Feb 4, 2011

Query Critique #8 - A Love Rekindled

A Love Rekindled by Myne


Query:

Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of a happy, independent life. However, everyone expects her to get married, and her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe, her ex-fiancĂ©. Long hours at work and drinking in nightclubs only provide temporary relief. Then Efe encounters Kevwe’s twin brother, and knows it’s a matter of time before he is back in her life. Sparks fly when they finally meet again, but desire is no match for bitter-sweet memories of first love and heartbreak.

All these years, she believed she was rejected; now Kevwe claims she abandoned him after a crippling car accident. Efe had no knowledge of the crash, and blames his family’s unwarranted hatred of her ethnicity for their separation. Stuck at a crossroads, Kevwe prefers to look to the future, pledging he’s never stopped loving her. Efe does not want to lose him, yet she needs the traumatic events of the past resolved before she gives in to rekindled love.

_________________

Set in the United States and Nigeria, A LOVE REKINDLED is mainstream romance. The story entertains, is emotionally engaging, and provides a window into another culture, place and people. I’m Nigerian and wanted this book to showcase local characters in a loving relationship. I also witnessed ethnic violence in Warri and decided to explore this topical issue through fiction.

Love stories cut across race and geography, and the conflict in A Love Rekindled will attract adult mainstream and romance readers. I believe romance with non-western characters and settings is an unexplored niche that has enormous potential and plan to write more of such books.

My first novel, a self-published Nigerian romance, was very well received, and has garnered a substantial following on blogger, Facebook and Twitter. It was also subsequently published, to good reviews, in Nigeria.

Redline:

Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of a happy, independent life. [This sentence is a little confusing. I’m pretty sure you’re saying that she’s dreaming of a happy independent life in Nigeria, but it could be confusedas she’s spent her years in the US dreaming of a happy independent life… It stopped me up, that’s why I mention it.] However [I’m not a fan of however and buts. I feel like they’re a road sign, something meant to direct you, but while you’re looking at them, they can be distracting enough to drive you into the ditch. I always look for a way to not use them] , everyone expects her to get married [I assume this is a cultural thing… you may want to make sure that’s stated in some way. I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nigerian culture, so that’s just an assumption. But if you’re going to add this expectation in, best not confuse an agent with the whys], and her nights become are plagued by with nightmares of Kevwe, her ex-fiancĂ©. [Why is Kevwe a nightmare? At this point I’m theorizing that he was abusive or controlling, but that doesn’t make much sense with the rest of the query.] Long hours at work and drinking in nightclubs only provide temporary relief. [This sentence seems like a sticker – it’s not really connected to anything, so it just feels stuck in. I’d say to give it the axe unless you feel it’s necessary to the query and then, make sure someone reading this knows why it’s essential.] Then Efe encounters [what kind of an encounter was it, awkward bump-into-them at the market? Heated argument in the midst of a nightclub?] Kevwe’s twin brother, and knows it’s a matter of time before he [ambiguous pronoun: Kevwe? Or his twin brother?] is back in her life [Why? Simply because he now knows she’s there? I think this would make more sense if you gave us a little more info (see the notes below)]. Sparks fly when they finally meet again, but desire is no match for bitter-sweet memories of first love and heartbreak. [At this point, I’m still in my “he might be abusive or controlling” mind set, so I’m not really sure why – if she’s been having nightmares about him – we’re suddenly talking about sparks and bittersweet memories.]

All these years, she believed she was rejected [was rejected is a) passive and b) a bit vague. Did he stand her up at the altar? Were they supposed to run away together? How was she rejected. I’d word it as “All these years, she believed Kevwe…” so that you get rid of the passivity]; now[now falls into the category of however/but at the beginning of a sentence for me] Kevwe claims she abandoned him after a crippling car accident [I’d take these tow lines and change them a bit... I would write: “All these years, Efe believed Kevwe (backed out of their wedding?) and is heartbroken as he now tells her she abandoned him after a crippling car accident.”]. Efe had With no knowledge of the crash, and Efe blames his family’s unwarranted hatred of her ethnicity [Okay… might want to forshadow this in the query a little, otherwise it hits you like a wet sock as you’re walking into a locker room – a little confusing and unpleasant] for their separation. Stuck at a crossroads, Kevwe prefers to look to the future, pledging [pledging is something akin to commitment… and therefore refers to future events, I’d change it to “claiming” or something of the like.] he’s never stopped loving her. Efe does not want to lose him, yet she needs the traumatic events of the past resolved before she gives in to rekindled love. [I need more of an insight into those traumatic events, in order for me to want to open the books.]

_________________ [I don’t understand why this is here. I’d ditch it and have a simple paragraph break.]

Set in the United States and Nigeria, A LOVE REKINDLED is mainstream romance. The story entertains, is emotionally engaging, and provides a window into another culture, place and people. [I don’t think this is necessary, let your pitch speak for the book and then, hopefully, let your novel speak for itself, don’t tell them it’s entertaining.] I’m Nigerian and wanted this book to showcase local characters in a loving relationship. I also witnessed ethnic violence in Warri, Nigeria and decided to explore this topical issue through fiction. [I think I’d combine these last two sentences into one. and say “As a Nigerian woman, I chose to write this novel to provide insight into both the loving characters in a loving relationship as well as the ethnic violence I witnessed in Warri, Nigeria.”]

Love stories cut across race and geography, and the conflict in A Love Rekindled will attract adult mainstream and romance readers. [I don’t think this needs to be said as you’ve already stated it’s a “mainstream romance”] I believe romance with non-western characters and settings is an unexplored niche that has enormous potential and plan to write more of such books.

My first novel, a self-published Nigerian romance, was very well received, and has garnered a substantial following on blogger, Facebook and Twitter. It was also subsequently published, to good reviews, in Nigeria. [This does nothing for you unless you want to put the title in the query and allow them to look at the bookscans for it, otherwise, I would drop this entirely]

Notes:


Overall, you need to make sure you’re specifics. A query has to pull in the agent (or more likely their assistant) and they read dozens of queries a day. Vague isn’t going to wow anyone. Make sure your query answers more questions than it poses.

One of the major questions you can get rid of is why the past relationship induces nightmares, etc. Make us want the couple to make it –or make us want her to steer clear.

Also, you didn’t put in a salutation or a sincerely. Always remember to address the agent as Dear Mr./Ms. [last name] and end with a quick line thanking them for their time and consideration. It is after all a courtesy.


Thanks for participating!
 
 - Amy

6 comments:

  1. Great critique. I was also confused when she bumped into his twin brother - I thought for a second a relationship between them would spark up.

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  2. Another good critique. I, too, was getting the 'abusive' vibe and then got really confused later on. Also, watch the cliche's: things like "at a crossroads", "sparks fly".

    Keep trying, your story has great potential!

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  3. I'm getting ready to do a round of queries. It is helpful to read other people's.

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  4. Just found your blog from M Pax. Nice to meet you! Your critieques are nice and detailed. Lots to learn here!

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  5. Bleah, that's "critiques"
    I do know how to spell usually.
    ;)

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  6. Thank you so much for this. It's so helpful to have someone else look this over, I can see how some lines look vague. Back to work then.

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