When you're ready to publish and you have a polished manuscript, one of the first things to do is write a query to send to agents (or publishers).
There are specific rules and guidelines for queries and they're different for an agent and publisher. So don't just write one and send it to both!
My favorite resource for learning how to write a good, strong, eye-catching query for an AGENT is the blog "Query Shark". It's run by a veteran agent in the industry and she shreds query drafts for the benefit of teaching. She'll answer questions, too, and provide really valuable feedback. Of course, she prefaces all of this by saying these are her opinions on how to make queries strong, but honestly her insight is gold and valuable to ALL who want to be published the traditional way.
She's been doing this blog for YEARS, which is great because reading each post goes by quickly. Oh, she'll also post updates. So if a query is shredded and then the author comes back with a revision that's better, she'll post both versions with all of her comments. LOVE IT.
As much as I love reading each Query Shark post, she does reference a "Template" for queries and says it can be found in the archives...but never tells us where in the archives...so guess what? I have combed the archives for YOU and found the template! YOU'RE WELCOME.
This is a very skeletal template that gives the BARE BASICS needed for a strong query. Can you include other information about the plot? Yes, but she is very clear about stating NO BACKSTORY. At least, very little backstory and only things the directly impact the main plot conflict. It's about keeping things trim and minimal, but still juicy and interesting. Trust me...writing a good query is hard! Especially since we, the author, know all the nuances of our story and characters and want to include them. To us it's essential, but to the agent and the query it is NOT. We just want them to be interested enough to request the manuscript. Let them discover those nuances on their own.
So, without further delay, here's the bare basic template for a good query to an agent:
What does the protagonist want? What's keeping him from getting it? What choice/decision does he face? What terrible thing will happen if he chooses A; what terrible thing will happen if he doesn't.
Here's another form of the same thing: The main character must decide whether to ________. If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are______. If s/he decides NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are________.
Obviously you don't just fill in the blanks, or just answer the questions. You use this template to get the important information in the right order. You build on to this skeleton. But, you start here, and work up.
Ugh, I'm going to need this soon. At least the info is out there in as friendly a way as possible. I think the key must be to not rush this stage of things. Start writing the query and the synopsis as early as possible so you can edit and tweak them over months and years. Notice, that's me getting up my courage to start writing these monsters. Queries aren't toooo bad, but I'm not looking forward to that synopsis.
pelwrath: I’ve only had such a contract for a story once before. That doesn’t excuse my stupidity.
Sept 20, 2021 15:37:51 GMT -6
pelwrath: Did about 1200 words on Vampire #2 this morning with more for tonight. Wife and daughter watching Candyman.
Sept 20, 2021 17:11:05 GMT -6
pelwrath: My wife said with pouting eyes, “don’t you want to watch Candyman with me?” Horror not a genre of preference. Monster scary (Alien, etc.) fine. That said, movie isn’t that bad with an interesting twist at the end.
Sept 21, 2021 11:40:08 GMT -6
RAVENEYE: Oh, ugh, no! Saw that one waaaaay back. Never again. Not my genre either. Still, I've never said "Candyman" three times while looking in a mirror. No way! LOL
Sept 22, 2021 11:49:31 GMT -6
pelwrath: This one is brand new and answers questions from the first.
Sept 22, 2021 12:04:10 GMT -6
HDSimplicityy: i dont think Ive seen it either.
Sept 22, 2021 15:05:34 GMT -6
pelwrath: Researching the city of Edinburgh isn't hard, but trying to connect two disjoint locations in and near the city for my book 2 draft, ain't easy.
Sept 22, 2021 20:04:13 GMT -6
Caulder Melhaire: We've been joking about Candyman at work because the lead was excited to see it
Sept 22, 2021 20:17:27 GMT -6
Caulder Melhaire: "Okay, you guys go home and say candyman 3 times in the mirror and then come back and tell me what happens"
Sept 22, 2021 20:17:40 GMT -6
whaleworkforfood: What do you guys think happens if you say Candyman (or Bloody Mary or any other mirror-related apparitions) non-consecutively? Like if you say Candyman once tonight, then says Candyman again the next night. Do you still summon Candyman?
Sept 23, 2021 7:58:06 GMT -6
pelwrath: If you're saying with the knowledge of what could happen, then too bad for you. Also, the new movie provides an interesting definition of mirror.
Sept 23, 2021 9:58:08 GMT -6
Caulder Melhaire: I think it has to be consecutive or else my parrot-y butt has unknowingly summoned Mary Worth several hundred times by now LOL
Sept 23, 2021 14:52:33 GMT -6
Alatariel: What about with Beetlejuice? I think it must be within a certain time-period, like the same minute or something.
Sept 23, 2021 16:20:49 GMT -6