Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Ms. Faust:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit to the BookEnds Literary Agency query workshop. Don’t Mess with Mick is a completed Romantic Suspense of 75,000 words.

This is a great opening. Succinct and respectful.

Amateur photographer, Rachel Copeland, is in trouble. An early morning wildlife shoot at the deserted Salton Sea, soon becomes a shoot-em-up. And she is the one being fired at. Held at gunpoint, and her male attacker demanding her camera, she fights back and escapes.

Newly transferred detective, Michael Delaney, is on surveillance at the sea. Rumors have circulated that a Mexican Kingpin and his brother, who evaded capture when their drug compound was toppled by a U.S. DEA agent, are out for revenge. It’s Michael’s assignment to find them before they can identify the agent who has turned civilian and resides in one of the California desert cities.

Hearing gunfire, Michael gives chase. He apprehends the guy only to find an angry, but very sexy, redheaded woman. She tells him she was shot at, had her camera stolen, was subjected to a harrowing highway chase (by him), and she is grieving the recent disappearance of Grandpa Henry, a wildlife photographer and her only living relative.

The above paragraphs read like a synopsis of the beginning of your manuscript. We don’t need to know exactly what happens, play by play. Instead, we want to know who the characters are, what their conflict is, what is standing in their way and how they might get around it. We need the larger scope of your story.

Michael learns Henry’s isolated cabin is at the edge of the Salton Sea, and that he has a dark room. He’s convinced that photographs might hold a clue to the whereabouts of Henry, and the Saurez brothers. Rachel is sure that Henry is not dead, and Michael begins to believe her. While they uncover clues, and their mutual attraction grows, someone is waiting for them to produce what he needs, and then he has a plan of his own: to extinguish them both.

This last paragraph comes the closest to telling me the gist of the story, but it should be expanded to the size of the whole query and should absorb pieces of (but not all) of the paragraphs above it. The skeleton of the story here is that two people need to find the same guy—Grandpa Henry—for different reasons and they come together to make that happen. But we don’t learn this information until the last paragraph and by that point, you seem to be wrapping up.

I am a member of RWA and the Los Angeles chapter, LARA, and have attended many of your panels at the national RWA conference, and also enjoy your daily blog. Should you wish to read more of Don’t Mess with Mick, it is completed.


Although I think there is an intriguing story here, I would reject this query because it takes some time to get to the point and I worry that would continue in the full manuscript. I wish you the best of luck!