Friday, June 4, 2010

Nary a Brave Soul Answered the Call

Which leads me to believe that you avoid the dreaded query letter at every opportunity. Like the plague. Or the license bureau. Or your dentist's office. So, it's time for me to speak to you like a Dutch uncle. You're going to have to get over that fear if you're going to get published.

Without a good query letter, that jewel of a manuscript you've written is never going to see the bookstore shelves. Readers are never going to savor your perfectly chosen words and rejoice with your characters as they overcome the odds to reach their goal. They're never going to experience the fear your hero has rushing through him as the villain gets closer and there's no way out, or feel the tears stinging their eyes when they read the emotional and perfect ending you've labored over. And that's just wrong. The story you've put your heart and soul into needs to be shared and enjoyed. You know it does.

Perhaps this exercise was more work than you had time for. That's understandable. If you've got a WIP (and I hope you do), you need to devote the time to it. But someday soon you're going to have to write that query letter for your opus, and this exercise is one that could have proven extremely valuable in that endeavor. And I'm not going to let you miss that opportunity for improvement without giving it another try. You'll thank me someday.

The driving force behind writing this blog is to help writers realize their dream of becoming authors. Nothing would give me more pleasure than knowing I had been of some help in your journey. It's very important to me that you gain something from this site. So, let me dangle a carrot. It's so important that you make an effort to do this exercise that I'm willing to cough up ten bucks for a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. Even if you don't win, the experience and the effort you put into it will be worth it in the long run. I promise.

So I want you to write the query for the story I posted yesterday (just below this one.) In order to get maximum participation, I'm not going to pick the winner until we have at least 25 entries. There will be no maximum number, but the entry window will close at 11:59 p.m. CST this Sunday, June 6, 2010. I will be judging this one (for the first time ever) so dazzle me. Read the previous post again. Watch the video trailer and get the feel for what the story is about. If you've never seen the movie, you can watch the whole thing in ten installments on YouTube. Just search for Stand by Me. It's all there. Or rent it if you'd prefer. When you're ready, put together that sparkling query and paste it into the comment section directly below this post. I know you don't want to, but you need to do this. And I know you can, because you're a writer. It's what you do.

NOTE: Although you all know that a properly written query includes "Dear Agent Name" and, perhaps, a reason you're submitting your query to them, that's not necessary this time. Also, the title and word count and genre aren't needed on this query. Just start in with the first sentence (and grab me with it) and end before all that closing business about "I would happy to send, blah blah blah." Just give me the body of the query.

Finally, if we don't get 25 entries, I'll let it go. Reluctantly, but I will. I'm climbing down from my soapbox now.


  1. Sadly, I have nothing to query at this time. I'm in the middle of writing. :( I have a query letter written though.

  2. It makes me sad to see a contest with no entries.... So here goes!

    Eleven-year-old Ray Browers disappeared at the beginning of the summer. None of the four boys knew him, yet what his fate may have been hangs over everything.

    Under the porch, digging for pennies, Vern overhears his older brother talking about the Brower kid and races to the tree house to tell his friends. It takes little to persuade the three of them - Gordie, Chris and Teddy – to lie to their parents and set off along the train tracks.

    The journey is not an easy one. The mad dog at the dump, a terrifying encounter with a train on a trestle bridge and leeches are just some of the hazards the four boys face. No horror though, is as great as the one that awaits them at the end of the Back Harlow road.

    And when the big kids show up, things turn downright ugly.

    Part auto-biography and part fact, The Body is a novella, complete at (insert number) words.

  3. Okay, I'll give it a try:

    Loss, most of us have experienced it at one time or another. But what about the loss of something you thought you never had, or for that matter convinced yourself you never wanted? That question propelled Anthony Mendoza across an ocean and into a dingy solicitor's office to deal with his estranged father's inheritance. Along the way he discovered a half-brother, a sense of community and how to deal with his inner demons. In a place that is Neither Here Nor There.


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