Over at Crapometer we are doing a fun little exercise. We post a synopsis for our latest work and the critters write a query based on it. I think it's great practice on all counts. It eliminates the emotion involved with your own work. It lets the synopsis inform the letter, hopefully properly, if we've done our work well. It also gives us basic practice at boiling plots down to a paragraph. Queries are really just about practice, after all.

Based on my synopsis, I got some interesting suggestions and this is my new and improved query (no small thanks to Conduit).

If only the dead would stay dead, revenge would be a simple business for bounty hunter Sean Kelly. But when the body of his wife's killer disappears, Kelly is dragged into a strange world of necromancy, murderous spirits, racial tension, conspiracy, and rebellion. After Kelly foils an attempt on the Queen’s life, she asks him to find the assassin and resolve the issue discreetly. She also demands absolute loyalty. He can live with that. After all, here is a beautiful woman who desires the protection he could not give his wife. While searching for the assassin and unraveling the plot behind the attempt on the Queen, he learns his wife’s killer is still alive and the murder was just a skirmish in a much larger war. It’s too late for diplomacy and honor, for the Queen’s enemy is an immortal necromancer at war with the gods. Kelly’s only chance at peace - and revenge - is to confront every horror from his past and murder the queen he swore to protect.

My only issue with it is "Kelly is dragged" which is passive. (Actually, I'm still trying to link the two ends of that sentence.) We like our heroes to be active. I've thought about actually changing the plot to reflect more active participation on his part--leaping through the "portal" as it were. However, shy of making it look like something from Stargate, what does it look like?

It brings up an interesting point for the story, though (just musing here, feel free to check out). If Sean kills his wife's murderer and then he has his little sob session (which is in the current version) and he looks up to find the body not necessaily totally gone, but standing over there, maybe beckoning--no discernable gate cuz I hate that sort of thing, but more the edges of the worlds blurring together-- might that make him more active? It also lends the revenge angle more credence. It kills the second half of the first chapter, but that's mostly thinly veiled backstory anyway. I can work that stuff into later plot points.

I shall have to think on it. I think I need to revisit this book. I've had decent responses from agents, all rejections of course, but I've gotten some personal rejections and they nearly always ask for a partial based on pages and my query. Some people think the portal device is old hat--it is old hat--but I've talked to too many fantasy readers who like portal stories. But most of the comments have revolved around Sean himself--they just can't get into him. Well, he's a hard guy to like. He's an anti-hero who really makes most of his own problems. I do believe he can be likeable. We've had long and furious discussions about sympathy vs empathy for characters at critique group. The biggest camp is with sympathy, but I think that's too pat an answer. I think you make a character too much victim and the reader loses interest. I also believe a character can do nearly anything and a reader will forgive him--so long as that reader is given the tools of empathy.

Hmmm. Processing processing processing...

No comments: