How to Describe Your Romance Novel in Queries
Your novel is hundreds of pages long, but you'll need to describe it in a few short paragraphs when you try to sell it to a publisher. How can you condense all that important information?
Here's how I do it.
For short novels, I usually use two paragraphs to describe the book, longer or more complex books three to four paragraphs. If some important point fits one paragraph better than another, don't feel as if you must follow my structure. Put it where it fits.
First paragraph: Simple plot set up, and heroine's or main character's emotional involvement with it. What is the exterior conflict of the novel? (What are the hero and heroine fighting against and why?) The examples are from my THE GAME WE PLAY.
Schoolteacher Faith Cody thinks she has the perfect summer job as nanny to Nicholas Price's two visiting children, but the children are kidnapped, and she and Nick are compelled to join forces to steal the ransom -- documents incriminating vicious criminals.
Second paragraph: More simple plot set up and hero's or second lead's emotional involvement with it.
An investigative journalist trained in the ways of the professional cat burglar, Nick has the skill to steal the hidden documents, but their dangerous owner guards the documents well since they prevent his death.
Third and Fourth paragraphs: What is the interior conflict of the novel? (What tears the hero and heroine apart emotionally?) What must both must achieve or defeat and what do they have to lose? This can include plot set up, place set up, the important secondary characters, and the villain.
At the secluded estate of their intended victim, on the catwalks above a Las Vegas stage, and in a back alley at the mercy of killers, Faith and Nick face danger with a witty quip and a willingness to risk anything and anyone, even each other, for the sake of two children they both love.
In this game of betrayer and betrayed, the kidnappers seem determined to destroy Nick's sanity as well as his life, and Faith's life and love may be their ultimate weapon against him.
Here are some other examples:
TIME AFTER TIME
ALEXA WEST thinks she's found a man who loves her, but another man, JUSTIN LORD, woos her with an outlandishtale-- they have loved and married for their last twelve reincarnations, and he will allow no other man to marry her in their thirteenth. Is Justin's story lunacy, a line, or a love that spans the ages?
Determined to win her by making her remember, dynamic Justin romances Alexa by restaging and retelling their past lives and their loves. But he doesn't tell her she has rivals for his love, and she is all twelve.
Trapped on Arden, Earthman Tristan Mallory discovers that men are sex slaves forced into harems. He has no intention of belonging to anyone, not even beautiful fellow scientist Mara d'Jorel.
Mara despises the harem system and has refused to participate, but her heart won't allow anyone else to own Tristan, and owning him will turn his growing love into hate. To give Tristan the freedom her world denies, she must risk everything--her reputation, her home, and even her freedom and life. But her greatest risk is losing Tristan's love to another woman.
Tristan's friend Kellen Votrain is acquired as a bed slave by vicious Cadaran d'Hasta, head of Arden's Internal Security, who has used the lives and deaths of thousands of men to gain her power. Intelligent and amoral, she'll do anything to destroy him and Tristan and any woman weak enough to love them.
With the help of a local intelligent alien who resembles an Earth cat and Dorian Dalia--Tristan's longtime romantic interest, Tristan, Mara, and Kellen escape the planet. Through the vast emptiness of space and the most primitive of human colonies, they seek freedom, but Cadaran is always one step behind them.
Copyright © 2003 by Marilynn Byerly
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