Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Face-Lift 748


Guess the Plot

The Shadow's Edge

1. After his family moves to the deep south, Julien is treated like an outsider. He has no close friends. And just when he thinks things can't get any worse . . . Hitler invades! The shadow of the Third Reich has a long reach.

2. Hank Horowitz always thought of his shadow as an out-of-focus, benevolent figure that followed him around. But when he finds his shaving cream replaced with denture adhesive, and discovers he’s unable to go half a block without encountering a banana peel, he realizes that fuzzy shape’s got a definite mean streak.

3. Jim's friends all say that it's impossible to step on your own shadow's head. But Jim has recently become aware of an amazing celestial phenomenon: the sun moves in the sky! He issues a challenge to the nay-sayers: "Meet me on the playground by the swings at high noon." Jim will crush the puny psycho-religious beliefs of the other four-year-olds.

4. At the Shadow's Edge there is a town of peg-leg men and parrots, where all the dogs are named Millie. Is there something in the Shadow's Edge that robs men of their legs and their imagination? Now, one man dares to name his dog Bob. Can Javis avoid the Shadow and keep both his legs? Or will the mysterious drunk woman chasing him with a chainsaw claim more than his love.

5. Postal carrier Mark Kingman doesn’t worry about getting mauled by an untrained dog on his route. He fears sunny days—and the shadows they bring. Demons lurk in the shadows. When Mark trips while sprinting from a front porch to his mail truck, will he be trapped in the darkness . . . forever?

6. The Planet Xanth has a Light Side and a Dark Side. Rotating on its axis as it swings around Beta Centauri, one side of the planet faces away from the sun in eternal night. No Xanthan dares enter there--except one intrepid Xanthling named Grol. What terrors will Grol find beyond . . . the Shadow's Edge?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In The Shadow's Edge, set in France during the first two years of World War II, a school rivalry becomes a matter of life and death for two Jewish refugees.

Fifteen-year-old Julien is angry. His family has moved from Paris to his father's hometown in the deep south, [This makes me think Mississippi rather than the south of France. I'd name the town instead of saying the deep south.] where the guys at school stare at him and won't let him in on their soccer games. His family's new boarder--German, Jewish, nerdy, and in his class--isn't helping. Nor is the fact that Hitler has invaded Poland, and France has declared war. [This seems to imply that Julien blames Hitler for his troubles at his new school. That may be the case, but the order of magnitude of the causes of his problems is so different it sounds like a joke: I'm not making friends because I'm new in town, there's a nerd living in my house, and Hitler invaded Poland. It's like saying Jeff is afraid to ask Millie to the prom because he's shy and he wears braces and the Zorgon fleet is attacking Earth.]

But nothing happens on the border for months, while Julien, through grit, soccer skills, and a near-death experience in a snowstorm, finally wins over most of his class--except for class leader Henri. Then Germany invades. [Don't you just hate it when a genocidal megalomaniac bases his military decisions on how best to screw up your social life?]

As his country falls in a matter of weeks, Julien's world changes drastically. School closes, there's not enough food, no one can believe this is happening. Profoundly relieved when surrender terms name the south as an unoccupied zone, Julien gradually realizes all is not well: [Your country just surrendered to Hitler; "all is not well" is an understatement.] the new Vichy government is collaborating with the Nazis. As school resumes he sets up a rivalry with Henri over the new fascist flag-salute; Henri's power is eroding, his belief in Vichy growing unpopular. Julien is gaining ground. [He thinks, If Belgium would just hurry up and surrender, Henri would be toast.]

Then two teenage refugees get off the train: Gustav and Nina from Austria. Henri's father, the stationmaster, looks at them and smells trouble; he offers them a ticket back out of town, and Julien witnesses the scene. They refuse; Nina is very sick, they need help desperately. Julien guides them to the pastor's house at their request. But Henri's father has called the mayor, who tells the pastor's wife these "illegal immigrants" have a choice: to leave town quietly or be sent to a Vichy internment camp. She says they'll leave. Julien helps to hide them in town.

Then Henri tells Julien he knows they're not gone, and asks where they're staying. Now Julien has to convince him not to tell his father--if he fails, Nina may die.

But who has ever listened to his enemy?


