query problems

“Everything goes wrong”

A run-of-the-mill programmer, Tiffany fills her days crunching code in between evenings with Netflix and drinks with her coworkers. When a job higher up the food chain opens, Tiffany seizes the chance to escape the cube farm and interviews for it. But everything ends in disaster and lands Tiffany, now friendless, without a job or any prospects.

I see queries like this a lot. The first two sentences set the scene, the stakes (though not well done here), and the first plot point. But the end of the paragraph leaves us questioning:

What exactly went wrong?

Disaster striking is good: it launches the plot. Because of that, I want details. Every query communicates that “everything goes wrong,” but the ones that hook me tell me how and why.

Why is Tiffany now friendless? How did she fail the interview and lose her job?

The interviewer is her spiteful ex, who maliciously accuses her of corporate espionage–until Tiffany punches him in the eye.

Management takes that as a sign she’s guilty, and with her cube friends jealous of her attempted promotion, she has nobody to back her up. By the end of the day, Tiffany is out on the curb with no job prospects and nobody to share a much-needed drink.

Specifics are your friend. All books have disaster, but unique books have different events comprising the disaster.

Specifics also make me empathize with your protagonist. A bad day sucks, but everybody has bad luck and I have my own problems. But interviews with exes, criminal accusations, and losing your job and friends in one day?

I’m ready to share that drink with Tiffany and hear her story.


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