Show, not Tell

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

The Query Dilemma

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The more I read through queries, the more I notice people favoring the worst four letter word in writing. It’s becoming a horrible trend to start queries by telling. It’s a travesty really. It’s an easy way to kill a query that could easily be amazing! I think the biggest problem for new query writers is that they forget the writing rules a little. You’re introduced to the query formula* and it can be easy to let writing slip out of your mind.

If your query starts anything like this; “Jenny was happy and loved life until a mysterious guy named Eric comes into her life and turns it upside down,” –You might be in trouble. Would you ever put this in your writing? Goodness gracious, no! You would never curse yourself (or your writing) with such a Plain-Jane sentence. Your query needs to show, not tell.



The Dilemma


There are many ways you could jazz it up and show she was happy and loved life without just saying it, and I’d say it completely depend on what genre you were going for. You want to emphasize what will set your plot up better. If it’s a romance, show her lackluster or disastrous love life. With horror you could emphasize her plainness or her klutziness (very cliche, however). The possibilities are endless.

Here’s how I would fix it. “With Jenny’s new raise, she’s achieved the American Dream–a gleaming new sports car, a lofty apartment in New York and wardrobe full of designer labels. She’s finally getting used to the new, ritzy lifestyle when mysterious Eric barges into her life and destroys all that she has come to love.” –It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. It gives a bit more of what the stakes are and helps set the tone of the rest of the query.

How would you fix this boring, little sentence?

*Note: The Query Formula is not to  be taken literally.

Written by Devin Bond

November 9, 2010 at 5:30 am

Posted in Queries

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