Sunday, August 8, 2010

#168-From "mess" to "yes" in five revisions

Dear Query Shark:

Cesario’s finally found his All-Time Groove: he has the girl of his dreams, he’s just had his first short story published in The New Yorker, and his agent is fielding calls from editors who are betting that Cesario has at least a solid novel or two in him.

The crazy part, Cesario's not even finished with undergrad.

The kid is practically gilt-edged.

But then things quickly turn Achebe (read: fall [the heck] apart).

And just like that, he loses his girl to a DJ with water-boarding-worthy musical tastes.

And then his Mom’s breast cancer, which everyone nicknamed Donna (the cancer, that is, not his Mom), makes a comeback so furious that other cancers will talk about it for years to come.

And suddenly, Cesario couldn’t write himself out of a crappy, meandering sentence if Raymond Chandler was reincarnated as Cesario’s dominant hand.

Which is to say, Cesario has a few things on his plate.

But—

Unlucky for the plate, and for cancer, and for word documents, and for disc jockeys with bad mp3 collections, Cesario is hungry as hell.

And worse, he’s too stupid-smart to stop there.

The Glorious Mis-Education of Some Stupid Smart Kids checks in complete at just a shade below 90,000 words. I thank you for your time and consideration!


uh...yea, that's exactly how it's done.
Nice revision.

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Dear QueryShark:

After two years of doing his time at community college, Cesario’s at last accepted into the university of his dreams, and he sees his chance to not only escape his childhood zip code, but also maybe even write the next Great American Novel in between classes.

To boot, he’s developed a foolproof marketing strategy for his unwritten, unsold book:

1. Initiate a public feud with a fellow author. Slap them across the face in front of TMZ cameras. Do this preferably with the hardcover version of their latest bestseller.

2. Stage a book drive-by. Pepper an unsuspecting street corner with paperback copies of your book. Do not aim; throw the books indiscriminately at all passersby.

3. Commission a special effects guy to come on your book tour. Have him set up a laser show, ceiling-high flames, and a cannonball center-stage. Have a fire extinguisher on stand-by. Do your own stunts, and emphasize that, despite the obvious dangers, your passion for writing is second only to your love of your fans.

4. Write a novella-diss against a popular writer’s latest book, and when asked why, tell everyone that you take the literature game very seriously and you felt like that author’s work was a blatant disrespect against paper itself, not to mention a total affront to agents, editors, and publishing houses, an indictment on the entire industry. Be sure to play up that you’re just one humble person fighting a much bigger struggle, and that you don’t expect, or want, any personal attention. Instead, all glory and honor to whatever Higher Power you believe in, and all that jazz.


Genius, right?



However, to Cesario’s surprise, writing a book is harder than he thought, and not even a change of address can put him far enough away from the superhuman reach of his family’s craziness. But perhaps that’s a good thing after all.



And maybe, rather than just writing The Best Novel Ever Written About Real Love, Cesario might finally get his chance at the real thing.



The Glorious Mis-Education of Some Stupid Smart Kids checks in at just over 90,000 words.



Thank you for your time and consideration.


uhh....what? This query bears almost no resemblence to what you've sent before, and honestly there's no plot and no sense of the character.  

This is all gimmick.  Start over.

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Dear Query Shark,


Finding true love is tough enough without a curse. Unfortunately for Cesario, he's got the extra baggage. Back in junior high, when he revealed his crush for a pretty girl at school, Cesario’s Mom, the fiery competitor that she is, one-upped his news. She promised that if he continued to like white girls, it would be the death of her. Cesario waited for one of the witty if not off-color punchlines she was famous for. It never came.




This from the same woman who could recite the entire I have a dream speech from memory?




The same woman who'd applauded the episode of Saved by the Bell when Zack Morris (the charming, Caucasian lead actor) finally kissed Lisa Turtle (the beautiful and she knows it African-American co-star), and then delivered a ten-minute impromptu dissertation on why it was about time a television show stood up for what was right and true?




What happened to that woman?




After ruling out his Mom had been abducted and replaced by aliens, Cesario, a sucker for mysteries, questions family members for insight, but no one’s talking. Except for his estranged father, who Cesario's nicknamed The Coupon, on account of his always cutting out on the family. As Cesario pieces the puzzle together, it becomes apparent that his father's past, and a few family secrets, are at the heart of his Mom's feelings.