The story of Gustav and Nina's journey from Austria is also told, in short vignettes between chapters. As Nina's father lay dying of TB in the summer of 1939, he told her:Leave Austria, you and your brother. Burn your papers. Find a place where you are safe. But a narrow escape from a stranger who offered to help them cross the border makes Nina wonder: did her father understand what kind of world he was sending them out into? Or is her uncle right, who told her to stay put, that there is no safety, that everywhere there are evil men? This question haunts her as she and Gustav make their uncertain way across half of Europe, wondering if there will ever be a place for them. [Their story sounds more exciting than Julien's.]

Complete at 88,000 words, The Shadow's Edge is a Christian historical YA novel for teens who like a good life-or-death story and for parents and teachers who want to enrich their kids' school study of WWII and the Holocaust. It is loosely based on the true story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the only town to be honored by the state of Israel for rescuing Jews during the war.

I won contests for poetry and creative nonfiction in college. The Shadow's Edge is my first novel. My mother, Lydia Munn, and I are the co-authors.

Sincerely,


Notes

This too much detail for a query letter. The Gustav/Nina vignettes paragraph can go. The nerd boarder can go. The pastor can go.

I assume the main plot involves saving the refugees. This is more compelling than whether Julien gets to play soccer. Possibly the story lies in Henri and Julien realizing there are more important things than the school pecking order? (The story might be even more compelling if Julien weren't on the rise and Henri on the decline already.) In any case, focus more on saving Gustav and Nina, and less on Julien's problems. We just need to know Henri and Julien are rivals, so we can appreciate how their relationship affects the bigger picture.

It seems like it would be hard for the Nazis to round up Jews in the south if the south was unoccupied. Not they were trustworthy, but if you want to give the impression you aren't occupying the south, infiltrating every town looking for refugees is going about it the wrong way. No wonder they lost.

If this is for a Christian market, are you sure you don't need a little something about the religious angle? There's no indication the pastor does anything to help the refugees. The stationmaster and mayor don't strike me as typical Le Chambon-sur-Lignon heroes.

31 comments:

josephrobertlewis said...

EE hit all the nails on the head.

The Henri / Julien rivalry is boring.

The refugees appear to be the focus of real conflict.

The Christian aspect needs to be more explicit if that is your marketing angle.

Dave F. said...

I'm struggling with the location just being "deep south" of France. I've never been to France and my knowledge of it consists of watching the Tour de France bicycle races (Which is pretty superficial)... However, I know enough from VERSUS to understand that southern France has places as different as the Cote D'Azur to the Pyrenees to the Bay of Biscay, which are all vastly different geographically. I presume part of the reason for the story is travelogue. Who doesn't want to spend a vacation on the Cote D'Azur? Or ski La Mongie in winter and cycle up the Col du Tourmalet in summer?

I don't get even that hint of location in the query. I also don't get that the Mayor is a Vichy sympathizer or that Julien's family are Free France. You should also check out if the term "illegal immigrant" was used over "refugee" or "displaced person" and other terms.

This is a good idea. Two boys discover there is more to life when the shadow of the Nazi's falls over them in the form of Jews fleeing persecution. That's always a good story.

Dave F. said...

I just looked up Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and it's closer to the Alps than the Pyrenees and the Col de Tourmalet and the Cote D'Azur. Sorry about that. It's still gorgeous countryside that most if the USA never sees.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Hmmmm. This is a tough one to comment on because there is so much detail and the story is obviously very complex.

I like the opening lines a lot!

My thoughts on the summary are:
- I got confused with the line "His family's new boarder--German, Jewish, nerdy, and in his class--isn't helping." -- is that "border"? If someone is renting the house it's not mentioned anywhere else.

-- near death experience in a snowstorm? If that's not relevant to the plot, take it out. If it is, expand on it.

The query seems to lose some steam when the teens get off the train. I agree with EE that storyline seems to have more tension, but the query kind of became a "he said, then they did, then he did, then they did" type of description without many "hooks."

Overall a good start, though.

Heather M said...

It's more complicated than it sounds. It's unbelievably complicated. If you really want to know, the near-death experience in the snowstorm is related to the plot because Julien is rescued by Henri's burly sidekick Pierre, whom Julien has previously had a fistfight with in defense of Benjamin the nerdy boarder (yes, boarder, a kid whose parents are paying room and board so he can live with Julien's family, out of harm's way in the south), and that (the rescue) is how he and Pierre become friends, which becomes important later... I'm thinking this should be left OUT of the query!

