||The Perfect Query Letter
||Wed 01 Sep 2004
The Best Query Ever
This query, composed by Texas writer M.E. Johnson, is the best I've ever seen. Here's why: Paragraph #1: in quoting the name of their film, it shows the writer has done her homework. And then she goes on to state briefly what it was she liked about the film. Then she lets them know that she wouldn't waste their time if she wasn't familiar with their work and that her script seems in line with the kind of things they produce. She ends the first paragraph by letting them know that she would rather have them read it than anyone else in the world. Paragraph #2 is great. It tells the story in a nutshell. All anyone wants to know about your script, in a query, is what they might read in a TV Guide one-liner. For legal reasons, they cannot read more than this! Paragraph #3 tells the reader that she's a writer but that this is her first attempt at writing a screenplay. No games, no blowing her background up or out. Just the facts. The perfect query letter. Thanks to M.E. (uh, not me. Her. M.E. Johnson).
The Consummate Query
I am an admirer of your work, particularly ("Title") for its wit, charm and unique storyline. As such, I feel I have a script you may find of interest. I would like to submit it for your approval.
"Fantoms of the Opera", a romantic comedy in the vein of "The Princess Bride", is the tale of rivalry between brothers who vie for the love of Catarina, a gifted, self-centered, prima donna to-be.
Preceded by a diverse professional writing career, this is my first screenplay. I look forward to your comments.
Your name ______________________________________________________________
Rules of the Trade
Don't include anything with your query, not a treatment, or background material, and for heaven sakes, no photographs. This letter you'll be writing to Directors of Development and Vice Presidents of Creative Affairs serves one purpose and one purpose only: it tells them the KIND of story you have. If they are interested in the genre, they'll ask you for more information. The next step will no doubt be (1) that you'll never hear from them again, (2) you'll get a letter stating that they accept material from agents only, OR (3) they'll send you a Release Form and ask for a One Page. A "one page" means just what it says: your story told on one delightful, juicy page, written with such sparkle and vitality that they would rather die than not read the entire script. SEND OUT NO LESS THAN 30 QUERIES A WEEK. If you're not willing to do that, you aren't serious about a career as a screenwriter. That's your challenge, but you're a writer. You can do it. Good luck. (Excerpt from "Tools of the ScreenWriting Trade")