Your query starts here----->;Ironically now that Cesario’s off to college, and has the freedom to date anyone he pleases, the idea of keeping his relationships secret from his Mom doesn’t sit right. And all the more so when it’s clear that Gerren Edwards, a political science major, is not just any girl. She's social, funny, intelligent and he can't stop thinking about her; in short, she has words not in Cesario's vocabulary ready to leap off his tongue; i.e., forever, commitment, and yes, even the L-word. Shorter still, she just may be, gasp!, The One. The kind of girl you'd naturally want to take home to Mom. That is, if your Mom hadn't specifically informed you that her very physical well-being, read: she'd actually drop dead, was directly attached to such an introduction.




Just as Cesario's Mom finds out about his new relationship, she falls gravelly ill. And although Cesario, a born skeptic, knows it's ridiculous to truly consider, part of him wonders whether there was truth to his Mom’s curse. The idea unsettles him, but his Mom's health continues to deteriorate. Following an unexpected break-up with Gerren, Cesario is heart-broken, without a plan, and with a Mom still sick. Coming to his senses, he reminds himself that it was his Mom who'd taught him that the best part about love was its knack for overcoming obstacles. With his Mom's life in the balance, Cesario knows love may be the only defense against even the most formidable curse, and even after learning Gerren is involved with someone else, Cesario is determined not to let her go twice.



The Curious Curses of Cesario M. Benjamin, a novel about family, race, and of course, the L-word, is complete at 73,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

You're awash in words and events here. You're saying a lot of things three and four times in different ways. His mom doesn't want him dating white girls. She says it will be the death of her. He does, she falls ill. You don't need much more than that because that is all setup.

Focus on the choices Cesario has to make and the consequences of those choices.

Get rid of all the setup. We'll see all that in the pages. Get to the heart of the novel in a query.

Form rejection.


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Dear QueryShark:

Finding love can be tough enough without a curse. Unfortunate for Cesario, he's got the extra baggage. Since he was eight years old his Mom promised that if he continued to date white girls, it would someday be the death of her. So Cesario did what any I love my Mom and don't want to hurt her type would do. He dated behind her back.

Ok, so this lad is eight years old and dating girls? 

Now that he's off to college, it's become much harder to keep his relationships secret, especially when it becomes clear that Gerren Edwards is not just any girl. She just may be, gasp!, The One. And of course, the scandal!, she's white.

As Cesario prepares to break the news to his Mom, she falls gravelly ill, and Cesario reluctantly ponders if perhaps there was any truth to her promise. Conversely, he wonders if dating non-white girls would improve his Mom's health. Following an intense break-up with Gerren, Cesario commences Operation: Date Brown Girls. However, after a series of good-intentioned relationships fall flat, Cesario is left heart-broken, without a plan, and with a Mom who is still sick. He concludes true love may be the only defense against even the most formidable curse, and even after learning Gerren is involved with someone else, Cesario is determined not to let her go twice.

The Curious Curses of Cesario M. Benjamin, a novel, is complete at 73,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


I still don't have much sense of Cesario other than he dates girls his mum doesn't approve of, then he dates girls his mum does approve of.

What we have here though are one-dimensional characters. We have no sense that Cesario's mum loves him, and wants to protect him from the certain and difficult challenges of marrying outside his race or culture. She's his mom; she wants to protect him.

We get no sense of why Cesario likes girls who aren't brown. And we have NO sense of Gerren at all.

This is much improved from the initial effort but there's no compelling reason to read this. A compelling reason generally means  I want to find out what happens.  Right now, these characters aren't developed enough for me to care about what happens at all.






----------------------------
(address)
(city state zip)
(cell)

What have I told you about your address at the top of queries? DON'T DO IT.

Dear Query Shark:



Ceasario M. Benjamin has been cursed by his mother. If you keep dating these white girls, she promises, I will fall over and DIE on the spot. Literally. To top things off, his estranged father, who Ceasario has dubbed The Coupon, is trying to make a comeback in a family that has done its best to move on without him. And when crazy things start happening to each member of the Benjamin clan, is Ceasario’s secret girlfriend, who coincidentally happens to be of the white persuasion, really at the heart of all their troubles? And is it truly possible that Ceasario’s dating habits will impact the fate of the entire world, as the shadowy agents at C.O.L.O.R. would have him believe?

This is a mess. You've got FIVE people introduced: Ceasario; the soon-to-be-dead Mum; the mysteriously-nicknamed-Dad; the secret girlfriend that isn't so secret to Mum it sounds like; and some agents who are of course shadowy.

In other words, too much.


