Thursday, July 30, 2009

#124--Winner on the first try

Dear Query Shark,

Ford Kelly spends his days driving an ambulance and his nights driving the getaway car for his uncle the contract killer. But when his uncle dies mid-contract, Ford has two choices: also die, or convince his new employers he knows more about taking lives than saving them.

The contract? Snuff out a ring of dirty cops who demand hush money after stumbling across a new drug being prepared for the street. The problem? The last cop on the list is Ford's wife, who left him after the death of their son a year ago. That's when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.

THE ONES WHO MADE ME is 75,000 words. It is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(redacted)



oh yea. Yea, yea, yea.
We have a winner.

What I like: the juxtaposition of the jobs---ambulance, getaway car. I like seeing the stakes--killing his wife. I like the flawed hero--it looks like he kills his wife.

I'm ALL over this one.

61 comments:

Kristin Laughtin said...

Definitely! Short, sweet, and to the point, while including everything needed to entice a reader and nothing superfluous. I love the voice in this one.

WV: refute
I don't think anyone can refute that this is a good query, even if they don't like this particular genre.

Adam Heine said...

I liked this query a lot, too. My only question was why his uncle's death forced the contract killing job on Ford. It probably wouldn't kill this for me (it certainly didn't for The Shark), but it was something that came up.

africanstardust said...

Oooo I like this one a lot...I would read this book, and then read it again.

jessjordan said...

Nicely done. Short and to the point, it reads like a book jacket.

Best of luck, #124!

Drgnwrtr said...

I usually lurk but this just grabbed me by the shirt collar and said PAY ATTENTION! I want to read this, NOW!!!

Great query, good luck with it!

Joyce Lansky said...

This looks like something worth reading. Does this mean you'll request to see this manuscript? If something this good gets rejected, I would want to know why.

angelicambyence said...

The last line did it for me. It sounded like he really wanted to kill his wife and I really wanted to know why!

I guess that's what makes a good query. I'm learning so much and I haven't even had my own query critiqued XD.

Lumpy Dog said...

Beautiful. Nice work.

Livia said...

Just an observation -- it seems like this query is awesome not just because the query is well written, but because the story itself is really intriguing. A good reminder that in the end, it's still about the story.

Danyelle said...

Very nice! This isn't even my preferred reading genre, but I want to read more. :D Luck with your query.

Dan Krokos said...

Didn't post my last comment, think I didn't sign in right. If this posts twice forgive me.

Oops.

I think this query is an example of what happens when you write something YOU think is clear, but that is misconstrued by pretty much everyone.

Ford does not wish to be a killer. He would only finish the contract because there is no other option (explained in the book, of course). I thought by putting in “The problem?” it was clear that his wife being on the list wasn’t a good thing. Otherwise he’d be pretty thrilled.

He still loves her. He doesn’t believe she’s dirty. And while he stumbles through the first few kills, he switches gears when it comes to saving her from his employers. Hence, “That’s when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.” Meaning he will do anything to keep her safe.

Don’t get me wrong, Ford isn’t the nicest guy. He's extremely flawed and does many thing unbecoming of a hero. But he loves his wife. And a lot of people more powerful than him want her dead.

I guess I’ll have to rework this. Or rewrite the book so that he does kill his wife. Anyway, thanks for the comments everyone. I appreciate it.

Moth said...

Dan, I think it works just fine as is. I got that he didn't want to kill his wife.

I don't even read books like this usually and I'd definitely be tempted to pick this up.

Marsha Sigman said...

I wouldn't change a thing. I think you want people intrigued enough to read it so they can find out for themselves if he does or does not want to kill his wife...and if he actually does regardless of what he wants.

I would definitely read it!

Sarah Jensen said...

Me too! I hope the book is as good and you rep him/her so it ends up on my shelf soon!

Dan Krokos said...

Oh, thanks guys! So it's still a winner even though he isn't going after his wife? I hope the Shark thinks that when I send it to her.

