I was over at the TPQSP last night trying to give some advice. There is nothing more frustrating than a query and trying to help someone else through it. I'm trying to pay it forward you know. I mean, I worked on my query over there through 3 revisions and when I started to cry I said no, I can't do this anymore, it's just too much information, I got 2, count them, one & two, friends who I trusted to help me with the process. Two, and only two friends, who understood what my story was about, what I wanted to say, and who knew what the query process was all about.
With their help I think I drew up a damn good query. I had most of the words, I just had to shuffle them around a bit. And that's really all it took. I had read it SO. MANY. TIMES. I couldn't read it anymore without going blind.
Which is where these poor people at TPQSP are. I can hear the frustration, the anger, the panic in their voices now. I tried to give them the same advice my friends gave me. But they didn't seem to want to hear it.
So now I will give it to you. All you need for good query are four things:
Hook, Conflict for the MC, Motivation to get MC to end, Goal for MC. That's it. Oh, and two trusted friends who know how to write. You write up what you think is a good query following the guidelines I just gave you. You ask yourself if you have answered the four questions. You give it to friend #1 to read. If she says yes, you give it to friend #2, if she says yes, then you've got your query. If either of them says no, then you must go back and find where you've messed up. And also Less is more. You don't need twelve sentences to say one thing. One good sentence with the right verbiage (I love that word, it reminds me of a fancy salad) will kill an agent stone dead. Or make them ask for a partial.
I will also tell you I have 15 queries in Word. And 32 in pen in the "Lady's" file. Along with scratches, scribbles and every other thing imaginable. It's very hard to get your novel condensed into 250 words or less. I mean, if you go over to 265, no one is going to call Janet Reid and get the shark after you but, they better not mess up the business letter format. Unless of course, you have already been published, then you can do whatever you want.
So, that's my query recipe and I'm sticking to it. If anyone has other tidbits, helpful hints they'd like to share feel free. If anyone needs help with their query, feel free to ask. We're all in this boat together and if we can't help each other then it's going to be a long nasty voyage.