Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Ideas registered at Writer's Guild

What? Writers Guild is for screenplays. Here's their website.
This isn't something I know a lot about since I don't represent screenplays or scripts but I don't think you register ideas, you register the pages. The purpose is to protect your actual work during the hubub of those pitch meetings with Griffin Mill

Starting your "query letter" to me with that tells me two things: you don't know what I represent and you don't know what a literary agency does.

Book One

Jill's father, Jerry has recently died in a car crash while her mother, Sarah was driving. Because Jill was very close to Jerry, she blames her mother for her father's death. And now that her mother has 'got religious', Jill is finding herself more and more angry at the peace that Sarah has found. Jill wonders why God doesn't love her. After moving to a new school and making several friends, Jill finds herself making a mistake which may ultimately cost her a decent future. How can anyone love her now? When sister, Anna nearly loses her life, Jill finally reaches out to God, who brings some healing to Jill's family.

Book Two

Jill's continues her journey with Christ. Her relationship is still healing with her mother but she is surprised at the peace and forgiveness she feels. She is excited to begin working for God to bring others to him and begins to work on friend, Ashley. Ashley is quite boy crazy and doesn't want to attend church until she meets Jill's secret love, Matt. Jill desperately wants to save Ashley, until she discovers that it is not she, but Christ who does the saving. Jill's friend Kelly, ends up leading Ashley to God. Jill struggles with some disappointment, and feels jealousy over Matt.

Book Three

Jill, still nursing her crush on Matt, begins her senior year. Ashley is no longer interested in Matt. Ashley is still crazy, but now crazy about Christ and begins to woo many kids to church. Jill still struggles with inadequacy because witnessing seems so easy for Ashley. She 'complains' to Matt who rather roughly encourages Jill. Jill and Kelly are still close friends.

This isn't a query letter. This is a recitation of events.
Start over.

Form rejection

(name redacted)

(phone redacted)


Liana Brooks said...

1- Query one book at a time

2- It needs to sound like a back-of-book blurb, not a synopsis

3- You're going to have to pick and choose your agents because not everyone does religious fiction.

4- You forgot to include title, genre, and word count (under the tools button on Microsoft word)

While you're at it google "query letter" and read some of the advice out there on how to get this right. It's your first presentation in front of a potential business partner, you need to look your best.

JS said...

Wow. This is a whole new approach to query writing, but not in the good way.

Anonymous said...

Up here in Canada--okay out in the middle of freaking nowhere Canada--there is nothing for writers and a writers guild is for anyone who has ever picked up a pencil and called themselves a writer. I'm part of a writers guild and it focusses a lot on poetry (of all things). It's really helpful for us romance writers. Okay, not so much.

Maybe I should join something more 'relevant' so American agents don't think I'm actually a film writer.

You never know the things you're going to learn when you wake up in the morning, do you?

Thanks, Shark!


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm really not clear on what ideas here could be registered. If it's 'finding God through Jesus' then there's a bestseller that already does that, and it's been out a couple thousand years. The other plot points mentioned here--car crashes, jealousy, finding faith--aren't unique either. This would make me worry you're the type to throw around accusations of idea theft, and what's an agent to do? Forbid everyone else everything from fender benders to green-eyed fits to chapel scenes?

It's like putting 'copyright 2008' on a submission. The only thing that says these days is you don't know enough to know you don't need to do it.

Anyway, don't mean to say too much on that one line, but I really think that one line alone will doom you. Can't say enough about getting it outta there!

Marian Perera said...

The misplaced commas kept jumping out at me. "When sister, Anna nearly loses her life... begins to work on friend, Ashley."

I'm also betting there are a lot of books/manuscripts out there along the lines of "Protagonist is unhappy. Protagonist finds God. Protagonist feels better." Might need to work on what sets this story apart from the rest.

Jessica Nelson said...

Hmmm, I was under the impression you don't rep inspirational.
That's why I didn't query you, lol.
Good luck to this writer!
The first book sounds like it may have a decent plot, but the author definitely needs to do research on how to write a query letter.

JS said...

Janet doesn't generally rep inspirational, but the Query Shark looks at queries in categories Janet doesn't generally rep.

So you should send along your query for sharking, Jessica. ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

Gypsum said...

Three years from now, after the 15th printing, this query letter will become the template for all future query letters.

(it could happen)

Janet Reid said...

Right about now

Julie Weathers said...

"Right about now"

Okay, that made me laugh and I needed a laugh today.

Author, first thing you need to do is remove the line about ideas being registered. As Janet said, Writer's Guild is for screenplays and it registers the script not ideas.

Starting with this tells the agent you don't trust them.

Next query one book at a time and make that query shine like a diamond.

Look through the archives of Miss Snark for examples of queries. I looked through the archives for both my query and synopsis and it helped a lot.

Snowflake Novel Writing Is also a good resource for those struggling to distill their work down to a core idea. This helped me with both the query and the synopsis.

Evil Editor is also a good place to get some feedback, but you really do need to do some work on this to take the best advantage of EE and his minions.

Books and Writers is an excellent place to learn about writing and get feedback. They have a novels workshop as well as exercises and just general good chats about writing. If you're serious about writing, this community is one of the best to help you hone your skills. Even someone just starting out can learn a lot or just people who enjoy writing and writers.

I have said before and I believe it. This is a golden age for writers. There is more help available than ever before. You can easily research agents to learn who is the best fit for your work. Information is mostly current and it's specific.

Good luck with this.

Anonymous said...

When I read this query, I collapsed, then giggled a bit. If this was