1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Query Letter Romance query

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Tenderiser, Jan 24, 2016.

    I'm jumping the gun with this one, because the novel isn't even written. But I find these so damn hard that I'm determined to have the query and synopsis written first this time around.

    Any thoughts welcome. Character names changed.

    Dear Anne A Gent

    When Steve Jones is forced by a family bereavement to spend a fortnight with his estranged brother Dave, he expects it to be awkward. He doesn’t expect his new sister-in-law to be The One Who Got Away.

    Six years ago he spent a single evening with vivacious, beautiful Sarah, and she changed his life. He was about to become a hotshot Harley Street doctor, the ticket to his upwardly-mobile parents’ dreams, but she persuaded him to give it all up and pursue his dream – caring for flea-bitten stray animals in Greece. Cast out and cut off from the family, he had no idea that Dave had snared the love of Steve’s life, until he meets her as his sister-in-law.

    The attraction is still there, but it’s too late for Steve and Sarah. She’s expecting his brother’s baby, and he has a girlfriend waiting for him in Greece. He’s preparing to go back until he uncovers the rot under the veneer of their relationship. Dave, always selfish and prickly, has become an abuser. Sarah is too manipulated by him to see it, and determined that her baby will be raised by its real father – unlike her. But Julian catches glimpses of the passionate, life-loving woman he knew, underneath the timid surface, and knows she’s straining to escape.

    If Dave finds out that Steve’s trying to persuade Sarah to leave, he’ll make sure he doesn’t see a penny of the inheritance he needs to save his animal sanctuary. She doesn’t even want to be saved, and now Steve’s girlfriend has revealed she’s pregnant, the choice is tearing him apart. Can he risk everything to save the woman he loves and if he tries, will she come?

    AMAZING TITLE is an xx,xxx word contemporary romance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
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  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. I think there's a bit too much information here, but also (in some ways) too little.

    Sarah changed Steve's life? How? And why did he abandon HER when he moved to Greece? In other words, what will Sarah's attitude toward Steve be now? Does she blame him for abandoning her for a pack of dogs? Or does she feel grief because they were split up against their will? This will have a huge bearing on the story as it develops, and these are questions the reader of the query letter will probably want answered to some degree. Why did they split up?

    The woman in Greece, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be a huge factor in the story, as set out here. Just a small complication, probably easily dealt with. If this is a Romance, it's obvious who the lovers are, and the main obstacle seems to be Dave, not the woman in Greece. I think the Greek woman might be left out of the query letter (not necessarily left out of the story), as her existence kind of muddies the water a bit.

    The central issue seems to be does Steve step in to attempt to save the woman he loves (against her will) from a manipulative bully, who just happens to be his own brother?
     
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  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oops. Edited to make it clear that they only spent a short time together when they first met, and were never in a relationship. So there are no hard feelings about him leaving for Greece.

    In a way, but complicated by the fact that is choice is save her OR save his sanctuary, and the fact that she doesn't appear to want to be saved.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel like I need more from Sarah's perspective - right now she's more of a prop than a character. Why does she do what she does, and what's her goal in all of this?
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, so the situation is complicated. He has to make the choice between saving Sarah and saving his sanctuary? Hmm. Is that something you want a potential Romance agent to know? I think this sounds like a great story, and one that's got a lot of realistic aspects to it, but I'm not sure how this will read to an audience who loves traditional Romances. They might see the conflict between choosing the love of your life and running an animal sanctuary as not ...er ...very Romantic?

    This might be interesting: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/successful-queries-agent-allison-hunter
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    ^ That is a GREAT query. I wish I could do that.

    The question about his choice is interesting. Perhaps it's because I'm such a softie animal lover, but if I had to choose between my husband and my cats? Uh, sorry Mr Tenderiser, we might be in trouble. Seriously. And Steve doesn't just have two cats, he has a building full of them, and without him they'll be starving and homeless. But I added a little more complication to the query, in the form of his girlfriend back in Greece muddying the waters further. I didn't want to throw everything into the query, but it seems impossible to get a balance between enough info and brevity :/
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Again, this choice between animal and Sarah doesn't have to be altered in the story, just the query letter. Here's another blog I found interesting, and it deals pretty straightforwardly with the organisation of the letter, especially what the short synopsis should contain. Focus on the characters, the conflict, and the incident that gets the whole story rolling:

    https://romancewritersonthejourney.wordpress.com/2008/08/24/writing-a-pitch-perfect-query-letter/
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've read that one many a time. :D

    That's what I've tried to do, but I don't think I can do it without leaving out the sanctuary being in financial trouble. That's the incident that gets the story rolling - if Steve didn't need money to save the sanctuary, he wouldn't be trying to reconcile with his family in order to get the inheritance money. And he wouldn't have to worry about upsetting Dave (as Dave holds the pursestrings). So if I leave that out of the query, he really just looks like an arsehole who can't be bothered trying to help a woman suffering domestic abuse.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that it's a strong query, but if you look at the reasons the agent gave for being enthusiastic about the book, none of them were really related to the wording of the query itself.

    Not to say that the wording isn't important, but I think maybe we sometimes overestimate just how important.

    When I was querying, I pasted the first five pages of my book to the end of every query letter, whether the agent asked for that or not. (If they asked for 3 chapters or whatever, I pasted that rather than the five pages, obviously!). And then I just wrote the query letter in as authentic a voice as I could manage and hoped my pages would speak for themselves. And they did - I got requests for fulls from quite a few agencies, and that's the only job a query letter has.

    My query itself was nothing special, though.

    I'll post it below, in case you're interested (and in case it helps you calm down a little!)

     
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  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So maybe that's what you start with.

    Steve Jones has only one reason to spend a fortnight with his estranged brother, Dave. Money. Dave has it and Steve needs it, because his animal shelter is at risk of closing its doors, sending dozens of homeless dogs back to the streets or worse. But his mercenary goals are complicated when he realizes that Dave is now married to Sarah, the One Who Got Away, and that the marriage is not a healthy one.

    Sarah blah blah blah [whatever it is that Sarah wants]

    And then a paragraph about how Steve and Sarah work together, or whatever the hell it is they do for the majority of the book while they're falling back in love.



    Maybe?
     
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