Query Seal 7

Dear Ice Cube Press,

The year is 1812, the year of the 1812 War, and young naive, sweet Ann Marie, the ideal daughter and future wife of the time period, is about to lose her long time boyfriend William Miller to the war life, ready to bring honor and glory to his family and town’s name, even though he is ready to pop the big question to Ann.

This one paragraph is one sentence and has 64 words. Yikes.

There’s too much wordiness and fluff. You say so much but say so little. Most of the text is irrelevant. What did we learn from this paragraph? The year is 1812, and Ann Marie’s boyfriend is going to war. I was able to sum up your paragraph into one sentence.

When I see a sentence like this, I know the manuscript is also full of wordiness and fluff and will need a lot of editing.

A good tip: if you have to take multiple breaths to read a sentence, it’s too long.

Also, the lines “the year is 1812” and “the year of the 1812 War” are redundant. They mean the same thing. You don’t want to waste space with repeating yourself.

Ann misses William dearly when he is off at war and is filled with dread and fear that she will never see him again, if the worst part of war should take his life. Soon, her fears change when the neighboring Native American tribe attacks and raids her town, using all forces to steal the town’s resources for their own needs and even steals Ann’s great grandmother’s locket out of Ann’s possession.

Here again we have two long sentences full of fluff and redundancies. The first one is 33 words, and the second is 38. Break your sentences up and shorten them. Tell us what is important.

And in the first sentence, there is a major grammar error. While I understand that Ann is the one “filled with dread and fear”, the way your sentence is written, it is actually referring back to William.

Burning with desire to retrieve her grandmother’s locket, Ann leaves her town and, with all the courage she could muster from her sensitive heart, takes on the quest to find the Native American tribe. On her way, she encounters the strong and mysterious Kwatoko, the son of the chief of the tribe who attacked Ann’s town, while he is out hunting, and as his large figure hovers her, Ann notices that her grandmother’s locket is around his neck. Ann believes she will die right there, die from the hands of Kwatoko, but instead he lets her go and returns the locket, and from that nice gesture, the two become friends with an unbreakable bond.

Sentences are still too long. Too much fluff.

Strong and mysterious? Cliché much?

Soon the bond of friendship turns into something more and transforms into an undeniable forbidden love, the love of a white girl and a Native American, the unspeakable in Ann’s town. So much stress begins to pull on Ann’s heart as she still cares about her boyfriend William, the man who was ready to propose, and tries to hide her secret romance from her family and friends, for they could never understand loving someone outside of their race and that love has no barriers.

But Ann knows she has to tell her family the truth about Kwatoko soon, and when she is ready to tell them the truth, ready to endure disgrace and rage from her family, the Native American tribe attacks the town again, raiding for all resources once more, but this time, the townspeople are prepared, armed to protect themselves and determined not to let the tribe win again. During the chaos, the townspeople capture Kwatoko, and to prove to the Natives that they cannot raid their town, they plan to execute Kwatoko in the public and for everyone to see. Now, Ann has to decide if she has the strength to save her true love and reveal to the world that love is love, no matter what.

Even though these two paragraphs are long, they don’t say much and should be joined together. Get rid of the fluff. You also repeat things you’ve already mentioned in the first paragraph. For example, you already told us that William was going to propose. No need to say it again.

There is a lot of redundancy here. Examples:
“… tribe attacks the town again” = “raiding for all resources once more”
“in the public” = “for everyone to see”

There is also repetition. Example:
“She has to tell her family the truth” and “when she is ready to tell them the truth”

Remember: query letters should be between 250 to 400 words. Don’t waste your words. Make each word count.

GOLDEN CHAINS AND FEATHERS is my debut book. Thank you for your time and consideration.

We didn’t get a word count. The author either forgot (a.), or the word count is so high that she didn’t want to tell us (b.).

a. Let’s say the author forgot to include the word count and the word count is about 70,000 words. In that case, the manuscript is probably fine, and the author needs to focus on cleaning up her query. This query is most likely a first draft and was sent out before anybody could critique it.

We receive wordy queries all the time, and I think writers use long sentences because they’re trying to sound intelligent and fancy. Your query letter isn’t meant to make you look intelligent. It is supposed to get an agent or publisher to take on your book.

Stick to this formula when writing sentences:

Subject → Verb → Direct Object

Don’t change it up. Keep it short. Keep it sweet. This formula will be your best friend.

b. Let’s say the author didn’t include the word count because it was over 100,000 words. In that case, the manuscript is most likely filled with long and wordy sentences, redundancies, and fluff. It will need a lot of work and is not ready for publication.

Sentences too long and wordy
Signs the manuscript is not ready

The Query Seal will end a rejection