Friday, October 15, 2010

Query Quest II: The Juvenile Query

Yesterday's post was the first installment of Query Quest. In it, Bob Ghent, a member of my weekly Writing Practicum, graciously agreed to transparently share the process he used to craft his first query letter.

His query went through several revisions before he deemed it fit for being sent out into the world.  Today, the first major re-write -- which resulted in a letter that still lacked focus and frame. I present: the Juvenile Query Letter...

Version 3 -- 244 Words

A dragon named Tonk falls from a magical world into the modern lives of thirteen year old twins, Cira and Jace.  The portal he fell through is one hundred miles straight up and will close in 24 hoursHe is too young to reach it and will die if he stays.  Jace knows it is impossible to return Tonk but Cira’s heart is touched and she demands he help her find a way.

  • “He is too young to reach it” – Poor sentence.  Reword for fewer words and better structure.
  • “Impossible to return Tonk” – Not needed and does not show the consequences of staying.

They learn of a mysterious handwritten book about dragons.  Their search leads to Strager, a vengeful sheriff who lost his wife to a rogue dragon just four months earlier.  Strager plans to capture Tonk but he must also deal with Kade, a seven foot felon who will kill to get a dragon.

  • “Strager plans” – Planning does not show Strager in action.

Jace continues searching for the book while Cira and an unlikely ally hide Tonk.  Jace learns the book’s secrets but Kade kidnaps him and he must reveal Tonk’s hiding place.  Jace attempts an escape but it leaves him drowning in Henderson Lake and lets Kade capture Tonk.

  • “Drowning in Henderson Lake” – Too specific.  Telling the story is a no, no.

With magic sword in hand and astride a dragon whose heart is larger than its wings, Cira battles the rogue dragon.  However, he is brutally strong and she must chance a desperate move.  She fails, her dragon is in grave danger and she searches for options while falling to earth.

  • “Cira battles the rogue dragon” – Time line problem. It sounds like it should go with the murder of Strager’s wife but it doesn’t.
  • “She fails” – Long complex sentence.

The twins are polar opposites but their strengths bind them together for one purpose – to return a youngling dragon to his home.

  • “Return a youngling dragon” – There’s more to the story than this. Weak ending.

After this edit, Bob went back to the proverbial drawing board, ready to make the adolescent grow up & get a job! Tomorrow, we'll see what he thought was his ready-to-send Edited Version... And discover a Fatal Flaw that he identified only at the eleventh hour.

How's your own Query Quest faring? Do you have any experience with "Juvenile Queries?" If so, please share. I'd love to hear how you worked things out.


Ben Langhinrichs said...

I have to say, this is fascinating to follow. I love the approach of showing each revision, and the notes are great at illustrating what is wrong (and can be made right).

Waiting to see tomorrow's...

Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks, Ben, for the comment. I'm glad you found Bob's process for developing his query as fascinating as I did. I hope you enjoy the next installment!

Good luck on your own query quest. And tune in tomorrow for the next installment...