Query - The Butterfly Key- revision now on page 6

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Tycoon
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Query - The Butterfly Key- revision now on page 6

Post by Tycoon » January 31st, 2010, 6:38 pm

SCROLL DOWN TO PAGE 6 TO FIND THE LATEST REVISION





Ouch...I just got dinged on another web site for even using a frame in the query... below this query I added a second w/o the frame.... which in your opinion is better?


Dear Agent,

When Nicole Kuefler’s seemingly indelible faith crumbles after her miscarriage, she falls into an agonizing conflict against God. Concerned for his wife, Nicole’s husband Drew gathers his family around the Christmas tree to weave a story about God and His so-called providence. This is the allegory of The Butterfly Key.

Christian Bryson’s mother died after childbirth, his father recently lost his battle with cancer. Therefore, when Abigail, his wife, discovers she is pregnant, she is ecstatic to deliver him some good news. Sadly, before Abigail can tell him, Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. Reluctantly, Abigail decides to keep her pregnancy a secret so Christian can focus on keeping himself alive.

When wounded in battle, Christian learns he can no longer father children, thus his promise of making Abigail a mother haunts his soul. Struggling to accept his calamity, Christian cannot bring himself to tell Abigail about his injury even as she pleads for him to come home. Believing Christian should return for love and not for a sense of obligation, Abigail decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny.

With their marriage on the verge of collapsing, God intervenes and sends two special travelers to bring Christian back home to his family.

After Drew finishes his story, he is unsure if Nicole can forgive God. That is, until a mysterious present appears under the Christmas tree from an invented character in his story. The gift – a unique item with the power to restore what Nicole had lost – her faith.

THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of literary fiction. A completed manuscript is available upon your request. I look forward to working with you.

Regards,


OR

Dear Agent,

When Christian Bryson promises his wife a family, he expects to father children with her. Instead, he gets exactly what he doesn’t expect; God and his so-called providence guiding him on a heartrending journey to fulfill his pledge.

Christian is no stranger to tragedy; his mother died shortly after childbirth, his father recently lost his battle with cancer. Therefore, when Abigail, his wife, discovers she is pregnant, she is ecstatic to deliver him some good news. Sadly, before Abigail can tell him, Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. Reluctantly, Abigail decides to keep her pregnancy a secret so Christian can focus on keeping himself alive.

Wounded in battle, Christian learns he can no longer father children, thus his promise of making Abigail a mother haunts his soul. Struggling to accept his calamity, Christian cannot bring himself to tell Abigail about his injury even as she pleads for him to come home. Believing Christian should return for love and not for a sense of obligation, Abigail decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny.

With their marriage on the verge of collapsing, God intervenes and sends two special travelers – one alive and the other not – to bring Christian back home to his family.

THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of literary fiction. A completed manuscript is available upon your request. I look forward to working with you.

Regards,
Last edited by Tycoon on February 9th, 2010, 2:27 am, edited 16 times in total.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by aspiring_x » January 31st, 2010, 8:35 pm

Tycoon wrote:

Dear Agent,

When Nicole Kuefler’s seemingly indelible faith crumbles after her miscarriage, she falls into an agonizing conflict against God. Concerned for his wife, Nicole’s husband Drew gathers his family around the Christmas tree to weave a story about God and His so-called providence. This is the allegory of The Butterfly Key.

Christian Bryson’s mother died shortly after childbirth, his father recently lost his battle with cancer. Therefore, I still can't follow the logic. Why are these past tragedies reasons for Abigail not to tell Christian the good news? It seems as though his father's death would be more distracting, the pregnancy would give him hope... something further to fight forwhen Abigail, his wife, discovers she is pregnant, she decides not to tell him because he is deploying for war.

