Sunday, October 16, 2011

#211-Revised 7x-for the win!

Dear QueryShark:

Randi needs rock and roll to fuel her rise from the ashes of the past year. She's back on stage fronting her old band, RAPTOR SNATCH, and nothing is going to stand in her way! Certainly not the jealous rival band, Slutmaster - inaccurately named, and hell bent on stealing her place in the spotlight.


They linger at Randi's band's performances, slinging glares around like Mardi Gras beads. They cancel her gigs, and accuse her band members of theft. Their weaselly tactics are getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her sexy lead guitar player.


But Randi didn't claw her way out of an emotional abyss to give up without a fight.

Can Randi hold her band – and herself -- together long enough to hit the stage singing? Or will this rock and roll phoenix's comeback go up in flames?


RAPTOR SNATCH is an 83,000 word Ccommercial Ffiction.



I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes me want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.


Thanks for your time and consideration.


This query does what it needs to do: entices me to read pages. 


If you look at the first version, it's 265 words. This version is 233.  It was pared down, yes, but the words themselves changed. We lost some great phrases (murder your darlings!) and started in a new place, so this was mostly honing in on specifics and what's important. The right words in the right order.


The trick is not to be able to write this finished query on the first try.  The trick is revise enough to get to this finished query.  Revising is where the writing comes in.


----------------------------
Dear QueryShark:


Randi needs this musical comeback for more than just professional reasons. Eleven months ago her mentor (who was more like her father) was the victim of a savage random attack. The permanent brain damage he sustained has guaranteed that their relationship will never be the same.

If we start here in the second paragraph we get past all those false starts with "why" and get to "what happens" which is probably a better place to start.

Randi needs rock and roll to fuel her rise from the ashes of the past year. She's finally decided to get busy living, and nNothing is going to stand in her way. Certainly not a thejealous rival band hell bent on stealing her place in the spotlight!

Oh the difference an article makes! A means there are perhaps many. The means there is but one. The also draws our attention: this is the one, pay attention.  I'm not kidding when I tell you that fiercely talented writers obsess over single words. We've had fistfights over words. If you think sharks can't have fistfights, you'd be mistaken.


They linger at Randi's band, RAPTOR SNATCH's performances, slinging glares around like Mardi Gras beads. They cancel her gigs, and accuse her band members of theft. Their weaselly tactics are getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her sexy lead guitar player.

Getting the name of that band in there is tricky. You need it, but it makes the sentence awkward.  I'd suggest you find a way to put it in the preceding paragraph.  You can even give a subtle hint about the crazy name with something like: Nothing is going to stand in her way: not the crazy band name she can't get them to change; certainly not the (not a) jealous ....etc.


But Randi didn't claw her way out of an emotional abyss to give up without a fight.

Can Randi hold her band – and herself -- together long enough to hit the stage singing? Or will this rock and roll phoenix's comeback go up in flames?




RAPTOR SNATCH, commercial fiction, is complete at 83,000 words.

I always think "it better be complete if you're sending queries" thus you don't need to tell me it is. 


I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which me want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.


Do not touch that last paragraph. It's perfect. 

Thanks for your time and consideration.


You're almost there. Now...is your novel ready? Have you applied all this hard won improvement to the novel itself?  It does you no good to have an enticing query if your novel is still last year's writing.






 


--------------

Dear QueryShark:

Randi needs this musical comeback for more than just professional reasons. Eleven months ago her mentor was the victim of a savage random attack. Randi needs rock and roll to fuel her rise from the ashes of the past year.

Let's get some connective tissue here between her mentor's savage random attack and her ashes.  Why would a senseless random street crime lay her low?


She's finally decided to get busy living, and nothing is going to stand in her way. Certainly not a jealous rival band hell bent on stealing her place in the spotlight!

They linger at Randi's band's performances, slinging glares around like Mardi Gras beads. They cancel her gigs, and accuse her  Raptor Snatch band members of theft. Their weaselly tactics are getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her sexy lead guitar player.

