Q04: Query Revisions

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Querying Writers. For the remaining questions, see here.)

Assuming you’ve revised your query at least once, what was weak about the original that caused you to make changes?

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There was no conflict, and I probably gave away too much of the ending. Also, my manuscript is told from four alternating third-person POVs (think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-style), so I struggled with introducing all four characters. I ultimately decided to focus on one character in the intro of the query, then introduced the rest in the middle chunk. I think it’s a lot more effective now — but we’ll see!

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I have revised it about a 100 times and while I love the way it is now, I still think it could be better. But I think that’s also part of being a writer, you always think your work could be better, at least I do. The biggest change I’ve made to it is that the original version didn’t show the stakes of the main character clearly enough. It needed to be more specific instead of a vague ‘bad stuff happens’.

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I have revised my query, but not necessarily because I thought it was weak. I basically tweaked the query to focus on a different aspect of the story, one that I thought might interest agents more, and also so that it didn’t sound like a Paranormal romance.

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Mine was super wordy and I never stuck with a character long enough to hold your interest.

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I always write my query before I write the first draft of the MS. It helps to keep me on track and form some of the themes beforehand. And then I have to change it up some, once the draft is revised, because things change and the query needs to be clarified or focus on something else.

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I haven’t made too many changes to mine as it’s been effective, but the main comments I got were about making the stakes higher.

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I think my revised query much better captures the voice of my story and gets the hook across much more strongly. I revised because my original request rate was only 29% and the revised query has me at a 44% request rate, so I’d say it worked.

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Too much happening in the original query — it read more like a synopsis. Then I went to the other extreme of being “mysterious,” if you will. I’m still working on that “giving enough away to be enticing, but not vague” thing.

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My first query was really weak. It over generalized everything and was not specific. I’m pretty sure all the agent got from it was a bunch of buzzwords. No wonder I got all rejections.

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I always write my query before i write the first draft of the MS. It helps to keep me on track and form some of the themes beforehand. And then i have to change it up some, once the draft is revised, because things change and the query needs to be clarified or focus on something else.

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I went through about 8 drafts of my original query before I sent it out to anyone. I studied Query Shark and researched all the query sites to see what seemed to work and what didn’t. I’m not sure if I was lucky or if all that time and energy paid off, because I got a full request on my first ever query. Believe me, I was totally floored. I’ve revised my query here and there to help narrow the focus of the story and show the stakes a little better, but they were minor changes. The voice and the main ideas of the query have remained the same.

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Oh, query writing… sucks, doesn’t it? Where do you guys go for help when you suspect your query needs some serious work?

1 thought on “Q04: Query Revisions”

  1. “Too much happening in the original query — it read more like a synopsis. Then I went to the other extreme of being “mysterious,” if you will. I’m still working on that “giving enough away to be enticing, but not vague” thing.”

    This! Me too!

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