Author Topic: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version  (Read 202 times)

Offline MichelleMessika

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: 2
Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« on: May 10, 2020, 09:30:53 AM »
Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your comment, rivergirl, here's the second draft - just with this agent I wanna lead with the introduction (since she's representing one of my comp titles), but with most others I'll start with the hook of the story:

Given your representation of Stephanie Danler, I wanted to send you Land Grab (97K), an upmarket literary novel. It’s a coming-of-age story and a generational portrait of the millennial travellers. I think of it as Danler’s Sweetbitter or King’s Writers & Lovers set on a contemporary version of The Beach.

When recent journalism grad Molly moves to Rwanda, fleeing the prison of predictability stifling her back home, she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting in a dictatorship is harder than the fresh-faced, restless reporter thought. When forced to drop a story that could have made her career take off, Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. She’s forcefully detained and forced to leave the country.

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. On Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and jaded expats. She wants to write about how Westerners are damaging the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When she reports on the land grab done by a luxury hotel, slowly uncovering its shadowy ownership, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her. Heartbroken, rootless and alone, Molly must face her unruly wanderlust and choose between love, travel, and her goal. But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?

Land Grab is a novel about travel, restlessness, and a generation of globetrotters mistaking movement for meaning and new destinations for a sense of direction.

I’m a Danish-French freelance journalist based in Berlin. I’ve previously worked as a reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and Hearst Newspapers in Washington, D.C., studied journalism at Columbia University and written guidebooks to Denmark, Morocco and Berlin. I’ve also done a brief stint at the government’s mouthpiece in Rwanda. I’m currently working on my second novel.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 07:09:31 AM by MichelleMessika »

Offline rivergirl

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1241
  • Karma: 243
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction)
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 07:06:12 PM »
i'm waiting on beta readers. I'd appreciate fresh eyes on Hazel query, especially a non-U.S. citizen.

Given your representation of Stephanie Danler, I wanted to send you Land Grab (all caps or italics) (97K), an upmarket literary novel. It’s a coming-of-age story and a portrait of the millennial generation of travellers;period here I think of it as Danler’s Sweetbitter or King’s Writers & Lovers set on a contemporary version of The Beach.(all book titles in italics. They don't translate here)Consider putting this para at the end and grab your agent with your hook immediately

When recent journalism grad Molly moves to Rwanda, she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting from a dictatorship is harder than she thought, and she’s forced to drop a story that could've made her career take off. Consider making this two sentences so you have room to expand. One does not report from a dictatorship. But reporting from a land ruled by a dictatorship is harder than she thought. She's forced to drop the story of a lifetime when arm guards swarm her apartment. Increasingly restless and frustrated, she crosses the unwritten rules of the conflicted country. This requires thinking. no thinking should be involved here. just say she writes the story anyway She’s forcefully arrested and forced to leave. forced to leave the country?

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. OnIn? Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers comma and jaded expats using exotic locations as backdrops to their Western lives. She wants to write about the damage her generation of travellers are doing to the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When reporting on the land grab done by a luxury hotel, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her. I don't understand how her reporting on a land grab equals her discovery that Matt is cheating on her. Also whatever Matt is hiding it dropped. It felt pretty important. Can we say what it is without spoiling too much?

As she starts losing sight of her goal, Molly realises she must face her unruly wanderlust and decide what matters most to her;incorrect use of semicolon. Also, i don't think this sentence works. Sorry! Maybe: Molly begins to realize she's lost sight of her goal. She must___ list the stakes love, travel or the stories she came here to write?there's been no question Land Grab is a novel about travel, restlessness comma and a generation of globetrotters mistaking movement for meaning and new destinations for a sense of direction.Save this last sentence for the blurb below. It's beautifully written

I’m a Danish-French freelance journalist and guidebook author based in Berlin. I’ve previously worked as a reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and Hearst Newspapers in Washington, D.C., studied magazine journalism at Columbia University and written guidebooks to Denmark (for Fodor’s) and Berlin and Morocco (for one of Denmark’s biggest publishing houses). While I think the guidebook thing is a fun fact about you that lets the agent know you, I wouldn't spend too much time on it. Writing a novel is completely different. I’ve also done a brief stint at the government’s mouthpiece in Rwanda (very relevant) . I’m currently working on my second novel and a nonfiction book proposal about digital nomads and the future of work. don't know what you mean here by the future of work
« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 07:11:00 PM by rivergirl »

Offline rivergirl

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1241
  • Karma: 243
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2020, 11:41:35 AM »
The whole thing is so much better.

