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Emotion Belongs Somewhere Else Besides in Your Manuscript: An Exercise

By on Saturday, Dec 17, 2011 in Craft, Query letters | 3 comments

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Take a look at the following words:

overwhelming pleasure
incipient hope

What do you notice about there words?  Most are adjectives.  Some are nouns.  One is an adverb.

Okay, go deeper–what do you feel about these words?  Does reading down the list make your heart beat a little faster?  Does it cause you to imagine something, well–exciting?  Does it make you wonder how all these words fit together?

Is this the kind of book you’d like to be reading right now?

Romance writers–is this the kind of book you’d like to be writing right now?!

Okay, now click here for the source.  It is the amazing author Sherry Thomas’s query letter (on Pub Rants, literary agent Kristin Nelson’s blog)  for what eventually became Private Arrangements, the smashing debut that put her on the map.

I was reading through all the outstanding query letters listed on Ms. Nelson’s blog, trying to figure out what makes them outstanding.  And of course it’s many things.  But what I realized is that presenting your fabulous story idea isn’t enough for a query.  You have to present it emotionally.  When you read the common advice, use the same tone in your query as your manuscript, this may be (at least in part) what that means. 

Readers buy for the emotional experience.  (After all, we’re not writing textbooks, are we?)  So agents are looking for that, too.  It’s a hard task to distill a 350-page book into a one-page query letter, and it’s even harder to do it with feeling, enthusiasm, and excitement.  But forgetting to convey the reasons you wrote the story in the first place is like leaving the sugar out of the sugar cookie batter.  (Sorry, I had to get a holiday analogy in there somewhere 🙂

Happy Holidays, Everyone!


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