One of the biggest challenges in writing a query seems to be maintaining Voice yet this is probably the biggest key to grabbing the attention of an agent.
- What makes a query stand out from the rest?
- What gives the agent the best feel for your story?
- What is your best marketing tool (after all, your query is your first attempt at marketing your story)?
It works differently for everyone. Here are a few tips that might help:
- use the same kind of sentence structure you use in the novel - echo your tone and style.
- focus on the Show not Tell - Tell sucks the Voice out of queries.
- forget the details! Think big picture. What's your character up against? What's his/her biggest fear? What's in the way? What are the stakes?
- practice saying out loud what your story is about. Don't worry about making it sound like a query at first, just find out what sounds good, what sounds draggy or convoluted. Keep it short, sweet and interesting.
- time yourself. Start with a one minute time limit. Then cut it back to 45 seconds. Then 30. 20. 15. This works well with pitches too.
- find the emotion. If your query doesn't evoke some kind of emotion in the reader then it's not doing its job. I think Voice elicits an emotional reaction in the reader and that's what you want here. A laundry list of plot points isn't going to attract anyone's attention. Punch them with some emotion instead!
Any other tips that you've used? How do you get your Voice into the query?