Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Query Critique #7

I offer you KILBOURNE, a psychological thriller of roughly 78,000 words. The manuscript has been vetted by a district attorney and a psychologist. It is loosely based on a true incident more than forty years ago in Texas. Furthermore, I suspect readers of James Patterson and Dean Koontz will find this topic of interest.

Snooze! I don’t care who vetted it or who would find the topic interesting. I want to know what makes your book exciting and different. As a writer it’s your responsibility to make sure facts are correct, and having your book vetted is often a part of that. It doesn’t make your book special or different. The only thing that works here is your first sentence, which is only okay. The word count is a little too low. For a thriller you should be closer to 100,000 words, and your title says nothing to me.

In my fictional world (of course it’s fictional. You’re writing fiction. Try not to add words just to make things sound better), a young attorney serves on a jury that sentences an uneducated redneck to death for the murder of his own ten-year-old niece. Fifteen years later the killer asks for the attorney to serve as his pro bono representative when it is discovered that a tainted confession put him on death row, and a new trail (spelling error) is scheduled. Now svelte and educated, the killer comes out of prison bent on revenge; not the death of the jurors, but the murder of each juror's first born.

This is a great hook, let’s get to it faster. This should be in your first paragraph. When a killer is set free he’s bent on revenge—seeking to murder the firstborn child of each of his jurors (and I think you can do a better job with this). . . . So what happens next? Is the story simply about the killer or do we follow a hero/heroine as he/she tries to stop the killer? If so, that’s really the crux of the story.

This is another instance where it sounds like a great idea, but you aren’t giving me enough to convince me it works. The way it reads now I get the impression that the entire book is following this killer. How does the lawyer fit in? What is being done to stop him? Do people know he’s doing this?

I’m a journalist and published author of four non-fiction books ranging from biography to true crime. One was a Literary Guild alternate selection, and another was a True Crime Book of the Month.

Give the titles and publishers then. That’s a huge deal, so don’t downplay it.

A complete resume and synopsis follows this letter.

It’s fine to include the synopsis, but don’t expect me to read it. I asked for queries only and you have to depend on your query to get me to ask for more. If the query doesn’t grab me I’m not going to bother with the synopsis.

I hope this piques your interest.

I hope so too.

Agent Seeker


Check back Friday for another query critique.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great idea for a thriller novel, if done correctly. I agree with the critique completely:craft a more grabby opening statement, followed by the meat of the story. Describe the story in using specific action verbs and highlighting emotion. Good luck.