Thursday, May 22, 2008


Dear Query Shark

A job interview at Southern Georgia University is great news for Tyrinn Mack, but his boyfriend believes this opportunity could ruin their relationship. After a heated discussion about their future, Tyrinn tries to find a happy medium between his post graduate plans and his love life. Inadvertently, his search leads him to a former flame. Their reconnection instantly reminds Tyrinn of their steamy past and the reasons why their friendship fizzled. He knows what they had was amazing, but it’s also history. Tyrinn has a boyfriend now, and regardless of their issues the relationship is solid. But a sudden kiss stirs up old feelings and the truth Tyrinn can no longer avert.

BEFORE YOU TAKE FLIGHT is a 93,000 word gay fiction novel set in a small college town in Kentucky.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

"fiction novel" is an instant rejection no matter what. It seems like a small stupid thing doesn't it? Well, words are your tools (I've said this before) and I look for writers who know without even thinking about it that fiction and novel are redundant. You can certainly write it, but you'd damn sure better edit it OUT of your query letter.

You've also used "avert" oddly. This is one of the things I watch closely in queries. You can do all sorts of nutty things but if you WRITE WELL, and that means using words with precision, I'll read your pages.

Now, if I hadn't hit "auto reject" for those two things, I still would have rejected it because you don't make this novel sound very compelling. It sounds like a police report. Well, ok, not quite, but it's pretty bland.

A query letter is enticing. Vivid is good. Compelling is good. Avert your beige sensibilities and give us intimations of fire!


magdalune said...

I'm not entirely certain, but the "gay fiction novel" might be less "fiction novel," which is redundant, and more "gay fiction," which is a genre. I agree that it could have been more precise in order to avoid that confusion. For instance, he could have called it a queer novel or a such-and-such words of gay fiction. I just hoped I could clarify his iffy word choice a bit.

Margaret Yang said...

I agree with magdalune. It's "gay fiction" novel, not gay "fiction novel."

Much the way it's "science fiction" novel...

John C. said...

What's the spark that sets off the novel's plot? The kiss? The interview at the university?

Start the query with the shout that causes the avalanche. Go from there to explain what the characters need to do to overcome it.

Also, when I see "his boyfriend" it's pretty obvious the novel contains gay elements. If I were you, I'd leave it at showing the sexual orientation, but label it as simple fiction to avoid shoving yourself into too small a niche.

BTW, is the university name a play on Georgia Southern University? South Georgia College?

Wonder Man said...

Hi all.

I wrote the query. And thank you all for the feedback. Oh, the school is a play of Georgia Southern Univ.
I used to work there

John C. said...

Cool. That's where I received my undergrad in Underwater Basket Weaving and a minor in Skullduggery.

talpianna said...

John, their Skullduggery department isn't nearly as good as the one at Miskatonic University.

Josh Everett Ryan said...

mag, margaret: I think Miss Reid was aware of that, but just like one who queries and says something to the effect of "mainstream fiction novel" or "literary fiction novel", the querier would do well to say something like, "work of gay fiction" or "work of literary fiction" rather than, as she already said, being redundant with "fiction novel"

You only have so many words to intrigue them to begin with. Being sloppy, like misusing even one, is a grave mistake. Because if you messed up in that space of 250 words, how many mistakes will she find if she reads your work of 100,000 words? I think she means it's best to avoid that road all together.

It makes sense to me.