When recent journalism grad Molly moves to Rwanda, fleeing the her prison of predictability stifling her back home,I think this last part interferes with flow and is kinda redundant. I can see and feel immediately what a prison of predictability is.  she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting in a dictatorship is harder than the fresh-faced, restless reporter thought. But the fresh-faced, restless reporter discovers that reporting under a dictatorship is harder than she thought. When forced to drop a story that could have made her career take off, Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. i don't know what you mean when you say she goes too far. That's vague. can you spell this out? She’s forcefully detained and forced to leave the country.

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. On (This may be a cultural issue, but "On" sounds really weird to this American. Isn't she in the country and not on the country?) Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and jaded expats. She wants to write about how Westerners are damaging the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When she reports on the land grab done by a luxury hotel, slowly uncovering its shadowy ownership, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her. Heartbroken, rootless and alone, Molly must face her unruly wanderlust and choose between love, travel, and her goal( spell out her goal). But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home? Not loving the phrase "Molly must face her unruly wanderlust" I guess because the expression to face something is usually something negative. I view her wanderlust as part of her personality and a good thing. Consider: Molly must weigh her unruly wanderlust and discover just how far she's willing to go (or how much she has to pay) to avoid going home. But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?

Offline MDane

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 31
  • Karma: 3
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2020, 02:48:33 AM »
Hi Michelle, your query looks solid to me, but I will have a look at some minor things which make it flow a little better to me. But this is purely my opinion, and what you have is still good:



Given your representation of Stephanie Danler, I wanted to send you Land Grab (97K), an upmarket literary novel. It’s a coming-of-age story and a generational portrait of the millennial travellers. I think of it as Danler’s Sweetbitter or King’s Writers & Lovers set on a contemporary version of The Beach.

When recent journalism grad Molly flees to Rwanda to escape her stifling life moves [/s]to Rwanda, fleeing the prison of predictability stifling her back home, she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting in a dictatorship is harder than the fresh-faced, restless reporter thought. When Forced to drop a story that could have make her career take off (I guess I don't understand why she is forced to do something that is good for her career?), Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. She’s forcefully(you have used forced or forcefully three times in two sentences, and I don not believe you need it in front of detained) detained and evicted from the country.

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. On Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and jaded expats. She wants to write about how Westerners are damaging the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When she reports on a luxury hotel's land grab done by a luxury hotel, slowly uncovering its shadowy ownership, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her (nice!). Heartbroken, rootless (are you talking about sex here? If so, all well and good, but I would probably find a more fitting colloquial word) and alone, Molly must face her unruly wanderlust and choose between love, travel, and her goal. But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?

Land Grab is a novel about travel, restlessness, and a generation of globetrotters mistaking movement for meaning and new destinations for a sense of direction. (Brilliant)

I’m a Danish-French freelance journalist based in Berlin. I’ve previously worked as a reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and Hearst Newspapers in Washington, D.C., studied journalism at Columbia University and written guidebooks to Denmark, Morocco and Berlin. I’ve also done a brief stint at the government’s mouthpiece in Rwanda. I’m currently working on my second novel.



Wow, that really is a good query. I can tell you are a very talented and clear writer. Like I said above, the suggestions I have made are only stylistic.

I would love to have your writer's eye run over my query to provide any feedback/critique, which can be found here: https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=24359.0


All the best and happy writing!

Offline PharaohBeam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 51
  • Karma: 4
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2020, 04:03:38 PM »
Given your representation of Stephanie Danler, I wanted to send you Land Grab (97K), an upmarket literary novel. It’s a coming-of-age story and a generational portrait of the millennial travellers. I think of it as Danler’s Sweetbitter or King’s Writers & Lovers set on a contemporary version of The Beach.

When recent journalism grad Molly moves to Rwanda, fleeing the prison of predictability stifling her back home, she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting in a dictatorship is harder than the fresh-faced, restless reporter thought. When forced to drop a story that could have made her career take off, Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. She’s forcefully detained and forced to leave the country. Maybe change up "forcefully" or "forced" so you don't have three "force" words in the last two sentences

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. On Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and jaded expats. She wants to write about how Westerners are damaging the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When she reports on the land grab done by a luxury hotel, slowly uncovering its shadowy ownership, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her. Heartbroken, rootless Maybe say "without roots" - rootless sounds kind of funny. I think you mean "she has no roots"?, "has no place to call home"?, but I can't stop thinking of rootless as someone having no teeth roots and alone, Molly must face her unruly wanderlust and choose between love, travel, and her goal. But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?

Land Grab is a novel about travel, restlessness, and a generation of globetrotters mistaking movement for meaning and new destinations for a sense of direction.

I’m a Danish-French freelance journalist based in Berlin. I’ve previously worked as a reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and Hearst Newspapers in Washington, D.C., studied journalism at Columbia University and written guidebooks to Denmark, Morocco and Berlin. I’ve also done a brief stint at the government’s mouthpiece in Rwanda. I’m currently working on my second novel.

