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Help please- Query for The Lateral Line
sheadakota
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:41 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


I have re-worked this to death but apparently it still needs work- been striking out on responses- Any help is VERY appreciated!

 

Cross Delancey lost his sight and his brother to the same bullet. When he starts to see things through his dead brother’s eyes, things only his brother would know, Cross begins to question not only his sanity but everything he ever knew as the truth about himself. As a profiler for the paranormal division of the FBI, the stranger the better is generally the rule, but when Cross is taken into custody by his own people strange doesn’t begin to cover it. Long dormant psychic abilities start to emerge making Cross not only someone to fear, but apparently the property of the FBI.

 

Cross discovers that his abilities are to be used as a catalyst that could end any military conflict before it even begins. Kill the enemy before the enemy even knows he’s at war. Cross would rather die than let anyone turn him into a genocidal weapon. To keep him compliant Cross’s keepers reveal that his brother, Kale is not only alive, but they have kept him captive his entire life. Despite the fact that Kale isn’t sure he can live any other way, Cross talks him into using their combined powers to free them both. But a final vision of innocent deaths has Cross questioning the worth of one man’s freedom and the strength of the bond that exists between brothers. 

 

THE LATERAL LINE is a 95,000 word thriller available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 


jeseymour
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:23 AM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 7


I think you need to make the first two paragraphs into one shorter one. Your description should only be a few lines. You've got too much information. You also need a paragraph about your writing accomplishments. What I've always heard is that the first paragraph has a couple of sentences to sum up the work (the hook,) and the length and genre of the work. Maybe four or five sentences total. The second paragraph is your bio and writing accomplishments. The third paragraph is your contact info and the thank you. Take all this with a grain of salt, because although I've had two agents, my last agent search was a total washout.
sheadakota
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:52 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


Thanks jesey (nice to see you here!) It definitely needs something different- I haven't been getting any nibbles-
jeseymour
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 1:12 AM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 7


I went to a workshop this past weekend where we worked on beginnings, but before that, we worked on our "elevator pitch." You have to be able to sum up the story in a pitch that would take about two minutes. The workshop leader had us do a 25 word pitch that summed up the story. Obviously, it won't tell everything about the story, but it has to cover the main points, and if possible, the arc. See if you can boil down your two paragraphs into one, to start with. Then see if you can boil it down into 25 words. Every word has to count.
Elaine Golden
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:07 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 10


HI sheadakota,

I read your query and, while no pro at these, there are a couple of things that struck me and I thought I'd share (since you did ask for 'any' help --hah!). Please keep in mind this is entirely subjective, and you should use what works for you and disregard anything that doesn't...

"Cross Delancey lost his sight and his brother to the same bullet."
>LOVE this first line. GREAT hook!

>But, the second line:
"When he starts to see things through his dead brother’s eyes, things only his brother would know, Cross begins to question not only his sanity but everything he ever knew as the truth about himself. "
>I found very perplexing. If his brother is dead, how can he see through his eyes? I'm sure there's more to it, but alone it reads like a big 'huh?' It might help if you elaborate if he's seeing *past* memories of his brother or if he's seeing *real time* and, hence, begins to suspect the brother's not dead...?

>I think this next bit:
"As a profiler for the paranormal division of the FBI, the stranger the better is generally the rule, but when Cross is taken into custody by his own people strange doesn’t begin to cover it. Long dormant psychic abilities start to emerge making Cross not only someone to fear, but apparently the property of the FBI."
>would read a little more concisely if you shift the order of events:
"As a profiler for the paranormal division of the FBI, the stranger the better is generally the rule, but when Cross begins to show long dormant psychic abilities, he is taken into custody [for observation?] by his own people."
>BTW, are these abilities different than seeing through his brother's eyes? What are they?

"Cross discovers that his abilities are to be used as a catalyst that could end any military conflict before it even begins. Kill the enemy before the enemy even knows he’s at war. Cross would rather die than let anyone turn him into a genocidal weapon."
>Awesome!

