Former priest Stefan is desperate. His greatest desire is an end to his tortured existence as a vampire. He cannot commit suicide.
The punctuation in the third sentence makes the sentence awkward. I think you're using it here to mean a pause. Generally dashes meaning a pause are used as interruptions, from one speaker to another. The reason this doesn't work is what follows: the clause both morally and physically, he cannot act as his own executioner.
Do you mean he can't be his own executioner because of his vampiric nature? If so, his vampiric nature prevents it is the conclusion, not the start, of the sentence: He cannot act as his own executioner; his vampiric nature prevents it both morally and physically.
Stefan’s plan (what plan; so far all we know is his desire) is set into motion when he discovers an ancient dagger, the one used to slay the original vampire. He finds the dagger in the possession of William, a man painfully unaware of its value and origin. Stefan is exuberant when he discovers that William also has the bloodline to wield the dagger’s power. Now he must convince William to end Stefan's suffering.
This paragraph feels like a list of events. A query letter isn't like a recipe: beat one cup flour into one cup sugar and one cup butter. It's the overview: "bake a cake."
We don't need to know he discovers an ancient dagger and where. Or that William has the bloodline. Those are the ingredients. What we need to know is that Stefan has found a way to have himself killed.
Stefan lures William to Romania. William’s situation and aging mother have left William financially wrecked - a perfect situation for Stefan to take advantage of.
This makes William sound like he'd kill someone for money. Generally speaking that's not a quality one would deem sympathetic.
As the two grow close, Stefan is left torn. His desperation to his own misery could equate to eternal night for William, if blood is exchanged. The priest that still dwells within him cannot accept that fate for William, nor can he endure a gruesome, blood stained eternity.
The dilemma here is Stefan's: Can he bring himself to condemn William to "eternal night" (whatever the hell that is) to end his own suffering. You might actually want to lead with this because it makes Stefan MUCH more sympathetic than he seems at the start right now.
IMMORTAL DECISION is a 105,000-word urban fantasy debut. Thank you for your consideration.
I'm confused about who the antagonist is here. And the protagonist for that matter. Whose story is this? If it's Stefan's (and that would be my guess given we're hearing what he wants and why he can't get it) that makes William the antagonist.
If however, you're trying to have the antagonist be Stefan, in that he's trying to suck William into doing something evil, you're going to need William to be more than a cipher. He'll need to be much more developed here. He finds himself wooed by Stefan, persuaded to come to Romania by the lure of money, only to find the money is contingent upon him killing a vampire who wants to die. What could be so bad about a true mercy killing? Well, there is the fact it would send him into "eternal night" (whatever the hell that is) and make him a vampire as well.
This is a LOT better than the first query, but you've still got clunky writing and it's hard to see much story here.
A former priest, Stefan’s greatest desire is to end his two hundred years of tortured existence as a vampire. He knows his prophesized death is at hand, but two centuries have taught him that prophesies are often flawed.
Suicide is impossible.
Notice you've switched here from Stefan's POV, to an objective statement. You need to keep the same POV as much as possible. Consider: He can't kill himself. It means (mostly) the same thing, and keeps us with Stefan.
Vampiric natures prevent him from intentionally losing a battle.
Again, keep us with Stefan: His vampire nature prevents him from intentionally being killed in a battle.
The means to his end presents itself in the form of an American named William, a man possessing the very relic Stefan needs, and the heritage to use it.
While the end may present itself, it's a passive construction. Consider: he decides to use an American etc...
Stefan lures William to Romania with the promise of a substantial inheritance, an answer to William’s current debacle (debacle isn't really the right word here). Complications arise when Stefan grows fond of William, leaving him (which him?) torn. Stefan’s plan to end his own misery could mean eternal night for William.
Failure equates to an eternity of sunless, Godless existence that Stefan cannot suffer any longer.
IMMORTAL DECISION is a 105,000-word urban fantasy debut. Thank you for your consideration.
Form rejection: this is still awkward and I'm not really taken with either of the main characters.
