Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Dear QueryShark:

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 and then you will see what I mean.

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.

May I send some portion of my manuscript for your review?

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.

Dear QueryShark,

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 heroine overdose, he inherits a daughter he never knew existed.

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.

As a father of two little girls, I drew upon my relationship with them to develop the characters and the emotions of this book.

This is a novel. You get to make it all up and you don't have to tell me where you got the ingredients.

As a follower of both of your blogs I worked a long time for this opportunity. Though flattery gets you no where, I would honestly consider it an honor if you reviewed my work. May I send you some portion of my manuscript?

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.


Adam Heine said...

Tell us more about Mark. How does he feel about the daughter? And (like the shark says) why does he want to give her up for adoption?

Honestly, paragraph 2 made me hate Mark. It sounds like he gave her up for adoption because of her deformed hand. Even if you take that description out, it'll sound like he gave her up because he wants to keep his life uncomplicated.

Now I know people do that sort of thing in real life (half the kids in my house are here because of decisions like that), but it doesn't make me like those people any better. I want to like Mark. Give me a reason.

Marian Perera said...

Can you inherit children? Did the ex-girlfriend leave him her daughter in her will?

The "deformed little hand" also sounded odd to me because, well, children naturally tend to have smaller hands than adults. So the description made me wonder if her hand was abnormally tiny as well as being deformed.

Claire Dawn said...

A horror novel? :O Seemed kind of contemporary/slice of life-y to me. I guess the story focusses on after the mafia gets involved. But the query doesn't.

Stephanie Barr said...

You know, I like the idea of a kid with this kind of power. That kind of thing really works for me. Unfortunately, this query (and presumably the novel) seem focused on the far less sympathetic, less interesting father.

In the novel, that may work wonderfully, an everyman who helps the reader identify with dealing with an exceptional child in danger (and, thereby, showing some of his own strengths and greatness).

Unfortunately, if there's a reason to like him, or even for us to identify with him (and putting a slightly deformed child up for adoption isn't a good way to do so in my opinion), I'm not seeing it. Insensitive dad, drug addict mother, desperate danger, and she's a what many would call a freak. Fascinating possibilities there.

Are you sure you're not focusing on the wrong character?

Shannon said...

also, fyi to the writer: indian springs, alabama is not a fictional town. i went to high school there.

Lyndoncr said...

I literally made a "what the hell" face when I got to the fact that this was a horror. I was thinking of Matilda till that point. Is it really a horror? cause that certainly needs to shine through more in the query. Will be hard to get the right agent if the query reads like a completely different genre.

I also agree that the protagonist seems pretty abhorrent at this stage, obviously given that you have two little girls yourself and you say that relationship inspired the one in your novel it needs to be clear that he has reservations in regards to giving her away.

Joseph L. Selby said...

*steps on pet peeve box*

The child on the doorstep is a classic story set-up of which I'm growing tired. Who did the kid get there? Someone just dropped her off and said, "you're listed on the birth certificate as the father"? It doesn't work that way. It specifically doesn't work that way in Alabama. Google "Alabama child services" and in TWO clicks, you can find the specifics on how paternity is established in Alabama.

If Mark didn't know he had a child and he doesn't want a child, why would he accept one out of nowhere? There would be court-ordered DNA testing and paternity challenges. This is not a quick process. By the time the kid actually ended up living with him, it would not be a surprise.

Sure it's a classic, but some classics don't hold up any more.

Tom Bridgeland said...

I was interested in the line about governments and the Russian mafia. This sounds like suspense, not horror.

A query that focuses on the girl more than the dad might work better: her powers, what she can do, the consequences for her. If it is horror, bring that out in the query.

Alisa said...

Is this novel written from both the father's perspective and the little girl's? Parts of the query made me think so, but I couldn't really tell.

My advice is to watch the "little girl" references. She's seven - of course she's little. You don't need to say that. And the "deformed little hand." Of course her hand is small - it's deformed and she's seven! Adding "little" adds absolutely nothing.

Also, if you are telling this story partly from the girl's perspective, you need to be thinking like a seven year old. She's not referring to herself as "little" this and "little" that, so you shouldn't be either.

