Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

The Stakes (of a Query)

with one comment

Let’s say you wrote the best query in the world and still got a rejection. Why in the world would that happen? Besides the obvious ones like querying an agent who doesn’t represent that genre or having a story that’s already been done, it could be because you had no stakes! (Agents like stakes. Some agents also like steaks–but that’s besides the point.)


Agents like these kinds too. (Unless they're a vamp)

Hopefully your stakes are more than $1.00


When writing a query, the stakes of your story are important! It’s just as important as a good hook line–okay, maybe it’s more important. It’d be almost like selling a story with absolutely no plot. If you were a dentist, would you try to sell toothpaste without fluoride? Your plot is the driving force of the story, and stakes are the drivers behind the plot!

Stakes are the backbone to the plot, which is the meat of the story. Stakes are why we care! Ex: Jenny and Amanda fall in love. We care why? Jenny’s parents are homophobes and they’ll ship her off to some institution if they find out she’s a lesbian.

With my own stories, it’s when the query writing comes up–and when it ends up falling short–that the lack of conflict comes forth. Unfortunate truth, but that’s what happens. So take a look at yours and ask yourself: Why do we care about Suzy’s family moving? And why should we stress ourselves over Hannah’s choice between Brian and William?

We’d like to know, what are the stakes in your story? (Feel free to be vague as possible!)


Written by Devin Bond

November 2, 2010 at 5:30 am

Posted in Queries

One Response

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  1. This is very true. Finding and including the stakes in the query can be even more difficult than writing the hook.

    Emy Shin

    November 2, 2010 at 11:15 am

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