When an ex-girlfriend dies of a heroin overdose, auto mechanic Mark Allister receives custody of a seven-year-old daughter he never knew existed.
I'm a very very big fan of starting a query letter with the name of the main character. I'm also in favor of starting query letters with sentences, not clauses. I think it gives the query more energy.
Consider this: Mark Allister gets custody of a seven-year-old-daughter he never knew existed when an ex-girlfriend dies of a heroin overdose.
Lara Allister is beautiful in almost every way except for a deformed hand where two fingers fuse into one, the source of an incredible power. With a single touch, she can restore old cars to mint condition and bring machines to life. She tells them what to do and they obey.
In the previous iteration of this query you mentioned you're the father of two daughters. Now, is any single part of either of those girls not beautiful to you? (I really hope the answer is no)
I suggest that "beautiful in every way" INCLUDING a deformed hand, more correctly conveys how Mark feels about his daughter.
Her mother’s drug supplier tried to sell Lara to the Russian Mafia, and then a runaway steamroller flattened him in the street.
If you break that into two sentences it has more punch: Her mother’s drug supplier tried to sell Lara to the Russian Mafia. A runaway steamroller flattened him in the street.
(I'm sure it says nothing good about me that I really like that idea.)
You almost never need and before then. (The exception is dialogue) As you read your query (AND your novel) try the sentence without "and." Where ever you can, prune away every SINGLE unneeded word
The Russians, though, still want their prize. After tracking Lara to Mark’s doorstep, they try to convince him to give her up. When he refuses, they resort to burning down his business, executing his friends, and his parents.
Watch for verbs ending in -ing. When he refuses, they burn down his business, execute his friends, and his parents. See the difference?
Mark has other problems besides the Russians. A routine trip to the doctor leads to the discovery of a cyst on Lara’s brain. It grows each time she uses her power. If it gets big enough, it will choke off the blood supply to her brain causing stroke, coma, and potentially death.
To defeat the Russians, Mark will have to fight them alone. With only a little money and no place to hide, Mark will make a final stand, willing to give his final breath to save his daughter’s life.
A 75,000-word horror novel, One Touch focuses on the relationship between a father and his child.
Don't tell me what it focuses on. You've shown me what the story is about; that's all you need to do: ONE TOUCH is a 75,000 word horror novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
With Highest Regards,
This is a LOT better than the first version. It's still a form rejection though because I have a sneaking suspicion the novel needs more polish. When I see this kind of writing in a query (and it's NOT bad writing, it's just polished enough yet) I believe I'll see it in the novel. I don't request or take on projects I think will need a lot of polish.
There's a real difference for me in novels that are polished but might need some structural work, and novels where the writing just doesn't gleam yet.
Auto-mechanic Mark Allister lived an uncomplicated life. When an ex-girlfriend dies from a heroine overdose, he inherits a copper-headed little girl; a daughter he never knew existed.
And we're done right here. Why? Unless the ex-girlfriend died from reading too many romance novels, it's most likely you mean heroin, not heroine. There's a pretty big difference.
I've howled about this before but I'll say it again: words are your tools. If you misuse them, it's a Huge Warning Sign. I don't mean typos. We all make those. This isn't a typo. This is a homonym.
The other thing here is that you're saying things twice: copper-headed little girl and a daughter he never knew existed are the same person.
The sentence sounds stronger like this: When an ex-girlfriend dies from a heroin
Given that the color of her hair probably doesn't much matter, I suggest you pare it out to give your sentence some oomph.
Lara Allister is a beautiful little seven-year-old, except for a deformed little hand, where there are four fingers instead of five. Mark wants to put Lara up for adoption, but changes his mind after he discovers her magnificent power. She can talk to machines, she can tell them what to do, and they obey. It is a power governments would pay billions to possess. Members of the Russian Mafia will not rest until they own it and can sell it.
What does her deformity have to do with her power? If they are not related, they don't belong in the same paragraph. If they are, then it's not obvious to me how talking to machines is related to a missing finger (and I'll forgo the smart ass offering that she talks to machines in sign language)
And if you want Mark to sound like a schmuck, you'll leave in the part about putting the kid up for adoption. Without any other information like "doubting his ability to raise a child" or "because he worked on an oil rig and was away from home for weeks at a time" his initial response to give up the kid makes him unsympathetic.
And of course, he keeps her only when he finds out she has magic powers doesn't do much to change that impression.
Set in the fictional town of Indian Springs, Alabama, One Touch documents the heroic story of how an average man saves one unique little girl.
When you use the word "document" you imply it's non-fiction. Novels don't document anything. They're made up.
A 75,000 word work of fiction, One Touch is a horror novel that champions the relationship between a father and his child.
This is a horror novel? You really fooled me. There's nothing here that makes me think this falls in that category.
And you don't need to say it's a work of fiction and that it's a novel. You didn't use the magic rejection phrase fiction novel, but you came close.
This is a novel. You get to make it all up and you don't have to tell me where you got the ingredients.
Don't tell me you follow this blog. SHOW ME. Show me by writing a query letter that makes me think "holy crap, they've been paying attention."
This is form rejection in paragraph one.