To continue our topic of yesterday, I wanted to offer you a little writing exercise that will incorporate the Hero's Journey and your query letter. As we know, query letters are one of the hardest projects to tackle. Many times we are so interested in giving the agent the entire plot that we include a lot of unnecessary information and actually fail to capture the real story. Getting mired in the minutia, trying to reveal all the sub-plots and all the characters and their relationships, isn't the direction your query needs to take. Your query may be more effective in getting an agent's attention if you step back and take a look at it from a 30,000-foot level.
So here's the exercise: Think about your story and condense it to four sentences. This isn't going to be easy, but it will help you condense the story to its bare essence, and it may prove valuable as a starting point when you write (rewrite?) your query. The sentences should include:
1. ORPHAN: Who is the main character and what happens to toss them into a new situation? Examples: With Dorothy it was the tornado that landed her in a whole new world. In The Hunger Games, it was the reaping that placed Katniss in a new situation. What happens in your story that changes the playing field?
2. WANDERER: What does your character do once their lives change? (Bilbo Baggins sets off on a journey to find the ring. Coraline goes through the door in search of her missing parents. Etc.)
3. WARRIOR: Who or what is the character fighting? What is at stake? How are they planning on changing the situation? What happens if they don't?
4. MARTYR: What does the character have to do to make things right. What sacrifice will they have to make in order to fix everything?
If you'd like to leave a comment with your four sentences, feel free to do so. Then others can comment as well and perhaps add some additional insight. Have fun!