THE HIDEAWAY is 88,700 words of contemporary women’s fiction. The novel tells the story of two women—Margaret Van Buren, known to most as Mags, and her granddaughter Sara. When Sara takes over The Hideaway, Mags’s tumble-down B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama, she discovers her eccentric grandmother led a life of passion, bravery, and bold choices Sara never imagined. I’d like a solid one-line hook somewhere in this paragraph. I do think the part about passion, bravery, and bold choices would be a little strong if shown rather than told.
After the unexpected death of her grandmother Mags—her only remaining family—Sara goes home to The Hideaway expecting to tie up loose ends and quickly return to her busy life and successful shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—but that’s only the first surprise. A box in the attic containing clues to Mags’s real life, a motley crew of elderly B&B residents, and a handsome contractor named Crawford I almost feel like you don’t need the name. Like not saying his name makes him more mysterious and intriguing. Especially since we already can tell he’s the love interest. tie her to Sweet Bay in ways she didn’t expect. When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and new family she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but lonely life in New Orleans. So this paragraph has all the right information in it. It establishes setting, character, and conflict. It is really long, though. I wouldn’t necessarily say cut information, but can some of it go in the first paragraph?
In my former career, I published many articles in regional magazines and in Southern Living. I currently write a monthly column in The Homewood Star, our community newspaper that reaches 14,000 readers each month. This is my second novel; the first is in a box under my bed.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Belle of the Ballpoint Pen
My overall comment on this one is to say not to underestimate the power of white space in queries (or in general. I love white space). A paragraph may be very well written, but if it’s long, my brain decides it doesn’t want to read it before I’ve even gotten to the first word.
Of course, this is hard when you’ve already been asked to strip your novel down to the bare bones. But then, is anything about querying easy?