The Dreaded Query, AARRGGHHH!

Comments: 7

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Here's my latest cut at the dreaded query. I know it ain't no gud yet, but I'm trying to get it guder so I c'n start sending out queries next month. I figger by the time agents respond, I'll have the book close to being dun with the critting stuff.

Thanks bunches,


Dear Agent/Editor

The Viet Nam war is looming and if Mark Wilkerson can’t get a student deferment from the draft, he at least wants to spend his last Christmas Eve at home with his friends and his girl. But when he narrowly escapes from a fiery crash that kills most of his family on the fog-bound Carquienz Bridge, his life changes forever. The unknown driver flees with only a dent, and Mark vows revenge. But how will he ever find that driver? And what will he do to get even when he does?

Following the tragedy, Mark finds himself in a new home, a new school, a new town, new friends, new loves – and new enemies. Mark is hoping for a student deferment and Jeff Marino hates him for that, calling him a draft dodger. But when Mark steals Jeff’s date, Genie Lombardi, Jeff nearly kills him. When Mark recovers, he discovers Jeff could be the one who killed his family and he plots how to claim his revenge. Before he can, however, Jeff loses his only true friend in a drug induced accident. In his grief he blames everyone but himself, especially Mark. To get even with Mark, he gets drunk and kidnaps Genie. When Mark tries to rescue her, the situation turns deadly, until he learns the truth that could destroy him and what's left of his family.

Sweet Revenge is an edgy 70,000-word coming of age story set in the small northern California community where I grew up. The Carquinez Bridge, known for dense fog and multi car pileups, helped to inspire elements of this story.

I would be happy to send you a synopsis, sample pages or the completed manuscript of Sweet Revenge upon your request. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008

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  1. Hi Paul. I read through your query and thought this blog post might help--

    Sorry, I forget how to HTML that and make it a link. Anyway, here are just a few suggestions, and I'm no expert at all. I hate queries. If you read the above post, you will notice it's a little similar to her first example, which she said wasn't very good. Start off with the crash- Write a short, catchy sentence about the crash. I think that would get the agent's attention more.

    I also think, overall, it's a bit long. An agent might not want to take the time to read it all.

    You have to start off with a good hook. Your first sentence is a bit long.

    I also think I would take out the word-edgy. You should also tell the genre. Is it YA?

    The story sounds interesting. Good luck with it!

  2. Wow, I've got another faithful reader. Thank you Marcia for your comments. I think they will help.

    Maybe I'll post my upgraded query at a later date.

  3. Hi Paul -- I linked over from Verla's! I think this is a YA, and would leave out the "edgy" part. And like Marcia said, trim this a bit -- it reads more like a synopsis than a query. But I think it sounds really interesting! Just work on narrowing it down to a one paragraph summary that hits on the ACTION -- WHEN THIS HAPPENS, the MC must DO THIS or else THIS WILL HAPPEN. That kind of formula. Good luck!!!

  4. DeenaML,

    Thank you for your comments. I've rewritten it and one day I'll consider reposting it here.

  5. Hi there,

    I would like to suggest that you clarify a bit in the beginning -- does the crash happen before the war, while he's in the war, after the war? With the first sentence being the way it is, we're not sure if he got the deferment or just what's going on. Marcia and Deenaml also gave good advice.

    Sounds like a good story.

  6. Hi Tristi,

    Good comments too. I'll clarify that in my final product.


  7. Hi Paul,
    I'm eager to see your new query! I think the gals before had great ideas, even I was a little confused and I know the story!

    This blogging thing is awesome! How do you become a blogger on this site?