Revised query for DEVIL

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Terry Towery
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Revised query for DEVIL

Post by Terry Towery » May 23rd, 2010, 9:03 pm

Hey guys,
I submitted this a few months ago, and got some great feedback. I've reworked it and thought I would post it here to see if anyone has any additional comments, etc. Thanks. You guys are the best.
Terry


Dear [agent],

Newspaper editor Michael Reed takes a frantic call from a former nun, begging him to meet her son, the resurrected Jesus Christ in the form of fifteen year old Jordan Crane. Michael blows her off as just another crackpot.

When Michael's son is hit by a car, his fragile faith is tested in ways he could not have imagined when Jordan Crane places his hands on his son's dead body—and brings him back to life. A skeptic by nature, Michael questions his own sanity.

Michael soon learns Jordan needs him to lead a small group of average people into the greatest spiritual battle of all time—the last fight between God and Satan. Can they save the world? Is this kid really the Son of God? Or has Michael truly lost his mind?

As he suspends his disbelief and rationalizes the miracles Jordan Crane keeps delivering, Michael's newspaper instincts take over and he knows he must tell the world this story. It's not an assignment he relishes.

THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW is a thriller complete at 114,000 words.

As a career journalist, I've received a dozen national, regional, and state awards from the Associated Press and the Illinois Press Association for writing and reporting.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be delighted to send you the first three chapters.

Very truly yours,

Terry L. Towery
[contact info redacted]

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Quill
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Re: Revised query for DEVIL

Post by Quill » May 23rd, 2010, 9:21 pm

Terry Towery wrote: Newspaper editor Michael Reed takes a frantic call from a former nun, begging him to meet her son, the resurrected Jesus Christ in the form of fifteen year old Jordan Crane. Michael blows her off as just another crackpot.
Good fast opening. I question the placement in the sentence of the big bomb "the resurrected Jesus Christ". I'm thinking it belongs at the end, dropped after Jordan Crane.
When Michael's son is hit by a car, his fragile faith is tested in ways he could not have imagined when Jordan Crane places his hands on his son's dead body—and brings him back to life.
Good. Good. Actually, the two "when" clauses make the sentence cumbersome. Maybe break up.
A skeptic by nature, Michael questions his own sanity.
Mmm, maybe too much questioning with the crazy here. First him with the woman, now him with himself.
Michael soon learns Jordan needs him to lead a small group of average people into the greatest spiritual battle of all time—the last fight between God and Satan. Can they save the world? Is this kid really the Son of God? Or has Michael truly lost his mind?
Hey, sounds intriguing. I'd flip-flop the "Can they save..." and "Is this kid..." sentences. And definitely do something about the third reference in this short query about crazy. I know there's some...crazy stuff happening, but maybe find some way to mix up the language or imagery so as to not sound redundant.
As he suspends his disbelief and rationalizes the miracles Jordan Crane keeps delivering, Michael's newspaper instincts take over and he knows he must tell the world this story. It's not an assignment he relishes.
I'm not sure this part is needed. It forms a bit of a letdown after needing to save the world, he struggles with how to tell people? I think you've already said enough to hook an agent. Or maybe there's something else more momentous you could put here?
THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW is a thriller complete at 114,000 words.
It sounds a bit long for the story you've introduced. You might need to fatten the query to highlight the main conflict some more, to justify in the agent's mind this weight of words.
As a career journalist, I've received a dozen national, regional, and state awards from the Associated Press and the Illinois Press Association for writing and reporting.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Short and sweet.
I would be delighted to send you the first three chapters.
I'd omit, as it strays from typical query form, and suggests limits besides.

Joel Q
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Re: Revised query for DEVIL

Post by Joel Q » May 24th, 2010, 1:27 pm

Terry,

The query is better.

The one thing I think it is missing... what exactly is Michael's story quest?
"he knows he must tell the world this story"
That just doesn't seem to be enough of a hook, he's just doing his job.
So, I'm guessing there is more to the story that needs to be told, like what is the truth behind it? Who is Jordan?
(If I remember from the previous query, Jordan wasn't really a good guy.)
What's the quest (what leads to the black moment) and what's the obstacle or possible bad outcome (losing his son again)?
I'm sure you got all that in the manuscript, you just need to let us know in the query.

