Monday, October 14, 2013

3 Query No Nos

by Jemi Fraser

I haven't talked about queries for a while here, so I thought I'd jump back in the pool with 3 things I've found DON'T work.

No No #1

Describing your story.

The Fellowship of the Ring is an epic adventure set in Middle Earth-a land of hobbits, wizards, elves and dwarfs. When an unlikely hero inherits an heirloom of awesome power he sets out to destroy it. Along the way he discovers life is more than second breakfasts and friendship is the most powerful weapon of all.


LotR is one of my favourite stories - definitely NOT yawn worthy! Don't tell your story, show it. Start with your main character and the trouble he/she faces. Draw us in!

No No #2

Character soup.

When Jonah Williams discovers a talking salamander named Leopold, he can't decide if he's losing his mind or about to make a fortune. When Leopold decides Starlight, the pet frog of Jonah's nemesis Charlie is his true love, Jonah needs to act quickly. Enlisting best friends Shari and Kyle, Jonah concocts a plan sure to not only bring him fame and fortune, but keep Leopold a single salamander heartthrob forever.


Okay, obviously that one's made up and way over the top, but limit yourself to the bare minimum when naming characters in a query. The main character (or characters if it's a romance) and the villain are the most important. If someone else is mentioned, try to stick to an identifier instead (his mother, her publicist, the police officer...).

No No #3

Sucking up.

From reading your fabulous and helpful blog, I know you're interested in Mermaid Gothic Romances. I want to thank you for taking the time to help new writers like myself. Working with you would be an incredible opportunity and I hope you feel Fin's Castle would fit your wonderful list.
*shudder* No one likes a suck up. Keep it real and honest. Be yourself.

Hope those help you out a bit! Do you have another Query No No to add?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs and tweets while searching for those HEAs.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

These are great tips, Jemi! I bet character soup would be particularly confusing and ineffective in a query.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Don't suck up! Funny.
I've seen queries that were character soup before. Very confusing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Elizabeth - thanks! I've read a few that are overwhelming!

Alex - they really are - must be hard on the agents! :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've seen all of those in queries. Butt kissing rarely gets anyone anywhere...unless the other person happens to have a huge ego. Then they probably don't clue into the butt kissing.

JeffO said...

Great stuff, Jemi. I guess the other would be 'Nail it down before you send it out.'

Jemi Fraser said...

Stina - that's so true :) I don't think most of the agents I've come across fall into that category though - they've all been awesome!

Jeff - thanks! And that's a good one to add! :)

Shelley Sly said...

Great points! I've seen that first one (describing your story) not only in queries, but in summaries of published books. I don't want to be told, I want to be shown.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Good ones!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Shelley - exactly! It draws us in when we're shown the excitement, danger or adventure!

Thanks Jennifer :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Excellent tips, Jemi...

I learned the hard way and in the beginning was guilty of all three .... lol

Romance Book Haven said...

Great tips, Jemi!


Jemi Fraser said...

Michael - you and a bazillion other authors!! Learning the fine art of the query is another journey :)

Thanks Nas!

Gina Gao said...

These are some great tips! Thanks for sharing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Gina - glad you found them useful! :)

Medeia Sharif said...

These are definitely no-no's. The most confusing is the character soup.

Jemi Fraser said...

Medeia - it really is hard to follow!

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