Friday, February 13, 2015

The Amazing Adventures of Heroic Man's Brother Query & First Page

Genre: Adult Superhero Fantasy
Word Count: 80,000

Query pitch:

Dear Lovely Agent/Editor,

Norm “Run-of-the-Mill” Stevens has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, Tom, publicly known as Heroic Man, The Intrepid Heroic Man, The Gallant Heroic Man, among other names. The crime-fighting superhero possesses the full spectrum of superhuman powers—super strength, speed, flight, and, of course, that truly sublime, superhumanly muscular ass of his, which has become an icon of an adoring city.

Norm, on the other hand, has been working his pathetically flaccid rear off on the money-saving blueprints he created to improve the city’s electricity grid. But, much to his utter aggravation, he fails to get them into the hands of Electrifirm’s C.E.O., C.E. Olsen. Heroic Man pities Norm and, behind his back, gives Olsen the model. Olsen grants Norm the massive career-boost and subsequent prestige of his dreams.

But the thing is, ever since Heroic Man took the city’s spotlight, Olsen’s been determined to regain it. Olsen slanders Heroic Man by claiming the superhero stole the new grid plans from Electrifirm. The C.E.O. asks Norm to publicly confirm his story, and Norm—sick of relying on his brother’s charity and still as resentful as ever of that all-powerful posterior of his—gladly obliges.

Norm thoroughly enjoys being the more successful brother for once. That is, until Norm lets slip Heroic Man’s innocence to his girlfriend, who dumps him for treating his brother so poorly. Devastated and awakened from his selfishness, Norm battles his conscience: continue to outshine his brother despite the injustice, or come clean to the whole city and replace him as its biggest disgrace.

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF HEROIC MAN’S BROTHER is an 80,000-word humorous adult superhero fantasy. I have a degree in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and won the individual award for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Writing. I have also recently obtained an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. I interned at Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York City in the Publicity and Marketing departments. Thank you for considering THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF HEROIC MAN’S BROTHER and I hope to hear from you soon.

First 250 words:

            I popped open a can of Fizz Beer and took a good, long swig. The stuff was cheap as hell, and non-creatively-named to boot, but there wasn’t much more a guy with a crummy mailroom job could afford. And I had to celebrate my impeccable achievement somehow.
            Raw energy—along with the insufficient buzz and flavorless taste of the beer—bolted through me as I stared at the electricity grid model on my bedroom desk. After four years of nonstop, though invigorating, work, my masterpiece was finally complete. And finally—oh thank God, finally—I could prove my genius to the C.E.O. of Electrifirm and get the hell out of the mailroom once and for all. All I’d have to do was walk up to my boss tomorrow, show him the model, and—
            “Norm, dinner!” Mom called from the bottom of the stairs.
            Already? Must’ve completely lost track of time. I took another swig of Fizz Beer and grimaced. Should’ve gotten Buzz Beer instead. Sure, it was a little more expensive, but it packed a bit more buzz and taste, and cut back a tad on the annoying fizz.
            I placed the can on my desk. I’d have to wait until after dinner to finish celebrating properly. Or poorly, given the brand’s quality.

            The scent of fresh, steamed vegetables never smelled so succulent—okay, it was intermixed with the heavy, foul odor of red meat—as I hopped down the stairs two at a time. The first time I’d done that since I was a kid.


Unknown said...

This is awesome! I would totally read something like this!

My biggest suggestions for this query are to move your bio paragraph down below the pitch so the pitch stands out first.

Also, the first paragraph of your pitch has some great humor in it, maybe work a little more of that into the rest of the pitch to keep the tone of your novel throughout the query. I think playing up the humor would be great!

For the first 250:

“After four years of nonstop, grueling, if invigorating, work”- I would take out the “if invigorating” to help simplify this statement a little.

And the very last sentence can be simplified for clarity as well. I had to read it a couple times to follow.

Great work here! I love humorous books! Can’t wait to see it in print!


Patchi said...

I think the housekeeping and bio goes at the end, too. The character intro paragraph is great, but I got caught on the super list. The lone "flight" sticks out, so maybe you don't need all the "super" before the other powers? And if you tighten that paragraph, I think you can move the sentence about Norm and his electric plan to the first paragraph to contrast with Heroic Man's skills.

I felt the middle of the query read too much like a synopsis. How about something like:
[When] Heroic Man[], behind Norm’s back, gives Olsen the model[, Electrifirm’s C.E.O.] grants Norm the massive career-boost and subsequent prestige of his dreams. [Until] Olsen slanders Heroic Man by claiming...

As for the first 250, I'd change "brand" to "beer" here: "Or poorly, given the brand’s quality." The rest read pretty well to me.

Unknown said...

In order to grab the reader's attention from the start, I'd suggest jumping right into the story. Save your biography for the end.

