When personal injury attorney Addy Giordano is hired by a client who claims to have a horrific injury that causes the worse pain known to man, Addy is willing to do just about anything to prove that her client is the real deal and not pushing an insurance scam to its limit.
There ya go! This is exactly right. Main character, and her problem. The only thing we're missing here are the stakes. What happens if she fails?
As she searches for the truth about her client, Addy uncovers some secrets that could make or break the case – not to mention her legal career.
And there are the stakes! Yes yes yes!
With a trial date on the horizon, Addy’s job description gets hazier by the second. She isn't sure if she should be a lawyer who is supposed to present the facts, a juror who is supposed to determine the truth or a private investigator who is supposed to expose insurance fraud.
Addy is sure about one thing; she wants to sock it to All American Insurance Company where it hurts the most – their pocket. God knows they have cheated so many of her worthy clients over the years. Plus, teaching All American’s defense counsel a lesson would be an added bonus. He has pulled off too many undeserved victories in the courtroom – not to mention the bedroom.
Suited up for an award winning performance in a navy pin-stripe ensemble and her personal version of war paint, Addy marches to trial and decides to do whatever it takes to serve up some justice – even if it’s after the jury is long gone.
Thank you for your consideration.
Well, nobody should ever underestimate you! You took A Query That Did Not Work, and got it into fighting trim.
This is a total win.
Take this puppy out for a spin and see the requests for fulls (I hope!) come in!
Very nice revision!
You don't have enough time and space in a query for all this description. Get to the story.
Addy definitely wants to sock it to All American Insurance Company where it hurts the most – their pocket. God knows they have cheated so many of her worthy clients over the years. Plus, teaching All American’s defense counsel a lesson or two would be an added bonus. He has pulled off too many undeserved victories in the courtroom – not to mention the bedroom. A big win for Addy would definitely put a stop to counsel’s soapbox about how jury trials are popularity contests, how Addy is naïve and how her clients are liars.
More than anything else, Addy needs a big win to prove to herself that there are still some good, honest people out there, and that she can make a difference in their lives. After all, it was her compassion for the weak and wounded that made her want to go to law school in the first place. To Addy, being bamboozled by her most promising client would be worse than losing to All American or hearing “I told you so” from defense counsel.
While searching for the truth about her client, Addy’s job description gets hazier by the second. She’s not sure if she should be a lawyer who is supposed to present the facts, a juror who is supposed to determine the truth or a private investigator who is supposed to expose insurance fraud.
Suited up for her own award winning performance in a navy pin-stripe ensemble and her personal version of war paint, Addy marches to trial and decides to do whatever it takes to serve up some justice – even if it’s after the jury is long gone.
Personal Injury is a legal thriller. It is complete at 95,000 words. I have worked as an insurance defense trial lawyer for eighteen years.
This is really not a thriller. I'm still not sure what it is, but "legal novel" or "commercial fiction" or maybe even "women's fiction" are more likely than "thriller."
This query clocks in at 485 words which means it's about twice as long as it should be. The 250 word maximum should guide you to paring down to what you really need. Think of it as writing a prose poem, where every word counts.
Right now you have a lot of description but not much substance. For all the description of Addy, I don't really care about her. She's a lawyer intent on doing good. Ok...and?
This doesn't work yet.
Dear Query Shark
Addy Giordano is out to prove she’s no ambulance chaser when she lands the biggest personal injury case of her legal career. She has her work cut out for her though; Addy’s client was in a minor rear-end accident but is claiming a major injury that is supposed to cause the worst pain known to man.
Why is she out to prove anything? If she believes in the value of her work, and she's got a successful career, she's long past paying attention to anyone who calls her an ambulance chaser.
Unless of course it's her mother who's saying that.
To make matters worse, Addy’s client has some secrets and her injury can’t be proven by a test or seen on an x-ray.
In order to prove that her client is the real deal, Addy is led through medical school man-caves, convenience marts, paper factories, Italian diners, dead-end roads, theater classes and the backseat of her father’s 1973 Impala.
This is a list of events (I think.) What it's not is a sense of what's at stake for Addy. She loses the case. So what? She's not going to get disbarred, lose her house, lose her life is she? No. So what's at stake for her?
Along the way, Addy battles the personal agendas of doctors and insurance companies and the axe grinding of judges and other lawyers. Addy also teaches the razzle dazzle defense attorney from her past a thing or two about honesty, compassion and one night stands.
And more events without context. This is still not a plot.
The jury is left to decide if Addy’s client is truly injured or pushing an insurance scam to its limit.
And so what, again. There's nothing here about Addy.
Unfortunately, the defense attorney knows how to put on a hell of a show and Addy has found out the hard way that juries seem to lose sight of the truth during the theatrics of a trial. Fortunately, Addy also knows a thing or two about show business.
