If your first page has not yet been critiqued in the first workshop, don’t panic. I may continue to post them this week or I may wait until next week. It depends on how many query letters are submitted and how long it takes me to get through them. Please be patient. Thank you!
Some Quick Query Writing Tips
Before we get started on the workshop, let’s go over some quick query writing tips.
- Focus on what makes your story different by highlighting your hook. Your hook could be an unusual protagonist, unique circumstances, an original concept, a great sense of humor, etc. Show what makes your novel awesome.
- Don’t try to cram too much into the query. The query should focus on what the protagonist wants, what motivates him/her, who the bad guy (or thing) is, and how the bad guy (or thing) creates conflict for the protagonist.
- Follow generally accepted query letter guidelines. Being too “cutesy” or “artsy” with your query letter is likely to backfire. For example, writing your query letter in first person makes it look as if you either don’t know or can’t follow the rules.
Shorter is almost always better. The tighter you can sum up your story, the more likely the agent will read the whole thing. Most agents have only seconds to spare on each query, so don’t expect them to sift through a seven paragraph query letter.
- Struggling to write the query could signal trouble with the manuscript. If you find you’re trying over and over and just can’t make your story sound compelling, there’s a good chance your novel is missing some key components (such as character motivation or genuine conflict). Try writing a compelling query letter (without worrying about your actual manuscript) as a guide for revisions.
- Remember that no single query letter is going to please everyone. Opinions vary widely about what should be included in the bio, whether you should use comparison titles, whether the word count should be at the top or the bottom of the query. A killer story summary will overshadow any differences in opinion about these other elements.
Workshop #2: “I stopped reading when…” Query Letter Edition
This workshop will be exactly like the previous workshop but with query letters instead of first pages. If you didn’t participate in the first workshop, I recommend checking out the directions and some of the feedback so you know what to expect.
Submit Your Query
For this workshop, we will only be focusing on your query letter’s plot summary. I don’t want to get bogged down in editing bios or comparison titles so I feel that this will allow me to offer the best possible feedback.
If you are self-publishing, feel free to send your back cover blurb instead of your query letter, but make sure to identify it as such in the drop down menu. Thanks!
What is the hardest part about writing a query letter?