Make sure your reader knows that Raptor Snatch is the name of the band or the title doesn't make sense.

But Randi didn't claw her way out of an emotional abyss to give up without a fight.


Can Randi hold her band – and herself together long enough to hit the stage singing? Or will this rock and roll phoenix's comeback go up in flames?


RAPTOR SNATCH: commercial fiction, is complete at 83,000 words.

I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which shorts out my nervous system and brings on contortions resembling the Tarantella.

Umm...that just sounds weird.  Let's get another result here.


This is MUCH better.


--------------
Dear QueryShark:

Randi hopes rejoining her old band, 'Raptor Snatch,' will cure her depression. Music is more than just a job for Randi – it's the fuel for her rise from the ashes of the past eleven months. Nothing is going to stand in the way of her comeback. Nothing! Well, a jealous rival band is certainly going to try.

There's a disconnect between the last two sentences. "Nothing!" is in Randi's POV. The last sentence isn't.  Can you see it?  This is where you're looking at every single word in a query. Simply by changing "Well, a" to "Certainly not" you keep the same viewpoint. And it flows more smoothly:

Nothing is going to stand in the way of her comeback. Nothing! Certainly not a jealous rival band bent on (whatever they are bent on)

See the difference?


They may call themselves, 'Slutmaster,' but their combined sexual conquests combined don't equal a trip to third base. What they lack in sexual – and musical -- prowess, they make up for in sabotage.

This is what I mean by polishing.

Slutmaster linger at Raptor Snatch's performances, slinging glares around like Mardi Gras beads. They fraudulently cancel some of Raptor Snatch's gigs. They give anonymous tips to night club security accusing Randi's band members of theft. Slutmaster's weaselly tactics are getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her sexy lead guitar player. But Randi didn't claw her way out of an emotional abyss to give up without a fight.

Musically, Raptor Snatch have never been better; they have a real shot at getting signed. But as irritation soars beyond Mariah Carey's vocal range, band members are threatening to quit.  Randi's band is her refuge from the pain in her heart. Slutmaster is being a pain in her ass. It's battle of the bands; off stage edition. 

This says what the preceding paragraph does, only not as well. Ditch it.


Can Randi hold her band – and herself together, and hit the stage singing? Or will this rock and roll phoenix's comeback go up in flames?


RAPTOR SNATCH is complete at 81,000 words.


I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which keeps things interesting!


You've got an opportunity here for a really good closing phrase...something that combines music and color. It can't be over the top, but it's got to be more enticing than hoary old "interesting."


Thanks for your time and consideration.

This is much better.  You need to polish it though, and the best way I know to do that is to say the words aloud. If they sound clunky, if it doesn't flow, change it. At this point you're going to be taking out or moving words, or changing syllables.

And I really want you to remember that everything you work on in the query is stuff you MUST also do for the novel. Yes, you're saying the sentences of the query aloud. YES you're saying the sentences in the novel aloud. Maybe not every single one, but at this point, probably a lot of them.

It won't do you any good to have a polished query and a clunky novel.


-------------------------
Dear QueryShark

Randi is ready to rock. Rejoining her old band, 'Raptor Snatch,' is the cure for her depression: the rock and roll fuel for her rise from the ashes of the past eleven months. spent in seclusion. She's still emotionally raw from her mentor's accident, but Nothing is going to stand in the way of her comeback. Nothing!

Why she is depressed is less important than the fact she is. Cutting away more and more of the extra stuff will give you cleaner, leaner prose.  It also gets you to the last sentence on the up-beat. That's what you want, because that last part of the paragraph is what gets you to the next paragraph. It's like running an obstacle course. You need to hit a jumping off point with enough speed to leap up and  catch the rope to climb up the wall.


Well, a jealous rival band is certainly going to try. They call themselves, 'Slutmaster,' but the three members' their sexual conquests combined don't equal a trip to third base. What they lack in sexual – and musical -- prowess, they make up for in sabotage.


