Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing a Query for a Middle Grade Book: Why Mine Isn't Working

Writing for Children is one thing. Then there's writing the query. Try taking the entire contents of your house and cramming them in one suitcase. Or putting an entire pantry shelf of food into your mouth in one swallow.
Yeah, it's about that easy.

I have been dutifully reading all the posts at Query Shark, and have two thoughts about why I've written so many version of this latest query, all of them about as tasty as chomping cereal still in its box.

First, a good query is much more than condensing the plot into a few lines. Not the pantry shelf swallow, in other words. According to Janet Reid aka Query Shark (, isn't a list of what happens, but how the characters react to what happens to them.

Second, when I gave the query to my critique group, they commented that what they like about my newest book is the voice, and that doesn't show up in the query at all. You can't write a query in first person, so how do I do that? Again from Query Shark, the language used in the query should sound similar to the wording in the book. So even if I can't put it in the character's voice, I can at least cut the words that sound like they're written by his middle school principal.

My goal for tonight: write it in first person, pick out the language I want, then write it in third person again.

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