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My Four Fathers & Eleanor...input is appreciated.
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 6:21 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


Dear Agent,

Thomas Walling, a Multiple Personality Disorder sufferer, always thought he was doomed to a life without love inside a pill bottle and a mental institution; but one fateful night one of his alternate personalities changes everything by making him a father.

Thomas's life is a mental game of king of the mountain. His opponents are the simple-minded, obsessive compulsive, Henry, rebellious and aggressive Chuck, flamboyant, shopaholic, Louis and the biological-clock-challenged, southern belle, Eleanor. All of these personalities have been kept at bay most of his life, with therapy and medication. When his diagnosing psychiatrist suddenly dies, Thomas must find a new doctor.

Dr. Elliot Scott, his new psychiatrist, wanting a full blown tour of his newest patient’s brain and rare illness, takes away Thomas’s prescribed drugs. Off of his medication, Thomas’ life turns into chaos, when one of his personalities steals his car and vanishes for a day.

Nine months later, Thomas’s life is both complicated, and saved from a future of isolation and loneliness when he discovers he is a dad. Now he must deal with more than just his own mental friends circle. Thomas must raise a little girl, while struggling with a life that will never be quite normal. When his other personalities cause run-ins with the police and the court system, threatening to institutionalize him, he is left fighting not only for his child, but his sanity.

Complete at 90,000 words, My Four Fathers & Eleanor is a heartwarming novel, fitting in with Nicholas Sparks and Kathryn Stockett’s, memoir-like story telling.

With the amazing sales of The Help and The Notebook, in both book and big screen versions, there is an open market for tales of this kind. My Four Fathers & Eleanor follows in the tradition of meaningful, emotionally-gripping novels that hold their own despite trends.

I am happy to provide you with a complete manuscript and any other information you may require. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Autumn Rosen


CarrieM
Posted: Friday, August 19, 2011 6:27 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 25


I actually love this query. My only comment is that I'm not sure the part about the doctor is necessary. As it is, I'm confused as to why a psychiatrist would take someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder off their meds. I'm not really buying the "wanting a full blown tour" thing. The query feels a bit long, so maybe getting rid of that part is the best course? If you can explain very briefly why Thomas's drugs are taken away, then go for it?
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2011 3:08 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


A young cocky doctor who doesn't believe his patient has DID. Not uncommon for this disease to be doubted. It did happen.

Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2011 3:10 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


Dear Agent,
When I was a little girl blowing out birthday candles, or wishing on shooting stars; I always wished for things like anyone else, my father just wished he could be normal—for me. My father, Thomas Walling suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Remembering back, his extra personalities, Chuck, Henry, Louis and Eleanor were a big part of my life. For most of my childhood I thought they were simply my father playing make believe with me. Eleanor and I had tea parties, Henry cleaned my room, Louis took me shopping, and Chuck was the monster in my closet.
My father was special, not because his brain somehow created these extra people that excited the doctors at the mental hospital, but because he loved us.
He taught me that life is not all wine and roses. His life was molded by tragedy, medication and mistakes that most people never have to deal with. He did, however, find happiness through all of it. The fact that I may have played some small role makes me feel as though I helped him finally find himself.
In my father’s case, finding himself included a lot of love, hoping, crying, bleeding, begging, and some Beatles songs.
The following story of my father’s life and struggle with mental illness. It is the gathering of psychiatric recordings and memories from those of us who understood, loved, laughed and cried with him, when things were the best they could be and when they could get no worse.
My Four Fathers & Eleanor is complete at 90,000 and is a heartwarming novel, fitting in with Nicholas Sparks and Kathryn Stockett’s, memoir-like story telling. My Four Fathers & Eleanor follows in the tradition of meaningful, emotionally-gripping novels that hold their own despite trends.
I am happy to provide you with a complete manuscript and any other information you may require. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 2:35 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356


Hi Sinnie!

Re, the first query you posted:

I like the premise behind this story but your query needs A LOT of work.

The query is really too long. You don't need as much plot description as you have currently. The agent doesn't need to know all the personalities. You just need a one or two sentence hook, enough to make an agent want to read more, and perhaps two more sentences of plot.

Avoid the use of descriptive phrases like "heartwarming" or "Emotionally gripping" - you shouldn't be describing the way your book makes a reader feel; only the plot. If your hook and your description of the plot don't work to engage the agent or editor, adding empty phrases to pad it out won't help.

Avoid comparing yourself to any bestselling writer in a query. This is a huge red flag and some agents will reject on that alone.

Avoid comparing it to a memoir. Memoirs are hard sells and associating your novel with a category that agents and editors don't want to see is a strike against it.

Don't remind agents that The Help and The Notebook are major bestsellers. They already know that. You don't need to educate them on their jobs. And again, you're comparing your book a second time to major bestsellers.

Re your second posted query:

Don't write a query from the point of view of a character. It really drives agents crazy.

Hope this is helpful in helping you rewrite this! Good luck!

Cheers!

Colleen
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 4:21 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


I broke it down as far as I could removing all of the suggested items and this is what I have left.


Dear Agent,
A lonely man with Multiple Personality Disorder learns to live and love, despite mental illness, after one of his alternate personalities inadvertently makes him a father to a little girl. When the alternate personalities cause run-ins with the police and the court system, threatening to institutionalize him, he is left fighting not only for his child, but his sanity.
The novel MY FOUR FATHERS & ELEANOR is complete at 90,000. I am happy to provide you with a complete manuscript and any other information you may require. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 4:30 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


Thank you Colleen. I write horrible queries and that is my downfall. I can write a story, I just can't sell it.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 6:13 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356


Nobody writes good queries at first. It's a skill that you learn like any other. Don't let it get you down! There are some good things in there; just pare it down.

You should spend some time on the Query Shark blog for great examples of why some queries just don't work:

http://queryshark.blogspot.com
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Monday, August 22, 2011 12:12 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


I've been living there for a year and a half already Colleen. I've never been posted. But I was also hoping I could cheat a little because of the story. It carries itself and has done beautifully in reviews (not by friends or family). I guess it's back to the drawing board as far as queries go.


nancy lopez
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:35 AM
Joined: 8/12/2011
Posts: 23


Hello,
Your story sounds riddling with twist and adventure. I heard that a query should be under 250 words, no more than three paragraph--the most four.
Start with the conflict, the stakes and what will happen if its not met. I don't know if this will help, but its what everyone has suggested to me and so I wanted to pass it on to you.
Good luck, oh, and don't get caught up on the details that are not major to the plot, oh, and show the emotion --- establish a tone --- try to give some kind of visual that is relatable.
Ha! Easier said than done huh? Don't worry, I'm still at it.
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Sunday, September 4, 2011 9:45 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


Dear Agent,
A lonely man with Multiple Personality Disorder learns to live, love and be loved, despite mental illness, after one of his alternate personalities inadvertently makes him a father to a little girl.
Thomas Walling never dreamed he would be a father because of the four extra people in his head. When he suddenly becomes a single parent to a newborn, he discovers challenges and the unexpected reward of unconditional love. Just as he starts believing things are becoming normal for him; his alternate personality’s actions begin to jeopardize everything. When an act of violence on the part of one of the extra personalities lands Thomas in the legal system, threatening to institutionalize him and take away his daughter; he finds himself fighting for his child and his sanity.
The novel, MY FOUR FATHERS & ELEANOR is complete at 90,000. I am happy to provide you with a complete manuscript and any other information you may require. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Autumn Rosen

 

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