Queries are generally considered hard. You have to take something that’s complex and nuanced and maybe 100k (give or take) and strip it to the basic elements, while still making it sound unique and appealing.

The biggest problem? Either you oversimplify, and the story loses that spark of what makes it amazing, or you try to get too specific, and leave the reader confused. So how do you balance the two?

  1. What is your most unique element? For example, one of my mentees last year, David, has one MC who is a forensic sorcerer who uses a wheelchair. That’s SUPER awesome to me, because that is specific and yet tells me in terms I’m familiar with. If I say, for example, her best friend is a loupe garou, well, that isn’t as helpful because it presupposes you know the term. If I say she’s a mom, that’s even more generic. Picking the most interesting bit without loading down with specialized terms is hard, but it works so much better!
  2. Pick 2 or 3 of these kinds of elements for the ENTIRE QUERY to focus on. Any more than that, and it starts feeling like word salad.
  3. Your best bet is to follow the Character-Obstacle-Goal method of writing a query pitch.

    X has these attributes, and these flaws/thinks she wants A Thing.

    Until CHANGE, occurs, and she discovers Another Thing.

    Conflict options vs consequences that put them under pressure.

    Project is a genre novel complete  at Wordcount that should appeal to Comparison Titles. I am human, but not too personal. I’ve published A Previous Thing.

    Thank you,
    Full name
    Internet contact information-professional twitter/facebook/blog, etc.

    (Also: DO NOT CAPITALIZE THE THINGS LIKE THAT IN YOUR ACTUAL QUERY!)

  4. If in doubt, read the back of a book in the same genre as yours. Put your characters and plot in there, see how that reads, and then adjust from there. Romances, for example, will have emotional stakes involved. Thrillers, physical stakes, often on a larger scale. YA often has emotional vs physical stakes. (And if you don’t know what’s at stake at the core of your book, you REALLY should. That’s part of the Big Picture, and it’s one of the core things that drives your book.)

Questions?

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