Query - The Falling

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rmorris
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Query - The Falling

Post by rmorris » May 31st, 2011, 7:48 pm

This the query for my recently completed manuscript, a work of contemporary fiction. Please let me know what you guys think. Thanks!

Dear (insert agent name here),

I would be very interested in having (insert literary agency name here) represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

“Everyone falls eventually, and the best we can do is be prepared to know how to get back up again.”

Kate Prince has fallen, finally coming to realize that both her marriage and her career prospects aren’t working out quite as she planned. Jesse Classen has fallen, spending a year trying to forget a love that was never right gone tragically wrong. Tommy Mueller’s life on the other hand is perfect: he is a successful novelist living in the city of his dreams with Kate and Jesse--his lifelong friends. But when a piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel.

A mystery letter. A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and lots and lots of coffee. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big.

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and mistakes made along the way.

THE FALLING is a 91,000 work of fiction.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by GeeGee55 » May 31st, 2011, 11:49 pm

Hi, rmorris:
This is from Nathan's blog:

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]
rmorris wrote:Dear (insert agent name here), I think you have a good idea here, but the presentation seems a little scattered. Using the above from Nathan's blog, try to fill in the blanks first and then try to make it unique.I would be very interested in having (insert literary agency name here) represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

“Everyone falls eventually, and the best we can do is be prepared to know how to get back up again.”

Kate Prince has fallen, finally coming to realize that both her marriage and her career prospects aren’t working out quite as she planned. Jesse Classen has fallen, spending a year trying to forget a love that was never right gone tragically wrong. I think what follows is where to begin - it clearly states the norm and then the complicating incident Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect: he is a successful novelist living in the city of his dreams with Kate and Jesse--his lifelong friends. But when a (is there some way to indicate that it's a bad piece?)piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. (what is the piece from the past?)
Here, try to state clearly what his quest is and what must be overcome for him to attain it. Don't try to be too fancy, just try to be clear.
A mystery letter. A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and lots and lots of coffee. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big.


THE FALLING, set in New York, contains 91,000 words. At its core, it is a story of friendship and self discovery. (Somehow it sounds better without the mistakes, IMO)

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you.
I hope this is of some help to you with your query. I do think you have a good idea, but just need to play with the sentences and ideas and try to be more clear. Good luck.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by rmorris » June 1st, 2011, 12:07 pm

GG,
Thanks for input! Is it stubborn or stupid of me to not want to adhere to the structure of a template?
My story is a case of dealing with three characters: Kate + Jesse who are learning how to get back up again, and Tommy who is about to fall for the first time in his life. Personally, I wouldn't want to cut the first two out of the query since their stories are important too. I agree that Tommy is the main focus though. Is the below query any better? What would you (or anyone else) suggest is the best way to incorporate the three of them into the query?
Thanks!

--------

Dear [Agent name],

I would be very interested in having [Literary agency name] represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

“Everyone falls eventually. The best we can do is know how to get back up again.”

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect: a successful novelist living in the city of his dreams with his two best friends, Kate and Jesse. When a piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. An old acquaintence, Patrick Kohn, has returned, but is it merely happenstance that his appearance coincides with the falling of Tommy Mueller?

A mystery letter. A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and more than enough coffee. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big.

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way.

THE FALLING is a 91,000 work of fiction.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by Quill » June 1st, 2011, 1:23 pm

rmorris wrote:
I would be very interested in having [Literary agency name] represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."
This seems a bit awkward. The first phrase, particularly: I would be very interested in having. Is is grammatically incorrect? Slightly coy? I'm not sure.
“Everyone falls eventually. The best we can do is know how to get back up again.”
Not sure what "falls" means in this context, hence the key word in your logline comes over as vague and the whole line loses power. Falls from grace? From power? In the eyes of others? Onto the floor? And this is important, because it is your book title. It needs to be really clear what it means.

There is also subject non-agreement: Everyone vs we, when strictly speaking it should be Everyone vs one, "the best one can do..."