From Calling and canceling Raptor Snatch's gigs, to trying to get them arrested for stealing their own equipment, Slutmaster's weaselly tactics are getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her lead guitar player.


Her band is supposed to be a refuge from the pain in her heart. Slutmaster is being a pain in her ass. Can Randi hold her band – and herself-- together, and hit the stage singing? Or will this rock and roll phoenix's comeback go up in flames?





'Raptor Snatch,' RAPTOR SNATCH a contemporary fiction, is complete at 81,000 words.

Cap titles of books. "a contemporary fiction" isn't what this is.  It's a novel.

I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which keeps things interesting

You've got the pieces in place. We're down to testing each individual word and phrase.  You want elegant and lean prose here.  I've made some suggestions, but this is where the critical element is time. Let this sit for a day or two (at least--a week would be better.)  Then come back to it.  You'll be surprised what you see that you want to change.

This is the part that all too many queriers leave out of the process.  In their hurry to get started they let an almost-good query out the door.  Almost good won't cut it.

Wait
Review.
Polish.
Resend.
Minimum time to elapse: one week.

-------------------
Dear QueryShark:

Randi is ready to reclaim her life as an up and coming rock star, after an eleven month hiatus spent wallowing in seclusion. Still raw from the savage beating her mentor received and its long term effects on them both, she comes up with a plan so cunning you could stick fur on it and call it a weasel.

This is a really bland start. There's no zip, no enticement.  Also using "raw" to describe Randi is a mistake since the beating injured someone else.  She may be emotionally raw but another word would be less confusing.

The comments column mentioned that "stick fur on it and call it a weasel" is derivative. I wouldn't worry about it. It's a funny line. However, you never mention what the plan is, and since that's the PLOT or WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR NOVEL that's a pretty glaring oversight.

Rejoining her old band, 'Raptor Snatch,' is the cure for her depression: the rock and roll fuel for her rise from the ashes of the past eleven months.

Unless you mean rejoining the band is her cunning plan? Cause...that's not cunning.

Cue the jealous band who call themselves, 'Slutmaster,' but the three members' sexual conquests combined don't equal a trip to third base. They think they are Raptor Snatch's rivals, and will stab them in the fronts every chance they get.


From calling and canceling their gigs, to trying to get them arrested for stealing their own equipment, it's getting under Randi's skin more than Kelvin, her sexy jerk of a lead guitar player.

This sentence is as awkward as I've seen.  You're trying to do too much in one sentence. Have I not been hitting you over the head about the correct order for sentences (subject/verb/object) for 212 queries now?

It's hard to tell what "it's" is the pronoun for.  What is it? Upon reflection it is the pranks pulled by Raptor Snatch's rivals, BUT you never actually mention that. Instead it's hidden in "stab them in the fronts every chance they get."  Which may be a great line, but doesn't actually make any sense.

I have the feeling you're trying to incorporate all the opinions you're getting in the comment column. Do NOT do that.  You can not crowdsource a query or you will end up with a query that walks like a duck, spins like a puck, steals your luck and earns your query a brisk WTF.  You're losing your distinct voice here as you try to spackle and glue all the suggestions in here.

Irritation is a stinky perfume, especially when she wanted Distraction. Can Randi hold her band – and herself together, and hit the stage singing? Or will this rock phoenix's dream go up in flames?

I'm sorry but WTF?

'Raptor Snatch,' is complete at 81,000 words. This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Jody Gehrman's 'Summer in the land of skin;' (published 2004)  Erica Orloff's 'Diary of a blues goddess;' (amazon ranking 2.4 million/pubbed before 2003) and Carl Hiaasen's 'Star Island.'

Don't use comp titles that are old. If I sold this book tomorrow it would be published in 2013 (nine/ten years AFTER those first two books)  

Don't use comp titles that aren't selling well.  2.4 million sales ranking means it probably sold ten copies last year, maybe.

