Sunday, January 25, 2009


Dear Query Shark,

The needle glinted in the moonlight as Samantha prepared to plunge it into the President’s neck. Vengeance lay in her grasp. Nausea churned in her stomach.

Nausea doesn't churn in your stomach unless you ate something called nausea. She was nauseated. She felt nauseated. Nausea churned her stomach. All those constructions solve your problem.

Yes, I'm an utter crab about silly things like what words mean. You should be too.

How had she fallen so far in her quest for revenge?

Second year resident, Dr. Samantha Bartlett, is swept from the frigid New York winter to face the chill of death back home. But she’s not alone. A strange man she dubs Shades haunts her every step as she seeks answers to the inferno that claimed her grandmother, an eerie reminder of her parents’ deaths. What Samantha finds forever changes her image of those she only thought she knew.

This is hyperbole without meaning. Inferno that claimed her grandmother? Eerie reminder? What specifically are you talking about?

Confronted by Shades, Samantha joins a secret underworld known only as the Elite, where a web of power and control is woven deep within governments worldwide. Their talons are embedded in the power structure of the United States, and Samantha becomes the unlikely key to infiltrating the White House at its most intimate levels.

If their talons are embedded why do they need her to infiltrate?

What the heck is actually happening here? Get rid of every single adjective and adverb. Use plain declarative sentences. Those are the skeletal structure of a query letter: what happens. Why? To whom?

All that other purple prose obscures your meaning and leaves me thinking "huh??"

The quest for blood threatens to destroy Samantha. From the darkness there is no escape.

This is meaningless.

RUNNING INTO THE DARKNESS is complete at 67,000 words, and I am prepared to submit a synopsis of this thriller and up to the entire manuscript at your request.

I am a member of the (redacted). My particular line of work in government relations allows a unique window into the realm of politics and the Washington D.C. scene.

Well good, but none of that appears to factor into what you wrote in the opening paragraphs.

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


Form rejection.


none said...

How had she fallen so far in her quest for revenge?

Maybe, yanno, cos she's On A Quest For Revenge?

Joshua McCune said...

Honestly, I'd be pissed that I've pretty much given up my medical career to deal with a bunch of n'er-do-wells trying to incorporate me into their infiltrating.

I'd probably change the protag from a resident to a an attending or a private practice doc... Residents just don't have enough time to get into trouble like this, except maybe Radiology residents, but they're boring and tend to be anchorites :).

dmciii said...

Who is she before. Obviously The Elite need her to extend there grasp (is there conflict over whether the Elite or the gov't are antagonists -- let me be more clear who's the bad guy and does samantha know. ) I know its fun and colorful but try the Shark's short declarative sentences and maybe a plot outline as a skeleton to build on. This sounds interesting i just can't tell why. So I wouldn't pay for the book ( i might borrow from the library) tell me more to get me to pull out the credit card

Mimzy said...

Here's a question: How many top secret, government controlling, evil organizations can the world support? After all, we currently have the Illuminati, the Skulls, the Masons (according to some), and now the Elite?

I imagine that the pressure to keep all these hidden organizations under wraps must be intense.

talpianna said...

Mimzy--you forgot S.M.E.R.S.H. and T.H.R.U.S.H.

And the Bureau of Weights and Measures...

Dal Jeanis said...

Why do these organizations all call themselves "the Elite" or "the Organization"? Why not "Pink Sisters" or "Velvet Playground"? I mean, if you want to make sure no one takes any whistleblowers seriously, call yourselves "Friends of Skippy"!

The thing that made zero sense to me is, if these guys already have tentacles into controlling the government, why would they need an intern to get to the government. Ummm?

Is she against the tentacles, or for them? And why?

I assumed that inferno referred to a fire that killed the grandma, and that the patrents had died by fire too. However, this is a case where "show not tell" and "use colorful language" went WAY too far. Try telling more, pulling back the language to be purely descriptive, and showing the resulting short paragraphs to ten strangers. Ask each one what it means, and modify accordingly.