Also a bit awkward "the best we can DO is KNOW." Knowing is not an action (doing).
Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect: a successful novelist living in the city
Not sure about the colon there. And also, his life is not a novelist, hence subject disagreement. How about "...life is perfect, he is a successful novelist..."
of his dreams
Might be good to add ", New York," or whatever the city is, to quickly establish the setting.
with his two best friends, Kate and Jesse.
Too many questions arise for a smooth read-thru here. Is Jesse a man or woman? Is this a roomie situation or a lover situation? A triad? What sort of mood is being set? What sort of book are we getting into?
When a piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. An old acquaintence, Patrick Kohn, has returned, but is it merely happenstance that his appearance coincides with the falling of Tommy Mueller?
A little too cloaked to provide drama, thus build desire to read this manuscript. More info will help to clarify.
A mystery letter.
Redundant to "enigmatic letter. Omit.
A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and more than enough coffee. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big.
This listing is not enough to pique interest. We need to know what makes this book unique. Besides some details about your character(s) we need the crux of the matter (the main conflict and choice to be made) (the stakes) given.
THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way.
Telling ABOUT the book is never a substitute for showing those aspects within the blurb itself. Better to work them in above and omit here. Indeed the blurb could use the fleshing out.
THE FALLING is a 91,000 work of fiction.
Typo: missing word "91,000-word work of fiction"
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Okay.

I can tell you've worked hard on the manuscript. Now to make the query really sing.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by rmorris » June 1st, 2011, 2:04 pm

After a few more changes:

Dear [Agent name],

I am submitting my work to [Literary agency name] in the hopes that you will represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect. He is a successful Manhattan novelist with a great apartment, an amazing girlfriend and the very best of friends. But when a piece from his past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. Patrick Kohn is returning to New York, but will the reappearance of his former friend be merely happenstance, or will it coincide directly with the falling of Tommy Mueller?

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way.

THE FALLING is a 91,000-word work of fiction.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by JMB » June 1st, 2011, 7:15 pm

Quill gave you great advice but you ignored most of it. Try it with those suggestions. It will be much better.

Right now, we don't know what you mean by falling, you are way too vague about the letter, and asking whether the arrival of someone we know nothing about is coincidence or intentional is an anti-climax. And get rid of the summary at the end--heartache, mistakes, etc. Work those ideas into the query.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by rmorris » June 1st, 2011, 11:44 pm

JMB,
No poster is ever going to make everyone else happy on here, so I can't take every bit of advice thrown my way. I wouldn't say I ignored Quill's suggestions (that's hard to do when he analyzes every word--I'm not complaining, that's just his style), I just took the advice that suited my story best.
Anyway, here's another go at it:

Dear [Agent name],

I am submitting my work to [Literary agency name] in the hopes that you will represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect. He is a successful Manhattan novelist with a great apartment, an amazing girlfriend and the very best of friends. But when his former friend Patrick Kohn returns to New York after eighteen years, things quickly begin to fall apart for Tommy. His girlfriend leaves him; his latest book fails, and he’s become unusually suspicious of everyone around him. Is Patrick's sudden reappearance merely happenstance, or does it coincide directly with the falling of Tommy Mueller?

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way.

THE FALLING is a 91,000-word work of fiction.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by GeeGee55 » June 2nd, 2011, 12:21 am

It is not stupid to not want to exactly follow a template; it might be stubborn, but that is your right. This is after all your query. You want to be creative/original and that is good. The template is merely a guide as to what needs to be included in the query. Nathan also had an excellent blog on specificity - about plot. It might be good for you to look it up.

If Tommy is the main character, then write the query about him, but still mention the others. If the book is written from the POV of all three characters, then you might have to take a different approach. From what you have above, I'm surmising that Tommy carries the narrative.

So...

“Everyone falls eventually. The best we can do is know how to get back up again.”

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect: a successful novelist living in New York, the city of his dreams, with his two best friends, Kate and Jesse. - I don't have a problem with this first sentence, Tommy's perfect life - successful career, living in the city of his dreams with two platonic friends. But this is too vague..So what is in the letter? What is he afraid of? When a piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. An old acquaintence, Patrick Kohn, has returned, but is it merely happenstance that his appearance coincides with the falling of Tommy Mueller? You must fix this to include the inciting incident and Tommy's quest, what does he have to overcome. That is what makes the reader want to continue.A mystery letter. A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and more than enough coffee. I agree with Quill that this list does not do what you want it to do. It's just random things that happen and without context it just doesn't work. Perhaps, and I am just guessing here about what the secret might be....When Tommy receives a letter threatening to expose his friend Jesse as the real author of the books that made Tommy famous, he must....do you see? The inciting incident and then what must he overcome. If you do this it will be perfectly clear what the falling refers to, and this last line will not be necessary. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big.

Do not be discouraged. It is harder to write a good query than to write a good novel, I believe. And, of course, all of this is just my opinion. Quill has been around these forums a long time and has very valid advice. That said, take what you like and leave the rest.
GeeGee
...

