Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honing a Query Letter

     The Query Letter process is an interesting step in trying to entice Literary Agents in your manuscript. (m/s) Ideally they should be in the region of 250 words. A Query introduces the overall story, in an abridged manner. The Query should describe character, conflict, options, plot, and do so in a voice that illustrates the writers ability.  The story I'm trying to finish up is Port Templar. Below are three different Query's. (Of probably 30 different approaches.) Any thoughts? 

Query one: Telephone message.
 “Come on dad, be home……
Come on…
Hey Dad you there…..pick up…it’s me…
Hey dad, ah… Christ, I’m sorry to leave this on your cell phone….
Dad, I know the last sixteen years have been hell…. for both of us…I just found proof that Lonnie didn't kill Sheriff Cranston.
          Dad,…Lonnie’s alive and I know where he is…..I’m going to get him, but I gotta go now.
          You warned me Port Templar was dark, real dark. Remember?
          I've been Sheriff now for six years, and I’m just finding out the crap that’s been hidden around here.
Dad it’s complicated and doesn't sound real…..but listen…remember the wreck of the Templar back in 1888?...
It had that missing lifeboat with the Captain and the Chief Engineer and their crews. They were lost…well they weren't  They landed on that island,… the bird sanctuary one……Mac..ah… Mackinaw Island.
                    That night they found shelter in a deep cavern…and woke up sixteen years later…..Doc says it’s because of dense formations sulfide mixed with hydrogen from the cavern… once they awake they’re good for about a year then they have to hibernate for another sixteen years….shit it sounds insane….if they don’t hibernate all the years spent sleeping catches up with them.
          Dad, they've been leapfrogging thru time.
          The Captain made a ton of money thru investments, and compounded interest on his bank accounts. He’s real bad news dad, He’s got Lonnie. He’s had people killed….he’s trying to force history to his way of thinking.
          The Chief Engineer, David and his crew, have been trying to stop him.
          Dad…..I’m going to get my little brother back, but I hope I won’t be coming back.
          I love you, be strong like you taught me…”
          Sheriff Carlyle hangs up the phone, thinks about David and smiles briefly. Then glares out the window and knows that nothing, absolutely nothing will stop her

Query Two. with a Maine accent.

My name’s Gubby… I run the garage up ta Port Templar. She’s a gorgeous Maine town that’s got everything; lobstah rolls, steamers, even sells lobstah magnets to them damn tourists.
Port Templar’s named after this steamship that got caught in a Nor-eastah back in 1891. She run aground and hove to… then the tide took her to the ledges. And good Christ did them rocks have at her…oh don’t worry none… all them folks lived.
          One of them lifeboats landed on an island, and they took shelter in a deep cavern. Odd thing is they woke up 14 years later….like that Van Rimple fella.
          I guess they’re awake for a year, then they have to go back down to that Godforsaken cavern to sleep for another 14 years. Why if they don’t, all them years catch up.
It’s like they’re leapfrogging thru time.
          The Captain of the Templar; Buchanan…. he’s a wicked… vicious….well let’s just say I don’t imagine he knew who to send a father’s day card to…if you catch my drift.
Buchanan’s been investing a lot of money over time and made a bundle.  He’s gotten tired of the course history’s been charting and wants to steer it himself. He’s even hired mercenaries; why he had that other Kennedy brother killed and Martin Luther King Jr too.
The Chief Engineer; David… now he’s a decent fella. He’s been tryin to stop Buchanan, but he’s in a jam. You see Buchanan had all David’s men killed in their sleep, that’s the kinda dog he is.
           Ain’t much time, so us locals are going to help David.
 If we stop Buchanan; David’s going to have to return alone to that chamber.
           Now I seen David making eyes at our Sheriff.
 Let me tell ya; Sheriff Carlyle is… one… tough… cookie.
 But then again; she ain’t exactly been looking away from him neither.”

Query Three, latest concept, still needs honing.

Sheriff Tess Carlyle is in a bind; seems she’s finally met Mr. Wright.
David Krieger-Wright is the problem; he’s 145 years old and was The Templar’s former Chief Engineer.
The Steamship Templar ran aground during a Nor’easter back in 1891.All the passengers and most of the crew got safely off the wreck and made it to shore. The rest of the crew managed to beach a leaking lifeboat on a nearby island. They slept in a cavern and awoke fourteen years later. They’re conscious for a year, but then they have to return to the cavern and repeat the fourteen year hibernation cycle. If they don’t; all the years they slept, catch up with them.
They’re leapfrogging through time.
David has a problem, well two actually. He loves Tess, and his Captain is trying to kill him.
The Templar’s Captain; Buchanan, has hired mercenaries and had David’s crew murdered in their sleep. Buchanan has made a bundle through long term investments. He uses that wealth to assassinate influential politicians who he feels are counter to his beliefs.
David and Tess, along with some locals plan to stop Buchanan from directing the course he thinks history should take.
          Neither Tess nor David know how to tell each other they want to make this time travel romance work.
          At least David doesn't have to worry about how to tell her; he’s killed during the assault to stop Buchanan.
Tess is inconsolable, but there might be an option. A small trespass in the fabric of time might get them back together. She could go to his chamber and gamble on leapfrogging forward through time. Maybe somewhere in the future she could fund the fabrication of a time travel machine, and save him.
She would then have to return alone; in her time travel machine.
But it would allow Tess and David another chance to be together.  
          Either way, Tess has a long journey alone.

Need to really, really re-work that last paragraph. Sounds like a mouthful of sand. It's hard to condense alternate time lines into two or three sentence's. Anyway, so much for being in the 250 word neighborhood, I'm not even in the same f-ing state.

Anyway, if I gave you a headache reading this, my apologies.

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