"To keep him compliant [,] Cross’s keepers reveal that his brother, Kale[,] is not only alive, but they have kept him captive his entire life."
>Confused by this. If Kale has been "captive his entire life", that suggests Cross has never known him or it wouldn't be a surprise that he was there. But this query began with Cross beginning to see "through his dead brother's eyes". Howzat? Is this a different brother he never knew? Or the brother he thought dead (which "not only alive" suggests)? Also, consider rewording the sentence due to subject shift midway. Consider, for example: "To keep him compliant, Cross's keepers reveal that his brother, Kale, is not only alive but is also being held captive by the FBI."

"Despite the fact that Kale isn’t sure he can live any other way, Cross talks him into using their combined powers to free them both. "
>Why can't he live any other way? Because he's been captive his entire life? Can't they combine their powers without Kale actually having to leave (if that's his hold back)?

"But a final vision of innocent deaths has Cross questioning the worth of one man’s freedom and the strength of the bond that exists between brothers. "
Nice!

I hope this helps you in some way. Best wishes --queries & synopses are the hardest!
sheadakota
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 10:53 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


Elaine- It helps a lot! You are so right- queries are the hardest- I hate them with a passion- I am going to rework this per your suggestions- it amazes me how confusing this is- I didn't see it until you pointed it out because- well- I know the story-lol- I hope you might have another look when I repost

Jesey- the elevater pitch- yah I have to work on that as well- going to a conference in July where I get to 'speed date' agent after agent-

Ok - back to work on this and Many thanks!!!
Elaine Golden
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 2:07 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 10


So glad you found something of use. Sometimes it's hard to see things because as the writer we're *very* close to the work...

I'd be happy to take another look. Will try to check back periodically.

Take care,

~Elaine
RDeMille
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 3:26 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 1


I probably take a little different approach. I want to raise a question in the readers mind from the start, and avoid giving information until I offer the hook. Here is how I may have started your query:

Psychic powers can be a curse. Cross Delancey discovers this when the FBI tries to take over his life.

His life changes when a single bullet takes not only his sight, but his brother’s life – or so he thought. His job as an FBI profiler, specializing in the paranormal, becomes a prison when he discovers . . .

I would avoid words like dormant – dormant is tulip bulbs and larvae. Maybe hidden, secret, or latent. Every word needs to carry its weight and help tell the reader why they need to read your book.

I like your premise. You may even play up the ‘bond between brothers’ angle a little in the query.

Good luck!

Rick


Ellie Isis
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 3:37 PM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 60


While I think this is a very well-written query overall, I do agree with many of the comments made above.

One suggestion - the reason you may not be getting hits is, I think you might be shopping it to the wrong agents. This doesn't really sound like a thriller to me. It sounds more like a paranormal or well, not quite urban fantasy, but somewhere along those lines. I'd probably shop it to sci-fi/fantasy agents.
sheadakota
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 7:44 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


Thank you! Elli- I was wondering that myself- I have been marketing it as a paranormal thriller- but I think the pyschic angle is scaring most thriller agents-

Rdemille- excellent advice- I like your rewrite very much! I was about to repost my latest version but It was basically the same thing as the first and now you made me rethink how I want to appraoch this- Thanks a lot guys! It is really appreciated- I have been getting very discouraged by the lack of interest- I 'm pretty sure I have a good story here- but my query- well not so much-
sheadakota
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 8:14 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


Okay- here's another go at this- I have posted two versions -Rick I used your begining in one- I hope you don't mind- which one (if either) Is better? The main difference is the first paragraph.

#1
Psychic powers can be a curse. Cross Delancey discovers this when the FBI tries to take over his life. A single bullet changed everything. In a moment he lost both his sight and his brother, or so he was led to believe. Cross learns his entire life has been a lie. His job as a profiler for the paranormal division of the FBI suddenly becomes his prison when latent psychic abilities begin to surface.

