1. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    Query Letter "Drudge Work" Query Letter

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by bossfearless, Dec 7, 2014.

    Dear ___________




    Merrick Fitzroy is a four hundred pound apprentice mage who doesn't know he's just ended the world with a sausage. Having finished his final year as an apprentice, his graduation project takes him down a perilous road of irresponsible, untested magic in his bid to develop the world’s first weight loss spell. Every other mage to attempt this spell has died spectacularly, and the concept itself has become synonymous with splattered apprentices and extra shifts for the cleaning crew.



    With a stolen research journal in hand, Merrick intends to buck the grisly, explosive trend and become fabulously rich. But the sudden loss of his project’s funding leaves him indebted to the very thieves who acquired this edge. What was meant to be slow, steady research becomes a frantic scramble for a working product, lest he meet his end at the hands of the Guild’s elite Magikillers, patent pending.



    Compounding the problems at hand is Merrick’s young cousin Sigma Fitzroy, a magical prodigy who appears in his apartment in the wake of an exploding cake. Despite her secretive demeanor and ulterior motives, Merrick refuses to turn away family and lets her stay on as his lab assistant. He needs the help, after all. But there is more to the child than either Fitzroy suspects, and an unstoppable creature seems determined to hunt them both down no matter the cost in innocent lives.



    Drudge Work will appeal to fans of irreverent fantasy such as Discworld or The Dresden Files. The opening novel in Merrick’s far-reaching adventures, Drudge Work is complete at 78,500 words.



    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it sounds fun, but it didn't really follow through on the 'ended the world' aspect of the first paragraph. I found myself waiting for that to be clarified, and when it wasn't I was disappointed.
     
  3. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    Well the whole ended the world thing comes about later in the series, but it's strongly foreshadowed in this book that his sausage related shenanaigaans have caused a nasty chain of events to start unfolding. It's all one thing led to another, but by the end of this story the reader only knows that something has gone very wrong with another character, and that the condition stems from a mishap that involved a flung sausage. I wanted the absurdity of it to be a sticking point, and I feel like it's too catchy to not include in the query somewhere, but now I just don't know how or where.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmmm... It didn't work for me where it is. Maybe at the end you could say this is a book with series potential, and then add a little bit about who would have thought a sausage could destroy the world? The way it is now, I feel like the whole query was trying to live up to that opening, and didn't do it.
     
  5. Baka_Alchemist
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    Baka_Alchemist Member

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    I agree. The sausage line was amazing, but then it lost me. I would try to keep that quirky tone throughout the query. If the whole book has it, then I think it has great potential. That fact draws us in, now keep us there by maintaining that tone. I look forward to reading your edited query.
     
  6. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    The whole book really does have the quirky irreverent tone. I quirked harder than I ever quirked before. I just don't know how to sell the sausage apocalypse, which is repeatedly mentioned within the novel but not yet realized by the book's end. The idea here is that, during a routine teleportation spell, the MC throws a sausage at his buddy and the whole spell unravels and lets a few different entities from beyond our dimension slip into the buddy's mind. These entities are very, very bad and they destroy the world in due time. And of course the MC refuses to fess up to his part in all this, and instead of fighting the god eaters and the Pale Prophet of the Final Gods, he fucks off and has a ham sandwich. I just don't know how to sell this in a query letter.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I might focus on selling the tone, rather than the plot. I mean, you have to say SOMETHING about the plot, but maybe you could boil it down to its absolute minimum?
     
  8. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    I'm worried that the plot, when boiled down to its absolute minimum, will equate to either "boy does scientific research" or "boy fights super zombie". Neither of these seems like anything anyone would like. Do the details help or hamper in this case?

    I feel so lost here.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if you have to chose one or the other, I'd definitely go with "boy fights super zombie"!

    Could you make it work if you left the second paragraph out entirely? And then maybe at the end added something about the sausage still creating havoc?

    I don't know...
     
  10. Baka_Alchemist
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    Baka_Alchemist Member

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    Any book can get boiled down to a sentence. Lord of the Rings could be: Hobbit must destroy evil ring. The trick is to present the story in a way that makes it seem unique and interesting. Tell us why this boy doing this scientific research is interesting.

    First get us attached to the character. Then thrown in the complications.


    Also, you can check out query shark. Its a great source that can help anyone write a good query letter.
     
