Senseless Queries

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Nov 12 2014

Recently I had a rash of queries that I couldn’t make any sense of. It was so bad that I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t had enough caffeine and it was me and not the authors.

When writing anything–your book, your query, this blog–we sometimes know exactly what we’re thinking and what we’re going to say and forget that we need to step outside of our own heads to make sure that what we’re saying is going to make sense to the reader. In this case, the queries were difficult to follow and I didn’t get a good sense of the story.
Let me see if I can give you an example:
Frani Franks and her best friend Frankie have no idea that opening the ice cream shoppe, Ice n’ Delicious will lead to a murder that’s most definitely not vanilla and that seems related to the cocoa beans they love in their chocolate.
The victim loves to eat pistachio ice cream every day and once came in a stole an entire gallon from the shoppe. But vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and the shoppe’s brand new table and chairs are all linked to the mayor of the town and Frani had no idea that her new shoppe could be her last hurrah.
The killer’s enthusiasm to eat ice cream leads Frani to the mayor’s house where they find that it’s more than ice cream that they’re after, that the entire town might be in danger because of a giant land development project….
And yes, I do get queries that are this confusing.
If you’re struggling to write the query read some back cover copy to see how books do it and then review some of the queries I have on this blog and some of the critiques Janet Reid has done on her blog. Because, honestly, any agent who receives a query like this is going to reject the book simply because we assume the book is just as confusing.

5 responses to “Senseless Queries”

  1. I guess you could say that was a…sorbet…excuse for a query. *puts on sunglasses* YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!

  2. I think sometimes writers want so badly to impress, they worry more about being clever than being clear, and it comes back to bite them in the rear. I've been guilty of that a few times. I've learned to never send anything fresh. Close it, come back later with fresh eyes. Helps get a whole new perspective.

  3. Avatar B. Renard says:

    This book sounds like one that might have odd turns of phrase, such as:

    "Her cold, dead skin had turned the color of sugar free blueberry ripple."

    Lol Stephen!

  4. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    So now I want ice-cream!

    That's why crit partners are so necessary. They know the story but don't know all the deleted scenes still running in my head.

  5. Your example made me laugh, but mostly because it was right on the mark. I totally believe you receive countless queries like that because I'm pretty sure mine all started that way, too. Query writing is hard, yo. This is an excellent reminder to have others who haven't read your book to take a look at the query.