Also, I think using Carl Hiaasen or any other utterly distinctive writer sets up unrealistic expectations. I loved Carl Hiaasen for a good long time, and if you tell me I'm going to see something akin to his work here, and I don't, that's a failure of expectation you don't need.

In other words, comp titles can really hurt you. It's ok to leave them out rather than use ones that don't actually help your cause.  

I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which keeps things interesting!

This is still the best paragraph of the query. You'll notice all the sentences are in the right order, you're not trying to be clever, you're just being your own clever self.  More of this.


My name is (redacted), and I can be reached at either this email, or by home phone, (redacted)

Don't do this. It sounds like one of those wretched campaign ads "My name is Grover Cleveland and I approved this ad"  Just sign your name and your contact info at the bottom of the email.


Thanks for your time and consideration.


Name
Email
Phone
Etceteras

Quit reading the comments. Start over with the query. Be brave enough to be plain.

------------------------------
Dear QueryShark:

Randi is ready to reclaim her life as an up and coming rock star, after an eleven month hiatus spent wallowing in seclusion. Still raw from her mentor's savage beating

(the way you have this phrased, it sounds like Randi was beaten up by her mentor)

and its long term effects on them both, she comes up with a plan so cunning you could stick fur on it and call it a weasel.

For this line alone, I'd read the book.

Rejoining her old band, 'Raptor Snatch,' is the cure for her depression: the rock and roll fuel for her rise from the ashes of the past eleven months. Cue jealous band, 'Slutmaster,' whose three members' sexual conquests added up combined wouldn't equal a trip to third base. Backstabbing – and playing their instruments – is too complex for them; they prefer to stab Raptor Snatch in the fronts every chance they get. (the line from the first iteration is better) From calling and canceling their gigs, to trying to get them arrested for stealing their own equipment, it's irritating but mostly harmless, except for the vicious emotional attack on Randi at a gig one night. Kelvin, her lead guitar player, (and former enemy) jumps to her defense. He also confesses a long time attraction to her, and Randi realizes that hating him has been an empty habit. They begin a relationship which gives Randi the emotional boost she needs to accept life as it is now – perfect in its imperfection – and lead her band in a scorching performance which lands them a record deal.

'Raptor Snatch,' is complete at 78,000 words. This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Jody Gehrman's 'Summer in the land of skin;' Erica Orloff's 'Diary of a blues goddess;' and Carl Hiaasen's 'Star Island.'



I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which keeps things interesting!


There's no doubt in my mind you are a writer with extraordinary talent. None. What you lack here is  polish. You'll benefit from saying the query out loud to get the rhythm right; as a musician you'll hear when things go clunk, or are off beat in a bad rather than interesting way.

You're also telling a lot of the story; almost all of it in fact. The purpose of a query letter is to ENTICE SOMEONE to read the book, not tell them the entire story.

Give me just enough to make me beg to read more.

Revise. Polish. Resend.

And for godiva's sake, please make sure you don't send another Big Bloc O'Text. It makes your email almost impossible to read. Do NOT Shoot Yourself In the Stax By Doing This.

---------------------
Dear Query Shark,

Having once led the wild life of a rock-star, Randi embraced seclusion after her mentor underwent a savage beating which left him mentally handicapped.

This sentence is a perfect example of why I yammer (endlessly!!) about starting with the name of the main character.  When you do that, you'll naturally also get rid of the clause and thus have a stronger opening.

To wit: Randi embraced seclusion after her mentor underwent a savage beating which left him mentally handicapped.

And then you can start to see some problems:  you don't embrace seclusion for starters. You enter it or seek it. And "mentally handicapped" is one of those nicey-nice phrases that really doesn't tell us much. Her mentor most likely doesn't have Downs Down Syndrome or autism. He's most likely got severe head trauma that affected his memory and ability to function.  In other words "not his former self"  Here's where "vegetative state" may be a useful phrase. Impolitic to be sure, but useful.



