Realtor Reed Winford suspects something is wrong with the historic house he has agreed to sell for an old client but he thinks at worst it is bad plumbing or a leaky roof. The last thing he expects is the ghost of a young jazz-age woman who lived in the home in the 1920s and who was murdered a hundred years ago.
And here's where I stopped reading this revision.
This paragraph is an exact replica of the first revision; the one I wrote four paragraphs of notes on last time.
Failing to revise is fine. You don't have to follow my advice at all.
What you can't do is not follow my advice and then ask for more. That seems a poor use of time for both of us.
I see this less in queries, and more in novels. When I give notes to prospective clients, there's always the chance they think I'm delusional, off my rocker, have no taste, or a myriad of other reasons they think the advice is flawed. Such is the way of subjective evaluations of any art form.
But then sending the novel back for further consideration, that's where I lose my cool. If you think I'm wrong, why the hell would you want me to represent your work.
Winford knows he must find a way to remove the haunting in order to sell the house. His business is selling homes and he has a job to do. He uses clues from old records, maps and antiques found at the home to track the woman’s prior locations when she was alive. As he’s drawn deeper into this woman’s tragic life, he begins to have real feelings for her. Now he wants justice for her death. He talks to the police, title researchers and the ghost herself, trying to find out who killed her and why.
When someone tries to murder Winford, he discovers that she may not be the only ghost, and that the evil which killed this wonderful woman is still in the city and must be confronted and destroyed.
Winford tracks down the source of corruption using smuggler’s maps and old photographs dug up from a grave. His skills pay off when he is able to discover the crime family’s headquarters as well as their secret to remaining in power even after death.
Writing books like this is the best way I've found to combine my two biggest hobbies: writing and real estate. I’ve been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Boy’s Life and Capper’s Weekly. I’ve won the Crowder College Golden Quill Award.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Realtor Reed Winford suspects something is wrong with the historic house he has agreed to sell for an old client but he thinks at worst it is bad plumbing or a leaky roof. The last thing he expects is the ghost of a young jazz-age flapper who lived in the home in the 1920s and who was murdered a hundred years ago.
These sentences convey information but not vitality. Remember the purpose of a query is to entice your reader (ie me) to want to read more, not just tell me about the book you've written. A query is more like a sales pitch than an informational interview.
One of the fastest and easiest way to punch up the vitality of a query is to ditch those long ass sentences. Short, sweet, hubba hubba.
For example: Realtor Reed Winford suspects something is wrong with the historic house he
You don't always need complete sentence: At worst, bad plumbing or a leaky roof.
You don't need to repeat yourself: jazz-age flapper, 1920's
Winford knows he must find a way to remove the haunting in order to sell the house.
You don't remove the haunting, you remove the ghost.
You don't need every single piece of information that you've got here. This is not a checklist for a home inspection!
Don't reveal the entire plot in the query. At MOST you want the first act.
The fact you live in Seattle and locations are real isn't a selling point. It's a novel; you can make it all up if you want. That the locations are ACCURATE is my big sticking point. I can't stand when writers get the geography of a real place wrong.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Thank you for changing the name of the main character. That helps a lot.
Now, it's time to spruce up the writing here. A query needs to be vivid. It's not just a conveyance.
And if your query reflects the writing in your novel, you'll need to take a look at that too. Remember a query is intended to entice me to read the novel. If the novel isn't spruced up that's not the fault of your query!
Reflect, revise, resend.
Your query doesn't need a prologue. Start with the story.
And it's almost always a terrible idea to project where readers interest will be going. Given the popularity of Downton Abbey right now, a "resurgence" in interest in the 20's may very well have come and gone.
Start with something interesting. That MC enjoys his career is nice, but it's not very interesting.
(MC) finds a ghost in the home during an open house.
You're getting lost in events here. What's at stake for our MC? Why does he want to solve her murder?
(MC)is also drawn deeper into feelings for the dead woman. This sends him on a quest to get closer to her by using antique telephones, eyeglasses and phonograph records. He takes it a step further in an intimate scene involving an antique magic trick!
This is so abstract I don't know what you mean. For starters you HAVE feelings, you don't get drawn deeper into them. I've jumped up and down about plain writing here more times than I can count but it bears repeating. Plain and simple is almost always the best way forward.
(MC) tracks down the criminal source using smuggler’s maps and old photographs dug up from a graveyard. His real estate detective skills pay off when he’s able to discover the crime family’s headquarters, as well as their secret to eternal life.
oh. Eternal life huh.
Well, that moves it right off the crime shelf and into something else.
I have published short works in Chicken Soup for the Soul, THIS and THAT. I have won THOSE College's SPLENDID Award. It was more fun and personal to name the agent/detective after myself. I live in the Seattle area, and the book’s locations are real.
Naming the protagonist after yourself is textbook confusion for an agent reading this. I thought it was memoir when I read it first. If I'd gotten this in the slush I would have rejected it instantly cause it looked like you were talking about yourself in the the third person.
I STRONGLY urge you to revisit this choice. It doesn't add value, and it makes your query ripe for misunderstanding. That is not what you want.
It's pretty clear you haven't read all or even enough of the Query Shark archives yet. There's a template for getting plot on the page, and a template for a closing line. You've missed both of those. You don't have to follow all the rules, but if you break them it should be for a reason, not cause you don't know them.
Read the archives.