Friday, February 11, 2011

Query the Second

The trouble, as you will soon see, is that different versions of the query don't seem all that different at first.

At first.

It's hard to say whether I love the sentences so much I'm loathe to revise them, or whether I'm keeping what works and changing what I can, but probably half of this is similar to the first version.

This one focuses on my the character's emotions and perspective more*. It also shrinks the focus to his immediate motivations ("strike back against the invaders") and avoids highlighting the larger themes of memory, guilt, revenge, etc. This is because in something this short -- 200 words or so -- it's hard to do much more than just list those larger themes. And lists are boring. So this one follows the principle of: "If I can't evoke the emotion in the reader, it comes out."

For three hundred years, the great sailing vessels have called at the port city of Quartermoon Bay. Until one bright morning, when six strange ships arrive carrying not spices, timber or silk but an invading army.

Thirteen-year-old Rigel’s first instinct is to resist. That’s how he’s overcome every other problem, from Da leaving to learning the old fairy tales Grandmother insists are so important. But the soldiers -- some of them children with terrible power -- burn Quartermoon Bay to the ground. They slaughter the weak and the old, and enslave Rigel along with anyone else strong enough to work.

New prisons rise from the ashes of the city, and Rigel’s world shrinks to hard labor, public executions, and whispered escape plans in the dark. As his fellow prisoners succumb to exhaustion and madness, Rigel’s determination withers into despair.

Then he learns Grandmother’s final story: across the mountains, hidden in a sea cave, lies the last Ship of the Light, a half-mythical relic of the old wars. Now he has to do something even harder than fighting: he has to believe. Rigel escapes the work camp, abandons his ruined city and flees into the mountains, chasing the wild hope that he can find the Ship and strike back against the invaders who have destroyed everything -- and everyone -- he’s ever known.

*Yesterday morning I found a way to go deeper. Closer to his emotions. Stay tuned.


Babs said...

I think I like this Query the second--can't pinpoint why, however.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that this one really highlights the invasion and imprisonment while the first highlights the escape over the mountains. This second query seems to have two plots: concentration camp and find the ship. Overall I was more drawn in by the second query. It's like an appetizer: just give them enough to get their mouths watering.