1. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    THE BRAZOS FORMATION - Sci Fi, query letter

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

    Here is my newest version. Please critique mercilessly.
    Click on spoiler for older versions.

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    New Version : posted 1/1/17 844pm EST
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    Dear Agent,

    Rich Ford is devastated when his mentor disappears during a crucial oil survey in the Gulf of Mexico. Rich wants to know what happened and his company wants critical data stored on the missing ship. Now Rich is in charge of the recovery mission and failure will cost his career. But when Rich locates the missing ship, he realizes success might cost his life and the lives of his crew.

    Of course, by then it's too late to turn back.

    The shipwreck isn't the problem, it's the yawning chasm beside it that has Rich worried. An unmanned submersible mysteriously vanishes mid-dive, strange lights appear in the water, and glimpses of hulking, carapaced shapes terrify the crew.

    When a deep-sea diving suit malfunctions, the expedition's divemaster plummets into the chasm. He escapes, but his intrusion doesn't go unnoticed. After sunset, the chasm's inhabitants emerge. They discover Rich's salvage platform and begin to feed.

    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,







    Dear Agent,

    When Rich Fields sets out to find a missing oil survey ship in the Gulf of Mexico, he knows failure will cost his job. But when he finds it, Rich realizes success might cost his life and the lives of his crew.

    Of course, by then it's too late to turn back.

    The shipwreck isn't the problem, it's the yawning chasm beside it that has Rich worried. Strange events surround the chasm: an unmanned submersible mysteriously vanishes mid-dive, strange lights appear in the water, and glimpses of hulking, carapaced shapes terrify the crew.

    When a deep-sea diving suit malfunctions, the expedition's divemaster plummets into the chasm. He escapes, but his intrusion does not go unnoticed. After sunset, the chasm's inhabitants emerge. They discover Rich's salvage platform and begin to feed.

    Suddenly the platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors from the denizens of THE BRAZOS FORMATION.

    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.



    Thank you for your time and consideration,



    ---------------------------------------------

    Dear Agent,

    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor. He's gone and so is his ship, lost beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surging waves. It gets worse: the Brazos Formation survey data went down with him. Now the fate of Glasco Oil rests with Rich. He has four weeks to find the Brazos Formation oil reserve and begin production to save Glasco's crumbling bottom line. But without the survey data, the only thing he's going to find is his ass—in the unemployment office.

    Rich has been a roughneck his whole life. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to find the lost survey data. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him at the bottom of the gulf.



    Rich scours the lost ship's last known coordinates, but instead of the shipwreck he finds a yawning chasm in the ocean floor. Strange lights appear in the water and glimpses of hulking, insectile shapes terrify the crew. After sunset, the chasm's inhabitants discover the recovery team and begin to feed.



    Suddenly the platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors from the denizens of the Brazos Formation.



    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.



    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    ---------------------------------------

    Dear Agent,


    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor, Hal Richter. Hal is gone and so is his ship, lost beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surging waves. It gets worse: the survey data went down with him. Now the future of Glasco Oil rests on Rich. He's left in charge of finding the Brazos Formation: a massive oil deposit in the Gulf of Mexico, the one that's supposed to save Glasco.



    But without the survey data, the only thing Rich is gonna find is his ass—in the unemployment line.



    Rich has been oiling all his life, though. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to recover the survey data and save the company. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him at the bottom of the gulf.



    When he arrives at the survey ship's last known coordinates, it's gone. And that's just the beginning. Strange lights illuminate the ocean at night, sightings of man-sized insectile shapes terrify the crew, and Rich discovers a mysterious chasm in the ocean floor where the shipwreck should be.



    The mission turns to survival when a deep-water predator attacks the expedition's divemaster. Giant spider crabs overrun Rich's recovery platform while huge mollusks rip holes in the hull. The platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors before they join Hal at the bottom of the Brazos Formation.



    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.



    Thank you for your time and consideration,



    Old version: posted 12/25/16 @ 156 pm

    Dear Agent,

    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor. He's gone and so is his ship, lost beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surging waves. It gets worse: the Brazos Formation survey data went down with him. Now the fate of Glasco Oil rests with Rich. He has four weeks to recover the survey data, find the Brazos Formation oil reserve, and begin production to save Glasco's crumbling bottom line.

    Rich has been a roughneck his whole life. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to get the job done. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him at the bottom of the gulf.

    Rich scours the lost ship's last known coordinates, but instead of the shipwreck he finds a yawning chasm in the ocean floor. Strange lights appear in the water and glimpses of hulking, insectile shapes terrify the crew. After sunset, the chasm's inhabitants discover the recovery team and begin to feed.

    Suddenly the platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors from the denizens of the Brazos Formation.




    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Old version: posted 12/24/16 @ 953 PM

    Dear Agent,

    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor, Hal Richter. Hal is gone and so is his ship, lost beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surging waves. It gets worse: the Brazos Formation survey data went down with him. Now the fate of Glasco Oil rests on Rich. He has four weeks to recover the survey data, find the Brazos Formation oil reserves, and begin production to save Glasco's crumbling bottom line.