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by JMB » June 2nd, 2011, 1:46 pm

rmorris wrote:JMB,
No poster is ever going to make everyone else happy on here, so I can't take every bit of advice thrown my way. I wouldn't say I ignored Quill's suggestions (that's hard to do when he analyzes every word--I'm not complaining, that's just his style), I just took the advice that suited my story best.
Agreed, you'd be making a big mistake to take everyone's advice. My point was that Quill's was good advice in your case.
Anyway, here's another go at it:

Dear [Agent name],

I am submitting my work to [Literary agency name] in the hopes that you will represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect. cliche He is a successful Manhattan novelist with a great apartment, an amazing [Victoria Secret underwear model for a ]girlfriend and the very best of fabulous friends. But when his former friend {can you be more specific? college roommate, for ex?Patrick Kohn returns to New York after eighteen years, things quickly begin to fall apart for Tommy. His girlfriend leaves {consider more colorful words? dumps him?]him;, his latest book {consider more colorful words? expected blockbuster]fails [flops/doesn't even make the Amazon top 100], and he’s become unusually suspicious of everyone around him [can you do better-be more specific-paranoid?]. Is Patrick's sudden reappearance merely happenstance, or does it coincide directly with the falling of Tommy Mueller? {Consider making this a statement. Tommy suspects ...]


Now, we have the set up but where's the conflict? Is he going to just accept this or does he go schizo and try to kill Tommy?


THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. There is nothing in the query referencing these things. Certainly no humor, and losing your girlfriend and your book flopping is unfortunate but not tragic. And there is no reference to different neighborhoods. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way. Again, this is vague and there is no indication that Tommy has made mistakes or that he learns anything about himself. Friendship, okay? I'll give you that one.

THE FALLING is a 91,000-word work of fiction.
Where is Tommy's voice?? Does he passively sit back and let everything he's built fall apart or does the guy have some spunk? Agent after agent says it is the voice in the query that gets them to look at your pages. Make your word choices more colorful/informative and give us a problem for your MC to solve. My thoughts ...

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by glj » June 3rd, 2011, 5:51 pm

I have to agree with JMB--this does not reveal enough of the plot to hook my interest. Yes, it says that "bad things happen to Tommy", but a conflict is implicit in any novel. It is the specifics of the conflict that might make me want to read on. This is just setup, really.


Dear [Agent name],

I am submitting my work to [Literary agency name] in the hopes that you will represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING." I would suggest keeping this short and simple, as in "Please consider representing ..."

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect. He is a successful Manhattan novelist with a great apartment, an amazing girlfriend and the very best of friends. But when his former friend Patrick Kohn returns to New York after eighteen years, things quickly begin No need for "quickly". Or "begin". to fall apart for Tommy. Since Tommy is the protagonist, you don't need to say "for Tommy." His girlfriend leaves him; This may be more my personal taste than grammatical correctness, but I cringe when I see colons and semi-colons in fiction. his latest book fails, and he’s become unusually suspicious of everyone around him. I don't know what you are hinting at with "unusually suspicious". It implies that he has no outward, logical reason to be suspicious. Is he becoming mentally ill? That is the implication for me. Is Patrick's sudden reappearance merely happenstance, or does it coincide directly with the falling of Tommy Mueller? Ugh. I always cringe when I read a rhetorical question in a query. To me, it implies that the writer thinks that it creates an air of great mystery. But it doesn't. If Patrick's reappearance doesn't coincide with Tommy's problems, then why would you put it in? It would have more impact if you directly said something like "Tommy can tell that Patrick is to blame. But no one will believe him." However, this isn't very exciting either. Instead, in great query examples I have read, the interest is created by showing the protagonist being put in the position of having to make one (or more) very difficult and unpleasant choices. Think of it as watching Houdini being shackled and put in a safe and dropped into the ocean. The audience is sure he will escape, yet cannot see how it would be possible. So they MUST keep watching.

I also agree with the other commenters that the concept of "falling", being in your title, should be explained or somehow tied into your query. Yes, falling might imply failure in a general sort of way, but specifics would be better. Especially since, in a biblical sense, fallen carries an immoral sexual connotation. So, if Patrick is ruining Tommy's career and love life, how would that be "fallen"? Sounds more like sabotage.

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way. I completely agree with the previous commenters. This is a quick and easy way of describing your story, but might come across as if you couldn't achieve a great plot teaser and resorted to "It's great, just read it." And agents who blog don't seem to like this either. Query Shark would gnash your arm off for this, I fear.

THE FALLING is a 91,000-word work of fiction.

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by priya g. » June 14th, 2011, 8:01 am

rmorris wrote:JMB,

Dear [Agent name],

I am submitting my work to [Literary agency name] in the hopes that you will represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING."

