Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Q is for Query
I may be forgetful, but at least I usually stay on the right track.
So queries. Queries are freaking HARD, man. You take tens of thousands of words and cut it down to 250. And not just condensing your story into 250 words, but making the 250 INTERESTING words, words arranged in a way that make the agent or publisher go, "I need to read this." Words that say, "This story is awesome, I know how to write clearly and concisely, and you should take a chance on me." And when these people get a few dozen queries a day, for which reading them is usually near the bottom of their To Do list, yours has got to jump out, grab them by the throat and scream, "I DESERVE YOUR ATTENTION!"
After months of studying Query Shark and AW's Query Letter Hell, I wrote a query. I thought it was awesome.
Well, not with me. With each other. There was a mixed bag, but the general opinion was, "This story sounds awesome, you could probably get interest with this, but you can clean it up."
I have cleaned it up four times now, trying to narrow down what to include, what's not as important to know right now. Some people still prefer the first one I wrote, while others think the fourth one is getting close. The fifth one has gone to the squirrels now, so before it gets torn to shreds, I'm also going to share it here.
Seventeen-year-old Hannah MacIntyre is dead. It’s okay, though, she’s not dead-dead. At least, that’s what the boogeyman at the foot of her bed tells her before asking if he can have her socks. He’s hungry.
If the boogeyman is to be believed, Hannah’s won the afterlife lottery. She’s now a reaper - an immortal assistant to Death himself, tasked with filling the needs of both dead and undead. Guiding dead souls to the afterlife and supplying vampires with blood bags isn’t the work she imagined after graduation, but it’s got its perks. She’s seeing the world, meeting new people (albeit briefly), and making new friends, primarily with a walking glitterbomb preteen reaper who’s decided they’re putting the “forever” in BFF.
But Death favors protecting humans over indulging those undead who want to eat them, and the boogeymen and vampires are done being held back. Led by an undying sorcerer intent on becoming the new Death, they rip away the reaper’s immortality, execute Death, and begin feasting on the living, starting with Hannah’s coworkers. Without her boss to re-reaper-ize her, dying a second time isn’t an option, so Hannah flees, taking the reapers’ prized possession - the Earth’s hourglass - with her.
The world can’t survive long without someone doing Death’s job, but if the sorcerer’s coup succeeds, the surviving humans will be nothing more than cattle. Hunted by the vampires and struggling to relearn how to be mortal, Hannah must find someone to fill Death’s shoes herself or die again trying.
THE BUSINESS OF BEING DEAD is a YA paranormal fantasy complete at 67,000 words.
So there you have it. Attempt #5 to sum up my story in 250 words. We'll have to see how many further attempts get made until there's some sort of squirrely consensus.