  11. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    Dear __Mr. ToDandy_________




    Merrick Fitzroy is a four hundred pound apprentice mage who doesn't know he's just ended the world with a sausage (I like this opening line. It sets the tone for the rest of the query). Having finished his final year as an apprentice, his graduation project takes him down a perilous road of irresponsible, untested magic in his bid to develop the world’s first weight loss spell. Every other mage to attempt this spell has died spectacularly, and the concept itself has become synonymous with splattered apprentices and extra shifts for the cleaning crew.
    -I really like this opening paragraph. It firmly establishes the comedic tone of the project while remaining concise and easy to follow.

    With a stolen research journal in hand, Merrick intends to buck the grisly, explosive trend and become fabulously rich. But the sudden loss of his project’s funding leaves him indebted to the very thieves who acquired this edge (what edge? I don't know what this is referring too). What was meant to be slow, steady research becomes a frantic scramble for a working product, lest he meet his end at the hands of the Guild’s elite Magikillers, patent pending.
    -And here is where you stumble. I have no idea what thieves he is indebted to, why they are important, or what "edge" they have acquired. I also have no idea why he has to complete the project faster to avoid being killed by the "MagiKillers", whoever they are....

    Compounding the problems at hand is Merrick’s young cousin Sigma Fitzroy, a magical prodigy who appears in his apartment in the wake of an exploding cake. Despite her secretive demeanor and ulterior motives, Merrick refuses to turn away family and lets her stay on as his lab assistant. He needs the help, after all. But there is more to the child than either Fitzroy suspects (either Fitzroy?.....as in Merrick and Sigma? How can there be more to Sigma than Sigma expects? This is a little clunky), and an unstoppable creature seems determined to hunt them both down no matter the cost in innocent lives.
    -WHAT? What unstoppable creature? Why does it want to hunt them down? For what reason? Also, in a paragraph dedicated to Sigma, you manage to say nothing about her at all except that she is "secretive", which is too general to be interesting or inciting.


    Drudge Work will appeal to fans of irreverent fantasy such as Discworld or The Dresden Files. The opening novel in Merrick’s far-reaching adventures, Drudge Work is complete at 78,500 words.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    You do a great job setting up your tone, characters, backstory and what he is after. Your main problem is you fail to paint a clear picture of the real stakes and what the (many) villains seem to be after. I don't have any idea why the MagiKillers, Thieves, or "unstoppable creatures" have it out for him. I have no idea what is at stake or what the actual story is.

    You have a great opening paragraph, but the rest still needs some work. Keep it up! You'll get it! You've got good voice in this!
     
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  12. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    I'm working on revisions to the novel after one (out of a dozen) beta readers finally got back to me, and tweaking the query letter as well. Kind of wondering if I should even mention the younger cousin Sigma, or at least how to actually make her an interesting addition to the query letter. She's running away from really nasty family trauma, so maybe I can lead with that instead of just talking about how mysterious she is. Dreadfully mysterious. The creature actually arrives in pursuit of her, but due to a case of mistaken identity (one Fitzroy is as good as another) they don't realize that until later and just assume it's after Merrick because of his stolen research.

    The research journal is kind of the tiny pebble that starts the landslide of villains coming after him. So maybe I can start off with something like "Academic larceny seemed like such a good idea at the time" or some such and then roll out from there.

    What I'm getting from everyone is that there are no clear stakes defined, so I guess hammer home the fact that he'll be stabbed and bitten and set on fire and stuff if he fails. Then maybe stamp the word "stakes" on it in big red letters lol
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Since you are referencing Terry Pratchett (and I'm a HUGE fan of TP) you might want to study the 'blurbs' on the backs of his novels. A query letter is very like a blurb, with the same intention ...to make the reader want to read the book. Why not see if you can copy the tone and the kind of content TP's blurbs include? This might set you in the right direction with your query. As @Baka_Alchemist said, perhaps you should concentrate on tone, rather than a complete overview of the plot.

    If you can capture the TP tone, you'll have an easier time selling this to an agent, if you mention that your story is in the same ball park as TP's books.
     
  14. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    Jannert, I love you. Marry me and have my freaky internet clone babies. That is genius. I would normally chafe at the idea of reading anyone's work with the intent to copy, but in this case my work is actually very similar in tone to TP already. One person asked me if I was TP in disguise. So I guess looking at how the master does it shouldn't be too far of a reach for me.
     

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