Months later she needs something to haul her out of her secluded depression. Moving across the country, and rejoining her old band Raptor Snatch seemed like the perfect idea.

Which means everything you've started with is back story. The story starts when she rejoins the band. That's the choice she makes, right?

Of course, there's still the tension between her and Kelvin, the lead guitar player. There's still that other band that call themselves 'Slutmaster,' but the three members' sexual conquests added up wouldn't equal a trip to third base. They can't play their instruments but think they are Raptor Snatch's rivals, and will stab them in the fronts the first chance they get. Immersing herself in the on and off stage insanity of a musician's life is the perfect distraction. What can go wrong when there's a “rival” band trying to sabotage her career at every step? How can sleeping with her guitar playing former enemy be anything but positive? If music soothes the savage beast then Randi had better get singing...

There are a lot of words here but not much useful information about what's at stake.  There's a band that tries to sabatoge her? How? Why does she care? Do they have a reasonable chance to harm her career? Or are they just so annoying her reaction harms her career?

BE SPECIFIC about what choices Randi makes and what's at stake. Without that it's just noise.



'Raptor Snatch' complete at 72,000 words, is a sardonic comedy about an up and coming band and their front-woman's emotional nuclear night, in the midst of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

I recognize all the words, but I'm not sure what they actually mean when you string them all together.


I am currently a librarian; I lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that I suspect they only hired me so it would be less creepy. Now I'm armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. I'm also a musician with synesthesia – which keeps things interesting!



This bio is the best part of the query. It's funny, charming and honest to god straightforward. More like this. Less like the other stuff.

Start over. Write simple declarative sentences, then add the pretty.

48 comments:

Marian Perera said...

Agree about the bio - that was fun to read.

The query, not so much. The only comedy in it (that I remember anyway) was the reference to the Slutmasters' experience, or lack thereof. Also, what does "emotional nuclear night" mean?

Lori said...

I always learn so much from your comments here and not that you need the validation, but I agree. Leave out the back story and let your style shine through.

Jo Denton said...

Awesome examples. This is very helpful. Thank you! Getting ready to write that oh-so-daunting first query. Thanks again.

Feaky Snucker said...

Thank you. The book is written like the last paragraph in the query, and I have confidence in it. I knew the query wasn't working. Thank you for giving me a new starting place.

Gemma Buxton said...

I agree with everything QS has said. As it is, it's very confusing and I don't really understand what the story is about, besides two feuding bands. With some trimming, I think it can be made clearer.

Rachelle said...

The query itself didn't turn me off, but the author totally lost me at "Raptor Snatch".

Theresa Milstein said...

I think instead of being direct, the writer became wordy. By choosing to try to impress with sentences that sounded interesting, we didn't get much about story or stakes. I can't wait to see the rewrite.

sherihart said...

Feaky Snucker -- I LOL at your handle every time I see it. I agree your bio paragraph is very strong.

I also like the advice to: "Write simple, declarative sentences. Then add the pretty".

A recipe for a query -- and a book, too.

jesse said...

If the book reads like your bio I'd probably read it. However, with that query and that title, I'm not willing to invest a page. Try again, I know you'll get there.

Feaky Snucker said...

@Marian - I was thinking of a way to condense the eleven months spent wallowing in grief that occur before the book starts. Not the blast, but the fallout so to speak.

@Rachelle - Most titles are changed, and I am aware of that. It's the band's name, and it amuses me, but if it needs to be changed to be published, it's fine.

@Sheri Hart - Thanks:) I'm pretty much the only Feaky Snucker on the internet.

@Jesse - yes the query needed work or I'd not have submitted it here for critique. What is it about those two words (the title) that would you not even read a page?

Nicole Parton's Favorite Recipes nicoleparton172@gmail.com said...

"Emotional nuclear winter" would have been a better image. Terrific blog, Janet!

