Monthly Archives: June 2012

QueryDice #14.1: Do-Over!

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!

Dear Ms. Ruth,

I would be delighted to submit for your consideration, [redacted], my dark, romantic women’s fiction novel (there is no such thing as a novel that isn’t fiction, so you only need to write “fiction” or “novel.” This is a huge agent-peeve) which is complete at just under 104,000 words.

A thirty-two year old musician assistant, Trista Hart knows she needs to find a way out of the nocturnally persuaded world of her best friend and boss, Jaxon James.  

Nocturnally persuaded. This is a creative turn-of-phrase, and I love those, but in a query, I just want to get the low-down on your book. Making me think too hard will aggravate my totally abused brain and turn it off. I’m not sure what nocturnally persuaded means because I’m not familiar with your book and its themes, and I’m not willing to try and figure it out because on the heels of your query are thousands of others and I’ll go in search of something with more clarity. Sometimes the simpler the language, the better, even though it doesn’t show your literary prowess.

But no matter how dark that route (what route? Are you referring to his world, the way of out his world?) has become lately, he and his band Sin Pointe are her family and she’s not prepared to desert them for Jaxon’s cousin, Lucky Mason, if it’s just going to take her down another of life’s pot-hole littered highways.  

Who says she has to desert them, and who the hell is Lucky Mason? That came sailing out of left field. Why are Lucky ad Sin Pointe mutually exclusive? Also, nit-pick: the words “pot-hole littered” irks me. Littered would mean someone has dropped something negligently. I think you can find something more accurate.

She has valid reasons to question Lucky and his beloved south—having experienced at an early age the sometimes hypocritical underbelly of the region’s good manners and charm.

What does the south have to do with it? In fact, what does Lucky have to with anything? I’m asking: what does Trista want? What is keeping her from getting that? How does she endeavor to solve that conflict?


Her hourglass has been turned upside down and now with Lucky’s heartfelt proposal before her,
(ah ha! Why are we discovering now, after you’ve confused us and given us every reason to stop reading, that this was a proposal?) she has to decide one for the other at the most inconvenient of times—just as Sin Pointe’s tour is taking off and on the heels of a horrendous late night attack on her and Jaxon that leaves her sure of only one thing…
It’s time for Trista to be her own savior.

Well I, for one, am not sure of anything and that’s the problem with this query. What I really want to know is what the problem is. If Jaxon is her best friend, why would he or his band prevent her from marrying (was this a marriage proposal?) Lucky?

I would reject this query because it lacks compelling conflict. I wonder why can’t she just have both? Her job, her best friend and family, and Lucky? What’s preventing that from happening? I worry that the answer is nothing and your manuscript has a huge, glaring plot hole that would mean it needs an overhaul.

When this query was diced here, the problem was that we didn’t know enough. We needed a better description. Now, we know a bit more, but we still need to know what the conflict is.

While as yet unpublished, I am a member of RWA, my local WRW chapter, and the fantastic women fiction writers group Waterworld Mermaids.

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration and hope to hear from you if my work seems a good fit.
Sincerely,

[redacted]

QueryDice #34

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.

Dear Ms. Ruth:

According to our society, few people follow rules in regards to etiquette and manners. Do you want to know why? You are giving me the opportunity to say, “No.”

Today’s philosophy states that rules are made to be broken. What if etiquette and manners were made to be fun?

I’m not sure how the two sentences above relate to each other. They are two thoughts, loosely related, that do not build on or complement each other. I worry that your manuscript will be hard to follow.

Not fun, but saucy. Not saucy, but provocative. Well which is it? Fun, saucy or provocative? If you can’t decide, then how can I expect your writing to be authorial?

The proposed title of our book is, [redacted].

At this point in your query, I’m still not entirely certain what your book is about. Is this a how-to guide on etiquette? Is it a discussion about what manners mean to and say about society?

Being two young business women, who have played the game, (what game?) observed the rules and conquered relationships (friend and foe), we also have the knowledge and humor to address these issues beginning with Provocative Manners and continuing in several future books.

I’m not so sure that being businesspeople who have had interpersonal relationships uniquely qualifies you to write a book on etiquette. If you have the knowledge, I would like to know how and where you obtained such knowledge, and see a demonstration of it, not just be told that you have it.If you have the humor to write such a book, I do not see it here in the query, and voice is very important in both your manuscript and query.

Where should we start? You’re asking me? No, no…you should be telling me. You’re the authors!

Let’s cover the general basics which you will find in [redacted]. In a society where there is no common sense, we are here to dish it out!

Yes, we absolutely should do that…but then you don’t. Instead, you go right into your bio, leaving me wondering what those basics are.

With college degrees in Hospitality Development, Event Planning and Political Science, such a background gives us the starting criteria to educate our readers.

We do not want you to have the “starting criteria.” We want you to be experts.

Being particularly observant, and keenly critical, has given us the knowledge to write this book and with life’s experiences to intertwine the humor for both men and women.

This is not a credential. Many people are observant and critical. What makes you an expert on your subject?

A few chapter titles include “Cleavage, a Woman’s Best Friend or Worst Enemy”, “Hospitality is Dead”, “Sauciness In and Out of the Bedroom” and “Business Manners”.

These chapter titles confuse me. What is this book about?

Readers are ready for a book where manners do not have to be boring and stereotypical; etiquette can be funny and sarcastic while bringing out a saucy edge.

Please respond with the self-addressed stamped envelope. What self-addressed stamped envelope?

Thank you for your consideration and time. We look forward to hearing from you!

Yours truly,

[redacted]

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