Even if you're not telling it from her perspective, lose all the "littles" everywhere. It's wasted word space and sounds condescending to your characters and your ability to be authentic to them.


Wait ... a horror novel? I'm so very, very confused.

I would definitely reconsider what genre you're writing, and, if this genuinely is a horror story, rework the query entirely.

Lydia Sharp said...

Auto-mechanic Mark Allister lived an uncomplicated life.

My issue is with the very first sentence. I'm not asking this to be snarky at all: How many sentences did you scrap before choosing this one?

If your answer is none, I think you just found your first tally mark. In my opinion, this is beyond dull, and it makes me assume that the opening line of your novel will be just as bland.

Good luck with your revision. I look forward to reading it.

Anne R. Allen said...

When I read paragraph one, I wondered if some Sharkster had sent this in to amuse. The overdose of heroines and then the mention of both the copper-headed girl and the daughter made me think someone indeed suffered from a surfeit of female protagonists.

It's a good plot--calloused male finds redemption in caring for an inconvenient little girl--at least it worked for Silas Marner. With the paranormal element, it sounds like it might be a good read. Just needs a better query.

Uma said...

I do like the idea of a girl who can talk to machines. The letter needs a lot of work, sadly

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh dear. Using heroine instead of heroin is a BIG homophone mistake. I agree with Marian that the use of "inherit" is off too.

I guess you need to figure out whether it's your query that makes Mark unsympathetic or your actual book. And if the manuscript has horror in it, please show us in the query. Perhaps you have the wrong category?

When you take out the redundancy, you'll have more room to explain.

To begin, "Mark's life was turned upside-down when when he's given custody of a daughter he never knew about after an ex-girlfriend dies of a heroin overdose. It's an enormous responsibility and he doubts he's up to the task because....

But that's just the beginning of his problems. This beautiful little girl has the power to move the very machines Mark works on, catching the interest of..." This leads to...."

Something like that.

Ethereal_buddha said...

The query reminds me of 'firestarter'. Not sure why.
It sounds like there are three common tropes used-father inherits unknown daughter, nefarious organization wants to exploit a child, child has supernatural abilities.
Still, it's got potential depending on how this twists into something new.

I know the author didn't initally think about how the second paragraph made the MC seem callous. Faulty as I am, I didn't pick up on it either until it was pointed out.
As for the setting, I have to wonder if the author meant me fictionized how the town of Indian Springs is laid out, changing street names and business names. If so it was unclear.
overall, brave attempt by the author and looking forward to his corrections. Welcome to the chum bucket!

Susanna Fraser said...

Perhaps a small point, but if you want to set your story in a fictional town in Alabama, it's a good idea to do a search on the name you've chosen:


It's a rather posh Birmingham suburb. I recognized the name immediately because I grew up about 15 miles away.

JW Nelson said...

"heroine" made me cringe if only because it reminded me of a query I sent that said I had pasted in the first two chapters when it was actually the first three! [picture me banging my head against keyboard here]

Lehcarjt said...

Perhaps the story overall had an overdose of heroines and that is why the ex-girlfriend had to die.

On a different note, I'm not crazy about the talking to machines bit. While it sounds inventive, it also sounds a bit silly. A machine is mechanical. It can only do what is in its mechanical ability. So basically all the girl should be able to do is tell the machines to turn on and off. (a machine can't change itself into something it is not.)

Now, if the girl is speaking to computers that is different.

TirzahLaughs said...

It would make more sense to me if the drug addict mother dropped the kid off out of the blue. Drug addicts can be someone what selfish and self-asorbed.

Hi, you have a kid, can you keep her for the weekend?

Then have the twit die of an overdose.

Then it makes the CPS work. The mother left the child in his custody, he may have doubts she is his. Then when the mother dies, perhaps he thinks she might be better off with a two parent family.

And a seven year old with a physical disability isn't on the top of anyone's adopt list. The CPS probably told him this. She's in for a life of foster care most likely.

JS said...

I don't know what to say, except that "bio-dad wants to give his daughter up for adoption because she has a physical variation/defect, but then decides not to because she has magic powers" is certainly a fantastic plot for a horror novel. But I don't think that that's the horror novel you've written.

Josin L. McQuein said...