If you want more complications, I can explain about the unoccupied thing... OK, I can't resist! See, they're not actually being rounded up by the Nazis, they're being rounded up by Vichy, which is a wee bit fascistic itself, and is interning "undesirables"--Gypsies, foreign Jews if they're poor or look like trouble, refugees from the wrong side of the Spanish Civil War... (Not gassing. Just interning. In absolutely horrible conditions.) But since the collaboration with the Nazis will only grow, for Jews those Vichy internment camps will be a direct pipeline to the death camps later in the war. Nobody know this yet, so I had to get Nina good and desperately ill to make sure everyone can see she's in danger.

Working on a new version...

Heather M said...

OK. How about this:


Dear Evil Editor,

In The Shadow's Edge, set in France during the first two years of World War II, a school rivalry becomes a matter of life and death for two Jewish refugees.

In Tanieux, a village in the hills in southern France, fifteen-year-old Julien is the new guy from Paris, struggling to make a place for himself at school... then, suddenly, struggling to come to terms with the invasion and total defeat of his country. As the dust settles and the south becomes Vichy France, under the control of a new government that collaborates with the Nazis, Julien and his rival Henri face off angrily at school, each with a group of followers, over whether the Vichy leaders can be trusted. Julien's aggressive attempts to make Henri see the truth only widen the divide.

But when Julien sees two teenage Jewish refugees get off the train in Tanieux, ragged and hungry--and watches Henri's father, the stationmaster, take one look at them and offer them a ticket back out of town--his anger flares into rage. He helps to hide the two refugees as Henri's father puts the mayor on their trail with a threat to send them to a Vichy internment camp. He gets to know them: Nina, the older sister of the pair, is dangerously sick, and terribly close to despair. He wishes he could kill Henri and his father both.

Then Henri comes to him at school, and tells him quietly that he knows the refugees are somewhere in town. He wants to know where. No, he hasn't told his father yet. Julien must convince him not to tell his father--and if he fails, Nina may die.

But who has ever listened to his enemy?

Complete at 88,000 words, The Shadow's Edge is a Christian historical YA novel for teens who like a good life-or-death story, for parents and teachers who want to enrich their kids' school study of WWII and the Holocaust, and for anyone who ever wondered what Jesus meant by “love your enemies.” It is loosely based on the true story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the only town to be honored by the state of Israel for rescuing Jews during the war.

I won contests for poetry and creative nonfiction in college. The Shadow's Edge is my first novel. My mother, Lydia Munn, and I are the co-authors.

Sincerely,

Heather M

Marissa Doyle said...

Question to EE--since this book is co-written, does the agent represent each co-author, or just the book they write together? Not sure if that has any bearing on how one queries...

Evil Editor said...

Agents represent people. In the case of coauthors, it's possible each coauthor would have her own agent. If you feel Kristin Nelson is your dream agent, and your coauthor feels Miss Snark is her dream agent, you can each have your way. Miss Snark will argue that you did all the work on the book, while Ms. Nelson will argue that you did next to nothing.

You want to choose your agent with an eye toward a long-term relationship, not just this book.

_*rachel*_ said...

This sounds like it's got the Turkey City Lexicon's "Squid on the Mantelpiece." To quote: "It’s hard to properly dramatize, say, the domestic effects of Dad’s bank overdraft when a giant writhing kraken is levelling the city." Replace the bank overdraft with lycee rivalry, and the kraken with Hitler.

In essence, it sounds here like the rivalry is the point of the book, not the setup. If it's the point of the book, you might want to reconsider.

OK, I just read the new version. It's a lot better this time, though I'm not quite sure how to critique it. My only definite nitpick is that your first sentence makes me think the two refugees are Henri and Julien.

Kirsten Nelsen or Miss Snark? My mind is exploding.

Heather M said...

Yeah that sounds fun EE... an Agent War with my mom...

Anonymous said...

The Christian tag at the end kind of threw me. There was no indication of this marketing detail whatsoever in the rest of the query.

Matthew said...

Just trying to streamline this for you...

In Nazi controlled Vichy France, fifteen-year-old Julien Dubois and his nemesis Henri Riel have formed rival gangs at school. Henri supports the new regime, but Julien foresees the truth -- that the growing Vichy interment camps will eventually be a direct pipeline to the Nazi death camps.

