Please help with Query. Thanks!

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wannabewriter
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Please help with Query. Thanks!

Post by wannabewriter » August 26th, 2012, 3:09 pm

Dear SOMEONE,
I am a New York screenwriter who has recently completed a feature length dramatic screenplay entitled ZODIAC ATTACK.

Fifteen years after Scarlet Lanka’s kidnapping, her cousin finds her and struggles to free her from the scientific experiments her captors subject her to.

Andrew Lanka believes he is the reason for his cousin Scarlet’s kidnapping and death, until he discovers her waitressing at his favorite restaurant fifteen years later. Alive with the belief that she is another person, Andrew fights to make sense of the situation and attempts to help her remember her real identity. They soon discover her kidnappers perform zodiac experimentations on children, aiming to find the perfect combination of traits to create an emotionless serum that the military wishes to purchase and inject into soldiers. With the government against them, Andrew and Scarlet rely on family, trust, and firearms to keep themselves alive.

I am an aspiring writer who has won a Reading Plus short story contest, received honorable mentions in AuthorStand contests, and is currently majoring in English. If you are interested in reading the full manuscript, I would be happy to send it to you. I can be contacted through email, phone, or post. Thank you for your consideration.

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LurkingVirologist
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Re: Please help with Query. Thanks!

Post by LurkingVirologist » August 30th, 2012, 2:48 am

At the expense of coming off a bit blunt, I'm not actually sure what your manuscript is about, or what genre(s) it's supposed to fit into. Is this supposed to be an action movie? Thriller? Mystery? Comedy? Serious? Spoof?

At any rate, you provide the following information about Scarlet:

1) kidnapped 15 years ago (ok, that's a fine start)
2) must be freed from scientific experiments (she's still being experimented on?)
3) works at her cousins favorite restaurant (huh? I thought she was being experimented on still, also, she's been kept locally? if it's her cousin's favorite restaurant, why hasn't he seen her there before? why did nobody else recognize her?)
4) subjected to Zodiac experiments (no clue what this is, only associations I have for 'Zodiac' are the serial killer, mush-brained astrology, and durable rubber boats)
5) has a new personality (so does her cousin have to re-kidnap her? later you suggest something about destroying emotions, so is she brain-damaged?)
6) government project (so it's a government run project, or a corporate one? whose in charge? do they not have anyone watching her?)

Most of this information needs more context to make sense, and some indicators of both voice and tone. You might be able to get away with playing fast and loose, with minimal context, but the voice would have to be really really compelling, and I'd suggest not taking that approach. If it helps, you can also post a brief synopsis in the other forum.

Finally, I'd suggest omitting 'aspiring writer,' and that you are 'majoring in english' as both statements suggest you are an amateur. Many of us are, but there's no reason to shoot yourself in the foot by advertising that fact during the query process.
"Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." -Carl Sagan

kelseyebeach
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Joined: August 12th, 2012, 8:37 pm
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Re: Please help with Query. Thanks!

Post by kelseyebeach » September 5th, 2012, 8:36 pm

[I've only worked with queries for novels, so please forgive me if I contradict well-known script query rules. Here are my generic comments. I broke up the paragraphs to make it easier to read.]

Dear SOMEONE,

I am a New York screenwriter who has recently completed a feature length dramatic screenplay entitled ZODIAC ATTACK. [I would move this line to the end. Get into the plot right away. Also, for novels we generally relate word count. Do you give page count for scripts?]

Fifteen years after Scarlet Lanka’s kidnapping, her cousin finds her and struggles to free her from the scientific experiments her captors subject her to. [Is Scarlet or Andrew the main character or is it about the two of them? Definitely name Andrew if he is the or one of the MCs. I agree with LurkingVirologist though that this is a little confusing. It also seems to repeat what is said in the next few lines. If this is the hook, give it some spice! Catch the eye!]

Andrew Lanka believes he is the reason for his cousin Scarlet’s kidnapping and death [Why does he believe he's the reason? Why does he think she's dead and not missing? Andrew's motivation will be crucial to the tension of the story, so give us something to bite into.], until he discovers her waitressing at his favorite restaurant fifteen years later.

Alive with the belief that she is another person, Andrew fights to make sense of the situation and attempts to help her remember her real identity. They soon discover her kidnappers perform zodiac experimentations on children, aiming to find the perfect combination of traits to create an emotionless serum that the military wishes to purchase and inject into soldiers. [The previous two sentences are confusing. Try to reword and make them clearer. Also, what is Scarlet like? Is she horrified at her kidnapping? Oblivious? Half-crazy? What do you mean by creating a combination of traits? Are they breeding new children or sucking traits out of their brains?]

With the government against them, Andrew and Scarlet rely on family, trust, and firearms to keep themselves alive. [I like "family, trust, and firearms." But why is the government against them? Because Scarlet escaped or because they're trying to expose the government?]

I am an aspiring writer who has won a Reading Plus short story contest, received honorable mentions in AuthorStand contests, and is currently majoring in English. [I agree with above: don't advertise that you're a newbie. Also, only mention accolades that are worthwhile (is Reading Plus a well-respected contest?).] If you are interested in reading the full manuscript, I would be happy to send it to you. I can be contacted through email, phone, or post. [You can cut these two sentences. Just say the script is complete. They know how to contact you.] Thank you for your consideration.

[I think you're on the right track, but you need to clarify the plot in the query. Try to emphasize Scarlet's and Andrew's relationship and motivation so that the reader is really rooting for them. I'd love to see the rewrite. Good luck!]

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