This sounds absolutely nothing like a horror novel. At all. There's nothing in the voice to imply that anything scary happens at all. (On hearing the horror angle, my first thought was that her ability to speak to machines was a trade off for one of them eating her finger :-X )

The heroine overdose could be a great set-up for comedy, if she died from acting out the damsel in distress one too many times.

And what exactly is it that the Russian mob thinks they can possess and sell? Taking possession of the kid I get, but if they sell her, then she's no good to them.

Try something like this (This is quick, and I don't know your story, so this may or may not work):

Living with a heroin addict is a nightmare; surviving one is worse.

When auto-mechanic Mark Allister's ex leaves him custody of the daughter he never knew existed, he figures the best thing for both of them is a quick adoption. As in to someone else. Sure, he's not used to kids, but even Mark can tell there's something... off about Lara, and it's more than the missing finger.

Strange things happen in the shop whenever she's around. Machines that refused to work turn on and obey like well trained pets. They speak to her.

It doesn't take Mark long to realize that Lara isn't just something special, she's something dangerous. More than that, she's something valuable. Once exposed, her gift draws attention from the Russian mob and a shady government agency who both have ideas for Lara and her magic touch that are bad news for everyone.

One Touch is... (all that other stuff that goes in a query)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Adam, Stephanie and the others who say that it's hard to like Mark if he's thinking of giving his daughter up for adoption.

And I would add that the first paragraph threw me. He leads an uncomplicated life, but he's got a child he doesn't know about? By a heroin addict? That's complicated.

I've only once known a guy who discovered he had a child he didn't know about. He knew he had a 24-year-old daughter, and he suddenly discovered he had *another* 24-year-old daughter. And this guy was, to put it bluntly, a scuzz-bucket.

Bear in mind that your query is more likely to be read by a woman than a man. Male characters who suddenly "discover" they have children are going to fight an uphill battle for female approval... and quite likely male approval too.

Addley C. Fannin said...

Wait, wait, so even people trying to go pro continue to make that stupid "heroin vs. heroine" mistake? >_< Dammit all, I thought that was only done by fan fiction authors who don't know any better!

Everything else I had to say has already been said nicely by somebody else.

Kristin Laughtin said...

As a few others have mentioned, you really need to clarify the power a little bit. Does she talk to machines, as in cars, tractors, etc? If so, why would the Russian mob want her? (And if a large part of the book is them running from the mob, I could see this being a suspense novel. Is that what you meant by horror, or is there really some horror element that didn't come across in the query?) Or does she talk to computers? That would make it much more obvious why any powerful group would want her: she could hack into banks, government databases, etc.

I'm wondering if this whole query is just a bunch of mixed-up homonyms and near-synonyms (heroin/heroine, machines/computers, horror/suspense). Word choice is important!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and "copper-headed" made me think of poisonous snakes. But I agree with the general consensus that the girl's hair doesn't need describing.

Stephanie Barr said...

I figured it out: "When an ex-girlfriend dies from a heroine overdose" - she was slain by Xena, Warrior Princess!

(I so have to work on homonyms myself. Even reading aloud doesn't catch them all so I'm actually sympathetic.)

Jenn McKay said...

#159: Are you Ashton Kutcher?

M. G. E. said...

The title doesn't pop. In fact it has rather creepy connotations.

This has been one of the more entertaining query reviews in a long time. I like when the shark makes stylistic and writerly comments. It's an area that takes a long while to fully grasp, and trips up new writers. Especially the different forms of double-telling.

Also, horror? If anything this is something like magical realism. The ability to talk to machines is pure fantasy. Yet, they're machines, so there's strong scifi connotations, unless you define "machines" as not just computers but cars and blenders too.

I also think you should explain how the Russian mob even gets wind of this state of affairs.

I'm half afraid that the horror aspect is going to be tied to the Russian mob performing some kind of torture >_>

Stephen Alix said...

This power reminds me of the little boy on Heroes.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyndoncr said...

I love this one that Josin wrote, I made a few little changes Josin, I hope you don't mind... all stylistic ones of course:

When auto-mechanic Mark Allister is left in custody of a daughter he never knew existed, he figures the best thing for both of them is a quick adoption in to a real family. He's not used to kids and has no idea how to even talk to a ten(?) year old. But even Mark can tell there's something... different about Lara, and it's more than her missing finger.

