Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Query Time

For me nothing is worse than writing the query for a novel. Looking at my book and carefully picking out the most important parts. Distilling it down so that the main idea comes forth in a few simple sentences. Pulling back all the layers and letting only the simplest idea of the book show through.

Then send it out and have agents tell me: “This feels a little small for a novel.”

But I'm at it again, and here is my first draft of a query for MIND THIEF:

Howie has a problem, someone is stealing his mind and the only one who can help him is a girl who has already lost hers.

After meeting Vivian in the lobby of his psychologist's office, Howie starts experiencing the memories of a man of wealth and taste. First hand memories of some of the evilest acts committed over the past century. He starts investigating and finds historical facts line up with his memories, facts he couldn't know before.

To make things worse, it seems like all his friends are lying to him. He turns to the only one he can trust, Vivian a girl who is clearly a genius and just as clearly pants-crapping insane. With her help he concludes he is either more insane than she is, or the man who controlled the world for the last century has been messing with his life since before he was born.

The only way he can survive is if his love for Vivian is stronger than the evil that has ruled the Earth for the past century.

Mind Thief is my completed 95,000 word (Genre) novel.

Obviously I need a genre and I'm working on narrowing that part down. Other than that, I know query writing is my weakest skill. Any help would be appreciated.


  1. OK, you can't suck at writing queries because this is head and shoulders better than any I've ever written. I think it rocks (though I'd choose a word rather than "pants-crapping" - not that it isn't descriptive and effective, but it also yanks you out of the flow of the whole thing). It feels immediate and compelling, exciting.

    I think I write good books. Why can't a write a query this compelling?

  2. I realize the sentence stands on it's own without "pants-crapping", but I felt I needed something in there to keep it from being too close to the Orwell quote about O'Brien "It's pointless to argue with someone who is obviously smarter than you and just as obviously insane."
    I'll play around with it some and look for a less flippant word.

  3. Maybe pick a famous crazy person and call her "Someone-Famous-level insane".

  4. I had to read the "pants-crapping" line over twice... it also threw me out of the rhythm.

    Let me qualify my comments, too, for query writing is also not my strong suit.

    I haven't read the book, but is the tone of the query similar to the tone of the query? It should read like it, so that the agent/publisher can get a sense of the tone, too. The query spends a lot of time setting up these two characters... but then it says "The only way he can survive..." and I don't understand what he is surviving. Is it just these latent memories? Or are they a sign of something bigger and more dangerous going on? I'm not sure what the main conflict is, the main arc of what the book is dealing with. I get the characters pretty strongly, though.

    Some grammar stuff, but there's no way to comment on that, really. If you want to e-mail it to me, I can go over the punctuation elements.


  5. Thanks for the offer to help me on grammar, I really can't get enough of that.
    The tone of the book is similar to the query. I'm working to change the book. That's also why a don't have a genre yet.
    The first 40,000 words is setting up the 3 major characters and the two evil henchpeople (minor characters, 8,000 words).
    I'm working to cut that down.
    Your comments on the query are the same as the comments from people who have read the first 40,000 words. So I need to chop it up and refocus it a little better.