Why Are You Asking Me? I don't know Nuthin....

Note: Before you write a query for your first manuscript, the manuscript should be finished. :)

For the purposes of my example I will be using an imaginary finished manuscript, the break down of which can be seen on my live journal.*


I am not a query expert. I only wrote two. One was for the old incarnation of Lost Dog and it was awful and years ago and I have no clue what it said. One was for the Magic Bites and basically if you see the back of the book, a lot of it was from my query.

So not an authority here.


But anyway, here goes: imho, a query should marry internal and external conflicts.

:inserts Ken labeled External Conflict and Barbie labeled Internal Conflict and puts them together, making kissy noises:**

Conflict is interesting. Problems are interesting. Characters are interesting. Worldbuilding... I say pick one or two flashiest elements and stick them in there.***

So characters. We are going to go with Bob and Poopsie. We always go with Bob and Poopsie on the livejournal, no need to change horses in midstream. So let's summarize them..

Bob is a shapeshifter who can transform himself into a monstrous nasty. He is so violent and scary, even other shapeshifters are scared. Eee! Bob also has another power: he can camouflage himself to blend with his surroundings. He does not advertise this power. Bob works for Super Seven, a shapeshifter-for-hire outfit of corporate research thieves. Bob hates mutants: Mutants, Rawr! Kill! But Bob is very attracted to Poopsie.

Poopsie is a mutant who can cloud minds, putting a person in the state of a "fog", making them very focused inward. They stop fighting and just sort of shuffle along zombie-like. Poopsie is also extremely good with numbers. She is not a field operative in a sense that she never enters physical fights and would not have a chance against a shapeshifter or a well trained person. Poppsie is a girly girl. Poopsie works for Alternative Defense, a mutant counter-thief group, which hires out to defend corporations against theft. Poopsie hates shapeshifters because she is suppose to hate them - all the other mutants do, and she thinks stealing is immoral. Poopsie is very attracted to Bob.

External conflict: Bob's group and Poopsie's group are hired by rival corporations. Bob's group's attempt to steal data results in data being compromised. The owner of data panics and brings in an elite group of assassins who nuke everybody. Bob and Poopsie, the only surviving members, must get revenge and stop the bad corporation because further development of their data threatens the fate of humanity.

Internal conflict: Bob and Poopsie fall in love but they can’t be together. Because they are still in the hating mode and there is revenge to take care of.

Setting: futuristic, not too far in the future.

Query time:

Draft one:

In a world where corporations wield power and battle each other for superiority, even a small advantage could mean a difference between life and death (Oh life and death, dramatic.) Bob has such an advantage: a powerful shapeshifter, he can assume a form of a beast so terrifying, even other shapeshifters stay out of his way. Together with a small group of shapeshifter, Bob works as thief-for-hire, stealing corporate data for the highest bidder.

Poopsie is a mutant with a power to cloud minds, an invaluable employee of the Alternative defense, a mutant security force contracted to protect Rugged Consortium from corporate theft. Shapeshifters and mutants are frequent adversaries. The hate between them is years old (change this, what years old? Like two years?), and as they clash, violence blooms in a predictable pattern.

But when the data is compromised, and a team of lethal assassins with supermagic powers (okay I know I will have rewrite this so might as well have fun) wipes out both shapeshifters and mutants, leaving only Bob and Poopsie as sole survivors, they fight crime, no they make hot, hot buttsecks, no they get hot revenge… Bleah.

:P

Draft Two, try try again:

In the near future, corporations battle each other for supremacy, hiring elite thieves to procure their competitors' research. Bob is such a thief, employed by Shadow Seven, a premier corporate espionage firm. A powerful shapeshifter, he can assume the form of a beast so terrifying, even his shapeshifter colleagues stay out of his way. When Shadow Seven is hired to acquire sensitive research from Rugged Consortium, he doesn't worry, not even when he learns that Alternative Defense, an elite security firm, defends his target.

Poopsie is woman with the power to cloud human minds. An invaluable member of Alternative Defense, she prides herself on her morality and despises thieves, especially the Shadow Seven, who successfully frustrated Alternative Defense twice. Her job is her life and more than anything she wants to give Shadow Seven a taste of their own medicine.

But as both groups clash and violence blooms, a third player enters the scene. Inhuman warriors, lethal, merciless, precise, slaughter both shapeshifters and mutants alike. Lone survivors, Bob and Poopsie must join forces to survive and avenge their friends. In their search for justice, they find a secret so dark it threatens the very survival of the human race. They can set aside years of hate to work together, but can they shrug off passion for each other that endangers them both?

Well lookit, ended up with a paranormal romance. That's what happens when writing query for imaginary manuscript.


Okay this is serviceable as is - not great, but workable - but I would probably put it aside for about 24-48 hours and revisit it. Since we kind of have a topic thing going, I will probably post a continuation on my blog if come around to it J

Basically it needs to be whittled away at and fixed to maximize the show-off factor. For example, Bob is driven by loyalty to his dead comrades, you could play off on there is honor among thieves adage, etc.

So now that we have our summary, we glue it into a query:

Dear Editor/Agent (Name! And get the salutation right! No Mr. Elizabeth Agent, please)

I very much enjoyed X,Y,Z books and noticed that the author thanked you in Acknowledgments. I have great admiration for your work (do not lie here, do your research) and I hope to have a chance to work with you. I am seeking representation for my paranormal romance, Honor Among Thieves, complete at 125,000 words.

In the near future, corporations battle each other for supremacy, hiring elite thieves to procure their competitors' research. Bob is such a thief, employed by Shadow Seven, a premier corporate espionage firm. A powerful shapeshifter, he can assume the form of a beast so terrifying, even his shapeshifter colleagues stay out of his way. When Shadow Seven is hired to acquire sensitive research from Rugged Consortium, he doesn't worry, not even when he learns that Alternative Defense, an elite security firm, defends his target.

Poopsie is woman with the power to cloud human minds. An invaluable member of Alternative Defense, she prides herself on her morality and despises thieves, especially the Shadow Seven, who successfully frustrated Alternative Defense twice. Her job is her life and more than anything she wants to give Shadow Seven a taste of their own medicine.

But as both groups clash and violence blooms, a third player enters the scene. Inhuman warriors, lethal, merciless, precise, slaughter both shapeshifters and mutants alike. Lone survivors, Bob and Poopsie must join forces to survive and avenge their friends. In their search for justice, they find a secret so dark it threatens the very survival of the human race. They can set aside years of hate to work together, but can they shrug off passion for each other that endangers them both?

My publishing credits include two urban fantasy novels in Kate Daniels series. Or, if one hasn’t been published yet, "I'm an active member of the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy and Science Fiction and my work has been twice distinguished as Editor's Choice. Or something or other.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to submit my work for you consideration,

Ilona Andrews.


This is how I would do it. Not sure if it's right.

Should I write the first chapter and post it for kicks?

_______________
*No the stuff there does not make any sense either

**Oh look I even worked anatomical innuendo in there. Honestly, why do you hang around with me?

*** I think people tend to stress out entirely too much about queries.

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