Querybending

Water. Earth. Fire. Air.

Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony.
Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them.

But when the world needed him most, he vanished.

A hundred years passed, and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar
An airbender named Aang
And although his airbending skills are great,
he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone.

But I believe Aang can save the world.

Thus beginneth one of the best animated shows of all time.
(If you haven’t watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, you are currently dead to me. Get on that.)
This intro also happens to be a brilliant example of a query letter.

  • BEFORE/WHEN the book starts, [insert status quo for MC]
  • THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED WHEN [insert inciting incident]
  • There was a plan to react to this inciting incident! BUT WHEN THE WORLD/INCITING INCIDENT NEEDED THAT MOST–! [insert obstacle]
  • NOW the new plan to get around those obstacles is [insert new plan that might involve you getting killed]
  • AND LET’S HAVE SOME STAAAAAAAAAAAKES [WHAT HAPPENS IF AANG DOESN’T SAVE THE WORLD???]

[Again, in case you are a philistine of the highest order and have not heard the Gospel of A:TLA and its mightiest work, the Book of Zutara, get on that right away.]

  • LONG AGO THE FOUR NATIONS LIVED TOGETHER IN HARMONY [status quo]
  • THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED WHEN THE FIRE NATION ATTACKED🔥🔥🔥 [Inciting incident and also the best line of the whole thing]
  • ONLY THE AVATAR, MASTER OF ALL FOUR ELEMENTS, COULD STOP THEM [heyo, we have a plan to fix/react to the inciting incident]
  • BUT WHEN THE WORLD NEEDED HIM MOST, HE VANISHED [obstacles, obstacles, obstacles]
  • A HUNDRED YEARS PASSED, AND MY BROTHER AND I DISCOVERED THE NEW AVATAR, AN AIRBENDER NAMED AANG [heyyyy! New plan!]
  • AND ALTHOUGH HIS AIRBENDING SKILLS ARE GREAT, HE HAS A LOT TO LEARN BEFORE HE’S READY TO SAVE ANYONE . . . BUT I BELIEVE AANG CAN SAVE THE WORLD [yes, the stakes are somewhat vague here, so you must make yours much more specific]

While this exercise likely won’t leave you with a perfect query at the end, it’s a great starting point in breaking down your story into its simplest elements, which you can then use to build your query.

Also, here:

Have some firebenders

everything changed.gif