Monday, November 15, 2010

Query 37

Monarch Effect

When Greg Danaus falls ill, he thinks he has the flu. Little does he know, he is to underging a metamorphosis that will transform him, body and mind. When he awakens new instincts compel him to travels a thousand miles to save Samantha, a girl he has never met. He fights the urge, but his free will is gone.

Driven to desperation by her family’s indifference, Samantha finds a much-needed friend in Greg. Sparks erupt, but, in spite of the undeniable chemistry between them, the mutual attraction feels wrong. They are not fated for one another.

Together Greg and Samantha must come to terms with their new identities and responsibilities. Their earthly upbringing has tainted their natures, allowing Greg to love Samantha when he’s only supposed to ber her guardian, and Samantha to love Greg when she is destined for someone else.

Two souls share an impossible love that spans parallel worlds. Do they have a chance to be together? Or will the price of their attraction be too high?

Comments

I think this is another case where the author is a bit too close to her work. While I'm sure this all makes perfect sense in the book, there isn't quite enough here to tie it altogether for a reader unfamiliar with the ms.

It's also all a bit coy. Everything in this query is a secret. While it's perfectly acceptable to hold back one or two things and to tease the reader in a query, when everything is held back, the reader doesn't have a chance to get invested in either the story or the characters.

Overall, what's really missing from this query is a plot.

When Greg Danaus falls ill, he thinks he has the flu.

This is kind of a mundane opening. We don't really need to know what he thinks he has, we need to know what's really happening.

Little does he know, he is to underging a metamorphosis that will transform him, body and mind.

This is vague. Be concrete. Details are what lure a reader in. How is his body transformed? Does he now have superpowers? Was he a 300-pound black wrestler and is now a 100-pound white accountant? Without details, there isn't anything here the reader can connect with.

When he awakens new instincts compel him to travels a thousand miles to save Samantha, a girl he has never met.

I'm thinking "awakens" here means once the metamorphosis is complete but I'm not sure that's immediately apparent. What's most concerning is the introduction of Samantha -- does he automatically know her name? -- and not knowing what "save" means. Save her spiritually? Is she in some immediate danger, like being trapped in a well? Is she having long-term financial problems and he needs to get her out of debt? Will she be killed by an assassin if he doesn't get to her and warn her in time? Again, being specific will help the reader identify with the characters and their problems.

He fights the urge, but his free will is gone.

This is good.

Driven to desperation by her family’s indifference, Samantha finds a much-needed friend in Greg.

So Greg saves her by becoming her friend? This is a bit of a let-down from the build-up we were just given.

As for Sam, I'm back to harping on details. Does "desperation" mean she's about to suicide? What does "indifference" mean? Did they not give her an iPod for Christmas? Did they throw her out on the streets?

Sparks erupt, but, in spite of the undeniable chemistry between them, the mutual attraction feels wrong. They are not fated for one another.

Together Greg and Samantha must come to terms with their new identities and responsibilities.

Samantha has a new identity?

Their earthly upbringing has tainted their natures, allowing Greg to love Samantha when he’s only supposed to ber her guardian, and Samantha to love Greg when she is destined for someone else.

Ah, both of them are not human. We get a hint here about Greg, but this revelation seems to come out of left field regarding Sam.

OK, so we have two non-humans who for some reason shouldn't be attracted to each other but who are. Now you're going to tell us what the plot is, right?

Two souls share an impossible love that spans parallel worlds. Do they have a chance to be together? Or will the price of their attraction be too high?

No, still no sign of the plot.

I'm not sure where the "parallel worlds" concept comes from. All the action so far seems to have taken place in one world.

The first question isn't necessary because it seems they already are together. And the second question doesn't make sense to the reader because we've only been told they aren't supposed to be together but haven't been clued in on why or what will happen if they do -- or don't -- hook up. For all we know, if these two do hook up, it will mean the end of our world, and in that case, I would hope they don't get together. What's keeping them apart?

My Revision

This is something to use as a template. You'll want to, of course, fill in all the bogus information with what really happens in your book.

When pro wrestler Greg Danaus is suddenly and inexplicably transformed into a mild-mannered accountant, he hasn't a clue what the hell just happened. But visions of a young woman about to jump from the Chattanooga Bridge half a continent away coupled with an unavoidable compulsion to stop her might just hold the answer.

Samantha Lastname doesn't understand the painful waking dreams of blue-skinned folk being tortured that she can't escape or why her abusive father chose now to throw her out on the street. The Bridge seems the best way out -- until a mysterious accountant takes her in and provides the much-needed friendship -- and distraction -- she's been desperate for. Undeniable as the chemistry is between them, though, something doesn't feel quite right.

The blue-skinned wrestlers of OtherWorld orchestrated Greg and Sam's meeting, but they didn't expect the pair to fall in love. The BSWs need Sam to give them the savior destined to save their world. The one that will open a portal and let the violence of OtherWorld flow into ThisEarth. Sam and Greg will have to overcome fate and the legions of OtherWorld to save ThisEarth -- and themselves.

MONARCH EFFECT is a 80,000 to 100,000 word fantasy with romantic elements. I look forward to sending the completed manuscript.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, I am the author of this SOOO vague, boring "Monarch Effect" query. That was my first attempt at a query, ever. And boy did I not know what I was doing. Your breakdown really makes the lightbulb in my brain come on. What a huge "Aha" moment I'm having. Thanks so much for the lesson and for the example. I will make a second attempt, and with your input, it may not be perfect, but I know it will be much better than my first.

Phoenix said...

Oh, I recognize that "Aha" moment only too well ;o)

Mine came a few years ago reading through the queries at Miss Snark's: Oh, so THAT's what a query letter is supposed to be!

Luckily, my next thought was, Well, yeah, I can do THAT.

I'm glad that was your next thought, too, author!

vkw said...

Welcome to the world of Aha moments. Query letters are very, very hard. I've written a hundred - for the same book.

good-luck

vkw

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many good novels go undiscovered because the author cannot write a good query. It feels like you have to be a poet or something! Well, I wrote a second version of this Monarch Effect query.

Phoenix, is it possible to get a sencond chance to receive your advice? It may be too much to ask, though :|

Phoenix said...

I'm happy to give queries a second look. That's part of the pleasure of critiquing -- watching things improve!

There's just lag time usually. I've noted it on the schedule in the sidebar for next Tues, so if you want to sit on it for a day or two before you send it, you can.

Matt said...

Ah, the vague query stage. That takes me back.

Next up is the extra long revision. We'll show you were to cut.