Think of characters as headgear. One thing on your head is fine, two might work, and but three is too many. Plus three and you're past calling the Fashion Police, we're calling the guys with nets.
Pare down. Focus.


A novel written for those of us who’ve ever felt helpless about whom we love, and maybe even a bit cursed, The White Girl Curse: The Curious Curse of Ceasario M. Benjamin, is complete at 64,000 words.

This belongs at the end, and you can leave out the movie-announcer-phrases of who you think the novel will appeal to. It doesn't actually say much about your book, and your book is the only thing I care about.



As someone who found himself in a similar harrowing position, choosing between true love and family ties, I feel aptly qualified to tell Ceasario’s story.

Stop right there. You don't need to be qualified to write your novel. It's a NOVEL. You get to make it all up. You never have to be in the same situation as your characters to write about it. Stephen King didn't need to be kidnapped and tortured to write MISERY. Margaret Mitchell didn't need to shoot a Yankee to write GONE WITH THE WIND. Sean Ferrell didn't need to pound nails in his palm to write NUMB.



I’ve had the good fortune of receiving the (redacted) Scholarship award, the very first year it was presented at (redacted) I hold a BA in English Literature. I’m also just as proud to be recognized in my hometown and honored as a (redacted) County Star Writer.

None of these are publishing credits. If you aren't published, I don't care. Filling up your pub credits paragraphs with this is just wasted words. Leave it out.





And just as important, I thank you for your time and consideration.

What's the book about? This is a form rejection based solely on the fact you have not told me a single thing about what the book is about. Start over. Read the damn archives. Pay attention.

38 comments:

Justin W. Parente said...

A lot of character mentions in the query make me care that much less. I need a protagonist and an antagonist. Enough said. And why would you copy your title off: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Surely someone with a BA in Lit would know that book exists.

Nom-Nom Shark!

David Barber said...

Apart from not knowing what the novel is about, that title needs to be re-thought. Unless he's already got Brad Pitt lined up to play the lead role.

But, hey, I'm just a scribbler and it's just my opinion.

alaskaravenclaw said...

I like the idea of a humorous approach to race issues-- and the tone of the query is quite funny. Though I found "coincidentally happens to be of the white persuasion" a bit much. Too cutesy, and too reminiscent of the media's favorite catchphrase of two decades ago, "[insert name here], who happens to be black..."

The title sounds too much like a self-published novel. Take off the first four words and the problem is solved.

The shadowy agents of C.O.L.O.R. seem to be coming out of nowhere, and they confused me. Is this the near future? Magical realism? A present-day society that is almost like ours but not quite? A metaphor?

What "crazy things start happening to each member of the Benjamin clan"? In what way could the girlfriend be responsible for them?

fairyhedgehog said...

I liked the shadowy agents at COLOR - it made me think of the man from UNCLE. There could be a really good story in there but it's just not coming across at the moment.

Brad Jaeger said...

Is the title a spoof of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

Tara Maya said...

It sounds zany (in a good way) to me. If it is what it sounds like -- a satire about the hoopla around interracial dating, especially by well-meaning family and friends, I'd be interested in reading more.

The"shadowy agents of C.O.L.OR" made me laugh.

I think it needs a short, zappy title.

Irene Troy said...

The first paragraph doomed this letter for me. Hand me more than one character, perhaps – just barely – two and I’m lost without a compass. Then we get this “secret” group called C.O.L.O.R and what…? How do these people relate to one another and, more importantly, the story? Is C.O.L.O.R meant as some rather clumsy attempt at racial humor? If so, it didn’t work for me, but then maybe it’s my sense of humor.
The rest of the query is full of words without any meaning. Who cares where you went to school, what awards you won, your love life or any of the rest of what you offered? In short: what does any of this have to do with the plot of your novel? A query is about the novel (in this case) not your personal life. If you’ve been published, particularly published by a big name, then you provide that information. If not, then simply concentrate on grabbing the agent’s interest and attention. The only way to do this, at least from what I’ve seen, is by telling your story clearly, concisely and with enough interest to make someone want to read more.

Stephanie Barr said...

There is a risk with making something clearly intended as humorous without pulling it off. I know, I've done it.

In this case, I didn't really appreciate you were going for humor until I saw a comment and thought about it.

Truthfully, interracial marriage isn't a big deal to me, so this comes across to me as a great deal of hullaballoo over not much.

Tell me why I the main character matters, why I care who he marries, and what about the family would make me care what they think. All of this can be done. You're not wrong in saying that people deal with this even today, but it seems like a tempest in a teapot without understanding the characters.

A3Writer said...

