HOW TO SPRUCE UP THAT QUERY LETTER
I’m going to tell you a short story, then I’m going to spruce it up.
A woman walked down the street, holding her bag of groceries. She smiled at the passerby. She was robbed, and she never got the money back.
Okay, so that’s not the happiest story to read, but there is a purpose to it. Let’s spruce it up a bit.
The elderly woman, Janet Grayshen, drags her feet across the ground, barely able to manage the heavy bag of fruit, bread, and milk that she bought from the store. She smiles nervously at the suspicious passerby who is covered in black garb.
The man rips the groceries from her hands, along with her purse, and races down the dark road. Janet stares down the street, jaw trembling, with an isolated tear leaking down her cheek. She shakes her head slowly in disbelief. This is the world I created.
This goes back to the THE DREADED QUERY. See the difference between the two stories above. One gets the point across. One is the point.
We don’t want to just get the point across to the agents. We want our query letters to be the point. The first blurb is terminal; it ends. There’s nothing more to the story. It is complete. Who needs to read any more than what is written?
The second is quite the contrary. The woman somehow blames herself for getting robbed. Now we are intrigued. What did this woman do in her life that caused this man to rob her?
This could be the start of an amazing Sci-Fi world. Many books are written about the dangers of a Utopia, but let’s say that we write this book about the advantages of said world. Let’s say this woman raged against a working Utopian system, and she actually brings crime into the world through her rebellious protests
How unique is that? Regardless, the second blurb raises a lot of questions. Keep in mind that this query is still missing the plot, but this is the start. All we need after the plot is a beginning to the letter and an ending.
Beginning: Dear Agent, I am seeking your representation for my 87,000-word Science Fiction thriller VIVA UTOPIA written for young adults.
Ending: I am prepared to send you my completed manuscript upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, William Stadler