Kill My Query Mk-IV

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
Ghost in the Machine
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Re: Kill My Query Mk-III

Post by Ghost in the Machine » February 3rd, 2010, 11:31 am

Hi Kirril!

GIT’M here. Boy, that’s a fitting nickname—I love it. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

I am seeking representation for my urban fantasy novel of approximately 95,000 words, NO DARKER FATE.

Warning: While some agents like a specific request for representation, others say, “Waste of words! Query says it all!” You can let your inner voices debate this one and/or check the agents website if they have a preference.

Since the brutal murder of his parents, twenty-five-year-old Lucas Fowler has been avoiding death more than living life. But when a mind-controlling rogue forces him to kill people, an underground society wants him dead, and the police want him behind bars, Lucas has no choice but to plunge into a secret world he never knew existed.

Note: “secret” and “never knew existed” seems a touch redundant. I vote for “dark world he never knew existed.” Or “dangerous” world. But not “dark and dangerous”, that would sound silly.

The end of Lucas's world begins with the image of a stranger on his phone. That night he awakens stronger, faster, and completely fixated on the man's image. Against his will, he hunts down the man and kills him. Another picture comes, another murder. With each murder Lucas learns a little more about what's happening to him and about a secret society with its own rules. A rogue among them has discovered the afterlife and is hell-bent on controlling it. Lucas is his unwilling hit man.

Evading the police and surviving the onslaught of super humans should be possible with his newfound powers. But Lucas has precious little time to learn how to use them if he wants to eliminate the rogue controlling him and convince his persecutors that he's innocent.

Yep, this needs work.

Comment 1: Considering how the first paragraph ended with “world”, you might want to tweak the beginning of paragraph two for a smoother transition. See possible change below.

Comment 2: It’s not clear that the super humans in paragraph 3 and the secret society in paragraph 2 are the same group.

Comment 3: We need a strong ending.

I’ll give it a shot, but I’m working with a serious handicap—not knowing the story.

Lucas’s ticket into darkness seems innocuous—some guy’s picture appears on his cell phone. But that night, his self-induced confinement ends. Lucas awakens stronger, faster, and completely fixated on his phone’s last image. Against his will, Lucas hunts the stranger down and stabs him to death.

Another picture comes, another murder. With each murder Lucas gains another piece of the puzzle. A secret group of superhumans exist with their own society and rules. A rogue among them has discovered the afterlife and is hell-bent on controlling it—with Lucas as his hit man.

Horrified by his new powers, Lucas must learn to embrace them. It’s the only way he can evade the police and eliminate the rogue. Because jail isn’t his worst fear, not by far. If Lucas can’t learn to control his powers in time, hell will be unleashed on earth.


As a world-famous cigarette lighter repairman, I've been published in many well-known journals such as, My Cigarette Lighter, It's Broken and This Thing Don't Work. I've also gained notoriety for taking other people's coined phrases and making them my own.

Sincerely,

Billy Joe Bob Baxter Corinthian III Esq. Jr.

I sympathize with you, bud. Yesterday I was giving myself high-fives on my query. Two hours of tweaking later, I decided it was a load of crap.

But you are closing in on a killer query here. Stay strong.

GIT’M

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Kirril
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Re: Kill My Query Mk-IV

Post by Kirril » February 22nd, 2010, 3:24 pm

Well, so far no luck with my queries. I sent an earlier version to a small batch of agents last november. I sent the last version to a small batch over the last month. Neither version has gained requests for anything. I'm beginning to think my query and its predecessor don't go enough into the urban fantasy part of the novel and make it look like a typical thriller. I'm trying to come up with something that doesn't resemble an info dump, or a dump of any kind.

Nonetheless, here's my latest rewrite with more info. I will also put "I love kittens and puppies" in my bio to increase my likeability factor by 7.4%.

Aside from the usual feedback like "You've just murdered half my brain with your words" or "Nyuuuhhh! Nyeooooo!", if you find the following query utterly confusing, let me know what doesn't make sense.

Thanks!

***

The people Lucas Fowler kills don't stay dead. Ordinarily, Lucas would never think about killing anyone. But the images of strangers he's receiving on his phone are anything but ordinary. They must be, because each time he receives one, he wakes up that night and hunts down the people in them like his body is remotely controlled by someone else.

On the upside, Lucas has some nifty new powers: super speed, strength, and the ability to shift into an alternate dimension where normal humans look like fish bait and the people with his abilities glow like angels. These people call themselves Scions. A rogue has his hooks in Lucas's mind and is using him to murder other Scions so he can track their deaths right back to the afterlife.

But the murdered Scions aren't staying dead. Essence from the afterlife seeps back into their bodies creating insane ghouls who stalk Lucas like teenyboppers after a boy band. Unlike prepubescent teen girls, the ghouls can do anything Lucas can, and they're out of control. To make matters worse, the Scions and the police have their own separate task forces scouring Atlanta with one goal: Kill Lucas Fowler.

