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Writing for a Living: The Query

Learn writing effective queries that will attract editors, agents and publishers.

Writing for a Living: The Query

Learn writing effective queries that will attract editors, agents and publishers.
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The definition and history of the query, and the five essential questions your query should answer.
How to address the two most crucial query questions -- what's your book about, and who will buy it.
How to present the relevant portions of your background in the short space of a query, and two important pieces of etiquette that editors and agents expect.
A review of a sample query based on the elements presented in the previous lectures.
How understanding story as a dynamic system enables you to not only present your content in the brief space of a query, but also improve your writing in general.
A closer look at what allows readers to relate to story - character, and how to give your characters depth in a short space.
The different types of conflict, and how conflict drives story events.
How the addition of complications can change a simple two-note story into a symphony.
A look at the final story element, closure, and how accenting various story elements creates both genre and reader expectations.
How summaries evolved in different media, leading to tiered levels that move from an abstract overview to full-bodied story moments.
How a combination of the summary tiers works best in a query, and how the process of summarizing can influence and enhance your personal writing methods.
A crucial, in-depth look at one of the biggest stumbling blocks to good writing - redundancy.

This course is a nuts-and-bolts examination of the strategies and skills needed to present your books, articles, ideas, and/or yourself compellingly and competitively to potential buyers. It centers on a standard part of any professional writing career, the query.

The query is a short letter (1-2 pages) addressed to an editor, producer, or agent that tries to get them interested enough in an author’s work to read the entire project.

The course consists of twelve video lectures detailing how to create queries, taught by author Stefan Petrucha based on his two decades of experience in novels and graphic novels. Ranging from two to 12 minutes, they run just under two hours and are presented in three sections:

  • Query Basics

  • Story Basics

  • Creating Summaries

Query Basics describes how the query developed, then defines and explores its five essential components: content, market, bio, availability, and project status. A focus on marketing teaches students what buyers want and how to give it to them.

Story Basics hones in on the most challenging component, content, where the professional author must pitch the core of their work in a brief, yet captivating manner. By focusing on the story as the basic unit of human communication, students will be able to understand what does and don’t work quickly.

Creating Summaries explores how summaries evolved in different media (film, tv, publishing) and how that context affects the working writer. It then presents specific strategies for condensing story ideas, a process that can also become an effective way to generate content reliably. A final lecture concentrates on the biggest obstacle not only to creating summaries but to good writing in general: Redundancy.

A free PDF of the book, Writing for a Living is also included.

Requirements

There are no requirements beyond some ability with the language, and a desire to improve your writing.

The definition and history of the query, and the five essential questions your query should answer.
How to address the two most crucial query questions -- what's your book about, and who will buy it.
How to present the relevant portions of your background in the short space of a query, and two important pieces of etiquette that editors and agents expect.
A review of a sample query based on the elements presented in the previous lectures.
How understanding story as a dynamic system enables you to not only present your content in the brief space of a query, but also improve your writing in general.
A closer look at what allows readers to relate to story - character, and how to give your characters depth in a short space.
The different types of conflict, and how conflict drives story events.
How the addition of complications can change a simple two-note story into a symphony.
A look at the final story element, closure, and how accenting various story elements creates both genre and reader expectations.
How summaries evolved in different media, leading to tiered levels that move from an abstract overview to full-bodied story moments.
How a combination of the summary tiers works best in a query, and how the process of summarizing can influence and enhance your personal writing methods.
A crucial, in-depth look at one of the biggest stumbling blocks to good writing - redundancy.

About the instructors

 

Stefan Petrucha

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