Query Feedback: We All Fall Down

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Query Letter: We All Fall Down by Kim H.

Original:

Dear Agent:

WE ALL FALL DOWN is a suspense novel that I believe will have a crossover appeal to fans of women’s fiction. Inspired by true events, it is complete at 107,000 words.

Kendra Bishop's dreams are pretty simple; to marry Cole Bramley, have kids, and stay sober. But when the handyman she befriends turns out to be a sadistic pyromaniac with criminal ties to her fiancé’s mother and an unhealthy obsession with Kendra, the complications are anything but simple.

In the rural Midwest anonymity is nearly impossible, and secrets never last. And everyone has secrets. Before long Bo Ogden, the handyman, discovers what Kendra’s hiding, putting her engagement in jeopardy. But when Kendra uncovers Bo’s hidden past, it puts her life in jeopardy. In a matter of hours nearly everyone Kendra knows betrays her. She loses her fiancé, job, home, and the will to stay sober. From there, things deteriorate.

My short stories have been published in a variety of anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul and two Florida Writers Association Collections. I’m the leader of the Tampa Writers Alliance critique group.

As per the guidelines on your website, I’ve included the synopsis and first five pages. Please let me know if you’d like to read more.

Sincerely,

Kim H.


Lorin's Feedback:

Dear Agent:

WE ALL FALL DOWN is a suspense novel that I believe will have a crossover appeal to fans of women’s fiction. Inspired by true events, it is complete at 107,000 words. [Rather than editorializing about the book, or trying to sell its merits before you’ve presented the story, I’d save this for the end of the query, after the story itself has piqued the agent’s interest.]

Kendra Bishop's dreams are pretty simple: to marry Cole Bramley, have kids, and stay sober. But when the handyman she befriends turns out to be a sadistic pyromaniac with criminal ties to her fiancé’s mother  and an unhealthy obsession with Kendra, the complications are anything but simple. [I’m not sure that the first sentence ties in with the second sentence at all. Perhaps an introduction of some goal for which she hires the handyman. E.g., “marry Cole Bramley; renovate her dream home, and stay sober.”]

[Also, I’m afraid this feels a little remote to Kendra. How can they be more inextricably entwined, I wonder? How can SHE have created the situation that led to the problem?]

In the rural Midwest, anonymity is nearly impossible, and secrets never remain hidden.  [Give this a bit more narrative “juice” and voice, if possible.]. And everyone has secrects. Before long, Bo Ogden, the handyman, discovers what Kendra’s hiding, putting her engagement in jeopardy. But when Kendra uncovers Bo’s hidden past, it puts her life in jeopardy. In a matter of hours nearly everyone Kendra knows betrays her. She loses her fiancé, job, home, and the will to stay sober. From there, things deteriorate. [My concern is that all of this comes across as random and completely outside of Kendra’s orchestrating. Can she have, somehow, created the situation? Can she be attempting to resolve it?]

My short stories have been published in a variety of anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul [Italics] and two Florida Writers Association Collections. I’m the leader of the Tampa Writers Alliance critique group.

As per the guidelines on your website, I’ve included the synopsis and first five pages. Please let me know if you’d like to read more.

Sincerely,

Kim H.


Hi, Kim –

Thanks so much for sharing your query with me! You certainly have a compelling set of circumstances and have presented Kendra with some potent challenges here.

I’m afraid, though, that the story comes across as a little vague here. While I understand that you don’t want to give too much away in the query, my feeling is that we need more of the concrete parameters of the story here. What does Bo uncover? How does it involve him? Is it just random circumstance that he’s picking on her here, or are they tied together in some deep and undeniable way? What is Kendra finally putting in place that Bo completely disrupts? Give us just a bit more here in terms of story specifics.

Additionally, it feels as though you can touch more fully upon what Kendra DOES to mitigate the situation. The entire query suggests Kendra as a victim but doesn’t give us much hope of her as a VICTOR. Try to reframe it a bit so that you’re covering her goals, her journey, her efforts to take charge of the forces oppressing her.

Hope that helps! Thanks again, and take care,

-- Lorin