C.J. Redwine tackles another query letter in today’s Query Writing 101. Thanks to Carolyn Williamson for allowing us to learn from her letter!
Contact Info Omitted
July 5, 2010
Tessa Shapcott, Senior Editor
Mills & boon Modern Romance
Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road
Richmond, surrey TW9 1SR
Dear Ms. Shapcott:
Prince Lawrence of Cordillera hates rules. However, his mother is trying to marry him off and has circulated Rules for a Princess to parents of noble daughters. I have attached three chapters and a synopsis to show how he deals with that in my completed 55,000 word contemporary romance designed for the Harlequin Presents line. [Your first two sentences are attention-grabbers, but you lose us immediately when you devolve into chapters and synopsis etc. Save the stats for the last paragraph and just hook us here. Or,, if you prefer, start the query with one sentence along the lines of "__TITLE__ is a contemporary romance complete at 55,000 words and is aimed at the Harlequin Presents line. Then dive into a paragraph on the Prince, his hatred of rules, and the result of his mother's Rules for Princess circulation. It's not enough just to tell us she does this. We need to understand how that affects him and his agenda and what he does about it. This helps us understand who he is, what he wants, and what he'll do to get it.]
During intermission at a performance of Carmen, handsome Prince Lawrence bumps into Tricia Parker, who is visiting her parents in Cordillera, a small country nestled in a valley between Spain and France. He is awed by her amazing resemblance to his missing cousin, the beloved Princess Alicia. Worried news of her disappearance will get out, he asks Tricia to impersonate Alicia for a few days while an important ambassador visits. Tricia’s reluctant, but he persuades her. [I think we need the info about the cousin's disappearance in the first paragraph. Maybe in a final sentence about everything on the prince's plate: his mother's interference, the ruthless crown-hunters out to marry him at any cost, and his favorite cousin suddenly gone missing. Then this paragraph can be a natural extension of that where you immediately tie it in to the overall conflict by letting us know the Prince finds his cousin's look-alike and convinces her to impersonate Alicia. We also need to know why no one can know about Alicia's disappearance or this won't make sense. (And it's such a fun idea, we really want to go with you on it!)]
Excited and thrilled, she soon learns that [Define "that" instead. Be specific.] involves a lot more than a life of luxury. She has to be graceful, gracious, and not only wave from a car, but interact appropriately with servants and a charming but arrogant prince. He challenges her to let him teach her how to fence, and she enjoys sparring with him both physically and verbally. His smiles set her heart fluttering, and his kisses leave her breathless. As they search for his missing cousin in Morocco and the Isle of Capri, Tricia finds herself increasingly drawn to Prince Lawrence despite impossible odds. [Most of this works for me except that I had a moment of "Um, if she's impersonating his cousin, should he really be kissing her in public?" so maybe make clear these are stolen kisses in private or something. Also, what is Tricia like as a person? What defines her? What does she want and what will she do to get it? And the stakes are more than just Tricia is attracted to him despite the odds. The stakes involve solving the mystery of Alicia's disappearance and flouting dear Mama's rules for Princesses and following their hearts instead. Make that clear in the last sentence.]
I wrote the text for There IS Life After Lettuce (Eakin Press) a cookbook for heart patients, diabetics and dieters. I belong to the DFW Writer’s Workshop, two local RWA chapters, and the online mystery suspense chapter of RWA. This story won second place in a contest held by Authorlink.com. My profile and travel articles have been published in AAA World, Hawaii and Alaska, Romance Writer’s Report, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and The Dallas Morning News.
Would you be interested in seeing the whole manuscript? [Instead of this question, how about "The manuscript is available upon request."] Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks to both CJ and Carolyn!
For our readers, if you have a letter you would like C.J. to critique, go to our Labs page and click the link or send your letter in the body of your email to QueryWriting101@romanceuniversity.org. C.J. will also take questions if you would like to send them. We will post a letter on the first Monday of each month so be sure to check back.
Join us Wednesday when author Jeanne Adams teaches about maximizing our workspaces!
Bio: C.J. Redwine writes urban fantasy with a side of comic relief and is repped by Holly Root of the Waxman Literary Agency. She also teaches a monthly online query workshop where she offers unlimited critiques of each writer’s query until it’s perfect. To learn more, go to http://queryworkshop.blogspot.com/.
- Extra Credit! Query Writing 101 Lab
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