Dear Agent seeking Queries low on the suckitutde meter, (ha!)
It's not clear that Stefan is a vampire (another
And don't get me started on rampant. I looked it up. It's not exactly incorrect, but it seems a strange word choice to me, one that is initially perplexing not illuminating.
He struggles with his duties recalling his days as a priest, but that hasn’t been since 1808.
This is a very awkward construction. You're trying to squeeze in information like it's Cheezewhiz going into a straw.
The executed has left a sizeable Romanian estate to contend with, and no heir. As Stefan searches through the victim’s lineage, a discovery compels him to contrive a plan.
"compels him to contrive a plan" One of the skills a writer must develop is being able to hear clunky constructions like this. One way is to read your work aloud sentence by sentence. I do that here in the office much to the dismay of the other reef-dwellers, but it's one of the most effective ways to hear clunk.
He sends for William, an American in possession of a relic lost since the 1600s: the crucifix of the Archangel Michael.
this is actually the start of the story ------>Stefan’s greatest desire is to end his two hundred years’ of tortured existence. Suicide impossible and vampiric natures preventing him from losing a battle, his options are limited.
All the stuff before this paragraph just gets in the way. Right here is where you've got the answer to a big questions: what does the protagonist want, and what's thwarting him?
Stefan manipulates the young man to read two hundred years worth of journals, concealing that he is the author. The mere human will fold reading the psychological warfare contained in the memoirs of a priest-turned-vampire. Fearful the young man may flee home to the states, Stefan, convinces a cohort to manipulate William into falling in love with a housemaid, cementing his desire to stay in Romania, at least until Stefan is dead.
This is clunky writing here but you're on the right track for what you should be talking about.
Upon completing the journals, William discovers Stefan is the vampire priest. Desperate to end his suffering, Stefan pleads with William to use the crucifix, and dagger contained within, to kill him. Stefan’s fate rests in the hands of William, who must choose if his pity for the priest is worth risking his life, or his mortality.
NO NO NO. NO! Did I mention no yet? Here, let me screech it again:
DO NOT write the entire plot and the ENDING in a query letter.
Write only enough to entice me to read on.
IMMORTAL DECISION is a 105,000 urban fantasy debut. Thank you for your consideration.
This is both better and worse. The writing is worse because it's hurried; you're rushing to revise and not letting it sit long enough. You've got typos and missing words. That's fixable.
Once you get rid of everything before "Stefan’s greatest desire" you've got the structure of the query in working order.
This is still a form rejection but it's better than it was.
Dear Query Shark,
It is 1808; a sadistic vampire stalks a priest and attacks him. Lying on the ground, the priest prays for the monster’s soul. Enraged, the vampire does the unspeakable, dropping his tainted blood into the mouth of the priest, turning him into a vampire. The priest keeps journals, from that point on, detailing his emotional struggle with what he has become.
This is all backstory saying essentially the priest is a vampire who keeps a journal. It's not really the start of the story.
Two hundred years later, William receives an unexpected inheritance, removing the black cloud of unemployment and poverty that has hovered over him for years.
A 200-year-old vampire receives an inheritance? From whom? His mom?
His new inheritance requires him to go to an acquired estate in Romania. He is summoned there by Stefan, the current resident and master at the estate and he knows more about William than he should.
The first sentence says the will or terms of the inheritance requires him to go to Romania. The second says he's summoned there by Stefan. That seems either contradictory or unclear.
Also, we're still not at where the story starts yet.
Stefan’s demeanor is frightening and he even admits to murder. Stefan has one request of William, and that is to read the journals of the vampire priest. William struggles to believe Stefan’s promise to keep him safe as he pours over the journals, and comes to grips with the reality of the supernatural world.
Wait. Wait. William isn't the vampire priest? I'm REALLY confused here. In the second paragraph you introduce "William" as though we've seen him before. I thought he was the priest.
Only now does it seem he's not (which also explains the inheritance snafu.)
We're still not where the story starts either.