When wounded in battle, Christian learns he can no longer father children, thus a promise he made to make Abigail a mother haunts his soul.the wording here is a little off, I had to read it twice... As Christian struggles to accept a pledge he believes take out he can't fufill it, unless you mean adoptionhe cannot fulfill, Abigail fights for a husband who does not want to come homeI'm sorry, I'm really slow... who is Abigail fighting? Is it that she's pleading for him to come home, and he doesn't want to tell her the truth? Doesn't she know about his injury? I'm a little confused about Abigail's motivations... she doesn't sound like many of the Christian women (are they Christians?) that I know. She just comes across as deceptive.. Believing he should return for their love and not for a sense of obligation, Abigail decides not to tell Christian about her recent birth.the birth of their child, she wasn't just born

With their marriage on the verge of collapsing, God intervenes and sends two special travelers to bring Christian home to his wife and unknown progeny.this isn't bad, but would it read more smoothly if it was child

After Drew finishes his story, he is unsure if Nicole can forgive God. That is, until a unique present appears under the Christmas tree from an invented character in his story. A gift with the power to restore what Nicole had lost – her faith.

THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of literary fiction, set within the small town of Columbus, MinnesotaStill not sure if you need this. A completed manuscript is available upon your request. I look forward to working with you.Still worried that this comes off as cocky

Regards,
This is so much clearer, and you didn't even change that much. You are doing such a wonderful job! I've written and rewritten and rewritten my query, and it's still light years away from being this concise, and smooth. Keep up the good work!
-vic

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Tycoon » February 1st, 2010, 7:03 am

This is so much clearer, and you didn't even change that much. You are doing such a wonderful job! I've written and rewritten and rewritten my query, and it's still light years away from being this concise, and smooth. Keep up the good work!
-vic[/quote]

Thanks Vic... I re-edited from your comments, trying to make it more lucid... take a look again if you get a chance... and once again--- thx for your input.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by aspiring_x » February 1st, 2010, 7:25 am

Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. ConsequentlyI would just take this word out, it feels like a cold, technical word that doesn't fit with the sensitive nature of your query, Abigail reluctantly ...

After Drew finishes his story, he is unsure if Nicole can forgive GodI'm not sure of your projected audience, but this statement could get you in really sticky arguements with some of those who are strict believers in providence... not really relevant for your query, but just a thought for your book, if a bunch of religious right people are going to be reading it. That is, until a unique present appears under the Christmas tree from an invented character in his story. A gift with the power to restore what Nicole had lost – her faith. I only wonder if being more specific would show how special your story is, instead of just hinting at it.


This is much clearer to me. I think that your female characters come across much better than in the original post. These are people I would root for now.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Tycoon » February 1st, 2010, 8:32 am

aspiring_x wrote:Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. ConsequentlyI would just take this word out, it feels like a cold, technical word that doesn't fit with the sensitive nature of your query, Abigail reluctantly ...

After Drew finishes his story, he is unsure if Nicole can forgive GodI'm not sure of your projected audience, but this statement could get you in really sticky arguements with some of those who are strict believers in providence... not really relevant for your query, but just a thought for your book, if a bunch of religious right people are going to be reading it. That is, until a unique present appears under the Christmas tree from an invented character in his story. A gift with the power to restore what Nicole had lost – her faith. I only wonder if being more specific would show how special your story is, instead of just hinting at it.


This is much clearer to me. I think that your female characters come across much better than in the original post. These are people I would root for now.

Okay.. if I take out consequently... would it not be better to move "Reluctantly" before "Abigail" so it reads like this... Reluctantly, Abigail decides to keep her pregnancy a secret so Christian can focus on keeping himself alive.

I'm not to concerned about any religious aspects of the book as I have had a few people from different denominations read this.

As for being more specific or hinting at the ending... Ill wait to get more feedback

once again thx!

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by aspiring_x » February 1st, 2010, 8:47 am

I think reluctantly is good.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by jmcooper » February 1st, 2010, 9:07 am

Interesting! I love the title and the story-within-the-story idea. Upon first read, however, I didn't catch on immediately that it was a story-within-the-story. However, that very well could be my dense, not-enough-coffee-yet brain. Also, while none of the Christian/God discussion bothers or offends me in the least, there is a sense of the author's perspective rather than the character's perspective coming through. Does that make sense?