General thoughts:
It reads very clear. Is there any way you could connect the Rwanda part to the end? Does Molly learn anything from Rwanda that could help her in the end? I just think it may help bring your query full circle. Overall, I like the world-traveler theme of your story. Sounds interesting.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 04:08:36 PM by PharaohBeam »

Offline csc

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 0
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2020, 05:34:00 PM »
Given your representation of Stephanie Danler, I wanted to send you Land Grab (97K), an upmarket literary novel. It’s a coming-of-age story and a generational portrait of the millennial travellers. I think of it as Danler’s Sweetbitter or King’s Writers & Lovers set on a contemporary version of The Beach.
I know you have explained why you place this at the beginning. My hunch is still to start with your second paragraph below. Maybe it’s just me but I do get distracted when other books get mentioned.

When recent journalism grad Molly moves to Rwanda, fleeing the prison of predictability stifling her back home, she’s hellbent on becoming a foreign correspondent. But reporting in a dictatorship is harder than the fresh-faced, restless reporter thought. When forced to drop a story that could have made her career take off, Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. She’s forcefully detained and forced to leave the country.
I’m thinking ‘forcefully detained’ and ‘forced to leave the country within the same sentence could be reworded. It’s a bit hard to visualize her being detained and then forced to leave the country in the same breath. I’m also curious about the link or transition between Rwanda and SE Asia. Is the book equally divided between the two destinations? Or does it mainly focus on Bali? I’m guessing the bulk of the book is about her experience in Bali. It just makes me wonder, that’s all.

Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia. On Bali, she becomes adrift in a world of digital nomads, travel bloggers, and jaded expats. She wants to write about how Westerners are damaging the island, but she’s distracted by her relationship with Matt, a Dutch expat with shady ties to the travel industry. When she reports on the land grab done by a luxury hotel, slowly uncovering its shadowy ownership, she realises Matt might have been hiding more than his marriage from her. Heartbroken, rootless and alone, Molly must face her unruly wanderlust and choose between love, travel, and her goal. But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?
On “avoid going home?”, is there something specific at home that is deterring her? The last question in the paragraph suggests that there is something fearful at home that is not explained here. Perhaps rephrase as “continue pursuing her dream of travel” or “avoid having to return to her stifling reality at home”.

Land Grab is a novel about travel, restlessness, and a generation of globetrotters mistaking movement for meaning and new destinations for a sense of direction.
I feel that there is a lot of powerful meaning in this sentence though I’m not sure if I have grasped it fully or misunderstood it. I really like how you said “mistaking movement of meaning” and “new destinations for a sense of direction”. It is challenging the reader to question why Molly has embarked on this venture that brings her so much heartache? Or am I missing it?
On the whole I think the query is easy to read and understand. I can visualize what is happening based on your descriptions.


I’m a Danish-French freelance journalist based in Berlin. I’ve previously worked as a reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and Hearst Newspapers in Washington, D.C., studied journalism at Columbia University and written guidebooks to Denmark, Morocco and Berlin. I’ve also done a brief stint at the government’s mouthpiece in Rwanda. I’m currently working on my second novel.
Good for you. My disclaimer is that I do not have editing experience. I am new to queries and am reading this as a reader/writer. All the best!

Offline Wolfimoon

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Karma: 4
Re: Land Grab (upmarket literary fiction) - 2nd version
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2020, 07:13:22 PM »
I thought "upmarket" was a descriptor on genre fiction to explain it's a more literary book. Therefore, this is simply a literary novel. But I don't read or write them, so it's difficult for me to judge. I'm getting a "thriller" vibe from the description.

Sounds interesting! Some tweaking on what things are parenthetical phrases would help.

>When forced to drop a story that could have made her career take off, Molly becomes reckless and goes too far. She’s forcefully detained and forced to leave the country.
The first sentence is bit awkward to me and the second seems like it could be summarized as "banned from Rwanda."

>Convincing herself a new destination will solve her problems, Molly continues her quest for a story in South East Asia.
Maybe shorten to "Convinced a new destination...". And while reminding people of Bali's location is reasonable, you can probably lead with the actual destination so it doesn't feel like a "which one did she go to" situation.

> But just how much is she willing to pay to avoid going home?
Personally, I'd just strike this. The last sentence handled and and isn't a question, which is a good thing.

The wordcount would be better in that final paragraph about the book because at first I thought you forgot to provide it as it was hiding in parentheses. Unless I have something amazing to say, I've been putting my customization in the second to last paragraph so I can start with what grips them. I do have my normal comps in that first paragraph though. But it's personal preference. Definitely take out "I think of it as" and just state your opinion as fact.

You have a super impressive and relevant bio!