So Moth got it, but will agents get it? I want it to be as clear as possible. I'd hate for an agent to make a request, start reading, and realize this isn't the novel they requested.

Thanks again for all of the positive comments. This is a nuclear-fueled confidence boost if I ever had one.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Just mail it. If the writing works, I think you have a great chance with this one. Reminds me of Josh Bazell's _Beat the Reaper._

SM Blooding said...

Dan, I got what you were saying.

I still want to read the frelling book though! Go get that thing SOLD!

Patience-please said...

Congratulations, Dan!

Julie said...

I want to know what happens with this letter, please keep us posted.

Also Dan - Don't change anything! Even if people read this and think he might want to kill his wife but read the book and find out he really loves her.

I don't think a reader or an agent would be disappointed with that outcome!

I just don't see anyone saying "I wasted my time reading that book, I thought it was about a wife killer!"

Good Luck!

Suzan Harden said...

Dan,

Don't you dare change a thing! I got it the first time.

I just returned home from the bookstore. If your book was on the selves and this had been the back cover blurb, I'd have bought it!

Let us know how things go...

kate said...

Never has a query made me so keen to read a book - I normally lurk but I want to read the book so badly I thought I'd better comment :)

Dan, is there someplace on the interweb we can hear of progress on your query/book?

Dan Krokos said...

No, Kate, not yet. I figured there's enough unagented writer blogs out there, who would want to read mine? I plan on starting one so friends and family can keep track of my progress if someone picks this up. I could tell you the progress right now, though!

I'm halfway through the second to last draft. I probably have another two weeks until it's done. After that I'll do my final draft, which is really just a line edit and a general overview of what works and what doesn't. It takes about a week, judging by my last book.

I sent this query to the shark on a whim, wanting to shape up my query as I finished drafts so I'd have something stellar to send out with it. Imagine my surprise when she requested a full. Now I feel like an idiot for having an unfinished MS that is still weeks from completion.

If I do get signed, you'll hear about it at dankrokos.blogspot.com, but, like I said, it's still going to be a few weeks before anyone sees it. Hope it lives up to the hype.

If there are any questions about the book itself, feel free to email me at DKrokos@gmail.com. And thanks again for your interest. I didn't think the query would be received this well.

Mireyah Wolfe said...

I usually lurk too, but I really liked that one. It's definitely one I'd pick up. =)

JS said...

Beautifully done, Dan. The first sentence is a model of concision. YAY YOU!

Botanist said...

Great query Dan, and like everyone else commenting here, I wouldn't change a thing.

It was obvious to me that he didn't want to kill his wife (the problem) so I was really intrigued by the bit about finding out just how good he was. As far as I can tell, that is the essence of the query -- to HOOK!

As for making it clear exactly what *does* go on in the book, isn't that what the synopsis is for?

Maybe the Shark can sink her pearly whites into that question for us ...

Jen said...

Yes, no changing of the query! It's great. It's concise and compelling, which is exactly what you want your query letter to be.

Good luck, but I would expect you'll hear good news soon, if you write a novel as well as you do a query. *grin*

Southern Writer said...

Well done, Dan, and it ain't broke, so don't fix it! The Shark is pretty danged particular, and if she says it's good--it's good.

Jeannie said...

Ooooo, this is my kind of book. I would definately buy this one.
I think the thing about this query was I forgot I was judging a query and was pulled right into the story.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Boy, when they're good is just pops off the screen, doesn't it? I already want to read this, then see the movie. Congrats to the querier. (Is that a word?)

Goodness, it's raining cats and dogs and sharks in CT. Madonn' what a downpour!

Wendy said...

At this point I don't think it matters if he did or didn't. The not knowing is one of the things that makes it cool. (IMHO.)

tkersh said...

Holy Cats! I want to run down to B&N tuh-day and buy it!

(I wonder if an agent can send a page of feedback like this along with their query to the Editor?)

Dan, I know it's not usually done here, but can you give us your website so we can register to hear when this thing comes out?

Best of luck!

Dan Krokos said...

