There will be prizes for that. Like 100 prizes, don't you think? There's a couple problems with this idea. 1. I'm not what you would call a millionaire. 2. What could I give away to say I love you with all my heart without landing me in the poor house? Thoughts? Cuz you guys so deserve something.
And onto the real post for today.
Okay, so we've gone over the first and last sentence. The first and last paragraphs. Now all you need to do is flesh out the middle.
This is where some of you wedge yourself in a swamp, so take heed. I mean, nobody wants more fat in their middle, right? Right.
Some tips to keep your query lean and mean.
1. Limit the number of characters you name. I think a good number is 1-2 more, if necessary. You've got your MC, and probably a secondary MC. I name both of those in mine. I might or might not name the villain and that's it. We don't need the full cast, it simply takes up too much room and weighs us down with unneeded proper nouns.
2. Get to the conflict and the consequence. Don't bog us down in the unnecessary. We don't need to know everything in the query. Just the bare bones, the main plot to the major consequence (which is why I recommend writing the query before the book). So stick with that.
Use a sentence or two for the setup. Then lay out the major conflict. Note how I said major. What does your MC have to lose? Give me that, and really give it to me.
Then answer: What happens if your MC doesn't overcome the conflict? That's called a consequence. Leave me hanging off a cliff, salivating to read more. Oh yeah. Like that. (Some of you don't ever get to the consequence. It's omitted for some reason. What that reason is, I have no idea. You've got to lay out the consequence, okay? Okay.)
3. I swear I had three bullet points when I was in the shower, but now I can't think of it. Like, at all. Dangitall.
Here's my full query blurb (181 words - Janet Reid would be proud). I made the middle bold.
In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces.
After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) and exiled to the Badlands—until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors.
Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy Bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame sentence.
Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.
Next week: Capturing the voice in your query. Seriously, if you can craft a good first and last sentence, nail your opening and closing paragraphs, and keep the middle slim, all you need is the voice and your query will be a winner!