Monday, October 18, 2010

Query Quest III: The Fatally Flawed Query

On Friday, Bob Ghent, a member of my Writing Practicum, shared his edited query letter with another self-made markup that showed he still had work to do. (See Query Quest I for the original query letter before the edits began.)

Today's query version is the one he thought he was going to send -- until a last minute review of the Query Shark's do's and don't's illuminated a heretofore unseen fatal flaw... Which he'll discuss and fix in tomorrow's post.

First, however, the one he was GOING to send:


Version 4 - 244 words

Tonk is a young dragon that accidently falls from a magical world into the modern lives of teenagers Cira and Jace. His portal is one hundred miles above their home and will close in twenty four hours. Too small to fly home, Tonk will soon die on Earth. Cira’s heart is touched and she demands that Jace help her find a way to return him.

• “Accidently” – not needed. Plus, it's spelled wrong.
• “His portal is one hundred” – Exposition that doesn’t really move the story line along.
• “On Earth” – Obviously he is on Earth if he can’t get home. Not needed. The sentence is not that good. It can be better.

They learn of a mysterious handwritten book about magic and dragons. The search for it involves Strager, a vengeful sheriff who lost his wife to a rogue dragon four months earlier. He is desperate to capture Tonk but must also deal with Kade, a seven foot felon willing to kill to get a dragon.

• “Must also deal with Kade” – So what? Not my problem if the sheriff has to deal with Kade . . . Or my readers! AND it’s really not the sheriff that has to deal with Kade, IT’S THE TWINS!
• “A seven foot felon willing to kill” – Too vague. Does this threaten someone?

Jace continues searching while Cira and an unlikely ally hide Tonk. Jace finds the book and learns its secrets but when kidnapped by Kade, he must reveal Tonk’s location. His attempt to escape leaves him near death and allows Kade to capture Tonk.

• “Jace finds the book” – This is a complex sentence that stumbles along with the words “and, but and he must”. Cumbersome to read.

The rogue dragon returns with a dangerous agenda.  Magic sword in hand and astride a dragon whose heart is larger than its wings, Cira battles the rogue.  However, it is brutally strong.  Her efforts fail and while falling toward earth with only seconds to live, she refuses to give up.

• “Her efforts fail” – This sentence is too wordy.
• “She refuses to give up” – Another, SO WHAT. This does not show her struggling with options or any decision she might have to make to save her life.

The twins are polar opposites but their strengths are complimentary. Cira, her dragon and Jace become an unstoppable team that wins over the sheriff, defeats Kade and reunites Tonk with his family.

• “Strengths are complimentary” – Sounds nice but it’s not needed.
• “Cira, her dragon and” – Long sentence that wraps up the story with a neat little bow. Never tell the ending! I think it’s better to wrap up the end with a challenge for our protagonist(s) to solve.


Bob notes:

Tomorrow, the major flaw exposed & the resulting (final) query...

No comments: