Query Shark: “How To Write Query Letters … or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work…” A site that works for YOU. Query questions? Read on…
Example of this tool:
“Dear Query Shark,
Winston Smith has been a foolish man, and on Christmas Day of 2012, it’s going to cost him his life.
This is a great opening line. Do I want to find out what happened? You bet.
On top of a faltering marriage – and there’s been no sex for eight months – not only has he neglected to tell wife, Julia, their heavily indebted dairy farm is up for an income tax audit, but he’s corresponded with the auditor that “the thought of having to hand over my life in letters and source documents for examination by you, a total stranger, on pain of punishment, makes me physically ill,” and he will not be cooperating with the Inland Revenue Department.
And then you take veer so completely off the path of taut, lean prose that it’s almost like you’ve morphed into Prolix Man.For starters, don’t quote the novel in the query. Also, we don’t need to know why the marriage is faltering, just that it is. And the only thing we really need to know is the audit is going to be a big surprise to Julia.
Tom Parsons life previously could have been summed up in a word: inertia. Married to mousy Sally, the one girl he dated at high school, their marriage has become routine since the birth of their son, Syme.
What? Wait. Who? What happened to Winston and Julia? This abrupt segue is confusing. Remember, I’m not sitting on my sofa with a cup of tea, savoring your query. I’m not reading this like I read a novel. I’m sitting at my desk, I’ve got ten minutes before a scheduled phone call and I’m trying to find the queries that entice me to read on. In other words, I’m reading fast and mostly skimming. Whether you think this is a good idea, or fair is immaterial. It’s reality and a smart query writer will write to his/her audience.What that means: You make sure I know who a new character is by telling me “Inland Revenue agent Tom Parsons”And you don’t have FIVE NAMED CHARACTERS in the first two paragraphs. At the most you have two….“