Saturday, September 13, 2008

#77 Revision

Dear Query Shark,

What happens when two best friends fall for the same girl? What if they are in the fifth grade and she mysteriously disappeared in the eighth grade before either of them had a chance to declare their love? Would she slip out of their memories or would she stay to punish them forever?

She punishes them cause she moved away in 8th grade?

For one friend, Rob, he finds the girl and they are married. For the other, Mitch, he endures years of wondering. He thought he just drifted from his friend Rob but really Rob escaped the certain anger of his bigger, stronger friend. Mitch remembered how they were inseparable and he remembered Leslie’s soft hair and precious smile. Nothing consumed his mind more than the last image of her, forever engraved in his thoughts.

For one friend, Rob, he, and For the other, Mitch, he is just plain bad grammar. If you don't know why, you need a class on remedial writing. It is entirely possible to be a pretty smart person and not have a grasp of the fundamentals of grammar. It's not a character flaw either. An awful lot of English classes in the primary and secondary schools don't teach grammar anymore. Quite frankly, I learned most of what I know about English grammar in French class.

However, you do have to learn this stuff. You have to tune up your ear so when you break the rules, you do so intentionally.

Was it coincidence or predestination that Rob’s daughter and Mitch’s son would meet and fall in love? What will happen when Mitch sees Leslie again and what will he do to his old friend?

Unlikely Angels, an 86,000 word novel takes you through a journey of the lives of two men. Unlikely Angels explores their emotions and how they conquer the adolescent issues in life. It describes the feelings teenagers have and how they succumb to sexual temptations or how they can overcome them. Unlikely Angels proves that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence and “no matter how hot someone is, someone, somewhere, is tired of them.”

You're trying to do too much here. You're talking about themes. You need to talk about plot. Also, we have no sense of what either of these men is like.

Unlikely Angels takes the reader to a spiritual place in preparation for More Unlikely Angels and the continuing story of life, death and triumph.

After More Unlikely Angels the story can continue.

Your reconsideration would be is appreciated.


You've got some major problems here. Your writing needs more than just an edit. You really need writing classes that will teach you to express yourself more clearly. If you can't look at what you've got here and identify some of the major problems, just by reading it, you need more basic help than what this blog is about. And remember: every single person who comments on this blog, writes this blog, and writes the books you read, EVERY single one had to go to class to learn this stuff. It's how we all started.

Right now it's hard to understand what you're trying to write about because sentences like this Nothing consumed his mind more than the last image of her, forever engraved in his thoughts make sense to you but they don't make sense to me.


Dear Query Shark,

It was the first day of the fifth grade when best friends Mitch and Rob met the girl of their dreams. Her name was Leslie and she was gorgeous. Both boys masterfully kept their cool around Leslie while they shared her as their new best friend.

Everyday the boys secretly plotted to tell her their feelings, but when the opportunities arose, the nerve was lost. As the years passed and the boys matured and so did their desire for Leslie, right up to the day that she disappeared.

Leslie’s mother was a fugitive from the law and so the family disappeared without a trace. When the police arrived to arrest her they found Mitch had entered the empty house and it was a close call for the eighth grader.

Both Mitch and Rob were heartbroken.

Mitch commanded to Rob that if, they ever saw Leslie again, she would be his forever. So when the boys went to separate Universities there were no reasons for Rob to tell Mitch he had found Leslie. She had undergone a transformation for the worse. Rob knew his love could save her from the evils of her new life, so they married and he gave her a daughter, Lisa.

At UCLA Mitch was a star football player and he was happy with his new wife, Jamie. Jamie and Mitch finished college and started their own family with a son named Nathan.

When Lisa and Nathan became adults they chose the theatre as careers, Nathan as an up and coming actor and Lisa the prop girl. In between scenes Nathan nosed around and found the prop room and that is where he found Lisa. It was love at first sight and so marriage was eminent.

Mitch and Rob hadn’t seen each other in over twenty years so imagine Mitch’s surprise when he came face to face with his old friend and the first love he had longed for since childhood.

Nothing went smooth until the men went fishing on Nathan’s actor friend, Brad’s fishing boat. Enamored with Brad the young men hung on his every word. Alcohol flowed and the young men retreated below for movies and conversation. Mitch and Rob stayed above to continue fishing until “the big one” pulled little Rob into the water. With life ring in hand Mitch dove in to save Rob.

They floated for days until they found a deserted island. Food was not abundant for the pair who weakened daily. They survived for eighteen months until only one was rescued.

After the sole survivor passed away their kids had a child of their own and now the friends are tied to the new child as “Unlikely Angels.”

Almost 86,000 words make up Unlikely Angels.

Your consideration would be appreciated.


