Thursday, July 16, 2015

Query Verb Power!

by Jemi Fraser

Verbs are awesome!

Oops. Are.

Not so awesome.

Obviously, we need to use 'to be' verbs in our stories. I imagine someone somewhere has written a story without using any 'to be' verbs, but I'm never going to attempt it. Contrived exercises like that drive me batty.

The being verbs can be passive. Boring. Not always, of course, but sometimes. And, in our writing, we need to avoid the boring. This is especially true in a query. Passive verbs and boring writing will both turn off agents - quickly. I've pulled out an old query to find out what verbs (in order) I used at the time...


If you're querying, or planning on it, check out your verbs in a list like this without the rest of the query. Do they convey action and/or the flow of your story? Do they match the style of writing in your story? Do they implore the agent to read on?

If not, maybe it's time to change it up.

Like many of my fellow FTWAers, I've learned a lot of my writing/querying tips from the awesome people over at Agent Query Connect. There's a forum for query help if you're so inclined.

Anyone willing to share the first 3 verbs of their query or story?

Jemi Fraser is (ACK!! Time to rewrite the bio!) an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.


JeffO said...

I think listing the verbs like this is a pretty useful exercise, though I think you do have to be careful about getting carried away in the drive to purge "boring" verbs.

Querying. Ugh.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There's always a better way to word a sentence to avoid those "to be" verbs. But to do it to every single one? That story would read awkward.

Romance Reader said...

Great post Jemi.

Jemi Fraser said...

Jeff - so very true! The story has to be king :)

Diane - I agree - and it would drive me nuts trying to do it

RR - thank you!

Medeia Sharif said...

You are so right about those "to be" verbs. I am now curious about my verb usage and will check the next time I open my documents.

Jemi Fraser said...

Medeia - glad to help! :)

cleemckenzie said...

I also think stretching for unusual verbs is a mistake. I'm all for keeping it simple and straight forward.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lee - me too! I'd be the last person to go for elaborate words :)

Misha Gericke said...

Not currently querying, but the first verbs in my story are: "reeked", "staggered" and "to escape". :-)

And this is a great reminder. Strong verbs in a query, or even the back of the book blurb could be the difference between hooking someone in or them passing on our stories.

Jemi Fraser said...

Misha - I agree! Verbs have power - and the 3 you start with are awesome!