Dear Miss Snark,
Here is something I have been wondering after months of reading your sample queries. Suppose one is trying to find an agent for a manuscript wherein it seems all along that Miss Scarlett did it in the Library with the Rope, but at the end it turns out through some masterful plot twist that in fact it was Colonel Mustard in the Billiard Room with the Lead Pipe, and he and Mr. Green have been conspiring to frame Miss Scarlett because she threatened to tell Mrs. White that far from wanting to marry her, Colonel Mustard really intends to elope with Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum's intended, whom he's been boffing for months. Mr. Green's motive,
the greatest secret of all, is also revealed in an even more masterful plot twist.
The question is, should the author tell the agent in the query letter that the novel is a clever-ish interpretation of Clue where Colonel Mustard did it but the reader is led to believe it was Miss Scarlett until the very end, or, should the author just allude in vague terms to the fact it's a saucy new rendition of a cultural icon with a delightfully clever surprise ending? Your sample queries seem to be more of the "vague allusions" persuasion, but it seems to me that cutting to the chase would make the agent's life easier. What say you?
I say if you start telling me that you work is a saucy rendition and/or clever reinterpretation, I'm going to stop reading and hit you over the head with the ClueGun (trademark Miss Snark, patent pending).
Don't tell me it's clever: be clever.
Don't tell me it's funny: be funny.
And don't tell me the entire plot in the cover letter; that goes in the synopsis.
Do we need to review the Keys to Success in a query letter?
1. What is this?
2. Who is the hero and what happens to him in 35 words or less in the first chapter of the book.
3. Why should I want to read on?
4. Who are you (not your name, I can read your signature we hope) but a little bit about you and why you are fabulous.
5. If you have room you can mention how much you love Killer Yapp's festive new Yankees cap.
You should also know that Clue the game IS trademarked and using it is a huge red flag. You'll need to address that issue specifically.