    Rich has been a roughneck his whole life. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to get the job done. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him at the bottom of the gulf.

    When he arrives at the survey ship's last known coordinates, it's gone. Strange lights illuminate the ocean at night, sightings of man-sized insectile shapes terrify the crew, and Rich discovers a mysterious chasm in the ocean floor.

    The mission turns to survival when a deep-sea predator attacks the expedition's divemaster. Suddenly the platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors before they join Hal at the bottom of the Brazos Formation.

    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.



    ____________________________________________
    Old Version
    Dear Agent,

    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor, Hal Richter. Hal is gone and so is his ship, lost beneath the gulf's surging waves. It gets worse: the survey data went down with him. Now the company's future rests on Rich. He's left in charge of finding the Brazos Formation: a massive oil deposit in the Gulf of Mexico, the one that's supposed to save Glasco Oil.

    But without the survey data, the only thing Rich is gonna find is his ass—in the unemployment line.

    Rich has been oiling all his life, though. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to recover the survey data and save the company. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him at the bottom of the gulf.

    Four weeks later, he's at the survey ship's last known coordinates, but it's gone. And that's just the beginning. Strange lights illuminate the ocean at night, sightings of man-sized insectile shapes terrify the crew, and Rich discovers a mysterious chasm in the ocean floor where the shipwreck should be.

    The mission turns to survival when a deep-water predator attacks the expedition's divemaster. Giant spider crabs overrun Rich's recovery platform while huge mollusks rip holes in the hull. The platform is sinking, his crew is dying, and Rich has to save the survivors before they join Hal at the bottom of the Brazos Formation.

    THE BRAZOS FORMATION is a science fiction novel which runs 116,000 words. It won first place for unpublished science fiction in the 2016 Florida Writer's Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. My short story, Octavia, appears in SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF REASON an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure about the first paragraph - I felt like you were giving me the information in the opposite order that I expected... you mention "the gulf" I think "what gulf?" and later you say "The Gulf of Mexico." You mention "the company" I think "what company" and later you tell me "Glasco Oil". I think it would be better if I didn't have to ask the questions, but I'm not positive - maybe you're creating an almost interactive effect, which might be interesting...?

    I think I'd leave the "four weeks later" out - something vaguer might give a greater sense of urgency to it all, like "By the time" or something.

    And do you have any first-hand experience on oil rigs or in the industry? If you do, I'd definitely find somewhere to include that...
     
  3. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Thanks for the feedback, Bayview. Did you find that not knowing which gulf or which company put you off or encouraged you to read further?

    My intent is to create smooth prose without too much info dump up front, but if the unasnwered questions distract from the story, then it definitely needs to be fixed.
     
  4. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I'll touch on things that jumped out at me (would make me put down the book before buying).

    This is clunky, and loses the punch that came before.
    I would say, drop 'He's', and start with 'Left'. I would remove 'a', and reword to something like- "massive in deposits of oil and other....."
    It makes it read faster and builds up tension.

    Remove 'But'.

    Huge pet-peeve of mine- 'though'. Though what? There is absolutely zero reason to have 'though' in that spot. It has no relation. I understand it has relation to what is above, but in this instance, it should stand alone.
    I am not in the oil worker field, and I have no doubt that 'oiling' is a term used; however it does not fit here at all. It conjures visions that you may not want people to have when maybe deciding on your book. Use an actual term for the main job he does. 'Roughneck', 'derrick hand', something more that gives a correct image.

    Remove what they are. Keep it a mystery. Why do I really need to read it if I know there are giant crabs and mollusks and other giant insect-like creatures (keep it a mystery). In fact I can say, for me, I would put it down for that reason, but also because I am interested in how the things got giant, and how the adaption worked with our earth systems, but is rarely ever handled well, so I would probably pass.


    It looks like a first draft. I would not expect the person that won the award for the book to have written this letter. If I received this letter, I would wonder as to the legitimacy of the awarding group, or the maturity of the author; it would make me pause, for awhile. It kind of reads like it was written by a bored high schooler.

    Ultimately, for me, each section should stand alone and punch you in the face.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Can you clear up a mystery for me? Are you trolling? Like, deliberately being abrasive and confrontational for your own amusement? The rest of your post was reasonably constructive (I don't necessarily agree with it, but at least it seemed like you were trying) so that makes me think you're not a troll, but then you throw crap like this in--pointlessly insulting nonsense--and I think you must be.

    I guess if you're really a troll you aren't likely to admit to it. But if you aren't, maybe you could explain what you hope to achieve when you write things like this?
     
    Spencer1990 likes this.
  6. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I have already stated that I am a troll. However I am not trolling here.

    I don't know what 'mercilessly' means to you, but I don't feel I have approached that line in this thread.

    No, it is not. If I were to receive this letter, I would figure the book was written in the same way, and it would go in the trash before I finished the letter. Which would then make me question the legitimacy of the group awarding the award.
    I have no idea of the age of the OP. Maybe they are in school and it is a contest aimed at high schoolers, maybe they are middle age?

