Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 9th Circle of Hell Is Called "Query"


Fear is a fantastic motivator. We fear failing, so we try our absolute best in whatever endeavor we choose to partake in.

In my case, fear of not having anything to post today was my motivator. I went into last weekend with the basic idea of writing a first draft of my query letter. Imagine not to my surprise that I had accomplished absolutely nothing towards my goal of writing a first draft. However, imagine my surprise that here it was the day before my scheduled post and I had absolutely nothing on tap.

Nada. Zip. Zilcho. Empty. Devoid.

Well, you get the picture.

Anyways, yesterday (3/15) I got to thinking about my query letter while I was busy trying to close my payroll. Having the law laid down, not just to me, but to all of us in a staff meeting last week (fyi: i work for the govt. my govt is $3 billion in the red. need I say more?) about doing everything under the sun to show that we are needed, all I had to work with for writing my query was my brain. By the time lunch rolled around, I did enough brainstorming to overwhelm any professional motivator, so I was determined to do something with all that information.

In less then ten minutes, I had taken pen to paper and wrote out 101 words for my query. Thus, my query now looks like this:

The game of public sex is hard enough to play when you got the family loan shark looking for a piece of your action, but when your internal twin wants a piece of the action as well, its enough to question your own sanity.

Flat broke and with no job, Jeannie was terrified of winding up like one of her uncle's deadbeat customers. Oh sure, she was able to get her uncle to agree to a five day extension to get current with her juice payments, thanks to her ability to turn a word on its ear, but a lot of good that did her. Still, somebody up there must've felt something for her, because no sooner than she hung up her phone, a young man began chatting her up. Next thing she knew, she was holding a card that was her potential salvation.
Not bad for someone who normally doesn't write well under pressure (or self imposed deadlines for that matter). I still got about another 50 words or so to play with (rule of thumb is about 150 words for a synopsis) plus a little extra because I have absolutely zippo for a writer's bio, and with those 50 plus words I still have to work in Jeannie's symbiont Aissa, her loser boyfriend Geoff and the fact that Jeannie and Aissa wound out on spiritual journey of sorts as well.

Trust me, the final version will be hell of lot more polished than this, but for now, I am damn proud of the fact that I was actually able to write this much of a query letter to begin with. Hopefully by next Wednesday, I will have a final version to share with everyone.

And to bring back an oldy but a goody feature, I have a two part question for you!

"Rule of thumb states that the request for representation, plus the title and other assorted things like word count, genre, etc, should go at the very beginning of the query, just before the hook and the synopsis. I was thinking of either splitting it up, with half (say, the request and title) at the beginning and the other half after the synopsis, or putting it all after the synopsis. Or should I scratch that idea and do it like everyone else?"

Or if that question is a no-brainer, how about this?

"What genre would you throw Line 21 under? To refresh, it contains the following themes: graphic sex (adult movies), fantasy (a symbiont along the lines of DS9 with the ability to swap control of the body with the host, and vice versa), and a mix bit of bitter romance (boyfriend who has ulterior motives) and platonic love (childlike bodyguard who develops a crush on Jeannie)."


  1. Sadly Fear is also a demotivator, keeping us from stepping out and trying new things.

  2. Bearman: So very true.

    Fear has done me in both ways. Stopped me from trying and egged me on to do something new and scary.

  3. That is the most original lead for a query letter that I'll bet any agent has ever seen!

    Good question for genre...I'll have to think about that one.

    And here I am writing about cat detectives.

  4. R: Thankee.

    And I got even better news. I finished the query yesterday at work. So I'll be posting the rough draft next Wednesday for everyone to critique.

  5. Your lead reads nicely and will intrigue them, I'm sure. Good luck with everything - I don't have any pointers on writing query letters, having never done it.

  6. I have never written a query and would be next to zilch for help, G. Or maybe just plain zilch.

  7. Lynn: Thanks.

    This is only the second query letter for a novel that I've written, so even if you didn't have any concrete tips, the one critique that you gave saying it read nice helps just the same.

    Charles: Thanks.

    It does sound pretty decent, but I've already started tinkering and tightening up some the sentence structure.

    David: That's okay. Even a brief critique will help too.

    If anything, I'll have a full version next week.

  8. Impressed with your imaginative query letter, G.

    I can't offer much, actually -- can't offer any advice, never having broached a query letter.

    I don't write well under pressure either. And fear makes me act too. :)


  9. Jannie: Thanks.

    Even though you couldn't offer any advice, saying it was imaginative helps too.

    Gonna need a lot of imagination in order to get people to pay attention to this book.

  10. Not a bad thing you wrote there- makes me wanna read the whole thing-

    Your story is definately a drama about relationships, with a fantasy/ Sci-Fi main character, so I'd say it crosses boundaries.

    Good Luck working your way up the the next level...
    (Have you read Dantes Inferno?

  11. Snaggle: Thanks.

    The problem of crossing boundaries is that it can make it a little hard to narrow the focus of who to query, but just the same, I do love a challenge.

    I've read parts of Dante's Inferno, but I use it more for research purposes when I write.


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