Honestly, I’m often baffled by the outrageous goings-on in my overly-active imagination, but I’m a writer, and my mind’s madcap flight of fancy is what makes writing an adventure, not a job. My brain rarely rests and when I dream, things can go from moderately kooky to downright bizarre rather quickly.
A few nights ago, after I had safely tucked myself into bed for the evening, I heard voices coming from the downstairs living room, so I did what every idiot in one of those abysmally bad horror flicks does, I went to investigate. I tiptoed into the hall and down the stairs. Squatting on the last riser, I peered through the banisters at a wonderfully ornate, carved oak door. What? That’s not supposed to be there.
Intrigued, I cautiously approached the door and reached for the smooth silver handle. Suddenly, the door swung open, its massive hinges groaning impressively. As I stared into what should have been my living room, I saw two lovely ladies and two handsome gentleman with their hands clasped solemnly on the desks in front of them
I recognized them instantly and I felt the color in my face draining, drop by drop. The people gazing back at me were four of the ten, prestigious literary agents I had been cyber-stalking…er…I mean…researching for the last year. The Towering Ten, as I liked to call them, are my “dream” agents, the ones to whom I wish to eventually submit my manuscript, hoping to find the Rainbow Connection: The magical, mystical, bond between a writer and agent where all our mutual dreams come true.
I awkwardly folded my arms over my scanty nightie, cursing myself for not having the sense, or decency, to have thrown on a bathrobe and fidgeted like a sugared up six-year-old.
“Do you know why you’re here?” asked the honey-haired lady agent.
“No, I can’t say that I do,” I whispered. Knees quivering, I sank onto a couch, which was conveniently facing their desks.
“This is a query letter intervention,” said the older male agent. “If you, as a writer, cannot communicate your story to us in an effective and compelling manner, then it’s highly unlikely that your manuscript is ready for us.”
“No, no,” I protested. The manuscript is ready, I swear. It’s been edited and polished to a high-gloss. What’s wrong with my query letter, anyway?”
The young male agent shook his head and gave me a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look. “We hardly know where to begin,” he said sadly.
A beautiful older lady in a red suit chimed in. “Your query letter is of vital importance to us, and as cruel as it may sound to you, it’s how we agents sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.”
“But…but…” I stammered. “I’ve attended numerous webinars on the subject, as well as breakout sessions at several writing conferences, plus I’ve purchased and read every book ever written about queries. I have done everything they said to do. My letter was professional, courteous, short and informative…wasn’t it?”
“It was and, frankly, it bored us to tears,” snapped the younger male agent.
Ouch! That stung!
“Your query didn’t sing,” said the honey-haired young lady.
I crossed my arms and scowled sullenly. “I didn’t know it was supposed to sing. Is it supposed to tap dance, too?”
“If you’re going to make snide comments, we can leave,” replied the older gentleman.
I started to panic. I had four members of my “dream team” in my house and I didn’t want them to go. I wanted to hear what they had to say. “No, no, no. I’m sorry. Please continue.”
The lady in red crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair. “Your writing didn’t transport us to the world you created in your manuscript. Your query had no umph, no spirit, no pizzaz, no je ne sais quoi.”
I hung my head in shame. She was right, my query didn’t have any razzle-dazzle and it certainly didn’t showcase my writing ability.
“Agents get hundreds of ho-hum queries on a daily basis,” she continued. “If you want us to sit up and take notice of your writing, then send us a query where your talent and passion leap off the page and straight into our hearts. However, if you can’t manage that, you’ve got to at least send us an interesting query.”
“Okay. Point taken,” I said. “How do I make my query less boring?”
“Write your query in an irresistible voice, let it entice us, seduce us, enchant us, woo us. We want a rainbow connection as much as you do,” said the young male agent.
My hand flew to my mouth and I sat in stunned silence. How did he know about the rainbow connection?
“Take our advice and rewrite your query before you blow your chances with the rest of The Towering Ten and, for the love of all that is holy, wear clothes the next time you visit an agent’s office,” said the honey-haired agent.
Another fair point. Appropriately chastised, I slunk out of the room and back up to my bed, where I wrote down every word they’d just said to me.
Although I endured a firestorm of criticism from my “dream” agents, I wasn’t about to take it personally. Edits and constructive criticism make me a better writer.
I’m still not sure if my query can sing or dance yet, but I think it croaked and wiggled the other day, so things are looking up.