When Julien encounters two Jewish refugees, he finds them a place to hide. But Henri, eager to prove himself to his father (a member of the new Vichy government), takes it upon himself to find and capture the same refugees...and their trail leads straight to Julien's doorstep.

Does Julien hand over the refugees in order to protect his family? Or does he escape with the refugees, putting everyone he cares about at risk?
***

That's how I see your story. I hope it helps.

Joe G said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with relating a domestic YA drama set during a great historical event, such as Hitler taking over.

The Book Thief did it pretty well.

It sounds interesting, you just need to make the ideas connect in the query. Also I think it's good that the B story sounds instantly compelling. That should make the reader hungry for more of it, rather than annoyed when you leave the main characters.

Phoenix said...

Hi Heather: The revise is MUCH better at getting to the heart of the conflict. Maybe marry your version with Matthew's to tighten it a bit more.

Pay special attention to Matthew's stakes paragraph. That's the part in your version that didn't pull me in. If the Vichy is already on the refugees' tails, then Henri saying he knows they're in town isn't much of a threat and Julien simply not saying anything isn't much of a resolution.

Heather M said...

Matthew, great streamlining, but... unfortunately, that's not how the book goes at all.

This book is a b**** to get into a query, man.

One of the wrinkles is: no one's really pursuing the Jews because they are Jews. Not quite yet. It's only 1940. (This is going to be a trilogy.) Also no one in France knows there are death camps in Germany. The Vichy gov't in particular is trying to make everything look all legal and nice. (They're just refugee camps!) This is one of the unique aspects of the book, once you're actually reading it: Julien's not handed a ready-made truth about Vichy. He has to figure it out for himself. Normally, hide-the-Jews adventure stories open in 1943, when everything's all clear. We wanted this one to be different.

Okay, what really happens (maybe this will help you help me!): Julien takes the refugees to the pastor's house, because that's where they ask to go. The pastor's wife naively goes to the mayor and asks him to provide ration cards (which is illegal, 'cause they're not citizens nor legal residents), but the mayor's gotten a call from Henri's dad. Who just thinks these people are undesirables, that's all--they look dirty and untrustworthy, and there's hardly enough food to go around even without taking in beggars. So the mayor tells the pastor's wife, "Get 'em out of town or they'll be sent to a camp where they belong." Julien and his mom help the pastor's wife find places for the refugees to hide (separately, for logistical reasons.) Henri spots one of them with Julien in the street one night (going to visit the other), then he comes to Julien about it and wants to know where they are and why didn't they do what the mayor said.

The danger is that Henri will tell his father. Without the trapdoors and hidden panels that will be constructed later in the war ;), it's gonna be hard to keep them hidden for long once the dad and the mayor know they're in town; especially since Nina's sick and can't be moved. (That's why the rivalry matters. Henri's pretty likely not to listen to Julien because J's been a jerk to him. It's going to be pretty hard for him to admit that Julien's been right about Vichy, even though he's beginning to suspect it might be so...)

So, the stakes are: if Henri tells his father, Nina will get taken to a camp and die. And what confused you, Phoenix, about the stakes, was the "on their trail" bit, which I need to change. It was just an easy way of constructing the sentence. Too easy.

Let's see...

"When the mayor, incited by Henri's father, orders them to leave town or be sent to a Vichy internment camp, Julien helps to hide them and make it look like they've left."

Oh, and uh, thank you all very much for helping me think about this...

Word ver: plierifi. One of the Italian villages Nina and her brother went through on their way to France...

_*rachel*_ said...

Heather: That retelling in your last comment isn't too bad. Could you merge it with one of your query attempts, trim a lot, and see if that helps?

josephrobertlewis said...

@Heather: it sounds like there is a subtle flaw in your story. Most people associate WWII and the Nazis with death camps, not with pre-death refugee camps.

So I think readers will assume the stakes are much higher than what you describe. They may be underwhelmed when they find out the Jews in your story are in no danger of being executed.

(It would be like writing a story about bombing Hiroshima...without an atomic bomb. It's still bad, but much less bad than our historical knowledge of the event.)

So it sounds like the real story is two boys arguing over whether to be mean to two foreign kids.

I suggest you write the query with a focus on this decision of whether to reveal the refugees. Leave out the backstory and leave out the plot details about mayors and pastors.

