Below is the twelfth public query critique I’m offering up on the blog. To enter, see the rules here. If you want a guaranteed critique (plus line edit) of your query or synopsis, private ones cost $35 each.
My comments are in blue below. To read the original query first, simply read only the black text.
I am looking for representation for my science fiction thriller novel [TITLE]: THE BEGINNING set throughout the 1990s. The novel focuses on the virtues of small town life contrasted with the short comings of organized religion and man’s need to fit in with society. Unless you have something more important than your character (like the fact that this agent requested you query him/her or if you met the agent at a conference), start with your character.
What lengths would you go to have a second chance? Do not start with a rhetorical question. Start with your character. Don’t give the agent the opportunity to stop reading—dive right in with your unique, fascinating character.
After his life in Las Vegas fell apart, Thomas Rhodes walked seven hundred miles to make it home to Riverton, WY[comma] the epitome of idyllic small town America–where doors are left unlocked at night, children wander about without worry[comma] and there’s no such thing as a stranger, just friends you haven’t met yet. Some[space]things never change. But as Thomas finds out, sometimes the wrong things change. Don’t tell us that he finds something out. Tell us what he finds out. I also don’t like the vagueness of “wrong things”—what, besides the church, has changed?
The local church has taken to controversial interpretations of the bible, using scripture to declare a race of metahumans are soldiers of the devil. Metahumans? What? Who? I need to know more about these, if they are real, if the church made them up, and what a metahuman is or does. So when the town witnesses a little girl’s temper tantrum[comma] they feel they are morally justified in the shaming of her and her mother. Thomas doesn’t realize just how far they’ll go with the shaming until both the mother and daughter turn up dead. After the incident the town is paranoid that there might be another metahuman in their midst. And they’re not wrong.
Everything he’s working for What is he working for? is at jeopardy Why and how do the reporter and sheriff’s snooping affect Thomas? a nosy reporter is hungry to report on another tragedy, the Sheriff is trying to prevent one, and both are certain he’s who, Thomas? hiding something, perhaps even something worth killing for. Who would be doing the killing?
[TITLE]: THE BEGINNING is the first novel in a series this title doesn’t fly with me. It assumes that your “beginning” book will receive enough sales to warrant a sequel. The agent and publisher decide that. Cut the subtitle here. looking to adapt traditional themes found in comic books (bigotry, not fitting in with society, personal responsibility) in a long form, personal way that comic books may not have the time to show. To Kill a Mockingbird addresses all of those. This sentence implies you don’t read books. I would liken it to J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in terms of observing not just a couple of characters, but an entire town; and Stephen King’s 11/22/63 in the mundane events that mark life which serves to both build-up and contrast a larger more extraordinary plot. I don’t know what’s going on with this sentence. More concerning, though, is that you’re comparing your book with books by the two most well-known authors of this century. Those are the biggest literary shoes anyone could fill. Try this: [TITLE] would appeal to fans of [sci-fi thriller published in the past 3 years].
What does Thomas want? Why is it so important? What stands in his way? These are the questions I want answered in the query.