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Friday, February 7, 2014

Query Critique - Contemporary Romance

Original - 
Tara Stevens is a smart, successful lawyer with a pocketful of humor and a mouth full of sass. But when she finds her husband in their bed with his hands on another woman’s breasts, she is rendered speechless (not an easy task). Her sanity needs a vacation. She settles for a two week excursion deep in the Canadian Rockies--a trip her husband Jack-ass has always dreamed about.

Tara initially spurns her male tour guide--handsome rancher, Brooks Buchanan--but grows to admire his skill and love of the outdoors. His free lifestyle speaks volumes to her about her own life as an overworked attorney. It is while Tara hangs precariously inside a 50 foot glacial crevasse that she realizes how much she trusts Brooks. Which is more than she can say for her own husband.

When unexpected events force Brooks to end the tour early, Tara travels with him to his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. It is out on the Montana range where Tara realizes the steamy attraction she feels for the sexy cowboy and his lopsided grin. She finds new meaning in the phrase, “save a horse, ride a cowboy.” 

When Tara’s determined husband shows up in Montana with a pleading heart and profuse apology, Tara has a choice to make. Will the love and freedom she feels under the Montana sun be enough to free her from her old life? Or will the invisible threads of loyalty to her job and her husband pull her home?


Critique - 
Tara Stevens is a smart, successful lawyer with a pocketful of humor and a mouth full of sass. But when she finds her husband in their bed with his hands on another woman’s breasts, she is rendered speechless (not an easy task). Her sanity needs a vacation. She settles for a two-week excursion deep in the Canadian Rockies--a trip her husband Jack-ass has always dreamed about.
Excellent beginning. On most days, I’d say 68 words in the opening paragraph are too much. But this one really caught my interest. Suggestion: She settles for two weeks in the Canadian Rockies. = 20 words cut to 9.

Tara initially spurns her male tour guide--handsome rancher, Brooks Buchanan--but grows to admire his skill (in what?) and love of the outdoors. His free lifestyle speaks volumes to her about her own life as an overworked attorney. (Examples speak louder, IMO) It is while Tara hangs precariously inside a 50 foot glacial crevasse that she realizes how much she trusts Brooks.

Which is more than she can say for her own husband. IMHO, this sentence isn't needed.

When unexpected events force Brooks to end the tour early, Tara travels with him to his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. It is out on the Montana range where Tara realizes the steamy attraction she feels for the sexy cowboy and his lopsided grin. This sentence seems incomplete. Do you mean to use ‘where’ or ‘when’? She finds new meaning in the phrase, “save a horse, ride a cowboy.”  Not so new actually.
Suggestion: combine the two sentences. Out on the Montana range, the steamy attraction she feels for the cowboy and his lopsided grin turns the phrase “save a horse, ride a cowboy” into reality. (36 words cut to 28)

When Tara’s  her determined husband shows up in Montana with a pleading heart and a profuse apology, or: “...and profuse apologies...” Tara has a choice to make. Will the love and freedom she feels under the Montana sun be enough to free her from her old life? Alliterations: freedom, feels, free. Or will the invisible threads of loyalty to her job and her husband pull her home?

Summary: 249 wordcount seems long for the meat of a query. Whenever possible, cut to 200, or even less. Start out with a logline and build from there. Or strikeout words that aren’t absolutely needed for the storyline. But don’t cut the character traits. IMHO, “...a pocketful of humor and a mouth full of sass...” is an excellent introduction to Tara. It sets her right there in front of me. Love it.

Other places to cut are the echos. “...determined husband...” for an example. Note that he “...shows up...” in Montana so therefore, he is determined.

Western genre, especially contemps, are big right now. The market is wide open. Look for a publisher or agent who specializes in this genre. Definitely a winner.


1 comment:

Misha Gericke said...

You definitely have something good going here, but I agree you need to cut wording.

Also, you say she has sass and humor, but I'm not really seeing it. Insulting the husband isn't really all that funny, since it only reads as anger. (Which I do get.)

So... cut down the words by saying things only Tara would say. Try to see if you can make the agent grin. Otherwise, it's just better to not state outright that she's funny. Because if you can't show it, you're weakening your query.

Best of luck!