Friday, July 05, 2019

More on queries, but illustrated!



Chili Palmer: Don't worry, I'm not going to say any more than I have to, if that.

(which is your guiding principle for all writing)

The query is the knock at the door.
The pages are the punch in the nose.

One of my favorite movies shows you how:

25 comments:

Kitty said...

One of THE funniest movies of all time. IMHO, "Get Shorty" was Travolta's comeback.

As someone who has struggled with writing, I love the part where Bo tells Chili there's nothing to writing.

CHILI: You know how to write one of these?

BO: There's nothin' to know. You have an idea, you write down what you wanna say. Then you get somebody to add in the commas and shit where they belong, if you aren't positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words . . . although I've seen scripts where I know words weren't spelled right and there was hardly any commas in it at all. So I don't think it's too important. Anyway, you come to the last page you write in 'Fade out' and that's the end, you're done.


Easy peasy ;-)

Kitty said...

R.I.P. Dennis Farina :-(

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So we're supposed to punch a bunch of agents in the nose? That is not where I was going with my query. But ok. I best get to the gym. Work on my right hook.

french sojourn said...


As my grandfather always said..."You never hit a man when he's down...you kick him, it leaves you in a much better defensive position."

Amy Johnson said...

What a great blog title! Grabbed me. Illustrated? What has the Queen come up with now? I gotta see this. Glad I did.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

This changes everything.

NLiu said...

Well, I heard sharks didn't like being punched in the nose. Now I need to update that scene in my natural history inspired fiction novel. And get Dear Agent Snookums to sign off on it. Did I tell you it has a million and two words and will break boundaries like sharks break glass bottomed boats? No?

P.S. Happy to be back!

Craig F said...

A query is a grocery sample of some strange, bloody chum.

Pages happen after you get the nerve to taste it.

julie.weathers said...

Well, I just ordered The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming because there is absolutely nothing of interest on Hulu anymore. Now I need to order Get Shorty.

Casual-T said...

@french sojourn... Heed thy elders, for they speak the straight and narrow!

Casual-T said...

Get Shorty is such a fun movie! Sometimes, I guess, it's just as simple as punching someone in the nose... Other times, you better aim for the jugular (located just in front of the pectoral fins).

Adele said...

I haven't seen this movie (can't watch cruelty) but I just read Roger Ebert's 1995 review. John Travolta says he "insisted the original Leonard dialogue be put back into the screenplay, which had been translated into flat, functional Hollywood Speak. In Time magazine this week, he provides an example: In the novel, when Chili's beloved jacket is taken from a check room, he says, "You see a black leather jacket, fingertip length, has lapels like a suitcoat? You don't, you owe me three seventy-nine. You get the coat back or you give me the three seventy-nine my wife paid for it at Alexander's." In the screenplay, he says, this speech had been changed to, "Where's my coat? You better find it. It cost $400."

Yikes! Why bother writing if they're just going to "fix it"? So glad Travolta made them put it back.

Timothy Lowe said...

Best part of the book is when the movie execs realize that Chili is a pretty crappy protagonist for the movie, due to the fact that he doesn't really do much. It's true. He allows things to happen, that's about it. Apart from a few notable assaults (the nose-punch, for instance), he kind of drifts. Doesn't matter, though. He oozes cool. Even his name. They're trying to find an end to the movie they're proposing when Leonard ends with the best last line in literature:

"Fucking endings, man. They weren't as easy as they looked."

Janet Reid said...

I love Get Shorty.
I love Be Cool, the sequel.

But what is even better is there's now a TV season of Get Shorty.
It's nothing like the movie; it's GREAT in it's own way.

Maybe I shouldn't have posted the thing about the punch in the nose today. I'm headed to ThrillerFest next week. Writers punching me with their queries might be too tempting for that crowd!

Timothy Lowe said...

(...man, now I have to read Be Cool.)

Janet Reid said...

Timothy Lowe I meant the movie. I hang my head in shame when I tell you I have not read the books. Either of them.

Timothy Lowe said...

Janet Reid, I hang my head in shame that I have never figured out how to bold text in your comment section. And I should say, if I stood on a pile of all the books I have not read, I would surely asphyxiate from the altitude.

Theresa said...

I was also going to mention the Get Shorty series, which, as Janet said, is great in its own way. It starts a vicious cycle, though. Watch the series, then you want to watch the movie, which makes you want to watch the series again....

Megan V said...

This clip was me today when I realized how quickly time flies . I can still feel the fist to my face .

Janet Reid said...

Timothy Lowe to go boldly where you've not gone before, check your email inbox.

Timothy Lowe said...

Janet Reid muchos thanks! It feels like I just figured out how to use a spellcasters' spell book!

John Davis Frain said...

Long live Elmore Leonard! What an ear for dialog.

Also, I wanna hang out with Hank's grandpa and buy him a beer ... then get my pen and pad out and just take notes. (You're welcome too, of course, Hank.)



Fearless Reider said...

Delurking to express my adoration for Get Shorty, the movie and the cleverly adapted TV series, which faithfully cherishes all that I loved about the film but is very much its own thing. That is a rare feat and feels like such a gift from the adaptation gods. I know I would love the book, too, if I would just get around to it. The list keeps growing ever longer.

John Davis Frain said...

Fearless, you must read Get Shorty because then you'll get to read Be Cool, which is the sequel.

And the best part is, then you'll wonder which Elmore Leonard book you should be starting with since you've read two and can't believe how good they were.

So, here's your answer: Out of Sight, which introduces Karen Sisco, a federal marshal; and Jack Foley, a gentleman who somehow lives on the wrong side of the law. Then Maximum Bob, which is almost as funny as Be Cool, but that's impossible so you'll have to judge for yourself.

I'm picking up Be Cool and reading chapter 1 right now just so I can start laughing to open the weekend.

KDJames said...

I need to watch that movie.

What I love about that scene is it's the contrast that makes it great: Travolta says very little, he's all decisive action, from the gloves to the stride to the knock to the punch to closing the door behind him. But the guy driving the car won't stop talking, saying things both characters know are true and that don't need to be said. If both characters had been terse, whole different feel. That's comedic/dialog genius.