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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Query: A Petal Of Chrysanthemum

   
Author Topic: Query: A Petal Of Chrysanthemum
Ben Brooks
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I'm going to preface this with 'This is my first draft of this query. It's terrible. But you have to start somewhere.'

I've seen a couple of other people posting queries and getting some decent community feedback, but if soliciting query feedback is a no-no by all means I'll pull it [Smile]

Here's the first draft of the query, somewhat unconventional, ready to be torn to shreds by you fine folk and reassembled into something much stronger as a result:

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Shiny New Version
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Dear AGENT,

One sentence goes here thatís a personalized greeting about how I found the agent, or if we met in person at a conference. And then, GO.

Chris Masters set out this morning for northern Japan to find the terminally ill girl, Yukiko, who until recently lived in the apartment next door in their Tokyo high rise. Moments after he steps off the train, the worst earthquake in recent history strikes the island nation and his journey becomes one of survival, of self-discovery, of learning when to let go and when to hold on.

Through the pages of the tattered diary she left behind, Chris discovered that Yukiko always loved him but feared he would blame her for the tragic accident that killed her best friendóChrisís girlfriendóand so she fled. She believed with all her heart that if he would only love her back, she could overcome her illness. The tattered pages of her diary serves as Chrisís only guide through his troubled quest for hope and understanding. He has to find her before itís too late.

A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM is a 72,000-word contemporary love story. It draws upon my wealth of experiences living in Japan in a multiracial marriage.

When Iím not writing, I can be found working in the interactive entertainment industry, collaborating on dozens of million-selling video game titles across a career that has taken me across the world, including a very personal stay in Japan where I learned what being a fish out of water truly meant. Returning to the States years later, I found myself just as out of place. I maintain a blog at http://benljbrooks.com where I write about many of my cross-cultural experiences.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

<contact info>

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Old Busted Version
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Dear AGENT,

<Personalized intro, something I'm doing for every agent on my list this time out, leading into...>
Iím querying you about my novel, A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM, a 72,000-word work of literary fiction.

Itís the story of an American guy on a journey to confess his love to a terminally ill Japanese girl amidst the devastation of the 2011 tsunami, her diary his only guide. She believes his love can save her from her fate and heís determined to find her before she dies. But to reach her he must overcome his own paralyzing fear of death, and come to terms with inevitable change, learn when to let go, and when to fight to hold on.

Itís also a tale of unrequited love told through the diary of a twenty-three year old Japanese girl dealing with the terminal illness in her head and trying to find a place in the world before she dies.

This novel draws heavily on my own experiences in a multiracial marriage and my years spent living in Japan. When Iím not writing, I can be found working in the interactive entertainment industry, collaborating on dozens of million-selling video game titles during a career that has taken me across the world, including a very personal stay in Japan where I learned what being a fish out of water truly meant. Returning to the States years later, I found I was just as out of place. I maintain a blog at http://benljbrooks.com where I write about many of my cross-cultural experiences.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
<contact info>

[ May 30, 2012, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: Ben Brooks ]

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Meredith
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quote:
Iím querying you about my novel, A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM, a 72,000-word work of literary fiction.
The agent knows it's a query, you don't have to say it. IMO put the housekeeping (title, genre, length) at the end, just before the thank you. Start with what's strongest--the story.

quote:
Itís the story of an American guy on a journey to confess his love to a terminally ill Japanese girl amidst the devastation of the 2011 tsunami, her diary his only guide. She believes his love can save her from her fate and heís determined to find her before she dies. But to reach her he must overcome his own paralyzing fear of death, and come to terms with inevitable change, learn when to let go, and when to fight to hold on.
You don't need to say "It's the story of".
"Her diary is his only guide" should be its own sentence.

quote:
Itís also a tale of unrequited love told through the diary of a twenty-three year old Japanese girl dealing with the terminal illness in her head and trying to find a place in the world before she dies.
This paragraph doesn't add anything new.

quote:
This novel draws heavily on my own experiences in a multiracial marriage and my years spent living in Japan. When Iím not writing, I can be found working in the interactive entertainment industry, collaborating on dozens of million-selling video game titles during a career that has taken me across the world, including a very personal stay in Japan where I learned what being a fish out of water truly meant. Returning to the States years later, I found I was just as out of place. I maintain a blog at http://benljbrooks.com where I write about many of my cross-cultural experiences.
Only the parts of your bio that reflect why you are the best person to write this story are important here. I'd lose the "When I'm not writing . . ." sentence. Your blog goes below your signature in the contact information.

quote:
Thank you for your time and consideration,


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Allowing writers to post their queries for feedback is definitely a yes-yes. We consider it one of the ways we can be of help to writers.

I guess I need to figure out how to make that clearer. [Confused]

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Ben Brooks
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Thanks for the clarification, Kathleen.

Meredith - Great feedback. I updated the original post with a new version I wrote over lunch that I feel is more effective. It could use some tightening but I think it's moving in the right direction.

Thanks, everyone! One step closer every day.

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