Monday, October 06, 2008

Face-Lift 572


Guess the Plot

Beach Boulevard

1. The Sand Maven's amazing story begins with a sparkling seaside flirtation, moves into the shadowland of hanky-panky, slides through a dark gutter of scandal, and finally gropes its way from a dungeon of guilt to the glowing sunset of nostalgia. Plus, a murder mystery, a hurricane, and handsome pirates.

2. A story of star-crossed loves, life's inevitable suffering, faith, and a perfectly crafted slingshot, partially set on Beach Boulevard.

3. As a hurricane blows in, Mae Wong and her crew of burly lifeguards dash along the beach trying to convince the last drunks to board the rescue bus to Kansas, but that diabolical gang known as the Weather Underground hovers nearby in an underwater sub -- preparing to unleash the full power of their Nuclear Vortexicating Implodimatic Blasticon! Will our heroes save Sandbar Bob in time?

4. When rich heiresses start finding their lost poodles washed up on the sand, everyone knows masked Detective Sgt. Bud Frickenshaw must find the Fiend Feline of Beach Boulevard -- before the pesky kitty kills again! But what about beautiful Evelyn Smith and her missing butler? And those surfboards the Jackson twins can't find???

5. Anaheim, California: a city where dreams go to die, where the cheap motels, bars and strip joints suck up more than their fair share of people. Detective Zack Martinez doesn't work here, but when the daughter of his second wife's new husband winds up dead outside the Matterhorn Bar, he knows he'll have to get involved.

6. Rathbone Surcote has a dream: to replace the white sand of SoCal with blacktop and organize the bitchenist race circuit in the world. Standing in his way is a militant organization of surfers, a group of environmentalists concerned about a bunch of terminally ill whales, and riptides capable of washing entire packs of competitors out to sea. But when a beautiful urban planner realizes there may be a way to ease congestion in the city's major arteries by routing traffic to the shore, Rathbone realizes he may have a chance.


Original Version

Little nine years old Sonny Lacroix carved his sling shot from a single piece of pine wood. It was a beautiful work of art for a nine year old boy. He worked for days to carve its Y shape, and then spent another few days sanding its rough edges to perfection. It felt so good in his hand; so smooth. Who would ever think that such an innocent child's toy as this could set up a sequence of events which would have generations-long consequences for so many? [And yet when Sonny shoots an acorn at a chicken, who mistakenly assumes the sky is falling, it's not long before planet-wide war breaks out.]

Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves [as you might have assumed from my opening paragraph]; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life's inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?

Beach Boulevard as told to us by Rudy Lacroix begins in the early forties on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was a conservative time and place. The action in Beach Boulevard [What action? So far there's been no action except the three-day whittling of a block of pine into a Y shape.] moves to Los Angeles during the late fifties and sixties. We experience many changes through that era of cultural upheaval. Finally, matters resolve [What matters resolve? There've been no matters.] with a surprise ending back where we started: On Beach Boulevard. [The surprise is that something finally happens.]

Coming in at 85,000 words, Beach Boulevard is a Literary Fiction novel which allows each reader to answer those questions for herself. [What questions?] My name is XXXX XXXXXXX and I wrote Beach Boulevard for the mature audience.


Notes

The only part of this that isn't vague is the building of the slingshot, but we don't care how meticulous the kid is in carving and sanding his toy. We're willing to listen to one sentence telling us what he does with his toy that sets the story in motion, but after that we want to know who the characters are and what their goals and obstacles are. In other words, the plot. When and where aren't especially important. Who and what and why should be your focus.

Whose faith is tested? Who's suffering? Why does the story move to Los Angeles? Tell us something about the main characters. Tell us why we would want to read their story. This query doesn't provide any information about your story. Start over.

36 comments:

BuffySquirrel said...

Non-survival of life's sufferings is pretty much a given, whatever mystical crap you believe in.

Dave F. said...

Back a few decades ago when I was in college, one of the Fraternity houses (Beta Sig I think) built a slingshot out of steel and surgical rubber. It was a perfectly crafted slingshot to borrow the query's words.

One day, I'm sitting eating lunch in the student union courtyard and oranges come smashing to the ground. A grand spray of pulp, juice, seeds and sticky liquids. It seems that "perfect slingshot" could launch an orange over the four lane street, over the parking lot and into the courtyard. That's easily 150 feet and 20 feet over the lighting stanchions.

