Monday, August 9, 2010

Current Query Part I

WriteOnCon begins today! Let's bask in that for a moment.

Yes. So it's an awesome free online writing/publishing conference put together by the most amazing writers on the planet and to include countless industry professionals droppin knowledge free of charge.

So because of this and the fact that I have a stupid day job with which I earn money to pay the bills I have very little time for blogging this week. But ... in spite of my inherent laziness I will try to share something worthwhile with you all: My Current Query.

Yes I am in the middle of a re-write and yes the plot COULD change enough that the query will have to follow but it's not likely. Therefore I do still try to keep my query up to date and since I won assistance with it from Lady LiLa on Lisa and Laura Write last week I wanted to share the awesome advice they give me with you all.

So today I will share the query I sent them. Tomorrow I will share the one they sent me back and then Wednesday I will share the one that I wrote, based on their advice, and submitted to the Joanna Stampfel-Volpe contest on WriteOnCon.

So here's the first version:


Dear Lady LiLa,

Fifteen year old Lee is a reluctant juvenile delinquent who arrives at reform school fearing abuse or worse but soon discovers magic and mysticism beneath the hard-knock surface.

After the death of his mother, and estrangement from his useless, high-society, drunk-when-ever-he's-home father, Lee's aunt and uncle ship him off to Rocky Mountain Academy, a reform school in the bitter wilderness of northern Idaho.

He is forced to work in the Wood Corral; the right to attend classes being earned only after months of labor. He gets caught alone in the woods with a female student, which is of course strictly forbidden. He is placed on restriction and given work assignments. Finally lessons begin and the students become excited by the mysterious curriculum. The classes have names like "The Eight Principles of Yong" and "The Way of Unifying With Life Energy". In them Lee and his new friends (and enemies) study everything from East Asian Calligraphy and Meditation to Aikido and Kenjutsu.

Permission to actually kick ass is pretty awesome when you're fifteen and convinced it's you against the world.

Through these disciplines they learn to use their talents to harness the energy the Chinese know as Chi for things like healing, telekinesis and imbuing their weapons with rockin powers. They bring this unique new form of magic with them into the mountains of Montana when the Master of the School asks them to investigate an abandoned silver mine. In the mine they are attacked by Stone Golem Earth Elementals and forced to band together, using their newfound skills to defend themselves and survive the creatures' onslaught.

As you can see this isn't terrible but it doesn't really pop either. Those of you who know me will recognize how far this has come since the old days and those of you who are new readers can check the posts labeled Queries/Rejections to learn more.

When I sent it to Lisa and Laura I pointed out that what I felt it was missing the most was voice. The story is now being re-written into first person so the personality of the MC really comes across hard in the very beginning and I wanted to inject that into the query more. Writing a query in first person is a no-no but I really liked Jen's suggestion from last Friday about writing it in first person and then switching it over.

We'll see where my query goes throughout the week.

26 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

WriteOnCon begins tomorrow. ;)

I tried writing my query like Jen suggested and it worked for getting in the voice (I hope). LiLa also helped me. Unfortunately the query they came up with was all wrong. But that's more than okay. I realized they misunderstood something, which resulted in a query for a completely different book. I rewrote the query (my version) and made sure it was clearer the sequence of events.

Can't wait to see what they did to help you. At least yours wasn't completely voiceless. They did an awesome job on a query for a friend of mine's, which inspired her to come up with a kick ass hook from mine.

Good luck with the contest!

Ted Cross said...

Agh! How many times do I have to tell you about those semicolons?! ;)

Candyland said...

Oh TIM (!)I see what you mean. I think it's good though. I'm sure with a little WOC and LiLa magic it will sparkle.

Jess said...

Best of luck with the contest! Your story sounds cool :)

Slamdunk said...

It is a shame that day jobs get in the way of all of our interesting work.

Steena Holmes said...

getting that voice in isn't easy! I loved what Lady LiLa suggested for mine, and I can't wait to see what they did for yours ;)

K. M. Walton said...

I can't wait to see it morph and change. I like your open bravery -- refreshing.

Lydia Kang said...

I'm interested in seeing how it unfolds. Good luck with the contest!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Stupid day jobs. I feel your pain.
Happy WriteOnCon Day tomorrow! Looking forward to see the evolution of your query. :)

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Day jobs suck that way, but persevere! They pay the bills so we can do the interesting stuff.

I use the first person technique in synopses. They're the most painfully boring things in the world to write (kind of like queries but longer) and I find that writing them in FP and then converting them helps me not fall asleep.

The story sounds really interesting though. I definitely got that through the query. Awesome job.

Matthew Rush said...

Great idea Shaun, and thanks for stopping by! BTW your email address is not associated with your blogger account, so I can't reply via email.

Lola Sharp said...

I like your story concept, and appreciate your bravery to post your queries for all of us to see.

As Julie Musil reminded us recently in a lovely post: Writing is many acts of bravery.

I look forward to seeing the Girls feedback and your subsequent changes. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this line -- Permission to actually kick ass is pretty awesome when you're fifteen and convinced it's you against the world --- totally awesome :)

Bish Denham said...

Need concept Matt. I can see where it needs some work, but I got a clear picture of the story.

Christina Lee said...

OOOH can't wait to see what you do with it! LiLa helped me with mine as well! Good luck!

storyqueen said...

This is a great exercise, Matthew. (I learned how to write a query by reading them on blogs...I sure as heck didn't know how to at first!)

I can't wait to see what you do with this.

The premise is very intriguing.

Shelley

aspiring_x said...

sounds like a cool story! can't wait to see the evolution of the query!

Talli Roland said...

Have fun at the conference! If it wasn't for the time difference I'd be there with bells on. As it is I'll probably sleep through most of it.

I love that line about permission to kick ass. I think if you can get the rest of the query to pop like that, it'd be great!

Stephen Tremp said...

Not bad, but its missing that one statement that reaches off the page and grabs the reader by the lapels and pulls them in. Maybe end the last line as a question?

I had my editor give my query letter a makeover and the difference is like night and day. Good luck with yours. It can be a frustrating journey but you'll get there.

Stephen Tremp

Steph Sinkhorn said...

I liked the opening, and the little bit of personality about getting permission to kick ass! The end dragged a little, but I definitely think this is workable. Yay for WriteOnCon!

DEZMOND said...

hope you'll make some great contacts or get some great knowledge at WriteOnCon ;)

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I'm intrigued about what they're going to say...

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I like it! I can't wait to see it grow!

Lenny said...

hi mr matthew! what you wrote is pretty cool about your book. i didnt know so much about how important that quary letter is til i read about it on so many blogs. i been doing a practice one for one of my books and its just like writing cause i keep changing it up. yikes! this is real hard stuff.
i hope you get yours just right.
...hugs from lenny

Creepy Query Girl said...

That's really good advice. I guess I can see where voice is lacking but this is a HUGE improvement when compared with some of your past drafts. And voice isn't a make or break. I know my query is just about void of all voice but it still gets requests. I think the most important thing is being clear about your story.

Robert Guthrie said...

Good luck. Seems like you're doing all the right things.