Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Mania--Query Letter

Critique Archive #56
One of our readers has submitted a query for critique. Please offer only constructive comments

 Dear XXXX,

We usually think of amnesia resulting from an accident or other incident. But what if your brain did it all on its own?

My novel The Naked Wolf is based on my real struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and disassociation, which I developed through a life-threatening experience.

In The Naked Wolf, Angie and Adam connect through similar emotional wounds. Adam is a Special Forces combat veteran who raises wolves. Because they’ve been through similar experiences, he recognizes a kindred spirit in Angie. While Adam helps Angie past her fear of men and sex, she falls desperately in love with him and is certain he feels the same—until he tells her he’s planning on moving and rejoining the military. Assuming he’s breaking up with her, Angie has a panic attack. Her brain shuts off and erases him from her memory. Maybe even worse, her brain creates a replacement for Adam. What starts out as a dream becomes a nightmare for them both, and one that is destined to end in tragedy.

An excerpt of this novel was published in Touchstones literary magazine and won 2nd place in their prose publication contest. A short story of mine Married Dating was also published in Touchstones, where it won 1st place. I’ve been a freelance journalist for St. George Neighborhoods and a staff writer for the Hurricane Valley Journal.

 Thank you for your time and consideration. As your website suggests, I have included the first two chapters.




Josi said...

This is an intriguing story and your summary of it is certainly attention getting. I would like to know a bit more about Angie's 'emotional wounds.' We're told that Adam is ex-special forces, so we already know that he's dealing with his experiences from war, but I feel that Angie's is left out. Also, having two main characters whose names start with the same letter can be problematic for readers. There might be a good reason for it and so it's certainly up to you to keep it or not, but at first glance I was already confusing them in the query.

Your credentials are also very good and show that you have a history with writing. You kept the query short and to the point and it came off as quite crisp to me. Well done.

My only concern with this query is the opening, where you are pointing out your personal struggles with PTSD. I think because it comes before your story description that it takes away from the story. If you want to mention it, I suggest you do so at the end of your query, after your credentials so that it sounds like more of a 'credential' than a gimmick--and by gimmick I mean something meant to get the readers attention that ISN'T the story. While your experience certainly lends to your ability to write this story, the agent/editor is mostly interested in the story itself, not your personal history. Make sure their attention is directed at the story first.

Best of luck!

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

I agree with Josi's evaluation. One other thing, watch for repetition of idea. The first two sentences of the paragraph introducing your characters seem to say the same thing. Every piece of information should be new to the reader of the query. Good luck!