Now that's a slingshot. And the adventure lasted all of about 15 minutes because they launched and orange right through a city schoolbus, right through the windows and (ooops here) broke a windshield on a car in the parking lot. The trajectory was too low and the speed too high for the car, but not for the delighted school kids. They thought it fun. BUT the guys involved, wrote a check that day.

Now before you all hang your heads and tsk, tsk, the affair... we need a moral.
A) never do this. It's wrong!
B) this has more story to it than the query.

Sorry author, but you do need more story. You have 4 paragraphs and 3 hooks:
1) Sonny whittling the slingshot
2) Star-Crossed lovers
3) Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
(The last one of those being attractive because it is not LA or NYC or Boston or San Francisco. It's middle America, and that makes for an audience.)

What happens to Sonny and Rudy Lacroix in Mississippi.

Elissa M said...

Buffy, you crack me up.

Author, EE pretty much covered it. Put specifics in your query. You could very well have a great novel here, but there's no way to tell from the query. Also, don't call it a "literary fiction novel" because all novels are fiction.

benwah said...

Does Sonny Lacroix follow in that great tradition of lil' rapscallions with sling shots dragging down the back pocket of their short pants? I'm thinking Dennis the Menace and Bart Simpson. Or perhaps he's a more mischevious version of Roy Hobbs (and "Wondersling").

It seems you're holding back on telling us what Sonny did with that slingshot to set in motion a chain of events that covers 30 years. Give us something to sink our teeth into. Was he taking potshots at squirrels, only later to repent and become a founding member of PETA? Was his careless slingshottery the match that set to light a race riot in a tense Southern town? I understand the desire to hold the story back a bit, but give us enough of a taste. As is, we've just got a kid whittling. Queries are tough; EE's advice is helpful.

Scott from Oregon said...

A slingshot whittled from pine will break pretty gosh darn fast. Trouble is, one of the three "legs" will always have cross-grain. Cross-grain on pine is really weak.

dave. We used to light M-80's and launch them with a catapult that had flyover power...

It was fun to hear of cops being called on a whole other block from ours...

wendy said...

I loved the first line of your query. I would cut the word little and start at Nine-year-old.

The second paragraph sounds like it came from a different story, and we need to know that something happens in this book even if it is literary in nature.

You really pulled me in with the picture you drew at the beginning and just as quickly lost me after that. Remember to show not tell and don't show with a sledgehammer.(i.e. - Little)

Goodluck with your novel. I'm sure there's much more story here. We just aren't seeing yet.

Dave F. said...

BTW - I too like the first paragraph. It sets up a really attractive story.

Scott: I never had fireworks. But Paulo Pugliasi only had three fingers on his left hand and half an ear. He served as the "bad" example.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Author here. Let's try again. Round two:


Little nine years old Sonny Lacroix carved his sling shot from a single piece of pine wood. It was a beautiful work of art for a nine year old boy. He worked for days to carve its Y shape, and then spent another few days sanding its rough edges to perfection. It felt so good in his hand; so smooth. No one could imagine that such an innocent child’s toy as this could set up a sequence of events which would culminate with the death of his infant sister.

As their father’s abuse of Sonny escalates, Rudy's big brother’s rage mounts. Rudy takes refuge in the music of Betty Lee Meacham.

Anna, Betty Lee’s mother, has big plans for her daughter and will allow nothing to interfere. She pushes Betty Lee early to excel in piano, singing and acting. The girl is never allowed a life, a love or a dream of her own. After secretly intercepting all her love letters from her beau on the Pacific Front, Anna sends the girl away to school in California. She soon uproots the entire family for a move to California.

Harboring a secret love for her throughout his life, Rudy is crushed when Betty Lee suddenly disappears.

One blustery Saturday morning a few years later Betty Lee goes to Mother’s closet for a sweater. She pulls out an old trunk only to discover it is filled with old mail. All the letters she had sent and everything mailed to her from her beau during World War II. She is emotionally devastated and becomes motivated to repudiate everything her mother stands for including her music and eventually her faith.

After a successful stint as a stunt man in a movie filmed nearby, Sonny leaves home for California with big dreams and the name of a young lady whom his mother had befriended years earlier.

Inevitably the two meet and fall in love thousands of miles from their small town. Rudy is conflicted and sees the impending train wreck of the two vulnerable people he loves most.

Years later, in the aftermath of a disastrous marriage, it is Rudy who helps Betty Lee piece her life back together and re-discover her faith.

Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life’s inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?

Beach Boulevard as told to us by Rudy Lacroix begins in the early forties on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Finally, matters resolve with a surprise ending back where we started: On Beach Boulevard.

