Friday, January 18, 2013

Forging Fridays - Too Little = No Hook

Today is our second Forging Fridays Query! Yay! Again, I won't be stating the identities of the volunteers for Forging Fridays unless otherwise requested. If you feel like unmasking yourselves in the comments, be my guest. But, I won't mention anyone by name.

On to our next query! *applause* *cheers* *confetti*


Dear _____,

I am writing to you because you represented ________ by _________, and I feel my first novel, COUNTERACT, has elements in common with that book. COUNTERACT stands completed at 45,000 words. Great! This is a very important part of the email that many forget: the reason you queried this agent/editor. Whether it is because of something they said they are looking for in an interview or something similar that they represent, you should explain why. It shows you did your research! Always a good thing! :)

COUNTERACT is the story of Tommy and Carine, two teenagers brought together by chance very vague, give us a bit more here as the United States braces for a chemical weapons attack. From who? Why? Who is the enemy? There are a lot of questions unanswered here. When you have too many unanswered questions, your audience doesn't care enough to find out. We need enough info to care about what happens. We don't have that here yet. The government issues an antidote to the poison, but the side effects of the drug render people incapable of caring what’s happening to them. More on this. What is happening that they should care about? Is them not caring worse than the effects of the chemical weapons?We need more information to care what happens to the country or the characters When Tommy and Carine discover the true nature of the threat again, this is not the back of a book. It's okay to reveal some of these details. Especially if they'll help hook the agent/editor. , they must rely on each other to survive. Believe me. Keeping it short and sweet is a very good plan, but you've taken it a bit too far here. We have no voice and not enough information to care about the world or the characters. Every word needs to count in a query and while you've done an excellent job of keeping it brief, not having enough of the right information can be just as bad of a problem. 

I committed twenty years this isn't necessary. You NEVER need to/should tell an agent or editor how long you spent on a project to researching and writing REDACTED, an historic non-fiction based on the journal of my great-great-great grandfather.I am also co-author of REDACTED, an inspirational collective memoir about finding hope, humor, and grace in life’s unexpected moments. Because none of this is the same genre as COUNTERACT, you really don't need any of this, but you can keep it in if you choose. It probably won't help or hurt you.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you. perfect ending. Many say too little or too much. This is just right. :)


Okay, that's it for today and this query. Thank you so much for volunteering, oh mystery writer! :) I really hope this helped you and I think your basic concept is here, we just need more details to really grab your audience. You are brave to send in a query, to me or an agent. Well done! :)

So, what do you guys think? Agree or disagree with my assessments? Discuss! Also, happy Forging Fridays! May we all be tougher and stronger thanks to our days in the fire. 

And we're always looking for new volunteers for Forging Fridays! Details on how to submit your query here.


  1. I totally agree with your assessment. While it's important to keep a query, tight, using vague phrases like: 'brought together by chance' and 'must rely on each other to survive' don't tell us any details about the actual story. What makes the story different? It sounds like it could be a great story.....if I knew more. :) Great job, Jenn. And seriously, I was way too chicken to send in my query anywhere, anonymous or not. So way to be brave, query sender.

    1. Absolutely! It is a scary thing to get critiqued. Is is a scary thing to write and send in a query. To write a query, send it in, and get critiqued IN A PUBLIC FORUM is exceedingly brave.

      These volunteers rock. :)

  2. I look forward to Fridays just for these posts! :) Yay for brave authors!

    I have a question: If the antidote makes people not care, would the author also need to state how it is the hero & heroine manage to care enough to discover the underlying threat?


    1. So happy to hear the posts are helping you, Chris!

      I'd say yes, although I'd assumed they'd somehow avoided taking the antidote and were trying to survive. Either way though, it's obvious that all this needs to be clarified.

      Thanks for the comment!