Addy’s role as an injury lawyer becomes hazier by the second, but she decides to do whatever it takes to serve up some justice – even if it’s after the jury is long gone.
Here's the first glimmer of something that might be a plot. What is she doing that isn't her role as an injury lawyer?
Personal Injury is a mystery and is complete at 94K words.
It's not a mystery. I'm not sure what this is, but there's no crime as far as I can tell.
I have worked as an insurance defense trial attorney for eighteen years.
Yea, and you're hamstrung by what you know can be real. This is a novel. You get to make stuff up. Go crazy. Invent stuff. LIE under oath!
I appreciate the chance to forward this query for your consideration.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
This is better, and less clunky, than the first versions but I don't see the plot at all.
There's certainly no crime.
That's pretty much a directed verdict for a form rejection.
Show me what the stakes are for Addy.
Allison Giordano is no ambulance chaser. With a briefcase in her hand and three inch pumps on her feet, she’s ready to show the “old school” boys a thing or two about personal injury law.
She's not going to have the briefcase on her feet or her pumps on her hands, so you don't need to tell us that's where they are. That's the kind of over writing that bodes ill for a manuscript.
Ally wants to be taken seriously but the type of law she practices is flooded with people trying to scam the system. It doesn’t help that she works for a guy who stars in cheesy late night television commercials. It also doesn’t help that she has a paralegal whose favorite task is gathering accident reports from the police station. To make matters even worse, All American Insurance Company is headquartered in the city where Ally works.
This is actually a better starting paragraph than what you have because it gives us a sense of what Ally wants. (I can not stress enough how much you need to change her name to something that is not immediately associated with a television show)
If Ally wants to be taken seriously why is she working for a cheeseball? You don't need any of this anyway. All you need is the first line.
All of this is description without any kind of momentum.
Ally’s monotony at work becomes mayhem when she agrees to represent a woman who tore her rotator cuff in an intersection collision. Although it has nothing to do with the client’s injury claim, Ally learns that her client has a psychiatric illness that causes her to turn into various alter egos. Ally is forced to contend with two of them; a southern gal and a pirate.
When you read this, can you see how clunky it is? One of the things you need to develop is the ability to edit yourself. All first drafts (and most second and third drafts!) suck. That's ok. The trick is to see what needs to be fixed.
Consider this: Monotony becomes mayhem when a client turns out to be multiple...multiple personality. Ally meets a southern belle and a pirate. The question is which one got injured?
Of course, all of this has to come out because, as it turns out, it's not the main plot. That's the next paragraph.
Ally thinks her luck is finally changing when she meets Robyn Dillon. Robyn was in a severe rear-end automobile accident and has been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. Although Ally has never heard of this condition, she learns from her client’s doctors that the condition causes the worst pain known to man.
This is still very clunky. As a lawyer, you're used to spelling everything out. You can leave out at least half this paragraph and not only will it be less clunky, it will be more enticing.
Here: Ally's luck changes with Robyn Dillon, injured in severe car crash and now diagnosed with the condition doctors believe is the worst pain people can have...not that they can see it, measure it or test for it.
Of course, the insurance company and its defense attorney, Nicolas Sourvanos, haven’t heard of trigeminal neuralgia either. They learn that the condition lends itself well to insurance fraud since it is diagnosed based on what the patients says. There are no objective tests that can confirm its existence.
Again, clunky. Again, trim.
Ally learns that Nick will defend the case. Nick is no stranger to Ally. He was her law school classmate and prior one night stand – twice. He won their last trial together on nothing more than his charisma and ability to distort the facts. In his fifteen hundred dollar suits and tasseled loafers, Nick never misses an opportunity to taunt Ally about the legitimacy of her clients’ claims.
If Ally ends up with Nick at the end of the book there's got to something enticing about him. This paragraph makes him sound like a sleazeball, and certainly NOT someone I want to spend time with. That's death for a hero in a novel.
Ally is quick to confront Robyn. However, Robyn provides a very credible explanation for why she withheld information about her past. Just to make sure Robyn’s claim is legitimate, Ally goes as far as conducting surveillance. She even invites Nick along.
In the absence of any conclusive evidence that Robyn is a fraud, Ally reaches for her dark navy suit and marches to trial. The jury returns a seven figure verdict in Robyn’s favor.
Months after the trial, Ally sees Robyn with the man who caused the accident that led to Robyn’s lawsuit. This makes it likely that the two of them staged the accident.
Although she’s enraged that Robyn scammed her, Ally accepts what she already knew; the courtroom is a place for lawyers to put on a show and not a place for lawyers to determine the truth.
She puts on her suit, grabs her briefcase, goes to work and moves forward with her next personal injury case.
Don't tell the entire story. Stop at the point where I want to read more.
