Ah, The Princess Bride. It has everything. Daring swordfights! Dastardly villains! True love! MIRACLES!
Could there be a better guide for the dreaded query process? I think not! After all, successfully navigating the realm of query letters can make the Fire Swamp look like a nice spot for a summer home.
Ready to embark on a query adventure? Here are six timeless Princess Bride moments you can use to guide you on the road to happily ever after.
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?
Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.
Like the grandson, an agent will try to stay awake but ONLY if your query gives them a reason to do so. Grandpa’s only mistake? He included a laundry list of features and showed rather than told. Still, “A” for effort.
Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Do your homework. Know what genre you’re writing in and what the typical word counts are. Don’t call your literary masterpiece a YA just because there are three chapters where the MC flashes back to when he was seventeen and enamoured with Holden Caulfield.
Inigo Montoya: I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
Unless you are very, very lucky, your query letter will not be your golden ticket out of your day job. Sorry.
Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
The publishing process is long and gruelling. Anyone promising to make things easy is someone you should probably back away from. Slowly. Right now.
Inigo Montoya: Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Keep your query short and spectacular. You don’t have to include every detail. Just like Inigo, include only what’s relevant.
Miracle Max: You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.
You spent how long writing that book? Slow down and invest some time in your query letter. And don’t be afraid to have other people critique it. They may spot things you miss.
Quotes from The Princess Bride, 1987, released by 20th Century Fox, written by William Goldman (based on his novel of the same name)
~ Kathleen Peacock