What does Julien do? What does Henri do? How do they grow or learn? Does this have the "Hollywood" ending where everyone lives happily ever after, or something less expected?

Heather M said...

Another attempt. Thanks very much for the helpful comments.


Dear Evil Editor,

In The Shadow's Edge, set in France during the first two years of World War II, a school rivalry becomes a matter of life and death for two Jewish refugees.

In Tanieux, a village in the hills in southern France, fifteen-year-old Julien and his school rival Henri have hated each other ever since Julien walked onto the soccer field Henri thought of as “his.” Even the shock of their country's being conquered couldn't make them allies for long. Now they face off angrily over whether the new Vichy government is really collaborating with the Nazis.

Then the stakes get much, much higher.

Two teenage Jewish refugees who've recently arrived in town are in danger of being sent to a Vichy internment camp as “undesirables”--and it's Henri's father who's trying to get them interned. Julien helps a network of generous local people hide them and make it look like they've left town. Nina, the older sister of the pair, is dangerously sick and can't be moved. Julien, afraid for her, vents his anger in vicious confrontations with Henri.

Then Henri comes to Julien at school and tells him quietly that he knows they're still in town. That Julien ought to “do the right thing” and tell him where they are. No, he hasn't told his father--yet.

Julien tries to tell Henri that Nina and her brother, as Jews, are in more danger than most people know from the government Henri trusts. That the rumors are true, the Vichy camps are hellholes where even healthy people sicken and die. Henri turns and walks away.

But a week later he still hasn't told his father.

Could Henri ever swallow his pride and admit he's been wrong about Vichy? Can Julien convince him to keep his secret--Julien, the one who's tried to humiliate him in front of his friends in the schoolyard? Nina's life is at stake... but who has ever listened to his enemy?

Complete at 88,000 words, The Shadow's Edge is a Christian historical YA novel for teens who like a good life-or-death story, for parents and teachers who want to enrich their kids' school study of WWII and the Holocaust, and for anyone who ever wondered what Jesus meant by “love your enemies.” It is loosely based on the true story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the only town to be honored by the state of Israel for rescuing Jews during the war.

I won contests for poetry and creative nonfiction in college. The Shadow's Edge is my first novel. My mother, Lydia M, and I are the co-authors.

Sincerely,

Heather M

josephrobertlewis said...

@Heather:

A much better start, but you veer off into a meandering plot summary at "Then Henri comes to Julien..." Cut that out, and replace the "suspenseful" questions with actual answers.

"Julien must do X to convince Henri of the truth and save Nina's life." And then what is the ending? Do the refugees go somewhere safe? Are they adopted by Julien's parents? Do the Germans show up anyway and kill them?

And edit down the paragraph about the book's themes and history.

The rule of thumb for a query is 10 well-balanced sentences. You have 23 sentences, some of which run very long.

Edit ruthlessly!

Amy said...

I was with you for the first three paragraphs, and then the query got long and confusing; I couldn't keep track of all the people in it. I think generally a query works best when there are at most 2 named people in it. The two named people have to be Julien and Henri; perhaps instead of referring to Nina by name, you could just refer to the Jewish refugees, as that gets the point across and does not overwhelm your reader's ability to absorb a lot of disparate details from a small amount of text.

You first paragraph says, "a school rivalry becomes a matter of life and death for two Jewish refugees." Then you talk about Julien and Henri, so I thought they were the Jewish refugees. Maybe you could just leave out "for two Jewish refugees" in that opening paragraph, since you introduce the refugees later.

The synopsis part of the query is too long, so you'll definitely need to do some cutting.

I like the writing. Feels very professional.

Heather M said...

I have a question specifically for EE. Is there a standard practice on whether you tell your ending in a query, or just your climactic conflict? A couple people have told me to tell my ending, but I always thought you didn't do that. (I realize it's not like the jacket copy where you only tell the first half. But lots of queries here don't tell their endings.)

O Evil Genius, Overlord, Mister Amazing, Nobility In A Chair, could you weigh in?

word ver: irperati. A branch of the Illuminati known for belching a lot.

Evil Editor said...

I know of no practice that's standard. I wouldn't tell whodunnit in your murder mystery, but I also wouldn't say, If you wanna know whodunnit, you'll have to read my manuscript. Tell enough to make it sound like an exciting story, and if that includes giving away the ending so be it. If not, no problem.

