Jun 19 2013

To boldly go where no query letter has gone before


How fast? 237…

(In the final quarter of the movie)

The number stalks me again!



Star Trek into Darkness


What would the query letter’s first paragraph be if this
film were a book? That is what I wondered after I saw the movie.


Star Trek guide image


Is it a movie about the future and sci-fi technology?

Not really.

It’s about characters.


Kirk and Spock would work just as well in another era. A few
tweaks to the origins and they could be on a ship in the days of Vikings. Stick
those two characters on the Mayflower, you have the means for a great
historical movie that the masses would be interested in seeing. But what words
would sell that, were it from the paragraph of a book query? Assuming that it
were not part of a well-known brand, what words might hook the attention of an
agent or publisher?


What is in the paragraph of which I speak? First, there’s
the introduction, title, length, and genre. Then, in two or three sentences,
there is everything that matters!


  • Lay
    out the premise of the story.
  • Use
    industry-friendly archetype keywords, not names of characters.
  • Outline
    the important conflict of the main character(s).
  • Provide
    a clear sense of what is at stake.
  • Include
    the most outstanding aspect of the book.



I have trouble with my own. The industry-friendly words that
are meant to be intriguing put me to sleep. The description isn’t the whole
truth (though it is mostly the truth, but there’s also a gray area on the
nothing but the truth). Perhaps more details about the relationships of my
characters would help. After all, that is what I loved about the Star Trek
movie. It is difficult to go into detail about the relationships of the first
book without talking about the series as a whole. Why?


Around wedding time, the happy couple is frequently asked,
“So, how did you two meet?” Book one of my series only hints at that
answer. (Book two dives into it.) It is rather complicated, because one of my
main characters has no idea that she has been in a relationship for an
exceptionally long period of time. She is so unaware of this fact that she
actually gets engaged to another man- an arrangement set in place by her


So the premise is that my main male character first needs to
fully commit to the belief that his long lost love is still out there, then he
has to find her, and then he has to get her back. Along the way, he has a
battle with himself over if he should reclaim her or leave her on the new path
she has carved out for herself. The next major twist is when she has the choice
to stay in her current situation, or to run off to be with this guy who she
barely knows. What’s at stake? Well, if they don’t ultimately get back
together, there’s a group known as the Eyes in the Shadows who can use their
separation as an ingredient in their remove-human-life-from-Earth recipe. The
most outstanding aspect of the book is what these characters actually are…
something which is not answered in the first book at all. (Please refer to the
intro video on the what-are-they.com site for possible hints, some of which may
be partially correct.)


query image


What do you think?

How did you write your two or three sentences?

How would you write those sentences for the Star Trek film?


A rebellious captain, his first officer, and their crew are
sent to destroy a fugitive hiding in enemy territory. If they are caught behind
enemy lines it will start a war. If the fugitive remains at large, he could
return to kill off more of their people.


That hardly does the movie justice. It does fit the basic
requirements though.


A quirky relationship between a rebellious captain and his
first officer is put to the test by their people, a fugitive hiding in enemy
territory, and each other. They seek not only to prevent a war, but also to
elevate each other to become better individuals.


That is a bit better. What do you think? If you’ve seen the
movie, please have a crack at this just for fun. 

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