This is a series of events, not a plot. The description lacks compelling energy or excitement. Some of the phrases are inadvertently funny:
Nothing went smooth until the men went fishing on Nathan’s actor friend

It's got a lot of misspellings and misused words. I don't mind mistakes, I can overlook that; stuff happens, I make more than my share too. But, I can tell when it's not just a typo. Eminent, commanded to: those are errors that tell me you aren't careful in your use of language. I look at how you use language in a query letter. That and voice are the two biggest things I respond to. Your voice is flat, and you're misusing words.

Form rejection.


Liana Brooks said...

This doesn't sound interesting. And I'm not sure what the point of the story was. I thought you were talking about a mid-grade novel and grade school love and it goes on to college and fishing?

That's a lot of ground to cover.

Where does the book actual start? Who am I supposed to root for? And what is the point?

Anonymous said...

I was rooting for the big fish.

Charles Gramlich said...

I would have fallen asleep about a third of the way through this one.

callmebecks said...

Is all of that covered in the novel? If so, that's an awful lot - it takes a deft hand to cover that much in 86k without it being a mess.

Or is that just the backstory/setup for the two "unlikely angels"?

I'm no expert, but I think the letter is getting bogged down in a lot of details either way.

Marian Perera said...

It didn't really hold my interest. From the two boys both lusting silently for years (and in Mitch's case, apparently his whole life) after a girl whose only attribute is that she's "gorgeous", to the two men surviving for eighteen months on a desert island... it didn't seem plausible.

No indication of genre, either.

talpianna said...

What's the POINT???

Teagen said...

I got kind of bored reading this because it does read really flat. First, in my experience, fifth grade boys aren't going to admit they're in love, let alone know that's what it is. Secondly, I honestly don't know that many people who go to college, find a girl, and marry them before graduation. I know it happens, but I find it's more common to be engaged and wait until after graduation. But that might just be me.

Rick said...

I'm so happy that I was tipped off about your blog. First time coming here, but I'll definitely be back. You provide a sorely needed remedy for careless writing.

Lori Van Hoesen said...

Thanks for your astute perspectives. I have fun evaluating the queries people submit, and learn useful tips for crafting my own.

Lori Van Hoesen

Sarah said...

The cadence and sentence structure make me wonder if English is this writer's first language.

Mike Doran said...

Hello, mostly educators. I appreciate your comments. You are not wrong. I am wrong. I wrote a book on life from the beginning of life to the end. It fit into 86,000 words. It highlighted the memories of the boys. It described their loves and their children and the unexpected twist of the children meeting and marrying.

I admit it is not for everyone. It may not be right for any of you. I would bet none of you will ever see my comment anyway.

Regardless of what you all might say I’ll keep on trying. There is an audience for this. There are a lot of lessons in the book and well, that’s enough.

Mike Doran said...

Oh one more thing, English IS my first language. No need to wonder anymore.

Mike Doran said...

After the revisions I am wondering if English is my first language. I remember going to a Catholic grade school. I remember being drilled by nuns. I remember hearing Geri Landolt say she wanted to be a journalist and thinking I just want to be an artist. I remember playing Mercutio in the ninth grade. I remember getting straight A’s in English in School.

What I don’t remember or know is what happened to my command of the English language in the last twenty-five years. Perhaps a refresher course is in order? Or, not. I can just let the dozens of stories die in my head. I can forget this whole thing because it was never really my intention anyway.

Please don’t write and tell me how terrible my revisions are, I do not need to hear your comments. You can all have this society of authors and writers, I’ll stick to something else.


Mike Doran said...

I keep trying to do something else and my mind won't let me move on. I have to say, Thank you. Thank you for being so kind and not berating me as I have seen you do in the past. I am sensitive to criticism, my skin is thin, it is another reason I do not belong.

I have to say the pain I might feel is not a result of your methods but of my own lack of perceived ability.

Sarah said...

Hi Mike,

I write as if English isn't my first language all the time and often keep some very capable ladies in my critique group busy.

For what it's worth, I didn't mean my previous comment as a slam. I have a dear friend who came to America in 2000.

All the best!

Steve Fuller said...


You should write if you have a passion for writing. Don't let anyone ever dissuade you from that. But, professional writers need to have a thick skin. Great writers get blasted. Famous authors get terrible reviews. It is part of the business.

Keep trying, and never stop writing!

Teagen said...

In the revision, at the end, within 6 sentences, you say "Unlikely Angels" 6 times, and 4 of those times it starts a sentence. I understand trying to get your title in their head, but spread it out more. At least for me, I find that kind of repetition annoying.

Also, "After More Unlikely Angels the story can continue." This completely confused me. First of all, in the sentence before, you already say that's where the story can continue. But is this supposed to be a third book? I don't see what purpose this sentence serves at all.

Anonymous said...

No one can remember every grammar rule, but you must refresh what you've learned on a regular basis; for example, one of my friends learned to speak fluent Italian, but now she barely speaks any at all. Doctors have to study surgeries that might have forgotten years back. As for me, I always have my grammar books next to me in case I forget some rules, which happens quite a bit. You know what they say...use it or lose it.