(in case you missed Round 1, click here.)
(in case you missed Round 2, click here.)
Larry: [bangs open the door to my office. He has a sheet of paper in one hand and what looks like a model rocket in the other.] FFFFFuuuuuuusssssshhhhhh!!! [Larry shakes the rocket like it’s hurtling through the stratosphere.]
Me: [cringing. It’s kind of painful watching one of NASA’s top rocket scientists playing around like a 10 year old – no seriously, Larry really is a rocket scientist for NASA.] Uh. Larry, are you Ok?
Larry: [stops and stares at me like he just discovered life on whatever imaginary planet he was exploring] Oh. Hi JD. I brought over the query for my book. You said we could go through Round 3 today, right.
(in case you missed Round 1 , here’s a link)
(in case you missed Round 2 , here’s a link)
Me: Yeah. Today I was thinking we could work on your stakes. [The rocket ship is flying in a figure 8 now. He’s actually blowing raspberries too.] Larry? What’s up with the toy rocket?
Larry: [the raspberries stop and both his eyebrows go up. Uh-Oh…a two eye-brower look. I may be in trouble here.] Toy? Look closely. This is an exact replica – down to the very last rivet – of the gasoline and liquid oxygen rocket that Robert Goddard first launched in 1926. This “toy” heralded in the modern era of every worthwhile scientific discovery of the last 90 years.
Me: [have I mentioned Larry can be a little melodramatic at times.] Right. Sorry. Robert Goodman’s rocket. I didn’t notice that at first. I should have recognized –
Larry: It’s Goddard. Not Goodman. You don’t even know who he is, do you?
Me: Let’s take a look at the stakes in your query. Continue reading
What are Larry’s queries? That’s a good question. It’s probably best if I tell you who Larry is first. Larry’s my cousin on my mother’s side. He wants to be a writer and he’s got some really good ideas too, but he struggles putting queries together. (Don’t we all).
So anyway, I thought it would be helpful to Larry (and anyone else reading this blog) if we went through his queries and tried to improve them.
When you see the queries you’ll understand what I mean when I say Larry struggles with this. Actually, he’s downright awful at it. Don’t worry about hurting his feelings though, believe me the man is like human Teflon. Just don’t say anything bad about Neil Armstrong. Don’t ask…it’s just a thing with Larry.
Larry: [sits down at table across from me] Hello, JD. This shouldn’t take long.
Me: [I smile politely. This is going to take forever] Hi Larry, good to see you too. So you’ve written a manuscript and now you want some help on the query letter. [I cringe, realizing I said the “h” word to Larry]
Larry: [raises a single eyebrow and turns carefully to be sure I can see the NASA logo on his shirt sleeve. Yes, we all get it, Larry. You’re a freaking rocket scientist. No, really he is literally a rocket scientist. Graduated high school when he was fifteen, blew through college and now he evaluates civilian rocket programs for NASA. So yeah, pretty much a genius. And up goes the other eyebrow to join the first, which means he’s getting ready to talk to one of us mortals] I’ve written a fiction novel and my research shows the next step is drafting a query letter to send to an agent. I do not need your help as I have already completed the query letter, but if you wanted to look over it, I wouldn’t be opposed to that.
Me: [I bite my tongue to stop myself from pointing out you don’t want to say “fiction novel” since a novel by definition is fiction. Fortunately I took several Tylenol before Larry came over because I expected one way or another I would end up with a headache.] Oh, that’s good. You’ve got a query letter already, so let’s just see how you did.
Larry: [skips in, humming the theme song from 2001 A Space Odyssey.] Hi, JD. Ready for round two?
(in case you missed Round 1, click here.)
Me: [I prepare myself mentally. Larry’s my cousin, and he’s a great guy, but sometimes he lets his 163 IQ get the better of his ego. I mean don’t get me wrong, the guy is literally a rocket scientist. He evaluates civilian rocket programs for NASA, but all that brain power hasn’t translated into good query writing. Don’t tell Larry though. He might fill the inside of your car with space age sock gel. It’s happened before.] Hi Larry, come on in. Ready to polish that query up?
Larry: [beaming his biggest smile] You bet. I can’t wait to see what you’ll help me with today.
Me: [I break out in a sweat. Something’s wrong. Larry never asks for the “h” word.] uhhh. Ok, sure.
Larry: [pulls out a video camera and sets it on a filing cabinet. He carefully adjusts the angle to focus on the desk where I’m sitting.]
Me: What’s that?