Elissa M said...

I was thinking of a way to condense the eleven months spent wallowing in grief that occur before the book starts.

If it happens before the book starts, it shouldn't be in the query.

Give one or two specifics about how the rival band tries to sabotage Randi's career. My husband is a professional musician, and I can't imagine how another band could ruin his career. I need an idea how this could happen so I can see what's at stake for the MC. Which is pretty much what the Shark said.

Basic query formula: MC + inciting incident (what happens that disrupts MC's world) + MC's goal(s) + antagonist (who or what is stopping the MC from reaching her goals) + stakes (what happens if she fails) = Story.

Sharon Wachsler said...

I liked some of the quirky word choices. I thought Raptor Snatch was hilarious as a band name. (I liked the other band name, too.) I think the plot sounds interesting, and clearly you have a way with words. Stalking library patrons has worked for you! I am eager to see the revision.

Not having read the book, I have no idea what "mentally handicapped" means here -- traumatic brain injury can cause widely divergent disabilities -- so I agree that something more specific would also be more descriptive, although I would not jump to "chronic vegetative state" from "mentally handicapped" for a number of reasons.

FYI, y'all, here's a guide for writers and journalists on writing about disability: http://ncdj.org/styleguide/

(e.g., Janet, it's Down syndrome.)

Angie said...

I like 'stab them in the fronts.'

'Wild life' made me think of lions and tigers until I read it twice, maybe it is my lack of coffee that confused me.

Just before reading this query I read the chapter on sound in prose of Noah Lukeman's "The First Five Pages." I think it could be useful if you haven't read it yet.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

FS: There are some funny elements buried in this version (the "sexual conquests" of their rivals, stabbing them in their fronts). Personally I think seeing more of that sardonic comedy will be a plus.
I can't wait to see the rewrite!

Lexi said...

Pedant's corner:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

The phrase was coined by William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697.

Janet Reid said...

Sharon, thanks. Fixed.

Feaky Snucker said...

@Sharon Wachsler - yes, he's not in a vegetative state, but the head trauma has left him with memory problems, and a child like mentality. It's tough for Randi because he's not dead (which she's thankful for), but he's also not the same, and never will be, so she is still mourning the loss of her mentor in a big way.

@Angie - Thanks I'll check that out.

@KO - thanks:) I'm working hard on it *makes determined face while heroic music plays in the background*

accidentalwriter.net said...

Loved the last bit of advice - "Write simple declarative sentences, then add the pretty."

It's something I need to keep in mind.

JS said...

Okay, so let me take a hack at this for you and see if it helps you re-envision it.

"Randi probably shouldn't be getting back together her old band, Raptor Snatch. For one thing, she's got unfinished business with Kelvin, the sexy lead guitarist.

But she needs something to take her mind off the loss of her mentor, Jake--not to death, but to a beating so savage that his mind will never be the same.

The on- and off-stage insanity of a reunion tour seems like the perfect distraction. And if deciding what was up with Kelvin wasn't drama enough, there's the {whatever it is---sabotage? undermining} from Raptor Snatch's wannabe rivals, Slutmaster."

Obviously yours will be better, but you see where I'm going with this?

Feaky Snucker said...

I really appreciate everyone's comments so far. It's difficult to match my style writing into the query format, but I'm doing my best. This is an example of how I write in the book - if anyone's interested.

The waitress might have been a looker at some point eons ago, but I can't tell for certain underneath all the frosted coral lipstick, flaking foundation and wrinkles. I’d be certain her hair colour came out of a bottle, but I just can’t believe that any company would make that shade on purpose. It’s a fascinating shade somewhere between strawberry blonde and pink lemonade. She moves with a kind of slinky shuffle, like a panther with arthritis. An incredibly old panther. This woman isn't even in cougar territory – she's a sabre tooth tiger.

Uma said...

Feaky, I like the waitress description although its bitchy lol

Lanette said...

