If you are a regular reader of my posts, you know how much I hate query letters! If not, you now know I despise them. Mine are horrible. Over the years, I’ve taken classes, read books, and followed blog advice. So when I recently entered a new contest that required me to have a query letter, I cringed and went back to one of my favorite advice blogs–Query Shark. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to read all of the entries (per her suggestion) before the contest. So, I entered anyway and followed the tweets religiously. Sure enough, one of the judges mentioned my entry and how disappointed he was with how generic my stakes were. UGH!
His advice was incentive enough to continue reading Query Shark. I finally found the entry (can’t find it again), where the writer is told once again to show the stakes. BUT this time, Query Shark identified what that meant and I had an AHA moment. So here it is–the stakes are the question the hero/ine has to make. According to Query Shark, every genre should have their main character make a choice, otherwise there is no stakes. *queue music*
Now, I finally have a much better ending with the stakes clearly shown. This information also helped me identify a weak area with my brand new WIP (8k words into it). I really wished I’d known this concept or understood it three years ago when I first ventured, seriously, into writing.