1. We used our query template to generate the bones of our query. Yeah…it was rough, but it only took 30 seconds!
2. We added details that revealed our character’s arc, enhanced the conflict, and escalated the stakes. Perhaps that one took about fifteen minutes.
3. We punch-ified our verbs, making our query more active and revealing character. That took a bit longer–maybe twenty minutes.
4. We jazzed up the voice in our query. Excluding the countless hours we spent on youtube nailing the voice, that might’ve taken fifteen minutes.
5. We hook’d up our query–giving a first line so tantalizing, it would have lured a zombie from a coroner’s office.
Yeah! We’re done!!!!!
Okay, so we’re not. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
There’s one more step.
The most important step of all.
The one step that will probably refine, polish, and spiff-ify your query more than any of the other steps…
Receiving feedback. Yup, nothing’s more important than that. Luckily for you and me, there’s plenty of communities dedicated to query writing.
And guess what…
They’re absolutely freeeeeeeee. (Some of them, anyway).
Query Critique Resources
1. Querytracker. You may have heard that QT is the bomb-diggity for locating agents and tracking query statistics, but they also have a totally awesome forum where you can post your query for review. All they ask in return is that you return the Karma and critique other would-be authors.
2. Agentqueryconnect.com. Much like query tracker, this AQC offers a forum-style feedback system where users are encouraged to karma-ize. The advantage of AQC is that it’s free!
3. Write-on-con. So, this is pretty awesome. Like #1 and #2, you post your query in a forum and fellow members take turns critiquing one another. However, there’s one major advantage–agents also peruse the forums. Say what?!?!?! Unfortunately, this only happens once a year (in August), so if it aint August, you aint getting critiqued!
4. Scribophile. Scribophile has taken the karma system and created an economy out of it. When users sign up, they can post whatever they want in an easy-to-use, non-forum format. When you critique a work, you earn “karma points” that allows you to post your own stuff. The more you critique, the more you can post. Although not specifically devoted to queries, scribophile is awesome for gathering feedback from fellow authors. And it’s free! (Although, the free service is limited, so I’d recommend the paid version).
5. Evil editor. If you’re open to a public flogging, Evil Editor is awesome. Here’s how it works: you email the evil editor and she posts your query on her website, then subsequently injects snide remarks about your query. Other followers of EE also comment on the blog, which is another source of awesome feedback. But you need to have thick skin for this one–she won’t be nice 🙂
6. Query Shark. Another public flogging website. Are you man enough?
As you can see, there’s lots of resources available. The only problem I’ve had is keeping versions updated across websites! Sooooo many time’s I’ve received a critique of a very dated version of a query on one website while I had the most recent version posted on another. So make sure you’re keeping up!
And….just to demonstrate the value of such services, I’ve decided to post my most recent version of my fake query:
Tiny Tommy, they call him. He’s closer to a cat’s size than a goat. He’s the youngest of three goat brothers. And the smallest. And the weakest. It seems maturity happened to them, but not him. He’s about the same size he was in junior high. Anyway. Somehow, for some crazy reason, he stumbled upon a girl who’d marry him. Now he’s a daddy. It’s pretty cool. The kid’s super cute and all.
But then Bibledy-Basty McFladigan had to come along and incinerate their meadow. Yeah, what a jerk. It was kind of not cool. Okay, so really not cool because now his family and village might starve. And die. Lame.
But there’s another meadow. Okay, so it’s pretty far away, and you have to cross mountains and snake-filled rivers and barren landscapes. Oh, and his brother’s refuse to help. But it’s gotta be done, so Tommy inspires his older brothers and his village to follow him. Just as they scale the bridge, Bibbledy-Basty arrives with Tommy’s wife, bound and gagged. Totally not cool. So now, Tommy may have to forfeit the green meadows. Oh, and his wife. Or else he’s going to have to fight that big, rather terrifying, creepy, green-tinted troll dude to the death.
Special thanks to the following for contributing to polishing my fake query:
[This will be updated after I receive feedback]