The paragraph about Slutmaster reminded me of a teenager ranting about some rival girl she doesn't like.

BTW, Feaky, I love the paragraph you posted in these comments. That alone makes me want to read the book.

planetpooks said...

Write simple declarative sentences, then add the pretty.

This is some of the most helpful info I've seen on this subject. Brava!

Lynne Kelly said...

Haha! Feaky, in the YA novel I just turned in, the main character describes her boss' hair color: "I don't even know what to compare it to-- I can't call it 'sunflower yellow' or 'banana yellow' or 'cheese dip yellow,' because this color isn't found anywhere but Peg's head. I'd love to see the label on the hair color box."

Sounds like and your waitress probably get together to do each other's hair on the weekends.

I agree, if the tone and humor of the book comes across in your query, you'll have a winner.

Good luck!

Ashley said...

I can't be the only person who thinks that a librarian with a band and synesthesia already sounds like the most BAMF character of all time, right? XD

Feaky Snucker said...

I was wondering if it was sounding more like a synopsis than a query with my revisions.

Query: My great and worthy adversary, you shall not beat me!

Thank you for the amazing compliment. It made my shriveled, black, grinchy lump of a heart swell.

Sorry for the big block of text.

jesse said...

It's getting there...

foolplustime said...

Would it be snitty of me to mention the weasel line is adapted from a famous Blackadder (British Sitcom written by Richard "Four Weddings and a Funeral" Curtis and Ben Elton) joke? The original was "a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel". I'm sure it's unconscious on the Qer's part, but I'd scratch it simply because if, like me, the agent needs to get out more, I'm going to assume the MS is full of similarly recycled material.

Theo (who is as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University).

Feaky Snucker said...

@foolplustime - I've never heard that saying before, but I did grow up with hill billies (where I got that line). Just shows that no matter how original your line, someone else has probably thought of it as well - or a variation thereof.

@Janet Reid, what's your opinion? Do you think this could hurt the query if I leave it?

alaskaravenclaw said...

Amazon sales ranks are a great mystery. Who can say what they mean? I've got a book sitting there at a depressing 1.2 million. But my last royalty statement showed it was selling 800 copies a month. Just not on amazon I guess.

The need to find comp titles is one of those bits of bad advice out there on the writing sites. Leave 'em off. Especially in this case-- they aren't even all in the same genre.

This latest revision doesn't seem to be getting closer. Writer, try abandoning all desire to be clever and just write a straightforward, 150-word statement of what the story's about. Make it so simple a very average third grader could read it. Then work from there.

Feaky Snucker said...

This was a failure of technology. It was an earlier draft that I mistakenly sent, instead of the newer stripped down version.

But, I read it and made a few tweaks ie Name, contact info etc, to the real one before sending that to QS. I don't mind of this one is left, as it shows how second guessing yourself can screw things up.

Of course, I'm not mortified that the actual revision is complete shit. What a day. :(

Tiger said...

I don't know if this has been said, but stick fur on it and call it a weasel is a permutation of a Black Adder line. (I believe it's "a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.") That could be a common saying though, so maybe it's not a thing.

Feaky Snucker said...

Ugh. *now mortified.

Wow. Just wow. Today =fail.

Cheyenne Hill said...

Just want to say keep at it. I agree with a lot of what's said, but I also think your determination and talent are shining through this, and you'll definitely come out the other side with a concise and snappy query. I tried patching together every comment I received on a forum because I figured everyone else knew better - but you've just got to pick and choose. Good luck and hang on to the most important bits - if you can just simplify and stop trying to cram everything in so tight, I think you'll have a great query!

alaskaravenclaw said...

We all have days like that. Carry on; hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Sharon Wachsler said...

I think I mentioned before, you had me at "Raptor Snatch." So you know I am rooting for you!