Upon completion of the journals he comes face-to-face the reality that Stefan is the vampire priest and the real reason he has been asked to read the journals. The priest wants William to kill him, and he believes William needs to live through the gamut of the priest’s emotions.
Here's the start of the story ----->;William must decide whether to keep his soul and life intact, or to risk it all to end the suffering of the vampire priest.
I have this horrible feeling we're at the end of the book. If this is the first choice William has to make it's really where the story starts.
You've got the entire story listed here, instead of the enticing (we hope) first bit. Narrow down what you're going to tell me. Focus on the first choice William has to make so we get a sense of the plot.
Remember a query letter is not a synopsis. Entice me to read on, don't tell me everything that happens.
IMMORTAL DECISION is a 100,000 word debut fantasy novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I don't think this is a fantasy novel. I think it's urban fantasy, or paranormal suspense. This isn't my area of expertise though, so listen to what the commenters say.
I'm confused by who is what. The plot seems to start at the end of the novel.
This makes for a form rejection.
Dear Query Shark:
I am the author of (redacted), published by Publish America.
And that's where I stop reading. If you've had a book printed by any of these template houses that profess to publish but in fact do not offer any of the additional value of a publisher, for the love of Mike, don't mention it. Ever.
This is not a publishing credential. It's also a huge disadvantage. Once you've published a book, you're no longer a debut author. It's MUCH easier to sell a debut novel than a second or third from a writer who hasn't enjoyed robust sales.
Now that I am finished writing my next piece of work, I am seeking representation.
This is pointless. I know you're looking for an agent because you queried me. I know the work is finished because you know not to query before the work is done.
My point here is you have 250 words to get my attention. Don't waste them on warm up stuff that doesn't get us to What Is Your Book About?
Through my extensive search of the web, I discovered your blog.
You're joking right? If you needed an extensive search of the web to find this blog, I can't even imagine what keywords you started with. "Kind and gentle literary agent" probably. If you simply google Literary Agents my agent blog is #15.
More to the point though, this is again pointless. Unless you have a specific connection for why you found me or are querying me, you don't need to mention it.
My manuscript is a contemporary 114,000 word fantasy, that’s sure to please both male and female readers.
Because of course saying it would please "everyone" is too general right? This again says nothing.
People's reading tastes are more specific than gender. Not all women like the same book. Nor do all men. If you're trying to say it will appeal to men as well as women, that's slightly better but that's not what you said.
This is where you want to start your query. ------->Will is a thirty-four years old, dirt-poor, laid-off yet again, in the depths of depression and hoping for a better life when he is given the gift of a lifetime, an unexpected inheritance that changes his life.
With this new life comes a daunting task when he is whisked away to Romania to read two hundred years worth of journals. These are not journals of any ordinary man or woman, but a priest that was maliciously turned into a vampire.
Well, they're clearly not even the journals of an un-ordinary woman, since they are the journals of a priest. This kind of over writing is what kills a query. Hone your prose.
While Will struggles to wrap his mind around the reality of the supernatural world, his life and future hang in the balance.
Why? Here's where you actually get to the point that's interesting. Here's where the plot starts. Who's the antagonist? What choice does Will have to make?
For the journals lead Will to the truth about his future and the truth of those that surround him. Fate brings Will face-to-face with the Vampire Priest and is forced to make the Immortal Decision.
This is movie announcer phrases, and meaningless without visuals. What specifically is going on?
I appreciate your time and would be humbled if you would consider reading sample chapters of Immortal Decision.
NEVER EVER EVER dismiss yourself this way. Be humbled my ass. You are not a beggar. Don't act like one.
You've made every single mistake in the book, including being published by PublishAmerica but you are a writer, and as such you deserve courtesy and respect.
Pleased, sure. Grateful, ok. Humbled, no, no, no.
I never want to see this in a query from a writer EVER. I don't care if you ARE, don't ever say it. Don't even think it.
If you become my client, we are on the same team. We are colleagues. You're not a fucking supplicant.
This is form rejection for a lot of reasons, but mostly cause you didn't tell me what the book was about in a way that made me want to read it.