1. J.Milton

    J.Milton New Member

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    Query Letter Historical Fiction Query

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by J.Milton, Oct 28, 2019.

    I would appreciate some insight on my query. I have included a question at the bottom as I'm getting mixed reviews as to whether I should include the information or not.
    Also, before sending it out I will customize it to each agent and include my own background.
    Thank you!


    SUNDAY is a 102,000-word Historical Fiction novel set in Georgian England. It follows Lady Evangeline Stedman who spends ten years training to be a warrior. On her seventeenth birthday she will learn why; but not until she makes a choice that will change her life. On that day she stands in front of seventeen people, sword in hand; her task: Kill them all or be killed.

    Evangeline will always choose her own life. After killing the seventeen people, Bishop Christianson informs her that she has been trained to serve the Lord. She will spend the rest of her life serving Him, or she and her family will be killed.

    With the knowledge of why she was trained comes new rules: First, only kill on Sunday, as it is the Lord's day. Second, only kill those on the list. Third, never marry. And finally, never tell anyone what she does.
    Evangeline, and her servant Heddy, set out, killing those on her list. Along the way, she meets Lord Mooreton, who is annoyingly charming, and stubborn. She knows she can never marry but can’t seem to stay away. Evangeline continues to do the Lord's work, all the while keeping in contact with Lord Mooreton.

    Heddy discovers Evangeline's secret, and, after adjusting to the reality that the child she raised is a murderer, tries to convince Evangeline she has been lied to. Evangeline will hear nothing of it; until she has a dream of the seventeen and realizes she killed her beloved nursemaid, who left on her seventh birthday.

    When Bishop Christianson discovers Evangeline is no longer under his control, he calls for her death. Evangeline must hurry and find a way to end this evil; she will stop at nothing even if it means losing everything she cares about: her parents, Heddy, and most importantly, her fiancé, Lord Mooreton.


    Question:
    Should I include in the Query why Bishop Christianson has selected Evangeline?
    He selected her because she turned seven on the seventh of July 1707, making her birthday 777, which is considered a perfect/holy number in the Bible.
    Thank you again.
     
  2. Lunablue09

    Lunablue09 New Member

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    Here are my edits! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or want to send me another draft:

    SUNDAY is a 102,000-word Historical Fiction novel age range? set in Georgian England. It follows Lady Evangeline Stedman who spends ten years training to be a warrior. On her seventeenth birthday she will learn why; but not until she makes a choice that will change her life. On that day she stands in front of seventeen people, sword in hand; her task: Kill them all or be killed. There's a lot of set-up here that can be condensed. Really think about what the reader needs to know in order to get them hooked and don't forget to use your voice! This is an action-packed plot, launch us into the action!

    Ex 1: Lady Evangeline Stedman is the epitome of what a Georgian-era noblewoman should be--a gracious host, a demure courtier, and a merciless killer.

    Ex 2. On her 17th birthday, Lady Evangeline Stedman is given a choice--use her decade of weapons' training to mercilessly slaughter 17 people, or watch her family die. This is the start of Evangeline's servitude to CHURCH WARRIORS.


    Evangeline will always choose her own life. After killing the seventeen people, Bishop Christianson informs her that she has been trained to serve the Lord. She will spend the rest of her life serving Him, or she and her family will be killed.

    With the knowledge of why she was trained comes new rules: First, only kill on Sunday, as it is the Lord's day. Second, only kill those on the list. Third, never marry. And finally, never tell anyone what she does. Which rules matter most to set-up conflicts and challenges for the characters in this query letter? I think the whole "never marry" part.
    Evangeline, and her servant Heddy, set out, killing those on her list. Along the way, she meets Lord Mooreton That's the fourth name you've used in this query As a general rule of thumb, keep it to 2, the ones who drive the plot forward. I think that you should choose between Lord Mooreton and Bishop Christianson , who is annoyingly charming, and stubborn How come we only get to know what Lord Mooreton is like? Where are our descriptive verbs for the main character. She knows she can never marry but can’t seem to stay away. Evangeline continues to do the Lord's [bloody] work I think it's important that you add that it's not really the Lord's work, you may scare the agent. Make it clear that it's the organization's work, all the while keeping in contact with Lord Mooreton.

    Heddy discovers Evangeline's secret, and, after adjusting to the reality that the child she raised is a murderer, tries to convince Evangeline she has been lied to. Evangeline will hear nothing of it; until she has a dream of the seventeen and realizes she killed her beloved nursemaid, who left on her seventh birthday. This is a lot of juicy meat that may be better suited for a synopsis. You need to set up the conflict in a snappier way. Example: But the more Evangeline learns about CHURCH WARRIORS [or whatever the organization is called], the more she realizes she's just a pawn in the power-hungry Bishop Christianson's political games.

    When Bishop Christianson discovers Evangeline is no longer under his control, he calls for her death. Evangeline must hurry and find a way to end this evil; she will stop at nothing even if it means losing everything she cares about: her parents, Heddy, and most importantly, her fiancé, Lord Mooreton. We could use some concrete challenges here. How does he call for her death? Is she on the run from Catholic assassins? What kind of evil is he specifically? Right now he's just abstract. We need emotional buy-in, just give us a hint.


    Question:
    Should I include in the Query why Bishop Christianson has selected Evangeline?
    He selected her because she turned seven on the seventh of July 1707, making her birthday 777, which is considered a perfect/holy number in the Bible.

    Nope! While this is a neat detail in the plot, the query letter should just be about capturing the attention of the agent. It should feature the plot points that emphasize the drama and voice of the novel.


    ~*~*~*~
    General notes:
    There is a loooot going on in this query letter but we still don't know a few key things:
    1) Who is Evangeline? What's she like, why would readers care about her?

    2) What age group is this novel for?

    3) Comp titles! Find 1 or 2 titles published in the last 2-3 years in your genre. Hit up your local independent book shop, describe your book, and they'll help you find some similarities. But beware--you're not looking for exact matches. You're looking for comp titles that give readers the *experience* of your novels. Does it have the lyrical voice of All the Crooked Saints? Does it have a determined but conflicted main character reminiscent of Zoraida Cordova's "Labyrinth Lost?" Think about themes

    You have a lot of implied high stakes in here which gives you a lot of potential for a heart-pounding query letter. By trimming the extra bits, you'll heighten the emotions and conflict and let your query shine!
     
    J.Milton likes this.
  3. J.Milton

    J.Milton New Member

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    Thank you so much for your input. I found your notes to be very helpful. I am copping my updated query below. Hopefully, it is more in line with what a query should be.

    Evangeline Stedman’s 17th birthday is supposed to mean her freedom. Instead, she’s given a choice: Use her training from the last ten years and slaughter the 17 people in front of her, or watch her family die.

    Choosing to live, Bishop Christianson tells Evangeline she will never marry and will spend the rest of her life serving the Lord. Evangeline sets out killing those Bishop Christianson tells her to. Little does she know she’s actually helping Bishop Christianson rise within the Church of England.

    Evangeline longs for her freedom and prays she will be released from the Lord’s grasp. Even more so when she meets Lord Mooreton; she knows she cannot have a relationship but can’t seem to stay away.

    As Evangeline is told to kill a clergyman, she begins to realize she’s a pawn to Bishop Christianson. Upon discovering Evangeline is no longer under his control Bishop Christianson sends men to kill her. As she flees his assassins, she must use the skills taught her to bring an end to his reign before it’s too late.


     

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