Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Friday, November 14, 2014

Query Question: incorporating parts of the novel in the query

I've just started the query process (only seven sent so far), and of the two query letters I've composed, one incorporates dialogue from the novel to highlight plot point's. Is this okay to do, or frowned upon?

It's not so much whether it's ok or frowned upon, as whether it's effective.

And generally it's not.

Your query should focus on the precipitating incident of the plot: what changes for the main character? What's at stake with that change?

Lines of dialogue that are explanation of plot points sounds like bad dialogue.  There's a now classic blog post on Turkey City Lexicon that names this kind of dialogue "As you know Bob."  It's bad in a book, it's death in a query.

For help on figuring out how to get plot on the page, consult the QueryShark blog.

8 comments:

El El Piper said...

I highly recommend the Bruce Sterling link. I have read it many times, but not recently until this morning's Sharkly reminder. It always makes me laugh (at times a little too nervously?), but keeps me from getting getting off track on my own sf novel.

Craig said...

I've seen some good dialogue in queries but it still had two problems.

It wastes a lot of space

It always drops the query into the telling category. A query should show the story and not tell it

Karen McCoy said...

Bookmarking the Turkey City Lexicon. So brilliant. I came across the "As you know, Bob," phenom a few months ago from another source. But ever since I encountered it, I'm noticing it everywhere.

Good query tips from Craig, too.

french sojourn said...

I read the Turkey City Lexicon article. Then it made me mentally go over my m/s's. I have a little tweaking to do.

Great post as usual.

Cheers.

donnaeverhart.com said...

Any person who thinks writing is easy should be pointed to the Turkey City Lexicon article. I've also bookmarked it. Even though I'm not writing Sci-Fi, but I certainly recognized a ton of the same things all writers should avoid. (viewpoint glitch, Nowhere, Nowhen Story, and the apparently now infamous - As you know, Bob, to name a few)

Colin Smith said...

That Turkey City Lexicon article is very good. Much of what it calls out is in most good craft books, but I like the concise and entertaining format.

Amy Schaefer said...

As you know, Bob, Janet Reid dispenses invaluable advice to writers, and we are all grateful to her.

I haven't reread Turkey City Lexicon in ages. I think I'll head there next.

DLM said...

Also, the plural of point is points. To add an apostrophe makes it possessive, which in the context here makes worse than no sense - it's incorrect AND confusing, Bob.

Sorry, but that was giving me brain-itch. During cluster migraine season, brain itch is more than I can take.