Most writers agree that writing a script is not meant for everyone. Though the process can seem enjoyable initially, the selling stage is incredibly challenging. As a result, every writer, even if they’re not involved with scriptwriting, needs to understand the importance of a query letter.
If you’re an aspiring writer, especially in the screenwriting world, you’re in the right place. Below will discuss what a script query letter is, its purpose, how to write one, and a few critical tips on perfecting your query letter. Keep in mind a bad query letter can ruin a great script, while a great query letter can elevate an okay script. Nevertheless, let’s take a look!
Photo credit: Jerry Jenkins
What’s a Script Query Letter?
A query letter is a proper letter sent by screenwriters to captivate individuals to peruse their work and potentially sell it. These individuals might be agents, executives, studios, producers, or production companies.
The letter is critical since it tends to be an introduction to the screenwriting world. Unfortunately, this process tends to be overwhelming for most since it’s so short yet jammed-packed with information. As a result, you need to know its purpose, how to write one, and some tips for perfecting it.
The Purpose of a Script Query Letter
As great as it is to have a basic understanding of a script query letter, none of that matters if you don’t realize its purpose. Knowing why you’re sending a query letter is one thing. Understanding its importance and what it can potentially do will help you craft a better letter in the long run.
● It establishes a relationship with an executive, agent, or producer.
● It sets up the legal groundwork for submission.
● It begins the process of your script becoming an actual project.
How to Write a Script Query Letter
The first step in writing a query letter is keeping it at a page length. Besides general information like your contact information, genre, and title, your introduction/bio, film synopsis, and concluding words should only be a few sentences. Click here for an outline you can use.
● Name, Address, Phone Number
● Date, Agent Name, Address
● A Few Lines About Yourself and Intention
● Script Title
● Final Goodbye (Include Contact Information)
Tips for Perfecting Your Script Query Letter
Now that you’ve gone over a few query letter outlines, here comes the vital portion of perfecting the letter. People who receive query letters tend to get some every single day, significantly larger executives in the world of filmmaking. Below will focus on a few points on setting yourself apart.
1. Be Original
Originality is vital in any writing endeavor. Though every person has some influence they demonstrate, realize how you can be original in your query letter. Obviously, stick to the format, but try to show why you’re contacting them, show formality, and have a clear message in the letter.
2. Be Confident
Confidence can make or break someone. Though most writers struggle with an inner issue that plagues their writing and pursuit, you have to show confidence in a query letter. Don’t be overconfident to the point where you’re cocky, but focus on why the person you’re contacting should read your work.
3. Have Your Story’s Concept Clear
Keep the synopsis and introductory portions very clear. Don’t give everything away, but have the main points mentioned, so the reader gets a general idea of what you’re about. Have it be punchy, unique, and practical so that the reader wants to learn more about you and your script.
4. The Synopsis Should Be Active
The synopsis section tends to be the most vital portion of a query letter. After all, it’s what you’re trying to sell, i.e., the script. Cause the reader to feel like they can't go one more second without perusing your story inside and out. Lookup a few examples of excellent query letter synopsis’ to help.
5. Have the Proper Information Listed
Many writers focus on the synopsis and logline portion of the letter before realizing they sent the wrong information. Double-check everything, especially the agent’s name and information, and your information. You could potentially ruin a relationship if you mess up this critical factor.
6. Don’t Get Too Personal
Many writers think they can get around the usual influx of query letters by being overly personal with who they’re working with. Try not to do this but rather be friendly and professional. Keep the personal portion short and sweet, and instead focus on the professional accomplishments.
7. Leave Them Wanting More, But Don’t Be Too Vague
A great query letter will leave whoever is reading it to want more. As great as that notion is, realize there is a delicate balance between leaving more on the table and being too vague. A good rule of thumb is to cover all of the essential sections and be clear. Outside of that, don’t overexplain every little detail. Remember, the entire letter needs to be a page.