Hope that helps.
JQ

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bigheadx
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Re: Revised query for DEVIL

Post by bigheadx » May 24th, 2010, 4:49 pm

If it is acceptable to you, I'll weigh-in on your fine query.
Terry Towery wrote:Hey guys,
I submitted this a few months ago, and got some great feedback. I've reworked it and thought I would post it here to see if anyone has any additional comments, etc. Thanks. You guys are the best.
Terry

Dear [agent],

Newspaper editor Michael Reed takes a frantic call from a former nun, begging him to meet her son, the resurrected[Second Coming of?] Jesus Christ in the form of fifteen year old Jordan Crane. Michael blows her off as just another crackpot.

When Michael's his son is hit by a car, hisMichael's fragile faith is tested in ways he could not have imagined when after Jordan Craneplaces his hands on his son's dead body and brings him back to life. A skeptic by nature, Michael questions his own sanity.

But Jordan has plans for Michael. He's chosen him soon learns Jordan needs himto lead a small group band of average ordinary people into the greatest spiritual battlestruggle of all time—the last fight battle between God and Satan. Armageddon. Can they save the world? and why has he been chosen to lead the fight? Is this kid really the Son of God? Or has Michael truly lost his mind?

As he suspends his disbelief and rationalizes the miracles Jordan Crane keeps delivering, Michael's newspaper instincts take over and he knows he must tell the world this story. It's not an assignment he relishes. [Here is where I got a bit lost. His choice appears to be lead the chosen few into battle or don't lead them So where does telling the world this story come in? That would make sense if Jordan had asked him to use his journalistic skills to warn the world that the final conflict is actually coming. Just a thought. ]

THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW is a thriller complete at 114,000 words.

As a career journalist, I've received a dozen national, regional, and state awards from the Associated Press and the Illinois Press Association for writing and reporting. [great stuff here!

Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be delighted to send you the first three chapters.

Very truly yours,

Terry L. Towery
[contact info redacted]
Hope my comments will be of some use to you!

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wilderness
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Re: Revised query for DEVIL

Post by wilderness » May 24th, 2010, 5:18 pm

I agree, this is much improved from the last time! I would break up some of the longer sentences (first sentence in both paragraph 1 and 2). Also, I question the need for paragraph 4 since the battle between Satan and God seems to be the real crux. These are small fixes; I think you've got a good, solid query here. Good luck!

Ghost in the Machine
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Re: Revised query for DEVIL

Post by Ghost in the Machine » June 2nd, 2010, 11:07 am

Hi Terry,

Welcome back. I like where you start this new query much better than the older version. It pops. In fact the first two paragraphs are really good. I just have a couple tweaks:

Newspaper editor Michael Reed takes a frantic call from a former nun, begging him to meet her son. She claims fifteen-year-old Jordan Crane is Jesus Christ, resurrected. Michael blows her off as just another crackpot.

When Michael's son is hit by a car, his fragile faith is tested in ways he could not have imagined. Jordan Crane places his hands on his son's dead body—and brings him back to life. A skeptic by nature, Michael questions his own sanity.

The third paragraph is a let down. The premise is so exciting, but “greatest spiritual battle of all time—the last fight between God and Satan” is hard to swallow. It feels like you are over-hyping the book, when I know that is not your intention. I think my problem is just a personal preference to keep the story smaller. In my twisted mind, if the stakes were not so grand, the premise would be more believable, and I would be even more excited to read it. But this is one of those subjective—don’t you hate that word—moments.

But if you think this criticism should be addressed, here is a possible fix. Emphasize that it is Jordan or his mother that thinks they are headed for this apocalyptic battle, not Michael. Lose the “Can they save the world?” question. Put the other two questions at the end in place of “It’s not an assignment he relishes.”

If you decide to keep things as they stand, rewrite the sentence “Michael soon learns . . . “ It’s long and almost a tongue-twister. I had to slow way down and reread it before the words fit together.

Michael soon learns Jordan needs him to lead a small group of average people into the greatest spiritual battle of all time—the last fight between God and Satan. Can they save the world? Is this kid really the Son of God? Or has Michael truly lost his mind?

As he suspends his disbelief and rationalizes the miracles Jordan Crane keeps delivering, Michael's newspaper instincts take over and he knows he must tell the world this story. It's not an assignment he relishes.

Happy writing. I love this, by the way. I will buy this.

Ghost in the Machine

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