Coming in at 85,000 words, Beach Boulevard is a Literary Fiction novel which will allow you to answer those questions for yourself. My name is XXXX XXXXXXX and I wrote Beach Boulevard for the mature audience.

Robin S. said...

I'd like to know more about this novel - I agree with others who've said there's more here.

Hope you don't feel bad with the potshots at your query- better to feel the pain here and get it over with, here at Amelioration Central (heavily disguised).

That said, EE was on a good roll with this:
Finally, matters resolve [What matters resolve? There've been no matters.] with a surprise ending back where we started: On Beach Boulevard. [The surprise is that something finally happens.]

pacatrue said...

Hi Author. There's certainly more in your revision, but now we need more focus. First off, it's too much. Secondly, it needs a more coherent POV. Sounds like Rudy is arguably the protagonist. As such, I'd try doing the whole query about Rudy. You can still start with the slingshot, but 1) give it to us in 2 sentences tops and 2) give it to us from Rudy's POV, i.e., Rudy's brother livingly crafted a slingshot..... Finally, there's still too much mystery. A sentence about what actually happens to their poor sister with the slingshot is going to be much more powerful than an unnamed sequence of events.

Anonymous said...

I wrote Beach Boulevard for the mature audience.

Man, did you come to the wrong place!

Whirlochre said...

I quite liked the detail of the slingshot and hoped it would lead somewhere — but it didn't.

Might be worth keeping something of this in the suggested rewrite, but the rest has to go. It's too vague.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ow, cognitive dissonance--Sonny is little and a big brother? Ow.

Anonymous said...

Author here-
You're a rough crowd, but I like it! Good stuff. Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Not to be nit picky on the revised query, but who thinks of a sling shot as "such an innocent child's toy"?????? Send one in to school with your kid and see how innocent people think it is. I can, in fact, imagine that something bad would happen with a sling shot. Maybe not a death, but something bad. Eye taken out. Tooth chipped. Rock to the head. The possibilities are endless...

Dave F. said...

Well I think we all made a mistake falling in love with the slingshot.

This is a little like "La Forza Del Destino" in that destiny wins and the happy ending loses. And the story is so complicated that it defies description. It's depressing. La Forza mostly denies description because it is contrived and tortured but it has beautiful music (so we love it).

The accidental death of their sister drives the brothers Sonny and Rudy apart. Sonny into guilt and Rudy to Betty, his neighbor. Fate intervenes in the form of Rudy going to WW2 and Betty's mother, who separates the pair and pushes Betty into the musical career she never had. Eventually, Betty learns the truth and in fleeing her mother, meets Sonny. They marry and spend a decade unloved and miserable. When they divorce, Rudy steps back into Betty's life and they live happily ever after.

Nah, that doesn't work.

Now that I get through that rather plebeian description of your plot. It sounds a bit like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"... I wouldn't describe that story from the POV of the rich man, or the mother. It's told from the mechanic's POV. think about that.

Rudy meets Betty and falls in love but War and Mother split the two apart. Years later, after a failed marriage to Rudy's estranged brother, Betty and Rudy reunite to live happily ever after.

Like I said at the top, perhaps the slingshot is a bad place to start. Perhaps Sonny is the wrong person to drive the plot. Paca had that idea. Others seem to be struggling with this point too. The love story of Rudy and Betty is the overall arc, the death of the sister thanks to the slingshot is not the arc, it is only the initiating event for the tragic events to come. It's like the witches in Macbeth. Or like the vision of Manderly in Rebecca. The sister's death is not the story but the wonderful color of the story.

Anonymous said...

Dave, et al-
Okay. It is not made clear in the query, but the character Betty Lee IS NOT in love with Rudy; never was. Hence star-crossed. I can see I have work to do. Revision to follow.

Ulysses said...

I believe the revised query is too long. I only want to know four things:
1) who the main character is
2) what he wants/sets out to do
3) what opposes him or complicates things
4) how it's all resolved.

The rest is detail I don't need to know in a query.

Also, I really don't need this:

"Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life’s inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?"

It tells me nothing about the story, only what the author thinks the story does and how the audience is supposed to react. Authors who make these claims are usually wrong.

Hook me with the story and I'll read it before coming to my own conclusions about what it does.

Anonymous said...