Personal Injury is my debut novel. I have worked for twenty years as a trial attorney specializing in personal injury defense litigation.
Personal Injury is Romantic adventure, Chick-lit. It is complete at 90,000 words.
Pick one, and not any of those. I'm pretty sure I said this is a romance novel on your first version. Chick lit isn't hyphenated, and Never EVER use it in a query. The category is dead on arrival.
Thank you for your consideration.
This version is 649 words. Queries should run 250.
Clunky writing means this is a form rejection. I can and do overlook a lot of structural problems with a query, but if the writing doesn't hold up, even perfect form won't help at all.
She’s no ambulance chaser. She’s Ally Giordano, the idealistic, sometimes naïve, always quirky plaintiff’s personal injury trial lawyer.
My reaction here is "so what" This is not the reaction you want. You want to entice me to read on. Is this enticing? No. Why not? Because you have done nothing but describe someone who sounds like a ditz.
Even tightening up the writing here will go a long way toward solving that problem.
Consider this: Ally Giordano is no ambulance chaser.
Leave out the description. SHOW us that she's all those things. With just that one sentence you get me to ask "ok then, what is she?"
Ally is quick on her feet, confident and is ready to show “the man” a thing or two. Her success never goes to her head. Deep down she’s a blue collar girl from a manufacturing town fighting for justice amidst all the nut-jobs and crack-pots she meets along the way.
And you're simply compounding the problem of paragraph one here; more description. All bland. None enticing.
I don't stop reading here because I'm hoping that it will get better.
Ally is in the midst of the largest personal injury case of her career. Her client sustained a debilitating neurological injury from a rear-end automobile accident – or so she claims.
You've got a syntax problem that makes me reach for the "thanks but no thanks" form reply.
The problem is "or so she claims" could mean the client claims, or it could mean Ally claims.
It's not totally clear to me. I know it is to you, and my guess is you mean the client claims, but one of the things a beta reader can help with on queries, is getting you to see stuff that you're too familiar with to be objective to see any longer. This is one of those things.
With the help of her neurotic Italian family and her flamboyant paralegal, the empathetic Ally is determined to help her sweet little client fight the evil large insurance company.
And we're done. I'd stop reading right here. If you're trying to be sardonic "sweet little client/evil large insurance company" it doesn't work because you can't just suddenly be sardonic. If you are actually writing a novel that has characters like this, you're writing a novel with cardboard cutouts. That sweet little client better have a dark side, and that evil large insurance company better have a heart, or you don't have anyone very interesting in the book.
In order to do so, Ally will be up against Nick Sourvanos, the insurance company’s handsome and savvy defense lawyer. Nick is Ally’s ex-boyfriend - of sorts. He is the polar opposite of Ally’s steady accountant boyfriend. Although Ally and Nick continually fight for the last word, they can’t seem to get enough of each other.
I'm sorry but this is such a cliche that I can't even offer a suggestion for revision.
Nick’s pessimism about the legitimacy of personal injury claims challenges Ally’s convictions about the sanctity of the legal system. Especially since her client’s neurological injury lends itself well to insurance fraud.
You've got too much going on here. Nowhere here do I get a sense of what the plot is. I get the sense of your cast of characters, but that's all.
Ally uncovers a series of facts about her client that makes the legitimacy of her injury claim questionable. Having faith in people, honesty and the legal system, Ally discounts the facts and marches forward with blinders on.
Why do you want to make your protagonist, the character with whom we are to sympathize and root for, sound like an idiot?
Unable to settle the case, Ally takes it to trial. Will the jury do the right thing? Will she teach Nick a thing or two about people? Will Ally’s faith in the legal system be confirmed? Does Ally really want to win the battle if it means loosing the war?
Don't do this. Don't ask rhetorical questions about the plot of the book. It invites the worst form of sardonic response in my head (not what you want) and it doesn't entice me to read on.
What other adventures are on the horizon for Ally?
Revisions are in store for Ally. Lots of them.
Personal Injury is my debut novel. I have worked as a trial lawyer specializing in personal injury defense for twenty years.
Yup, I figured that out in paragraph four. Like many professionals turning their hand to novel writing, you know too much about your field. It's really really hard to get doctors/lawyers etc to see that plot trumps process in a novel. By this I mean your characters and your plot have to be more interesting than the scenes about jury selection and speeches about the sanctity of the legal system (which is not a phrase I understand at all, but that's another story)
Personal injury is a humorous, legal romantic suspense novel.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
You get to pick one category. Two at the MOST. Four is (4-2) two too many. The first category to go is "humorous" because that's the most subjective. The second is "legal" because the legal part should be secondary to the story. The third one to go is suspense, since what you've described above isn't suspense. You have, most likely, a romance novel here.
It is compete at 90,000 words. It could be the first in a series.
Thank you for your consideration.
This is a form rejection.