I read sites like Evil Editor, the now defunct Miss Snark, and various others who take reader’s queries and analyse them on line. I’m at the stage where I can see a query that grabs me, but I still can’t write one.
It’s really illuminating to read the comments associated with the sample queries on the above sites. You learn how other people perceive your book just from those few lines, and it’s usually totally the wrong way. I once submitted a query letter that was worded in such a way that everyone assumed the good guy was bad. Nasty bad. How can you do that?
Every once in a while the author posts a comment explaining, “No, that’s not it at all. What happens is …” and in two or three paragraphs explains the whole thing beautifully.
That’s it. The perfect query.
I can see how it’s done. Simply explain the story. Tell it as if you were telling someone else what happens, and do it in a couple of paragraphs.
It’s not that easy.
I don’t ‘tell’ a good story at all. I can’t even tell a joke without messing up the punchline. By the time I have finished explaining the story line …
Scott accidentally gets dragged into another world and has to survive or find a way home. Meantime, back at home, the policeman on the case ….
… it starts to sound as clinical and boring as the original query.
No, for me the best way to hone a query is to get feedback. Not just feedback from Sherylyn, because we both seem to be stuck in the same rut here, but feedback from lots of different people.
The bloggers who analyse queries provide a precious gift.