Author here, again.
Okay-one more time:
Rudy’s older brother, nine years old Sonny Lacroix carved his sling shot from a single piece of pine wood. It was a beautiful work of art for a nine year old boy. He worked for days to carve its Y shape, and then spent another few days sanding its rough edges to perfection. It felt so good in his hand; so smooth. It is coveted by the all the neighborhood boys. Soon Sonny becomes engaged in a wager: his slingshot for Possum’s magnifying glass. A fierce game of marbles ensues. Sonny wins the magnifying glass and soon starts an accidental fire which claims the life of his infant sister.

Over the next few years, as their father’s abuse of Sonny escalates, Rudy’s big brother’s rage mounts. Rudy takes refuge in the music of Betty Lee Meacham.

Anna, Betty Lee’s mother, has big plans for her daughter and will allow nothing to interfere. She pushes Betty Lee early to excel in piano, singing and acting. The girl is never allowed a life, a love or a dream of her own. After secretly intercepting her love letters from her beau, Dickey Gertz, on the Pacific Front, Anna sends the girl away to school in California. She soon uproots the entire family for a move to California.

Harboring a secret love for her, Rudy is crushed when Betty Lee suddenly disappears.

Blustery Santa Ana winds chill North Hollywood one clear Saturday morning a few years later. Betty Lee goes to Mother’s closet for a sweater. She pulls out the old trunk only to discover it is filled with old mail. All the letters she had sent and everything mailed to her from her beau during World War II. She is emotionally devastated and becomes motivated to repudiate everything her mother stands for including her music and eventually her faith.

After a successful stint as a stunt man in a movie filmed nearby, Sonny break the bond, and leaves home for California with big dreams and the name of a young lady whom his mother had befriended years earlier.

Inevitably the two meet and fall in love thousands of miles from their small town. Rudy is conflicted and sees the impending train wreck of the two vulnerable people he loves most.

Years later, in the aftermath of a disastrous marriage, it is Rudy who helps Betty Lee piece her life back together and re-discover her faith, the piano and maybe love… but with who?

Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life’s inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?

Beach Boulevard as told to us by Rudy Lacroix begins in the early forties on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Finally, matters resolve at the present time with a surprise ending back where we started: On Beach Boulevard.

Coming in at 85,000 words, Beach Boulevard is a Literary Fiction novel which will allow you to answer those questions for yourself. My name is XXXX XXXXXXX and I wrote Beach Boulevard for the mature audience.

150 said...

the character Betty Lee IS NOT in love with Rudy; never was. Hence star-crossed.

Then you'll want to describe it as "unrequited", not "star-crossed."

Listen to what Paca said. Write the query from Rudy's POV. Use the buildup of the slingshot in the book, not the query.

Try, try again!

Evil Editor said...

So the slingshot had nothing to do with the story. It was the magnifying glass. I take back my statement that we are willing to listen to one sentence about how the toy sets the story in motion. We don't need the slingshot, the magnifying glass, or even the sister. One brother goes to war. The other goes to California and gets involved with his brother's crush. And then...? Surely something happens between them before matters resolve in present time, when these characters are all 75 or 80 years old.

What's the surprise ending?

Sarah Laurenson said...

OK. More information than we need. This is getting longer not shorter. You don't need to say nine years old twice in a row. And you don't need a complete paragraph on the catalyst for the beginning of the story. It seems you're in love with the slingshot, and it is a good description, but it's not working for you in the query.

I also suggest you carefully read through the comments here. You still have things in your query that have been called out as needing to be changed. You might want to take a little time and work on this before throwing up a rewrite.

December/Stacia said...

Yes, I was thinking you're way too in love with the slingshot as well. The sentences describing it are fine but not necessary; you've only got 250 words or so, so we don't need the lyricism.

So what you have here is a story about a childhood tragedy, and how the consequences of that tragedy affect the characters throughout their lives? Is that correct? I keep getting lost in the laundry lists of characters and places.

When a simple childhood toy destroys a family, the residents of Beach Boulevard must find some way to move on. For some it's alcohol; for other hasty marriages and secrets. But for Rudy the memories are inescapable. His story weaves through the others, a desperate search for absolution (insert one or two details about something that happens to Rudy here.)

Ulysses has given you the correct query formula. There's a little play for litfic, but not much.

Anonymous said...

White flag of surrender here. Okay, okay, I'll take this thing back to the drawing board. That's if I can walk. I'm feeling rather injured now. I don't think I'll fling myself from the nearest skyscraper just yet, but boy a giant chocolate malt sure sounds good. Woe.

Robin S. said...

1. I agree with Sarah. Take your time rewriting. Read your query to yourself, out loud, and think through the comments made.

2. Anon 10:00 am. A long time ago, slingshots were common toys, depending upon where you grew up.
Not everything in the world is seen only through the focus of the present and the temper of these times.

