14 April 2010
The Anti-Query Contest
I've been query letter writing (in an effort to delay revisions as long as possible), and I've stumbled across some helpful resources: Elana Johnson did a terrific and motivating blog series; Nathan Bransford has lots of useful tips; and Query Shark isn't afraid to tell you what agents really think.
I, however, am not an expert on query writing. I'm working on it. If I figure it out, I'll let you know. So why am I posting on this topic? While fiddling with my query, I got side-tracked again and had heaps of fun writing the opposite of a good query: The Anti-Query. Behold...
Dear Agent [I didn't bother to look up your name so imagine your name here]:
A Ninja with a dark past, a tortured soul who has tortured many souls but not soles, because Ninjas don't wear shoes, though sometimes they have those funny flats with the cloth bit that goes between the toes; I don't know what it's called, but you must know what I'm talking about, because everyone knows about Ninjas.
Then he goes riding real fast through the desert on a motorcycle (I don't know how he got there, but I'll work it out later) with zombies. Yeah, zombies! 'Cause it's cool. And he loves Megan Fox. He's dating her. Well, he has her poster, which is like dating her, 'cause she's there whenever he has sex. The book's not written yet, but I expect it will be about 10 pages, maybe 12. The ninja's name is Johnny or Bob or he might be a woman. Johnette? Bobette? I don't know. I'm only halfway through the book--that's SIX pages, which is lots of writing. There's no robots in it though. Robots are stupid...unless they're sexy robots. I haven't worked out the ending, but he either gets the girl or a bigger poster.
BIO: I am a 50 year old professor of socio-economic anthropology at Harvard, so I know nothing about Ninjas, and I have never written fiction before, because it's for stupid people, but I do have a poster of Megan Fox, and how hard can it be? I've attached all 6 pages to this email. I will stay online until you get back to me. Buy my book or burn in lakes of fire! I know where you live :[
So...I'm pretty sure I know what NOT to do. Just so everyone else can have a bit of query writing fun and to celebrate my having almost 50 followers (wow! thanks guys!), I'll make it a contest. Write the worst query you can and either leave a link to your blog post in comments or email me your entry to lorelclayton(at)hotmail(dot)com -- one winner will receive a fabulous prize! It will be good, I promise.
Now, just to prove that my query writing skills really aren't that awful, here's what I have so far for my last manuscript (not the one I'm working on now). I don't think it's publishable, but I thought I could use it for practice...
Dear [well researched agent's name here]:
Eva Thorne is a human refugee in a city of rude elves and matriarchal dwarfs. After the detective she tries to hire slams the door in her face, she is forced to investigate her brother’s murder on her own. She kicks off her high heels and delves into the muck of Highcrowne society in search of the killer. As a Thorne, she has a lot of muck to deal with. Her family has a sinister history and many enemies. What she discovers brings her up against a powerful slave-trading cartel, dark gods, and, worst of all, her twin sister.
Both her family and the elven authorities want her hushed. She has no money and no magic of her own with which to combat them, but she does have an illegally-freed slave, a senile nanny, and an ex-almost-boyfriend on her side. Even when she loses her job and almost loses her head in a sword fight on the same night, she isn’t deterred. It’s when the nanny goes missing that she really starts to worry.
“Tangle of Thornes” is an 80,000 word stand alone fantasy detective novel. The first five pages and a synopsis are included below this email. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Any suggestions for improving it will be welcomed with open arms and grateful cheek kisses (the sterile internet kind). And don't forget to enter the contest!