Sunday, April 20, 2008

#11-revision

REVISION:




Dear Ms Reid,

It might be the long dark hair covering her face, or the way her fingers curl into a soft fist, but something about the drowned girl lying on the Tel Aviv sand reminds Akiva of his own daughter.

Maybe is it because they are both dead.

Akiva is in charge of the investigation, and he grabs onto the case as if he were the one drowning. If he can find out who she was and return her to her family, he might be able make sense of his own loss and finally put to rest the ghosts that haunt his fractured marriage.

But the girl is not Israeli, she is Palestinian. The Israelis are indifferent to her fate, and Palestinians are hostile to his interference. This is not going to be easy.

The good things never are.


Sins of Omission is a character-driven police procedural: Dennis Lehane with a Middle Eastern twist. It is complete at 120K words.

I am no stranger to the problems of the Middle East. While getting my Ph.D. in Arabic and Hebrew Linguistics, I spent many months in the region. I have both Palestinian and Israeli friends, and although they get along well, there is always an elephant in the room that nobody talks about.

That is why I wrote this book: to talk about the elephant.

Thanks,


this is something I'd request immediately.



-----------------------
ORIGINAL
Dear Ms. Reid,
I am seeking representation for my 92K word detective thriller ACROSS THE GREEN LINE.

This probably isn't a thriller from what you've described. It's a police procedural.


Israeli police officer AKIVA finds the body of a teen-aged girl washed up on a Tel Aviv beach. She reminds him of his own daughter, killed three years before. When Akiva’s investigation reveals that the drowned girl was an Arab, suddenly the Israeli media loses interest, and Akiva is reassigned to another case. Determined to continue the investigation on his own, he must travel across the Green Line into Gaza to meet with the Palestinian police. What he discovers there brings him face to face with his own daughter’s killer, and the most difficult decision of his life.


What you've got here is the set up, not a hook, and not an outline sketch of the plot. Why does this girl remind him of his daughter? What does he discover there? Who's the bad guy? What issues are at stake for him? Be specific in what you talk about.

Dealing with themes of revenge and redemption, ACROSS THE GREEN LINE is complete at 92K words. Set in the tense climate of today’s Middle East, the action is reminiscent of Daniel Silva’s The Kill Artist and Jon Land’s Walls of Jericho, but deals with the realities of life in the region in a more intimate way than either.

Again this is all very general telling. What specifically is different here; what realities of life are you showing? Give one or two short examples.

ACROSS THE GREEN LINE is my first novel, but I am no stranger to the setting and politics of the Middle East. I have a Ph.D. in Arabic and Hebrew linguistics, and I did research for the novel during three trips to the region. The book has been proofed by both Israeli and Palestinian readers. While the novel is stand-alone, a sequel involving the same main character is nearing completion at 90K words.

Proofed? The last book I considered for representation that was about the Palestinians, I had several Jewish friends read to make sure I'd know if there was anything in it that would be considered inflammatory for a Jewish reader. I wasn't going to make the author change it, I just wanted to know ahead of time where the minefields were. This is the equivalent of knowing that "The War Between the States" is the same event as "The Civil War" but if a person calls it the former, not the latter, you know something about them. Is that what you did here? That's different than proof reading for errors.



I'd be happy to send you sample chapters or the complete manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

6 comments:

jjdebenedictis said...

This sounds like a really interesting story! But yes, you need to highlight the conflicts a bit more precisely, and the protagonist's motivations are too vague. The query letter doesn't seem to be doing the story justice.

BuffySquirrel said...

You probably don't need "reassigned to another case". "Reassigned" will do :).

Just a quick sketch based on what you've given here. Feel free to ignore, use, whatever!

Three years on, Israeli police officer Akiva fears he'll never catch his daughter's killer. But when he finds the body of a teenage Arab girl washed up on the beach, official indifference brings him across the Green Line into Gaza--and face-to-face with the man (?) who murdered his (only?) child. Now Akiva faces the most difficult decision of his life (what/why?).

Phoenix said...

Motivation and specifics. These were the same things pointed out when this query appeared some while ago on Evil Editor's blog. In pretty much the same form as it appears here. Perhaps this time you'll take the comments to heart and revise to make your query the best that it can be. The premise is good, but you need to sharpen the writing in the query to prove to the reader that you can pull it off.

Brigid said...

Wow, what a fantastic revision. That's just incredible how a rewrite can put something in a totally different perspective.

pulp said...

Stunning revision. It's hard to believe it's the same story and author. (Maybe the story is somewhat different: the word count has risen.)

What a great example this is of taking a chance with a query and succeeding. I'm always afraid of coming off arty and pretentious. It's a tightrope walk, balancing boring with melodramatic. The revised query walks the line.

pulp said...

Stunning revision. It's hard to believe it's the same story and author. (Maybe the story is somewhat different: the word count has risen.)

What a great example this is of taking a chance with a query and succeeding. I'm always afraid of coming off arty and pretentious. It's a tightrope walk, balancing boring with melodramatic. The revised query walks the line.