I'm confused on this one. There's no statement as to the genre of the book, which would help clarify the next thing.

Is this meant to be funny? I see the Benjamin Button take, and the shadowy agents of C.O.L.O.R. make me think it too, but the query just isn't funny. If the book is supposed to be funny, the query should be, too.

I get no sense of whether the author is making parody or is uncreatively ripping off established ideas. If it is supposed to parody, stay away from the Scary Movie types of parodies that try to poke fun of things in terms of how many things they can poke at. Look at Bored of the rings or Mel Brooks films.

JS said...

The unusual spelling of "Ceasario" is a distraction--I would seriously encourage you to change it to "Cesario", the standard spelling, or "Caesario", another much more common variant.

Yes, I am sure you have met someone in your life who spelled his name "Ceasario". I have met people who spelled their names "Sharrynn" and "Lizziey" and "Tomm" and "Myq" but truth has to make more sense than fiction.

I think everyone else has pointed out all the other issues, but I really want to weigh in heavily against very unusual spellings of relatively common names in books. To readers, they just look like typos and get annoying really quickly (as opposed to real life, when it is polite to respect other people's choices about their name's spelling).

Good luck! I think you have an interesting idea buried somewhere in here--a comic novel about Latino/a family life from a young man's viewpoint is a great idea, and one that isn't well enough represented in the marketplace.

M. G. E. said...

I actually think the title is insulting. It can be taken more than one way, as a curse in particular or a curse in general, and taken in the latter context it's racist and insulting.

If you called it "Ceasario's White Girl Curse" that might be different, especially if the story is tongue-in-cheek, as it doesn't automatically imply that all white girls are a curse :\

Your query takes a major left turn at this line, "And is it truly possible that Ceasario’s dating habits will impact the fate of the entire world, as the shadowy agents at C.O.L.O.R. would have him believe?"

That would have to be delved into at least a little bit for this query to be successful. What exactly does this mean? Who are the agents of...? Why do they care who he dates? Or are they just racists as well? Are they crackpots or serious?

If the fate of the world question is along the lines of 'if white people keep breeding these devils will kill us all' then, yeah, that's not really working for me either :P

CB Hoffman said...

While I like the idea of putting racist notions in a context that reveals how silly they can be, you haven't revealed enough of the plot to cement my interest. It's more a case of thinking, "Oh, interesting idea," and moving on.

Also, if the characters revealed in the first paragraph are merely the tip of the iceberg,then your story may be so overpopulated that it's impossible to follow--especially with "shadowy characters" to boot. That is also enough to convince me to take a pass.

Mr. Write said...

AAAAAARGH! I assume this post won't be published due to its general commentary but I feel the need to voice my frustrastions, nonetheless.

As a fan of this process the Shark has afforded us as ambitious, mostly undiscovered talent, I am deeply troubled and a bit offended by the latest queries posted on the site. I check every day hoping to see a great example or a winner to model. In the seemingly impossible event that the query I sent last month finds its way onto the dinner plate, I expect to sharpen and finesse my query into a laser focussed insight into my MS so I can gain representation and sell it.

However, and unfortunately, what I am finding after cavernous silences are queries that seem to break every rule as a rule, or revisions that completely ignore critique, but rather rewrite with as many or more faults.

AAAAAARGH! Sorry, don't mean to use the same exclamative twice but holy shiatsu! Stop throwing guppies at the Shark, people. Where are the bloody moose carcasses? Meat, bone, some semblance of blood to feast on?

Forgive me in advance, but AAAAAAARGH!

M. G. E. said...

@ Mr. Write:
It is the Shark's stated goal to choose queries which display some defect that can be corrected, not to pick only winners.

If you want to see examples of successful queries it's actually very simple, about mid-page on the right is a list of "Queries that Got to YES". Read them.

alli said...

The concept is cute and I think I get what you're going for here but there are some glaring flaws that scream amateur. Revise it and let us see it again!

csmith said...

As a UK English reader/writer, I looked at the moniker C.O.L.O.R and thought -- just for a second -- "Huh. It's missing a 'u'".

A pivotal acronym that only works in American english may not be a deal breaker, but surely it would reduce the saleability of the MS over on this side of the pond?

Or am I reading too much into this?

Theresa Milstein said...

There's a spark of something interesting here, but we need to know more. Once all that stuff at the end if cut out, there will be more room to explain plot.

Families who cut off ties or disapprove of a child's relationship have potential. What's the angle? More, please.

Katie Avery said...

