Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Query Letter

This is the current draft of the query letter I'm writing for my novel Bleed Well. If you have any suggestions, please please please let me know so I can make this as good as possible.

    When Fredrick finds a small deer following him through the forest, he remembers the teachings in the temple about how the creatures of the forest were gods and should be treated with respect. But instead of treating this as an honor, his frustration with life, love, and his failed dreams grab hold of him and refuse to let go. He picks up a rock and bashes in the deer’s skull.
    Later that morning, Fredrick confesses to one of the village elders about his profane actions in an attempt to figure out why he killed the deer. But instead of giving him answers or assuaging his concerns, the elder rebukes him and warns the gods are going to be furious. Shortly after their discussion, the elder’s premonitions become reality when a nearby volcano erupts and disaster strikes the village. After the fires are put out and all villagers, dead and alive, are accounted for, the elders gather for an emergency meeting. Unanimously, they determine Fredrick was the cause of the disaster and banish him from the village forever.
Homeless and alone, Fredrick must embark on a journey to right his wrongs and appease the gods in order to save himself and everybody his loves from annihilation.

Again, any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated


B.T. Hoskins June 16, 2011 at 8:22 AM  

It all sounds really interesting. The only thing I might look into is the use of "But" at the beginning of sentences. While it's acceptable to use conjunctions to start a sentence, there are some who don't agree, and using it twice in one query might get you a bad stamp from those who don't like it.

This article explains it a lot better than I can:

Aside from that, it looks to be a very unique story. I look forward to reading it someday :)

John Wiswell June 16, 2011 at 11:23 PM  

There are a couple of minor problems with the query, but one big one that will probably sink you. I mean no disrespect in pointing these things out. The big problem is that you spend two paragraphs on the setup, then tell us what the novel is actually about in the third. The novel is his journey and you should tell us what's interesting about it. The story of his expulsion reads like a preamble, and I know agents who will shut you down for trying to sell them on that.

The minor things: Be very careful about redundant words. For instance, "the forest" shows up twice in your first sentence. Economy is super-important to queries.

I don't get why the deer causes him to remember failures in love or dreams, partially because I don't know what those struggles are, but also because outside of the story that sounds like a reach. Giving us more context might help. I'm not sure why it's important. You could tie it into what happens on his journey, but it still feels like it'd be better to learn about his frustrations based on the neat events of the journey rather than him beating the deer.

Michael A Tate June 17, 2011 at 7:24 AM  

Thank you both for your comments. I passed this by some other people and the two major things that really stuck out were Fredrick does not at all seem likable what so ever, and this starts in the wrong place. I'm going back to the drawing board...

I'd say this is an example of a not so good query letter :)

B.T. Hoskins June 22, 2011 at 11:55 PM  

It'll come to you eventually. I don't think I've ever met a writer who didn't hash out a few dozen bad query letters before finding the right one. Good luck to you.

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