    Well thanks for being condescending. I love opinions. Why? Because we don't have to give a fuck about them.

    I would make up a company unless you are writing it for Glasco, or if they are going to pay you for advertising for them.
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    It's more the "critique" part I think you need to work on.
     
  8. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    @BayView since it is still christmas eve, jump in the car, go to the mall, sit on santa's lap, and ask for a stocking full of reading comprehension, it's not too late. If you get it, it will help you with that thread derailing issue.
     
  9. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Just posted a new version.
     
  10. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I like the new version better, but I don't think it is complete. IMO, I think you should figure out what a query letter is to you, what it should contain, and how it should all be told.

    There is no perfect query letter.

    For me a query letter is-
    A mention of why author or book should be optioned. You have the award, one step up from others.

    An introduction to the MC & the conflict. We learn a little about Rich Fields & his problems.

    A synopsis of the story (not always complete). We get some, but it is jumbled, and I feel there is info that doesn't necessarily need to be there, or can be written in a different way (insect and predator).

    Who is the audience. Why?

    Your writing. A query letter is a first impression, make it the best that you possibly can. You need to be able to put in the information you feel is needed and have it make sense, and show the quality of your writing.

    It won an award, there must be things written about it. Look at that stuff and get a feel for what the readers liked or drove the story. Try to craft something around that. They are the buyer in a way.

    You crafted a book that others felt was was a pleasure to read. Craft a letter that is just as much a pleasure to read.

    It starts off pretty good, but each paragraph lost some oomph for me.

    Be careful of what you know, versus what others know. When I see divemaster, I think the guy in charge of the dive.
    But it is followed by this; which makes me guess it isn't just a guy.

    You mention Hal a few times, and he is dead. How much of a role does he play? Does he need so much precious space in a query?

    My opinion is that when you use the title in this way, you should capitalize it all, 'The'. This is what tends to be done in the synopsis on the back of books.....and I feel that a query letter should be the back of a book, plus some more info.
     
  11. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Another new version. Have at it.
     
  12. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I don't care about the fate of Glasco Oil, so the first paragraph doesn't have that much drama for me.

    Remember that your query doesn't have to be a totally accurate summary of your novel; would it make sense to minimize the "save the company" aspect of your story and set this up as more of a rescue operation?

    Screams and static are all that remain of Rich Fields' mentor. He's gone and so is his ship [and crew?], lost beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surging waves. ​

    Or whatever... something to de-emphasize the business side of things and build up the human cost. Maybe it should even start with Rich already in the Gulf, like:

    Rich Fields has spent his life as a roughneck. He has the crew, the experience, and the equipment to discover what happened to the Glasco Oil crew that recently disappeared in the Gulf Mexico. The only thing he doesn't have is the faintest notion of what's waiting for him beneath the waves.
    ?
     
  13. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Just wanted to say thanks to BayView and antlad for the help. Your collective insights have shown me a lot of blind spots I wasn't aware of (they wouldn't be blind spots, otherwise).

    I'm working on overhaul #67 of my query letter at the moment. Will repost when I have this one together.
     
  14. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    New version. Significant changes.
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I think I like it, but I feel like I'm too close to be sure - I'm interested in seeing what other people think of it!
     
  16. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I'm actually a little surprised more of the regulars haven't chimed in. Might be the holidays.
     
  17. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, it's a busy time of year. Give it some time.
     
  18. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I've got plenty of that. I'm basically rewriting the thing for my second shot at getting an agent.
     
  19. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    How many did you query the first time around?
     
  20. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I stopped after 40. I didn't get any page requests and I figured something was wrong. The query wasn't good and, to be honest, the pages weren't amazing (to my eye). Thus the re-write. The story has potential, though, so I'm sticking with it.
     
    BayView likes this.
  21. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    On iphone so forgive typos, yes on holiday as well. I'll chime in though with an overall impression (I didn't before, because of the 'heavy' personality in the thread) and say that I think it has evolved from the first instance you put up there, where my reaction was Hmmm... maybe, to something that now appears on point, far more polished, and definitely has me wanting to read the book.
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I just noticed you left the mention of the award out of the query - was that just because antlad was snarky about it? As far as I can tell he's snarky about roughly 90% of the world's contents, so I wouldn't take him too seriously.

    I don't know enough about the award to know if it's worth mentioning or not - it looked pretty legit, with the awards dinner and everything... did you leave it out on purpose, or was that just an oversight?
     
  23. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Oh good! Thank God I'm finally getting some traction. Thanks for your impression.
     
  24. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    I only reposted the stuff I changed. Everything at the bottom remains the same. The Royal Palm Literary Award isn't a Pulitzer, but it is a solid contest. I'm not leaving it out.
     
    BayView likes this.
  25. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Hi, this adds to the confusion about which is the newest version. Can you post the newest version in its entirety? I ask because it seems like you left out a lot of details going from the old to the new, which makes (to me) the story seem a little more confusing. Or are queries typically better with little information?
     

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