There are a few grammatical oopses here -- places where subject/verb agreement is off, for example -- where I think Janet's tip to read it aloud is helpful. Another proofing trick that helps you find those kinds of mistakes is to read the ms. backwards. Not actually backwards, but like this: You start reading with the last sentence of the first graf. Then the sentence before that. Then the first sentence in that graf. Then you move to the second graf and read the last sentence there, and so on. That way your mind isn't filling in things because you're caught up in the story. It forces you to think in a different way.

The other confusion I had was that I wasn't clear who Slutmaster was from this version. Eventually I realized that Slutmaster (also an excellent band name!) is the rival band, but I think in the first graf, I'd go with something like, "rival band, Slutmaster, blah blah blah." (I can't see the post from the comments box, so I can't remember exact wording.)

HTH. Rock on, synesthetic librarian!

Sharon Wachsler said...

QS - A question: Sometimes I see errors in punctuation or grammar, or awkward sentences that could easily be remedied. Are these issues you expect the author to figure out on their own, would you expect them to have someone proof it before sending it in, or would you overlook errors if the query was otherwise compelling?

Cheyenne Hill said...

I agree it's tightening up - but not sure about the questions posed to the reader/agent. I know there's an exception to every rule, but I can't count the number of times I've read agents telling us querying folk not to ask questions, because 9 times out of 10 the answer is "How should I know and why should I care?" I think I'd leave them out. It's definitely not my style, but it's great to see the changes you've made, and with a title like Raptor Snatch, you're sure to get attention.

E.Maree said...

Latest revision is nearly perfect, great stuff.

Spotted a small typo in the bio paragraph:

which me want to squirm inside out.

...should be 'which makes me', I think.

Feaky Snucker said...

I saw that typo and have fixed it. Thanks:) I have been applying all these changes to my manuscript, but it has been better than my query all along.

I am determined not to let this query beat me!

Anthony said...

I love the tenacity of this author. 6x!

Feaky Snucker said...

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm nothing if not tenacious. Once I realized it was okay (and necessary) to "murder my darlings," I started getting somewhere. Thanks QS, now I'm confident that rejections that say, 'Not for me,' mean just that. :)

E.Maree said...

Congrats on the win, Feaky!

Sharon Wachsler said...

Yay! Please post here when your story sells!

(P.S. - QS: This blog won't let me comment w/my WordPress ID. Every time I try on this or the previous post, it says I'm doing the captcha wrong, when I definitely am not. Dunno if others who are not on Blogger are able to post comments or not.)

Feaky Snucker said...

Thank you E. Maree! And Sharon, I appreciate your kind words throughout this process:) Believe me, if I manage to pretend to be normal long enough to sucker an agent into signing me... I mean, um, *shifty eyes* if an agent likes me and signs me, and THEN if they manage to fool a publishing house into thinking I'm awesome, then Query Shark will be the first place I update:)

GoogleCurt said...

Some info which may help other query writers: Recently, I submitted a query to QS, after weeks of reading the blog, and much, re-reading of my query. I STILL missed some pretty blatant errors! The way I caught them may have been posted here in the comments before, but I'll post it again, just in case: You can actually get Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat to verbally read your query to you. Here's how:

1. Open Adobe Reader, or Adobe Acrobat.
2. Go to Edit -> Preferences.
3. Make sure To that the default voice selected is "Microsoft Anna - English". (You might have to change it, if its not already set to Anna.)
4. Make sure to check the 'Use default speech attributes' box.
5. Click OK.
6. Go to View -> Read Out Loud ->Activate Read Out Loud.
7. Select your reading options - either 'This Page Only' or 'End of Document'.

After a few seconds pause, Reader will proceed to read the document out loud.

This is a fantastic proofreading tool! It immediately allowed me to catch my extremely blatant errors (reversed word order) that I had not been able to catch after many readings, even aloud. Try it out, if you can. (P.S. I have not yet figured out how to make Windows read text in a Word document without buying additional software.)

GN F said...

@ Feaky - so have you queried and how have the results been?

Your bio reads like something you should fictionalise! Wow.