Query Critique 51

Dear Agent,

I’m seeking representation for my ~80,000-word manuscript, Second Time Lucky, a women’s fiction novel with romantic elements and feminist undertones, set in the USA and India. You can just say 80,000 words. We assume you’re rounding. Also, put the title in all caps. 

One would think Priya would be used to being second best by now. Try wording this as “Priya should be used to being second best by now.” It’s a little shorter and catchier.

Her mother constantly reminds her that she isn’t capable enough; her (ex-)boyfriend, after stringing her along for years, leaves her for a girl he has loved for several years; she loses her promotion at work to someone whom she trained, because he is “better.” The punctuation in this sentence is a little awkward.

To top it all, when her mother confesses that she has a twin who was given away for adoption, a little research reveals just what she has feared all along: her identical twin is infinitely more successful, happily married with a beautiful child, holds a PhD, and is a professor with internationally bestselling textbooks. Hell, her “identical” twin is even bestowed with a better, more exotic name than her commonplace one, a dimple, and silky hair.

At thirty-one, Priya makes a snap judgement to return home to Chennai, one of the most conservative cities in India, to be judged for being single and childless at her age, and becomes a radio jockey, on a whim. The bit about “being judged for being single and childless…” has sort of awkward wording. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but I’m not quite sure what it means. Also, having “snap judgment” and “on a whim” in the same sentence is a little redundant. When she makes contact with her twin, she meets her twin’s charming ex-boyfriend and neighbor, Kashyap. There’s an undeniable chemistry between them, but she can’t help but wonder: what if she is second best even to him?

She also faces an unexpected challenge – convincing her twin that she is good enough even though she was the one who was given away. All the shes and hers in this sentence make it a little confusing.

My heroine, Priya, cannot be a damsel in distress even if she tried. She doesn’t need rescuing, and she’s strong, opinionated and confident, a real woman whose story I want to read as a feminist. She questions orthodoxy and societal prejudices, and makes controversial decisions on-air, which make for light as well as thought-provoking reading. These are all things I’d rather see developed in the course of the synopsis. See my post on showing vs. telling for more details.

Second Time Lucky is a standalone novel, but it could also work as the first of a series of three books. Priya’s three friends, recurring characters in this book, have interesting stories of their own to tell (with a romantic plot between two of them, very evident towards the end of the first book), should you be interested in this manuscript and the idea of a trilogy. I wouldn’t focus too much on the possible sequels. It distracts from the book you’re actually pitching.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I really look forward to sharing my full manuscript with you.

Sincerely,

Second Time Charm

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