Lucas finds himself irresistibly drawn to the one person who can either save or destroy him: Alexia. She's a cop and a Scion, doubly obligated to bring him in. But there's an attraction between them that might be the key to winning her to his side and stopping the madness.
Last edited by Kirril on February 26th, 2010, 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ghost in the Machine
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Re: Kill My Query Mk-IV

Post by Ghost in the Machine » February 23rd, 2010, 9:59 am

Hi Kirril,

I like Version B. It has much better flow and is less confusing. The tone is quite different. The teenybopper comment is funny, but is that the tone of your book? From the first set of queries, I imagined the book’s tone very dark and serious. I pictured Lucas tortured and horrified of his new murderous ways.

In Version B, the lighter tone edges toward a farce, almost “Hey, dude, why did I just knife that guy to death? I so totally ruined my best sweatshirt!” That’s an exaggeration, but I hope you get what I’m saying. If your book employs dark humor—maybe Lucas has to joke a little to himself or go insane—then this tone may be appropriate. If not, change the teenybopper comparison. Let’s see, maybe “piranhas zeroing in on a bloodied ox.”

If I had to hazard a guess why the agents aren’t biting, it may be having a serial-killer protagonist. There’s so much to tell about the plot, you don’t have much room to garner sympathy for Lucas’s plight. In the first set of query’s, there was a sense of Lucas on a quest to figure out what was happening to him in order to stop it and save the world. How about putting more information about the Scions in the beginning to set the reader’s mind firmly in fantasy-mode? Then Lucas’s killing spree might be easier to swallow.

I’ll give it a shot.

Lucas Fowler has an unwanted intimacy with death. He lost his parents to a vicious murderer and spent the last year avoiding life. But death won’t let him hide.

Lucas’s introduction to the netherworld of Scions is murder, and he’s the one holding the knife. A rogue of this secret race sets his hooks in Lucas’s mind. When a stranger’s picture appears on Lucas’s phone, it’s a matter of hours before Lucas is pitched into a rabid fury. With a preternatural strength and speed and an unstoppable bloodlust, his victim’s have no chance.

Lucas’s unwanted sport has dire consequences in both worlds. The police are closing in. Worse still, his victim’s don’t rest easy. Essence from the afterlife seeps back into their bodies creating insane ghouls who stalk Lucas like piranhas zeroing in on a bloodied ox.

Hoping to stop the madness, Lucas finds himself irresistibly drawn to the one person who can either save or destroy him: Alexia. Despite their mutual attraction there’s a big problem: she's a cop and a Scion, doubly obligated to bring him in.

Zowie!

GIT’M

ivanpope
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Re: Kill my Query Mk-2

Post by ivanpope » February 25th, 2010, 9:45 am

Hi,
I think the main problem with this query is that, no matter how you tweak it, it's a hackneyd story that's been done a million times. Do you think that, or do you think the pictures on the phone bit is the USP? Or what is the USP?

It's a string of clichés:
brutal murder of parents
mind controlling rogue
underground society
police want him behind bars
no choice
secret world
never knew existed
image of stranger
hunts down and kills
learns a little more
evading the police
surviving the onslaught
unwilling hit man

Each of these is a cop out both in description and, god forbid, in plotting. If you book is like this, I'd rewrite it. If it's just your query, start again.
Just an example. When you say 'Lucas has no choice', that's not true, is it. He could let the police lock him up, would that be such a bad thing compared with being killed, or maybe he could just do a runner.

Sorry to be horrible, but I can't read query's like this without wondering why anyone would bother to write an entire book that ends up with a query like that.

Ivan
Kirril wrote:Alrighty, here's the latest version. Thanks so much to everyone who's commented. I more or less kept the initial blurb intact with a few minor tweaks. The 2nd paragraph I borrowed heavily from Ghost ITM, aka GIT'M and Yoshima. I'm still rather displeased with my third 'graf, i.e. the one in which the MC has to do X to defeat <insert antagonist name here>. Suggestions?

I am seeking representation for my urban fantasy novel of approximately 95,000 words, NO DARKER FATE.

Since the brutal murder of his parents, twenty-five-year-old Lucas Fowler has been avoiding death more than living life. But when a mind-controlling rogue forces him to kill people, an underground society wants him dead, and the police want him behind bars, Lucas has no choice but to plunge into a secret world he never knew existed.

The end of Lucas's world begins with the image of a stranger on his phone. That night he awakens stronger, faster, and completely fixated on the man's image. Against his will, he hunts down the man and kills him. Another picture comes, another murder. With each murder Lucas learns a little more about what's happening to him and about a secret society with its own rules. A rogue among them has discovered the afterlife and is hell-bent on controlling it. Lucas is his unwilling hit man.

Evading the police and surviving the onslaught of super humans should be possible with his newfound powers. But Lucas has precious little time to learn how to use them if he wants to eliminate the rogue controlling him and convince his persecutors that he's innocent.

As a world-famous cigarette lighter repairman, I've been published in many well-known journals such as, My Cigarette Lighter, It's Broken and This Thing Don't Work. I've also gained notoriety for taking other people's coined phrases and making them my own.

Sincerely,

Billy Joe Bob Baxter Corinthian III Esq. Jr.

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Kirril
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Re: Kill My Query Mk-IV

Post by Kirril » February 26th, 2010, 2:36 pm

Bingo, my friend! That's exactly what I'm going for because it's what *sells*. Nine books of every Ten I read are the same plot rehashed with different characters, timelines, and authors.

In any case, you read the wrong version which is a couple of posts above this.

Also: No.

Thanks!

GIT'M: Thanks for the feeback!

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