After lots of help, and many fabulous suggestions last time I posted my query, I came to the conclusion that I pretty much had to scrap what I had and rewrite the letter from scratch.
This is another way of saying I didn't know what to do.
I knew in my gut that everyone was right when they said the query didn't quite work, but I had no clue what would make it work. I felt like I was trying to save the Titanic by re-arranging deck chairs.
I needed some time to grow a bit of objectivity and lose my attachment to the words I'd already written. So I took a break from the text of the query, but I kept thinking about new ways to sneak up on that beastie and whack it into shape.
What happened (eventually) is a perfect demonstration of the worth of critiquing other people in order to learn how to do something yourself. It's the whole reason why I started this site (well, in addition to finding critiquing fun!)
I've been hanging around Absolute Write lately, critiquing query letters there, and I stumbled across one that I really liked. In fact, it reminded me of a query letter I saw here that I really liked, namely Beckarah's Eyes of Stone.
What these two queries had in common is they featured the story's inciting incident in the first paragraph, then followed it up in the second paragraph with a list of all the shocking ways the protagonist's life had suddenly changed. That structure really drew me in; it helped me empathize with the protagonist.
So, I decided to try to snitch the formula. What resulted is posted below, and I think I'm pretty happy with it, but I would like to hear your thoughts before I send it out.
Mixed into this new query are a few other random ideas I had, like "Cut aaaaaaall the subplots," and "Hey, maybe don't say 'blooddrinker' at all? Zombies are hot; vampires are not."
So please let me know what you think of this new version. What works for you? What doesn't? Where does the wording seem uneven, and can you see a way to smooth it? Does it make sense? Is there too little information? Are there things here that aren't needed and should be cut? How close to being ready do you think it is?
I'd be honoured to hear your thoughts!
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Wykham, a pacifist and surgeon on an inhospitable world, has just been infected with a disease that leaves him only able to digest human flesh.
He can't go home for fear of infecting his child. His neighbors react with hysteria and violence, and the authorities consider him a vector to be exterminated. Even other infected people admit that suicide might be his only moral option.
So when a group calling themselves 'pure humans' offers Wykham sanctuary, he instantly distrusts them. What kind of person aids a cannibal? Unfortunately, he's in no position to refuse.
Wykham soon learns his allies are descendants of those who refused genetic engineering to survive on the colony planet. Now facing slow extinction, yet immune to the disease, they intend to use people like Wykham as weapons of genocide against the thriving, rival population.
Which includes everyone Wykham loves--unless he can stomach using the freakish speed and strength his disease gives him to stop the pure humans.
Torn between preventing an atrocity and staying true to his non-violent principles, Wykham must accept that sometimes a monster is the only available hero, and sometimes a pacifist must fight.
I was represented by XXX of XXX Literary Agency for a previous novel, but we parted amicably, and I am unpublished. "The Blooddrinker and the War Angel" is an 81,000-word science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Please post your critique in the comments, and thank you in advance to all who donate their time and expertise to helping me improve this query! I do appreciate it.