After Beth achieves her desire and the adoption is final, her life is one of blissful contentment until the day she learns that her boy may be a kidnapping victim. Beth must decide between concealing his secret in order to keep the son she’s sacrificed for and come to love so deeply, or risk losing him forever to the grieving parents who gave him life. As Beth’s actions affect the destiny of countless lives, she discovers the possibility for joy in the midst of tragedy.
This is the story right here. You'll need to expand on it. Tell us more about the birth parents. I think this would be agony for birth parents--their child doesn't know them, and to take their kid from the only mom he's known--talk about a dilemma. And at some point there's a crime being investigated here, right?
I almost never tell a writer to write MORE in a query, but you need more of the story here. Forget all the stuff about how Beth got him. Focus on when she's about to lose him.
BABY JOHN DOE (92,000 words) is a completed work of women’s fiction.
I get my best ideas in the shower but let's not put THAT in a query either. Inspiration is important to the writer but meaningless in a query.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dear Query Shark,
Johnny is kidnapped on the day of his birth. Beth is a divorced, childless, and jaded nursing supervisor who's given up hope of ever finding love and happiness. BABY JOHN DOE is the story of how the course of their futures are forever altered the instant their paths cross.
This is so general it's meaningless. The one specific thing you have -- "Johnny is kidnapped"-- gets buried instantly. We don't even know if Beth kidnaps him, or is the one who gets the heat (she should have been supervising more closely) when he goes missing.
Start with something specific---and connect it to the next thing that is also specific.
The moment Beth sees the mysterious baby, injured, unconscious, and alone, she believes she's been placed in his path to save him. While trying to adopt Johnny, she battles hospital administrators who want to take him off life-support, skepticism from her new friends, and even betrayal from the man she loves. When all seems lost and Beth contemplates ending her life, the baby miraculously awakens.
What? This doesn't make sense to me. Because you start with the fact that Johnny's kidnapped, we're expecting Beth to be the victim or the perpetrator. You've led with the wrong thing. The important thing isn't that Johnny is kidnapped. The important thing is that Beth found him alone and tried to help. One of the elements of good storytelling is knowing where to focus your reader's attention. If you tell me to focus on the kidnapping --which you did by virtue of it being your first sentence--I'm expecting something other than what you're now telling me is the story.
If I'd read past the first paragraph, this is where I'd stop because right here is where it's clear to me that you don't see that this is disconnected and that means you won't see it in your novel.
Your query tells a story, it should entice me to read MORE of the story.
As Johnny grows, Beth marvels at the remarkable person he's becoming in spite of his disabilities. The only thing marring her new life is the nagging fear that his real parents will appear one day to claim him. At midnight on Johnny's eighteenth birthday, the kidapper calls Beth to tell her who Johnny's real parents are. Expecting the worse, Beth is amazed when she becomes united with Johnny's family through the love of their son.
I have many family members who joined us via adoption, I strongly STRONGLY object to the idea that birth parents are the "real" parents. Seeing that won't make me stop reading a query, but a book that promotes that idea wouldn't be something I want to take on and promote.
Also, more important I bet Beth doesn't think of those people as the "real" parents either. If she's saved this kid and been the mom all these years, her viewpoint is probably just like mine: she's the mom. This kind of inconsistency bodes ill for the novel.
Johnny matures, marries and has a son. Tragedy strikes when the baby needs a liver transplant to survive and Johnny dies without warning from a brain aneurism. Johnny's liver is transplanted into his son, saving his life. Even though she's grateful that her grandson will survive, Beth is angry with God for trading Johnny's life in the process. She wonders if everything she and Johnny went through was worth it. During his funeral, as Beth hears how numerous lives were changed through Johnny's inspiring influence, she realizes that even though she set out to save his life, he saved hers in the end. For the first time in her life, she is whole.
And there's no plot here as far as I can tell. There are events and lists of challenges and obstacles, but there's no mention of choices or stakes. You really need choices or stakes to be clear otherwise I read this and think "so what." That's not the response you're looking for.
Also, you've just told me the entire story. Don't ever do that. The purpose of a query is to entice me to read the pages. This is like telling someone "Bruce Willis is dead" and then asking them to buy a ticket to the the movie***. Why would I when I know what happens?
BABY JOHN DOE is complete at 92,000 words and is my debut novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
It's really important that you focus only on the start of the story and the plot in a query. The reason I
And you don't want to summarize the novel or give a complete synopsis of it in a query. It defeats the entire purpose of your query.
Re-read the archives. Start again. Resend.