Dear Query Shark,
Protected witness Jessica Reynolds is in deep trouble. The killer she helped put behind bars ten years ago has escaped, and thanks to a breach in cyber-security, knows her new identity. A federal marshal shows up at her home without warning, ready to immediately whisk her away for a second relocation. Jessica refuses to go, unwilling to walk away from her career, home and friends without a fight.
Yes! This is exactly how to start a query. We know what Jessica wants, and who is trying to thwart her.
Veteran Marshal Max Prescott's assignment sounded simple: contact an endangered witness, and transport her to a safe house to await a permanent relocation. Instead, he's faced with protecting the stubborn woman, while using her as willing bait to draw a vengeful killer into the open. Still plagued with guilt after his wife's tragic death, it's the last duty he'd choose. The last duty he'd shirk.
Yes! This adds a layer to the story, introduces the hero, gives us a sense of what he's about. At this point we know the characters, what they want, and have a sense of who they are. There's nothing extra here, but also nothing left out.
The trap laid and baited, Max and Jessica wait. While familiarity often breeds contempt, in this case it breeds something far warmer. As their feelings for each other grow, they have no idea the killer watches, and prepares a deadly trap of his own.
Two excellent strategies here: "the trap laid and baited" Notice the author doesn't give specifics. There's no step by step list of what Jessica and Max do to lay the trap. This way the author isn't bogged down in unnecessary details. Same with what the bad guy is doing. We know what he's doing but it's not how or why. This is exactly the way to do it.
WORST CASE SCENARIO is a 100,000 word romantic suspense. It is my first novel.
Nice title too.
Thank you for your time.
I'd request pages the moment I finished reading. Nice job.