Monday, May 29, 2006
Q & A 24 Query Format
A lot of the queries you post seem to follow the same pattern: they start by throwing a question into the room - 'What do you get when two distinguished gentlemen move into a neighbourhood full of unmarried girls?', give some of the plot, and end on another set of questions: 'Will her suitor run from his monstrous mother-in-law? And most of all, will Elizabeth say yes?' - and leave off. Is that an acceptable or desirable format for queries, or would you recommend to sum up the hole of the plot?
Point #1: If there are any holes in the plot, don't mention them.
Point #2. Will Elizabeth say Yes? is a rhetorical question. If it's a romance novel, Elizabeth will say Yes. If it's horror, Elizabeth will say No, and will spend the rest of the book being chased by her rejected suitor and his axe. If it's literary fiction, Elizabeth will say Yes, but will die of cancer.
Point #3. If an editor wants a synopsis with the query, that's where you sum up the whole plot. If not, you sum up the synopsis in the query--hitting the important stuff, like who are the characters I'm supposed to care about, what are their seemingly insurmountable problems, and how do they deal with them? The fact that you gave away the ending is far less likely to matter to an editor than to a shopper in a bookstore. If an editor doesn't want to know how your book ends, it's probably because he isn't interested, not because he wants to find out for himself. Spoil away.
Point #4. Perfectly acceptable. No more nor less desirable than other formats that convey the same information in an equally well-written manner.