In Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore, Elizabeth Lyon details the five paragraphs of a good query letter: the hook, the transition and first paragraph of the synopsis, the second paragraph of the synopsis, author qualifications, and finishing formalities. Let's talk about the hook.
Also known as the pitch paragraph, the hook should read like the back cover of your book or the inside flap of the dust jacket. Make your hook as enticing as possible without revealing the surprises and twists of the storyline. Provide just enough information to make an agent or reader want to know more.
Before you start writing the hook, first identify the plot catalyst that occurs in the first 30 pages of your novel (if you don't have a plot catalyst in the first 30 pages of your novel, you may want to consider another round of revision and rewriting). There are three different ways to write the hook around the plot catalyst:
- The back story that sets the story and creates the context
- Contributing plot elements that will broaden the story
- Character elements that are imperative to the story
Focus on one of these elements or some combination of the three to build your hook. I can't guarantee that every agent who reads it will be beating down your door and asking for more; each agent has his or her own subjective tastes. But I am confident that if you have a strong opening hook and well written query letter, they will give it serious consideration.
Building The Pitch Paragraph (Part One) [Pub Rants]
Check out the original article on my website.