For instance: "Abigail wrongly decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny". It may be because I don't know the whole story, but perhaps "wrongly" is not a necessary word? We all know that it's sort of wrong anyway--to not tell your significant other something, well, so significant. Perhaps that word indicates the author's opinion rather then just telling the story.

Perhaps this is a minor thing I'm picking apart. I really did enjoy the idea and the query. And I would love to know more about this key--is that what Nicole receives in the box at the end?? Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Tycoon » February 1st, 2010, 9:26 am

jmcooper wrote:Interesting! I love the title and the story-within-the-story idea. Upon first read, however, I didn't catch on immediately that it was a story-within-the-story. However, that very well could be my dense, not-enough-coffee-yet brain. Also, while none of the Christian/God discussion bothers or offends me in the least, there is a sense of the author's perspective rather than the character's perspective coming through. Does that make sense?

For instance: "Abigail wrongly decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny". It may be because I don't know the whole story, but perhaps "wrongly" is not a necessary word? We all know that it's sort of wrong anyway--to not tell your significant other something, well, so significant. Perhaps that word indicates the author's opinion rather then just telling the story.

Perhaps this is a minor thing I'm picking apart. I really did enjoy the idea and the query. And I would love to know more about this key--is that what Nicole receives in the box at the end?? Thanks for sharing!

I think you might be correct... Maybe I should substitute wrongly for ultimately? tell me what you think?

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by jmcooper » February 1st, 2010, 4:34 pm

I think you can just take out "wrongly" without any need for a substitute, actually. The sentence reads fine without the adverb. :-)

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by christi » February 1st, 2010, 4:46 pm

I have nothing to critique. I think you did an awesome job. Well done!
Would you sign my story for a Klondike bar?

http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Tycoon » February 1st, 2010, 4:52 pm

edited again with the comments I have received!

regards

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Tycoon » February 2nd, 2010, 7:24 am

After getting dinged on another web site for using a "Frame" in the query I decided to post a 2nd query along with the first w/o the frame. Just trying to see which people think is better.

regards

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by aspiring_x » February 2nd, 2010, 7:39 am

I think the strategy of the second query is better, but the hook in the first one is better. Maybe if you went with the second query but started off with something about Christian's being wounded in battle right off the bat. To me that's the most compelling part.
When Christian Bryson is wounded in war, he finds himself unable to fufill the promise he made his wife to father children with her. Instead, he gets exactly what he doesn’t expect; God and his so-called providence guiding him on a heartrending journey to fulfill his pledgeas his marriage begins to crumble around him.
I don't know, mine's not really any better. I think your doing a good job.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Kirril » February 3rd, 2010, 11:15 am

After reading both versions, I think the one without the frame is better because it's the primary focus of the story from what I can understand. From what little I know of frame stories, you need to take the one that's most prevalent in the book, unless of course it's something like The Neverending Story where the frame and the story interact with each other.

When Christian Bryson promises his wife a family, he expects to father children with her. Instead, he gets exactly what he doesn’t expect; God and his so-called providence guiding him on a heartrending journey to fulfill his pledge.


The hook here feels very general. Character X goes on a journey which will make Y occur. I would start with specifics.

Christian Bryson promises his wife a family but war and a devastating injury destroy his plans and wound his faith in God. He realizes that war is nothing compared to the battle he faces ahead.
Christian is no stranger to tragedy; his mother died shortly after childbirth, his father recently lost his battle with cancer. Therefore, when Abigail, his wife, discovers she is pregnant, she is ecstatic to deliver him some good news. Sadly, before Abigail can tell him, Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. Reluctantly, Abigail decides to keep her pregnancy a secret so Christian can focus on keeping himself alive.

I like that you filled in some bits about Christian, made the reader care about him. I would cut out the adverbs, however. They tend to color the narrative with the author's opinion. The reader should be able to see that these are sad circumstances without being told. Also, the "no stranger to" phrase feels a tad cliche'd. I would also think that if he knew his wife was pregnant, that would be even more incentive for him to stay alive. Obviously I can't know all her reasons for keeping this secret, but it seems a little implausible that she'd not tell him he has even more reason to live now.


