Saturday, December 24, 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Querymas

my true Genn gave to me: tampon-friendly lovers, bed-hopping ghosts, time-traveling dragons, spirit-walking time travel, serial killer dads, ticking countdowns, past-life memories, hot guys and cake, one confused rocker, a sick girl, two switched witches, and a role-play game that turns deadly.

Falling in love is easy; it’s all the other junk that brings headaches...and nausea…and demands from family members.  You make two bold style choices here by using a semicolon and ellipses.  While on one hand this sets up a casual, informal narrative voice, it is, as I said, bold, and could send some agents - many of whom have publicly commented on such style choices - reaching for the reject button.  If this is part of the style of the novel, leave it.  Might as well give them a taste of what to expect, but I would consider if you can't express the same sentiment with other punctuation.  I'll add that personally I like it, but anyone who follows me on twitter knows of my fondness for the ellipses.
Wedding florist Roda Morgan wonders if she’s destined to sit back and watch everyone else find their Happily-Ever-Afters. Until she meets Mr. Tall, Dark, and Tasty, and knows right away he’s different. I've italicized the "until" here so that the fragment is clearly purposeful.  It's a minor change, but it shows that this is a style choice not a grammatical error.  It's always harder to get that across in queries than in the actual manuscript, because you're working with such limited space.  A typical guy wouldn’t help pick up spilled feminine products, or stick around after being thrown up on. But her modest lifestyle clashes with his extravagant one., I want to see a better bridge between these two thoughts.  You use a conjunction, but the two sentiments don't really seem related.  Does an extravagant man have a fondness for vomit or tampons?  I like the detail of how he's different from most men, but introduce another flavorful bit about how he's wealthy and she's not here, between the last two lines. It would also be a good place to give us his name.  Aand instead of holding to her values, she loses herself in his world of fancy cars and glamorous parties. Her mother fears the woman she’s raised is being stolen away, and his is too closed-minded to accept someone who has a different set of beliefs. You bring up beliefs here and I start to wonder - financial, religious, political - if it has to do with their economic disparities, as you seem to be setting up, then belief might not be the right word.  If it goes deeper than that, you might want to give us a hint as to what.  What’s a girl to do when she’s torn between two lives? Mental breakdown is one option.
THE DETOUR TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER is an 88,000 word contemporary romantic comedy.
My debut novel, A Bitch Named Karma, is available through Lyrical Press, Inc. Its sequel Karma Kameleon releases January 2012. Also available are my novellas, Paradise Cove and Soap Dreams. My work appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters and Thanks Mom editions, Voicesfrom the Herd, and Nickel City Nights: Erotic Writing in Western New York. My flash fiction piece titled Flying in Pink Satin was showcased as the feature story in Flash Me Magazine and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. Great creds.  I imagine this will wow many agents.
I thank you for your time and consideration.
Stephanie Haefner

This query has great voice, but the one thing that makes me pause is some of the style choices.  There are lots of fragments as well as some disjointed thoughts.  I am a big fan of the fragment in my own writing.  (Seriously, you will all see!)  But I do think that a query needs to be careful with such style choices.  While you may employ the fragment throughout your narrative effectively, here it feels a bit off.  Instead of feeling like a choice in regards to voice, I find myself wanting to combine them to create stronger sentences.  I don't think you will lose any voice by doing so either.  Keep in mind that a fragment used as an aside or a bombshell revelation or a joke or interior monologue can be incredibly effective, but ask yourself if you are using it as such.  If not, evaluate if it needs to be a fragment.  In terms of disjointed thoughts, I think there are some jumps in this query.  We're told he's a great guy and so different, then we jump to the issue over their financial disparities.  We're told about the difference in their moms, but it's unclear what his mother's issue with the relationship really is.

It probably sounds like I'm giving you a ton of work, but actually you've nailed the most elusive aspect of a good query and that's voice.  The rest of this is just cleaning and polishing.  Best of luck!

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