Monday, January 11, 2010

Query & writing update

Last week, I posted my query letter for THE DEVIL YOU DON'T KNOW. I also mentioned that I had submitted it to a couple of highly regarded online writers' groups to be critiqued.

I was actually very pleased with the responses, for the most part, and came away from the experience convinced I'm almost there. I spent the weekend polishing it even more and I think it's there. Really.

Here's the newest version. Please refer back to my earlier query and you can see the differences in tone and content.

Dear [agent],

Burned-out newspaper editor Michael Reed reluctantly takes a call from a disgraced former nun that changes his life forever. The desperate woman’s request that he meet her son sets Michael on a quest to determine the true identity of fifteen-year-old Jordan Crane. Is the kid Jesus Christ in the flesh? A fraud? Or is he something far worse?

Within hours of the call, Michael’s life inexplicably falls apart. He loses his job and eighteen years of sobriety. Two days later, his eight-year-old son is killed on the highway in front of his home. Within seconds, Jordan Crane mysteriously arrives on the scene and places his hands on the child’s body. When the dead boy opens his eyes, Michael finds himself face to face with the unthinkable.

Fearing for his very sanity, Michael must choose between believing what his heart tells him is true and what his mind says is madness. As a journalist, Michael has valued truth over all else. But what if the truth leads not only to his own death, but the death of everything he holds dear?

My first novel, THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW is a mainstream thriller complete at 120,000 words.

As a career journalist, I received several national, regional and state awards for writing and reporting. My newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star, submitted my work to the Heywood Broun Award and the Pulitzer Prize committees.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Terry Towery

With the query letter ready (I hope), it's time to move on to yet another edit of the manuscript. No kidding, this is the tenth time I have gone through DEVIL, editing, cutting and polishing where needed. I think I know all 120,000 words by heart.

What I'm doing now is called a "line edit." It means just that -- I am going through each line of the 470-page manuscript, pondering each and every word. Can I use a stronger verb here? Can I cut this modifier there? An adverb? ACK. Kill the bastard!

I've completely put aside the new novel to get this one ready to send out into the big, bad world of publishing. I needed to get the new one's opening scene down, and I did. Now it can wait. Its time will come.

Trust me.

Let me know what you think of the new query letter. And thanks, as always, for your help and your visit.

1 comment:

  1. I'd ask for a manuscript if I were an agent. I love it! :) Best wishes!