Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

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premrao
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Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by premrao » February 14th, 2010, 1:40 pm

“All men are bastards” says Shefali Belliappa to close my completed 81,000 word psychological thriller “IT CAN’T BE YOU”

Her father, a highly decorated war hero, a Lt.Colonel in the Indian Army has changed dramatically due to the psychological trauma of his war wounds. This results in her mother’s death. Years later, her father is himself found dead on a December night in 2000. There is no one else at home that night other than his family: his son, Pritam, desperate to get out of his domineering father’s shadow, finding refuge in drugs; his daughter, Shefali who loves a Muslim, sworn enemies of the Colonel for over thirty years and his German second wife, Elena, a ruthlessly ambitious businesswoman and twenty years younger than him. All of them stand to gain from his death and plan to kill him independently for their own reasons. Who got him first or did he kill himself before they could? A third death affects the family with the murder of Shefali’s lover. Killing in cold blood for revenge, it would seem, is more gratifying to the killer than a hot-headed killing for love or for money.

Set largely in India, my first novel at age 58 is painted on a canvas that spans more than 50 years, from 1946, just before it became an independent nation, to 2000 and the advent of a new India. “IT CAN’T BE YOU” is targeted towards the very many in India’s large population who love a mystery set in a milieu that resonates with them. Having worked closely with people for 35 years, I have crafted a story with elements of human psychology, historical fiction and family drama.

Should you so wish, I would be happy to send you a few chapters of the novel via email.

I thank you for your time and interest. With regards,

jessicatudor
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by jessicatudor » February 17th, 2010, 12:40 pm

Hi, I hope I can help somewhat. I'm an American, so I might not be helpful at all but I do see things that might want attention regardless of culture. :)
premrao wrote:“All men are bastards” says Shefali Belliappa to close my completed 81,000 word psychological thriller “IT CAN’T BE YOU”

Wait, now I know how it ends? :) Sorry, the quote doesn't do anything for me, and it's a cliche.

Her father, a highly decorated war hero, a Lt.Colonel in the Indian Army has changed dramatically due to the psychological trauma of his war wounds. This results in her mother’s death. Years later, her father is himself found dead on a December night in 2000. There is no one else at home that night other than his family: his son, Pritam, desperate to get out of his domineering father’s shadow, finding refuge in drugs; his daughter, Shefali who loves a Muslim, sworn enemies of the Colonel for over thirty years and his German second wife, Elena, a ruthlessly ambitious businesswoman and twenty years younger than him. All of them stand to gain from his death and plan to kill him independently for their own reasons. Who got him first or did he kill himself before they could? A third death affects the family with the murder of Shefali’s lover. Killing in cold blood for revenge, it would seem, is more gratifying to the killer than a hot-headed killing for love or for money.

This is almost all set-up. From my understanding, the plot is to figure out who killed the father? (Mentioning the third death adds nothing.) But who is the protagonist? We need to be connected to the story through one of the characters, and all of the ones you've listed want to kill someone, which is slimy, so I don't like them much.

Set largely in India, my first novel at age 58 is painted on a canvas that spans more than 50 years, from 1946, just before it became an independent nation, to 2000 and the advent of a new India. “IT CAN’T BE YOU” is targeted towards the very many in India’s large population who love a mystery set in a milieu that resonates with them. Having worked closely with people for 35 years, I have crafted a story with elements of human psychology, historical fiction and family drama.

I'd cut the last sentence because unless you're a psychologist yourself, we all work closely with people, and we get the historical/drama elements from the rest of your para/query. (Not sure about mentioning your target audience, especially when it's essentially an country.

Should you so wish, I would be happy to send you a few chapters of the novel via email.

I thank you for your time and interest. With regards,
Overall, I have no 'way in' to this novel, and no idea who it's about, what their struggle is, or why I should care. I need to know those things to want to read the novel. I like cross-cultural fiction, and the fact it spans a long time frame hints there's more to this novel than cheap thrills and a puzzle, but that's not enough for me. I hope this helps somewhat, though I have no idea what the publishing scene in India looks like. :)
'The world is but canvas to our imaginations.' - Thoreau

CC13
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by CC13 » February 17th, 2010, 1:15 pm

premrao wrote:“All men are bastards” says Shefali Belliappa to close my completed 81,000 word psychological thriller “IT CAN’T BE YOU”
Most agents don't want dialog from your book, they want a short, engaging synopsis of what it's about, so I second that this can go.