Strange things happen in the shop whenever she's around. Machines that refused to work turn on and obey like well trained pets. They speak to her.

It doesn't take Mark long to realise that Lara isn't just something special, she's something dangerous. More than that, she's something valuable. Once exposed, her gift draws attention from the Russian mob and a shady government agency who both have ideas for Lara and her magic touch that are bad news for everyone.

One Touch is... (all that other stuff that goes in a query)

Nice work Josin, I really liked this version. The adoption line is still a little iffy, I'm not sure I made it any better now reading over it... Sorry Josin! :( The story does sound interesting... has the author posted yet? I'm very curious as to the tone of the novel itself.

Unknown said...

I have a question about the homonym issue. I understand why, theoretically, to use a word incorrectly is a more heinous offense than to simply spell a word wrong. But on the other hand, i would say that for people like me, who are entirely dependent on the spell check, it's an easier mistake to make than a simple typo.

See, I've struggled with pretty sever dyslexia my whole life. Most of time, when i "read," i listen to books on tape. I even have this special government issued tape player as part of the people disabilities act. Blah. blah blah.

People like me can't necessarily tell one word form another without the greater context of the sentence. Spell check will tell us what words are spelled wrong, but not what words are similar to, yet not in fact the word we'd intended.

I guess what I'm getting at is,how strict is this NO MISUSED WORDS EVER rule when it comes to full manuscripts under consideration? (know i would never ever think to send out anything at all before having a friend proofread) But can a few incorrect homonyms completely undermine an otherwise strong voice?

How obsessive should i be over this? My bad spelling is force of nature.

Janet Reid said...

If you know you have a problem with spelling, you take steps to deal with it. You marry or hire a keen-eyed speller.

If someone queries and says "give me a break, I have dyslexia" my reply is "no dice." It's your situation, and it's up to YOU to deal with it.

Does that sound harsh? Probably. It's also the truth.

Stephanie Barr said...

I can really sympathize with Draconium. I'm the "good" speller as my husband is also severely dyslexic, so I understand why homonyms in particular are so challenging.

I have to say, though, I think that homonyms are challenging for everyone. I also think that it's because they are so hard to catch that agents/publishers want to see that writers have taken steps to cull them.

I didn't catch the heroine/heroin homonym myself, possibly because I read out loud for editing purposes and because it plays in audio in my head as I read. I have to watch myself all the time or I miss them too. But, if I want to be a writer (and this would be true if I were dyslexic or blind or whatever), it is incumbent on me to address this, whether it's through eagle-eyed friends/readers who aren't afraid to get the red ink out or whether it's through repeated and exhaustive rereading myself. Or, if necessary, I might need to get professional help.

Editing is exhausting and challenging. Getting published, I suspect, is much easier for writers who can demonstrate they have already done the bulk of the work or at least know how to get it done. It's a tough market out there.

Casper Cross said...

My thanks to all of you for your comments. They are all great suggestions and I will incorporate them into my revision.

The reason I love this site so much is that everyone treats you like a real writer, although I am only an amateur with hopes of someday calling myself a professional.

I've heard others say this before. Writing the novel is easy, writing the query is hard. I have to agree.

A Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your help and guidance.

Irene Troy said...

I have to agree that the child left on doorstep bit is getting just a mite tiresome. Why has this become the start to so many stories? Then we have the classic – read well worn – setup of the guy who knows he can’t give the child what she needs until…gee wiz, he discovers she has “powers”. Then, of-course, he wants to do the right thing and provide her with a home. We, the readers, are expected to cheer for this guy? Rule #1 from a class I took in fiction writing a zillion years ago: your characters must be likable! This guy is anything but likable, at least as presented here.

Because I am a hopeless speller and also tend to use punctuation rather willy-nilly, I’m going to share something I learned a few years ago: there are all sorts of add-on utility software that is designed to help folks who have trouble with spelling, grammar and/or punctuation. I refer to something more comprehensive and exacting than the standard spell/grammar check included in most word processing programs. I use such a program whenever I compose something of importance, which basically means everything that is not just for my eyes. The program I use is simple, but powerful and didn’t cost the earth. If you need this type help – and many of us do – I suggest doing an online search and trying out a few of these products. It will save you a great deal of hassle and prevent being rejected simply because of a series of stupid errors.

