Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chapter Twelve: Query-Weary

The opening paragraph, or more likely just the first sentence, is the most crucial part of a query letter. Since research says that literary agents only spend seconds skimming a query, the opening has to grab that agent's attention or the moment is lost. That's why I've spent months trying to perfect my query.

After rewriting the first paragraph of my query letter backwards and forwards dozens of times, I reached the point I couldn't bear to think about it any longer so I put all its multiple versions away for several weeks. When I took a look at them a few days ago, I realized it simply wasn't right. None of the possibilities worked so I started over and rewrote a new opening paragraph rather quickly - especially for me. After a few minor edits, I decided the new opening not only had a better grabber than my older versions but flowed better too.

I'd sensed the opening paragraph wasn't right but kept trying to fix it. It didn't need to be fixed. It needed to be scrapped. I feel confident my new opening, so different from its predecessor, is now a dynamic and provocative introduction to my teen mystery. Time away from my query letter gave me a new perspective on it and time for ideas to emerge without having to be put down on paper. Never underestimate the value of thinking-time!

The rest of the letter is good and remains as it's been all along. Thank goodness I didn't need to rewrite all that. I'm query-weary!

Let's get published!