Sunday, August 3, 2008

#58

Dear Query Shark:

Cancel the wedding–the groom is dead.

This is a pretty good opening line.

A tycoon’s son is murdered the night before his wedding in Stateline, Nevada. The victim’s father is enraged by the local police’s complacency, and offers Private Investigator Dan Reno an impressive bounty to find the killer. Reno seizes the opportunity to revive his career, but he’s nearly killed when a band of rogue cops pressure him to leave town. Haunted by his murdered father and a violent past, Reno wants no more blood on his hands. But once he learns what the cops have at stake, he’s forced to revert to his old ways to survive.

Couple logic problems: If Dan Reno's career needs reviving why is someone with a boatload of money hiring him? If he's so allfired set on leaving his bloody ways behind why is he a PI? Soybean farming would be more likely. (For example when Clint Eastwood came out of retirement in Pale Rider, he was a farmer.)

And what do the cops have at stake. It's helpful to know what the stakes are and who the actual bad guy is. Rogue cops aren't compelling. One rogue cop, maybe.


STATELINE is a 95,000-word mystery, set against the backdrop of the snowy alpine winter in the Sierras, and the lonely deserts of Nevada. It targets readers who enjoy books by authors such as James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, and Robert Crais.

Well this sure doesn't sound like any of those guys at all.

I have a Bachelors degree in English, and live in Northern California.


Thank you for your consideration.

-------------------------------------
Revision:

Dear Query Shark:

Cancel the wedding–the groom is dead.


A tycoon’s son is murdered the night before his wedding in Stateline, Nevada. The victim’s father is enraged by the local police’s complacency, and offers Private Investigator Dan Reno, a guest at the wedding, an impressive bounty to find the killer.

Reno, stuck in a low paying job with an overbearing boss, is glad for the chance at a big payday, but he’s nearly killed when a corrupt sheriff and his henchmen pressure him to leave town. Haunted by his murdered father and a violent past, Reno wants no more blood on his hands. But oOnce he uncovers the sheriff’s stake in a local drug dealing ring, he’s forced to revert to his old ways to survive.

STATELINE is a 95,000-word mystery, set against the backdrop of the snowy alpine winter in the Sierras, and the lonely deserts of Nevada. It targets readers who enjoy books by authors such as James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, and Robert Crais.

I have a Bachelors degree in English, and live in Northern California.

Thank you for your consideration.

What does the tycoon's son death have to do with the rest of what you're talking about. It's in the first two lines, then never mentioned again.

And Dan Reno in Stateline Nevada? Time for some name research.

This is pretty run of the mill plotting. Part of your job in a query letter is to write compellingly. That's not to say you write "this is a compelling novel" it's that you choose words and string them together in a way that makes me want to read this. Right now, not so much. It's better than the first go-round, but it's still a form rejection.

4 comments:

Southern Writer said...

Dan Reno ... where have I heard that name before? It has PI written all over it; that's for sure. Almost everything here is cliche, though. A PI who doesn't want to be a PI, but is forced to, bad cops, even the desert setting. Let me guess -- somewhere in the story, either the widowed bride or the daughter of the father with a boatload of money falls for Reno, or insists on tagging along with him, or both. At some point Reno will get hurt ... shot in the butt, maybe? At which time, the girl will have to tend to his wounds. He didn't flinch when he took the bullet. In fact, he probably ran another mile or two from his attackers until he finally slipped from their grasp. Now that the girl is dabbing the cap in his ass with a wet cloth, he winces just a little. Let's see; what am I forgetting? Wait. I know. Reno doesn't want more blood on his hands, so the bad cops will conveniently meet their demise in an accident caused by their own stupidity.

Here's my something nice: Janet is right. That's a great opening line!

beth said...

I like the first line, too.

This isn't my usual genre, but I've got to say that I found myself a bit bored with the synopsis. It didn't really grab my attention. I don't know why, and I'm sorry that I've got nothing more helpful to add...I just wasn't intrigued by this. Maybe add in more about what makes it entirely different and unique?

Just_Me said...

The opening line is fantastic! From there I'm a little lost.

Why would a guy trying to get away from a violent past agree to work for Mr. Moneybags? Do they know each other from somewhere? Was he a guest at the wedding? Is his daughter the widowed bride?

For me the whole angst issue would be a pass. I don't want to spend 300 pages reading about someone who is miserable and can't stand themself. What's the appeal in self-loathing?

Claire Light said...

Sorry to be a stickler, but it was Unforgiven, not Pale Rider. :)