Unknown said...

Josin, your rewrite of this query is *stellar.* Maybe you need to do this for a living. You could become rich. Rich I tell you.

Uma said...

Dear Queryshark, Your pet peeves are so mine, that's why I love you!!

Dan Ritchie said...

>When auto-mechanic Mark Allister is left in custody of a daughter he never knew existed, he figures the best thing for both of them is a quick adoption in to a real family.

Maybe it's just me but this sentence is confusing. It seems that 'guardianship' would be a more appropriate word, or the sentence could be rephrased.

Also, want to know more about the power. Do cars start hurting people? Is it like Firestarter? Or what?

Unknown said...

One little problem no one seems to have mentioned yet. "A daughter" vs. "The daughter". "The daughter", contextually, makes him sound like he maybe had a crazy night and they forgot the birth control. "A daughter" makes me think he has more than one he doesn't know about.

Re: Pitifully dyslexic. I'm pitifully dyslexic too and I will take the time to have other people read my stuff. I also run words I'm not sure about not just through spell checker, but Google two (:P).

Stijn Hommes said...

Lehcarjt: The idea of the girl "talking" to machines isn't silly at all. They made it work in "Heroes"; remember Micah Sanders?

Kate said...

In defense of the "heroine" slip, I'm not sure it's firing squad-worthy. I occasionally do things like this, even though I know the rules/the difference. I recently sent an email to a client, who's also a writer, and used 'to' incorrectly. Twice. Ex, to early. Wups. I'm not sure a single slip indicates that the writer doesn't know her stuff. Several? I'd be raising my eyebrow, for sure.

Stephanie Barr said...

I went through the rewrite. I'm still not getting how or why we're liking Mark. I can understand that he's going to go through hell, but I'm still muddy on motivations.

And how do they know the cyst (not aneurysm which would make more sense to me?) grows with the use of her power? One rarely does brain scans on children unless there's a problem and not more than one (to show a trend) unless it worsens. Even then, how do we know it isn't worsening on its own for reasons unrelated to her power? Does the doctor know about her power?

Surely the doctor wants to find a solution. Is it inoperable?

I'm struggling with the coincidence in the plot. I might not if I had a better handle on the characters since I'm very forgiving once a character has me caught up.

Unknown said...

QS suggests eliminating the "and" in most cases of "and then." It's technically incorrect ("then" isn't a coordinating conjunction), although it speeds up the writing and remains clear for the reader. Is it safe to break a grammatical rule like this in editing your novel? Or are we creating a "this poser doesn't know crap about grammar; agent out" situation?

Janet Reid said...

My vote is for the leanest prose you can write.

I certainly do not read manuscripts with the Chicago Manual of Style at my side hoping to find errant apostrophes and dangling modifiers.

Does it read well? Is it clear? That's what I care about.

On the other hand, I had to look up "coordinating conjunction" and if you must be correct then excise "then" not "and." One or the other, not both.

Anonymous said...

This is a late comment and I'm not sure the original author will see this, but I thought it was important.

"Disability == superpower" is a trope that's really offensive to disabled people. Almost every time a person with a disability is shown in novels/tv/movies, they are either "person to be pitied, isn't this sad and horrible" or "it's not a disability, it's supercrip!"

Googling "disability superpower" will take you to pages like the TV tropes page (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisabilitySuperpower), or to an article on the DisabledFeminists site (http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/04/05/let-me-tell-you-all-about-my-disability-super-powers/), and many other articles if you're having trouble understanding why this is offensive.

Laina said...

You know, my uncle works on an oil rig. Normally, he leaves at 6am or so and then gets home around 7 or 8pm. Sometimes later, depending on the day. But most days he does come home at the end of the day. Unless he's rigging really far away, but usually he's within an hour's drive from home or less.

This has nothing to do with the query, but *shrugs*

Joy Slaughter said...

Begin with your main character. That can also be applied to the manuscript itself.