The Pregnant Boyfriend

Welcome back! Here’s another partial query in desperate need of tightening:

Before: Having become pregnant as a college freshman, Jane Smith’s boyfriend, Tim Jones, has promised to marry her so they can raise their child together. His wealthy lineage would be able to support their desire to remain a loving family, and she is happy to know they can both move forward to fulfill their dreams of graduating from Yale and doing great things. But the patriarch of the Jones dynasty will not allow it to happen, his devastating announcement that she will never be accepted into their family tearing the couple apart from what was supposed to be their happily ever after.

After: When Yale freshman Jane Smith discovers she’s pregnant, her wealthy boyfriend, Tim Jones, promises to marry her. But just when Jane dares to hope she can have a husband, a child, and a college degree, Tim’s father announces that he’ll never allow her to be part of the Jones family dynasty.

Commentary: First, according to the rules of grammar, Tim is the pregnant one. Grammar alert! The first noun following an introductory phrase is the thing that phrase is about. You might think “Jane” is the first noun after that introductory structure, but nope. “Jane Smith’s boyfriend” is a compound adjective describing Tim Jones, which is the noun.

The very pregnant noun.

Second, holy sentence length, Batman. Even if your narrative style tends toward lengthy sentences, remember that your query pitch is sell copy. You’re writing it to convince an agent that she can sell your book to a publisher for money. So. Sell copy should be brief and to the point. Shorter sentences, please.

Finally, look for factoids you can combine. The before leads with “college freshman” and later mentions “Yale.” Easy enough to combine “Yale freshman” to describe Jane as soon as she’s introduced.

That’s all, folks. Join me next time…

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