Query Draft #100? Who’s Counting!

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Laughter is the best medicine, or so the proverb goes. I need a little laughter these days. I’ve been hard at work crafting the query letter for my novel, The Lesser Betrayal, and it has been exhausting. Worthwhile! But exhausting.

My brain is completely fried.

I’ve gone through countless drafts, revising minute details, or scrapping the whole thing and starting fresh. All the while I’ve tried to answer the questions Janet Reid (still can’t thank her enough!) gave me at the Midwest Writers Workshop this past July. Those questions are: (1) Who is the main character? (2) What does she want? (3) Who or what is blocking her? (4) What does she sacrifice?

It has been incredibly helpful – absolutely necessary – to focus on answering those questions. Yet, what I’ve learned so far is that answering the questions is one thing. Using them to craft a query letter is quite another.

Admittedly, my biggest problem is trying to add too much detail to the query. I’ve done my best to cut it down to the necessary stuff. But even then, I’ve had to reword each sentence hundreds of times. I’ve had to save it, close it, and set it aside at times in order to clear my head.

It’s mind-boggling to craft a query letter. But I think I might be getting close to a decent product.

Below is the most recent draft at 292 words. It’s just the guts of the query, not the full letter.

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Long ago, Ashura’s ancestors were betrayed by the immortal father of all people and cursed with mortality. Now, Tellia is a world divided between mortals and immortals. And divisions among the mortals run deep.

Ashura has trained to be warrior since she was fifteen segments old. Like all women in the Queendom of Hoqra, she will guard her home from the kingdoms that want to destroy the only land where women rule. When her older sister is killed in yet another invasion, Ashura’s one desire is to protect the family she has left.

Ashura’s plans are ruined when she’s claimed by a master of the powerful Order of Shifqu and forced to leave her family. Yet, in the Order, Ashura discovers another way to protect her family. If Ashura can help the Order break the curse of mortality, she’ll do more than protect them: she’ll save them from death.

Ashura’s mission is to kill the latest-born princess of the immortal Children of Ainariel. When she is captured in the middle of the attempted assassination, she expects to be executed. Instead, Ashura is forgiven and shown kindness. The benevolence of her enemies causes Ashura to question her people’s version of the curse.

Then, Ashura is healed of the curse and given immortality. She realizes her people have been wrong about everything. Ashura’s enemies become her friends.

When the Order of Shifqu attacks the princess’s village in force, Ashura’s former friends become her enemies. Ashura must choose to protect the Children of Ainariel, or let the Order kill them. If she fights the Order of Shifqu, she’ll sacrifice ever seeing her family again. When every choice she has is a betrayal of some kind, the best Ashura can do is choose the lesser betrayal.

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I’m going to sit on this one for a while. I’m going to read it again in a day or two and see how I might be able to tweak it or clarify something. Writing a query letter is a LOT of work. For me, it’s proved to be the most difficult part of the publishing process. But I know when I get it right, it’ll be worth all the brain-frying effort I’ve put into it.

Christopher

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