Her father, a highly decorated war hero, a Lt.Colonel in the Indian Army has changed dramatically due to the psychological trauma of his war wounds. This results in her mother’s deathwait, how? does she commit suicide because of it? This is too vague, I think.. Years later, her father is himself found dead on a December night in 2000. There is no one else at home that night other than his family: his son, Pritam, desperate to get out of his domineering father’s shadow, finding refuge in drugs; his daughter, Shefali who loves a Muslim, sworn enemies of the Colonel for over thirty years and his German second wife, Elena, a ruthlessly ambitious businesswoman and twenty years younger than him. All of them stand to gain from his death and plan to kill him independently for their own reasons. Who got him first or did he kill himself before they could? A third death affects the family with the murder of Shefali’sMy head is swimming. too much going on. I'd make some of this short, precise, punchy. Too many words. lover. Killing in cold blood for revenge, it would seem, is more gratifying to the killer than a hot-headed killing for love or for money.

Set largely in India, my first novel at age 58 the agent doesn't care (totally not trying to be rude here) is painted on a canvas that spans more than 50 years, from 1946, just before it became an independent nation, to 2000 and the advent of a new India. “IT CAN’T BE YOU” is targeted towards the very many in India’s large population who love a mystery set in a milieu that resonates with them. Having worked closely how? are you a psychologist? I don't think this is necessary unless you have some sort of creds, but that's just me. with people for 35 years, I have crafted a story with elements of human psychology, historical fiction and family drama.

Should you so wish, I would be happy to send you a few chapters of the novel via email. OK, so then I'm assuming you're equerying and not snail querying. So, then it'd be obvious it's over e-mail. And this is the line you can add your info: I'd be happy to send IT CAN'T BE YOU, a completed 81,000-word psychological thriller, at your request.

I thank you for your time and interest. With regards,

premrao
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by premrao » February 19th, 2010, 9:59 pm

Many thanks for the useful feedback. I have re-cast the query. Here it is:

Is it your fault if you inherit psychopathic tendencies from your father? Spotting huge potential for an out of the box psychological thriller set in India, I seek representation for my novel “IT CAN’T BE YOU” completed at 81,000 words.

Targeting the very many in India’s large population who love mystery and suspense, my novel intertwines intrigue and passion, set in a backdrop of a history that would strongly resonate with my target audience.

Some have a huge need to avenge insults, perceived or otherwise and take revenge, even if it is against one’s loved ones. A highly decorated young Lieutenant in the Indian Army changes dramatically due to the psychological trauma of his wounds of the 1971 War against Pakistan. He suspects his beautiful wife of infidelity and kills her in 1980. His need for revenge is fulfilled fighting intruders in the Kashmir Valley holding Muslims responsible for all his sufferings. He is very affluent, owning an armaments firm in 2000 but is on the verge of becoming an alcoholic. He decides to take his own life. On finding his suicide letter, his daughter kills him to both avenge her mother’s death and pave the way to marry her Muslim lover. She uses the letter to make it appear as a suicide. Killing in cold blood for revenge is more gratifying to her than a hot-headed killing for love or for money. Exactly a month later she kills again. This time it’s her lover of a decade who has been two timing her. Feeling let down by the two men she loved the most; she seeks solace in the arms of a lovely girl who has been waiting for her.

Set largely in India, my first novel at age 58, is painted on a canvas that spans more than 50 years, from 1946, just before it became independent, to 2000 and the advent of a new India.

Should you so wish, I would be happy to send you a few chapters of the novel via email.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

jordynface
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by jordynface » February 19th, 2010, 10:19 pm

I won't do a line-by-line crit, but here are some thoughts/things for you to look at.

1. You started with a rhetorical question.
2. "Some have a huge need to avenge insults, perceived or otherwise and take revenge, even if it is against one’s loved ones." This line seems too general and not specific enough... I'm thinking that everything in your query should be targeted at the novel you're seeking representation for; general statements tend to take the reader out of your explanation of the story.
3. If the daughter is the main character, you might want to introduce her earlier in the query. Also I'm not sure how sympathetic the agent is going to be if the main things you're saying about her are that she's killed two men. Focus instead on her good qualities and her trials/tribulations because right now I really have no interest in reading about her.

Hope I helped some.

tameson
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by tameson » February 19th, 2010, 10:23 pm

I started writing some comments, but I pretty much agreed with jordynface and was said the exact same thing.

GeeGee55
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Re: Query Help: "It Can't Be You"

Post by GeeGee55 » February 19th, 2010, 11:21 pm

To me, the first version is more interesting. The second is just a list of what happens. Does the novel begin with the death of the decorated war hero and then all the rest is back story? Or does it begin with the colonel alive and suffering from his war experiences? It's not clear. And the reason not to tell the last line is that it does not entice me to want to read the rest of the book. I already know what's happened.
Is there some mystery to it that you can focus on and build up? Such as: Lieutenant Colonel Bellappa, a highly decorated war hero in the Indian army, is found dead (where?) on a December night in 2000. His daughter, Shefali, does what? And build from there so that it is a mystery but not muddled.
This is my first time making comments. Hope it helps.

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