Monday, March 25, 2013

Become an Agent #17

Title: The Key to Life
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 78,000

When Anna took on the daunting task of restoring Matt to a state of sobriety, she never expected to fall in love; and she certainly wouldn’t have guessed the object of her growing desire would be Matt's father.

Before passing out and hitting the floor, Matt drunkenly declares his love for AnnaHe may be her friend, but he is also her boss, so not only are his words shocking, they’re worrisome.

Knowing Matt is tottering between depression and sanity, Anna wishes she could fix everything by telling him she loves him back, but she just can’t. So she decides to search for someone who can.

Perhaps the solution lies with Matt’s father, Tom. Despite the fact everyone believes he is dead, after finding his old journal Anna has reason to believe otherwise. Embarking on a search through shark infested waters to a hellish island in the middle of nowhere, she discovers that the man she is looking for is indeed alive. A father’s love certainly isn’t the same as the love of a woman, but Anna hopes it will be enough to bring Matt back to himself.

However, soon what started as a mission to restore one man to his natural, happy self, turns into a fight between head and heart. And now the man who is supposed to be Matt’s saviour could be the man who ends up bringing him more pain and heartbreak. Leaving Anna to wonder, can she really bring happiness into Matt’s life? Or will she forever carry her burden of guilt for not loving him in return?


  1. No - the first line hooked me, but the rest felt unrealistic and had me asking "Why find a father that abandoned his son?"

  2. No. The concept of a protag trying to help by reuniting someone with the father is interesting, but the "old journal left behind" suggesting he's still alive even though legally dead is of an era long past. It's just not logical.

  3. I agree with T.J about the first line. It shows promise to what could be a very interesting story, exploring this relationship between your main characters. However, when it got into the father angle, I was lost. Why find him? Why is he needed? Why the journal? Why couldn't it be the two characters? My personal opinion, of course, but this does show for a good read. Best of luck.

  4. No. The story is interesting. But this has way too many words. It reads more like a synopsis than a query. Cut it down to under two hundred at the very least. Less if possible.
    Otherwise you had me at the first paragraph :)

    CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called
    And critiques at UnicornBell

    1. I wish I had another 'yes' for this one, btw.

  5. No. Sorry, just not for me. I was a bit confused about who and what was going on while reading, as the introduction of Matt's father, and then talking about Matt again, it threw me some. Shortening this down to the essentials would help a lot I think!

  6. No. It's a bit confusing. I don't have a grasp on who the MC is other than someone who seems to live through relationships with men, and I like to see a stronger protagonist in women's fiction. Also, it reads like a thriller rather than a character-driven novel, which is at the heart of most women's fiction.

  7. This one's a no for me. It's disjointed and unfocused.

    What's missing here is the established relationship between Anna and Matt. What is Matt to her (beside's her boss) and why is she responsible for making him happier? If we understood that, the second half of your opening hook would have a lot more punch to it.

    The reason why Anna's questing for Matt's father needs to be bumped up. It would be great if we knew why the journal has an impact on her or why she feels drawn to Matt's father.

    There's not enough information here to make this story stand out or be compelling. There's a love triangle and a possibly intriguing locale, but very little to go on or entice a reader. What makes this love triangle different from all the other's out there? What's at stake for Anna, personally? Why is she involved? More information would do this query a world of good.

  8. No for me. I feel lke the query is better if I read it in reverse. The last paragraph starts to set it up, but as others have said, I'm still feeling a little bit confused. It sounds like Matt isn't all that worth saving, so why is she so bent on doing so?

    It seems from this like Matt is almost incidental to the story. It's hard to write a query where there are two relationships or plot lines - in this case it sounds like two different love stories. You need to find some way to tie them together, only focus on one, or write a really good pivot to get from one to the other.

  9. This is a no for me as well. Sorry. :( For me the biggest issue was the implication that alcoholism, depression, and insanity can be "cured" by another person. I don't see how Anna can think Matt can be "fixed" by a father who hasn't been in his life, so the premise isn't for me.

  10. While I already cast my votes, I'm just offering some critique here. I have to agree with some of what Jeanette said about "curing" someone of alcoholism. "When Anna took on the daunting task of restoring Matt to a state of sobriety," is a dangerous way to start without turning people off right away. While I do think this story has potential (and I also think contemporary novels are not doing well in this contest as most folks seem to prefer fantasy), I have to say that you should perhaps make it clear that Anna only thinks she can solve Matt's problems and this might be a central conflict, because we all know that only YOU can cure yourself of alcoholism. Also, is there a secret that is revealed about why the father left? Like maybe he isn't just a jerk? Adding this info might help us like him more.

  11. Sorry to give this a no. I think the first three paragraphs basically say the same thing in different ways. They could be shortened to make room for more detail about Matt and his father.

    When it switched focus to Anna going off to shark infested waters etc, that really threw me. It felt like a whole different book from the earlier setup paragraphs. I wasn't expecting it and so it felt wrong. I pictured one type of story and got something else.

    I do like Anna. She seems like a character that I would connect with.