The story looks like it's probably interesting and witty, but this letter doesn't go into very much detail about the plot. This letter is mainly a description of the circumstances behind the plot, but a query letter should describe the outset of the plot. Maybe you should take out some of the characters from the first paragraph, talk more about the C.O.L.O.R. agents, and go into more detail about the plot itself.

Tintin said...

I would definitely change the title; it sounds like you read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and mixed them together. Otherwise, this was exceedingly difficult for me to follow, much more so than usual.

Tara Maya said...

@ cs smith

Normally, I would agree with you, but in this case -- if I am at all close to the mark about what the book is about -- the reference is to a specifically American understanding of race.

Both Brits and Americans use "Asian" as an ethnic category, but it means something completely different. Likewise, if you were to use a slang term in a Brit novel like "bint", it wouldn't make any sense to try to "translate" that to American slang.

On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. I remain to this day mortally offended that the name of the first Harry Potter book was changed because Americans were deemed too stupid to understand "Philosopher's Stone."

JS said...

C.S. Smith, the likelihood that a comic novel about Latino/white relationships in the US would be resold to the UK is small, unless it became a bestseller over here.

Any localization that has to be done is done by the publisher, not the author, in any case. (And oh, localization! My favorite example is Andy Griffiths's children's book JUST TRICKING (Australian original) a/k/a JUST JOKING (US version) a/k/a JUST KIDDING (first UK version, later retitled JUST JOKING).)

Thari said...

I don't think your query should be asking questions of the agent to whom you are trying to pitch it. It smacks of politians who continually ask "Do I think (fill in the blank)? Yes, I think (fill in the blank)."

Marian Perera said...

The bit about the dangers of dating a white girl plus a secret organization called C.O.L.O.R. reminded me of the film Undercover Brother.

Patrice said...

Um... do we even know what "color" the protag is? His name sounds Italian. Maybe the writer means that he is blue... there's no indication that he's African-American, or Latino, as folks seem to be concluding.

[Sorry if this posted twice.]

T.L. Bodine said...

Speaking of color, there's some interesting family dynamics that aren't surfacing here. Because in order to end up with the name "Caesario Benjamin", I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Caesario isn't the first person in the family to dabble in a bit of racial mixing. Also, "Coupon"? What kind of nickname is that unless (forgive me) he happens to be a penny-pinching Jew? And if that's the case, by all means tell that to me -- because a Latino-Jewish guy being forewarned the dangers of his white girlfriend sounds like an appropriately wacky set-up for me.

I'm intrigued by the premise. Where I live these racial issues are quite at the forefront -- I have a friend whose Mexican mother is completely ignoring the existence of my friend's Navajo boyfriend -- and I think it's fun to see a world where it's all turned on its head with an *actual* curse and consequences. I'm really hoping for something silly and whimsical and a little magic-realist.

Which is why C.O.L.O.R. (which may be your new title) throws me off so much. Shadowy secret agents in my whimsical novel? doable, but harder to swallow.

Cut all the stuff about yourself, and use it to expand on the plot itself. As to, for example, who these agents are, and what mayhem is befalling our characters.

Stephanie Barr said...

Rev 12/4:

I spent half the query wondering why eight-year-olds could hide dating white girls easier than college students.

For me, I have to tell you the focus of both the protagonist and his family on what he's dating ("white/brown girls") rather than who he's dating (individual people) is really off-putting. I'm not sure I could ever find this character appealing.

Perhaps it reflects reality, but it's not a reality I want to live in. It's certainly not the way I live.

Jay said...

I'm certainly happy you feel that way, Ms. Barr. And I suspect most people would want to be grouped in that "I only care about the character of the person", without concern as to their race/nationality. While I feel the same, I've found when speaking to people who don't feel as we do, that it's usually attributed to personal experience or a sort of inherited disposition, passed on through familial/friendship ties or environment.

Stephanie Barr said...

I think one reason this is really an issue for me (interracial dating/marriage has been done before), is that this is all the querier has given me: a protagonist and family that can't see past race.

It *is* the story, as far as I can tell. I suppose it would be enough to entice someone caught up in racial dilemmas, but I really need more to read a story. I like to think I've grown past that kind of thing.

Note, however, it may be as much my not being the audience he/she's looking for.

Jay said...

Ms. Barr,

The reason I addressed you in the first place is because you said you'd find such a character, and therefore, I'd have to conclude such a story, "off-putting", which is humorous considering you and many others comment on other queries with topics of incest, prostitution, rape, etc, without so much as a word of negativity toward the subject matter, or mention of the type of world you "live in". Which would seem to be the point of being here, help writing query letters and not stories...So, perhaps we should be more helpful to the querier, and leave personal tastes to what they are, personal tastes, no?