Christian has experienced loss before--the death of his mother at childbirth, and his father's recent passing from cancer. But his war injury takes an even heavier toll. He can no longer have children. Unable to face his wife with the truth, he refuses to return home. Abigail for her part cannot bring herself to tell him she's given birth to his child, fearing he may return from a sense of obligation rather than his love for her.



Wounded in battle, Christian learns he can no longer father children, thus his promise of making Abigail a mother haunts his soul. Struggling to accept his calamity, Christian cannot bring himself to tell Abigail about his injury even as she pleads for him to come home. Believing Christian should return for love and not for a sense of obligation, Abigail decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny.

With their marriage on the verge of collapsing, God intervenes and sends two special travelers – one alive and the other not – to bring Christian back home to his family.

This last bit should tell us what Christian needs to do to solve his issues. Instead, it tells us that it's out of his hands and the travelers will do the work. I would rephrase this. Unfortunately I'm having trouble coming up with something suitable. Hmm, I'll think on it.

I hope this helps.




THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of literary fiction. A completed manuscript is available upon your request. I look forward to working with you.
Last edited by Kirril on February 3rd, 2010, 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Query -- The Butterfly Key -- 1st revision

Post by Ghost in the Machine » February 3rd, 2010, 1:29 pm

Hi Tycoon,

I like the story-in-a-story thing and the first query—especially since the title is part of the frame. But that’s just me. I found all the earlier comments about which adverb to use somewhat amusing. I may be ignorant of a frame-prejudice, but I know all about the adverb-prejudice. Cut them all unless you absolutely, positively, can’t live without them. Ha!

Dear Agent,

When Nicole Kuefler’s (seemingly indelible – cut) faith crumbles after her miscarriage, she falls into an agonizing conflict against God. Concerned for his wife, Nicole’s husband Drew gathers his family around the Christmas tree to weave a story about God and His so-called providence. This is the allegory of The Butterfly Key.

Comment: “falls into a conflict against” is awkward.

Suggestion: After her miscarriage, Nicole Kuefler’s steadfast faith is replaced by agony. Concerned over his wife’s shocking anger at God, Drew gathers his family around the Christmas tree. In its comforting white glow, he weaves an allegory about God’s providence called The Butterfly Key.


I reworked your second paragraph to tighten it up. Yep, I zapped those pesky adverbs.

Suggestion: Christian Bale lost his mother to (specify what killed her in childbirth) and his father to cancer. Therefore, his wife Abigail can’t wait to deliver the joyous news of her pregnancy. But Christian crushes her world by informing her that he is deploying for war. Abigail decides to keep her pregnancy a secret so Christian can focus on keeping himself alive.


Wounded in battle, Christian can no longer father children. His promise of making Abigail a mother haunts his soul. Struggling to accept this calamity (loss), Christian cannot bring himself to tell Abigail about his injury even as she pleads for him to come home. Believing Christian should return for love and not for a sense of obligation, Abigail decides not to tell him about the birth of their progeny.

Stop everything: This last sentence is a stretch. If this couple wasn’t married, I might buy it. But a new mother being this self-sacrificing? It’s a good thing this is an allegory written by a man. In real life, the woman would be screaming for her husband to get on the next boat, get his butt home, and help with all the diaper changes, sleepless nights, and baby puke! Maybe it’s an armed-forces-wife-thing. These woman must be made of stronger stuff.

With their marriage on the verge of collapsing, God intervenes and sends two special travelers to bring Christian back home to his family.

After Drew finishes his story, he is unsure if Nicole can forgive God. (That is, until -cut) Then a mysterious present appears under the Christmas tree from a(n invented – cut) character in his story. Drew prays the gift has the power to restore Nicole’s faith.

THE BUTTERFLY KEY is a 72,000-word work of literary fiction. A completed manuscript is available upon (your-cut) request. (I look forward to working with you. – cut, agents won’t like your presumption here)

Regards,

Despite my dig on your allegory, this is great. It feels like a Shakespearean tragedy. If you have to shorten the query, the frame might be the easiest cut. But I still like it.

Ghost in the Machine

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