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Please keep in mind that I'm no query guru, but I have read a considerable amount of query slush thanks to Query Kombat. (And that is a lot of repeating of the word query.) I might have an edge on what works and what doesn't. But as in all such critiquing, the suggestions are mainly subjective. Or in other words, take it with a grain of salt and see if others agree with me. SO here goes, Lucky Query #7:
Dear Mr. Secret Agent Man, Or woman!
As a young man, 115-year-old Horace learned blacks were inferior to whites in every way. Recommend you drop the clause at the front for a sharper start. 115-year-old Horace learned from childhood that blacks... An assumption he never questioned until the day he heard Scott Joplin, a young piano player not
being allowed to share a stage with white musicians. Something is off with this sentence. It centers around the 'not.' And it's not an assumption, it's a lesson. You don't have to exactly match your ms, sometimes exaggerating helps. A lesson he fails to question until he witnesses genius piano player Scott Joplin forced off the stage for mediocre white musicians.
Horace emblematizes how much the world has changed, that a young black man, who a hundred years ago was not allowed to play for white men, could now run for president. In this way, the Last Chance shows all the true chances that are the future heritage of America. You've slipped into telling us what the book is about instead of showing the story. This feels more like a wrap-up for the word count paragraph.
Horace Chance’s life reflects the influences of lost friends that have brightened his journey. Whether it be a couple bicycle shop owners from Ohio that teach him all about flight, his short career playing the National pastime, friends that changed our musical theater, or a chance meeting with a champion of civil rights. The tragic loss of loved ones that defined his life, made his life worth a damn, and ultimately left him, The Last Chance. Horace’s life is tragic, but he has made an indelible difference in the souls met along the way. Here again you're telling the story in list fashion. It should be more like a back book cover. What are the stakes for Horace? What does he accomplish and what happens if he fails. I would assume the importance is on him changing. How is it that he changes. Why does he need to? For his family? For himself? To keep pace with the world?
The first paragraph spoke to us as if his journey was still underway. The next two paragraphs darted ahead to the end of his story. You need to keep it as if the way is still undecided.
Horace is shatter by the death of his wife, unable to find his way, until ...He must learn to accept blank or blank will happen to him. He must learn to embrace life or be swallowed in self-pity.
THE LAST CHANCE is a 106,000-word historical novel that transports the reader into the early twentieth century,
and won’t let go of them until relived every that monumental century. Seems like some words got lost here. And I doubt the last part adds anything. Bring a box of tissues. Show this above by the tone you use, by the active verbs that describe his loss. It’s titled THE LAST CHANCE for a reason.
Readers that enjoyed national bestsellers A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith and Forever: A Novel by Pete Hamill will enjoy The Last Chance. This is good, shows you read in your genre.
Thank you for your time and consideration. The prize-winning wrap up.
This query needs to stay in keeping with the first paragraph. The query is a mini-story of your bigger story and it needs to entice, even when based on historical facts. I haven't read much historical fiction, but I can compare this to something I do know, Forrest Gump. Forrest met many historical figures, but behind all that was the story of Forrest. You need to focus on the story of Horace--and it rhymes with Forrest, see what I did there--and use the historic parts to highlight him.