Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Explain the Coolness?

More dilemmas in query land.  No, I'm not saying I'm getting shot down left and right...the agents need time to get to my query in the slush pile before rejecting me. But this is another one of my wonderings.

I feel like I did something cool with my novel. Do I mention it in the query? When submitting some pages? In a synopsis?

Here's the coolness--it's nothing unique or ground-breaking; I'm sure it has been done before. But I did it on purpose, with specific intent, and I think it helps my story.

My last couple posts introduced the two main characters of the book, Shae (introduced in Chapter 1's 312) and Lorian (introduced in the Prologue's 312). My story is not always told from Shae's perspective, but it is never told from Lorian's perspective. If Shae is there, it comes from her; if she isn't, it comes from another female character.

In between chapters there are bits from Lorian's journal and a couple personal letters to his cousins.  These range through the time of his apprenticeship, all happening before the story takes place.  These journals introduce concepts and facts and people who will show up later. They are a little foreshadowing, and little explaining of Lorian's world, and give insight into who he is, his past, and his current motivations since you never get into his head as the story goes on. The things he says and does in the book aren't always up-front, and a few things from his past can be hooked together with these entries and with things other characters say.

Is it worth trying to mention that in the query letter?  I can find a way to keep that shorter than what I wrote here, but it is adding more to my query letter, which are supposed to be short. The question comes down to, Is this information that will make an agent/editor think "Interesting...I'd like to see some pages."

And here is an example. I've posted the beginning of the Prologue and the beginning of Chapter 1.  What I'm about to post is Lorian's journal entry between the two.  This might should also show how the weirdness going on in the Prologue will eventually meld with the non-weirdness going on in Chapter 1.

Just so that things are completely clear, the ritual in the Prologue is the body doubling he mentions in the journal; that would be obvious if the entire Prologue was read, but since only about half of it was posted yesterday, that probably didn't come through.  This is also the longest series of entries--most are kept to 1-2 pages.

Day 0
           I felt my father die. It was hours ago.
           I remember when he received the call about Mom. I remember his face when he hugged me and told me she had died. I remember the cold. I was empty. I didn’t get it.
           This is different. I can feel that he is dead. I get it.
           He had been acting strange the last couple days. When he left for his meeting this morning, he hugged me very hard and told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. I don’t remember him holding me so hard since Mom’s funeral.
           It couldn’t have been an accident. He was too powerful to die like that, like Mom did. He must have known going to the meeting something might go badly. Why had he gone? To meet a client, he said. Why would one of his clients kill him? He helped them by granting their wishes.
           Did they not want to pay him back for it?
           I have my inheritance; it came to me just like Dad said it would. All I have to do is accept it and I would know what to do then. I would understand what had happened. But if they killed him to get out of debt, wouldn’t they kill me, too? They now owe their debt to me, after all. I’m not nearly as strong as Dad. I can’t defend myself if they come for me.
           Aunt Diane and Aunt Persephone couldn’t protect me from someone who killed Dad. Bree and Song might get hurt if I go to my aunts. I can’t do that.
           There is someone stronger than Dad.
The Crimson Witch. Even Dad wouldn’t mess with her. I must find some way to get her to protect me. Maybe I can try to make a deal like Dad used to, a promise of wishes when I become the Djinn in exchange for her protection now. That might work.
           This is day 0. This is the day my father died. There are no dates now, just days from this moment until I find his killers and get revenge.
           Dad, one last wish. I know I can’t bring you back from the dead, but please, Dad, if you can, grant me just one last wish before I’m completely alone.

Day 264
The double is finished. It took a few months to build it. Melalain kept calling it birthing but that sounds gross. I prefer to think that I constructed it like a robot.
Transferring into it was painful, but I don’t remember much of it. I was out for at least two weeks. After that, I slept a lot. It took a while to learn how to move because I was in a body that had never used its muscles before. It still feels strange, like my body doesn’t quite move with me. Even writing this takes a lot of effort.
Melalain says it will get better with time. She didn’t think I would even be awake yet, much less able to walk or hold a pen.
She was very proud of me. She says the double looks just like me. I feel like there are a few differences. She said she didn’t think I could make the eyes look like mine. But I did. I had to. They remind me of Mom.
We dropped my real body off earlier today. It was some sort of nursing home. Melalain said she used a spell so that no one would know I was new there and to make sure that I never got moved. She asked me why I picked that one. I don’t know. It seemed right. Like home. Close to home. She said my body would be safe there.

