How To Write A Compelling Query in 4 Steps
Step 1: Introduce Your Character With Subtext
Step 2: Be a Tease Without Being Vague
Step 3: End With the Heart of the Conflict
Step 4: Polish with a goal toward readability.
Agents often tell us they spend less than sixty seconds on each query. Therefore, your sentences should read easily and the meaning should be clear without backtracking.
Below, I've taken another stab at the Harry Potter example. I've broken down long sentences, added paragraph breaks, rearranged the order of clauses. All with one goal in mind: readability.
Harry Potter arrived on his relatives' doorstep as a baby with a lightning-shaped scar on his tiny forehead. He's been sleeping in a cupboard ever since. Although his aunt and uncle spoil their own son Dudley, they've never offered Harry the same treatment.
Yet on his eleventh birthday, Harry receives something special: a letter from a school called Hogwarts, claiming that he is a wizard.
The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry introduces Harry to a world of potions, magic wands, and quidditch—a sport played on flying broomsticks. But in an area forbidden to students, Harry also discovers a three-headed dog guarding a trapdoor. Apparently, his teachers aren't telling him everything.
Harry and his friends are determined to find out what might be valuable enough for such drastic security measures—and what it might have to do with a break-in at the wizard bank, a professor's mangled leg, and a troll set loose in the school.
When his old scar begins to burn, Harry wonders if he should heed the warning to keep his friends out of danger. But perhaps true friendship means they must risk everything together—including their lives—to keep their newfound home at Hogwarts safe.
What do you think? Hopefully this is easier to digest. Word count: 200.