Author Topic: Query letter for Murder On Marsh Island Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks  (Read 32192 times)

LinRobinson

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May I make an observation?  You need to consider every word you offer in your sentence.

Sorry, but this is EXACTLY the kind of advice you get on the internet that no professional would ever suggest.

Think about it... you've got 100.000 in your novel and you're going to be doing heavy consideration of ALL of them?
This is like telling an athlete that he needs to carefully consider the placement of each foot during a game.

In real life, writing flows...it's not lego.   

What you're concerned with is mainly how the thing reads, not violating the narrative voice of the story,  catching obvious gross grammatical errors.

The main value of "crit"  or "feedback" is getting a fresh view of how it reads.

Offline reddsh

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LinRobinson,

It's my understanding that Wolfe was talking about the query letter, not the novel.  In that case, yes, you do need to consider every word.  Query letters are only one page.  That gives the agent very little to work with, and if the author can't engage them in so few words, chances are their 100,000-word manuscript won't do it, either.

JHMull,

Though I haven't commented on this thread before, I have been watching your progress in hope of learning techniques to use for my own.  I'm still a little stuck on my last line.  Hope you're having an easier time.
The author gets to choose when the story is finally dead. ~Castledoor

Offline Swampfox one

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How about this for my third sentence.

Marsh Island secrets hold the key to justice served.


Offline Swampfox one

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LinRobinson,

It's my understanding that Wolfe was talking about the query letter, not the novel.  In that case, yes, you do need to consider every word.  Query letters are only one page.  That gives the agent very little to work with, and if the author can't engage them in so few words, chances are their 100,000-word manuscript won't do it, either.

JHMull,

Though I haven't commented on this thread before, I have been watching your progress in hope of learning techniques to use for my own.  I'm still a little stuck on my last line.  Hope you're having an easier time.


Not really, while I have been doing this I have written almost 30,000 words of Cajun Lust. I can tell you I have bought more books on Writing query letters and I find none of them worth the paper they are written on. But that is just my thoughts.  I have found what Wolfe and others have shared worth far more.

Offline Swampfox one

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Sorry, but this is EXACTLY the kind of advice you get on the internet that no professional would ever suggest.

Think about it... you've got 100.000 in your novel and you're going to be doing heavy consideration of ALL of them?
This is like telling an athlete that he needs to carefully consider the placement of each foot during a game.

In real life, writing flows...it's not lego.   

What you're concerned with is mainly how the thing reads, not violating the narrative voice of the story,  catching obvious gross grammatical errors.

The main value of "crit"  or "feedback" is getting a fresh view of how it reads.


thanks Lin, what is your thoughts on what I have written or tried to write so far?

Wolfe

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Sorry, but this is EXACTLY the kind of advice you get on the internet that no professional would ever suggest.

Think about it... you've got 100.000 in your novel and you're going to be doing heavy consideration of ALL of them?
This is like telling an athlete that he needs to carefully consider the placement of each foot during a game.

In real life, writing flows...it's not lego.   

What you're concerned with is mainly how the thing reads, not violating the narrative voice of the story,  catching obvious gross grammatical errors.

The main value of "crit"  or "feedback" is getting a fresh view of how it reads.

I see you still want to expose me as a hack with your one-upmanship. :) Let me first say this: Better critics than you tried this and worse. They failed. So, please save yourself the continued embarrassment.

Yes, I do mean every single word for every single sentence.  Novel, query letter, whatever. No professional would say this?

Gary Provost of 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing wrote a book on it.  It's titled Make Every Word Count: A Guide to Writing That WorksóFor Fiction and Nonfiction http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0898790409/the6ferrwritgrou

Legend William Zinsser wrote in his On Writing Well, "Notice the decisions that other writers make in their choice of words and be finicky about the ones you select from the vast supply. The race in writing is not to the swift but to the original." (page 34)

How about Stephen King?  In On Writing, King states, "Use active verbs and choose the right words ... cut and cull to create clean text." (pages 111 - 137 throughout)

Oh you said Internet!  Sorry.