Stephanie Barr said...

There is a distinction between a book that involves unsavory things: murder, incest, rape, racial bigotry, conspiracy, theft, abuse, etc. and having a protagonist that promotes it. It can be done, but, generally, some redeeming factor is required to hold the sympathy of the reader.

A protagonist can be racist (or, in fact, any number of unsavory things) if there's more to him/her, something for a reader to identify with and appreciate. I could do so here if any redeeming quality or aspect had been provided. It wasn't.

The tension of having to decide whether to further his family's prejudices seems insufficient reason to read a book to me. As I'm not a professional agent, the querier is free to discount my opinion, but the querier should be aware of the reaction a reader might have. I am a reader and entitled to my opinion.

I provided it as a service in that, if something appealing or redeeming could be added to the protagonist's character in the query, some more substantial aspect of the book alluded to give the story more depth, it could hold more appeal for more people.

In my opinion.

Jay said...

I'm just relieved to note that while you don't want to live in a world where people are "racist", you're ok with it and those other unsavory characteristics so as long as they are accompanied by some other "redeeming" quality. Point taken.

But alas, I'm not being of any use to the querier either at this point. So, I bid adieu. Thanks, Ms. Barr.

Stephanie Barr said...

Rev 1/2/11

Still nothing there to draw me in, not even the apologetic section QS rightly struck out.

There does seem more voice here, a hint of the humor, than there were in some of the other revisions, but I still feel short on story.

Gisele said...

I'll say it in the kindest way possible:

This query is a flatliner.

It has no pulse. It is a one note symphony. It revolves around a curse that not even Cesario seriously believes in. As he comes to terms with his mom's illness, he just entertains the idea of a childhood curse, much like a drowning man grasping at straws, e.g. "And although Cesario, a born skeptic, knows it's ridiculous to truly consider, part of him wonders..."

The writer is gluing the plot together by said curse but, that is not what the story is about. The curse is just a quirky nod to his mom's superstitious background and NOT the main event. This is a story about a generational and cultural gap between "old school (and racist) philosophy" and a more open minded subsequent generation.

The previous generation tries to pass on the traditions and values of their culture to their offspring as a way to honor their heritage. A statement of: "This is where you came from and this is what you are," so to speak. The current generation is caught in the middle, between a more accepting worldview, while trying to to honor their heritage.

However, even what I mentioned is still set up, along with the curse, which is just a cutesy ingredient in the novel. Put the curse back where it belongs, in the sidelines and see what happens.

What is the story that springs up from this? If it is a story about family, love and race, than, show us that!

I'd like to mention "My Big Greek Fat Wedding". Consider how the "different culture issue" was presented. Maybe the writer can take one or two pointers from it.

purepoetics said...

Gisele,

You hit it squarely on the head. I agree with everything you said. In the manuscript I actually removed most of the mentions of the "curse" because it was too gimicky, too cheeky, and I didn't believe in it anymore did Cesario. Initially it seemed like a funny, ironic bit. But I soon realized it was weighing the work down; that I couldn't center a whole novel on such a shaky concept.

So there's just a small mention of it early on (which is really referenced as a joke), and then you're right, as my concluding statement explains, the book is about family and love, and the distance between generations.

I think the Big Fat Greek Wedding is a useful example, too.

I think the next query will be much closer to the story. I've even reconsidered the title, again...lol.

Anyway, thanks for being my conscience.

p.s. Clearly, I'm the "responsible party" for the above query.

Theresa Milstein said...

Is the top one a new one? Each query is so different, I'm not seeing the progress. And I don't think the date was updated.

GN F said...

Would it be negative or uncharitable to say that this reads something like a shark net?

I don't believe this is a serious query.

But then I'm new and naive and quite probably way off the mark.

877706d4-eae4-11e1-bbdf-000f20980440 said...

I just wanted to publically thank the Shark for her patience and her dead-on criticism. I've experimented with different forms and structures, but in the end, she helped me to arrive at the best representation of the story.

Since the original query, I took the helpful suggestions from commenters and from the Shark and used them to rewrite the entire manuscript. It took quite some time as you can see. But the end result, in my opinion, was well worth the time, energy, and frustration. Best to all! And thanks!

Theresa Milstein said...

Wow, what an improvement! Great voice. It's a whole new query. Congrats!