First of all, I need to thank you people profusely for all your help. Honestly, I'm amazed by the volume of feedback my last post generated. There were many keen observations observed, and fresh perspectives perspected, and I am hugely grateful. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you people are the best people I know.
So okay -- I don't know guys. I understand the arguments for stripping the paragraphs about the Nephilim, but I can't bring myself to start my query with the word 'when'. Dang near 40% of all query letters start with the word 'when'. My biggest problem with most of the queries I read is all the sad conformity. Same rhythym, same obligatory listing of events, same obligatory 'but who is that masked man?' questions. It's like there's really only one query letter in existence and writers are just plugging their character's names into it. I don't know how agents can stand to read them.
Here is my query/synopsis for Elfhame. Even now, I look at it and see things I'd like to change, but this little baby snagged me five requests for partials and two requests for fulls. That makes me think that somewhere in here, I've done something right.
Because of the faeries, she’ll have to lie and steal. She’ll have to disguise herself and hide. She’ll have to bluff, and run, and at times, she’ll even have to fight. She is a thirteen-year-old slave, and she’ll do anything to get free.
Xierna knows that her mother’s name is Carowyn, she knows that their home is at the bottom of a green valley, and she knows that a monstrous changeling currently resides there, sleeping in her bed, eating her meals, and living her life under the sun with her mother. Since the day they’d been switched as infants, Xierna has known only hardship and labor, underground, in the twilight realms of Elfhame.
To mankind, Elfhame is nothing but a folk-tale – a story to amuse their children before they’re tucked into bed – but to Xierna, it is the only world she has ever known. Home to an array of mythic races, Elfhame is divided into thirteen wondrous brughs, connected only by a series of enchanted portals: chambers of doors called ‘sitheins’. Xierna knows the ancient path through them. She’s acquired the proper pass-warde. And this time she’ll let nothing stand between her and her freedom.
(this picture has nothing to do with anything - just wanted to share)
For me, conformity is anathema. I'm freaking Cindy Lauper (or maybe Punky Brewster), you know? That's kind of why I posted two versions of my potential query; I'm in danger of doing something 'over-the-top' goofy, and I need people to talk me out of it. Then again, I won't force myself to sound like everybody else, either. I don't know. I want to trust my own gut, but it still warrants more thought, I guess. Good thing I have a few more weeks until my sixth draft is done and I need to start querying.
(Speaking of which, Absolute Write folks -- isn't there a forum where people post their queries for critique? I've looked a couple times but can't find it.)
One last thing, even though I'm a former pastor, the biblical stuff in my book is not inherently 'Christian'. It's sort of along the lines 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' because it takes something from the Bible, and exploits it for the sake of entertainment. It could also be compared to 'The DaVinci Code' because it borrows one of its central concepts from non-canonized, apocryphal scriptures (the Book of Enoch). And I think we all remember the sh#tstorm that caused. Any suggestions as to how I can safely make this distinction in my query letter? Assuming I decide to leave the Bible stuff in?
(This will most likely not be a very commentable post for most of you. Sorry. If you'd like to let me know you were here, but have nothing really to contribute, might I suggest insincere flattery? Your own original limerick? Or perhaps you could congratulate me on one week smoke-free?)