Your second paragraph is all backstory. Save it for later. I want to hear who Norm is, and what he wants and how he's going to get it. His brother isn't the hero of this book. Norm is.

Your first 250 read very well.

I like the way you have his mom call him to dinner!

Clara MacCarald said...

I think this promises to be a very funny, superhero take on sibling rivalry. I am a little confused in the query about how Olsen could accuse Heroic Man of stealing the plans from Electrifirm to give to Electrifirm.

His attempt to celebrate with poor beer was a good place to start in the 250 words, especially with the intrusion of his mom calling for dinner. I hope you explain soon why Norm considers red meat to smell foul.

Good luck!

Unknown said...

Your use of humor and voice in the query is great. It is a little too much the focus of the query at times though. We hear a lot about Norm's resentment of his brother but not alot of Morm's problems or stakes. The first 250 words are great, I only suggest you name the drink and not refer to it as the brand. the wording on his work should be grueling and intoxicating not 'if' or it could be 'if not' intoxicating. Great Job!

Intercostal Clavicle said...


Put your bio and wordcount and all at the end of the letter. I think UK agents sometimes like a bit of an intro, but only a very short one.

I love the title. XD The voice is awesome, very funny and very sharp, and I totally want to read this! I did get a little lost in the middle, though - why would the city believe that Heroic Man stole the plans? I get Norm's motives, but can you play them up a little more? Rather than "tired", could you use a stronger word?

First 250 words:

*The stuff was cheap as hell, and non-creatively-named to boot, but there wasn’t much more a twenty-four-year-old guy like me could afford with a crummy mailroom job. (Is it necessary to state his age this early on? It feels a bit obvious putting it right at the beginning here)

This is really excellent! I hope it does well; I really really want to see this published and on my bookshelves. XD

E.G. Moore said...

This sounds like a fun and funny read!

Most of my comment will reiterate the ones above. The query feels a little long. By condensing some of the sentences, you can add a really super punch (pun intended) to it. Also, putting the first paragraph at the bottom of the query gives your story center stage.

The first 250 are humorous and engaging. I agree that you should cut "if invigorating" from the first line to help it read smoother. Also, the age input didn't feel like the way the character might talk about himself.

Hope my comments help! Best of luck with this!

Unknown said...

Hey, there!

This is outside of my normal reading experience (adult, not superheroes. I love superheroes), but I'll do my best here.

I've seen some sample queries with the bio at the beginning and at the end, but I feel like they work better at the end, so the story can shine first.

I got a little lost in the query with the CEO being C.E. Olsen. It's too many of the same letters so close together for me.

I like the inclusion of the external and internal struggles in the query.

For your first 250, the second sentence was too long for my taste. I get wanting to have his age up front, but it feels awkward where it is right now. Like the other said, if invigorating, feels a little like overkill. Or take out one of the other adjectives and keep invigorating.

Good luck with finding this a home!

Chris V said...

Thanks for all the great and helpful comments, everyone! I posted a revised query and first page for anyone who wants to take a look and leave feedback. Thanks again!

Lora Palmer said...

I would definitely move the housekeepinng stuff to the end of the query, but otherwise, it reads like a fun story. I love the voice in the first 250! It sounds really fun! Best of luck with tis! :)

Unknown said...

#48 here!

Query: Love this premise, and LOVE the title! I had to re-read the query a few times to understand what was happening, though, and I'll try to throw out some ideas on why that is:

+ Whose perspective is this story told from? Norm, some omniscient narrator, or does it switch perspectives? The query does the latter, and even switches perspective mid-paragraph (the first paragraph goes from Norm to Heroic Man). I would keep it to one perspective per paragraph if it's the latter.

+ I got completely lost with the names. I think it's because you mention everyone's nicknames, so I can't keep track.

+ I think you should take your writing credits and put them at the end of the query. Let agents get to the meat first, and then back it up with your impressive credits!

+ A little confused at the conflict. Heroic Man gives Olson the blueprints, Olson gives Norm the credit, but they still want to get back at Heroic Man for some reason? Why wouldn't Norm be grateful (jealousy aside)? Why would Heroic Man be accused of stealing the plans if he hands them over?

+ You can cut some extraneous words that add extra detail that isn't necessary - such as "the mega money-saving".

First 250: Great beginning, and the voice immediately stands out in the first paragraph. How old is Norm? I think you can cut the "should've gotten Buzz Beer instead" thought and proceed more quickly to the intrigue of the plot. Also, getting called to dinner is pretty cliche of an opening (it seems to me), so I would make sure the dinner scene that follows is pretty punchy or impactful of the plot. I'd keep reading this on account of the voice, but it doesn't leave off with much intrigue for me. (Could just be the luck of a 250 word cut off here!)