Day 2,101
           This morning I was sitting in the study reading, and I felt a sudden connection to a vast, distant power. It was oddly similar to touch the Fey, and yet I know it was different. Strange and yet familiar. I still don’t know what happened, only that for a moment, I was a conduit for this power; I channeled it and directed it without thought or conscious awareness of what spell I was crafting. And then, once the spell was fully formed and sculpted, the power was gone.
In that moment, I had the vague impression of a hospital room, but I don’t know why. And then I started to hear a girl talking, seeming to speak directly to me like we were old friends and yet she was addressing someone named Michael.
Who she is and why I could hear her is a mystery. Oddly, I found I could keep on reading and still hear everything she said; her voice in my mind was no distraction at all. In fact, it was comforting, almost familiar, but maybe that impression was simply due to how she spoke to Michael. She sounded as though she had done so numerous times before. I was actually disappointed when she said she had to go—she must have talked to him for over an hour; if Michael ever replied, I never heard it. In fact, now that I think about it, she spoke as if she didn’t expect him to. She said she would be back soon, and then her voice was gone, as though I am not privy to it unless she is speaking to Michael. I wonder if I will hear her again. I must admit, it has stirred a certain curiosity in me. Who is she?

Day 2,103
I have solved a bit of the puzzle that is the girl’s voice. This “Michael” to whom she is speaking is me. Or rather, my first body. After all this time, I had actually forgotten that my current body is merely a double built to house my spirit and that out there, my true body still lives and breathes. And she calls it Michael.
She was back this morning, and what she said confirms my suspicions: she visits me every few days and spends time with me. She has done this for a while now; I got no sense of movement, but I’m sure “we” were taking a walk. I know what my other self is like—a living body and little more. That she spends so much time taking care of that, well,  that really says a lot about her, I think.
I don’t know why I can suddenly hear her or why hers is the only voice I can hear. She spoke to someone named Judy, but I could not hear Judy at all, only the girl and again only until she left Michael for the day. I did some research on body doubles, and nothing indicates how this could have manifested. Either the body is built with this sort of connection to the first or it isn’t; mine wasn’t. I discussed the matter briefly with Lainy without going into the specifics of my situation so as not to needlessly alarm her, but that provided no answers. This shouldn’t be happening.

Day 2,105
Her name is Shae.

And that is it for today! Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by.

started writing his newest book over the weekend, and he had a lot of fun getting to know the main character.  She's feisty!


Richard said...

You have a strong writing style. I don't see any advantage to mentioning the diary or journal in the query unless you need to mention it in order for the plot to be understood.

Gabriela Lessa said...

I think it could work to mention it briefly on a query... Just what you said in the beginning: "the story's not always told from Shae's point of view, but it's never told from Lorian's," nothing longer than that. But as Richard said, you'd need a reason to add that to a query, and it might have to do with the reason why you chose to never have Lorian's POV in the first place.

Wes said...

Thanks for the comments. They were very helpful in me re-evaling some of my reasons for having what I had in the Prologue in the first place.

To clarify, Lorian's journal and the prologue are not essential to the plot--but they help round out his character and reveal the reason/intent behind some of his actions.

A big reason for Lorian's point of view not being revealed is that he is playing things very close to his chest, not revealing what he knows or thinks--and I want to keep readers a little mystified about him.

Another reason is that Shae has a lot of conflict as she falls for him due to his past and him being this uber powerful magic-using Djinn. She worries a lot about him being able to fall for ordinary her. I don't want to...trivialize her self-questioning (in the eyes of the reader) by having readers know from Lorian what he is thinking and feeling.

That sort of thing is developed more slowly through the letters and journals.

Thanks, again!