What do you do when you… Did you ever wonder if… What if… Eek! When rhetorical questions attack! Intern Jenny and I are spending the day going through your queries, and for some reason, it seems as if this batch is chock full of rhetorical questions.
Is it the worst thing in the world? No, of course not. Is it lazy? I’m going to say yes. And not just lazy, but detrimental to your book. Before you’ve even started pitching me YOUR story, you’re asking me to imagine what *I* would do in a specific situation, rather than telling me about what your character does.
The point of the query, as I’ve said before, is to hook me with your story. Get right into it! Tell me about the characters, about the action, about the drama. Leave the themes for an English class, and entice me with what happens, not what someone might learn from reading it.
Don’t play philosopher, and don’t play critic. Tell me a story. I’m not saying I’m automatically going to decline every query that comes across my desk with an opening rhetorical, but it definitely is something to overcome — just as the overuse or misuse of commas makes me wonder with a shudder what it would be like to read an entire novel jammed full of extra punctuation, so do does an opening rhetorical question make me think your whole novel might suffer from the same lazy storytelling. And no one wants that, right?
Still, I suppose I can be grateful for those who began their query with a rhetorical question — they gave me a blog post topic for today!