Some Simple Query Don'ts

Okay, so. How does one write a great query letter? Oh, what a loaded question. Because, honestly, I don't think there is a right or wrong way. Despite the basic rules, there have been instances where agents made exceptions or overlooked the breaking of these rules because the story sounded so interesting. So that's the key. Make it interesting. (Here's an example where an agent made one such exception.)

I'm going to keep this post simple. There are already so many resources out there for you guys when it comes to writing a query, and I'm probably parroting it all. But here are some things to avoid to keep your query from, frankly, being a yawn fest.

Don't info-dump.

Example: Wisconsin is a state where nothing out of the ordinary happens and people are expected to cheer for the Packers. No one believes in magic and no one believes in anything beyond this world. Anyone who does is automatically an outsider. (And so on and so forth.)

Don't over-explain your plot.

Hannah lost her father when she was six. She and her family have always believed it to be a car accident. After all, there was a car wreck and a body on the road. But then Hannah gets a strange visit from a girl she's never met before and she begins to doubt what shouldn't have to be questioned. The girl tells Hannah that... (Basically, keep it simple. This could be direct and clear if it was just, Hannah has always believed her father died in a car accident. After meeting a girl who knows too much about her life, she begins to doubt this. Rough example, I realize, but it gets the point across, right?)

Don't claim your book is the next Twilight.

Can't stress this one enough. I'm annoyed when I read things like this on Query Shark or anywhere else. Agents aren't looking for the next Twilight - it's already been done. They're looking for something new! If you have a great query and you're professional, they'll ask for more.

I think those are the big ones. I could have summed it up in one sentence, really: Show, don't tell. But I thought I would make one of the lists I'm always talking about. I'm not the sole authority on this, of course, but if someone has a question, I'll do my best to answer!