Of course, tkersh. If this gets picked up, I'll be writing about it at dankrokos.blogspot.com. There's nothing there right now though.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. An agent still has to read the whole thing, then fall in love with it, THEN offer representation. That's a long way to go for a novel that isn't finished, but I think the end product will be worthy of the query.

And an extra special thanks for everyone's input. I've decided to keep the query the way it is, unless the Shark has a final word to give.

Janet Reid said...

Final word/s: Finish. Send.

Rachel said...

I am not usually into the suspense/crime genre, but I really want to read this book. I've already RSS'd your blog, so please post any updates!

query stinging jelly fish said...

We apologise for the loss of service. It seems the query shark has been temporarily replaced by a cuddly snub-nosed dolphin. The problem has been resolved and normal service is resumed courtesy of the Query Stinging Jelly Fish.

Ford Kelly spends his days driving an ambulance and his nights driving the getaway car for his uncle the contract killer. But when his uncle dies mid-contract, Ford has two choices: also die, or convince his new employers he knows more about taking lives than saving them.

White space, white space, white space.I mean, I know the query's short but

split the goddamn

sentences up

if necessary.

I stopped reading after the first sentence anyway. Amulance drivers are trained paramedics. Asking me to believe an ambulance driver is a part-time getaway driver for a contract killer is like asking me to believe a dentist is a part-time bank robber, A bus driver, yes, a tax driver definitely, but an ambulance driver? I just don't buy it.

The contract? Snuff out a ring of dirty cops who demand hush money after stumbling across a new drug being prepared for the street. The problem? The last cop on the list is Ford's wife, who left him after the death of their son a year ago. That's when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.

Set up. What are the chances your ex wife is going to be on a list if you're a contract killer? Or even an ambulance driver part-time contract killer? It's just tooo convenient.

Apart from that, I liked it.

Form reject.

Query Stinging Jelly Fish

Dan Krokos said...

Ford drives for a patient transport company, carting people to and from hospitals.

He's an EMT, not a paramedic--there's a difference. I'm around these people daily for my job, and believe me, they're capable of anything. There are different species of ambulance drivers.

As for how his wife ended up on a list of people he's supposed to kill? You'll have to read the MS. It's not a coincidence.

And thanks for the final word/s, Janet.

P.S. Dolphins are not cuddly. They bite.

Brigid said...

Dan, I think your novel sounds badass. I'll be watching your blog to see what happens. Good luck!

siebendach said...

If the woman left our hero a year ago, then for all intents and purposes this she's his EX-wife. If I hire murderers and want her dead, for all I know this particular killer would be all over killing his ex. The only downside would be that homocide detectives would certainly investigate him --- but that's fixable if: a) I think I can supply him a really good alibi, or b) I plan to kill him right after he does the hit (most likely IMO).

So I don't think it's TOO convenient --- it just needs the appropriate foreshadowing. And judging by the query, I'd bet this author can handle it. . .

query stinging jelly fish said...

As for how his wife ended up on a list of people he's supposed to kill? You'll have to read the MS.
Am I really the only one to see the flaw in the logic of this?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the book's a masterpiece. This is a criticism of the query letter not the book.

Dan Krokos said...

You make an excellent point about queries in general, my Cnidarian companion.

No matter how much detail you put into one, there will always be questions. Why does Ford drive for his uncle? Does that make him evil? Why would his uncle's employers trust him with a contract, or even force one upon him? If his wife is on the list, wouldn't Ford or his uncle know about it ahead of time?

All questions that need to be answered. Do they belong in a query? Maybe. But not in this one. I wanted short and snappy. The story is about what happens when Ford comes face to face with his wife, and that is the conflict I have presented.

The reader has to instill a bit of trust that I will answer those questions in the MS. Putting them in the query might add clarity, but it takes away from the original hook. I think this might be true of all queries.

In my humble opinion, of course.

Marsha Sigman said...

I thought the point of a query was to set up the conflict and make you want to read more?

Mission accomplished. Query is awesome.

Disagreeing with the Shark is just.....wrong.

query stinging jelly fish said...

