QueryDice #4

The following is a query critique. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!

Lauren Ruth

BookEnds, LLC.

This information is unnecessary. I know who I am and where I work.

Attn. Ms. Ruth

I like “Dear…” better just because “Attn…” makes me feel like you’re commanding me to listen to you and then you can’t even bother to spell it out. To me, it’s like waving your hand at someone rather than speaking.

When Caitlynn Manning, a Chicago defense attorney with not enough cases (“with not enough cases” sounds very clunky and probably grammatically incorrect) to keep her occupied, notices suspicious activity surrounding her boss she decides to do some investigating; her decision not only changes her life, but the lives of those around her forever.

Did you forget a comma or two in this sentence? → The first in a series Chicago: Kidnapping in the Loop is a 79,900 word mystery novel that follows the lives of a group of young professionals trying to succeed in their respective corporate worlds as they fear for their friend’s life.  

What does this have to do with Caitlynn’s boss and the decision she made that changed the lives of those around her forever?

Caitlynn’s brother and his PI partner are working on a huge case involving a mobster that is supplying the streets of Chicago with heroin.  When someone they love turns up missing they have to use their PI skills to search for them (them? I thought only one person they loved had gone missing) and soon the two cases become one.

What two cases? The one involving Caitlynn’s boss and the one involving Caitlynn’s brother’s friend? What does any of this have to do with Caitlynn—why would she need to be involved—and what do the two cases have to do with each other?

Will Caitlynn’s decisions (I thought she only made one pivotal decision) put her in more danger?  Will her brother and his partner be able to save the one they love?  Will their friends, fearing the worst, be able to surpass the professional hurdles they face? 

What do the friends’ professional hurdles have to do with the crimes and with Caitlynn?

And how will Caitlynn’s decisions affect them all? Yes. How?

I currently live in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but I fell in love with the city of Chicago the first time I visited it as an adult, so naturally it became the setting of my first novel.  I work in the corporate world in accounting in a bank, so I can identify with the career related struggles that most of my characters face.

You have a habit of using small prepositions too closely together. “I work IN the corporate world IN accounting IN a bank…” “follows the lives OF a group OF young professionals…” While this won’t make or break your query, it does stilt your writing and I worry it will continue through your manuscript.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my query letter, and I appreciate your consideration.  My full manuscript is available for you to read upon request.

Sincerely,
[redacted]

I would reject this because I don’t believe the writing is quite strong enough, based on this sample, and because it is so disjointed. How do the main threads of the story relate to each other?

Lauren

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Posted on July 28, 2011, in queries, Query Dice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I actually really like the idea of a series of books about young professionals in Chicago–it’s one of the “youngest” cities in America in that it has tons of people starting their careers there, so I think a lot of people would relate to it. But–I think that the paragraph with title, word count, series potential is really clunky and breaks up the flow of the plot summary with where it’s placed. I also feel like “professional hurdles” is something that might work well as a subplot or general background in the book, but in the query, where the most important stuff should be front and center, feels much less important than the kidnapping/crime/corrupt boss issues.

    Another question–why are you keeping mum on who was kidnapped and the connection to C’s boss? I can see leaving the connection somewhat ambiguous if it’s a huge spoiler, but the kidnapped person’s ID could only serve to heighten the tension and understanding C’s stakes, right?

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