Nicholas Spark says this about cutting, editing, and word choice about The Notebook, "I'll give you one example of the cutting, since many people ask about that. Toward the beginning of the novel, Noah mentions a book of poetry he'd carried with him in the war. In the first draft, I'd described an exciting "war" scene, complete with Noah getting caught behind enemy lines, disobeying orders, and heading back to find the book, only to get caught in a fire-fight, etc. It ran four pages, but after reading through the draft, I knew the scene was too long, since it was tangential to the primary story. I first cut the scene to three pages, then two, and finally got it down to a page. Yet, after additional readings, I still thought it was too long. It went from four paragraphs to three, then to two, and I finally got the scene down to a single paragraph. Pretty good cutting, right? After re-reading again, I still thought it was too long. It went from four sentences to three, three to two, then two to one.

The final sentence read, "It (meaning 'the book of poetry') had once taken a bullet for him."

http://www.nicholassparks.com/Novels/TheNotebook/Notes.html

How about Writer's Digest? Are they professional?  I mean, they only published a couple hundred books and articles right? Consider this article entitled "4 Tips for Choosing the Right Word" http://www.writersdigest.com/article/?p_ArticleId=5208

Legend Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club is quoted to say, "We are the kind of people who obsess over one word ... "

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/amytan269348.html

Yes word choices, exact word choices, make a difference. Yes, choose each word with care. Yes, choose the best words for your prose.

In publishing, we call this craft 'line-by-line' editing.  You check for all missteps to include watered and weak word choices. You might write a book built from legos, but I will write a book built from the best a writer can be.

I advise my peers to do the same.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 06:47:03 AM by Wolfe »

Offline Polycom

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Eww.

Perhaps you should go back to scriptwriting Lynn. . Thats just my two cents.

Wolfe

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Marsh Island secrets hold the key to justice served.

Ironically, I considered something similar.  ;D  Yet, I found the last two words awkward.  Also, did you mean Marsh Island's secrets? It shows possibilities.  Maybe a little touch-up?

Wolfe

Offline Swampfox one

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How about this.


Marsh Island's secrets hold the key to justice.

Wolfe

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Marsh Island's secrets hold the key to justice. (hold the key is clichť - I know, I failed to catch this one too ;) ) This also sounds flat and lacks the energy needed for the story's pitch to the agent.

Let's back up a bit.

What's the theme or universal message in your book?

Wolfe
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 05:43:39 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Swampfox one

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Theme ?
Itís about a new sheriff and a couple whose loses their money and turns to crime for more.  Of course there are subplots.

Wolfe

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Sorry for the delay ... deadlines.  :P

Your theme sounds like the quote from Rex versus Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy, "...not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._v._Sussex_Justices,_Ex_parte_McCarthy

The public wants to see murderers brought to justice especially when they shame the victim.

Why?

It could be them. We call this effect in writing sympathy and identification. You want the last line to tease the agent and draw sympathy. Right now, your victim and sheriff appear as nameless Jane and John Does.  Force your audience to care. A sympathetic audience will always buy your work.

Can change your last line to do this? :)

Wolfe
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 01:17:04 AM by Wolfe »

Offline Swampfox one

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I see what you mean - I need to give some more thought to the best way to present that tightly enough for a query letter.  The real deal is the sheriff is a good guy with little artifice and a laser focus on justice. The dead woman and most of her associates are defined by their wealth and status so when that is gone, they are driven to desperation to continue their normal mode of survival. ::)
 

Wolfe

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I'll be around.  ;)

Wolfe

Offline Xerika

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What's the theme or universal message in your book?

Sorry for butting in here, but I feel compelled to ask: 'Is it strictly necessary to have either a theme or universal message these days?'

When I was a playwright, I peddled themes and messages galore. Nothing seemed to change, so I became despondent and decided to go for 'mildly entertaining but shallow' instead.

In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some readers might well pluck a book off the shelves with a sigh of relief if the blurb on the back loudly announced something like:


The shallowest book you'll read all year!

Jason Myres knows that the CIA are plotting to implode the ozone layer, and he is the only one who can save the world.

Don't be mistaken though. This is not just another book about global warming and conspiracies.

It's a book about a guy like you or I who'd rather party than save the world.

And that's exactly what Jason does with some riproaringly hilarious results.

Let's paaaarty!!!!



P.S. Sorry if I sounded a bit cynical there.
http://rob-johnson.org.uk/ - writing, podcasting and reluctant olive farming

"I'd Rather Eat My Own Face" podcast. The truth about olive harvesting. http://wp.me/p2bC2C-8U

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