In response to a tweetchat, I decided to post my two versions of query letters for the Wizard of Oz. Writing practice queries based on famous movies is a great way to learn the process, especially to focus on the main points. Notice the lack of mention of secondary characters here.
Effective queries focus on the main character, what he/she wants, who or what is standing in the way, and the stakes if the main character fails.
Twelve year old Dorothy Gale longs to travel over the rainbow to escape her drab life on a depression era Kansas farm, but when a tornado magically transports her to the land of Oz, she realizes life on the other side of the rainbow may be far more dangerous than she expected. As soon as she arrives, Dorothy makes a powerful enemy, the Wicked Witch of the West, when she accidentally kills the witch’s sister and gains control of a pair of magic shoes. Learning her only way home is to seek out the mysterious wizard in charge of the land, Dorothy must travel down a perilous yellow brick road to find the legendary emerald city before the witch can capture her, and keep her from ever returning to those she loves.
Here’s one that adds in Toto, more of an MG version focusing on the importance of pets:
Life on a depression era Kansas farm is far from exciting, but as long as twelve year old Dorothy Gale has her dog, Toto, she is happy. When Toto bites a crabby neighbor, Miss Gulch, who threatens to have the animal destroyed, Dorothy knows she cannot let that happen. Trying to run away with him, the two get caught in a tornado which magically transports them to the land of Oz.
At first relieved Toto is safe, Dorothy discovers Oz is be a very dangerous place when she makes a powerful enemy, the Wicked Witch of the West, by accidentally killing the witch’s sister. Learning the only way home is to seek out the mysterious wizard in charge of the land, Dorothy and Toto must travel down a perilous yellow brick road to find a legendary emerald city before the witch can capture them, and keep the two from ever returning to those who love them.
I want to add in another hilarious version, a tagline really, done by writer Michael Aaron:
Enterprising Witch seeks revenge over fallen comrade, but an alien invader gathers allies and finds her only weakness before she can free the citizens of Emerald city from their tyrannical overlord.
Love this one! Sounds like it could be a movie.