Does my query meat taste good?

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apc
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Does my query meat taste good?

Post by apc » February 16th, 2010, 10:32 pm

Hello,

I've been struggling with the meat section of my query. The intro and outro paragraphs are boilerplate and basic. Is there enough flavor in the below three sentences or is a longer description better?

THE BASEMENT is a story of self-discovery. With the help of aptitude test answer key drawings, a high class call girl/psychoanalyst and the voice of his deceased grandfather, Cyrus makes sense of his life. He also happens to work for eugenicists and suffers from an addiction to sweets.

Thanks,
Anthony

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ddegreeff
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Re: Does my query meat taste good?

Post by ddegreeff » February 17th, 2010, 8:58 am

I'd post the 'boilerplate basics' of the other paragraphs so we can get a better idea of the flow. As for the meat, it's in need of some work. I'd cut the first sentence, because as far as I've read, agents don't want you listing the themes. As for the rest...it's in need of some expansion. Who is Cyrus? Why does he need to make sense of his life? Why and how is his dead grandfather's voice in his head? Does his addiction to sweets significantly alter the storyline or who he is? You've got to give us something more, or we're just left with hollow questions.
Davy DeGreeff
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benwhiting
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Re: Does my query meat taste good?

Post by benwhiting » February 17th, 2010, 10:31 am

I agree with the suggestion to post the whole thing.
THE BASEMENT is a story of self-discovery. I think agents prefer to see that your story is about self-discovery by the details you give. Don't just sum it up. With the help of aptitude test answer key drawings, a high class call girl/psychoanalyst and the voice of his deceased grandfather, Cyrus This sentence construction pushes your hero into the back half of the paragraph. Like a story, I think a query works better when we meet the hero right away. While all of the words preceding his name are about him, the reader doesn't know who he is until the query is almost over. makes sense of his life. He also happens to work for eugenicists and suffers from an addiction to sweets.I think this adds nice flavor to the query.
Literary agent Janet Reid (aka, The Query Shark) recommends you stick to answering three basic questions with your query: who is the protagonist, what choice does s/he face, and what are the consequences of that choice? Try rewriting with these goals in mind. Right now I don't think you have much meat here, just a lot of flavor. Feel free to expand this section as necessary so that you can give the reader a good, concrete idea of what your story is about.

My query is here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=825 if you don't mind returning the critique.

jessicatudor
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Re: Does my query meat taste good?

Post by jessicatudor » February 17th, 2010, 12:06 pm

I agree with what's been said. It's got a lot going on and could use some clarification.
apc wrote:
THE BASEMENT is a story of self-discovery. With the help of aptitude test answer key drawings, a high class call girl/psychoanalyst and the voice of his deceased grandfather, Cyrus makes sense of his life. He also happens to work for eugenicists and suffers from an addiction to sweets.
Despite interesting elements, your plot 'Cyrus makes sense of his life' lacks focus. How will he do that? What is his goal - or, at least, the demonstrable result of achieving it, in the case of a vague or more internal one as in a coming of age novel.

And just a nitpick, but I got lost on the phrase 'aptitude test answer key drawings' because it's a bunch of nouns all together. Grammatically, you'd need to hyphenate the nouns when used as adjectives, as they are in this case: aptitude-test answer-key drawings, which is still clunky and tells us nothing.

I agree with Ben Whiting to start with your how and why. Good job on keeping it short and to the point.
'The world is but canvas to our imaginations.' - Thoreau

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