Sunday, August 1, 2010

Query Revision 20

Face-Lift 800: Redemption

Dear Agent:

When Bane Thomas moves to Mills River to purchase land that he believes encompasses an Armistice Zone, land which prohibits demons and the fallen from doing harm, he gets more than what he bargains for.

In hopes to persuade the Anderson’s to sell, Bane finances a project that is near and dear to their hearts-a crisis center for domestic violence. However, once he meets his newly acquired co-worker Reighlyn Anderson, he inadvertently learns two things: selling is not in her vocabulary, and he’s with out a doubt in love with her.

After witnessing what can only be explained as -reading thoughts and manipulating minds, Reighlyn’s convinced there’s something different about Bane. However her newly acquired love for him causes her to ignore all suspicions, that is- until he’s forced to reveal his angelic abilities to save her life, and she discovers that he’s also the despised developer after their land. Feeling afraid and manipulated, she relies on her best friend Alex for support, which causes Bane to fear that he’s lost her forever. In attempt to explain his deceit, he finds himself telling her a secret that he’s never told anyone, that he’s a descendant of The Watchers-cursed to become that which he despises most-a demon. Reighlyn accepts the necessary dangers to love Bane, even if with his cursed soul, he can’t promise her eternity. But when Bane witnesses not only Alex hurting her, but her brother-in-law’s attempt to murder her, he realizes demonic influences are targeting her for some reason.

Once it’s discovered that it’s a punished demon amongst them, Bane fears he’s put her in more danger than he once believed possible. Desperate to prevent his own destruction the demon wants to create a gift for Satan. A gift of pure hate dwelling within Bane; hate so overwhelming he’ll beg to die, thus permitting Satan to capture an eluding Thomas into servitude. The problem is, the demon plans on using Reighlyn’s death as the currency in which to purchase this gift. Which lands Bane in a battle against evil to rescue the one person he never thought could literally exist: his soul mate.

Redemption is a complete 93,000-word paranormal romance. I’d like to thank you for your time and your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Comments

This still strays a bit into synopsis land. It needs considerable paring down and tightening -- a couple more turns of the wrench, if you will.

Aside from too much detail, there are a lot of unnecessary words here. Not only do they bloat your word count in a query where every single word must carry weight, they get in the way of what you're trying to tell us. Take, for instance, "I'd like to thank you..."  Because you use the conditional "would", you're actually throwing doubt into this simple, seemingly innocuous phrase. Hmm, the reader thinks. Thanking me is something she would like to do, but is something getting in the way? Can she not really do it?

A query needs to demonstrate a strong command of language to stand out from all the other queries agents get. So step one is to take a pass through what you have and see how much you can edit out to make each sentence and every word count. For example, nothing is lost by deleting "his newly acquired co-worker" or "inadvertently" (which isn't really the right word anyway) from the second paragraph.

In P3, "he finds himself telling her a secret that he’s never told anyone" becomes "he reveals". You should be able to knock 50 words out of this query just by simplifying your sentences.

One thing that had me off-kilter from the first was just who "the Andersons" are. I immediately thought it was a couple, so when R&B fall for one another, I thought there was some cheating going on. Simplify it to just being R's land to avoid any misconceptions.

Other thoughts?

10 comments:

Michelle Massaro said...

This needs to be simplified and stripped waayy down. Too much information, too many names, too much detail. KISS:

Bane wants to buy land within a supernatural Zone protected from evil and demonic activity. He falls for Reighlyn, the owner's daughter, but she refuses to sell their land and also uncovers his secret- that he is destined to become a demon. It's a destiny he's running from and now he's unwittingly pulled Reighlyn into the battle for his soul. With his soul-mate in eternal danger, the stakes have been raised for Bane- but so has his resolve.
***

That's all the info we need to get out of the query. Now add a little bit of flair and make it shine and we'll take another peek. Sounds like an interesting story! =)

Cam said...

