Query letters are the pitches that make or break writers. They are the little paragraphs that enable us to get our foot in an agent’s door. If the query does not “sparkle” (as one agent described it), you lose. In today’s competitive fiction environment, the query is almost as important as the manuscript itself.
Knowing all this, I’ve been struggling with my query letter. What in the world does “sparkle” mean? I’ve looked at other queries and tried to discover the hidden message behind the “sparkle.” But, I’m just as flummoxed as ever. Nonetheless, I’m about to place my toe in these murky waters.
So, wanna help? I’m ready to hear your thoughts. I’m including the first paragraph of my query for a completed 93,000 mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight.
Here goes: Janie Knox has hidden for the last 20 years behind the façade of a normal life, keeping her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. As the clock ticks away, her time is running out, and she only has a few months to set things straight.
Let me know if you think it sparkles. If not, what might you suggest.
Don Ford (Greywolf) says
Maybe we take ourselves too seriously. Our writing we MUST take seriously, but at times I get in my own way. I know I can write, but I have to convince myself of that to someone who does not know me. Hundreds love my work, but they don’t know the editor or publisher I’m currently contacting, so I start my pitch all over again each time I face a new potential writer’s market.
Eddie Louise says
It does not yet sparkle.
For first sentence I advise changing to this:
Janie Knox has hidden for 20 years behind the façade of a normal life, keeping her family secrets tucked in the shards of a broken heart.
Now, for the second bit:
Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. As the clock ticks away, her time is running out, and she only has a few months to set things straight.
The ‘X months to live’ trope is very well explored – what is your angle that makes it fresh? What is unique about your story? Try to avoid cliched expressions such as ‘everything changes’ and ‘time is running out’.
I think if you can find that unique thing, then this will ‘sparkle’.
All the best.
Sylvia Bright-Green says
Give us an example of what she has been hiding from, death, rape, abuse, what? because we need a teaser, something unusual to peak our interest and to keep us reading.