Dear Query Shark:
THE CURSE OF ADAM’S GIFT, a 110,000 word paranormal adventure, is set in the 1950's Mississippi Delta, the year Fredrick Miller, a seventeen-year-old laborer, is set to go through a two week ritual his family believes will usher him into manhood.
You really don't want to start a query this way. Start with the main character, and what problem or choice he faces. All the other stuff (title, word count, category) comes later.
Fredrick's supervised life falls apart after Johnny B, his best friend, begins a campaign of terror against local whites and strangles a rich man's son to death. This reignites racial hatred in the small town that had been quiet for twenty years. Stressed at having to jump into ditches or cut through the woods at the site of any strange vehicles, Fredrick starts having otherworldly visions his uncle, Willie, calls "the gift of the blood" and "his true inheritance." But this blood-gift also carries a deadly curse and Fredrick learns the reason why a part of his family's bizarre and tragic past had been kept a secret.
And this is where I'd stop reading. "Stressed at having to jump into ditches" makes me wonder if you've ever heard the word "lynching." If a black man in the Mississippi Delta in the 50's went on a campaign of terror against whites, "stress" is about the last word I'd use to describe how the community felt. Terror comes to mind. So does panic.
A driving lust for independence drives Fredrick away from Beulah May, the attractive but lonely girl determined to loved him, even while he is forced to defend himself against her brutal older brothers who want to kill him because they hate everything their sister loves. When Willie dies, Fredrick's new roll
you mean role. Typos are one thing; mistaking words that sound alike means you're not paying attention, or you don't know. Neither are good things in a writer.
as the man of the family turns grim and intolerable. He is forced to leave town and live in the forested river valley along the Mississippi River. It is in the deep woods where he finds the one man who could answer all his questions and show him a glimpse of the unseen world behind all he thought real. Death follows him there too.
Thank you for considering my submission. The full manuscript is available upon request.
This is a mess. You've got too many characters and not enough specifics. What choice does Frederick have to make? What are the consequences of that choice?
Dear Query Shark
I would like to invite you to review the manuscript for my first novel, a paranormal adventure titled ADAM’S GIFT, and ask that you please consider representing me.
I would like to invite you to start with what the novel is about.
I know it feels abrupt, but you've got a VERY limited amount of time to catch my attention, and hold my interest. Don't waste it on empty niceties.
When does a boy become a man? Is it on his eighteenth birthday, after years of manhood training?
Don't start with rhetorical questions. Particularly ones that involve a phrase like "manhood training." I'm not sure what that is, but I'm very afraid it involves Budweiser, fart jokes, and World of Warcraft strategy manuals.
Or is it after his involvement the death of an entire family?
You're missing a word here. Sloppy proofreading isn't enticing.
For seventeen-year-old field laborer, Fredrick Miller, manhood was fulfilling a destiny his father and uncle created for him before he was born.
At last we get to something that seems like the start of things. It actually doesn't say anything because it's so general, but it's better than what came before.
For five years he had been taught right speech, right thinking, and to make the right choices in his young life.
Is the five years important? Your query needs to focus on what's important about the story and the choices the characters make. Is this?
But in the year of his climatic manhood ritual, a driving lust for independence and self-discovery pulls him off his destined path and away from the determined girl who pressured him to loved her.
And we're done. For starters, this is too general to be useful for setting the scene or conveying what actually happens. This is like describing Gone with the Wind as a sweeping epic of war, instead of saying "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful but men seldom realized it when caught by her charms as the Tarleton twins were." Both are accurate. Which one makes you want to read on?
Fredrick supervised life unravels after he witnesses the strangulation murder of Stonewall Mississippi’s prominent son by his best friend and he begins having strange, otherworldly visions he cannot understand.
Here's where your story actually begins. The sentence is so badly written I don't know who is strangling whom. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. I know I sound like a broken record on this, but it's harder than it looks to write simple clean sentences.
His quiet, small-town life turns grim and intolerable as the teenager begins to discover his family's bazaar and tragic past, where he learns the nature of his true inheritance - the gift of the blood. And there too Fredrick finds death, and glimpses an unseen world behind the veil of all he thought real.
Bazaar is not bizarre. Misused words are an automatic rejection. I can and do overlook sloppy proofing and mistakes and typos but not this. Words are your tools. If you don't use them correctly, it's like a mechanic doing an oil change with a garden hose.
Born and raised in Mississippi, I spent many evenings listening to elder storytellers who spoke of the harsh realities of life under Jim Crow. Yet there was a magical element in their stories that captivated me above the gloom and despair, as if I could see, touch, and smell the things they described. The souls of those dignified people remained rooted in the rich Mississippi Delta soil while they told their unique tales to later generations.
And what the heck does that have to do with anything you've described in the preceding paragraphs?
May I send you the completed 120,000 word manuscript and give you a chance to see what Fredrick saw behind this tragic curtain we call the world?
120K is really long for a novel.
And "tragic curtain we call the world?" What on earth does that even mean?
Thank you for your time.
This is a form rejection.
Start over again.
Start with what choice or decision the main character needs to make.