Monday, June 7, 2010

Author Tip #5: The Imagination is Vast...The Query is Not

When I first started here, I was amazed by the places and people authors had invented and included in the query. On the one hand, I really do want to know how well thought out and constructed your new world is. On the other hand, how much can really get across in a 250 word query letter? I would open the mail and see things like this:

When King Zorth of the Quadrons son Cartooga, a half-Boolakey, half-Kindo bastard is thrown into the dungeons on the planet Honpoog, a political nightmare ensues between the Zorths and their blood enemy, the bloodthirsty  Mamyziths. Aided by Zorth's son's friend's, Omipoko the Goolgish, Kinsana the Filtrye, and their omnipedded furry friend HoofHoof, the fellowship enters the dragon's lair to rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga. 

This little gem is a snippet of my own unruly imagination, but can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture? I'd like to open the floor and see what you all think about my pitch. Linn is going to weigh in later, after we get some feedback from other authors. 

I'll eat you with my killer x-ray eyes if you do this! ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM!


  1. LOL! Tooooo many unpronounceable names, for a start. It's hard to guess who was doing what, and in the end, no one in the query actually *did* anything.

  2. That makes me groan so heavily it's hard to pin down in exactly how many ways I hate that synopsis.

    Irrelevant needlessly-fictional names aside, my biggest problem is the lack of any WHY. Why is he thrown in prison? Why is that a problem? Why oh why is there a dragon involved? Is that an immutable law of the S&S genre?

    I'm also confused about "King Zorth of the Quadrons son rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga." Cartooga is a place with a prince, but Zorth is king of its Quadrons son? Why rescue anyone at all? I feel like a synopsis should at least make sense.

    In other news, Google records this as the first use of "omnipedded", though one might have suspected Lovecraft of coining it.

  3. Queries are hard to elaborate if a writer does not have a clear grasp of it's intended purpose and concept. To make things harder, I think shortening down an entire story is a really demanding endeavour, especially if a writer desperately wants to cause a good impression but just doesn't know how to.

    Considering the aforementioned, one can assume that the fictional query you present, reveals the writer's great desire of demonstrating his creativity whilst ensuring the presentation of the plot; but it also reveals an imprudent disregard over excessive detail.

    p.s. did you just quote Sheldon Cooper? =)

  4. This one is obvious, jumped right out at me, in fact. Everyone knows that omnipedded furry friends are severely under-qualified to enter dragons' lairs. For me, this would drag down a plot like a steamship anchor on a row boat.

  5. First problem, name soup. Who's the main character?

    Second problem, what's the dilemma?

    Third problem, what's the consequence?

    (Though I loved scarlettprose's answer!)