Monday, July 19, 2010

Back to Query Hints (#2)

So, before I left for Florida, I gave you my first hint on successful queries.

Here's hint #2: make sure your query shows your MCs voice.

Queries are tricky little things, because you have to accomplish so much with so little. One of the most important things that you need to succeed at (and that will get your request rate to probably double), is to show the voice of your main character in the paragraph(s) that describe your book. A query with a great hook and no voice will probably still get some requests, but a query with a great hook and a fabulous show of voice will probably get at least twice as many requests to read more.

You might be thinking "that's great, but how do I show voice in a query?" (Especially if your mss is written in first person when the query has to be in third person?)

I heard a great little tidbit once that you might want to give a try. Write it in first person. Don't SEND it in first person, just write it that way until it shines. Most people find that it's easier to show voice in first person. Ask yourself how would Jane/John (or whatever your character's name is) explain their story? Is Jane snarky and outgoing or is Jane shy and reticent? Is John hilarious and quirky, or is he an angsty MC with an attitude? Every one of those options would tell their story differently, right?

Then, once you have a great paragraph or two, told in your character's voice, you go back through it and change the I's to she/he/the MC's name. You may have to tweak it a little bit once you change it to third person to make it read cleanly, but those changes shouldn't be too hard.

You might be surprised at how much voice that simple exercise will help give your query. Try it and let me know how it goes. Good luck to all of you out there in the query trenches!


Unknown said...

Wow this is fantastic advice. I'm a few months away from querying but this is awesome info so I'll be keeping track of all the hints you give away... they are important to have!

Kathryn Rose said...

What a good idea! Thanks for the advice!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm in the middle of query writing - I'll give it a shot. Thanks :)