Monday, May 17, 2010

Query Letter - first attempt

I think we all dread writing query letters, don't we?  I'd rather be doing this...

Yes, even that looks more fun the trying to condense my complex story into less than 300 words. Anyhow, this is my first attempt in a long time. I've never sent a query letter, so I have no feedback from agents. Perhaps some readers will help me out.

Naturally with such constrictions, I must focus the letter on just one of the main characters. I'll leave out the standard personalized intro and outro paragraphs and just post the meat of it here. I'm not thrilled with it, but it does at least cover the main ideas for this character's story arc.  Thanks for any ideas.

Query for The Shard, epic fantasy 130,000 words

Three years ago the minor noble Midas lost a son in an ambush by a troll. Now with his marriage crumbling and the Known Lands threatened by an invasion from a mysterious and deadly race of dragon men, Midas is torn between his duty to raise his two remaining sons to be proper warriors and the insistence of his wife that he keep the boys safe.

He takes his sons to war, but hopes to shield them from danger. His intentions go awry when a seer involves them in a plan to defeat the dragon men by finding a shard of a shattered magical relic, lost centuries ago in the lair of the most vicious dragon ever known.

After surviving the dragon, cannibals, deadly ice-wraiths, and a chase through a lost underground city, Midas and his remaining friends find the shard and join the armies of men, elves, and dwarves to confront the ultra-disciplined horde of dragon men, only to discover that the magic of the shard doesn’t work as expected. Midas is faced with the most excruciating of decisions -- save his sons, or save the realm and risk losing everyone that he loves.


  1. Well, I don't read epic fantasy, but I thought this query was pretty good. Hook, conflict, motivation, goal were all covered.

    I don't think you need to have their ages. And I don't think you need to add any more characters. What you have is strong and tells the major story.

    I like the ending sentence. Pretty much sums everything up.

    Rick Daley has a query forum that I like -- Take a look and see what you think. I think it's easier to use than other forums I've seen. Query Shark is great but I've been waiting for her to do my query since last October.

    Good luck with this Ted, it sounds really intriguing.

  2. I would take any advice offered by the lovely, Anne (Piedmont Writer). She knows what she's talking about.

    I won't comment on your query Ted, as you and I are in exactly the same boat. And I don't feel I have the right (or the experience) to voice my opinion one way or the other, except to say it was very well written. Your story sounds fascinating.

    I wish you luck. Keep us posted :)

  3. Wow, great query! I love the premise. You've done a great job giving us a taste. I already feel connected to Midas. Best of luck!

  4. I'll check out that site. I guess what bothers me about it is that I've heard we are supposed to allow our writing voice to come through in these, yet I don't feel that is the case. I have to squeeze so much in and leave so much out that I have these compound sentences that I would normally never make.

  5. Hey Ted, looks good. Maybe the last sentence of your first paragraph could be revised to leave out the names of the sons? You don't truly need that phrase set off with dashes; it interrupts the flow and the sentence is about Midas's conflict, not about whether one son is peaceful and the other is competitive.

    Are the dragon men bipeds? Do they fly? Breathe fire? What do the dragon men want? That's what I was interested in knowing more about. Hope that helps.

  6. Thanks Kevin. Sure, I can take the names out. There was an earlier version where I went into the later death of Alekas, so naming them was more important.

    The dragon men (called wyrmen in my book) are quite mysterious - a race never before seen. From my perspective they are not truly a focal point of the story, but just an incidental happening that is causing the various characters to do what they are doing. I've really struggled with this, because I can imagine agents saying that I am not fleshing them out enough, yet that was never my intention. The fact that they turn out to be drones, like worker bees, means that it is actually quite hard to give them much personality beyond their simplistic motives.