THE BRAZOS FORMATION - Sci Fi, query letter

Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by mrieder79, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Posted newest version in its entirety.

    Conventional wisdom holds that with query letters, less is more. You should get a feel for the main character, the conflict, and the stakes, with a sense of the general plot direction. If that's not there, then I need to fix it.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm too close to the story to critique a query (as I've learned in the past) so all I can comment on is technicalities:

    FWIW I think it sounds good. I'm just not reading it with an agent's fresh eyes, so I can't be sure...
     
  3. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Thanks Tenderizer. I'll have a look at those opening stakes. I hear what you're saying. I think my original first line hit harder, but then I got lost in backstory. I'll try to meld the two and see what happens.
     
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  4. texshelters
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    texshelters Member

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    I agree that some of the elements seem out of order. Why not put the title upfront with a catchy line about its significance? There is also too much plot detail and not enough about what makes this unique. What's the selling point?

    Friedman has some good suggestions for query letter. Peace, Tex

    https://janefriedman.com/query-letters/
     
  5. Scotty455
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    Scotty455 New Member

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    I disagree with a lot of what has been said here. I think this query reads really well. Within the first paragraph you've managed to raise the stakes twice. First, we know he could lose his job if he doesn't find the oil rig. Then, we know that if he does, lives are at stake. Not just lives, the lives of his crew - those who he is responsible for. These aren't generic storm troopers. They matter to him.

    I can understand what tenderiser is saying about losing your job being a generic stake, but the fact you raise it again provides a foundation and a nice structure for your opening paragraph. However, I do agree that ending on "feed" would add a lot more punch.

    Some of the word choices are fantastic. "Yawning chasm" and "carapaced shapes" are evoking without being verbose, invite curiosity without being vague.

    Great job. I'd love to read some of it!
     
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  6. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something like this? More personable, a bit more fun, exciting impression of an exciting story? Needs a tweek..


    Dear Mr Pickle,

    THE BRAZOS FORMATION @ 116,000 words won first place for unpublished science fiction at the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. I am looking for an agent for this, my 'fantastic' piece, and having explored your own charming web presence for a couple of days now, thought I'd give you a spin.

    My hero is Rich Fields. An engineer, he sets out to find a missing oil survey ship in the Gulf of Mexico, knows failure will cost his job. Of course he finds the ship, but Rich realizes this apparent success might now cost his life and also the lives of his crewmen.

    You see - the shipwreck is not the problem, it is the yawning chasm beside it. Rich worries. Strange events surround the chasm: an unmanned submersible mysteriously vanishes mid-dive, strange lights appear in water, glimpses of hulking, carapaced shapes terrify the crew.

    A deep-sea diving suit malfunctions, the expedition's divemaster plummets into the chasm.Their appetites' aroused, the chasm's inhabitants emerge after sunset. They discover Rich's salvage platform and they begin to feed on his men.

    Can Rich save the survivors from the denizens of THE BRAZOS FORMATION?

    Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing your opinions.

    Jake Writer

    [take out one more paragraph, condense]
     
  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Contributor

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    Yes, I'd say it needs a tweak - the very first paragraph in particular!! ;)

    ETA: Just found that matwolf wasn't the OP and this was his own version. Sorry about that :oops: but I hope it can still be useful...
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    He was getting tangled up in drafts - I was hoping to loosen him up and help him come across more 'personable' on the page - 'cause the product is appealing to his market, think so..

    ...it was the principle rather than actual wording..:/
     
  9. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Contributor

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    Yeah I gathered that.. too late for you @matwoolf ;) Just be advised that these kind of sentences don't come over well, not even to 'loosen up' ..
     
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  10. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I just posted a new version if anyone wants to have a look.

    I really appreciate everyone's perspective on this query letter. The advice is getting me closer to where I need to be.
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    A quibble, but I'm used to the "will cost him" construction, rather than just "will cost".

    Other than that - I really like the format of the last summary paragraph, especially that last line about beginning to feed. I feel like you got a really good ominous mood in there.

    For the rest? I'd say solid, but maybe Matt Woolf was right (after a fashion...) and it could use a bit more voice? Not a flippant voice, but whatever the mood of your book is. If it's a quasi-horror book, as it sounds, maybe something with more suspense?
     
  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go to his house in a hearse.
     
  13. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    That's funny because I went back and forth between "will cost" and "will cost him" for about an hour.

    Other than that - I really like the format of the last summary paragraph, especially that last line about beginning to feed. I feel like you got a really good ominous mood in there.

    For the rest? I'd say solid, but maybe Matt Woolf was right (after a fashion...) and it could use a bit more voice? Not a flippant voice, but whatever the mood of your book is. If it's a quasi-horror book, as it sounds, maybe something with more suspense?[/QUOTE]

    I will definitely try. Voice is something I've been working on. Its hard to translate into a succinct query.

    Thanks for the help
     

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