Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I might put in a query

I haven't seriously begun drafting a query letter or writing a full length synopsis for Kindred, but here's a paragraph I'm playing around with, that could go in a query. It's meant to introduce the main characters and conflict, not give a full plot breakdown. Sort of like what you'd find on the back cover of a paperback.
Ian Cameron's life has had its fits and starts. Erstwhile Boston cabinetmaker, sometime frontier trapper gone half-native in his sensibilities, Ian is still unsettled at twenty-four, a prodigal in his father's eyes. Now he's come to North Carolina hoping to remake himself again--into a slave-owning planter--and find a way back into his father's good graces. Just a few complications bar his way. Ian isn't crazy about slavery. His aunt Lucinda thinks he's a savage. His uncle Hugh thinks he's a replacement for the son who died long ago. His cousin Rosalyn is bent on seducing him. Thomas, his boyhood friend, has followed him south posing as his slave. And then there's Seona. Light-skinned, green-eyed, in servitude to his family... but is she more than just their slave? What draws her to the wooded ridge to spend her few hours of freedom in solitude? When Ian uncovers more family secrets than he bargained for, it seems he's once again doomed to tear down a life he's built. Only this time, more than his own life may come crashing down.

Edited to add: for the actual query I'd pare this down some, ideally to about half the length!


  1. Hmmm...pretty good. This would certainly catch my attention. :-)


  2. Joan,


    I take constructive feedback (as you well know!) :)

  3. Lori, I love it. If I didn't already want to read the book, I would now.

    Wanna write mine? [g]

  4. Beth,


    The core* of it is based on feedback I got months ago from Lauri. It helps to have my characters and story explained back to me in someone else's words.

    *specifically: "Ian isn't crazy about slavery. His aunt Lucinda thinks he's a savage." Her list went on a little differently, but those two phrases gave me the bones for this attempt at a query teaser.

  5. Lori, how do you write so much? How many words a day do you average? It amazes me!

    Thanks for leaving the comment on my sold-first-novel blog. I, too, was a 2nd place finisher of the Genesis. ;-)

    I don't think you're signed up for the infrequent, humorous newsletter yet, so stop on by and you might win the book when it comes out in September!

  6. Christina,

    How do I write so much? LOL. I wish someone would tell me how I do it--so I could stop it!

    No, there's a reason Kindred turned out so long, but it's a long story that I've probably answered in my earliest blog posts, in the archives. Had to do with chemo brain and not being able to grasp the whole story, so writing it piecemeal and adding way too much extraneous stuff, though at the time I didn't realize it would BE extraneous....

    I'm not writing new stuff right now, just slashing and burning and cutting back the novel I've written. I figured it out today. Counting the previous edit I did a few months ago, plus what I've cut so far in the current edit, I've cut 106,000 words off Kindred.

    That's longer than some novels. Ahem.

    When I am writing first draft, I average between 500 and 2000 words a day, with the normal being right at or under 1000.

    Thanks for stopping by!