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  1. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    Query Letter Hook and summary

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Kallisto, Jan 9, 2019.

    This is by no means a complete query letter. I'm just trying to get some feedback if I summarized my novel well enough to interest someone. Without saying anything else, here's what I have so far.


    Dear ,

    [Reason why I’m querying a particular agent. This part, I want to make personal to each agent] I would like to introduce you to my 115,000 word fantasy novel entitled The Princess of Helmsheim. The novel focuses around Ingrid, a princess who was forced into hiding after she’s accused of murdering the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

    While on the run, Ingrid serves as an agent for her sister, the queen and comes across a conspiracy to overthrow the kingdom. Unfortunately, Ingrid’s discovery comes too late to save her sister’s husband and children. In one last effort to save her kingdom from war, Ingrid is tasked to kill the king’s brother, suspected of plotting the assassination. There is just one problem: there’s no proof he had any involvement and so to kill him would destroy every belief Ingrid ever had concerning justice.



    So this by no means represents my entire novel. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't misrepresent it. It's the general gist minus all the twists and turns. But I don't think that's what I'm supposed to do anyway. If I'm understanding query letters correctly, the point is to make a case to at least look at the novel and consider representing it. I hope I'm right on that.
     
  2. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Just a small nit but I thought "... for her sister, the queen," flowed better. Because as it is, I expect the sentence to read, "Ingrid serves as an agent for her sister, the queen and who?", but instead your intention is to quickly establish Ingrid's sister is the queen.

    Other question: is the king's brother her uncle, brother-in-law, cousin? Might be information worthy of including.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    Tristan's Opa and Kallisto like this.
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I feel like this is one of those times when passive voice is NOT your friend... the "is tasked with" aspect of the story seems to be glossing over something really significant. Who is giving her this task, and how do they have the power to enforce anything?

    Also, I'm left wondering about what the Fantasy aspects are. Is it just a sort of "not this world" history, or is there magic or dragons or something?
     
  4. Allan Dyen-Shapiro

    Allan Dyen-Shapiro New Member

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    The problem I see is there's nothing to grab me here. Your plot elements seem cut-and-pasted from the Masterplots condensed Shakespeare (of Hamlet, especially, recall Shakespeare used plots that the "groundlings" would be familiar with, so they were trite back in the 16th century). Carrying a message, murder of a royal, no firm proof of guilt, etc.

    Stuff to think about: is there some unique aspect of your protagonist? Is there some cool aspect of her character arc? Does the antagonist have any novel features?

    Is there something stylistic on which you could sell your novel? If you had a sarcastic heroine, for example, a query that started something like this might sell (not your plot details, but, hopefully, you get the idea): It totally sucked for Ingrid to have the prince's murder pinned on her. Princesses are supposed to be batting their eyes at potential suitors during (interminable) garden parties, but after the husband and children of the Queen, her sister, die due to Ingrid's indecisiveness, she decides to kick some ass.

    If your plot points really are generic and the voice of your protagonist really is bland, you have way bigger problems than writing a query letter. On the assumption that you just don't have the perfect query yet, and it's obscuring a great manuscript, I'd suggest deciding what the coolest thing about your novel is and running with that in the query. I'd read something based on cool characters. I'd read something based on a cool voice. I'd read something based on cool ideas. I'd read something based on a twisty plot. I'd read literary fiction based on beautiful prose.

    You need at least one selling point here. Find it, and then rewrite the query letter.

    Hopefully, this is helpful. If not, hit delete. My opinions only, and I'm certainly not an expert.
     
  5. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    Lol. Doesn't quite match the tone of the story, but I do see your point. I'll see if I can doctor this up a bit.
     

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