Author Topic: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique  (Read 15251 times)

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #30 on: October 03, 2008, 08:10:09 PM »
It's not a question of who likes 'telling' here, it's a question of what agents like in their queries:  And telling doesn't impress.  And yes, I will tear it to shreds for the author to get that much more positive, agent attention.  Queries are not telling.  Queries are a display of your writing skill.  Point-blank:  it's an advertisement to agents.  It better grab attention quick, get to the point quicker, and keep interest throughout.  Remember, this is a business letter for the agents ... not the writers here.

Opinions will vary, but I promise ... I don't do this for fun.   8) As I said when I first came here, I will do everything in my power to get your writing noticed ... save a recommendation.  ;)

But, if anyone doubts, I will gladly step aside for those with more knowledge.

Dear Agent: (good)

Kyrie Cintrell is cold and uncaring (telling), yet thoroughly enticing – Toren wouldn’t have it any other way (cliché). If she had a heart, he might feel bad for convincing the town of Lake Washington she murdered a missing teenager. Kyrie doubts her sanity; Toren’s payback for igniting his father’s suicide has barely begun. Revenge tastes much sweeter when she’s digging her grave. (rambling, telling, and clichés)

Observation:  This still contains telling and clichés.  Also, you need more focus on the main plot.  This sounds more soap opera subplot than thriller.  Sum up the entire novel in three lines.  Yes, I'm serious.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller which (that) (period) (It) explores the many varied (given) emotions that surround death – blame, sorrow, indifference, fright, anger – (given) and exposes them with utter indecency to embrace the flaws which makes us human (rambling).

Nothing about you?

Thank you for your time. (good)

Sincerely, (excellent)


Still needs more focus on the main conflict.  What the theme?  Again, the potential shows.  But you dance around the big picture.  So … what is it?  ;)

Wolfe
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 08:12:45 PM by Wolfe »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2008, 02:00:21 AM »
This is me trying something compleeeeetely different. Although I'm not privy to the rules about using "bitch" in a query...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Dying’s a bitch—and so is Kyrie. It’s no surprise she remains unscathed by death’s advances. But when schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in Lake Washington she’s a murderer, she succumbs to his insanity. Kyrie fights to silence the voices—permanently.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller. It explores the blame and anger surrounding death and ignites the flaws which make us human.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2008, 07:16:21 AM »
I like the opening sentence, but the others (underlined below) make the query read too much like a series of 'sound bites' to me (the opening and closing sentences are in a similar vein, so just keep one or two of them). I'd suggest you keep the opening and rewrite the others.
I also like the straight forward sentence in the middle: schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in Lake Washington she’s a murderer - excellent, and there's no more distracting 'brother's ex-girlfreind' detail.
The rest of the plot needs a similar clarity - I liked the earlier versions where you made the point about Kyrie beginning to doubt her own sanity. And I like the final sentence here where she fights to silence the voices perminantly, as that links to your mention of Toren's schizophrenia and the implication that he's hearing voices. Maybe add a line about Toren and voices? Don't let the query get too short, but also don't pad it out with themes and sound-bites.


Dying’s a bitch—and so is Kyrie. It’s no surprise she remains unscathed by death’s advances. But when schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in Lake Washington she’s a murderer, she succumbs to his insanity. Kyrie fights to silence the voices — permanently.



luvwriting
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 07:23:45 AM by luvwriting »

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #33 on: October 04, 2008, 09:35:38 AM »
Musicbaby, here is a link to an article/excerpt written by an agent about query letters. Perhaps it will help you get an idea of what an agent expects and hopes to see in a query letter.

http://www.lukeman.com/greatquery/excerpt.htm

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
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R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

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luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #34 on: October 04, 2008, 11:07:10 AM »
Good link countrygirl, I especially liked his bit about specifics:

Quote
Specifics


            Strong writing is specific.  Instead of writing “There was a string of murders in a small town” you might write “Four people were hacked to death in Wichita, Kansas over a two week period.”  Instead of “My novel tells the story of a natural disaster that occurred in the middle of the century,” you might say, “My novel tells the story of the Great Earthquake of 1948 which killed 221 people.”  Specific writing not only indicates a strong writer, it also helps the agent immediately get a fix on the plot.  Indeed, sometimes writers write in generalities to avoid getting down to the specifics of the plot, as there isn’t much to say.  If you have the facts, use them.



In this instance, musicbaby's middle sentence fits the bill:
schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in Lake Washington she’s a murderer

I don't agree with his advice to leave out the names and just refer to the characters as 'the antagonist' and 'the protagonist', because that creates a very sterile query. (and, in some of the best novels that is not always so clear cut). However, it is important to make it clear who is the main character, and you can easily do that by having that as the first name in the query, and by default the agent will assume the second name is the main antagonist.


luvwriting
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 11:09:49 AM by luvwriting »

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2008, 11:17:46 AM »
Quote
Opinions will vary, but I promise ... I don't do this for fun.    As I said when I first came here, I will do everything in my power to get your writing noticed ... save a recommendation. 


