What Movies Would Be Like If They Used Common Sense (146 words)

“A case of undeniable truths.”

The briefcase sits on the concrete ledge. Polly stands over it, reading the inscription on the top of the case.

“Well?” Polly says. “Do we open it?”

Eric digs his left foot into the stones on the ground. He glances up nervously. “I’d rather not, honestly.”

Polly takes a step, her sandal-ed feet kicking up loose stones. She looks back at Eric, a finger in his mouth as he bites a nail off. “Wanna go and…eat something instead?”

Eric nods, sighing as Polly passes him. The smell of V5 vanilla shampoo smacking his nose.

He turns around when they hear a click. As Polly turns, Eric grabs her face and stares at her. His lips move slowly.

“Nooo,” he says dramatically, eyes pleading.

Before she can protest, he grabs her arm and heads to the roof door. The case remains untouched.


Cover Letters and Query Letters (part 2)

Query letters are a lot more complex than cover letters, let’s just get that out of the way. There is a lot more information you need to put into it, and it does much more than a cover letter as well. Cover letters are your introduction to a literary magazine, short and simple, while Query letters are the gate way to a literary agent. When you’re writing a query letter, you are essentially asking and promoting your longer piece of work and looking for representation to get published.

There are always going to be sites saying this is the best way to write a query letter, and to be honest the best thing you can do is give the essentials and individual as much as you feel would work for your piece. Query letters, no matter what, require the following:

1. What are you writing for? (tell them you are seeking representation, that you did your research as to why you want them to represent you).

2a.  TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR BOOK! (write about your book in a paragraph or two, essentially telling the agent who the character is, what is the conflict they will face (focus on the overall conflict, not the subplots) and the ending. Don’t tell the ending, though–just suggest that something is going to happen. The point is to make them interested in the character and what will happen to them).

2b. After the summary, or blurb as some call it, include the book length. Some people encourage a comparison to another novel to help the agent get a feel for the tone or style of writing you have. This depends on how much you’ve read and honestly if you do it, make sure you research novels that are similar to some aspect of your novel which you want to focus on.

3. Tell them about yourself ( this is the part where you let them know if you’re a student or not, publishing credits you have under your belt–if any–and anything relevant to the book and your experience as a writer).

4. Include your contact information (and please, make sure you use an appropriate email address. Sexykitty93@gmail.com is not cool. It’s just…not.)

Your letter shouldn’t be more than a page. Ideally, you want this length because agents are always reading query letters. I mean, a lot of them. So, take the time to condense your writing and get to the point. Generally, you’d do  one inch margins; however, some literary agents have specific formats which prefer. So look it up!

After that, it’s all about how you individualize.

Here are some examples of some query letters that were successful, courtesy of Writer’s Digest. These query letters took individualization to whole new level, and honestly it’s pretty cool. This won’t always work, but if you do it write the agent will be impressed.

Here’s another really good example because it includes a letter and takes notes on what not to do.

The things you most definitely should not do are pretty similar to cover letters, and obviously more extensive due to the length. Some people try a little too hard forgetting that simplicity is sometimes better. Check out Writer’s Relief’s Query Fail. I think they have it down pact.

These letters will take time. Do the best you can, and have someone look at it for you if you can. It’s always good to have someone look over your work, whether a fellow writer, classmate, or even a friend. If you tell them what the basic format is then maybe they can tell you what they see as unnecessary. And remember to do the research. You don’t want an agent to look at your letter and think you’re wasting their time. They’re in this career because they love to read and work with writers. If you don’t put in the effort, then  neither will they.

Cover Letters & Query Letters (part 1)

If you are new to these two, please take notes.This is something you’re going to be seeing a lot of, if you’re writing a novel, short story, a memoir–basically anything that has to do with publishing you will need how to write this and how to get it out there. Because you know you want to get published.

Cover letters are used to quickly introduce your work, yourself, and express your interest in the magazine to an editor. A cover letter is your first impression, so to speak. So it’s really important that you have absolutely no grammatical errors.

Here’s an example of one I wrote:

[Personal Address]

[Actual Name of Editor]
[Title/position they hold, usually ‘Editor’]
[“Name of” Literary Magazine]

Dear [Editor’s Name],

I have attached my previously unpublished story [Title here] to be considered as a submission for your new issue.

I found your magazine through New Pages and after seeing your latest issue, I thought it’d be a good fit. I also thought it very kind of you to offer commentary on our submissions, if not accepted. I would very much like to hear any commentary you have on my submission if it is not accepted.

I am a MFA student at [***]College and I have never published a work of fiction before.

Thank you so much for your time and considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.


D. Arlene

You want to tell them:

1. what you are submitting (if it is a simultaneous submission state that!)

2. who you are (publication credits are okay, if you’re a student, sure–though not necessary; if it’s your first time publishing, yes!)

3. thank them for taking the time to read it.

In my example, I was submitting to a magazine I had just recently researched and read a couple of their stories. I enjoyed them, and when they came out with a themed issue they said they’d give feedback if rejected. It’s rare for magazines to do that and I felt that even if I didn’t get accepted while I had confidence, it’d be a good opportunity to see what an editor thought of my work. They requested that we write whether or not we’d like to have that.

Essentially every letter will different based on what the editor/magazine wants from you. Anything else is really optional. If you want to mention that you like their magazine, do so– I think it shows an appreciation for what they do. It also shows that you did your research, and you’re not wasting their time. I’d highly recommend it. Also, make sure you use an actual name for the editor. No one appreciates a generic ‘Madam/Sir.’ These are people taking time out of their lives to read your work. Show some respect and research where you want to send your short stories.

Here’s one example, and another for more specific details.

Some people mix up query letters and cover letters, or try to combine the two. That’s not the job of a cover letter. A cover letter is quick, let’s them know a couple of things like whether or not you’re serious about this and then they get to reading. Query letters are different. They’re for a literary agent, not an editor of a magazine.

Keep that in mind when you’re writing.