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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » A Borrowed Hell query - take two

   
Author Topic: A Borrowed Hell query - take two
Eliza C
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Thank you so much to the folks who chimed in so quickly on the first version. I would be grateful for any comments on version two. (Hopefully this shows the conflicts and choices better, but knock it down again if it needs it - I'm tough.)

*************
[newest edit based on feedback]

Shaped by the neglect, addiction and death that surrounded his childhood, July Davish dreams of a normal life—nothing elaborate, just a home, a job and someone to love. Three years in San Diego bring July within reach of his goal, then the economy tanks. Construction dries up, his girlfriend splits, and his home is foreclosed. Unfortunately, those were the easy blows. During a sidewalk confrontation with his mortgage broker, two colliding cars force July to choose between saving himself or the broker. July shoves the broker to safety and finds himself standing, inexplicably, in a nearly deserted San Francisco.

A cryptic man shows July where he can escape their world, but July must travel there alone. July quickly learns that this is no straightforward journey, but a set of deadly physical trials he must overcome by reliving the horrors of his childhood. July’s ordeal is complicated by Bill, an insane and violent man, who attempts to kill July to prevent his success. Waking in a San Diego hospital, July thinks it all a dream until bouts of unconsciousness return him to that world, and undeniable proof forces him to accept the bizarre reality.

Evicted from his home, July leaves San Diego, picking up a dread-locked hitchhiker on the way. He needs a driver and Valerian needs a ride to Colorado, but they both get more than they bargained for. Valerian helps July through emergency surgery when he passes out again, and her unique and selfless personality help July to finally experience genuine love. To be with Valerian, though, July must complete his task in the other world by facing his past, the one thing he fears more than anything. If he fails, Bill has warned him that he will become trapped there forever. Bill should know; it happened to him.


**********

[previous version two]

Shaped by the neglect, addiction and death that surrounded his childhood, July Davish dreams of a normal life. Living in San Diego, he is within reach of his goal when construction jobs vanish, his girlfriend splits, and the bank forecloses on his home. Anger leads to a sidewalk confrontation with his mortgage broker, but two colliding cars force July to save either himself or the broker. July shoves the broker to safety and wakes up in a nearly deserted San Francisco.

A cryptic man escorts July into the desert and tells him he must cross it to escape their world. July accepts the challenge but quickly learns that his journey is not physical, but an emotional trip through his tragic past. Bill, an insane and violent resident there, attempts to kill July to prevent his success. Waking in a San Diego hospital, July dismisses it all as a dream, but when recurring bouts of unconsciousness repeatedly thrust him back to that world and tangible proof returns with him, he is forced to admit the bizarre reality.

Evicted from his home, July leaves San Diego, picking up a hitchhiker as he travels. July needs a driver in case he passes out again, and dread-locked Valerian needs to get to Colorado to perform as a fire dancer. They both get more than they bargained for. Valerian takes care of July, even through emergency surgery, and July finds, in this unique woman, the kind of love that has always eluded him. Before he can be with her, though, July must complete his task in the other world, where deadly physical trials are overcome by reliving the horrors of his childhood. If he fails, Bill has warned him that he will be trapped in that world forever. Bill should know; it happened to him.

[ June 08, 2012, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: Eliza C ]

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Meredith
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Better. I still think you're trying to cram too much into the query. It doesn't need to go any further than the inciting incident. There's room to trim and tighten.

I am confused about a couple of things:

Why, if he's in an accident in San Diego, does he "wake up" in San Francisco?

Also, there really isn't a true desert particularly close to San Francisco. There is one not far outside of San Diego, though.

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Eliza C
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I've continued to putter with this. For all the line edits I've done to it, it looks similar to the previous version, but I've tried to clear up the couple areas of confusion, condense ideas and make the writing a bit less cardboard by adding segues -- and still keep it under 300 words. Sheesh.

Any thoughts on the changes would be appreciated. The final draft of the book is getting beta reader revisions now and the query will hopefully be going out soon :-)

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MAP
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I think you are putting too much of the plot in your query. I cut out everything that has to do with Valerian. I'm sure she is important to the plot, but the query letter doesn't need to have everything included. Just enough to give the agent an idea of what the story is about.

quote:
Shaped by the neglect, addiction and death that surrounded his childhood, July Davish dreams of a normal life—nothing elaborate, just a home, a job and someone to love. Three years in San Diego bring July within reach of his goal, then the economy tanks. Construction dries up, his girlfriend splits, and his home is foreclosed. Unfortunately, those were the easy blows. During a sidewalk confrontation with his mortgage broker, two colliding cars force July to choose between saving himself or the broker. July shoves the broker to safety and finds himself standing, inexplicably, in a nearly deserted San Francisco.

A cryptic man shows July where he can escape their world, but July must travel there alone. July quickly learns that this is no straightforward journey, but a set of deadly physical trials he must overcome by reliving the horrors of his childhood. July’s ordeal is complicated by Bill, an insane and violent man, who attempts to kill July to prevent his success. Waking in a San Diego hospital, July thinks it all a dream until bouts of unconsciousness return him to that world, and undeniable proof forces him to accept the bizarre reality.

July must complete his task in the other world by facing his past, the one thing he fears more than anything. If he fails, Bill has warned him that he will become trapped there forever. Bill should know; it happened to him.

Sounds like an interesting story. Good luck with this.
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