Wolfe, we are not always going to agree. Partly because you have a different style of critiquing queries from me, and I don't think you always get your point across very well.
Just because I disagree does not automatically mean my comments are more or less valid because I may or may not be speaking from a position of greater experience. If you want to pull rank, that's fine, but it won't stop me from saying it plainly if & when I think you're wrong. After all, even surgeons make mistakes and kill the patient.  8)
In the end, it's up to the writer to decide what's best for them.


luvwriting

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2008, 03:23:57 PM »


Wolfe, we are not always going to agree. Partly because you have a different style of critiquing queries from me, and I don't think you always get your point across very well.

Do you want me to state how you come across?

Tell you what:  You help with queries and let's see how many agents respond with requests through your advice.  I find it odd you wish to contradict the recommendations an agent desires from queries, but hey ... sure.   I can sit back and watch.  Let's see you do better.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 03:33:31 PM by Wolfe »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2008, 09:51:17 PM »
A few tweeks and changes...



Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Dying’s a bitch—and so is Kyrie. Life is a game to her. But when schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in town she’s a murderer, she crumbles to his insanity. Kyrie fights to silence the voices—permanently.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller and spans six-months in 1994 in the Pacific Northwest city of Lake Washington. It explores blame and anger surrounding death and ignites the flaws which make us human.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #38 on: October 05, 2008, 06:20:38 AM »
When I read a query it is in the mindset of an agent wanting to be hooked into asking for the full. In it's current state your query is too short to convey much of the story (with around 25 queries landing in an agent's inbox every day, she's probably seen several similar plots already - you need to add enough to make yours original).
Also your query will show the agent your writing style, so it's probably not a good idea to make them think the novel is all in 'sound bites' (underlined). The first and last ones you would probably get away with, but not all 4 unless you add something between them, especially since you have more of that sort of thing in the second paragraph:
It explores blame and anger surrounding death and ignites the flaws which make us human. - I would used a different word to 'ignites' as it renders the phrase 'ignites the flaws' meaningless.
Although the novel is in the suspense/thriller catagory, it's emphasis is on the characters rather than the plot. So your query needs more about the main characters, and your earlier list of cold, uncaring, and controlling went half way to fitting the bill, although doesn't explain why such a person would 'crumble to Toren's insanity'. In a way that's good, as it raises questions in the agent's mind about what sort of person would let themselves be caught up in someone else's nightmare, but putting it in the form of a sound bite, or a cliche, doesn't do it any favours. To show them you can write well, you need to be able to explain it better than that.


Quote
Dying’s a bitch—and so is Kyrie. Life is a game to her. But when schizophrenic Toren convinces everyone in town she’s a murderer, she crumbles to his insanity. Kyrie fights to silence the voices—permanently.




luvwriting
« Last Edit: October 05, 2008, 06:57:43 AM by luvwriting »

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2008, 06:09:54 PM »
Take 2,362,438.  :)


Name of Agent
Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax/Email

Dear Agent:

Dying’s a bitch—and so is Kyrie. But when vengeance heeds Toren to convince the town she’s a murderer, she doubts everything that defines her sanity. Kyrie fights to regain her innocence and silence the voices—permanently—or she’ll be Toren’s next fatality.

CLARITY is a 75,000-word thriller and spans six months during 1994 in the Pacific Northwest city of Lake Washington. It explores the blame and anger that surrounds death and ignites the flaws which make us human.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

luvwriting

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #40 on: October 07, 2008, 04:17:02 AM »

You're going backwards and losing the plot. Without saying Toren is schizophrenic you have lost any sort of motive for his actions. Try to avoid using phrases like 'Vengence heeds' as that is meaningless in this context.



luvwriting

Offline Dave Combo

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #41 on: October 07, 2008, 12:16:39 PM »
Just to come in as a reader and to provide a little positivity  ;D

I don't like this genre, but having read each letter twice now, this one, as a reader appeals the most.

Quote
Dear Agent:

Kyrie Cintrell’s paradise crumbles when brothers Toren and Tristan ignite the macabre allure of love and vengeance. Tristan is smitten with Kyrie’s fiery spirit, while Toren seeks revenge for his father’s death. Kyrie begins her own game of survival to counter Toren’s burning assault.

As a business type, I agree with Wolfe's edits, and understand the meaning of them. However I do get a little lost with the grammar side of things: re explanations. Something that hinders my own writing I know.

But the edits are very clear, and easily read.

luvwriting's comments hold stead fast. I just find the long paragraph's difficult to read! From a literary stand point, they are very valid.

I think the point here is what Wolfe touched on.
Quote
It's not a question of who likes 'telling' here, it's a question of what agents like in their queries:  And telling doesn't impress.

I do agree with this. A query is a sales pitch that you get one shot at. You have to make it count. Marketing and sales are not every writers favorite topic, but unfortunately they need to be used these days. The query letter is about getting the Agent to take notice, and read the MS. Do whatever it takes to get this done, even if it sacrifices your literary style on the letter itself. If well written, the book, once read; will sell itself.

Just my two cents.

Dave


bod

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #42 on: October 07, 2008, 12:21:32 PM »

Wolfe

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #43 on: October 07, 2008, 01:57:40 PM »
Music, please post your newest version now.  ;)

Wolfe

Offline musicbaby01

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Re: Query -- CLARITY -- Please critique
« Reply #44 on: October 07, 2008, 05:36:39 PM »
Still trying to find the right words to sum it all up without being wordy... Trying to write the opener is especially tricky. I'll work on it more tonight and start brainstorming...  :)