Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Query Letter Mad Libs

Remember Mad Libs?
Our 2nd Grade English Workbook.

For those who've forgotten (perhaps it's been awhile since you were in 5th grade) you come up with examples of random parts of speech:

*  Plural Noun = Noses!
*  Adjective = Fuzzy!
*  Adverb = Silently!
*  Verb = Swim!

You then use the answers to fill in blanks in a pre-written piece:

"Cooking (plural noun)  is easy. Begin with (adjective) eggs. Beat them (adverb), then (verb) them into a hot skillet."

I've been using Mad Libs for the past month or so to help my 8 year old daughter enjoy mastering the various parts of speech. Eight-year olds, you may know, learn well when presented with absurdity. For long-term concept retention, it's hard to beat cooking noses and fuzzy eggs.

But Mad Libs may be of more use than simply teaching my kid the difference between an adjective (slimy!) and an adverb (messily!). Today on Twitter, several agents I follow mentioned that they had received queries with a "now that bin Laden is dead" theme.

In case you're wondering, no, not one saw this as a positive development. 

Suddenly, in the midst of my #amwriting and #wordmongering, I realized the vast, untapped potential for publishing industry Mad Libs.

Such things could serve the needs of desperate writers everywhere who cannot tell a great idea from a career-wrecker. They could be the saving grace for the poor schmuck who awakens one morning and thinks, "Hey! I bet if I reference a major global event in my query letter, it will be seen as timely and I'll be perceived as cutting edge!" They could be the Query Letter equivalent of Valium.

And so, without further ado -- and in the interest of providing a valuable service to writers and agents everywhere -- I present the Query Letter Mad Lib. All an author need do is fill in the blanks with a word of his or her choice, insert the appropriate word into the Query Letter where indicated, and send the resulting magnum opus to the agents or editors lucky enough to be deemed worthy.


STEP 1: Fill in the blanks with the indicated words:

*  Name of agent: ______________________

*  Name of hero: _______________________

*  Name of heroine: ______________________

*  Past tense verb: ______________________

*  Name of antagonist: ______________________

*  Adverb: ______________________

*  Number: ______________________

*  Plural noun: ______________________

*  Verb: ______________________

*  Noun: ______________________

*  Adjective: ______________________

*  Book title: ______________________

*  Number:  ______________________

*  Genre:  ______________________

*  Adjective: ______________________

*  Number: ______________________

*  Family member: ______________________

*  Bestselling title: ______________________

*  Bestselling title: ______________________

*  Adverb: ______________________

*  Adverb: ______________________

*  Your Name: ______________________

STEP 2: Insert your answers in order into the following query letter where indicated:

Dear (Name of agent),

(Name of hero) and (Name of heroine) (past tense verb) as children, but the evil (Name of antagonist)  (adverb) separated them. Now, (number) years later, they must put aside their (plural noun) and (verb) together to save the (noun) from (adjective) destruction.

(Book Title) is a (number) word (genre) novel. It is the first in a/an (adjective) series of (number) books.  My (family member) says it's much better than either (bestselling title) or (bestselling title). I know you'll agree. I (adverb) await hearing from you.


(Your Name)


And that's it! Simpler than doing tedious research! More fun than searching for the elusive perfect word! The Query Letter Mad Lib: an idea -- like fuzzy eggs -- whose time has come!

Next up: the Rejection Letter Mad Lib...


Amanda Bonilla said...


Ami Hendrickson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ami Hendrickson said...


Aww, thanks! You made my (noun) and put a/an (adjective) smile on my (noun). Fuzzy eggs for all!

JoJo said...

I LOVE Mad Libs! This is perfect.

I wonder if anyone will use it for real?

Ami Hendrickson said...

I very nearly didn't post this for fear that some poor soul would think I'm serious and use this for real. Caveat Querier: Let The Querier Beware! :)