Robin S. said...

Author,

I just saw your comment - please don't be discouraged- better to hear it here than somewhere else.
Truly.

batgirl said...

I had a slingshot once, from a forked branch, which for strength is the ideal. My brother whittled all the nice smooth surface away, leaving it weirdly textured. I've never found out what he was thinking.
I dunno, in my childhood slingshots were more innocent than bb guns, but not by much. You could still put someone's eye out or kill a small animal.
The slingshot will be wonderful in your first sample pages. Save it for that, and pull it from the query, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the issue was "commonality" of the sling shot but foreseeability of harm resulting from one. The author called it "innocent." Which implies harmless. But as it turns out, the surprise was not that a sling shot could hurt someone, but that *trading* a sling shot could.

The allusion to surprise, therefore, became more logical when we learned about the trade. And more interesting. My point was that the author seemed to set up the shock of learning that a sling shot could hurt someone as part of the hook. I wasn't shocked. Nothing to do with how common a toy was/is. Everything to do with logic/consistency.

mb said...

Author, you deserve a chocolate malt for putting yourself out there.
In my experience, different agents/editors ask for different kinds of queries -- I have about 15 versions of mine on file. Some want just two sentences about your plot -- some want three paragraphs, others specifically ask for a "detailed synopsis." Drives me crazy. But it is always a good exercise to take your synopsis and cut it down to the two-paragraph version, then the two-sentences version. Might help you focus. One thing I'll say is try not to get too attached to any one sentence so that you're writing the query around it. (Like the slingshot thing) Just try to get at the heart of the story. Good luck.

talpianna said...

In MURDER MUST ADVERTISE by Dorothy L. Sayers, a slingshot is the weapon used in the first murder.

Author, take two chocolate malts and call us in the morning...

Author said...

Standing on Beach Boulevard Rudy Lacroix’s older brother, Sonny clutches the prize magnifying glass won in a fierce game of marbles. The glass feels so solid; has good heft. The next day Sonny accidentally starts a fire with the magnifying glass that claims the life of their baby sister. For this family, it was a fire that would burn for a lifetime.

Over the next few years, as their father’s abuse of Sonny escalates, Rudy’s big brother’s rage mounts. Rudy escapes through the music of Betty Lee Meacham. Unbeknownst to all, Rudy has fallen in love.

Anna Meacham, Betty Lee’s mother and piano instructo r, has big plans for her daughter. At nine-years of age Betty Lee had become a piano prodigy. Now she’s 16, and Mother believes they are poised to take the music world by storm. Nothing would interfere with the “work.” The girl is never allowed a life or a dream of her own. WWII intervened on Mother’s behalf and swept Betty Lee’s beau, Dickey Gertz off to the Pacific Front. After secretly intercepting love letters to, and from Dickey Gertz, Anna sends the girl away to school in California. She soon uproots the entire family for a move to California. Rudy is crushed when his secret love suddenly disappears.

Several years later, Betty Lee goes to Mother’s closet for a sweater. She discovers an old trunk filled with letters she sent and everything mailed to her from Dickey Gertz during World War II. How could God allow this? She wondered. The music died. Betty Lee ceased playing the20piano that moment. She is going to fly as far away from Mother as she can.

After a successful stint as a stunt man in a movie filmed nearby, Sonny breaks the bonds, of home. He’s destined for California with big dreams and the name of a young lady whom his mother had befriended years earlier. The two meet and fall in love. Sonny finds everything he’s dreamt and more.

Understanding the underlying flaws for both these individuals, Rudy is conflicted and sees the impending train wreck of the two vulnerable people he loves most.

Years later, in the aftermath of a disastrous marriage, it is Rudy who helps Betty Lee piece her life back together, re-discover her music, her faith and maybe even love… but with whom?

Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life’s inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?

Standing on Beach Boulevard, Rudy looks out over the Gulf of Mexico. He has finally sorted it all out. Reconciled all the pieces and found peace. He wonders if hurricane Katrina, due later that night, will be as bad as they say.

Coming in at 85,000 words, Beach Boulevard is a Literary Fiction novel which will allow you to answer those questions for yourself. My name is XXXX XXXXXXX and I wrote Beach Boulevard for the mature audience.

benwah said...

Author, I hope you've had a few choccy malteds and given yourself time to recover from the ice cream milkshake.

My hatred of writing queries burns with the heat of a white hot sun, so I understand how painful this process is. But I think you might need to clear the decks and start anew.