I like the first two paragraphs in this revision much better! However, there's so much going on in the third paragraph that I got lost.

I'm not sure how one witnesses (sees) thoughts being read.

You call Bane by his first name throughout your query, but then throw in Thomas at the end. It took me a while to realize that Thomas was Bane's last name and not another character we were just being introduced to.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Interesting premise to the story. This is too wordy, has too many cliches. And is it told in two POVs - his and hers? The query is worded that way, but I'm not sure.

I like Michelle's simplified version. Needs your own touch, but it's a great core to work with.

M. G. E. said...

> "When Bane Thomas moves to Mills River to purchase land that he believes encompasses an Armistice Zone, land which prohibits demons and the fallen from doing harm, he gets more than what he bargains for."
- This opening sentence has too many concepts crammed into it at once. It would benefit from splitting into its constituents or rewording:

"When Bane Thomas tries to purchase land that encompasses a supernatural armistice-zone he gets more than he bargains for."

Even like that, the phrase "gets more than he bargains for" is cliche and non-specific. "Armistice zone" should not be capitalized.

> "In hopes to persuade the Anderson’s to sell,"
- Problem: who are the Andersons? Why is the possessive used here? Basic grammar problems = instant red-flag.

> "Bane finances a project that is near and dear to their hearts-a crisis center for domestic violence."
- I would suggest being more direct here:

"Hoping to persuade the owners of the land to sell, Bane devises a scheme to get into their good graces: he builds a domestic-violence shelter."

> "However, once he meets his newly acquired co-worker Reighlyn Anderson, he inadvertently learns two things: selling is not in her vocabulary, and he’s with out a doubt in love with her."
- My revision:
"But it was love at first sight when he meets Reighlyn Anderson, the owner of the land and a woman determined not to sell."

Mostly I'm trying to smooth out your prose, it's a bit chunky, or like climbing stairs as I read rather than smooth and level.

In your version, the word "inadvertently" is a five-syllable speed-bump which drastically slows down the prose. So is "newly acquired co-worker," "however," "vocabulary," and "with out a doubt" (which is spelled wrong, should be "without").

Phoenix nailed it: tons of unnecessary words. Consider that I didn't read her comments until I'd written everything before this paragraph.

Ha, and she goes on to also nail you for simplifying sentences and not explaining who the Andersons are, it's like one mind here :P

This can all be boiled down to one point: learn to polish your prose.

What counts is not how good your first draft is but how good you can polish towards your final draft. You must learn to see mistakes and get a feel for rough patches and practice smoothing them out. The secret of great writing is the revision process.

M. G. E. said...
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M. G. E. said...
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M. G. E. said...

((Sorry, kept getting a posting error.))

Glynis said...

I was told that the query letter has to be a mix of you and your book. Short and sweet. The rest of the story goes into your synopis. One or two pages of the story with the ending. It must be written in present tense.

Dear Agent

Thank you for the opportunity to submit information about my first(or whatever) novel. Redemption is a complete 93,000-word Paranormal Romance. I have submitted to other agencies. (or you are the only agency).

When Bane Thomas moves to Mills River to purchase land which he believes encompasses an Armistice Zone; land which prohibits demons and the fallen from doing harm. He wants the land so much, he finances a domestic violence project run by the owners. They are not willing to sell. Along with the project he gets more than he bargains for; he falls in love with Reighlyn Anderson a co-worker.
She in turn falls in love with him, but has her suspicions about him. She has seen him use mysterious powers.
Their story is about love versus evil, life versus death and the coming together of two soul mates.

I am a writer living in ___. I have been published...... (Bio time)


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

Sincerely


Good luck. I have finished mine and sent them out.

Anonymous said...

I'll ride on the comment coat tails. Nothing productive to add on content. I hope you'll consider the flow or the rhythm in the sentences. They keep me off balance. The lack of continuity from sentence to sentence feels a bit like a runaway instead of a progession of impulsion.
Look forward to the revision.
Bibi