Tommy Mueller’s life is perfect. a cliche would be a perfect life going down hill. dont begin with that. state the basics of the character and we can figure it out from thereHe is a successful Manhattan novelist with a great apartment, an amazing girlfriend and the very best of friends. But when his former friend Patrick Kohn returns to New York after eighteen years, things quickly begin to fall apart for Tommy. His girlfriend leaves him; his latest book fails, and he’s become unusually suspicious of everyone around him. Is Patrick's sudden reappearance merely happenstance, or does it coincide directly with the falling of Tommy Mueller? this paragraph doesnt tell me what exactly goes wrong- you say what has happened but why? or what does the proragonist assume leads to everything falling apart?

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and making up for mistakes made along the way.
THE FALLING is a 91,000-word work of fiction.
Hope i helped, maybe you can incorporate the curiosity factor a bit more strongly.
looking forward to the next draft

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by Hyaline » June 14th, 2011, 10:17 am

Hi RMorris :) I noticed that you posted a second try, but I have to confess--I think this first round was better. That's my opinion, but from what I could gather from the posts, you have a multi-POV novel and were trying to fashion it into the general query template, which favors one POV. It's my opinion--as an unpublished novelist, so take it with a grain of salt--that if you can do a multi-POV in a query, it's much stronger than (rather artificially) singling out one characters. Nothing wrong with doing one POV if you have to, but I think you were really getting close to something with round one. So I've decided to nitpick that one, and hopefully anything I use here could be beneficial for whatever you decide :)

rmorris wrote:This the query for my recently completed manuscript, a work of contemporary fiction. Please let me know what you guys think. Thanks!

Dear (insert agent name here),

I would be very interested in having (insert literary agency name here) represent my contemporary work of fiction, "THE FALLING." This is boring as all get-out...no offence! I have a feeling that maybe this is a placeholder--that is, when you actually query, you use this spot tomake a connection, mention the agent's other works repped, or something like that? If not...consider working on something more engaging.

“Everyone falls eventually, and the best we can do is be prepared to know how to get back up again.” This feels like filler--ditch filler. Get to the meat of the story.

Kate Prince has fallen, finally coming to realize that both her marriage and her career prospects aren’t working out quite as she planned. Jesse Classen has fallen, spending a year trying to forget a love that was never right gone tragically wrong. Tommy Mueller’s life on the other hand on the other hand feels cliche, and would need commas setting it apart here--I'd cut it. is perfect: he is a successful novelist living in the city of his dreams with Kate and Jesse--his lifelong friends. But when a piece from their collective past resurfaces in the form of an enigmatic Word choice? Enigmatic feels off to me letter, Tommy’s unblemished reality is quick to unravel. The repetition of sentence structure works for me here, and I latched onto the three-character dynamic very quickly. Nicely done with that. What doesn't work for me here is the word fallen, which I get is integral to your title. But it prevented me from really getting the story--Fallen could mean "hit stumbling block" or "out of grace" or "depression" or any myriad things.

A mystery letter. A plane crash. A failed novel. Murder theories, bar fights, memory loss, mistaken identities and lots and lots of coffee. Tommy Mueller is quick to discover that when he falls, he falls big. I'm torn on this section. It's snappy, something your opening lacks, but also doesn't give me much info--and at this stage in the letter, I want to see some wrap-up and direction, not feel scattered. Actually--I wonder if this could be reworked into the opening, and then you flesh it out with the following paragraphs? Random, half-baked idea. Might be disasterous. Risks often are :)

THE FALLING looks for all of the humor and heartache and tragedy within many of the neighborhoods of New York City. At its core, it is a story of friendship, self-discovery and mistakes made along the way Avoid the "my story is about" paragraph. It tells instead of shows and--I know I'm being a mean cynic--immediately makes me think "really? does it REALLY do that?" Plus, again as a mean cynic, it sounds corny. Avoid corny. .

THE FALLING is a 91,000 work of fiction. This is really all you need to say as a wrap up--you can ditch the paragraph above. color]

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you.


I hope this helped--good luck!! (I don't think it's stubborn or stupid not to adhere to a template, by the way--even the creator of the template, if I recall correctly, said "this is just one way to do it." Sure, it tends to work well--but not for every situation. Experiment away. You take a risk with either a cookie-cutter query (risks being boring) or a more creative format (risks being too kooky or unclear). Good luck with striking hte right balance :) )

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Re: Query - The Falling

Post by rmorris » June 14th, 2011, 11:50 am

Hyaline,
Thanks so much for your input. I think you're close to getting the ideas I was trying to convey. I'll take your advice and try to rework this query again.

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