Take a look at the other queries here and over at places like Nathan Bransford's blog or the Query Shark. Read lots of them, and you'll get a sense of the length, the pacing, the basics. They're formulaic (as Ulysses points out).

Your query is much too long.

Your query doesn't have a main character.

Your query lacks a simply defined conflict.

Is it Sonny Lacroix trying to find redemption? Is it Betty Lee's struggle to break free of her mother's controlling nature? Is it Rudy's attempt to find love?

You've introduced too many plot lines that, while they make a book full and rich and interesting, clutter your query and make it difficult for an agent to determine what the story is about.

Your query points out its themes. Most agent and editor sites I've read warn against this. It's telling, not showing, and suggests your book may do the same.

Less is more. That is part of why writing queries is so difficult.

Read lots of queries, walk away from it, then try again.

Sorry to be blunt, but better to get feedback here than to wind up in an agent's circular file without knowing why.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Can you boil it down to 4 sentences? That might help you simplify what you're trying to get on paper.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Here's a tighter version, FWIW.

Standing on Beach Boulevard, Sonny Lacroix clutches the prize magnifying glass won in a fierce game of marbles. The next day, he accidentally starts a fire that claims the life of their baby sister. That fire would burn for a lifetime.

Rudy, Sonny’s younger brother, escapes their father’s escalating abuse of Sonny through the music of piano prodigy Betty Lee Meacham. She has no life or dream of her own as nothing is ever allowed to interfere with the “work.” After secretly intercepting love letters to, and from Dickey Gertz, Betty Lee’s mother uproots the entire family for a move to California. Rudy is crushed when his secret love disappears.

Betty Lee eventually discovers the letters her mother intercepted. She ceases playing the piano that moment. After a successful stint as a stunt man in a movie filmed nearby, Sonny’s destined for California with big dreams and the name of a young lady whom his mother had befriended years earlier. The two meet and fall in love.

Understanding the underlying flaws for both these individuals, Rudy is conflicted and sees the impending train wreck of the two vulnerable people he loves most. Years later, in the aftermath of a disastrous marriage, it is Rudy who helps Betty Lee piece her life back together, re-discover her music, her faith and maybe even love… but with whom?

Beach Boulevard is not just the story of star-crossed loves; at a deeper level it asks the fundamental questions of faith: Can each of us survive life’s inevitable suffering, without faith? If you have real faith, must it be tested?

writtenwyrdd said...

Star crossed doesn't mean what you think it means, author. Star crossed lovers are trying to get together but circumstances prevent it. What we have here is unrequited love by Rudy for Betty.

I also loved teh slingshot detail, but the query really needs to lose that element. While I frequently say there's too much detail and no emotional hook/motiviation in a query, yours is the opposite: Too many emotional hooks, but nothing really ties into the story. What is the main plot and what elements and emotions support that?

Doesn't sound like my cup of tea at all, but the letter still isn't doing the novel justice. Keep at it!

December/Stacia said...

Several years later, Betty Lee goes to Mother’s closet for a sweater. She discovers an old trunk filled with letters she sent and everything mailed to her from Dickey Gertz during World War II. How could God allow this? She wondered. The music died. Betty Lee ceased playing the20piano that moment. She is going to fly as far away from Mother as she can.


There are several tense problems in this paragraph, and one grammatical error ("How could God allow this? She wondered" should be "How could God allow this? she wondered" or "How could God allow this, she wondered" or "She wondered how God could allow this" or, to solve the tense problem, "She wonders how God could allow this".) It's not important, though, because none of this belongs in your query. It's better suited to a synopsis but doesn't belong there either, really; in a synopsis you would mention finding the letters and being devastated and refusing to play piano anymore.

Benwah is right. Read the other queries posted here. Try reading Query Shark. Read Bransford's blog. A year or so ago on the Fangs Fur & Fey community at livejournal we posted our queries, the ones that attracted our agents or publishers. Go to FFF & click the "queries" tag. Go to Miss Snark's blog and read the Snarkives for 12/10/06 onward; it's when she did her query hook Crapometer.

A query is not a synopsis. As I said above, you have about 250 words. Let the writing in the ms speak for itself; a query's job is simply to introduce the work, hook the agent's interest, to tell the agent what the book is about, and that is all.

Your story seems to be about the implications of a tragedy on a small community. Is that correct? If it is, that's what your query needs to say.

I know it seems really difficult, but you can do it. You've written an entire novel; you can figure out how to boil the major story of it down to a few lines.

Good luck!