_*rachel*_ said...

Kill the rhetorical question paragraph and end with the "week later" bit. That's a strong ending.

Heather M said...

One last try. For now anyway.



Dear Evil Editor,

In The Shadow's Edge, set in France during the first two years of World War II, a school rivalry becomes a matter of life and death.

In Tanieux, a village in the hills in southern France, fifteen-year-old Julien and his school rival Henri have hated each other since the day Julien walked onto the soccer field Henri thought of as “his.” Even the shock of their country's being conquered couldn't make them allies for long. Now they face off angrily over whether the new Vichy government is really collaborating with the Nazis.

Then the stakes get much, much higher.

Julien befriends two teenage Jewish refugees, but Henri's father thinks they put the town at risk. He tells them to leave, but they can't; one is dangerously ill. At risk of being sent to one of the new Vichy "internment" camps, they hide. Henri finds out.

Julien tries to tell Henri that the rumors are true, the Vichy camps are hellholes where even healthy people sicken and die. That the Jews are in more danger than most people know from the government Henri trusts. Henri turns and walks away.

But a week later he still hasn't told his father.

To convince Henri to keep his secret for good, and save his friends' lives, Julien will have to do the hardest thing he's ever done: apologize to his enemy. And mean it.

Complete at 88,000 words, The Shadow's Edge is a Christian historical YA novel for teens who like a good life-or-death story, for parents and teachers who want to enrich their kids' school study of WWII and the Holocaust, and for anyone who ever wondered what Jesus meant by “love your enemies.” It is loosely based on the true story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the only town to be honored by the state of Israel for rescuing Jews during the war.

I won contests for poetry and creative nonfiction in college. The Shadow's Edge is my first novel. My mother, Lydia M, and I are the co-authors.

Sincerely,

Heather M

Heather M said...

It's still too long.

And I realize "the hardest thing he's ever done" may sound stupid even if it's accurate, so do let me know if I should take it out.

And hey, be proud, y'all finally got me to fess up: my turning point is a freakin' apology. That's what's so durn Christian about it. That, and the fact that all my cusswords are fake. ;)

Other than that, this is probably my best effort on this one, and it may not be perfect but it's much improved, right? Thank you all for helping me do that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Heather, you are getting much better. You're focusing your story with each wrasssling match you undertake with it. I am learning from your journey here. Evil pointed out to me in comments on my first attempt the query is really a business letter. That sat me down hard. Keep grinding away, the diamond is there. I look forward to your revision. Bibi

Phoenix said...

the query is really a business letter

Funny how we all interpret things differently. Because I first learned the query-as-business-letter definition, I initially wrote nasty, awful query letters that were formal and dry and static because that's what I understood a "business letter" to be. I thought the advice was to caution against being too market-esy in the approach. I had to unlearn that definition and understand queries as SALES letters (of the soft-sell rather than hard-sell ilk) before I could take off and write ones that worked.

All in the perception, eh?

Evil Editor said...

It's a business letter, a sales pitch, a first date, an audition, a job interview, a trailer, and more.

Phoenix said...

No pressure there, eh?

Heather M said...

I don't think the business letter definition would have worked for me! My latest favorite definition of a query, which I've kind of learned through this process and have been repeating around here since then, is that a query is basically an attempt to prove you have an interesting plot. Or have a plot, period. This was my first attempt at a plot query; my plot seemed too convoluted, so I wrote theme queries before that. "...coming of age in a conquered country... learns the meaning of bla bla bla..." But then I heard you're not supposed to do that.

And through this process I learned (correct me if I'm wrong!) that you don't tell your whole plot, you just tell the climax. Because that's what's interesting about a book--you can have a great premise and set-up in Acts I and II, but if something doesn't freakin' *happen* in Act III, something interesting that involves the interplay of forces and especially decision and action on the part of your character, you've got nothin'. So that's the part you're proving that you've got, and that's the part that you tell.

Do y'all think this is true?

Amy said...

I remember one agent--was it Kristen Nelson?--once made a strong case that most queries need only cover the inciting incident.

I've had the most luck with my own queries focusing on the protagonist, his/her primary goal, and the inciting incident. When I try to put in more than that, I find it gets cluttered and confusing.

Not that my queries are fabulous, mind.