The reader has to instill a bit of trust that I will answer those questions in the MS.

Unfortunately a lot of agents may not. Because a lot of writers may not.

Disagreeing with the Shark is just.....wrong.


Jelly fish are not afraid of sharks.

Jessica Brown said...

This is such an interesting premise, Dan, and I hope you find a publisher. I'm following your blog now in the hopes that eventually you'll make a post telling us where we can pick up our own copy!

Alice said...

If that book was already published, I'd run to the nearest bookshop and buy it.

Laura said...

I'm sorry but it's these improbable, coincidence type things that make a book. Why would you read a book that had NONE of this? Every book, movie, all of it has these elements. If done well, it works. If not, it doesn't, but there's nothing toooo convenient about it.

If so, then there's something toooo convenient about pretty much every book on my shelf.

query stinging jelly fish said...

Improbable, coincidental and convenient are not the same as too improbable, too coincidental and too convenient.

Dan Krokos said...

Thanks everyone.

Jellyfish, what can I change in the query to get a full request from you?

query stinging jelly fish said...

Write a query for a book I've never read? Open myself up to criticism from everyone I've offended here? I'd have to be a fool.

So here goes.

Ford Kelly spends his days carting people to and from hospitals and his nights as a getaway driver for his uncle, a contract killer.

When his uncle dies mid-contract, Ford has two choices. Convince his new employers he knows more about taking lives than saving them. Or die.

The contract?

Snuff out a ring of dirty cops who demand hush money after stumbling across a new drug being prepared for the street.

The problem?

Is it coincidence that the last cop on the list is his ex-wife?

That's when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.


Now that's something I'd want to see more of.

Dan Krokos said...

Hey now.

That's not bad.

I even like the way

you broke up the paragraphs.

It reads like free verse.

A nebulous query.

Lacking shape, it has more sting.

Much like

a jellyfish.

Brigid said...

Ha ha. Okay, Dan, now I think you're badass. :-)

query stinging jelly fish said...

I had been hoping to sting the discourse on Dan's query into something rather more meaningful and useful than the love-in the previous comments had become.

Okay, Dan, now I think you're badass. :-)

Looks like I failed.

Beck said...

I must say Dan, that I appreciate two things more than anything...

1. Your voice that shines through even in the query.
2. That you actually did research - hooray for research!

Best of luck and I'll see you on the shelves =]

Jolie said...

That's when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.

The skill and subtlety in this sentence are what really sell me on this query. If the rest of the novel has writing like this, I'll definitely read it.

Anthony Souls said...

The query is great, keeps the reader interested in reading the novel. I'm unsure if I would actually read the novel though, seems interesting, but not really my genre.

Amanda Davis said...

That's when Ford discovers how good at killing he really is.

And right there, you've got me. I'd read it.

ikaros said...

Dan, it’s everything it needs to be. Your masterful composition lets us know that you are a skilled writer and well worth serious consideration in this highly competitive environment. You have also succeeded in letting us known that the story is certainly going to be interesting regardless of which way the plot takes us. Your economy of words gives us just enough information to spur our curiosity and compel us to imagine the possibilities of the story line.

I’m looking forward to reading it.

Best of luck,
Ikaros

glovin said...

If something this good gets rejected, I would want to know why.I don't think anyone can refute that this is a good query,

--
glovin
You cannot go wrong on the best security systems

Dan Krokos said...

For anyone interested, I have signed with Janet Reid.

I blog and twitter now.

dankrokos.blogspot.com

twitter.com/DanKrokos

If you're interested in hearing about the path my book takes, check them out.

Lilit Hotham said...

Damn I wish my story could be summed up easily to create such an impact!! Looks like I'll need to use bloody good words! How inspiring, thanks for sharing! :D

pinkpelican1 said...

As a reader, if this were the synopsis on the back of the book, I'd take a chance on it and buy it. Hope that the book meets the promise of the query and I see it on a shelf soon.

Dan Krokos said...

Thanks! Me too.