Set in France, ONE WAY TO PARIS is one woman’s voyage to the outer limits of her comfort zone.
In a short form work like a query letter, every single word counts. It's almost like a prose poem, and probably more difficult to write; not that I've written a query letter or a prose poem!
That means you don't want to waste words. This sentence does that. It doesn't tell us anything more specific than the title and setting, the second of which we intuit from the paragraphs that follow, the first of which can be mentioned at the end.
Always always start with what the book is about.
Do you sometimes dream of leaving the United States behind and experiencing the city of lights, its joie de vivre, its gourmet food, its magic? Would you then consider renting out a room in a beautiful ancient house in the heart of Paris?
I'm confused. "Renting out" is what landlords to. "Renting a room in Paris" is what tenants do. This implies I'm the landlord, but if I'm also leaving the US behind and experiencing Paris, it sounds like I'm the tenant.
Abandon the "you" construction. Start with Annie. The story is about her.
Annie has no choice but to bank on it. Bankruptcy has reared its ugly snout and if she is to keep her beloved house, she has to find renters, and quick. No need to trumpet all the details of the woman she has become, and even less need to get into what exactly happened the night her husband was killed.
Let's forget the background of how she came to this point and get on to what the story is about.
Lured by Annie's ad, which promises them to ‘Start over in Paris’ -- a concept Annie has no intention of applying to her own life -- the tenants bring the kind of baggage that doesn’t fit neatly in suitcases. Lola, the model is hiding from her husband and has abducted their children, Althea is clearly anorexic and Jared might very well be a drug addict. And then there is Lucas, Annie’s blue-blooded, Lanvin-wearing tenacious friend who simply refuses to be scared away
by her bad attitude.
So, why is she reaching out for people who want to start over? With all the people who want to visit Paris, why exactly would she want applications from the Dirty Dozen? Why doesn't she just advertise in the AAR newsletter for query-sharked agents who need a vacation?
The story can't just be these characters arrive cause you need them there (unless you are Pirandello of course.) They have to arrive for a reason that makes sense to the story, and Annie has to rent to them for reasons that make sense to the story.
Annie’s protected universe is soon threatened in more ways than she had anticipated. When she finds herself reluctantly but actively engaged in the rescue of her tenants, Annie discovers that she might just save herself in the process.
Protected universe? What? I though she was facing bankruptcy and unfortunate inquiries from les flics re le mort de monsieur.
Thank you for considering my work.
DON'T FORGET YOUR CONTACT INFO!!!!!!!! (even if I redact it for the Shark attack, make a habit of inserting it)
This is a mess right now, but you actually have an interesting idea. Revise this to tell what the story is first.
This is one of those form rejections I always feel bad about cause there's probably something good in there but I can't see it yet.
This is the exact kind of query that prompted me to start this blog.