Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Query Checklist


Graphic from College Hills
Let's skip the "queries are hell" preamble, shall we?

Excellent. Another fact: Assessing queries is a hellish task. This past month I judged a query contest with about 50 entries. This would've been impossible without some sort of objective standard. I put together a checklist -- by no means exhaustive -- that helped me decide.

It might be useful to focus on certain aspects of a query, rather than trying to assess its overall effectiveness.


  Categories to consider:
1. Muscular prose (tightness on the sentence level)
2. Overall flow
3. Clear MC throughout
4. Clear stakes
5. Logic of plot points as revealed through query
6. Voice and voice consistency
7. Compelling plot
8. Professional bio/closing
9. Info-dump (cut extraneous facts)
10. Length (adhering to the 250 ideal / 300 max standard)
More on queries?
Try the Shark or Agent Query 

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By the way, I'm entering FLEFF's Checkpoints Story Contest this month with a 500-word flash piece called "Checkpoints on an Evening in the City." Fingers are crossed!