QueryDice #6.1 : Take Two!

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!

This is the second time this author has thrown his query into the Dice. The first go is here. Big improvements. There was one paragraph of my critique that I feel still stands, although it has improved some in this area: “I think the conflict in this, while I do get a general idea of it, could be fleshed out better. I need to feel like I care about the decisions of the characters and their conflict.”

Dear Ms. Ruth:

Twenty-four-year-old Andre Reyes is a world-renowned and gifted technology consultant who will soon (I think you should add an adverb here to let us know how Andre feels about his retirement) trade in the rat race for the simple life. But when he falls for British tennis star Gemma Lennon, all his plans—and hers—take a nosedive as the love of these kindred spirits destabilizes years of hard work, planning and sacrifice.

Meeting Gemma in Paris was not in his plans, nor was falling in love. With six months left in his contract, focus is Andre’s new mantra. Complete the contract and he’ll retire in style. Breach it and the punitive damages will devastate his plans of a new start. Gemma has anxieties of her own. She is arguably the best, but without a grand slam championship, she risks going down as another celebrity-athlete who’s more celebrity than athlete. She wants to win—must win—to discredit her critics. With Andre, she’s free but unfocused. Since childhood, they’ve dedicated everything to develop their innate gifts. For the first time, youthful joy and passion replace logic and planning—at precisely the worst time.

Now, as Wimbledon looms, the paparazzi escalate their assault, Andre’s employer pressures him, Gemma’s sponsors question her commitment, and personal details leak to the press—details that only their inner-circle could have known. And when she’s blackmailed, everything unravels. Their love is a threat to those who stand to lose millions. And in love and war, anyone can be the enemy within… even those in love.

There is no longer anything technically wrong with this query. It is well-written, explains the plot briefly and accurately. It is even free of errors. I believe its only problem has nothing to do with the query itself, but rather with the manuscript. I can’t help but think there’s a huge plot-hole here: why don’t Andre and Gemma just manage their time, rather than allowing their romance to usurp their work-time? It seems like the major conflict of the novel could be so easily solved. This might be because you’ve left out a detail or two, or it could be that the conflict is just weak. Either way, I’d reject this because the conflict doesn’t seem strong enough.
As an aside, I would like more details about the main characters’ personalities. I always like a quirk or two.
[redacted], a contemporary romance novel, is complete at 94,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.






Posted on October 20, 2011, in Advice, publishing, queries, Query Dice, slush pile, submissions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dear Lauren, I recently found your blog and I wanted to first say, I love it. I plan to query soon, and sites like yours point out how we can improve.

    I noticed that in previous posts, writers who comment are usually more willing to see more than the agent is. I found myself in that same position with this one. You saw a plot hole, but I thought the main conflict was in the last paragraph. It seems that the conflict is not in the MCs mismanagement of time, but the external forces that are trying to stop them.

    I’ve read a few memoirs of celebrities and it seems that the author may be trying to show that world… maybe. It seems that she’s also addressing work-life-balance? In my world, we all give it lip service, and if we could just manage our time, we probably would. And from what I gather from this query, these are not just professional, but outliers, so their world is even worse than most professionals.

    The issue I have is that this story (at least my interpretation of it) is a higher-concept novel, closer to mainstream or commercial, but not necessarily romance. I noticed that the author changed the genre from the first version.

    Last point, many sites and experts on query letters tell you to focus on the MC only. However, in this one, the query letter seems to expose both MCs. Is this good, bad, or depends?

    I may be totally off base on this, I have been known to read into things, but I would love to hear your take on my rant.

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