
Joined: August 9th, 2010, 9:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by froggfeathers » August 10th, 2010, 4:15 pm

burnburn wrote:
Dear ....

Homicide detective Nick Connolly is called to the scene of a law school student's murder. At first, nothing seems unusual. Just another robbery gone bad. But things take a turn when Nick learns discovers? that the student was on her way to hand over evidence proving the innocence of a man on death row. The only problem - the evidence and all her research has disappeared.

What would happen if you switched the order up a bit here? *When Nick discovers that the thieves stole evidence related to his estranged father's false imprisonment, the case becomes personal* That needs cleaned up, but you get the idea. That way you move away from talking about the student and spend your time on the plot.

From there, you can move into the next paragraph with something more like, *Now, Nick must rethink...or reopen...gaping wound...his past to save a man he's spent his life hating from dying on death row. You know your story, but again, you get the idea. This will maybe allow you the opportunity to share a bit about your main character as you describe the conflict.

Just one person's thoughts.

Frogg


Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - who might just be innocent - is the father who was jailed before he was born and who Nick has always believed was guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

But it if you keep this, cut the pronoun *it* and put in a noun. It what? Saving his father?won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's mysterious death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(title, genre etc here)

Thoughts?

adamg73
Posts: 34
Joined: July 27th, 2010, 7:22 pm
Location: Corvallis, OR
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream

Post by adamg73 » August 10th, 2010, 5:54 pm

A few suggestions:
burnburn wrote:Homicide detective Nick Connolly is called to the scene of a law school student's murder. At first, nothing seems unusual; just another robbery gone bad. But things take a turn when Nick learns that the student was on her way to hand over evidence proving the innocence of a man on death row. The only problem - the evidence and all her research has disappeared.

Nick's life is completely upended when he learns the man on death row - the man who might just be innocent - is the father he never knew. Jailed before he was born, Nick has always believed his father to be guilty of _________, but this mysterious new evedence may prove otherwise. With his father's appeals exhausted and the state's death penalty moratorium about to be lifted, Nick is in a race against time to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent.

But it won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's mysterious death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.
The last sentense just seems to be hanging out there without much context or background. Try to work it into the flow of the body of the letter. Looks like it's coming along pretty well!

burnburn
Posts: 9
Joined: August 6th, 2010, 3:46 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream - Revised

Post by burnburn » August 12th, 2010, 3:36 pm

Again, thanks for the replies and thoughts. It shouldn't be harder to write a short query letter than a novel!!!!!!!!!!!!! Should it?

I still don't think it's where I want it to be, but I think this version addresses some of the issues with earlier versions. Although I'm quite certain there are still issues. I think I'm too close to it at this point. I'm sure I could benefit from taking some time away from it, but I can't get my mind off it.

Here goes ...

Dear Agent # ... ,

Although he's been cleared of charges in his girlfriend's mysterious death, homicide detective Nick Connolly's reputation is close to being down for the count. He's a pariah among his fellow officers. On top of that, it's a battle for him just to stay clean and sober.

When he's called to the scene of a law student's murder, at first it appears to be nothing more than a botched robbery. But the investigation takes an unexpected turn when Nick discovers the victim was on her way to turn in evidence that proves the innocence of a man on death row - evidence that has vanished.

Nick's life is upended when he realizes the prisoner who might just be innocent is the father he has never met but always believed was guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted, Nick struggles to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent. But saving his father won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's death and Nick finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(genre, title, etc)

What say ye?

Jaded
Posts: 21
Joined: August 6th, 2010, 7:25 pm
Contact:

Re: Query - Far - Mainstream - Revised

Post by Jaded » August 12th, 2010, 4:06 pm

burnburn wrote:Again, thanks for the replies and thoughts. It shouldn't be harder to write a short query letter than a novel!!!!!!!!!!!!! Should it?

I still don't think it's where I want it to be, but I think this version addresses some of the issues with earlier versions. Although I'm quite certain there are still issues. I think I'm too close to it at this point. I'm sure I could benefit from taking some time away from it, but I can't get my mind off it.

Here goes ...

Dear Agent # ... ,

Although he's been cleared of charges in his girlfriend's mysterious death, homicide detective Nick Connolly's reputation is close to being down for the count. He's a pariah among his fellow officers. On top of that, it's a battle for him just to stay clean and sober. Perhaps this could be something to the effect "He's a pariah among his fellow officers; it doesn't help that he's in a battle to stay clean and sober." It could be worded better, but I just don't like this as two separate sentences for some reason.

When he's called to the scene of a law student's murder, at first it appears to be nothing more than a botched robbery, but the investigation takes an unexpected turn when Nick discovers the victim was on her way to turn in evidence that proves the innocence of a man on death row - evidence that has vanished.

Nick's life is upended when he realizes the prisoner - that might just be innocent - is the father he has never met but always believed to be guilty. With his father's appeals exhausted, Nick struggles to solve the student's murder and find the long-hidden evidence that will prove his father innocent. But saving his father won't be easy, especially when new doubts arise about Nick's involvement in his girlfriend's death and Nick he finds his own freedom hanging precariously in the balance.

(genre, title, etc)

What say ye?

I'm new to this editing of queries, so please take all of this with a grain of salt. I like this version much better than the first, but there seems to be some "flow" issues in it. Everything else works for me though.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests