I wanted to address this because so many people agonize over query letters. We get clients asking us to help them write theirs all the time. So here’s a quick & easy formula you should use. You’re welcome!
The main thing to remember is that query letters MUST BE BRIEF. Three paragraphs. That’s it. If it cannot fit on a single page fax, your have blown it. Three and only three paragraphs. Here’s what those paragraphs should contain:
A) WHO ARE YOU? WHO-OO? OO-OO? Paragraph 1, briefly describe yourself in the most fascinating way possible. What have you done in your life that’s cool, different, interesting? No one cares if you have took classes in screenwriting or some B-list celeb says he’s interested in your story. Talk about YOU. Maybe you took a walking tour of Bangla Desh and met the Dalai Lama. Maybe you shoveled horse shit at Yonkers Raceway for 4 years and still can’t get the stink out of your coveralls. Maybe you volunteer at a shelter and won a Parcheesi championship. The idea is to paint a picture of yourself that stands out and makes you seem like someone worth contacting.
Sure, you can mention some quarterfinalist contest showings or whatever, but the main thing here is to sell YOU as a cool person. If you can be self-effacing, even better. One client recently wrote, “I’m an NYPD cop who bought rental property in Connecticut 5 years ago thinking I’d make a fortune. I’ve been getting my ass kicked ever since.” I love that!
B) LOGLINE. In no more than 3 sentences, pitch your script. (See article HERE: http://coverageink.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_archive.html) Feel free to ice your logline with a movie comparison, such as: “It’s DIE-HARD meets HOME ALONE”-- but with paramecium.”
C) THANKS AND OUT. Simplest part. For extra credit, CALLBACK to your opening paragraph here.
Seriously, that’s all there is to it.
SAMPLE QUERY LETTER
My name’s Writey Writerson. I am an ER nurse at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles--yeah, it’s nuts. I once climbed halfway up Mt. Kilimanjaro but had to turn back when my rented mule fell to his death. Seriously.
I have a screenplay I was thinking might be right up your alley: BURPIN’ SLURPIN’ ROBOT GHERKINS. Logline: Due to a tragically poor intelligence, an alien invasion squad transforms themselves into cybernetic pickles in order to blend into Earth society. But 7-year-old DANA VASSILY, heir to the Vassily pickle fortune, discovers the four and captures them in a jar. Will the Gherkins be able to escape and finally lay waste to our pathetic planet? BSRG is “Shakespeare in Love” meets “Taxi Driver”, but with crunchy dills.
If you’d like a look, please let me know. Happy to send along either hard copy or PDF--(knock on door) Who the hell is that? Oh, Christ! It’s the damn sherpa! How did he track me down? Crap, guess I’m gonna have to pay for that damn mule!