Deemed unstable and dangerous by the FBI, Cross’s memories were wiped and reprogrammed at fourteen. He has been who the department wanted him to be while they watched for signs his powers might return. Now that they have, the department has reclaimed its property. But Cross has an ally. His brother Kale is alive, his death just another lie. Kale has been used and studied for his own unique powers and subdued by threats of harm to Cross. Through a psychic connection, and some unexpected help the brothers unite and attempt to escape. But the facility, as horrible as it has been, is the only home Kale has ever known. The outside world is at once terrifying and exciting, but if they stay he knows the life that waits for Cross. A life Kale swore his brother would never have to live.

But innocent lives may be the cost of freedom and Cross questions the worth of one man’s life and the strength of the bond that exists between two brothers.


#2

Cross Delancey has been a profiler for the paranormal division of the FBI for all of his adult life. Left blind as a teenager by a drive-by shooting that also killed his twin brother, Cross’s heightened senses make him exceptionally good at his job. But when he is mugged, stabbed and left for dead outside a New York nightclub, his heightened senses explode into full blown psychic visions – visions that threaten to unravel everything Cross believes as the truth.

Deemed unstable and dangerous by the FBI, Cross’s memories were wiped and reprogrammed at fourteen. He has been who the department wanted him to be while they watched for signs his powers might return. Now that they have, the department has reclaimed its property. Cross is held captive and forced through drugs and pain to explore his emerging psychic powers. But Cross has an ally. His brother Kale is alive, his death another lie. Kale has been used and studied for his own unique powers and subdued by threats of harm to Cross. Through a psychic connection, and some unexpected help, the brothers unite and attempt to escape. But the facility, as horrible as it has been, is the only home Kale has ever known. The outside world is at once terrifying and exciting, but if they stay he knows the life that waits for Cross. A life Kale swore his brother would never have to live.

Innocent lives may be the cost of freedom and Cross questions the worth of one man’s life and the strength of the bond that exists between two brothers.


jeseymour
Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:11 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 7


I've started querying agents on my fourth novel, and everything I'm reading on the agents' websites says one or two sentences about the work, plus a sentence giving genre and word count, in the first paragraph. Second paragraph is your credentials and publishing history. Third paragraph is thank you and contact info. Just my opinion, but I think you need to shorten the info about the book. If you've seen other information that says differently, please point me in that direction, because I'd love to know if I need to change my approach.


Michael R Underwood
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:22 AM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 74


Jeseymour,

I'm also querying, and I've found wildly varied standards from different sources (editors and agents and writers). Some say you have to use the model you mention, others say you absolutely should dive right in to the story and character content and give the genre/word count/etc. towards the end before your publishing history. I think the OP is fine structurally, if still perhaps going on a bit too long with the summary/pitch.
Michael R Underwood
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:28 AM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 74


I find #2 to be more compelling and more clear of a start to a pitch. I think you need to streamline and simplify the second paragraph (the one that starts 'deemed unstable...') -- I've nearly unanimously heard that you want to keep the whole query to one page/250 words or less, and even then, brevity is preferred. An agent or their assistant may be reading hundreds of queries per week, so you really need to boil it down to the central character, their conflict, and give a sense of momentum and direction for the story as well as the tone.

The important elements to me are as follows: Cross' powers, his being brought back into the fold, the secret behind his past, his brother's real status/history, and the conflict that comes about when they escape. That's a lot to convey, and as is, I think you could stand to tighten the second paragraph down to 5 punch sentences. Your book is a thriller, filled with suspense, so that suspense should be clear from line to line -- I think you convey that feeling fairly well in the first paragraph, but the second one gets bogged down a bit.

Good luck!
--Mike
sheadakota
Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2011 12:51 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 15


Thanks all- I am working on streamlining this now!
 

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