John Dryden is on the trail of the greatest acquisition of his checkered career– a play manuscript written in Shakespeare's own hand. Between him and his prize is an obsessed librarian who wants to destroy it... and the heiress who can lead him to it – but only if he's willing to risk his independence, his life, and his loner's heart.
How about a premise? Can you take that situation and come up with a concise, precise sentence? Can you make that short and pithy, with a buzzword or two? "Civil war breaks out in an elite boarding school." That's a quick, clever, resonant TV-Guide sort of summary. (TV-Guide is your best manual for hot premises, by the way.)
*Think "setting and conflict." Think "character role and conflict." Conflict is definitely the key, because conflict is potential, conflict is danger, conflict is suspense.
* Now what I propose is that you find the hot premise in your book-- the one already there-- and hone it and revise it into one or two sentences that just glitter with intrigue and promise. It must imply conflict. It must imply potential. It must imply tension.
*And it will have to be the tightest sentence you've ever written. No vagueness allowed.
*Every word, every word, has to carry plenty of promise. If a word can do double duty (a double-entendre, sexual or otherwise), all the better. If a word or phrase has some cultural resonance ("star-crossed lovers"), all the better. Good old buzzwords (yes, I mean cowboy, bride, baby; but also rich, danger, hot, death....) let the editor know right away what the market niche will be.
* Find a keyword and play with it. John is an accountant trained never to take risks... so will he risk falling in love? Risk is the keyword, used first as a noun then as a verb. You could maybe go for a synonym for one of... [continues]
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(2008, 08). Writing Query Letters. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 08, 2008, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Writing-Query-Letters-160458.html
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"Writing Query Letters." StudyMode.com. 08, 2008. Accessed 08, 2008. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Writing-Query-Letters-160458.html.